Thursday, 13 November 2008

My way of thinking

Imagine constantly having music and images in your head, every thought, and every alacrity is based on those thought characteristics. I am not skilful at verbal communication, I tend to forget words, forget the meaning of elongated words when attempting to converse. That scarcely makes me slow minded and unintelligent.

I can mentally create melodies, have perfect pitch, and emotions are partially liberated when associating them with certain pieces of music, something I cannot do verbally. It can be incredibly uncomfortable just saying ‘I love you’ to a family member. It is highly conceivable that I don’t understand the concept of expressing love in terms of language or non verbal cues.

Every day I have incomparable but distinctive mental images, sometimes I delineate myself in the trenches of world war one, another moment I could tour the solar system, become marooned on a desert island, or maybe walking through a rich woodland with a continuous flow. Letters and numbers are associated with colours, and have been as far as I can remember, acting as a coping measure when remembering words or phone numbers. My expression of any thoughts and feelings when communicating using language is often carried out using metaphors, comparing myself to objects (usually machines) and describing how unique attributes affect their performance and ability to operate, but only when I have understood them. Noise and over thinking, can insinuate the effect of virtual amphetamines in my mind.

Dynamic objects and certain sounds can be described as visual poetry. When they are directly related to me in an ambiguous situation (for example faces, voices or body language, and the fact I desire aversion whilst at the centre of attention) I have to cast my gaze away to fix on something predictable because I am consciously overwhelmed, transfixed, or simply in awe of predictability corresponding with visual beauty, (like a moving snake, water, or a comet). Emotions can be vehement when relating to objects, in touch with the lines and the curves. I have to occlude my vision and clench my fists when listening to certain music so it channels into my psyche, with a tingling feeling that channels down my spine through to my fingers like a faculty.

I can understand the theory of evolution and the laws of motion not just from reading them in a book, but by visualising organisms, generation by generation modifying themselves to variable situations and habitats I can imagine them being in. To endeavour a description of my understanding, applying only words is a laboured task. I beg to ask why other individuals cannot just welcome the fact I can comprehend using this style?!

I can perceive the curvature of space-time dictating to an object how it should accelerate forwards; imagining the source of the force acting upon it using the influence from co-existing heavenly bodies. Whether solid or gaseous, being able to visualise the laws of motion acting upon them.

To communicate this by mere articulation is lightly skimming the surface. I have given information verbally that I perceive these particular things, but to characterise each visualisation is like illustrating a complex pattern to a blind man. I would be obliged to create a model of the pattern, like Braille, so the individual could attempt to feel the configuration using the sense of touch. But is he able perceive the varying colours and shades? He could possibly grasp the structure, but not the character.

Of course language is essential for communication, but I struggle to comprehend any further than to exchange information or to use it as a narration. But what is narration without being able to get a glimpse, curve for curve, colour for colour? Thinking in pictures is a rich and wonderfully amazing form of understanding things, but expressing the notion to others whilst doing it justice is a hurdle.

Eye contact, body language and prose are awkward due to the unpredictable nature. Attempting to consume a conversation whilst consciously trying to fathom their eyes is overwhelming. My senses in terms of just eyes and ears are nothing special, although my brain processing these inputs the way it does is definitely out of the ordinary. I can be attentive to a piece of music repeatedly making it a different experience with every occurrence.

I can attempt to compensate for my difficulties with prose, body language or eye contact by concentrating on one at a time. If I can force and maintain eye contact during a conversation which I have pre-rehearsed, I will speak in monotone. If my tone of voice is normal, I cannot look someone in the eye. I have a one tracked mind in every sense of the phrase, only able to process one sensory input at a time, at my own pace, one emotion at a time (whether it is my own or someone else’s) if someone appears to be annoyed, and there is a chance I have misjudged, I have to appear annoyed as well to avoid complexity. If someone is nice I can attempt to mimic.

I can only realise my true emotions in solitude, and attempting to express them afterwards is perplexing to the individual and me both. It makes relationships awkward even with my closest family members, although writing things down or drawing sketches to reflect on things does help, it creates a base point of reference, like an easy to access external hard drive, it frees my brain up from having to undertake more than a single conscious task at a time, although only realistically practical at home.

With no mental vision there is limited purpose. That may resemble arrogance, although being unable to pose in the shoes of another person, the only thinking style I can apprehend is my own. Communication in the traditional sense is a notion I am forced to exert excessive mental energy towards achieving. To type this article took a large proportion of my thought.

