A Man Who Looks on Glass

All those decades ago, when I was in primary school and singing along to rather dreary hymns in assembly, the words of one verse hit me as fascinating.  I think it went more or less like this:

A man who looks on glass
On it may stay his eye,
Or if he pleaseth through it pass,
The Heavens to espy.

Quite why ‘the Heavens’ should be lurking behind each pane of glass this man looked on, I wasn’t sure, but that property of glass – the way we are able to focus on its surface or to peer right through it to what lies beyond – stayed lodged in my mind as one of those Interesting Things about the world.

One of my favourite stories as a child was Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.  I could easily imagine her drawing-room mirror misting over, becoming treacle-like in consistency and Alice clambering excitedly into the looking-glass house beyond.  The fascination stayed with me, and when I settled recently to write a story, I decided to make one of the principal and most complex characters a glass maker.

Glass Float Handmade Blowing Craft MoltenObviously a bit of research was in order.  I’d been to visit a glass works and watched in awe as glowing globs of molten glass were removed from the furnace on long pipes and blown into huge, wobbling bubbles, ready to be shaped into all manner of marvels.  I knew it was made from sand and soda and various other substances, but I wanted some detail on the alchemy involved.

This is what I discovered.  Maybe you already knew it.  Maybe you had the kind of science teacher who moved beyond the dogma of solids, liquids and gases and explained such wonders to you.  To me, though, it was a revelation…

Sand is heated up and becomes liquid.  It transforms into glass.  This is an irreversible chemical change.  When the molten glass is removed from the heat source, it begins to solidify, but it never quite does so.

Glass, Structure, Abstract, Modern, ArtThat was the part that amazed me.  Glass is not a true solid!  It’s what is known as an amorphous solid, which means it is in the process of solidifying, but still has the properties of a very viscous liquid.  Scientists conjecture, it seems, about whether the cooled (and apparently solid-feeling) glass will ever complete that transformation – whether its molecules will every crystallise into a true solid.  The best guess seems to be that the process would take a very long time – longer than centuries.  Meanwhile, small groups of molecules within the glass are acting like parts of a solid, while others are still behaving as parts of a liquid.  They seem to slither and slide in and out of the two states without (if I can, for a moment, embue them with higher levels of sentience than we normally do) really making up their minds.

Now all that, I think, is rather astonishing.

For me, though, the most amazing part of my discovery is the way these characteristics mirror, if you’ll excuse the pun, the personality of my not-entirely-fictional glass maker.  The man I wanted to portray is a complex individual.  In many ways, he comes across as a normal, functional, middle-aged father.  There are facets of his behaviour, though, that entirely lack the solidity and dependability of such a person.  He is, in some respects, locked in the kind of volatility, fluctuating moods and emotional instability we would more normally associate with the most troubling aspects of adolescence.  If you can imagine the contents of a chrysalis, after the caterpillar’s molecules have liquified but before they have fully re-formed into the adult butterfly (a process I often used as an analogy for my poor, confused young pupils as they reached puberty and tried to fathom what was happening to themselves) that is the state of this character’s psyche.

Flower Honey Nutrition Eat Liquid Yellow EWithout knowing that such a state existed, I was writing about a man of amorphous solidity.  My character slithers, in a more or less involuntary manner, between thoughtful, rational behaviour and a devastating capriciousness and lack of clarity or consideration.  He brings down havoc and disaster upon himself and those around him and – even when all is lost – he is unable, for more than a few moments at a time, to take responsibility for all that has transpired.  Like those glass molecules, his thoughts waver and vaccilate constantly between states and refuse to settle.

How intriguing that my ever-present muse should lead me on this alchemical journey, in order to assist me in comprehending the complexities of the Glass Maker’s personality.

 

 

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Home?

Box, Sheet, Saying, StorageHere I am then.  Back in the strange little 17th century stone cottage I own in beautiful Somerset.

