Neurodiverse Writing with Rathwell & Rhenisch

We have a new book of writing that steps away from literary narratives to talk straight about narratives told from within neurodiversity. It is also a wake for the city of Vancouver and its totemic poet Robin Blaser.

It is on the presses as we speak.

This is important stuff. In a world that is growing to embrace diversity, one great unifying diversity is often overlooked, even as humans display a wide range of abilities at finding narrative in the world.

Here’s a sample of our approach, using a book as a series of video screens and reading itself as a projector.

Does that sound odd? It’s everyday stuff to us. And it’s rather easy to follow, don’t worry. Here is a sample from the book to demonstrate. Just let your eye follow where it will. It knows:

You’ve been watching Richard describe how his neurodiversity creates reality as a series of alternatives, which leap from one to the next. It is a kind of unfolding, not a sequence of plot points. One of the salient characteristics of neurodiverse literature is that

instead of metaphor, neurodiverse literature changes perspective. This can include change of self or personality.

What happens when this type of personality is measure by neurotypical long-term personalities that change plots instead of selves is the subject of this example from the book. Richard describes a study he once had to endure:

What I am displaying with my choreography for Richard’s memoir is another principle that guides the book in its opening:

Neurodivergent literature is a tapestry.

Unlike linear narrative, such as the novels of, say, Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood, to name just two, which are tied from strings of interconnected action and consequence driven by projection and recollection of emotional memories, it is woven from the multiple dimensions of bodies in space, which it bends to set them moving. Touch is important here. Richard continues. As you read on, notice how images and words are diverging. The narrative is being given over to imagery. The words become used more in the manner of images than texts.

Did you see how several realities are starting to be held up at the same time? That transformation includes reading as an act that is entering the world of the study itself. This kind of multi-layered approach is common in neurodivergent literature and thought.

Instead of plot and character, neurodivergent literature employs tricks, riddles, jests, correspondences, transformations, pattern, sudden detail, irony, sarcasm, quoting, changes of scale and increasing intensity in place. It creates magnetic fields and auroras, freeways and subway grids. It rides them.

Richard and I continue this dance, as the thought unfolds, and then break it as the self it has created starts to morph into a new one. It is important to return narratives (and books) to a human scale. The machines are watching. We need to be able to step aside now and then and breathe.

This notion that writing would make one feel real is common for neurodivergent thinkers, who struggle as much to understand the exotic thinking patterns of neurotypical people as they are of neurotypical ones. What we are trying to do in this book is to place us all into a common language. After all…

Neurodivergent literature is an intervention, an interjection, an exclamation, and even an insubordination, but never a kidnapping. It does not rely on the social authority of an author.  It turns the social authority of books into playgrounds and landscapes of strangeness and wonder and it doesn’t tell stories. It walks through them to initiate conversations and create collaborations.

That’s what we’ve done here. We love to laugh. We hope you do, too. This is, after all, a wake. Sláinte!

We have a lot to share. Please join us in this book as we set to rest Robin Blaser and the world of writing entombed in books.

Grotesques: Part 1

I have frightened my peers.

Yes, I am starring in Dante’s Inferno now. Here I am demonstrating the first rule of the transculture: taking off my self and lugging it around like a garden Buddha. A Moai on Rapa Nui would do just as well.

There is no certain knowledge to which I may return.

I lectured about transcultural observation in Prague, Lisbon, Swaziland and even at Oxford. I wrote a novel particularly to illustrate it. It did.

Will the Real Richard Rathwell please stand up.

Especially the writing of it. The book is hitting the streets any day now.

It’s a visual work, designed to read itself to you. Language is just another of its visual effects. In return, its images are sound.

I became a fable.

At Oxford, they failed to see this pose as a novel. I guess they mistook this narrative for the gravestone of Robert Graves, who trained Nassar to read, well, Robert Graves. The Egyptians have revolted ever since. I thought they’d get the reference. Instead, John le Carré got credit for the plot in The Night Manager. Good on him.

In this package, I was bullied, as if I were a proverbial ass. Then I was expelled from my PhD course, because transculture wasn’t based on gender, class or race interpretation of cultural phenomena. ‘O.K.’, I said, that too, but also this.

I joined the police in Nice to prove it to you. You’re welcome.

Torn out of that package, I learned that the politics of culture, like sex, resemble the politics of my own memory.

I was still trying to figure out which is the memory of my years as a chicken in the colonies and which one is remembering, then I forgot why it might matter. They don’t respond to close invocation.

When I was more distant, I was in Nigeria, at the foot of the mountains near the Cameroon border. The mountain was aflame from the fires of “those people.” The school was still smoking from the fires of the first fundamentalists.

That’s when I realized that we needed a new culture, and a new literature. Even John le Carré is dead. Come on.

It was a new world. I was a teacher of women teachers. None were fundamental. Some were Madonna-like, demanding purdah, second wives, some were fifteen-year-old liars in too-tight uniforms, who had to be kept from the fences at midnight when the gowned boys came to howl and the old men in government Peugeots with offers.

Here I am at the first day of creation.

The rain was coming in a wall across the horizon then. Dust cast before it in billows reddening skies.

These are my memoirs of the transculture.

It is time to prevent men from becoming books and books from becoming men.