When someone is curious as to why I bear a certain opinion I cannot explain it there and then as it is saved as a mental video. The sound, colours and contrast are present and translate into words then to consequently translate their response into a mental image requires time and aspiration, but it is the only way I can achieve creative cognitive task. When I do have to think in words and be effective, I have to talk to myself.

I can reluctantly effect small talk to a point, where I utter pre rehearsed phrases, but this soon disappears, depending on my confidence and motivation at the time, I can either lecture monologue about my special interests (where the mental translation has already taken place previously) and disapprove when a word is spoken by the individual on the receiving end, or alternatively I freeze mentally, unaware of what to say or do.

My thinking method is superior and inferior, for conflicting reasons. The downside is the aftermath of my interaction with other people, which in turn has overwrought my state of mind. Anything negative that has ever been said to me was visualised and will be in a state of suspended animation. My long term memory is definitely superior to the average person (although I have a mediocre short term memory). This is not always positive due to my disagreements at school/early adulthood and the effect it has had have stemmed from teasing and ambiguous situations. Maybe these have been visualized excessively, consequentially stuck in my head as my own exaggerated version. An alternative method of describing it is simply, taking it personally.

The positive side is my aptitude to think deep. I can lose myself reading a factual book (language again) but I aid myself by creating a vivid mental image of what is being said which supplements my understanding. I have a tendency to close myself off from people because I need mental restoration, but I can still exchange information if required; I have to put into pictures everything people have said to me during a given day in order to understand. I can think more efficiently when remaining silent, having multiple layers of thought with immense precision.

I obtain many fine details, and bind them to form a concept, hence why I believe my mental imagery is quite special. Sections of my brain are equipped to place information into file folders like on a computer. It can be compared to a computer with a behemoth hard drive, a spirited CPU, but with a humble amount of random access memory and incorrect software. If I am to access files in haste or receive excessive complex sensory input in too much bulk I will crash. The software is not talking to the CPU; the random access memory is not supplementing my executive functioning.

The inputs I depend on are sensory, anything verbal has to be visualised in order to create that sensory input myself. It is why I have trouble with unpredictable situations, loss of routine and non verbal communication with individuals. Words become a necessary evil, like a signal being sent to my television set, and then projected into sounds and images. Having to deal with visual unpredictability slows my ability to visualise when I have too much input to project on the mental screen. Hard to explain here and now, but even more difficult to comprehend the time.

Ideally I could connect my brain into a computer which could in turn project my mental images onto a physical screen, the music I create in my head to a loudspeaker; I believe people would be in awe but obviously that won’t occur! I have to bumble around with conversation, stuttering, speaking too loudly or too quiet, butting into other people’s conversations, because of the fear that a unique image I have at a given time will be forgotten forever. This is on top of having to work out why a certain shape of mouth and why eyes shaped in a certain way apparently reflects their inner emotions and feelings.

I can have incredibly strong emotions, although during the event they are primitive, either intense or nonexistent. The emotions are basic sad, happy, or angry. At the time could believe deep down that I hate someone with a vengeance and wish they would perish. But during reflection, visualising the situation hours afterwards I would realise I was simply frustrated at the time due to something said to me which put me on the spot resulting in being overwhelmed. Frustration is a big factor of my life due to situations like this and misunderstandings occurring.

To visualise an emotion is difficult and probably impossible. The one way round it and it rarely successful is to choose a musical piece I believe reflects my state of mind and listen to it repeatedly. The emotions become more defined as I am filtering through my mental storage bank, I search through them one at a time, consciously creating an imaginary situation as to what each type of emotion would reflect, then with luck I may find it, I was feeling ‘embarrassed’. Because the music partially enhanced my emotional ability, I was able to create a clearer path as to pinpoint it. If I don’t have a music player to hand I would have to create the music myself in my head, although this has limitations.

To understand someone else’s emotions is a far more challenging, I would have to imagine myself in the situation they described, which is limiting because I barely in touch with my own, although at least I can partially understand, as inaccurate as it may be. The physical world makes eminently more sense, having a radiant beauty of its own, for example the Spitfire, Triumph Bonneville, T34 tank, and Jaguar E type. To realise what they were used for and their artistic appeal creates a sense of awe and attractiveness.

Despite the above, 'when I am in the zone' and free of anxiety or distraction, verbage can erupt and flow from my brain and mouth, as though the words and pictures just appear in perfect harmony, this is almost exclusively related to my special interests, attempting to narrate visual thoughts, it is why I can only liaise specific details regarding specific subjects, which can jump from one to the other because of the sheer volume of words required to describe every detail, the amount of time in the world to explain everything is limited.