At least, my body is.  My possessions are here too – many still waiting to be unpacked as I try to remember where on earth I used to keep them.  The rest of me, though, hasn’t quite landed yet.

These two lives I’ve been living this year are so utterly different.  When I moved to the East, I had to adjust instantly; there was so much to do.  Here, there is no urgency.  The days are not planned for me.  I don’t need to be in specific places at specific times.  I don’t have a list of tasks with completion dates.  I just have Life – and I can choose how frenetic or leisurely to make it.

Then there’s the space.  My house is tiny by most people’s standards, but after seven months of single-room living I’m finding it strange to have a separate room for almost every activity.  It feels almost decadent.  I will readjust, but I haven’t yet.

Oh and the people!  I am a solitary soul by nature – quite happy with my own company.  Living alone suits me well and there were many occasions when, at the end of a frantic day with the grandchildren, I could shut myself into the little studio flat and unwind.  They were always nearby, though, and while I didn’t see them every day, there were never more than two or three days without company.  Here there are friends, and no doubt I’ll see all of them soon – when the missing bits of me have landed…

So what is it that is really bugging me?

Home.  That’s what.

‘Home is where your heart is’, so they say.  Trouble is, my heart is one of the bits of me that hasn’t landed yet.  It’s scattered in several different places.

You see, the town I’ve been living in for the last half-year is the town I called home for over thirty years.  It’s where I gave birth to and raised my three children, where I taught hundreds of others, where I forged all the most significant relationships in my life.  It’s also the place I ran from when my job and my marriage and my wellbeing became so compromised that I knew I needed a new start.

I ended up here, convinced that I’d found what I grandly called my ‘spiritual home’.  Glastonbury is a powerful place.  People say it chooses you, rather than the other way about.  Certainly, over the ten years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen many arrive with plans to make changes and give the place what they decide it needs.  Within six months, they are scuttling off, tails between their legs.  Glastonbury chews that sort up and spits them out.  Me?  Oh, it tolerates me well enough.  It shares it’s history and beauty and energy with me.  It accepts that I refuse to join any of its tribes (Pagans, Sufis, Goddesses, Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Alternatives etc.) and quietly plough my own furrow, but it doesn’t welcome me into the fold.

In the East, there are tribes, too, of course – the famed ‘Essex girls’ with their madly manicured nails, immaculately tinted hair, fake tans and glitzy fashion; the overweight mothers, bulging out of skin-tight lycra and screaming obscenities into their phones or at their children; the young men with smart suits and fast cars, chattering into their bluetooth headsets as they scurry hither and thither, and the cheery but dreary housewives, who have always lived there and always will, and thank providence for their uneventful lives.  I feel a stranger amongst them, too.

I often wonder if there’s a place where I’d fit – where my tribe can be found.  Certainly there are places I’m drawn to – places whose beauty leaves me gasping, and this is certainly one of them.  Is that a sufficient reason to stay here?

Well, why not?

After all, if this strange year has taught me anything, it’s that my body and my possessions will happily settle anywhere.  Maybe my heart and soul just need to float for a while longer…

 

 

 

 

The tale of the parent – without a storybook ending

My body isn’t used to the time change yet.  We gained an extra hour this weekend, moving from British Summertime to Greenwich Mean Time.

That’s why I found myself wide awake early this morning.  That’s when I found myself half-remembering something from dreams and something from imagination, and I decided to try to turn it into a book for my two little grandchildren – a book in which everyone, even a parent, is fallible.

Not many people dare to write such books.  In children’s stories, even an erring parent usually comes right in the end.  He might be a loveable rogue or she may be scatty and disorganised, but these storybook parents – at least in stories for small children – always put the children first, always redeem themselves, always learn from their mistakes.

Sad Child Boy Kid Crying Tears Sadness MooI wish life was like that for real children.  I wish there hadn’t been so many children in my life who had parents consumed by addictions, parents who turned to crime, parents who ran off to enjoy a new, carefree life without the drudgery of parenthood.  I wish two of those children hadn’t been my own grandchildren.

