I have barked up a lot of trees as I have been trotting blindfolded through the forest of possibilities that have had me so captivated the last twelve years.  I seem to have a natural inclination to shut myself off to conventional interpretations.  Instead of using my eyes, I’m feeling, smelling and listening to what’s around me until I get a taste of what it is I seek.

Finding powerful ways of explaining what I’ve found becomes as important as what I’ve discovered in these forests.  Sometimes the metaphor itself feels as significant as the process the metaphor seeks to represent.

Alford Korzybski famously noted, “A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.”  From my Zen evolutionary perspective, the territory is constantly in flux, representing an infinite number of constantly shifting relationships.  My art seeks to be part of a process that creates theories that can usefully represent these constantly changing relationships, and then I want to devise metaphors to make the theories feel accessible.

The proofs part is a challenge.

So, while I develop a repertoire of metaphors, proofs elude me.

I use the Internet as a metaphor for biology, society and evolution.  I use water, waves, rivers and oceans to suggest evolutionary processes.  Music, dance and symphonies evoke interconnected transformation dynamics.  Toys, games and play evoke an understanding of processes in evolution.  I use experiences in my own life to suggest the structure of evolutionary theory.

At the same time, I search for patterns so tight, so obvious, so elegant and indisputable that the observation would qualify as a proof.  For example, if most matrifocal aboriginal tribes had the same blood type as most autistics, then a connection between the two could be surmised.  This is not the case.  You get the idea.

So, noting that the map is not the territory, I spend time blindfolded as I am looking for connections while seeking ways to represent what I have found.  I realize I am really operating on two dissociative levels, never really having experienced the “territory.”  For an artist, the trick is to somehow invest the metaphor with enough of the nature of that which is being represented that the feeling of the source material is transmitted.  Tasting truth is nourishing beyond description.  Somehow description is required to provide that taste.

So I imagine patterns, develop “as if” frames, form hypotheses and play.

I imagined that because we had larger brains 4,000 generations ago, about when culture showed evidence of emerging, and that we quite possibly had larger brains before we started using speech to communicate (we were instead dedicated to gesture, dance and song), then maybe there are larger-brained people around today that have difficulty speaking and/or are deeply committed to music.  I discovered that the autistic often have very large brains, musicians often have larger brains, and that the autistic are obsessed with pattern replication.

I had not developed a proof but an evocative hypothesis.  Though I predicted and found that the autistic have larger brains, this does not prove anything.  I predict that there would be a reduction in autism if children of high-testosterone, left-handed-family mothers were raised with features of society characteristic of our experience 4,000 generations ago.  Diets should be low in gluten and low in casein, and there should be nonstop music with lots of rhythm, increased gestural communication featuring touch, more physical activity and tons of dance.

Because a mother with one autistic child has a one in five chance of having another (as opposed to 1 in 150), then this might be the group of women to try this out.  Convincing people to follow such a protocol seems unlikely.

So, I sniff, feel and listen for connections that call out to be recognized.  Only, when I describe the connections, I find I’m making art, not science.

Beauty feels deeply present and familiar.  Usefulness lingers just beyond my reach.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 7:13 am and is filed under Art, Autism, Causes of Autism, Play. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. Sustainarchy on July 21, 2009 2:46 pm

    Hello, I really like all of the thought you are putting into the concept of Human neoteny. It seems like you are at some sort of writer’s block on the subject. Some of your hypothesis are waiting to be tested, but I think what you need is a missing link. A missing link of information that is. I believe that missing piece can be found in an old speech by philosopher Terance McKenna.
    (see http://www.abrupt.org/LOGOS/tm970423.html and search for the word neoteny)

    The missing piece is a phenomenon in nature called synesthesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia)Look into the concept of synesthesia and it’s effects on creativity and art and it’s relation to human brain development. I think it’s what you are looking for.

    I’m writing a book on all of this. Would you like to co-write it with me? We seem to have a lot of the same ideas.

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