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Posts Tagged ‘communication through art’

What is D’ger to Me? I guess you have to go way back to the first Star Trek movie to get it, but replace V with D and it’s kind of me. And parallels in many ways my autobiography, except the resolution. Not sure I ever made it to that. But that’s okay I evolved into a different life form. I’m okay with that. Ok here’s the gist of it:
Star Trek Wiki: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/V’Ger
First Star Trek Movie:

The V’Ger vessel

This Of course is not the Vger vessel of course below, but rather aspects of the “D’ger vessel” in the abstract:
scanned143.jpg
Nature: Vessel enclosed in energy cloud
Power: Twelfth power
Origin: Earth and Unknown
Diameter: Surrounding energy cloud diameter of two astronomical units, equal to that of the Earth’s orbit
Armaments: Plasma weapons
The massive entity that called itself V’Ger (also called Vejur or The Intruder) was one of the most extraordinary lifeforms ever encountered by the United Federation of Planets. It generated enormous levels of power and threatened Earth with destruction until it found a way to evolve.

The machine planet
V’Ger had an extraordinary ability to evolve. It was discovered that the evolution of this once simple probe into a complex, powerful entity began after it was pulled into a black hole shortly after leaving Earth’s solar system.

Voyager 6 emerged from the black hole in what was believed to have been the far side of the galaxy, and fell into the gravitational field of a planet populated by living machines. These beings found Voyager 6 damaged by its travels, and the identifying plaque attached to the probe’s exterior had been burned leaving only the letters V, G, E, and R legible; the inhabitants of the machine planet renamed the probe V’Ger.

These entities found V’Ger to be primitive, but of a kindred spirit. They discovered the probe’s simple, 20th century programming, “learn all that is learnable and return that knowledge to the creator”, and interpreted these instructions literally.

Reprogramming
Reconstructed through highly advanced technologies as a vast space-faring artificial organism, V’Ger was augmented with a three-dimensional data collection and storing apparatus magnitudes beyond anything previously known to Federation science. Likewise providing it with effectively immeasurable defensive and sensory capabilities, the inhabitants of the machine planet gave V’Ger the ability to fulfill its programming in a far more complete fashion than the scientists who originally built and launched the vessel at its core ever imagined.

Sentience
At the heart of V’Ger, the crew of the Enterprise found the ancient Voyager VI probe
While traversing the vast distance back to Earth, V’Ger collected data via its 3D imaging system, but it destroyed the objects that it encountered along the way. However, it accumulated so much knowledge that it eventually achieved consciousness and became, like its benefactors, a living machine. As a machine it was only capable of pure, cold logic with no emotion, but with its new-found sentience V’Ger began to question its own existence. It asked the philosophical questions faced by so many lifeforms: “Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?” The answers, V’Ger decided, could only be found with its creator on Earth.

Threatening Earth
With the cloud just 54 hours away from Earth, Starfleet dispatched the only starship within interception range, the newly refitted USS Enterprise, to determine both what it was and how to stop it if possible. When the Enterprise arrived at the cloud’s coordinates, it determined that the entity had an energy output surpassing that of thousands of starships.

By assuming a non-threatening posture, the Enterprise was able to deeply penetrate the cloud surrounding V’Ger and begin to gather information. During this critical time, however, the starship was cut off from all communication with Starfleet. As V’Ger entered the Sol system, spherical energy “bolts” similar to those that had destroyed the Klingons and the Epsilon IX station, only vastly more powerful, were launched by the entity. The energy spheres proceeded into courses that would place them into equidistant orbits around the planet, at which point it was predicted Earth’s entire surface would be devastated.

Realizing it lacked the intuitive, irrational elements which allow Humans to deal with some complex, non-scientific concepts, it came to believe that only its Creator could help it to leap beyond logic. In order to obtain the answers it needed, V’Ger wished to meet and become one with its Creator. To this end, it sought not only to receive the acknowledged signal from the Creator, but to merge with the Creator.

