Vitruvian Lines – Part 7: The Consciousness Question

Unknown, Think, Contemplate, ThoughtEach of us knows what consciousness is, but to explain it or – even more challenging – to explain its source or the processes involved in it, remains notoriously difficult.  Regardless of those problems, consciousness is clearly at the very heart of the issues we are examining here.  By good fortune and synchronicity I have been drawn to some research that provides answers that fit neatly with the information which has gone before.

For most, in the last few centuries, Cartesian rationality and materialism have taken over from religion.  Science is the dieu de jour and the human being is entire unto itself – a wysiwyg evolved structure in which all can be explained by neurons firing and passing messages around the brain and nervous system.

Despite concerted efforts over many decades, though, scientists remain unable to explain the phenomena of self-awareness and self-reflection in terms of the way brains are known to function.  This is key to our understanding of the nature of autistic perception and the way it differs from that of other members of the population.

It has long been argued that autists and those who carry the ‘dys-‘ labels (dyslexic, dyspraxic, dysfluent etc.) have brains that are differently structured to those of the rest of us.  If that were the case, though, it wouldn’t explain how the whole of humanity starts physical life with autistic perception, while the majority loose or suppress this way of being to take on the maturation/socialisation norms of their culture with a minority retaining their open, no-limits, creative thought.

In other words, if all human experience could be explained in terms of neural information processing, Joseph Chilton Pearce’s theory of A-Thinking would be wrong.  Since important aspects of consciousness cannot be explained by what the brain does, though, we can look elsewhere for an explanation.  We could obviously look to religion, myth, tradition and spirituality for alternative answers, but for now, let’s stay with science.

 

Very basically, because of the prevailing materialist world view, in which the body is seen as a highly complex machine, mainstream science would dearly love to discover a biological origin for consciousness – some process going on within the brain.  The alternative would be an external source, and that, of course, would not suit the model as it currently stands.

Science has been largely unable to provide answers to these problems.  However, a September 2017 article in the peer-reviewed journal NeuroQuantology sheds some light.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Dr Dirk Meijer, a professor at the University of Groningen has combined neuroscience with quantum theory to propose the source of consciousness as a field surrounding the brain, but in a ‘fourth spatial dimension’.  This Consciousness (highly reminiscent of Ervin Laszlo’s   Akashic Field)  could pick up information from anywhere, he suggests, and transmit it instantaneously into brain tissue – the whole brain, not just certain areas – by a process called Quantum Wave Resonance, a wave pattern that encompasses all neurons.  He proposes that this mental field “is instrumental in high-speed conscious and subconscious information processing” (source: Consciousness in the Universe is Scale Invariant and Implies an Event Horizon of the Human Brain Dirk K.F. Meijer and Hans J.H. Geesink).

Fractal, Render, 3D, HoneycombThe paper goes on to suggest that this holographic structured consciousness is part of a universal system of nesting energy fields.  In other words, everyone and everything that possesses consciousness has one of these, and each of them has contact with all the others.

The following quote shows the enormous repercussions of Dr Meijer’s theory:

“The presence of a field-receptive resonant workspace, associated with, but not reducible to, our brain, may provide an interpretation framework for widely reported, but poorly understood transpersonal conscious states and algorithmic origin of life.” (ibid.)

In other words, each individual ‘mental field’, aka Consciousness, would be able to access all other fields.  This could allow for and explain the existence, so long marginalised by mainstream science, of remote viewing, telepathy, precognition, dowsing, channelling and the like (which means that he has a hypothetical scientific explanation for the non-logical abilities and skills of some ‘square fillers’).

This field, he says, must have certain characteristics in order to be able to perform this function. It must:

a) be instantaneous – a gradual “diffusion” of information through the system … would work too slowly;

b) be capable of receiving every type of information from the environment (electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal, chemical, mechanical, gravitational);

c) select information at fractal levels for different biological orders of magnitude;

d) incorporate information of various parts of the organism and the whole configuration at the same time;

e) be protected against an excess of information and apply some kind of information quality control;

f) ensure minimal loss and distortion of information.

Point (e) above is particularly interesting in light of what we have already discovered.  The ‘excess of information’ that would come from this limitless source, with one person’s consciousness being able to draw on everyone else’s as well as all other information emanating from anywhere in the cosmos is clearly more than any one individual would need or be able to process.

Temple, Columnar, Painting, MuralWe need a system to restrict the flow.  Could it be that the neurotypical maturation/socialisation process does exactly that?  As they grow up, children learn to block out information deemed unnecessary in their culture.  There are many stories of kids being told firmly that the invisible friends they are chatting to don’t exist.  By the age of three or four, they are learning to divide their worlds into ‘real’ and ‘pretend’.  Do those divisions have more to do with society’s norms than any factual basis?

