Friday, February 10, 2006

Who am I ?

Or for that matter What am I? These two questions seem indissolubly linked and it is only semantics that separate them. Is there a difference or am I ultimately bound up in my bodily functions and neurological algorithms?

Well leaving Descartes out of the question for now, as thinking about something is not enough to reveal its true extent, I guess I first started musing the question when my mother died. When it was already too late to ask her the questions that I was pondering. I realised then that the door had closed on things I would now never find out.

I was up till then merely Mary ’s eldest son, Marcus’ brother, bearer of a family name that was dying out, leaving myself and my brother as sole representatives of that line.
It was a quest that led to my diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome because the what had practical implications even if the who did not.

What were the limits on what I could do? What was I coming up against in the world on my own? It seemed back then I needed the label to tell me as much as anyone else what I was.
And what was AS anyway? I had some ideas, that led me after a number of false starts to a shaky conclusion that it might be the most accurate label so far, but to be honest I was never that sure, never had the unshakeable conclusion for that is something that comes not from outside but from my inside observation of the feeling that I am not like the rest of humankind.
And so I embarked on a secondary quest to find out all I could on the “meta-label” autism, and to see that this was a fractured and uncertain science, with polarities not so much in the fatal analogy of the spectrum but in the opinions that divide this field of human understanding and representation.

Does any of it answer who I am? Or am I still questing after that? For even if autism is intimately bound up in my being, then so much more is also bound up. Leaving aside the why’s which no-one can answer, there are the where’s and when’s, that is to say the individual circumstances of being brought up in my time, in a specific place that inevitably colours my own historiography.

If I were to stand naked, throwing aside even my spectacles, my jewellery, my cane, those physical and psychological props that help me to interface with the world and it to me, would anyone be the clearer? What could any one tell from that “poor, bare, forked animal”? Only that I am a man born in the twentieth century with the ravages of time and circumstance written on my body.

But I can clothe that nakedness in any array, all of which has a semiotic, and no less so than my writing here clothes my naked mind with signifiers to those who read this. I am a man, my genes would declare me to be humankind after all, but if my ideas and communication are a poor enough signifier, the rest of me maybe lies in how I have come to the “now”, that is to say the actions I have taken, and others have taken that concerned me, either flowing with the grain of my perceptions and capabilities or against them.

All of which leads me to say as I frequently do, that I am what I am whilst still begging the question of what precisely "that" is?

Well… I am what I am today. Tomorrow I will be what I will be, and certainly I cannot change what I have been so far up to now, only build upon it.

Is this a good point to start a blog? Who knows? All I can say for now is I will not have any of the answers on my own. The door has closed on that as I said before. So all I can say to the world out there, is:-

“stop, look and listen”

Together we can change the future, so that the anxieties of this questioning become of no more import than they did when my life was secure and circumscribed, so that we can all be people who are accepted and valued, not questioned, condemned and rejected.

© Copyright to the Author Oct 1st 2005