Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"What is NeuroQueer?" by Michael S. Monje Jr.

What is NeuroQueer and what does it mean to me?
Well, let's see. Maybe you should take a seat,
this could be a long one in the telling,
and I'm not sure that you necessarily want the whole thing.

Plus, I'm feeling like this is a lot of responsibility,
because I'm one of the original three to speak the term into being,
but I'm not wanting a situation like at science fiction conventions
where conventionally timid disciples cling on to continuity questions.

This is my origin, yes, but that still means it's a construct,
so your perception of it is its meaning once it leaves me,
and I have to hope you're good people who remember my intentions,
but I'm also aware that my ideas will become garbage
if I can't learn to loosen my rhetorical grip.
So if you remember one lesson, let it be this:
and I didn't originate a single one of my own damn tactics,
all I did was assemble parallel arguments, making a collage of activist rhetoric
that pulled its credibility from the humanity of its ethic.

I'm an autistic atheist trans humanist,
trying my best to create a storm around an empty eye, a center
where we can center anyone who has a need for the calm,
create a safe space to hold them while they grow,
and then let them loose with their own rhetoric to storm some more.
Then we center another young artist through their traumatic experience,
because that's what crafting at this level will always be,
birth is painful, you try speaking yourself into being.
That's why I will always owe this debt to the cultural orators before me
In my summer rhetoric before I let my web serial begin,
I hinted that there was an explanation of the fugue
and a canon to give to you, and this is it,
so let this be the beginning,
and know that this is a document that you should always be adding on to,
and it started long before you,
and it started long before me too.

But what is NeuroQueer to me?
Well, it was almost the title of the Clay Dillon series,
if that gives you an idea of his place in this and my thoughts (in the beginning).
It was an expression of the fact that my gender was in question,
and I was unsure of the implications for this and
for the rediscovery of my tactile fetishes
on my perception of my own sexual orientation.
When your gender is in flux and you're attracted to both sexes,
there is actually the question of whether you're in different states
and still feeling like a heterosexual, or if it's more than that
and you spend much more time than you might like thinking on it,
and it becomes just another thing that interferes with the progress of your being.
So I decided to let those insecurities breathe in the brain of a character,
and I actually started with him older and only wrote Nothing is Right
when I had to find a backstory,
because I was drowning in my own immersive memories,
and putting his life in order allowed me to order my being
and center the voice that sounded like a version of me that I wouldn't hate to be,
and if that meant it, then transitioning.

So in short, at first neuroqueer was my perception of my gender,
a new type of neurodivergence, interacting with both my behavior
and my autistic characteristics, and it was what that meant
for my communication style and choice of partners
during sexual interactions.
It was always all three, which is why when I wrote Defiant
I used chapters that illustrated all the intersections,
and then how they were alone,
and then when other segments came unexpectedly into play,
like how Clay gets confused by sadistic cues in his therapist
and becomes compliant because his sexual preferences have conditioned him to it
and how he has to build a professional power exchange relationship
with his wife as his partner in control of it
before he can structure a career path that makes sense to him.

And Nothing is Right is all of those characteristics as expressed in a little kid,
and if you read clearly you can see my sources all cited:
Like it was Eli Clare who said his gender was screaming,
so I took that same feeling, as I understood it being when it was me,
and I stuffed it into the brain of this fictional seven year old
and showed you the pain exactly as I had felt it unfold.

In reality, those aren't memories,
but that's because I'm acknowledging the reality
of the Persistence of Memory being malleable actually,
and so I'm broad brushstroking and hoping you catch on to what expressionism is,
and then I'm moving it into the viewpoint of the little kid
and trying to say his cognition is
a perfect demonstration of what it's like to live in that environment
when you're more of an impressionistic thinker,
and none of the portraits in your perception are recognizable.

