Sunday, July 27, 2008

Off to autscape, musings on our "tribe"

Had to be careful not to recycle an older title, but I am back to the subject of autism again for this blog.

For the last two years Autscape has either been preceded by or followed by an operation, this year I have far more to worry about on my return :)

Not that being part of the organising committee for Autscape this year has been the proverbial bed of roses either. How previous participants (as against new ones for whom it won’t matter) will adapt to the change of venue, I don’t know. It remains to be seen.

The trouble is nothing is without criticism, and this blog is not the place to rehash all of the various concerns about the venue, and about the ethos of Autscape, whether it should be outward or inward looking, been there done that and got the T shirt as they say. Suffice it to say I sometimes find myself in the middle, defending against unfair criticisms, but adding a few of my own. Nothing is ever perfect and we should always be striving for what is most important is that there are enough people willing to continue with it in whatever form the future dictates.

The theme is Inertia and Action, and sometimes I feel I am too much stuck in the former, I know that when I get back I have to spring into action again and finish off all those half finished presentations I am due to make in September notwithstanding trying to wrestle up some money to continue my research, without which these presentations might suddenly lose their context.

Where the big money in Autism is, is certainly not where I am at anyway, educational approaches to autism get overlooked, and the new black is going to be cultural studies, where yet another strand of non autistic academics find rich picking studying all those funny autistic "tribes".

I ought to have welcomed Stuart Murray's book on the representation of autism, but I do not, because well researched though it may be, it is part of a wider economic/social process of marginalisation which I have fought even to get a toehold in academia myself. Every book that is written about us by someone else is one less book written from within.

Why don’t I write a book myself, I hear the protest back, well it has to do with the fact that the likes of Stuart Murray, and Roy Grinker and dare I say it Kristina Chew (whose blog I nonetheless enjoy), have effectively colonised the genre wherein I would write.

I mean no disrespect to these academic writers but I do say to them that they ought to carry a bit more social awareness of what they are doing in the process, how it is part of the delegitimisation of the authentic voice, pushing us back to the familiar territory of writing self help manuals and autobiographies, instead of engaging the vital material of autism and where we fit in the contemporary world itself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The world on wheels

As followers of this blog might know, I recently had to give up my land rover, not by choice but by financial necessity. Well I can at least say I feel I have done something for the environment even if I would not have done it otherwise.

I see the news and it distresses me, story after story about melting glaciers, extinction of corals, and I am not distanced from that because I can see close at home the waste that contributes to it.

Gordon Brown was right that we waste too much food. I remember growing up before supermarkets when there were few brands and less packaging, I can't say I grew up malnourished or deprived because of that, any more than I was deprived because my dad did not own or drive a car.

Today I watched once again the world on wheels, so many cars and wondered where they were all going, and why, and just how this might look on a global scale. To be honest I was on a bus at the time, travelling across the city to a swimming pool so in a small way I am still part of that great daily trek that seems to put all other transcontinental treks into insignificance because of it's banality.

We can't help the way things are, because everything is organised around such treks and we can't avoid them, though at least I am using public transport and my bicycle more.

We are past the point of no return and with the coming recession we will all feel the negative side of our past exuberances there is no escaping it, and it is better to give up some things voluntarily in the interest of posterity than to have it forced upon us by inevitability.

I have turned off my hot water, I can't afford it, but at least I still have water, and that is going to be something that millions do not have, it already is. So much we take for granted is predicated upon continuing power supplies, the recent floods in Gloucestershire demonstrated how much we take for granted and how reliant we are on electricity for everything.

Back in the 1970's I recall the three day week and the winter of discontent, with regular power outages, but the shops still opened and did business, even the supermarkets, with tilley lamps and generators, but it could not happen now in this day of the swipe card, where even a disruption to the telephone lines means no sale.

Well in another couple of weeks I am off too Autscape, I am hiring a car to get me there, so whatever the price of petrol I am going to have to pay it and join the world on wheels again.

I might be getting away to autistic space, but that space will still depend upon electricity and piped water.

When I am done with Autscape however I will be done with that. I am going camping, roughing it, a simple tent, and no more water than I can carry, my bike will come in handy then.

My land rover was perfectly equipped for survival, solar panels the whole lot, trouble is it still needed an MOT and there you see it had to go because it would have failed. Unless you have land to keep one on, you have to keep it roadworthy and taxed. Doesn't seem fair, there was a time when my family were considering buying a piece of woodland somewhere, oh that we had.