Monday, September 5, 2016

Literary Interests on the Spectrum -- Fantasy, Comics, and Perhaps SciFi

Of course, reading NeuroTribes means recognizing patterns repeated in me. There's something I share with practically every case study mentioned (Wittgensteinian "family resemblances" to be sure!) But sometimes I recognize patterns found in others. One such pattern is the recurring patterns of people on the spectrum reading comic books, fantasy, and fairy tales (I suspect SciFi is also in there, but that hasn't been mentioned in the book--yet, at least). I've never read a lot of comic books (though I have a small collection), and little fantasy or SciFi (I'm a fan of such movies, though).

One has to wonder what the fascination is with SciFi and fantasy among those on the spectrum. These are magical worlds, different from the world in which we live and experience, but surely such escape is not exclusively autistic. And yet, given the strong connection between the two, what may the popularity of SciFi and fantasy suggest about the true prevalence of autism, broadly understood?

Of course, I may be simply over-extending here. Autistics' interest in SciFi and fantasy hardly means the causation runs backwards, that interest in SciFi and fantasy means autism/autistic traits. But it would be worth researching.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

We Meritocrats

I am currently reading Neurotribes, which I am sure I will continue to comment on as I continue to read it. Today, however, I want to bring up something I keep seeing in each of the autistic cases Silberman mentions, which is that each of them seem particularly focused on merit.

I definitely believe in meritocracy, and I always have. It was only reinforced when I read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, in which Rand (who was almost certainly a fellow Aspie), provides a epic celebration of meritocracy. Indeed, her primary argument against socialism or even the interventionist state is precisely that people are rewarded for things other than merit.

It is perhaps not surprising that people who identify with their work and who aren't particularly social would think that the best system is one that recognizes people for their actual accomplishments than for their social/political skills. Of course, social skills and political skills are practically the same. Which is perhaps why many on the spectrum I have met have been particularly anti-politics if not outright libertarian. To us it seems a pretty stupid way to get things done, since nothing is getting done while everyone involved get rich and powerful while producing nothing of worth to anyone.

We thus have a tendency to respect creators, inventors, and other such entrepreneurs but not the kind of people who get what they want because of their personalities or their social skills or who they know. We appreciate the artists and the scientists and the inventors but not the social butterflies and the politicians and the demagogues.

But let's be honest. We creators need the kind of people who can promote our work, if we're not natural promoters (and we on the spectrum definitely are not). We autistic creators in particular need a promoter in our lives, someone who will make sure our things are published, sent out, or marketed to the right people.