Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autism Awareness And Poetry Appreciation Month: The Vital Connection Between The Autistic And The Artistic

                  When I was eight years old I watched an European released animated special on a program called Long Ago And Far Away-hosted by the late, great James Earl Jones. The special itself was called Bill And Bunny. It was about autism. And how a child who had it effected her mother, father and older sibling. It was a topic that at that time had not really been discussed in depth before. And I'd personally never been exposed to it. It was told in a beautifully poetic manner that appealed both to children and their parents. A rare feet. Two decades later I looked up, and it seems about one in every ten children or more are living with some form of autism. As I've stated in my YouTube videos many times, even people who aren't diagnosed with autism are referred to as having an autistic manner. It's extremely puzzling to me how autism has become such a modern legacy of society.

                It is not lost on me why one of the symbols of autism awareness is the four multi-colored puzzle pieces. Autism constantly reveals itself as a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Those who live with it often show genius level intuition and intelligence. On the other hand what should be a simple social situation might drive them into a state of panic defined by repetitious behaviors. These individuals seem, on the surface to live in a world of their own. I know this because one of my cousins lives with autism. And I have myself witnessed his outlook on life. April is Autism Awareness Month. It is also Poetry Awareness Month. I was not aware of the latter until yesterday in fact. And the more I thought about it, a rather profound truth revealed itself in my mind. That truth is that autism and the concept of poetry are actually very complimentary.

                 One of the qualities I've personally observed in society as I matured was something of a rejection of abstract thinking. You could look at it much the same way as when in the late 1920's when silent films transitioned into "talkies": the medium of motion pictures become less of a poetic one and more of a realistic one.  The television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine summed it up in a show called If Wishes Were Horses: that so many people dream of places they'll never go, things they'll never see instead of paying adequate attention to their real lives. Since this particular concept has continued to evolve itself, I feel it has in turn de-evolved an element of society. If one doesn't take their hopes and dreams seriously any longer, than the realistic medium of commerce becomes the driving force and a given civilization will tend to become soulless on many levels.

              I've noticed this very situation occurring in every segment of life. Adjective words such as "geek" and "hysteria" are constantly used in a cold and improper context with no real care to their true meaning and original degrading intent. So if so many people have actually forgotten what respect means, than it's nearly impossible for have respect for what's happened to people around you-such as those living with Autism. That term in itself is sometimes even used, as I mentioned earlier as a pejorative term in much as the same manner as "retarded" was decades earlier. Still the technology of science,from the internet to micro circuitry has also steadily evolved with the advent of the computer age. Since the human soul in general has tended to be more and more deprived of imagination and poetry in the past fifteen years or so, there hasn't been enough agreement and focus on what the exact causes of autism are and how to deal with it physically. Especially since all too many researches have pursued the study of autism primarily to gain profit and recognition.

              During my elementary school years, the study of poetry was not among my favorite topics. I felt in my pre-teen years that studying the forms of poetry too much spoiled the poem. Trying to explain poetry seemed totally self defeating as the medium was more about feeling and expression-that it was equally about what was said as much as how one said it. As I got older and began to learn about the lives and experiences of poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Nikki Geovanni and Alan Ginsberg the meaning and intent behind their work in fact revealed itself to me in a similar manner to how the subject of this very article did, actually. One thing that's become clear with time is that while autistic individuals have a very unique way of learning, they are more than capable of learning. Even though I am not autistic, my own more 1960's era abstractly creative mind also processes knowledge and information in a somewhat different way than expected by most other people as well.

              When you boil it all down the real issue of the public's attitude towards both autism and poetry is an appreciation for that which is unique and unknown. I was at a local record store a year or so ago called Bullmoose and I saw an autistic man who my family and I had known for some time. He was listening to headphones on the listening station. Most of my life I'd been told autistic people had mechanical thought processes and had little to know ability to abstract or be at all clever. I never took that to heart for one moment, and on that day at Bullmoose my own theory was confirmed. This man was dancing and singing to himself to the music he heard on the headphones-in his own world definitely but just as surely a world that was defined by an embrace of creative thinking. He was clearly moved by the music on a deep emotional level perhaps beyond even my high level of emotionalism. That confirmed my own personal theory: people who live with autism are highly poetic. Perhaps more poetic and creative than some other people. And that is something to be truly appreciated.


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