It follows then that those who choose NOT to take on that socialisation process in its entirety have far more leeway than the rest of the population with regard to what they can perceive.  I wanted to make that point here, to tie it in to Dr Meijer’s research, but the ideas behind it will become much clearer when we look at the final piece of this framework.

 

 

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Vitruvian Lines – Part 6: Aspergers Thinking

Note: This post follows closely from the last, which can be read here  and will ideally be read as part of this whole lengthy series of posts, although I realise that’s rather a tall order.

I’d like to look now at the rather special case of the so-called high-functioning ‘square fillers’.  These people have a particularly interesting way of thinking.

It will be clear from what has been written  previously that these people, in order to be viewed as ‘high-functioning’ by our society, have taken on more or less all of the developmental milestones prescribed for normal infant progress.  Their cognitive development – usually referred to as ‘intelligence’ – is well above average.  In fact, a particular feature is their ability to employ high levels of logic to many situations, coupled with an intense, laser-like focus on whichever field of interest is important to them at a particular point in time.  Thus the preponderance of ‘square-fillers’ working in key roles within the IT sector.

Graffiti, Spock, Leonard NimoyThis is the archetype employed in the Star Trek series as Spock, Data or Seven of Nine – altruistic, caring individuals with exceptionally high levels of cognitive ability and rational thought who nonetheless were unable to fit in socially with their colleagues.   Surely this is far removed from the ‘whimsical’, creative, non-logical thought of the autistic thinker described by Joseph Chilton Pearce.

I believe that what the square-filler possesses is a unique – and highly valuable – blend of two distinct thought systems.  He or she has taken on the rules of rational thought, and developed them to an exceptionally high degree (since the ‘no-limits’ aspect of A-thinking is involved).  However this person does NOT water them down, so to speak, with the guilt-based kindness, empathy and social considerations used by ‘circle-fillers’.  That is partly because such variations are utterly specific to each individual circumstance and consequently too diverse to have any easily perceived rules, and partly because the square-filler already has an existing and excellent alternative thought system – the non-logical Knowing that is A-thought.

Poverty, Homeless, FrankfurtThere are certainly times when the logical and non-logical are in conflict.  For the neurotypical person, this is when they know the rules (‘I should notify the authorities that this person is shoplifting.’) but apply the secondary social kindness system (‘But she is clearly living rough, and she only took a loaf of bread and some peanut butter.’) and make a value judgement based on this knowledge to come to a decision which leaves them as guilt-free as they can be in this instance.  (Freedom from guilt is a prime motivator for circle-fillers when they show kindness and consideration of others.)

By contrast, the high-functioning square-filler will react to this situation in a quite different way.  He or she may telepathically read the motives and situation of the shoplifter.  Next, working logically – and at exceptionally high speed – he or she might consider the implications and probable results of reporting the incident or remaining silent, for one or more of those who could be involved.  Finally, the square-filler will project the information thus gleaned into one or more probable futures, to view the results of either action.  This will result in an appraisal of the most advantageous course of action to pursue.

In both cases the thought processes described here, although all made using the conscious mind, are so fast and virtually instinctive that individuals may not be fully aware of the entire process they have gone through; the neurotypical may not realise their intention was personal guilt-reduction, while the other might not recognise the telepathic and precognitive abilities he or she has utilised.

All this means that everyone – square and circle filler alike – is continuously using different thought systems to make judgements and decisions.

Certainly there are times when one system must be used to the exclusion of the other: a judge must apply the law, since that is his or her role in society; an autistic savant must put aside the logic of ‘I shouldn’t be able to play an entire piece of music from memory having heard it only once, since no one else I know can do this’ and simply allow their ‘Knowing’ to take control.  Certainly these dichotomies can leave the individual feeling confused and conflicted.  However without having two modes of thought to draw on, none of us would be self-reflective, and thus fully human.

 

Create, Creation, Creativity, LaptopReturning briefly to autistic thinking as described by Joseph Chilton Pearce, the high-functioning or Asperger’s individual has, despite the conflicts created by working with two very different modes of thought, a huge advantage over the rest of the population when it comes to creativity.  Pearce points out that creative thinking involves autistic thought combined with “the tools of logical structuring given by maturity”.

Neither, of themselves, is particularly productive in human terms.  The autist who has remained as a helpless, totally dependent individual will not be contributing in any recognisable sense to humanity’s needs.  The neurotypical adult who remains entirely trapped within the discipline of his or her chosen profession will simply do as others have done before, following rules blindly and incapable of insights and innovations necessary for progress.

The high-functioning autist, however, can potentially bring to bear the ‘no limits’ knowing of A-thinking on the logical strategies learned from society to bring about fundamental changes, Eureka! moments and quantum leaps in understanding.  These are the innovators, the inventors, the creators.  Just as our nomadic ancestors needed the outliers, so our modern society – whether or not it has realised it – benefits hugely from the input of such talented, free-thinking individuals.

 

In the two following sections, I hope to provide explanations – from two very different sources – for the existence of autistic thinking.

