Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ESCAPE!: An Elegaic Meditation on Neuroqueer Nomadism - by Zach Richter

  1. I. Jarring-Slamming





    I've shut the door. I find myself running, running running.

    into the forest, yeah, I don't exactly know where I am going

    but some of the things said to me are rattling along in my skull

    I sit, on a rock.

    I am surrounded by trees.

    I stare down into icy water.

    This is one of a handful of times when I've left the warmth of my family's house or the house of my friends because something got to me, one of a handful of times where I deliberately chose to feel and experience the cold winter air because I refused to allow myself to be coerced into a false sense of warmth.

    I will say controversially that a defining aspect of neuroqueerness is escapism. My reasons for believing this come from two places: both people on the autism spectrum and people who are queer are known to wander.

    One should be reminded that the Neuro- modifier in neuroqueer is not meant strictly to refer to autistic people, but autistic people as well as other developmentally, learning, psychiatrically and mentally disabled people do fit under the broader theme of neuroqueer and the concept of neuroqueerness has been an addition mainly formed as a collaboration between autistic queer and mad queer scholars and activists.

    Before other voices step in and tell me that wandering is often not a choice made by either group, but is a reaction to inhospitable environments, I will say that the experiences of madness and alternative sexuality force a questioning of normative structures of community and kinship.

    Part of said questioning is implicit to the way that many individuals of alternative sexualities and neurologies are present in such forms of community and kinship. The social rituals of small talk, for instance, are inacessible to those whose bodies and minds thrive on excitements derived from super-concentration. Indeed, the normal back and forth of short comments prevents socialization about depths and details of certain phenomenon and experiences. Similarly, references to family which  are typically the ways in which an individual introduces themselves and presents their connection to broader social groups are incredibly off-putting to individuals of alternative sexualities whose alternative desires create shattered pasts and alien futures.

    These series of disambiguities follow us. They follow us from one interaction to another. They follow us to dinner, to the classroom, to social events and to job interviews.

    When we are not running,
    our flesh wavers,
     We lilt to
    and fro
    we glance and side-line,
    and run and wander
    and even when we are here
    a part of us
    is running.

    II. Routes of Escape

    I plunge
    into page
    I mage away
    with sacred texts
    of oft-forgotten sage(s)

    turn, turn, turn
    away from the main-hall
    away from the bar-brawl
    away from the pain of the bricks
    that fall

    I would like to find some neuroqueer agency in the definitional confusion associated with the word ESCAPE.

    The word escape is bipolar. It is a term located between the socio-linguistic frequencies of affirmative liberation and negative failure of boundaries.

    A neuroqueer notion of escapism or nomadism embraces this unsureness, because it describes the multiplicity of meanings contained within our flight.

    I would like to once more clarify that escape is not to be taken literally as simply running, bur that one also has consciousness-escapes.

    We escape the cruelties of a concrete world when we dwell in philosophical and theoretical realms. Art is an escape. Poetry is an escape.

    Many of us also find negative holes in the world, lines of flight that eat us alive, that devour our skin.

    Some of these holes can be addictions, harmful relationships, exploitative employment situations.

    In response to critics that might note that such forms of flight and escape are not unique to the neuroqueer consituency, I will offer the yet-unproved thesis that forced and unforced escape largely defines neurodivergent and queer radical movements and that such alienations and the directions that they send our bodies in are a core aspect of such concepts of politics.

    This blog post is elegaic because it is enframed by frustration: frustration with the loudness, the overwhelmingness of main, neuronormative events. Frustration with parts of identities left unsaid. With fear of out-presence that persists even to this day for many people with alternative sexualities.

    This is a sad story, but is a story of movement. Though it is sad, its conclusion is not-known.

    As this post ends, the neuroqueer runs out of the room.

    dreams of fleshes forbidden
    dreams of space
    on the edge
    where bleeding shall happen

    where drenching in the sacrilege of the underground
    upside-down wine glasses
    shattered fingers
    ashes spread

    Amidst white-sheets
    where I'd dine tired and hap-hap-happily-hap-
    hazardly sleep
    where I'd leak
    from the outer-edges of fleshly creep
    where the wrapping
    of minds
    peel and shriek


  1. Zach, thank you for writing this elegy/ essay/poem/song. Although I am neuroTypical, I also "thrive on excitements derived from super-concentration. " in my case, I can't bear Smalltalk because I like to ask big questions instead.

    Ibby, thank you for creating this space where the nomadic neuroqueers can meet. We are fugitives, holding out branches to each other. To me, this feels like a future home, perhaps. I don't know whether I belong here, but I want to be here.

    Accessibility request: I find the light gray font difficult on my eyesight. Would it be possible to make it a smidge darker? If the contrast were higher, I'd be so very thankful.

  2. I think I can make it darker, I will work on that tomorrow. You sure feel to me like you belong here! You are only neuro typical if you want to be, but none of my other friends would call you that - especially not Zach - unless you rather be that your own self xx Love, Ib

  3. I think this template made the writing more black... let me know what you think!

  4. thank you for making the writing darker! Now I can see it clearly, and I love the background image as well. You rock, Ibby.