But never forget, the text is the product
of my omniscient third person.
Clay Dillon reads a lot, but he actually says little,
so if you're about to make the objection that the vocabulary
was out of wack to the perceptions of little kids,
I'm just going to accuse you of not understanding a bit

The words are descriptions of things he understands through feeling,
visualizing, reading silently, dancing through, or dreaming.
He makes connections in his head, but the assumption that they're verbal
or that his cognition is the thing you're reading is really demeaning
and makes me wonder if you can be a competent critic. But if you get it?
Then we're in business, and you need to know this:
I'm only writing one dissertation. It's represented in several media
and put in chronological progression,
but the poetry and theory are the same work,
and the fiction and drama are rhetoric in the showing mode,
case studies in accessible language for how these theories unfold.

That means: You guessed it. I have already penned three treatises:
Nothing is Right and Mirror Project are already available and widely marketed
along with some minor discourse on coming out to myself,
and that's without citing all the blog posts that I did
or the half dozen articles I sydicated to other outlets.
I put in the work and had copyrights and ISBNs
before advertising the theories I had tucked within
to make sure I put you in the position of having to cite fiction,
and I did everything on my end to put in the work
to make sure rhetoriticians in disability studies had to teach literary interp.

This is what Neuroqueer is to me
a way to speak my way of thinking about literature into being
because my identity is my cultural vocabulary,
and my new narrative happens on levels that illustrate moral stories
decorated with a bibliography in all the arts of rhetorics that influenced me;
I'm constructing sampled mashups like internet directories,
hypertext rhetoric, not a line stolen but rather an easter egg citation,
begging the student to understand how to write like this
by throwing on some Nas and reading like they might get it.

If I've been dead awhile and you find me, then locating my references
will let you know what I did because it will locate my influences
and that will let you infer my most direct descendents;
I'm a creative scholar who's studied hip hop philosophy,
paleoanthropological and historical methodologies,
and sought to expand the diversity of their stories
so that when I construct meaning, it's with an awareness of my own identity
that locates me within a vast network of free beings,
all thinking, contributing to our group understanding with our interactions,
coming to understand our moral obligations through negotiation
and not pontification based on assumptions of others' experience.
See what I did?

I'm betting right now there are people who want me to get to speaking about who I read,
but I'm more interested in discussing what Mirror Project did.

That was my out of body exploration piece,
but in a way it was closest to being my autobiography.
I don't think I need to explain the abuse dynamics in the writing,
but know that my perception of gender was growing as I explored Lynn's body,
and so in a way it was my fingers talking back to me,
giving a scenario to the verbal thinker in my face,
having a dialog between my body and my brain,
and negotiating what each of them will need
if we're going to make the jump and I'm going to get free.
So that one took the longest but you need to include it in your read
because without it you can't understand the rest of my theory.
And my entire career it will be like this, from discourse poems on my blog to publications
to novels, conferences, and paid speaking engagements.
I've been thinking for over six years in scholarly silence and I'm only giving this talk once,
and it's the only thing I'm doing, so it will, naturally, be evolving.

I'll be going from criticizing Steinbeck and locating Lenny as someone lovable
despite the condescension with which he's written and his inhumane treatment,
to bringing flowers for Algernon and cricizing Charlie's regression symptoms;
I'll be on Alice Walker too, and reading The Color Purple to compare to Sapphire's Push
for a generational point of view. I'll bring Borges alongside Nas and Boy George,
doing gender studies on Sam Shepard's drama and making new theories
about disability as presented in cinematic Dada,
but then I'll be situating these observations in character perceptions
or embedding quotes in rhymes on spoken word albums,
making hidden attacks in the lyrics on purpose in places
to comment on appropriation, and trusting my audience, presuming competence,
and creating texts that embed moral rhetoric as literary allusion
or through juxtaposition of different figures, creating a tapestry
with more representation in it than I got to see as a kid,
trying to bring visions of interacting histories in the background of developmental narratives
that don't exist to reinforce normative structures, but to deconstruct heterosexist cis whiteness,
showing how it is that teenaged, working-class, undereducated teen parents could miss
the queer autistic experience of one of their kids.
They are the parents who would view a child's quietness as a blessing
after a day of unrelenting expectations
and whose reliance on their working class, white social networks
reinforced bad values that led to them paying more than their dues,
guilting them out of asking for help when it was the right thing to do,
using peer pressure and racism, homophobic hatred, gender policing,
and a healthy dose of talk radio with inappropriately imbalanced news
to keep them in suspension until their will to think vanishes
and they wind up with only short-term thinking strategies,
which makes them impulsive and selfish,
which is what they teach to their kids,
and those kids grow up not knowing what a coping mechanism is
or having a real sense of who they should be, beyond the tough guy exterior
and the refusal to treat other people decently.