But V’Ger had been reprogrammed to such an extent that it had come to think of biological lifeforms as an “infestation”, and destroyed any that it encountered. When V’Ger encountered the crew of the Enterprise, its confusion over its true nature was so great that it could not comprehend what it was told – that it had been created by the very organic lifeforms it saw only as imperfections that must be cleansed.

In an effort to meet its Creator, V’Ger refused to accept the pre-programmed transmission that would signal it to transmit its accumulated data. The probe burned out a relay connection, hoping to force the Creator to come to its heart so that they could merge. Realizing that the only way V’Ger would understand was to add Humanity to its experiences, Captain Willard Decker, who was deeply affected by the loss of Ilia, his former lover, sacrificed himself to become one with the machine lifeform. Decker rewired the relay connection and keyed in the final sequence of the transmission manually. This prompted V’Ger to begin transmitting its data, effectively merging with Decker and the Ilia probe, thus taking V’Ger to a new level of existence. At last satisfied with its answers, V’Ger disappeared in a blinding flash of white light, leaving Admiral James T. Kirk, Commander Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy of the Enterprise to discuss the possibility that they had just created a new lifeform made of V’Ger’s logic and of Humanity’s ability to feel and to believe. What V’Ger evolved into remains unknown to this day. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

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List in journal entry 090210 for medicaid appln

I’ve posted some of my drawings and paintings, in some cases showing stages and process, and I’ve posted before about having disabilities preventing me from being able to draw, and having terrible handwriting and so on, but I rarely show you just how bad it is, when performed at a natural pace in  routine setting.  What you see above is a scan of a list of items that I was writing down as it was dictated to me by my case worker, just last week.  In order to make it legible, I have to slow it wayyyyy down, often write it first in pencil so I can correct it (many times), and then write over that in pen.  It is a severe strain for me physically, both to be able to see the marks to control them (my eyes don’t see together—binocular vision, when present, is fuzzy, and I can’t hold visual lines still when I look at them, to track the lines or bring them together, like with circles.  I can’t  make my hand follow a circle around and connect it without error—making the points complete the circle.  The effort causes a lot of strain on my hand and grip, because it’s difficult for me to grip things consistently with fine motor control, and my hand starts to tremor, then I get pain or numbness or both in my hand, and my shoulder hurt more and more and become immobile over time—frozen.  I end up with nerve impingement chronically from the effort.

This and other problems that I have, such as being extraordinarily clumsy, falling constantly, injuring myself, spilling, dropping, breaking, losing things, tripping over my own feet, in fact, they are all features of dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder.  It also affects my ability to regulate volume, pitch and rate of speech, as well as other things.  It is one of 4 developmental disorders that I have, the others being chronic toxic poisoning during infancy, Asperger or high functioning autism, and sequelae of chronic traumatic brain injury at age 5 yrs 0 months.

VR provided me with typing classes starting when I was about 13, for 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, to give me a tool for written communication, if I could develop proficiency with a keyboard.  The interesting thing about that is that it worked in ways that I did not anticipate or understand until very recently, and certainly the VR folks wouldn’t have known.  At first, it took me a really long time to remember the keyboard to be able to type pretty automatically without thinking about where each key was.  But once I was touch typing, it was easier for me in many ways, as my memory retention/recall is stronger with the tactile aspect, and I am able to process more of interactions spontaneously if my fingers are active with something, like a keyboard, or something else.  Without it, I am weak and straining to process information and remember anything that was said.

Before I went to college, the note taking problem wasn’t a problem in class so much, because I had a photographic memory and it was easy to hold the details in y head and work with them mentally.  I missed a lot of the lectures, but made up for it by consuming information voraciously.  But in colllege, there was no way to keep up with it, especially since I utterly lacked organizational or study skills.    In some cases, using a laptop helps me to offset other functional issues, such as problems with spontaneous social interactions, as the clicking of the keys are almost like stimming for me (also called stereotypy), and can be soothing when I am feeling sensory overloaded or stressed in other ways.

