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Being There (featuring Autism Through Cinema) [TALKING IMAGES]

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St. Gloede
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Being There (featuring Autism Through Cinema) [TALKING IMAGES]

#1

Post by St. Gloede »

Image

In our very first cross-over episode we are joined by (Dr.) David Hartley from the Autism Through Cinema podcast to discuss Hal Ashby's classic "Being There", starring Peter Sellers in a role generally read as being on the autism spectrum.

We'll explore why it makes some of us a little uncomfortable, whether the film mocks Peter Sellers' character or the, mostly, wealthy individuals he interacts with,  attempt to decipher the message, try our best to unpack that infamous ending - and just explore our general reactions.

We will also hear from David about what Being There gets right (if it is indeed about a neuro-divergent character), hear about the Autism Through Cinema project as a whole and why their podcast and why it is worth checking out.

You Can Listen Here:


Sounder: https://talking-images.sounder.fm/episo ... ugh-cinema

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3GhRXnb6OzOnfae2Uvkvus (Should synch shortly)

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/t ... 1542580739 (Should synch shortly)

Autism Through Cinema

Listen to their podcast here: https://open.spotify.com/show/3fLTPC9eiyuEBEZH9L5Ula

Join the Conversation

What are your feelings about Being There?

Where would you place it in the Hal Ashby canon?

Do you think Peter Seller's character of Chance is intended to be an autistic character?

Who is the butt of the jokes? Chance, the ruling class or both?

What are your thoughts on the ending? How do you interpret it?

What do you believe the overall message is?

How do you feel about the inserted blooper section at the end, was Peter Sellers right to be furious?

Have you ever listened to Autism Through Cinema? And if yes, what are your favourite episodes and general thoughts?
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#2

Post by beavis »

my first reaction when I see this subject:

a friend of mine who is on the spectrum has written an article (linked, but in Dutch only) for De Filmkrant in which he lists some films with autistic characters from bad portrayals to something better/more realistic/he'd like to see more of.

https://filmkrant.nl/artikel/autisme-in-film/
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#3

Post by filmbantha »

As much as I would love to go over the questions you have asked Gloede, I would just be repeating what I say on the podcast! However, I will respond to one of your questions:

Have you ever listened to Autism Through Cinema? And if yes, what are your favourite episodes and general thoughts?

I have listened to a handful of Autism Through Cinema episodes and the hosts offer a fascinating insight into the films they discuss, putting forward interesting perspectives that I often would not have considered myself. There is always a good mix of speakers (much like Talking Images :whistling: ) and the films they pick to discuss are incredibly varied, there really is something for everyone if you take the time to browse through their episodes. One of my favourites was their episode on Mary and Max and this is a great place to start out if you aren't sure where to begin.

If anyone does take the time to listen to our collaborative podcast on Being There, or any of the Autism Through Cinema episodes, then please let us know as we had a lot of fun recording this episode!
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#4

Post by Lakigigar »

I'm om the spectrum, at least according to psychiatrists. Anyways, the way I feel is that without exceptions all films featuring someone on the spectrum are simply highly inaccurate. It's possible i just haven't seen the right films yet, but so far none of the ones i've seen are even close to nailing it.

Even in TV and general media i feel it's highly inaccurately portrayed, so if i'm really on the spectrum and not a misdiagnosis, which seems to be strengthened by the inaccurate portrayal in media, i feel like it simply doesn't work. To me, it even feels very offensive when they even to portray it.

In Belgium, there was a TV human interest show (with a bit of a comedy twist) called Taboo with an episode dedicated to people on the spectrum, and that felt already much more respectful and nuanced, with also 4 people on the spectrum being included, some kind of more varied in personality, and it felt much better, even if i didn't relate to everyone but it felt much more respectful and accurate. And it's also a very good example of what comedy should be about or how comedy should be done, since people seem to think comedy is only & supposed to be about making fun of others. I personally did relate more to one of the females being featured in that show.

But autism in film is so far a high miss, because all films i've seen were without exception highly offensive. It is too stereotypical, generalized, designed to "move" people, sentimental or have commercial value and it fails in portraying the complex variety in the spectrum, as well as portraying females/LGBTQ people on the spectrum, like producers/directors and so on have no good idea of what autism really is about.

