The revelation that I am an aspergarian has been like finding myself at the theater of my life, seated comfortably in a mezzanine seat, viewing things straight forward and as I have been directing them to be viewed. Then, someone taps me on the shoulder and tells me to change seats, moving me closer to the stage and a bit to the side, where I get a different perspective on events. Suddenly I see that things that I once thought were formidable and stable, are but two dimensional stage sets. Oddly, the play makes more sense from this perspective.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Birds, Butterflies, Flowers and Other Stereotypes

Bambi taught me that it's OK to stereotype.

As a child, I tended to look at things individually, or in rather large groups. Lets take, for example, the simple pencil.

A Pencil  is something you use to write on paper. A pencil can draw lines, circles, squiggly marks.

Are all writing implements pencils? No.

A pencil is not a Pen. Pencils are made of wood. Pens are plastic.

A pencil isn't a Crayon. Crayons are made of wax and come in many colors.

Pencils have hard lead.

Pens have liquid ink, which was black or blue.

Pencils have a rubber tip which can erase what you draw. Pens and Crayons do not have this - they can not be erased.

I was very excited to go to school and looked forward to using Pencils, Pens, and Crayons. For school I got RED and BLUE wood writing implements (of course I never would have used the word implement at that time, for I was just a child) and I understood that these were also pencils. I liked them.

The first day of school, we were asked to line up and bring two pencils with us to another classroom. I picked up my red pencils, for they were my favorite.

Very quickly, the new teacher, inspecting the line, saw me with my red pencils in hand and pointed me out. I was wrong. I had the wrong pencils! I was sent back to my desk to retrieve the yellow pencils.  I learned that a pencil, is a yellow pencil, unless it's red, blue, green, or any other color and then it's a colored pencil. The yellow color was apparently the natural color of pencils.

I understood the problem poor Bambi had. She was told that things that fly were Birds, then she saw a Butterfly. They laughed when she called it a Bird. The Butterfly had colorful wings, and landed on a Flower, with colorful petals. The petals looked like the Butterfly. They laughed when she called the Flower a Butterfly.

This was a light introduction to the science of classification of names: Taxonomy.  However, in my mind, this science did not extend just to bugs, plants and animals, but to everything.  I would learn about the many different types of pens, pencils (beyond described above!), tables (coffee, breakfast, dining room, side, and even "occasional") chairs. 

The yellow pencil is just a sterotype.

This, I believe is the root of my fascination with language. 

They say that Aspies don't like the non-literal: metaphors, irony, and absurdities, but I sniff them out like a pig sniffs out truffles. I can never pass up a pun unacknowledged. Drop a homophone and I will want to make a punny.  These sounds tickle my ears and mind so I can barely help myself.  I find myself laughing alone to puzzled faces all the time.   You will find my humor tourettes on display at Borderline Comedy Disorder where I blogged before I was diagnosed AS.

Another thing that is said about Aspies is that we aren't naturally prejudiced.  I suppose this can be traced to the fact that . . . . well, at least for me - I can look at the differences in something as simple classification criteria, not value judgments.  I also can put groups together for purposes of classification without thought of value, but simply to separate them mentally.  People can be classified in so many ways!!  Yet, we get so hung up on a few of the most obvious visual classifications.  I don't think it's the worst sin in the world to mistake a Moth for a Butterfly or call a Flower a Bloom.

Rose by another name

The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity - that it's this or maybe that - you have just one large statement; it is this.
Chinua Achebe

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