It wouldn’t bother me quite as much to have these functional challenges, perhaps, if I didn’t also have a special kind of brain that processes information via images.  It is natural for me to think this way, and words are quite *unnatural*.  and I not only have many of the classic problems of trying to communicate and have reciprocal relationships with others not like myself (I call them human—what I am in their categories doesn’t fit), they have tremendous difficulty reconciling what sort of creature I am and what things mean because I don’t fit into their buckets, hence why I refer to most humans as “bucket people”.  One of my old rough sketches of bucket people:

bucket people across the world But I have to basically double translate, first into language as fits my thought processes, then into language that is accessible to humans.  It is exhausting.  Someone once asked me if I dream in English when I have been living abroad or in one of my adopted languages.  The answer is “no” I really don’t think in words, unless I am having discussions with someone in my dream.  I know this very well, because until recently, I lived my sleep like another aspect of being awake, or semi-lucid, and would wake up with extensive knowledge of my dreaming the night before, usually working on solving some sort of problems.

So I am face-to-the-world, a picture thinker, in possession of a vast vocabulary, having studied and/or practiced in many languages and in many alphabets, and I’m being questioned about something, interrogated, examined, and my attempts to respond through words can quickly become a trip around the world.  That would be great fun if we both had unlimited time, no pressure or judgment about me, and we were talking about something fun for me.  But that’s not the way it works.  It’s actually excruciating for me to explain something complex to someone who doesn’t think like me and comes into it cold with no understanding of the information in advance or of me, and they quickly become more distracted by my strange behavior and the message is lost to the ethers. 

Typing answers is far easier, but still exhausting for me, as words are not natural for me—sort of like if every language that you spoke, including your birth language, was forever spoken as a foreign language.  You have to think of the words carefully, and edit many times to get to the point where it has some semblance of what I want to convey, but is not as good as what is in my head….EVER.

I tried to tackle this problem (not knowing what the problem was), by reading voraciously, learning everything I could about language use, critical writing, analysis, and even acquiring multiple other languages, hoping to find a comfort zone with others.  That’s what super systemizers do when tackling problems—they have to figure out the system, find the connections, build the detailed model in their head, make it operational, and work off of it to know what to do.  When something goes wrong, they refer back to the system they build in their head, and analyze the data and problem against their conceptual working system.  It’s an ongoing dynamic process that continues for me day and night, never stops until I sleep, and I’m sure continues in my sleep as well.  It’s how I process everything that I experience—nothing is intuitive except the process of systematizing itself.  This is likely my strongest savant ability, and also the harshest aspect of how I’m different from pretty much everyone else in the world, both physically and socially.

I think that ultimately it does help to write, but no matter how much language and knowledge I acquire, using it will never feel natural to me.  It’s like walking with crutches on a tightrope….I might be forced to gain proficiency, but never speed or comfort with the process.  Notwithstanding that, I have written a lot of stuff over the years, in magazines, a great honors’ thesis, unique contractual terms in my former job that were brilliant sometimes for the purpose, good other times, and sometimes unintelligible, even with  keyboard.  But i keep plugging away with this inadequate tool.

I hope to develop greater proficiency with drawing, and trying to come closer to producing how my mind thinks in visual ways.  I’d like to take classes or get training that would help me with that, and therapy to help mitigate the physical problems of the effort in my arm and shoulder.  That might enable me to feel less “disabled”.  Getting help with the strain from the sensory disorganization and dyspraxia would be really nice, if I had a wish list, though I was told by the audiologist at UNC that there are no longer programs for that in my area, particularly in working with adults who never had services as a child.  But hope springs eternal, and I will keep looking for solutions, as I always have.  In the meantime, I will keep working with what I have and do my best.