Vitruvian Lines – Part 5: Autistic Thinking

Psychology, Psyche, Mask, Wire RackIn the last section I described one of my ‘lightbulb moments’ – the realisation that the natural method of communicating and socialising amongst the autistic population/ ‘square fillers’ involved a system that by-passed words and used a form of telepathy.  I’d just like to stress that every child in the group I observed was using and responding to it, and they ranged from very high-functioning individuals to at least one who was said to be at the lowest end of cognitive ability.  In other words, it wasn’t a skill some very gifted children had learned; it was a natural skill that – in these individuals – hadn’t yet been suppressed by society.

 

Despite the earnest efforts of their parents and caregivers, these kids had not been pressured into using and thinking with words.

In this section and the next, I will examine the reasons for this, according to the American thinker and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce.

In his book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Pearce speaks of a “primary process of mind”.  That means it is there, initially, in everyone.  This primary process, he goes on, is repressed and largely eliminated by what our society calls maturation.  The quote  from his book that follows is one of the key points of this whole series of articles, because once it is understood, it becomes clear how autistic perception differs from neurotypical perception, how the square fillers think and process information and why that way of perceiving is so valuable to society as a whole.

“Autistic thinking (or A-thinking) is an unstructured, non-logical (but not necessarily illogical) whimsical thinking that is the key to creativity.  It involves ‘unconscious processes’ but it is not necessarily unconscious.  Autistic thinking is indulged in, or in some cases happens to one in ordinary conscious states.  The autistic is a kind of dream-world mode of thinking.  This left-handed thinking is nevertheless a functional part of reality formation.  It is the connecting link between our ‘clearing’ and ‘forest’.  It is the pearl of great price.  It is the way by which potential unfolds.”

It’s possible that a high-functioning autist reading the above might be offended or put off by some of the language there – ‘non-logical’, ‘whimsical’, ‘dream-world’.  There are certain values placed by society on those words, and the earlier mention of ‘maturation’ could imply that those with autistic perception are locked in some eternal wondering infantile state, while the rest of the population has ‘grown up’ and left them behind.  I hope that, by labouring the point (throughout the last four sections) that our society’s norms offer only ONE possible way of developing and maturing, I will have mitigated that interpretation to some extent.

To be extremely clear, then:  All humans begin their terrestrial, three-dimensional existence as autistic thinkers.  They are infinitely creative, imaginative and open to new experiences.  It is only by being that way that they are able to achieve the momentous strides in development which are managed in the first few years of life.

Birth, Child, Baby, Newborn, Hand, KeepA baby is told, implicitly, “Within two or three years you will master several types of mobility, the ability to feed yourself, the ability to speak and understand the meaning, pronunciation and syntax of least one verbal language, the ability to perform complex tasks of manual dexterity and you will have formulated your own preferences in terms of what tastes you enjoy, what sounds and objects you like and dislike, and you will express those preferences clearly.  You will recognise and discriminate between a variety of objects and individuals and be able to name several of them and you will indulge in a rudimentary level of logical thinking and decision making.”

By and large, the baby not only accepts these absurdly high expectations, but goes on to achieve them.  This is not in spite of autistic thought but because of it.  Within the autistic mind there are no limits, so anything is possible.

 

Thus, to square fillers, all possibilities are achievable.  The ‘non-logical’ thinking is the Knowing/ gnosis, that allows the savant to draw the cityscape from memory, to recite π to hundreds of digits, to be the first to recognise that E=MC2 or to remotely view features of a location hundreds of miles away or identify a set of medical symptoms in a person he or she has never met.  This thinking doesn’t rely on cause and effect or logical consideration.  In fact, those – as Will and I have discovered and reported on this blog, during our experiments in some of these areas – are limiting factors which can undermine the ‘Knowing’ process.  That Knowing IS autistic thought.  It is only ‘whimsical’ or dream-like in that the members of society who have traded in such thinking for the so-called rational, logic-bound mental consideration they have been trained to follow cannot conceive of any way such things are possible, except in their dreams and fantasies.

So obviously, yes, there has been a trade-off.   At key points in their lives, each individual has, at some level, made a decision.   The personality has had to choose between retaining the innate level of autistic thinking, and complying with pressure to conform to society’s norms, abandoning the natural state of Knowing in favour of rational, logical thought.

This is not a simple either/or choice, of course.  That is why autistic perception is described as a spectrum.  There are those who elect to remain almost in the new-born baby state of total sensation and imagination and to pursue a lifetime of discovery in that condition.  To society, these people will be considered unfortunate, handicapped and limited, since there will often be no perceived method of communication between them and the care-givers and they will be completely dependent on others to see to their bodily needs.  Others individuals who elect to retain their A-thinking, however, agree to take on varying degrees of ‘maturation’; they will learn some of the key skills expected of the infant, although they may take their time over this.