Eitherway, there is a lot of it wrong and i don't even think psychiatry even has a good idea what it is about, but I seem to agree with people saying that females are definitely underdiagnosed while in general it is an overdiagnosed mental disorder in Belgium (and that the diagnosis itself isn't even helpful or beneficial as not only people around you are prejudiced but also people in the care sector). I personally don't think there's a gender gap in autism spectrum disorder but that females are just better or the variant associated with females is much better /skilled in hiding it because of adjusting to gender roles. Females on the spectrum often also are seen to be diagnosed with something else that doesn't "fit" them, for example BPD or an eating disorder which might be the consequence/side-effect of being on the spectrum. I mean an ED can certainly fit but to me it is already a strong indicator of the possibility of them being on the spectrum and they continue to go under the radar. ED's and ASD are good friends, because ASD in general already make you more picky and stimulate a mono diet and it already impacts food intake or lots of things, and ED's are like ASD people being obsessed by food, sports or weight. I'm not saying there is always a link but it is definitely something that goes so much under the radar. And even without having an ED, as someone with ASD you're likely to have issues with food anyways.

People on the spectrum are likely to be highly skilled in adapting, because you have to and if you don't you'll be rejected or be an outcast. If you even start with adapting or fitting in, in your role or in society in general, you become quite skilled in it. On the internet i can be more myself, but in real life i just "fit in", and it isn't that hard, it's just draining. I'm not really awkward in lots of circumstances, i'm just picky about the social events i participate in. I think people on the spectrum might surprisingly turn out to be good actors/actresses because you simply have to be an actor/actress always.

But if it was the plan for filmmakers like the ones from Rain Man to get people more accustomed to people on the spectrum and to make society be more accepting of it, it simply didn't and they might've even made things much worse in lots of ways. If you can't do it right, than don't do it.
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#5

Post by matthewscott8 »

I am going to listen to the podcast when I have a moment but as I am autistic and have seen the movie, I'll make some initial comments.

I did like the movie and associated with the character of Chance. I think his character is more about a facet of autism than a convinving portrait of an autistic person, but creating a personification of autistic placidity is certainly a valid artistic goal. Autistic babies are less likely to interact with their parents when they enter their field of view and do the staring into space thing more. I certainly feel I have a much greater ability to stare at nature or stare into infinity than most, and a much greater facility with being alone. That being said, autistic placidity or zennness can be disturbed, and often autistic people don't understand why someone is distrubing their placidity, and that can lead to real anger. For a more complete autistic character I prefer Bruce Dern's Freeman Lowell from Silent Running,
Spoiler
the tranquil ecoloving astronaut who misreads his fellow astronauts and goes homicidal
The book A Confederacy of Dunces is another good comparator to Being There, Ignatius is both a genius and a complete idiot, and his assertion that the world is run by a confederacy of dunces both wide of the mark and accurate at the same time, the product of a fertile personality and a negative capability.

The ending of Being There is a kind of a, here's your wake up call if you think you just watched a dismissable comedy, or for someone like me just quite matter of fact.

Btw I think that a film that is both precise and subject to a wide range of fruitful interpretations, is by definition, great film.
Last edited by matthewscott8 on May 11th, 2022, 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#6

Post by Eve-Lang-El-Coup »

I haven't watched Being There and I can't really speak on autism. I would though love to promote 'Love On The Spectrum', the best dating show ever.
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#7

Post by 3eyes »

I wish I could listen to the podcast but unfortunately it doesn't have subtitles.

I was into Jerzy Kosinsky and read all his books incl Being there before autism was a thing, so it's doubtful that he was deliberately making Chance autistic.
Very little was known about autism in the early 80s, when the school district classed my daughter as PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) and argeed after much struggle for her to go to a pioneering school for autistic kids (where she now teaches). (Asperger's wasn't on the radar then either.)
A visiting specialist asked me to fill out a questionnaire about her early development and said she had classical Kanner syndrome. The story of how she finally started talking at age 4 1/2 is quite dramatic.