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journal page 080610 So much has been happening, and I’ve been happening to so much, as well!   Change and transition and uncertainty and obstacles/threats, and both anger and fear, triggered by the present, but often with fuel from the past, leaves me somedays feeling positively beaten about the head and neck!  But it passes.  That’s the cool thing, and also the not cool thing.  It’s cool, because I know that even in the throes of pain, confusion, anxiety, depression at times, not knowing what exactly to do/how to cope, I also know that I am experiencing this pain right NOW, and the time of suffering will pass, the fog will clear, the mood will lift, and I will emerge from those moments with something more than I had before—more insight, more relief, more control over the experience (not so much restrictive, as experiencing it intentionally, mindfully, as the process unfolds).  I am keenly aware, as I never have been before, of how I have been shaped by experiences that I didn’t even remember, that telling the story of what I learn along the way, including detailed scrutiny of processes at work, both passive and active/proactively, is itself a multitude of lessons.  It gives me insight into how my own thought processes work—very differently from most of the world, I might add, and why it’s always been so difficult for me to fully connect with others effectively. 

The image is of me, approximately in my 20’s, but connected to me is this elephant.  The elephant represents the fact, unbekownst to myself or my family, that I was, since birth, the “elephant-in-the-room” born autistic (Aspergers), with all the cognitive, functional, and medical potential that Aspies are shaped by, even before they are born.  And this little Aspie “elephant” spent the better part of the first two years of her life, being forcefed toxic pollutants while living next door to a coal burning power plant, years before the Clean Air Act even existed, and decades before they managed to effectively enforce restrictions on coal-fueled electricity.  The damage was already done to this autistic girl who already had a compromised immune system to begin with.

I was constantly sick, and had even been hospitalized once in 1963 with severe dehydration.  I got every virus that came my way, and, as my father later reported to a pediatric neurologist in 1971, “allergic to everything.” 

The third major developmental “insult” occurred when I fell from the upper floor fire landing of a local gymnasium, head first onto solid concrete. It was a very bad head injury, 3” skull fracture, intracranial hypertension and secondary brain injury, also referred to as “diffuse axonal injury.”  The secondary injury, caused by swelling and increased pressures on the brain, caused a lot of the connections between nerves to “shear” or tear apart, while at the same time the brain has trying to heal itself and keep me alive.  This went on for so long, that how it healed, and the rewiring to do it, took the hard wiring in my brain another huge step further away from “normal”.  From the outside, one could observe that the swelling and bruising finally went down, I did not die, and about 9 months after I came home, I was able to sit up in bed without head pressure problems. 

But there was not only no understanding whatsoever of Aspergers Syndrome back then, but also doctors had no idea what such an injury might do to a brain that survived such a fall.  No therapies or medications were administered, no tests for functional damage was done, and I, being only 5 years old at the time, had no idea that I had even less in common with neurotypical humans in how I would interact with my world going forward.  I had a strong sense that I was different from other children as early as 3 years old, but I had no idea why, nor any ability to understand the minds of others. 

Bridging the communication gap has been a lifelong struggle for me, both to understand and to be understood.   I want to be able to relate to other people, to connect with them in ways that are valuable and mutually beneficial.   It’s been agonizingly difficult, cumbersome, time consuming, and exhausting for all parties when I am trying to explain, to clarify my thoughts, feelings, overall perspective on a thing, yet know that I have failed, based on the reaction of those on the receiving end.  I fail for a number of reasons. I have gotten quite expert at being able to profile others, to analyze their behaviors, provided that I am not interacting with them at the time, or at least interacting where I have to be concerned about their perception of me.  This became a huge strength for me in my former job, and as it turns out, is a manifestation of one of many savant abilties.  The way that I journal now helps me really give glimpses into my own mind.  While I do my journaling totally for myself (as I do all of my art these days), I’m open to sharing parts that may be  of interest or benefit to others, or where it illuminates where my head and heart were, on some past event that may have gone totally awry. 