Control, Quality, Rejected, StampAll the developmental expectations described in the imaginary conversation with the baby above were imposed on the child by parents or caregivers.  Experts such as paediatricians and health visitors would have been bombarding the carers with checklists showing ‘normal’ levels of development and this in turn pressurised them into encouraging the child to achieve all the milestones they had been given.  The parents did their very best to encourage the child to develop ‘normally’, rewarding success and attempting to discourage ‘babyish’ characteristics.  The children who failed to keep up with the checklists would be described by society as ‘delayed’ in certain areas.  Those who opted out of certain developmental targets completely or partially were labelled ‘disordered’.  Such is the pressure to conform exacted by our culture.

It seems obvious to me that the decision made NOT to conform and abandon autistic thinking must have a huge inherent value to the person who makes that choice.  In our society, living as a square filler is far from easy.  It is indeed what Pearce, rather romantically, refers to as ‘the pearl of great price’.  Each of these people has chosen, at some level of being, to reject, or partially reject, society’s norms in favour of this creative, unlimited form of being.

Next time, I’ll examine the particular wonders and pitfalls that beset the ‘high functioning’ square filler, who treads the line between the two populations.

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 4: Socialisation and Communication

Image result for vitruvian man

Time to look, I think, rather more closely at the Leonardo drawing I’ve been using as my analogy for the two ‘populations’ of humanity: The Vitruvian Man.

Fitting comfortably within the circle, legs and hands spread, stands the neurotypical – the type of person who might commonly be referred to as ‘well rounded’ or even ‘normal’, in that he represents the larger portion of humankind.   He also fits within the square, incidentally.  He looks exuberant, relaxed and in control of all he surveys.

Now turn your attention to the ‘square filler’.  He has a more formal stance – feet together, arms stretching out at right angles to his body and not quite able to reach to the edge of the circle.  In some way he is restricted, held back from fully accessing all parts of the circle.  He represents, in this analogy, the autist, the highly sensitive person, the one labelled by the experts as disordered or dys-something-or-the-other.  Before we dismiss this individual as a more limited version of the circle filler, though, take a look at his left foot.  This person has a toe-hold in a realm quite inaccessible to his companion. If we think of the circle as our familiar world view, notice that there is space not bounded by it that lies to left and right below its surface.  Our square filler can reach into that space and access areas invisible and inaccessible to the neurotypical population.  It is one of those areas I’d like to examine today.

Read any formal definition of autistic perception and phrases like ‘difficulties with socialisation and communication’ will predominate.  Can I challenge that?  Can I venture where my Vitruvian’s big toe is pointing and replace the word ‘difficulties’ with ‘differences’?

Children, Blue, Play, Background, GreenI first began to understand that there were different methods of communicating and socialising when I worked in special education.  I was at the classroom window watching several children aged between 5 and 7, all with some degree of autistic perception and virtually no intelligible spoken language.  Despite that, they were each taking roles within an imaginative game.  It had a definite storyline.  Each of them knew what to do – when it was time for one person to bring the tricycle taxi to the playhouse door, who was going to ride in it, where they were going and so forth.  I tried to figure out what was happening.  Was it that they had learned to understand each other’s spoken language?  No – there was virtually no speech – just laughter, shrieks and sound effects.  There was also a great deal of looking.  As they watched one another, I realised, they were communicating.  I was watching a bunch of little kids communicating telepathically with each other.  That realisation changed my life.

Having keenly watched the development of my grandchildren, I firmly believe that all infants begin life with considerable and wide-ranging telepathic skills.  This telepathy works both ways.  They can pick up the thoughts of others (not necessarily verbal thoughts alone, but states of mind, concepts and emotions) and can transmit their own to people with whom they have established a telepathic link.  Thus not everyone knows why a baby is crying, but the mother or sibling often will.  I believe the process of this ‘linking’ is in some way related to quantum entanglement, so that time and space are not relevant.

This is by no means the only example of alternative methods of communication and socialisation.  Last year I read an article about an isolated tribe who communicated via dreaming.  If a decision needed to be made, the tribal elder or shaman would ask the community to explore the issue in their dream state.  The next morning a consensus would have been reached as a shared dream had allowed them to come to a conclusion.  The anthropologist studying this group reported that shared dreaming was considered by the tribe to be a normal, important aspect of social life.

Buddha Statue, Stone Statues, SpeakNeither of these forms of communicating would be considered likely or legitimate by our mainstream culture.  We live in a society where spoken and written language has been the primary means of communication for many centuries.  The language we use in the West depends heavily upon taxonomy – classification.  Thus a child learns that a Great Dane, a dingo and a Jack Russell are all dogs, but a fox isn’t.  It’s far from straightforward.

It is said that if spelling were as fluid now as it was in Shakespeare’s time, dyslexia would be almost non-existent.  We only have dyslexic people because we have a rigidly structured written language.  We only have dysfluent people because we have a precisely articulated spoken language.  Square fillers generally have challenges coping with social communication via word-based language.

