Subdivisions

I’m not a huge RUSH geek, but they are on my list of favorite bands, though I tend to like their biggest hits and am not well versed in their entire ouvre. One of my stand-out favorite songs is this one:

“Subdivisions”

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

[Chorus:]
(Subdivisions)
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
(Subdivisions)
In the

basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights…

[Chorus]

==============================================
 
It is a song first and foremost about alienation; a common experience of most youth, NT or Autistic.  A common experience that most NTs learn to grow out of but for most autistics it remains a basic fact of life.
 
I’m currently reading Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation as an audiobook on my daily commute.  It’s really quite good and very thought provoking.  But it also hammers home to me the awareness that unlike Temple, I am NOT a visual thinker like she is, but rather a “verbal” Aspie.  As such, I suppose by some measures that puts me “closer” to neurotypical than other Aspies.  Which one might suppose is preferable, but…what it often means is that I feel just as alienated from other Aspies as I do from NTs, because my life experiences are sometimes quite markedly different than theirs.  There are, nevertheless certain congruences I do share with other autistics; In the current chapter I’m reading, Temple Grandin discusses how animals and Autistics tend to be “Splitters”, hyper-focused on differences and distinctions between things, whilst most neurotypical people are “Lumpers”, or generalizers, who at times are guilty of overgeneralizing….my NT adoptive father overgeneralizes a great deal, and it often annoys me greatly.  Of course, from his point of view, I’m a “hair splitter”, obsessed with little differences that don’t/shouldn’t matter and failing to take in the big picture.  Sometimes there’s just no way for us to see eye to eye, so to speak.  I don’t care about his big picture because the constituent parts that make it up are wrong, full of hasty overgeneralizations, etc.

Temple also takes neurotypical “verbal” thinkers to task, and I realize I’m guilty of a lot of the same faults, often lost in verbal abstractions of my own making, etc.  I do have to give her props as a visually based autistic person in better being able to view and interact with the real world and not being blinded by one’s own verbal abstractions.  Temple is definitely a very concrete person/thinker.  Her record of success in the Cattle industry speaks for itself.

I wish there were other/more “verbal” Aspies out there writing and speaking that I could latch on to and examine because there are times when I’m reading Temple Grandin’s works that I feel like I have all the major faults of NTs but hardly any of the cooler advantages of most Aspies and other autistics.  I know that my strengths lie in my strong facility with learning foreign languages, which is incredibly easy and interesting for me, and I also have a very good ear for music.  Had I known of my diagnosis much earlier in life, I might’ve trained to become a competent sound engineer for a recording studio, say.  I’m very well read, and I still think that despite my general social awkwardness that I could still be an effective and helpful reference librarian.  I do still like working in Interlibrary Loan, and so wouldn’t rule out becoming a Librarian in the ILL field at a University someday, perhaps.  I feel as though I just can’t abide the direction that the Cataloging side of Librarianship is going and I’m just too out of practice now to jump back in to that area.  It doesn’t help that along the way I’ve been snubbed and abused by unsympathetic neurotypical library managers that didn’t understand me or even want to understand me.

I’m grateful to my fellow co-authors here on this blog, many of whom I know and interact with in real life.  I’m grateful for a job that allows me to zone out and listen to lots of quality audio content in the form of audiobooks and podcasts; I also listen to audiobooks in my car on CD during my daily commute to and from work, which is how I am absorbing the Temple Grandin book.  I actually read Temple’s follow-up book first, namely Animals Make Us Human, which I read as a book on tape, when I was still driving a car with a dashboard tape-deck.  I have a large list of nonfiction audiobooks that I want to read this year.  It’s a personal achievement goal of mine to always be teaching myself in this manner, always autodidatically seeking out avenues of self-improvement through expanding knowledge.

One of the most interesting parts of Animals in Translation that I’ve read so far is where Temple directly challenges the theory of Steven Pinker, who avers that music is a leftover bit of needless evolutionary baggage.  Temple disagrees, and proceeds to lay out a good case as why this view may be incorrect.  I’m very much looking forward to reading Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works (also in audiobook format) but will keep Temple’s critiques very much in mind when I do.  I think I am going to recommend Animals in Translation to neurotypical friends in the Freethought community who are interested in human cognition, as Temple’s ability to lay out and contrast the differences between NT brains and autistic brains (and animal brains) is fascinating and ought to be of interested to any freethinking humanist interested in evolutionary psychology, etc.

Anyway, please forgive the random rambling nature of this post, which I will now draw to a close for now as I’ve a basketball game to get back to watching 😉

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4 thoughts on “Subdivisions

  1. Wow, I like and could relate to that song and interesting to read life from your perspective.

    I am visual, when I don’t go temporarily mute, I am also verbal. However, I’m not well versed enough to understand all of what you wrote about.

    What does this mean: “I’m not a huge RUSH geek, but they are on my list of favorite bands”

  2. Ankh nailed it.

    I apologize for the downer nature of this post; I was kind of depressed when I wrote it. More recently I read Landon Bryce’s _I love being my own autistic Self_ and it was a healthy reminder that EVERYONE on the spectrum is different and that’s OKAY.

    In her earlier works, Temple Grandin sometimes writes as if her form of autism is THE way autism IS, and that can be off-putting. She has of course revised her views in the intervening years, and I very much enjoyed one of her presentations that I attended at UH several months ago, where she even discussed what Verbal aspies like me are generally like and described us/me fairly accurately.

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