It can be compared to peering world through a pair of powerful binoculars rather than a crude, short sighted panoramic device that tries desperately to fix onto an object it cant even see properly, it is the only way to seek out the understandable truth and to even be aware that the puzzle exists in the first place, hence my child-like wonder of all things around me and beyond.

In general society to me seems illogical, directionless, lacks creativity or a positive future, depressing yes, but why exist in delusion? If something doesn’t make sense I am urged to learn about it intellectually, the only alternative is to become restless. Without unique minority individuals society as we know it will devolve, into primitive, consuming beasts.

To put it crudely, I can take satisfaction from my naturally weird persona, but on other occasions I loathe it due to an ambivalent self perception, based on alternative mental priorities. I crave companionship and contact with people, but the amount of mental energy required for maintenance, let alone the lack of ability or knowledge to begin is colossal. A seemingly endless mental chain of random visual algorithms, destined to distract.

Like firing an afterburner and consequently running out of fuel. A jet engine fails to function without fuel, if the scenario is unlucky, the engines will cease to work in mid flight, resulting in freefall and eventually a messy impact with the ground. This could occur at 29,000 ft or just off the ground. With any luck, the fuel could run out before take off has occurred, but the long-term situation cannot be healthy, as a plane which never takes off has no real function.

Another downfall is that the plane could have so much weight where it needs the afterburner to take off, but the fuel tanks have a limited capacity, although the pilot has no knowledge of this weight or how long it should burn for.....

Does the plane require that much cargo? Can it perform its duties with a minimum amount of baggage on board? Do the engines need to increase their efficiency? Can the plane fly to a location which has a greater proximity? Possibly the fuel was of the wrong type? An ongoing battle especially when you have the responsibilities of the pilot, but not able to receive the required data. The single desire is to fly the plane to its destination unload the goods and travel back to the original destination with new cargo.

Every flight is to deliver something totally different to an alternative destination, with limited knowledge of its whereabouts like a journey into the unknown. This metaphor describes my state of mind when I meet someone, and attempt to look at the individual in the eye and interact. Asperger’s syndrome is a curse and blessing combined. Self discovery is an almost infinite journey, but potentially fulfilling once guided towards the correct path. Is it any wonder I am misunderstood? The more information I consume through life experiences, the greater the awareness of the differences in my methods of thinking and feeling. Ramification at its most stressful is the art of giving and receiving from other people.

If I continue to be perplexed regarding other people when I process emotions and non verbal cues then so be it. Processing emotions, body language, facial expressions and attempting to raise my consciousness to people and their psyche is a burden to me, as they lack predictable/logical form, but pondering the future of mankind, landscapes, music, machines, the natural world, and the cosmos is more fulfilling, and hugely stimulating, an expansion of the mind moving forward rather than standing still, but whether it is more stimulating than theory of mind I will never know. Evolution aside, the human mind will always be exactly that, we are a single species on a piece of space rock orbiting a gaseous ball fusing heavy hydrogen together to form helium, creating our life energy. I believe if it wasn’t for autistic traits we may possibly be sitting in a cave chatting about the latest fashionable topic.

I can force myself to become interested in what someone is attempting to convey. I may randomly phase in and out of my dreamlike state due to a conscious effort to maintain a coherent picture of what I am receiving, but it is almost impossible to also keep a reliable track of mind states and to create associations especially with the information I am absorbing in fragmented form, trying in vain to make use of and interpret body language, and remember a myriad of facts about the person. The only alternative is to try to pull everything together afterwards. When another person comes into play in addition to the first, the probability of maintaining that ability would be virtually zero due to the multiple lines of extra communication.

The human brain can consciously perform only one task at a time, but unconsciously can do a large number of things at any given time. When the brain modules or mechanisms which are responsible for the unconscious do not function conventionally, it is not possible to compensate by doing them all consciously in a limited time frame, resulting in an overwhelming scenario. One at a time is possible, but is a drawn out procedure.

On the flip side to this, and distractions aside, I have the ability to subconsciously process music without making an excessive conscious effort. I can mentally practice my bass guitar visualising the strings and frets, mentally picturing myself playing when I hear musical pieces, knowing exactly what pitch it is in. I used to do the same when I played the Cello as a child which is likely a result of my brain re-prioritising, at some point. I hope I don’t appear self-aggrandizing, but the concluding point is that I do not believe I am any more disabled or abled than the majority of human beings on this planet, just differently abled.

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