Circle fillers think in words.  Others, though, think in patterns, gestalts, pictures and concepts that have no direct linguistic equivalent.  For these thinkers, word-based language is a problem because of its limitations.

Just about every member of our population has at some point complained about the inadequacy of words to express subtle or complex ideas or concepts: ‘I can’t find the words to express…’  ‘Mere words cannot convey…’.  To make up for this, the circle fillers have added in a range of subtle verbal, facial and bodily expressions to augment the words they use.

By contrast, the square fillers find aspects of this system challenging.  They have a quite different way of communicating naturally, which would seem to involve thinking and telepathically sending or receiving gestalts, concepts, images, patterns or even colours.  They may have adopted word-thought and word-speech as a second language, but it is not one they find easy to use.

As we move into the next section, I’ll go deeper into autistic thinking and communication.

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 3

Image result for vitruvian manIn the previous post, I spoke of how well the role of an ‘outlier’ would suit those who fit within the square, rather than the circle of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man – the sensitive people who are more comfortable on the fringes of a society.

It would seem highly likely that the ancient outliers held a position of very high status within nomadic or migrating groups, since they were responsible for everyone’s safety and the success of the journey.  What happened to them, though, when the travellers decided to settle and build permanent homes?  I suspect that they retained their revered status within the tribe.  There is a small but important piece of evidence for this.

Within the last year – so I learned from a recent BBC archaeology programme – it has been discovered that Avebury – the world’s largest stone circle – originally had a building at its centre, and that building (which predates the stones) was … a house.

Grass, Landscape, Outdoors, NatureAt first, this seems something of a let-down.  For years we have venerated and romanticised these stone structures as the site of religious rituals, meaningful astrological observation or sacrifice to pagan gods.  Are we now to believe that they went to the huge effort of building a stone circle, a series of elaborate avenues and other complex structures to honour a simple house?

I suspect that is exactly what they did.   The symbolic importance of the first settlers’ homes would have been immense.  This was the starting point for a new way of life – a new beginning for their society.  In myth, traditional stories and legend, the House of a clan, family or tribe is revered – not the building itself, so much as the dynasty it represents.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that our distant ancestors chose the site of that first home to build their stone circles as a gathering place.  The interesting thing about stone circles, though, is that they very often have outliers – stones placed at a distance from the main structure.  Often these stones mark a particular view, such as the only position from which a sunrise can be viewed in a gap between distant hills on the solstice.  They can also mark the beginning of a causeway or avenue leading to some other important place.  I think the idea of a central gathering place was hard-wired into these people, but so was the need and reverence for the outliers.

So does the structure of a settled society render outliers/ ‘square fillers’ obsolete?

Absolutely not.

In many primal societies people with this special skills-set – heightened senses, an ability to link telepathically to other times or places, other dimensions, even, and a degree of separation from the everyday life of the society – are appointed as shamans, healers and seers.  Their role can be to travel between worlds, to care for the psychological health of the group, to look into the future or past to provide the answers they need or to uncover the reasons for sickness or misfortune.  They are the psychic equivalent to the outlier – visiting regions the rest can’t reach and feeding back necessary information.

Humanity is always journeying forwards.  We have seen that these talented and unusual individuals are not particularly popular with leaders and experts in our society’s structure.  Some, though, manage to have a profound effect despite officialdom.  When they do, they are responsible for creating the huge shifts in perception that move society into new areas.  The Einsteins, the Teslas and the Newtons are able to access insights and understanding simply not available to the common man or woman.  These people work silently, compulsively, alone and – for reasons we’ll see later – are able to make huge leaps to a higher level of understanding of how the universe really works.

I’m fully aware that so far I’ve written well over 3000 words on this subject and not yet addressed the core issue I promised to discuss – an explanation of how autistic perception works.  Stay with me.  The first few sections were an overview, showing how our present Western society isn’t structured to encourage or promote autistic perception, while others apparently are or have been.  They have also demonstrated the persistence of autistic perception and touched on its value to society.

The next section will begin to look more closely at what it involves, while after that, I’ll attempt to draw in research from three very different disciplines so that we can finally examine what autistic perception is, how it works and the benefits for the population as a whole.

Vitruvian Lines – Part 2

Society, another way

I’m trying, in this series of posts, to identify the key differences between two aspects of the human population.  To avoid the usual derogatory associations that beset people who are medically or educationally labelled as different from the majority, I’ve borrowed Leonardo’s wonderful Vitruvian Man (which he borrowed from Vitruvius) and used the two overlying figures he depicts to represent these types of people.  Image result for vitruvian manThere are those who fit neatly into the circle.  They are those commonly called neurotypical.  Then there are the others – the people who, we are told by the experts, have differently wired brains.  These are those who fit the square.  There wouldn’t be a problem, unless someone tries to fit a square into a round hole.  In the previous post, I used that analogy to consider how our society is structured in such a way that it attempts to do exactly that.