These days any nerd self-identifies as an Aspie. I so identify myself, my siblings, husband, & children. So what does "being on the spectrum" mean?

Back in the 80s movies about autistic people were a novelty, and welcomed by the parents' group at Phoebe's school. Now they're trendy.
We need an unofficial list of movies about autism.
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#8

Post by matthewscott8 »

I've been sat here disagreeing with a lot of the comments on the podcast unfortunately!

The masturbation scene. I really disagree with this being about making autistic people asexual. Quite a lot of the comments had a bit of a culture war flavour of taking offence on the behalf of others who aren't actually offended themselves. I should just be really clear that I didn't find anything objectionable in the movie at all. Sex and autism is very difficult, a lot of human interaction is performative and surface, and people in the course of my normal alienated business life wouldn't know I was autistic, because essentially every interaction lacks authenticity, everyone has been on business courses where they're taught on how to speak and behave, stuff is depersonalized and transactional aka professional. But sex is really different, it's pretty hard to de-authenticate sex, to remove intimacy, when women have made sexual advances on me they've very quickly realized that I'm autistic, and sex can be very awkward, often I would just freeze and pretend nothing is really happening, which could well be what Chance is doing. Chance is probably a 50 year old virgin (Sellers is 53 at the point the movie is released), regardless of his sexuality. Often the sexual approaches in question from my real life would have a feeling of inappropriateness to them, which this one does as well, i.e. a woman is trying to have a sexual encounter with me when no bond had been built. For me sex is something I want to do with someone I've known for quite some time and where there's been a really wonderful connection established. So the sexual encounter in this film is very inauthentic and I'm not surprised that Chance "freezes", if you can call it that.

The purity/innnocence trope isn't necessarily toxic, as I mentioned in my original comment, there really is some purity/innocence going on in the autistic experience, because in many ways we're less suggestible, or at least not suggestible in the ways people usually are, there's an authenticity that for most people is washed away as soon as they got socalized. As a young person I noticed a lot of very negative behaviour was caused by mob mentality, I literally was not subject to mob mentality, when I could see it happening I just thought everyone was crazy. Probably because they were, but they were in the majority, so they were "normal". The fact that this purity exists doesn't mean that autistic people are "good", an autistic person can definitely do something wrong whilst also knowing that they are doing something wrong, so an autistic person can be legally responsible for crimes.

The stuff about autism being underdiagnosed in women, there's a lot to unpack there, at a surface level it comes off as, oh yeah, another branch of misogyny has been uprooted. However diagnosing mental illnesses is about your ability to function in society, if you're doing really well, not causing people problems, and don't need intervention you're unlikely to be diagnosed, I mean it's hard to see something as an illness if it's not causing any setbacks right, no-one diagnoses anyone as being extroverted, it's a personality type but not considered problematic. The two main places historically where I'm aware of pioneering practitioners dealing with autism are with Hans Asperger, and Brian Gilmartin, Hans Asperger was dealing with young boys who were often violent, which is socially problematic, and Brian Gilmartin was dealing with men who were not getting into relationships, and who he characterised as "love shy", which is very much about "failing to thrive", and it's socially stigmatic. Violence got removed from the diagnostic criteria, for sensible reasons, but it was also part of Hans Asperger's key experience with the children he was seeing. If as a young boy you are treated in a very strict way that makes no sense to you, you are going to get violent, I make no bones about it, I was a violent child. We didn't have school counsellors in 80s UK, or any sensitivity to autism whatsoever, none of this was sadistic violence, it was all brought about by extreme frustration, the violence is a social phenomenon not a biological one (e.g. a rabid dog being violent is biological). My mother and sister are very likely to receive diagnoses of autism if they ever went to a psychologist, but they were never violent and because the emphasis is on men to start relationships, they didn't have a particularly hard time getting into relationships, they'd have been terrible at starting them.

The discussion on empathy is a bit superficial. It's more helpful to differentiate between empathy and sympathy, empathy is where you can feel what someone else feels and sympathy where you care about their experience. I definitely have an "empathy deficit", I'm less likely to be aware of someone else's mood. However I'm very sympathetic, I really don't want anyone else to feel bad, and find it very disturbing if someone is going through a bad time and I'm aware of.