The fact that this identity exists is my criticism of the entire culture that could produce him,
and since he's a painting of my emotions during my upbringing,
his existence on the page should be doubly troubling,
and should inspire us to move together in unison,
dismantling the cognitive dissonance, placing expectations of conformity
outside of our shared experience.
This is why we need to make sure people know my ideas came from
The Invisible Man, and not the slim one that H.G. Wells did,
but the one I read over years and in excerpts, always too busy to give it sustained attention.
Still, I'm glad I got what I did of it.
I'm also looking into The Joy Luck Club, the criticism of Wayne C. Booth,
and some of the early essays of Jim Sinclair too.

When it comes to my understanding of feminist theory, though,
I get worried. Not that I think I lack understanding,
but because some ideas have been trickled up into inappropriate appropriations,
and others have become so common that I can't even tell their beginnings,
so what the hell am I supposed to do? If I'm looking into media theories,
do I talk to the blogger or talk about books?
Do I cite Kerima Cevik or do I cite bell hooks?
It matters how we do this, and who we trust in it and with it,
because we don't want to leave anyone out of the conversation
but we need to make sure we don't get appropriated.

This is why I won't even respond to a rhetor who doesn't read my work in all of its places,
because you can't know enough about it to grasp the basics,
and you're sure to miss the extended arguments
in hypertextual rhetorics of arranged and selected setting mosaics,
Luddite links like Finneganswakeanism filtered through the ears
of a kid who couldn't stop listening to Rakim,
links you can't click, but you might perceive if you have the training.
They are programming connections in imaginations,
creating alternative intranets in the webs of our thought complexes,
restructuring the architecture of solitude to reflect the world around you,
a seamless interior blended with a digital environment.
Fingers talking, unspoken communication, are the tumblrs falling into place yet?

Even if you can't respond in all of my modes,
you'd better taking responsibility for knowing that's how my argument will go.
You gotta start with Nothing is Right as the first one that I did,
then go to Defiant and compare him to what he was as a kid.
Read Mirror Project next, and then jump contexts,
because I immediately went into the poetic mode when I emerged from my post-traumatic hole.
Start with environments like Pollocks, and read every painting,
every discourse and dedication,
the Thoughts on Writing, Barking Sycamores publications, and A Waking Narrative.
Then return to Clay Dillon as a kid,
and while you're busy reading Imaginary Friends
I'll pen a piece on gender and speech for a text communication collection, then write this.

And all of this is what I think NeuroQueer Theory is.
And it will be ongoing for as long as Clay Dillon is.
Every story is discourse, and it discusses the progression of an identity
as a combined narrative about multi-modal media literacy,
with books and magazines, TV and music, the birth of the internet,
pamphlets, library book sales, and dumpster dived paperbacks
all influenced by a setting and a lack of direction,
a lack of social context for his texts
and a solipsistic interpretation.
And somehow, there still will emerge a beautiful human
after they stop sorting through all of the hatred and find a way to let go.

You'd better believe that when Clay Dillon misunderstands things,
it's appropriate, to illustrate the level of his textual comprehension
in context, and next to his actual navigation of the construction of a sentence's grammar.
I'm not being lazy or taking pot shots,
I'm showing a point of view with all of its pitfalls and intellectual inconsistencies,
showing maturity multidimensionally to illustrate early reading in a realistic setting.

How long will that take? Who knows?
I'm not done speaking,
but it's time I concede
that the only way this will have any meaning
is spaced out between similar musings from a variety of other beings.