Now, though, I’d like to consider other ways of structuring societies and see whether there could be a more comfortable space in them for our ‘square fillers’.

As I mentioned last week, a triangular power structure has held sway in the West since written records began.  Humanity is far older than writing, though, so by thinking back to a time before scribes and civil servants organised us all, we may find something different.

Despite the earnest efforts of social anthropologists, archaeologists and academics, very little is known, and far less understood, about our distant ancestors – the people who migrated vast distances across Africa, Europe and beyond.

For millennia, the hunter-gatherers moved gently across the landscape.  They would take refuge in caves or build temporary shelters, but they often needed to follow the food supply, so movement was their natural way of life.  A tribe which is constantly on the move and living a hand-to-mouth existence has no need of leaders or experts.  Consequently, I think it safe to assume that their society would have been structured very differently to ours.

In order to safeguard the youngest, oldest and otherwise vulnerable members of their group, they would have to form a protective framework as they moved. The pace of the group would, then, probably be slow and steady.

Mountains, Ridge, Climbing, Open SpaceCertainly there is safety in numbers and it isn’t hard to see the advantages to the group of travelling in this way.  Fairly obviously, though, there are certain shortcomings.  What this culture would need is for certain individuals to move slightly away from the central group and to perform a different function.  The hunter-gatherers would need outliers.

An outlier is someone with a relationship to the general group, but somewhat apart from it – on the periphery.

If you think, for example, of a herd of migrating animals, the general mass remains together in a central hub but certain individuals purposely take themselves to the edges and beyond.  Theirs is a more exposed and potentially dangerous situation, but they serve the valuable purpose of scouting for possible hazards or useful food sources that would be missed by the main group.  Without the outliers, the entire colony would stand less chance of survival.

If you think about it, the skills these outliers develop will be very different from those of the rest of the population.   Imagine a group of humans on a long journey, with most crowded into a central group and a few staying on the edges and heading off to scout around.  Who would have the highest levels of sensory stimulation – a member of the mass or an outlier?  Clearly it would be the outlier.  He or she would need highly developed senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch in order to be alert for danger or sanctuary, while members of the central group would have little sensory stimulation beyond the sound, smell and sight of their fellow travellers.

By contrast, an outlier would not need to be particularly involved in everyday, low-level interactions with others, since he or she is on the fringes of the group and only needs to communicate about matters of urgency.  The central group, on the other hand, would need the ability to engage in ‘small talk’ and general chatter to maintain a peaceful co-existence.

As will no doubt have already occurred to you, the characteristics of an outlier in a migratory group resemble some classic features of autistic perception – heightened senses, often to the point where they can be uncomfortable or even painful, and limited social and communication skills.  In other words, those with autistic perception could be ideally suited to the role of an outlier.

(I wonder whether the fascination so many ‘square fillers’ have with trains and other modes of transport is some deep ancestral memory of this role.  Fanciful, perhaps, but possible?)

Next time, I’ll consider the status of the outlier in those nomadic societies, and what might have happened to them when peoples began to settle.

 

Vitruvian Lines: Part 1

 The Structure of Society and Autistic Perception

Architecture, Modern ArchitectureWithout wishing to get political, Western Society and its offshoots around the world are structured in a particular way, and have been so in one form or another since the writing of records began.  It involves having leaders, supported and advised by a cluster of experts, who dominate, control and care for the masses of ordinary people.  It doesn’t matter, for the purposes of this argument, whether that structure is a nation, a city, a company or a school.  It doesn’t matter whether the leaders are elected, self-imposed, benign or despotic.  It doesn’t matter whether they are loved, loathed or feared by their people.  All that matters is that this is the structure we, and all those around us, were born and socialised into – so much so, that we the people find it difficult to visualise our way out of this system.

Think of the number of times – even in modern history – when a hated dictatorship has been overthrown, only to be replaced by a very similar system, because that is the only way people can imagine society working.

So what has this to do with autistic perception?  Well, such societies, with their triangular power system, rely on the few controlling the many.  Clearly, that has inherent challenges.  To maintain the structure successfully, the leaders and their enforcers must keep the masses as ‘mass-like’ as possible.  Through the ages, free-thinking, independent and unusual individuals or those showing abilities which might challenge the status quo have been punished, ostracised or supressed.  We have extreme examples of this scapegoating in witch-burning, religious persecution, homophobia etc.

‘Divide and Rule’ is a highly successful strategy for preserving power.  It is in the interest of leaders and experts to keep people from deviating too much from the norm.  ‘Norms’ are far easier to control than a diverse range of individuals.  Thus we have an education system which attempts to produce clones with just enough skills to be useful to society but not enough to allow them to question it.  We have a medical system that attempts to produce in everyone enough health – mental and physical – not to be a burden and to medicate anyone who shows features that don’t fit the norm.