One thing I'm glad about is that you didn't choose a movie about autistic savantism, a very rare type of condition, which is often conflated with autism in general.

Melancholy - this discussion was interesting, yes Chance seems happy when he's in his element, but this doesn't mean that he's not looking for connection. When you're depressed you're not depressed all the time. I've been desperate to be in a relationship for about 25 years now, but I'm not desperate every day during every activity, you simply cannot feel upset about something all the time, particularly if you're autistic, it's exhausting. So yeah I have this profound feeling of living a melancholy life, but not all the time, and I enjoy a lot of my life, it's great to be distracted, and autistic people can get obsessed with distractions easily.

"on the spectrum" - as an autistic person I usually find this to be a slur, so was surprised to see it termed a "euphemism". Usually used to minimize someone's experience "we're all on the spectrum a bit", or intoned as a slur, similar to describing an African American as "of the colored persuasion".

Re: autistic actors to play autistic roles, I'd point out that often as an autistic person, I really don't understand what has happened in particular situations, and without exception when I "get in a pickle" no-one will ever explain what just happened, no matter how much I ask, people will not explain what they consider "obvious". I really am not sure if I can play scenes where stuff like that is happening, better than Per Oscarsson (old school actor I respect).

I have to admit to being a bit triggered at hearing Chance being talked about as being white and male and in terms of this whole privilege discussion. It is often use to minimize experiences and achievements. I'm an autistic guy who has a degree from Oxford university and am very successful at work, which is really a Mount Everest of an achievement with my social difficulties. I'm always completely dismissed as it being about my gender and skin tone though (neurotypical "logic" fails to account that these aren't normal achievements even for neurotypical white guys). Your general point about film portrayals of autism being guys is true, and let's change that for sure.

I always found it quite a simple experience to watch as an autistic person, and I never laughed at anything in it, so it was interesting where you guys described the film at the end as quite complicated.
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#9

Post by 3eyes »

A lot of this resonates, Matthew. One of the rewards of having an autistic daughter was that I learned so much about myself, including some of the weirdnesses of my youthful sexual interactions - such as my inability to know how I felt, much less verbaiize it.

A couple of movies about autistic girls that come to mind:

Under the piano (Canada 96)
A dangerous woman (US 93)

and, of course, Temple Grandin (2010)

- who was THE spokesperson for the autistic community in the 80s. (Among other things she says she doesn't knonw the meaning of the word love. Neither do I. When Quakers get to nattering on about love I've been known to go outside and walk around singing G&S - "I cannot tell what this love may be, that cometh to all but not to me...")

And about "the spectrum" : my daughter diagnosed as "PDD-Atypical". Aspies were not recognized as being autistic back then (autistic people didn't talk). So it was a useful and liberating phrase, but I agree that it's overworked now.
Last edited by 3eyes on May 11th, 2022, 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#10

Post by St. Gloede »

Really great notes Matthew, great/strong read as well and I really wish you had been part of this episode to give these views. (There is also an open invitation to join in for future episodes).

Very surprised to learn that "on the spectrum" can be viewed as a slur, as this is what seems to be the term pushed as being more inclusive, apologies for any offence incurred.

Regarding the "white privilege" discussion, that critique seems, at least to me, quite inherent within the film - and is voiced directly by the black housekeeper when seeing him on TV, so I think it is worth addressing it (though the film is rather vague on what conclusions it wants you to draw there). I don't think anyone meant to take anything away from the achievements of white people with autism, especially as the film is mainly about misunderstandings. Would these misunderstandings be as likely if Chance did not look the part (including the expensive suits)?

(In terms of David's note that autistic/neurodivergent characters tend to be white male was likely only about representation rather than anything else).

Interesting that you describe the film as a simple experience as well, as I am still very perplexed by what the ending means and what the overall message actually is - as there seems to be one, but it is very elusive to me. What is your take-away/read of the ending and the film's intentions? Would love to hear about that (unless it as been too long).
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#11

Post by 3eyes »

Hope I'm not horning in - your question was addressed to Matthew - but to me the film's ending is transparently political. (Chance as manipulatable idiot.)