This sounds harsh, I know.  But life for those children IS harsh.
I remember the child who told me, “If my dad had liked me as much as he liked whisky and beer, he might have stopped drinking it when I asked him to, and then he wouldn’t have died.”
I remember the boy who said, “I can’t wait to grow up and get a wife. We’ll have lots of kids and I’ll look after them properly and never put them in danger, because I know how bad that feels.”
I remember the child who whispered, “I think my new teacher really likes me, so I don’t ever want her to find out what my dad did, because if she does, she might think I’m like him, and then she won’t like me anymore.”
I remember the little girl who would come into class with bags under her eyes, telling how Mum had crawled into her bed when she got back from the nightclub and spent ages recounting all her drunken escapades.
I remember the seven-year-old who sat with wide, frightened eyes, saying, “I don’t really like Daddy as much as I did before. I still love him, because he is my father, but I’m quite frightened of him now.”
And then there’s the little boy who told me, firmly, “Mums and dads ALWAYS argue. They all do.  Me and my sister go and hide in one of our special places when they start shouting. We take care of each other.”

So how to do it?  How to let children with far-less-than-perfect parents know they are not alone?  How to empower them to cope with a life where there won’t be a fairy godmother to wave a wand or a Damascene conversion that will make everything wonderful again?

The answer, so my pre-dawn inspirations suggest, lies in Chemistry (or Alchemy, or Magic, depending how you want to describe it).  So the story – if I ever manage to write it – will show the pure and inexhaustible supply of Magic that lies behind and within everyday changes.  It will show how intention can bend and shift those changes in the structure of life and of lives.  The wayward parent may choose not to change, but the lives of those around him will change.  Small children will become wiser, stronger and resilient.  They will grow as the story unfolds and they will gradually move beyond their fears and forge a better destiny because of the painful experiences they’ve endured.

I just hope I’m up to the task.

Your point being…?

Another of those long, rambling conversations I tend to have with Life, usually around 3am.

I’m saying something along the lines of, “So you’ve thrown just about everything at me this year, turned me upside down, inside out and catapulted me from highs to lows and back again.  Could you just run me through the purpose for all that one more time?”

And Life sits there, smiling calmly and replies, “Do you need to have a purpose?”

That pulled me up sharp.

Do I?

It’s a huge, broad, sweeping question, isn’t it?  For me, it touched a raw nerve.  I’m a people pleaser – the sort who always feels happiest when I’m making things better for other people.  It’s what I’ve always done.  That’s been The Purpose.  This year more than most, I’ve been on a mission to do just that.

Oh yes, before anyone feels the need to throw in that ‘love yourself’ maxim, let me assure them that I’ve done the work on that one too.  Took me quite a few decades and the help of a very skilled life coach to get there, but I do now always add my needs into the equation.  Despite that, though, I’m at my best when I’m working flat out to sort out a difficult problem and make life better for someone dear to me.

Such work has totally consumed me since February.  And now – uh – my work is done.  Yesterday I found the vision board I’d drawn back in the spring.  It showed my little family safe in a new home, reunited with all their possessions, after having had to flee for their lives, settled and smiling and happy again most of the time with a comfortable house and tidy garden to enjoy and new friends calling round to visit.

Image may contain: plant and outdoorImage may contain: people sitting, plant, tree, outdoor and natureAlmost single-handedly, and while helping to heal some of the emotional pains and fears of three traumatised people, I’ve transformed their garden from this… to this.  Even finished it on my daughter’s birthday!

So now what?  Is Life about to hurl me headlong into some new drama, so that I can once more prove my own worth and stamina to myself?  I suspect not.  I suspect that I’ve brought myself to this point so that I can stop and wonder whether I need to have a purpose.

Is just being enough?