It’s interesting to me how varied my self-portraits are—the images are relative to time, heavily symbolic, even iconic at times.  This was done in my cheap standard lined lab-type notebook, in whic the pages are stitched into a cheap cardboard cover, typically imprinted with some sort of marbled effect, in various covers.  My thoughts that day are about my present situation, but the connections to past events…looking back and experiencing the connections more than the details, how I am represented depends upon what I am experiencing as the most important aspects of the connections in that moment.  Here, I am in my early 20’s.  The elephant part of me, has existed and endured the onslaught of many “insults” that have altered my brain to render me something almost other-humanly in how I think and process input from the world.  With the exception of autism, which I was born with, most of it was caused by the decisions by others act or fail to act—some were family, others including teachers, judges, police, school official, and it developed its own momentum after a while, with the blind following the blind, being slapped with labels/definitions that came to be accepted because the path was well worn, and, neuro-typical humans of all ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, being naturally susceptible to their own attributional and cognitive biases, unique creatures like myself more often will not be able to sustain acceptance when I come up against those biases.  They used to think people like me were schizophrenic, and often spent their whole lives in institutions.  I was kept in one as a child for 2.5 years, records show that I was orderly, compliant, a good student, and remained there only because there was no stable place for me to live who would accept me.  No one.

The filters are a kind of lazy rule-based system that assumes that I should think and act in a certain way because I look like I belong to a certain group, and when I violate the social rules—spoken and unspoken, the belief is that I knew, or should have known about the rule, and that the violated social rule is something that I can and should conform to, without question.   What

I don’t feel invested in the “blame and shame” game, at least when it comes to my own family’s roles in that damage.  I am less forgiving of societal institutions that participated or turned a blind eye, when they could have taken some simple steps to help.  I understand the things that motivated their choices, their biases at the time as society existed.  That does not mean that I am prepared to forgive.  I still feel that I am owed a debt, at a minimum for the many intentional harms (ie., rapes), looking the other way when abuse was staring them in the face and I was complaining of being molested and raped (which they chose not to even report), noticing, documenting irregularities provided them in reports that they never questioned, never investigated, and never told me about, and leaving it for this brain-damaged woman who happened to have certain gifts, to discover from their own records, piece together the connections, and discover the truth, and even then, only after becoming totally disabled by the ravages of all the mistakes and abuses that had accumulated.  No one is willing to take responsibility.  That is wrong.  I am accustomed to that, but that doesn’t mean that it is right to just accept that nothing should be done to right the wrongs that can be righted, and at least recognize these human-made perfect storms. 

Is it any wonder that I feel safer far away from civilization?  Disasters happen in nature, as well, but nature operates by rules, at least, and they may have undesirable outcomes, but at least they make sense.  That is something I can live with.  I can accept death by tsunami, however tragic.  I’m not yet prepared to accept “that’s just the way things are” when the way things are is entirely constructed by humans motivated by personal agendae, that may or may not have anything to do with justice or even equity.  That is my issue.  And if it can happen to me then, and still happens to me now (except that I fight back), it can happen to others, so it’s not just in the past.  I feel a deep sense of personal responsibility to do something before I die to prevent similar harm from befalling others.  I need to become an advocate.

But first, I need to become an effective advocate for myself, and that means going through this right now.  My art enables me to communicate with others, and to get them to be more open through the way I approach presenting the principles, getting acceptance of possible situations like mine, and only then, telling them my story.  It is becoming easier to have dialogues that are more receptive to understanding my perspective, suspending disbelief long enough to consider the reality, and build bridges of understanding. 

I think in pictures, not words.  I learned many languages, trying to discover the key to communicate with others, but it was woefully inadequate.  Now that I can draw, can do art (since almost one year ago for the first time), I am finding ways to bridge the gaps and find opportunities to improve things.  I hope I can live long enough to do something with it that will help others.  Then it will have been worthwhile.

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