Wish I knew where the book was - I don't think it ends the same way.
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#12

Post by matthewscott8 »

3eyes wrote: May 11th, 2022, 6:03 pm Hope I'm not horning in - your question was addressed to Matthew - but to me the film's ending is transparently political. (Chance as manipulatable idiot.)

Wish I knew where the book was - I don't think it ends the same way.
But he is also quite the opposite of that. There's a worrying part in Columbus' journal where he has met Native Americans for the first time and talks about their qualities, and concludes that they will make great slaves. But he could instead have chosen to learn from them. It's the same with Chance, people can use him or learn from him, both are equally possible.

Then we have Jesus, what do you want to do to him, nail him on a cross or learn from him. It is so hard baked into modern Western mentality that people who are vulnerable are low status and deserve to be exploited, that we go with the nail to the cross as if there isn't even a choice to be made.

A couple of years back I was writing a global economic outlook for my firm, well sketching one out, and I had a working title that got rejected of "The Untended Garden", this was based on a number of things, tech being allowed to grow as it pleased, money being printed as if the off switch was broken, resources being managed unsustainably. Now the people running that global economic system, they're supposedly the smartest people, and within a certain logic they are, the logic of naked self interest and subjugation. I can tell you right now that the world could benefit from the advice of a noble gardener such as Chance.
Spoiler
To me the walking on water is very plain, this is a Jesus-like figure.
That people are gobsmacked by that is intentional, they spent a lot of time laughing at Chance, then they have to be set straight, even if it's just to give them a feeling that there was definitely something they didn't really understand. For me and my mindset, the ending is just very natural / normal.

The book is another story btw, I've never read it, and it could be radically different in messaging.
Last edited by matthewscott8 on May 11th, 2022, 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#13

Post by kongs_speech »

I love Being There. I'm on the spectrum, and it didn't even occur to me that Peter Sellers' character is autistic. I just took him as a likable eccentric fellow.
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#14

Post by matthewscott8 »

St. Gloede wrote: May 11th, 2022, 5:02 pm Really great notes Matthew, great/strong read as well and I really wish you had been part of this episode to give these views. (There is also an open invitation to join in for future episodes).

Very surprised to learn that "on the spectrum" can be viewed as a slur, as this is what seems to be the term pushed as being more inclusive, apologies for any offence incurred.

Regarding the "white privilege" discussion, that critique seems, at least to me, quite inherent within the film - and is voiced directly by the black housekeeper when seeing him on TV, so I think it is worth addressing it (though the film is rather vague on what conclusions it wants you to draw there). I don't think anyone meant to take anything away from the achievements of white people with autism, especially as the film is mainly about misunderstandings. Would these misunderstandings be as likely if Chance did not look the part (including the expensive suits)?

(In terms of David's note that autistic/neurodivergent characters tend to be white male was likely only about representation rather than anything else).

Interesting that you describe the film as a simple experience as well, as I am still very perplexed by what the ending means and what the overall message actually is - as there seems to be one, but it is very elusive to me. What is your take-away/read of the ending and the film's intentions? Would love to hear about that (unless it as been too long).
I think it's very true that Chance would not have ended up in the same way if he was black and dressed shabbily, and it's legitimate to discuss that referring to the housekeeper scene. I think it got my hackles up because it's such a boilerplate critical point to make, almost any film of that era could be discussed in the same way, it's not a film about white privilege. It reminds me of a Father Ted episode where Father Jack is told to reply to any question asked of him with the phrase, "That would be an ecumenical matter", and he manages to masquerade as a normal priest by doing so.

The privilege framework, whilst it has some merits, desensitises as much as it sensitises, especially in the hands of a weak acolyte, people become a series of ticks and crosses on a checklist as opposed to their own very granular personalities.