 

 

Equinoxing

Equinox Sun Moon Landscape Mystical CloudsI revel in the magic and symmetry of the equinoxes – those two occasions in the year when darkness and light occur in absolutely equal quantities.  They mark a shift, a subtle but important tipping point in the year.  Here in England, the Autumn Equinox that falls today is the time when we shift from more-light-than-dark to the reverse.  From tomorrow onwards the days will be shorter and the nights longer.  They won’t equal out again until next March, when the spring equinox heralds the start of the long summer days to follow.

And so, today, I find myself equinoxing – pondering the wonder and timefull/timelessness of this seasonal ebb and flow and the perfection of this perfectly poised day when neither night nor day holds sway.

For me, the six months since the last equinox has been a time of special significance.  In late March, I was packing my bags to move across the country to be with my child and grandchildren at a time of great need.  Now I’m starting to pack again, ready to leave them in their new home and return to my own home in beautiful Somerset.

Here in the East, life simply goes on from day to day.  Few people remark on the changes beyond a shake of the head and a comment on how the nights are drawing in.  Back in Glastonbury there is no shortage of people wishing to mark each nuance of the natural year – from robed and garlanded goddesses, through drum-bangers, chanters and pipers to those who will joyfully strip off and cavort in the buff around sacred groves and hills.

Me?  I’m somewhere between the two.  Equinox is a time to stop, to take stock, to consider the lessons, blessings and memories of the past six months, when Summer ruled.  It’s a time, too, to contemplate the darker months that lie ahead; long evenings curled up beside the log burner with candles twinkling and a good book, peace and quiet after the frenzied activity of the summer and a chance to dream myself into the next phase of this amazing little drama that is my current ‘life’.

Equinox greetings and blessings to all.

 

The Rest of my Life

I found that phrase in a friend’s blog this morning: The Rest Of My Life.  It set me thinking.

Is this it?  Is this hiatus – this temporary pause in ‘normal’ – a rest from metaphysical and psychic ponderings?  Did I need, perhaps, a reminder to stop theorising and clamber back into living the hard, gruelling daily toil of physical life?  Certainly there’s been little or no opportunity for such things since circumstances changed back in February and I found myself catapulted into survival mode.  I’m at one of those ‘end of level challenges’ I wrote about in the Player’s Guide, with a many-legged monster attacking on all sides.  There’s no time and no opportunity to chat about akashic realms or the nature of the psyche.  Even my trusted and wonderful remote viewing partner – the one person I could rely on for a good weekly long-distance chat about all things numinous and mindbending has retired behind a wall of silence once more.  He does that sometimes, but this has been a long silence, even by his standards.  It’s almost as if the Universe is telling me something…

So am I, at soul level, resting myself?  Has my greater self designed this strange sojourn to remind me that I’m currently engaged in being human, and being a human being is all about having physical experiences?  After all, transcendental ones are always available, always there, whether or not I’m clad in a suit of skin-and-bone, blood-and-guts.  Will I emerge from this ‘rest’ period ready to grapple with even greater metaphysical challenges?

 

Then there’s the possibility – I must confront it – that this is indeed the Rest of my Life in the sense that this struggle to confront physical, dreary, awkward and heart-wrenching challenges and support others on a daily basis will take over permanently.  I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that possibility.
“What would you like to return to?” asked a friend, recently. “What are you missing?”
He had this romantic notion that I long to return to Avalon, to drift back to a simple life of long talks with like-minded friends, of strolls in the Somerset hills and sacred sites, of writing weekly blogs from the heart and soul.
“What you’re looking for,” he suggested, “is Peace, isn’t it?”
And I shook my head.

Peace, to me, sounds far too much like that Heaven place the Sunday School teachers used to try to bribe me with when I was small – somewhere with no worries, no troubles, no challenges, just beauty and happiness and calm for eternity.  It sounds crushingly boring.  And if I’m scrupulously honest with myself, my life was getting perilously close to that state before all this happened.  I distinctly remember telling the Universe I was ready for a new challenge…

 

The third possibility is that The Rest of My Life will start when my lease on this nasty white box runs out and I return to Lime Cottage to take stock.  By then, the people I’m working with here should be settling into their new life.  That’s the plan, anyway.  The autumn equinox will arrive and the wheel of the year will turn to the quiet, darker, introspective times of log fires and contemplation.  That will be a time to take stock, to decide what matters to me the most and to determine how I would like to happen to the autumn of this particular physical life.