In the Victorian era, being left-handed was considered threateningly deviant by the authorities.  Such children had their left hands strapped down and were forced to conform to ‘normal’ behaviour – using the right hand – which often resulted in stammering, nervous tics or other responses to this barbarity as their natural tendencies were supressed.

Today a so-called ‘savant’ – an individual who can perform superhuman feats, like playing a concerto after hearing it once, drawing an accurate representation of a scene after one glimpse or one who can perform incredible mental calculations – is somewhat feared by the experts.  They can’t account for that person’s abilities, so they go to great pains to emphasise the ‘negative’ aspects of such people, such as a perceived lack of self-care, social or inter-personal skills.  Such people are not, by and large, welcome in a society which seeks to reward complicity and punish autonomy.

Similarly, people with psychic skills are often treated with disdain, branded charlatans and fraudsters or laughingly marginalised as weird or eccentric.  Although the police, corporations and government intelligence systems utilise the skills of such people, this is kept very quiet.  Publicly, they are ostracised.

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So in our present society, ‘Square Fillers’ (see this post for an explanation of that term) are marginalised, put down and attempts are even made to ‘normalise’ them with drugs and psychiatric interventions.  Their non-typical way of interacting with others is often given as the justification for this.

Admittedly, as society’s reliance on computer technology increases and the natural ability of Square Fillers in this area becomes increasingly obvious, they are becoming rather more tolerated and even admired than was the case twenty years ago.  It’s something like the way in which the USA gradually began to appreciate and accept their black citizens as their skills at sport provided the nation with a kudos which couldn’t be reached by the white population alone.

I know I’ve laboured this point rather, but the attitude of the ‘experts’ rubs off not just on the typical members of society, but on those with autistic perception as well.  Like the little Victorian left-handers, they can easily see themselves as deviant and wrong, and embark on a tremendous, difficult and ultimately unwinnable battle to live up to society’s standards of normalcy in order to be accepted.

It is often, in my experience, this pressure to conform to patterns that don’t fit their natural way of being which cause the secondary problems that beset so many Square Fillers – anxiety, depression and other psychological difficulties.  These are NOT a symptom of autistic perception in themselves.

The Vitruvian Lines – Introduction

Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci

Here it is, finally.  Thank you, friends, for your patience.

This is my best attempt to answer the questions implied in an article my friend and confidant Will
wrote a while ago.  Some parts of what follows have already appeared in various blog posts I have written, however there is also much new information and it ideally needs to be read as a whole.

Because of its length, I’ll be serialising these ‘lines’ in my blog for many weeks to come. I personally find blog posts over 800 or so words hard to read, as I like to ‘dip into’ them and I’ve noticed I get more ‘hits’ on my shorter articles, so I assume others are like me in that respect.

Why Vitruvian?

Because the main thrust of these lines concerns the relationship between two different populations currently inhabiting our planet – those commonly described as ‘neurotypical’ (or, more chauvinistically, ‘normal’) and those who are often labelled as highly sensitive, disordered or possessing some form of dysfunction which renders them atypical – I wanted to find a neutral way of describing the two groups.  I adhere to my principle of refusing to refer to people on the autistic spectrum as ‘disordered’.  I refer to them as ‘people with autistic perception’ or ‘autists’, sometimes separating out those at the highest cognitive levels as Asperger’s (a term no longer current in medical and psychological circles, but still in common use) or ‘high-functioning autists’.   However Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man provides an interesting way to differentiate between the populations.

As you can see from the drawing, the physical human body will fit either into the square or the circle, but not both.  Of course, those divisions only exist in a geometrical sense, as does, for example, the equator.  For me, though, they will provide a useful analogy for the groups I want to discuss.  I will therefore describe the ‘neurotypical’ population as Circle Fillers and the ‘neuro-atypical’ group as Square Fillers.   Why that way round?  There is a reason, hidden in the geometry, which I’ll come to in a future section, but for now, perhaps the metaphor of square pegs having difficulty fitting into round holes will suffice to allow you to differentiate between them.

The Inspiration

“Autistic people are capable of communicating and socialising. They have a naturally different method of accomplishing this. What exactly that method is I don’t believe is fully understood at present by either autistics or non-autistics. I don’t believe the correct words have been attributed to autistic matters to describe or explain them properly. I suspect at some point this will be achieved and hopefully will allow autism to be harnessed to its full potential and remedy the blindness of so many.”

William Bales 2016

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good puzzle – especially one that could benefit everyone if it were solved.  The comments Will made there ticked all those boxes and more for me and I have been working away at uncovering the answer ever since he wrote them.  Some of that work has been conscious, some has been more-or-less subliminal; I’ve simply set my ‘self’ the task and waited to see what it comes up with and what synchronicities appear as a result.

Obviously, because I set the framework for solving the puzzle up in that way, the various pieces of information and insight have appeared in non-linear fashion, so are quite challenging to collate as continuous text.  I’ve set out the different strands under sub-headings, then attempted to draw them together at the end.