I think "on the Autistic spectrum" feels a lot better than "on the spectrum". I'm still not at all convinced that the academic construct of the Autistic spectrum is valid in the first place, these classification systems of personality seem to be very fluid, broad and generalized. On the spectrum just came to be a pejorative term people used for if someone had made a faux pas, "Don't mind Joe, he's on the spectrum", never in a positive way, "Oh yeah John, he always has a unique take on stuff, he's on the spectrum". I should be clear I am not really involved in the autism community, I don't know lots of autistic people, I never did autism online, I never was part of any group support programs, so I can't speak for that community. I did find an article where someone criticised the term though: https://www.mic.com/articles/141028/her ... e-spectrum

How to refer to non-autistic people is another hotly debated topic, should we use neurotypical, or should we say allistic.
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#15

Post by kongs_speech »

I don't find "on the spectrum" offensive in the slightest, nor have I ever noticed it being used towards me in a derogatory manner.
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#16

Post by 3eyes »

A spectral poem:

So there, Robert Bly!
Robinson Jeffers is a man with an extremely powerful mammal brain, in whom, nevertheless, the reptile brain had a slight edge. His magnificent poems are not warm toward human beings. On the contrary, he has a curious love for the claw and the most ancient sea rocks. – Robert Bly, Leaping Poetry, 83f
My poetry is reptilian and less than reptilian,
full of geckoes, axolotls, rollerblading snakes,
skinks, splakes, slugs of land and sea,
sea pork imitating soap, trilobites imitating pecans,
merry calimari, concertina-playing clams,
bonellia husbands swapping yarns inside their wife,
centipedes doing tai chi, fireflies blinking red.

My poetry is mammalian, full of capybaras,
guinea pigs dauntful and heroic,
mountain sheep winding their horns,
luminous puppies, unemployed aardvarks,
horses roosting in hammocks, plummeting hyraxes,
weeping wombats, polecats searching for Wednesday,
paleohippus and Smilodon the smiling don.

My poetry is objective, full of amorous mailcarts,
card-playing dishwashers, breakdancing tables,
wailing sprockets, selfish pulleys, sinister awls,
U-bolts crocheting patriotic songs,
somnolent rubies, stalwart pajamas,
time-traveling oranges—
but now we're getting into botany.

Avast, ye neurotypicals!
I won't play your game of "heads and bodies".
I'm not about to trade this old encephalon
for a skull replete with warmest fuzzies
to suit your newbrained notions
of what a right and proper poem should be.
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#17

Post by matthewscott8 »

3eyes wrote: May 12th, 2022, 1:35 am A spectral poem:

So there, Robert Bly!
Robinson Jeffers is a man with an extremely powerful mammal brain, in whom, nevertheless, the reptile brain had a slight edge. His magnificent poems are not warm toward human beings. On the contrary, he has a curious love for the claw and the most ancient sea rocks. – Robert Bly, Leaping Poetry, 83f
My poetry is reptilian and less than reptilian,
full of geckoes, axolotls, rollerblading snakes,
skinks, splakes, slugs of land and sea,
sea pork imitating soap, trilobites imitating pecans,
merry calimari, concertina-playing clams,
bonellia husbands swapping yarns inside their wife,
centipedes doing tai chi, fireflies blinking red.

My poetry is mammalian, full of capybaras,
guinea pigs dauntful and heroic,
mountain sheep winding their horns,
luminous puppies, unemployed aardvarks,
horses roosting in hammocks, plummeting hyraxes,
weeping wombats, polecats searching for Wednesday,
paleohippus and Smilodon the smiling don.

My poetry is objective, full of amorous mailcarts,
card-playing dishwashers, breakdancing tables,
wailing sprockets, selfish pulleys, sinister awls,
U-bolts crocheting patriotic songs,
somnolent rubies, stalwart pajamas,
time-traveling oranges—
but now we're getting into botany.

Avast, ye neurotypicals!
I won't play your game of "heads and bodies".
I'm not about to trade this old encephalon
for a skull replete with warmest fuzzies
to suit your newbrained notions
of what a right and proper poem should be.
that's really enjoyable to read, did you write that, I couldn't find it on a google search?
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matthewscott8
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#18

Post by matthewscott8 »

I think part of my disquiet with autism spectrum is that I was diagnosed long before the spectrum concept got popularized (or repopularized from the 1920s). I got diagnosed with Kanner's Infantile Autism when I was a baby then rediagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at university. ASD brings to mind a slider or a straight line, like dial up or down how much autism you have, a crass sinplification. I don't really understand why it was reconceptualized like that, although I can understand why the psychological profession would have wanted to distance themselves from Asperger. In 2018 it started to be widely recognized that he was responsible for some Nazi eugenics murders.

