Is my inability to write anything about Slovakia unless I understand what I'm saying a disorder?
I don't know, but it's a genuine problem. Trying to understand the raison d'etre of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which we never studied in school, in order to write two sentences about it in the History chapter seriously slows me down. All I have to do is paraphrase some expert's opinion on the empire, I don't have to formulate my own opinion about it. But I feel compelled to.
Problem. The publisher pays a flat fee, not by the hour and not much, for compiling these kids' reference books, so I consistently end up turning my work in late (my first one, left, took me months, while other people crank their country books out in a few weeks), and I earn something like $0.78/hour.
I think of it as a poorly paid but interesting internship, one that doesn't afford health insurance. You can see, I also slow myself down considerably by blogging. You can't see, but I also stare into space a lot.
I've always been like this. In fifth grade, for instance, I wrote an in-depth 15-page illustrated report on horses (my passion when I was ten) but never bothered to do my math homework, even when my father threatened me with physical punishment. My report cards looked disordered, all right.
But, on the other hand, my "disorder" (I don't know what string of letters to attach to it) also means I am a handy person to know if, say, you are inviting descendants of the Hapsburgs to William Shatner's annual charity horse show. (They seemed to like horses, or anyway having Velazquez paint their portraits on horseback. Philip III of Spain, here.)
So maybe it's a good thing.
I like to think so, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way.
Last night Laura took me out to dinner and we were talking about this, and she said that our personalities could be seen as a bunch of disorders. And maybe our gifts show in the way we work with or around our eccentric qualities, the ones that are out of the center of the social norm.
To borrow a line of thinking, just for a moment, from Harry Lime in The Third Man, if we were all neurologically normal, we would never invent anything more interesting than a cuckoo clock.
II. Spock on the Spectrum
I recently wrote that I objected to the new Star Trek movie making Spock too human, as if he were merely an Earth person with Asperger's syndrome, one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). I objected because that's a human condition, not because Asperger's is bad--in fact, I used the word "adaptation" rather than "disorder" on purpose. I meant I want Spock's character to reflect Vulcan, where he grew up, not Earth, home of other fictional characters on the spectrum, Cliff, Mr. Bean, and Lisa Simpson (left). If Vulcans cultivate a philosophy and way of living that happens to look a lot like Asperger's (which it does), fine. But keep Spock rooted in Vulcan.
Momo sent me a link to this wonderful article:
Autistic Trekdom, by Matthew Baldwin (of defective yeti), who says, "As I watched this film last Saturday, and Mr. Spock walked onto the bridge with his stiff demeanor and his formal language, my initial reaction was: 'Oh man, that guy is so Asperger’s.'"
Baldwin writes as someone whose own son is autistic, and he finds hope in the movie that in the future his son, like Spock, will be "perfectly comfortable" with who he is. And further, that he "will be judged not by the conventionality of his cognitive process, but by the content of his character.”