In my next post, I will begin to explain The Vitruvian Lines in terms of the structure of society.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Light, Pear, Lamp, Light Bulb, EnergyI know, I’ve been very quiet again lately.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing.  I have – and considerably more than usual.  It just isn’t ready to put here yet.  One day soon, though, I’ll be inundating this blog with the thoughts and ideas that have just about taken over my waking life in the past few weeks.  Maybe you should enjoy the peace while you have it…

Many years ago, a very talented psychic told me I would collect up all manner of information from all kinds of places, and one day I would put it all together in a new way, and this would be original and of interest to others.  At the time I laughed and told her I could scarcely remember where I’d put my keys, let alone recall great tracts of reading and learning.

She was right, though.  Somewhere in my mind (a place I now understand far better) they were all lurking.  I explained the process by which all these semi-forgotten snippets formed themselves into a coherent whole in my previous post: The Answer.  The question these words were answering can be found printed in green at the end of another fairly recent post: A Trail of Breadcrumbs.
OK, it isn’t exactly a question, but it implies one, and it’s one I’d been wondering about and trying to answer for many years before William summed it up so clearly.

Code, Programming, Head, ComputerSo the information slotted itself together very easily.  The hard part has been trying to find ways of recording it in something approaching coherent text.  The different parts jump and fizz and turn cartwheels in my mind, while I’ve been trying to sequence them, so that one word follows the next and it makes sense to someone other than me.

I think I’ve done it, just about.  There are around eleven thousand words there and they seem to make sense.  So the next step is to pass them on to Will.  It was he, after all, who asked the question, and he will be my fiercest critic and most diligent proof reader.  There’s a useful synchronicity there, too; what do you give the man who claims to want nothing for Christmas (but does really, of course)?

I’ve packaged the information up into sections, which will be emailed to him throughout the Christmas holiday season, with ‘The First Day of Christmas’, ‘The Second Day of Christmas’ etc. in the subject line.  Hopefully, he’ll critique it and add more to it than he already has … and then I’ll be ready to share it with you.

Needless to say, in order to work out how people with autistic perception receive and process information led me to question how the rest of us do so.  How else could I understand the differences?  My journalling journey took me to places I never expected to visit, but I’m so very glad I did.  I found nuggets of truth lurking in the most incongruous places, so seeing a partridge roosting in a pear tree would no longer strike me as strange at all.

Wishing you all the happiest of festive seasons, in whatever way you celebrate this turning of the year, and I look forward to joining you again in 2018.

The Answer

This morning.

Very early.

People, Girl, Woman, Sleep, DarkI’d been dreaming – a comfortable, satisfying dream featuring people I love doing useful, good things.  Each action, although there were separate little scenes, linked to the rest and I was feeling as if we were really getting somewhere.  It was a continuation of the dream I’d had the previous night.

And now I was no longer asleep.  Whether I was fully awake, I couldn’t say.

I was – waiting?

That was how it felt.

Waiting for pieces of a puzzle to drop into place.  There didn’t seem to be anything I needed to do other than lie there, in that extremely relaxed state and wait for something very wonderful to happen.

Slowly, a delicious glowing sensation began to flow through my mind.  It spilled over into my body.  I could actually feel those pieces dropping into position, and as each one joined the others, I began to feel better and better.

This was perfect.

This was the answer.

I was buzzing now with a gentle excitement.  I knew, with absolute certainty, that the puzzle was solved and I’d been left with the answer to the question that has been my obsession for so long.

“Is that it, then?”  I remember thinking, curiously.  “I’ve done it.  I’ve achieved my soul purpose for this lifetime.  Do I die now?”

I didn’t die.  I looked at the clock.

02:54

“No, of course I don’t die yet!” I chided myself.  “I have to write it down.  I have to get this down NOW before I fall asleep again.”

Realising how close to sleep I still was, I forced myself to sit up, switched on the bedside light and picked up the pen and journal that always wait patiently beside my bed, for just such a moment as this.

I jotted down everything that had entered my mind.  The writing was rough and jerky, but it would do for now.  A neater, fuller copy would follow later.

I turned the light off, rolled over, smiled and waited for sleep to return.  Instead, my whole body started to radiate the most intense heat.  A cold November night, but I flung off the bedclothes and sizzled.  It wasn’t unpleasant – just a rush of intense energy.

How long I stayed like that, I have no idea.  By 5am I was relaxing again.  The next time I checked the clock it was almost 9.

A teaching day, and the house to clear up for my family coming at the weekend.  I grinned to myself.

After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

All day I’ve worked.  Now it’s night time and I’m tired, red-eyed, needing to sleep.  Still there’s nothing to show for this morning’s adventure beyond the hasty scribblings in my journal…

…and this delicious feeling that this most precious of jewels now sits here inside me.

One day, my friends, I’ll find the right words to share it with you.  For now, this must suffice.