In 10 years time maybe they change it all again.
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#19

Post by St. Gloede »

matthewscott8 wrote: May 11th, 2022, 9:02 pm
3eyes wrote: May 11th, 2022, 6:03 pm Hope I'm not horning in - your question was addressed to Matthew - but to me the film's ending is transparently political. (Chance as manipulatable idiot.)

Wish I knew where the book was - I don't think it ends the same way.
But he is also quite the opposite of that. There's a worrying part in Columbus' journal where he has met Native Americans for the first time and talks about their qualities, and concludes that they will make great slaves. But he could instead have chosen to learn from them. It's the same with Chance, people can use him or learn from him, both are equally possible.

Then we have Jesus, what do you want to do to him, nail him on a cross or learn from him. It is so hard baked into modern Western mentality that people who are vulnerable are low status and deserve to be exploited, that we go with the nail to the cross as if there isn't even a choice to be made.
I guess my issue with this read is that I'm not sure if anything can be learned either way as they are not speaking the same language. Everything Chance says is interpreted to have grand meanings, while Chance never realises people are misinterpreting him.
Spoiler
To me the walking on water is very plain, this is a Jesus-like figure.
Yes, I agree, but to what aim, as I don't see Chance making anyone better. The people looking to him, at the end the kingmaking elite, are only looking out for their own interests, so my confusion with the ending has always been:
Spoiler
Whether the Jesus comparison is ironic or not, i.e. is it merely that he has become a Jesus like figure because the people around him are so gullible, i.e. it is the height of ridiculousness - or is it something more earnest - and I see hints at it being read both ways.
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#20

Post by matthewscott8 »

St. Gloede wrote: May 12th, 2022, 9:13 am
matthewscott8 wrote: May 11th, 2022, 9:02 pm
3eyes wrote: May 11th, 2022, 6:03 pm Hope I'm not horning in - your question was addressed to Matthew - but to me the film's ending is transparently political. (Chance as manipulatable idiot.)

Wish I knew where the book was - I don't think it ends the same way.
But he is also quite the opposite of that. There's a worrying part in Columbus' journal where he has met Native Americans for the first time and talks about their qualities, and concludes that they will make great slaves. But he could instead have chosen to learn from them. It's the same with Chance, people can use him or learn from him, both are equally possible.

Then we have Jesus, what do you want to do to him, nail him on a cross or learn from him. It is so hard baked into modern Western mentality that people who are vulnerable are low status and deserve to be exploited, that we go with the nail to the cross as if there isn't even a choice to be made.
I guess my issue with this read is that I'm not sure if anything can be learned either way as they are not speaking the same language. Everything Chance says is interpreted to have grand meanings, while Chance never realises people are misinterpreting him.
Spoiler
To me the walking on water is very plain, this is a Jesus-like figure.
Yes, I agree, but to what aim, as I don't see Chance making anyone better. The people looking to him, at the end the kingmaking elite, are only looking out for their own interests, so my confusion with the ending has always been:
Spoiler
Whether the Jesus comparison is ironic or not, i.e. is it merely that he has become a Jesus like figure because the people around him are so gullible, i.e. it is the height of ridiculousness - or is it something more earnest - and I see hints at it being read both ways.
I think we're not so far apart in our positions, is Chance intelligent in the sense that he could come up with a new missile guidance system...no, he may not even be able to read, is he intelligent in the sense of being able to question why are we building missiles...yes. His gift to us is a perceptual one. It feels perfectly fine to read it dualistically, he's a fool and profound, exploited and messianic.