I don’t know yet which decisions I will make, but whatever I choose to do, it will expand my experience (and thus the experience of the Universe) in new and interesting ways, because that’s the mission I chose to accept when I arrived here in the physical this time around.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to The Universe

Dear Universe,

Here we are then – another morning, another day in the Life.  Let’s decide how this one is going to go.

I have to give you credit.  I opted into this particular Lifetime in order to expand and learn through experiences and requested from you that I should have some, er, interesting scenarios to work through in order to achieve that.  You, dear Universe, certainly delivered.

Here I am in the middle of one of them.  It’s arguably the most complex, challenging and painful of the lot.  Am I learning from it?  Certainly.  Is it allowing me to expand my consciousness and understanding?  I suppose it must be.  Am I flailing about, totally out of my depth and panicking for much of the time?  Definitely.

So back to basics for a moment.  Life does not happen to me; I happen to Life.  It’s very easy to forget that when I’m in the middle of a Life drama.  It’s easy to sink into victimhood and wallow about there yelling, “This isn’t fair!  This isn’t my fault!  Someone else caused all these problems.  I didn’t choose them.”

Woman Desperate Sad Tears Cry Depression MWell no, in everyday terms I would never have chosen to have people I love suffer what they are going through.  It is all too easy to blame the perpetrators.  If those people hadn’t done those things, Life wouldn’t be this way.  If those people hadn’t done those things, I wouldn’t be here, having to deal with the fallout, day after day.  If those people hadn’t done those things… something else would have shown up in my Life to allow me to learn and expand and find ways of dealing with the issues here, because that’s what I asked for when I began this Lifetime, and that is true for everyone involved.

So let’s dispense with all the victimhood and blame and anger – the easy stuff – and move on to happening to my Life.

This is what I’m learning, you see, Universe.  You’ve given me some real humdingers to deal with in the past and I’ve often seen myself or – worse yet – people I care about, suffering, and been willing to blame others for that.  It is hugely difficult to see that every single individual concerned acted from what he or she considered to be a reasonable or practical perspective.  They each carried out what they considered to be the best or most expedient response to a difficult situation.  It’s not my task to question their actions or to blame them.  It’s my task to take steps forward and move myself and my loved ones into a safer, more secure and comfortable situation.

My little family – the woman, the child and the toddler – are in a safe, though temporary, home.  We are making plans to move them into a relatively safe and secure permanent home.  We are taking steps to make that permanent home safer and more secure, but that is still not reaching to the nub of it.  Security devices, high fences and locked gates may help to protect against physical intruders, may help to make people whose previous home has been violated, whose lives have been threatened, whose trust has been destroyed feel slightly better, but the real work is to build up inner protection.

Tunnel, LightEach of them is traumatised.
The smallest is terrified by loud noises, raised voices or passers by who remind her in some way of the ‘bad men’.
The child has just built himself a dreamcatcher – a wooden pop gun beside his bed that ‘shoots’ nightmares into a hoop, from which they are projected into a baked bean tin across the room.  For him this is serious work – serious self preservation.
For the mother, who seeks to protect and nurture the little ones while dealing with her own loss, grief and traumatic stress, there is a long, slow and painful journey.  I can see the glimmerings of a stronger, wiser, truer woman emerging.  I can see tiny steps towards the rebuilding of shattered self confidence.  I can see a brighter, clearer future that far surpasses the web of lies and deceit that were lurking and waiting to sabotage the past.

My task is to hold that image and project it to you, Universe, because then you will mirror it back to us.

Yours in love and gratitude,

Jan

 

 

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.

 

 

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.