I also enjoy the film's title, "being there", it goes for two things, both that autistic zenness, of literally being in creation, rather than it being obscured by veils of social concepts and hierarchies, but also to your points about privilege, he's in the right place at the right time eith the right look that something monumentous happens.
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#21

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Matthew, I get what you're saying about a sliding scale. All I know is that I have autistic traits, as do many other members of my family. Splinter skills, ....narrowly focused obsessive interests, social cluelessness... The word "Aspie" helps me explain some of my experience to myself. (I'm aware of the danger of using it as an excuse)... yes, I wrote that poem.
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#22

Post by matthewscott8 »

3eyes wrote: May 12th, 2022, 11:43 am Matthew, I get what you're saying about a sliding scale. All I know is that I have autistic traits, as do many other members of my family. Splinter skills, ....narrowly focused obsessive interests, social cluelessness... The word "Aspie" helps me explain some of my experience to myself. (I'm aware of the danger of using it as an excuse)... yes, I wrote that poem.
if I had written that I would put it in front of a publisher. Allist instead of nt rolls off the the tongue a bit better and is a word I think may stand the test of time better.
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#23

Post by St. Gloede »

matthewscott8 wrote: May 12th, 2022, 9:37 am
St. Gloede wrote: May 12th, 2022, 9:13 am
matthewscott8 wrote: May 11th, 2022, 9:02 pm But he is also quite the opposite of that. There's a worrying part in Columbus' journal where he has met Native Americans for the first time and talks about their qualities, and concludes that they will make great slaves. But he could instead have chosen to learn from them. It's the same with Chance, people can use him or learn from him, both are equally possible.

Then we have Jesus, what do you want to do to him, nail him on a cross or learn from him. It is so hard baked into modern Western mentality that people who are vulnerable are low status and deserve to be exploited, that we go with the nail to the cross as if there isn't even a choice to be made.
I guess my issue with this read is that I'm not sure if anything can be learned either way as they are not speaking the same language. Everything Chance says is interpreted to have grand meanings, while Chance never realises people are misinterpreting him.
Spoiler
To me the walking on water is very plain, this is a Jesus-like figure.
Yes, I agree, but to what aim, as I don't see Chance making anyone better. The people looking to him, at the end the kingmaking elite, are only looking out for their own interests, so my confusion with the ending has always been:
Spoiler
Whether the Jesus comparison is ironic or not, i.e. is it merely that he has become a Jesus like figure because the people around him are so gullible, i.e. it is the height of ridiculousness - or is it something more earnest - and I see hints at it being read both ways.
I think we're not so far apart in our positions, is Chance intelligent in the sense that he could come up with a new missile guidance system...no, he may not even be able to read, is he intelligent in the sense of being able to question why are we building missiles...yes. His gift to us is a perceptual one. It feels perfectly fine to read it dualistically, he's a fool and profound, exploited and messianic.

I also enjoy the film's title, "being there", it goes for two things, both that autistic zenness, of literally being in creation, rather than it being obscured by veils of social concepts and hierarchies, but also to your points about privilege, he's in the right place at the right time eith the right look that something monumentous happens.
Now that's an exciting read that makes a lot of sense!
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#24

Post by 3eyes »

matthewscott8 wrote: May 12th, 2022, 12:26 pm
3eyes wrote: May 12th, 2022, 11:43 am yes, I wrote that poem.
if I had written that I would put it in front of a publisher. Allist instead of nt rolls off the the tongue a bit better and is a word I think may stand the test of time better.
it's included in
my self-published collection, Unglobed Fruit by Esther Greenleaf Murer (2011), which also has poems containing a lot f the items listed.
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#25

Post by matthewscott8 »

3eyes wrote: May 12th, 2022, 2:20 pm
matthewscott8 wrote: May 12th, 2022, 12:26 pm
3eyes wrote: May 12th, 2022, 11:43 am yes, I wrote that poem.
if I had written that I would put it in front of a publisher. Allist instead of nt rolls off the the tongue a bit better and is a word I think may stand the test of time better.
it's included in
my self-published collection, Unglobed Fruit by Esther Greenleaf Murer (2011), which also has poems containing a lot f the items listed.
nice, I ordered a copy from lulu, the cover is fun, and I take it this is a play on "a poem should be a globed fruit" hehe
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#26

Post by 3eyes »

yup, you'll find lots of word play, poem play. Lots of Bible play too, in case you're at all biblically literate.
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