My research & praxis emanates from lived-reality, as lived-reality unfolds from research & praxis. The last four months before my PhD submission saw me and Lucy hurtling through the grand cosmic roller-coaster of instability, betrayal of trust and excruciating vulnerability. We moved home four times in those four months, and Lucy suffered terrible physical and mental distress, as did I. But we pulled through and the PhD dissertation has been submitted.
Finding, carving out, building, rebuilding clement space. Over and over again, every day, inside a harsh and assaultive sensory-social environment.
And… Searching for academic traction and pathways for creative explication and application.
The autistic academic / artist is in a strange oxymoronic juxtaposition. Balancing exquisite passion for ‘the work,’ while wrestling the confounding behemoth of normative social construction that governs all aspects of public life and impacts even the fundamental, simple act of survival.
What is even more confronting is when ‘the work’ is a dynamic, breathing, singing, dancing, gyrating, youthful hybrid entity of confronting art-science propositions. Youth has potential to impact the future. Youth has a beautiful blushing face. But youth can also too easily be snuffed out, asphyxiated, or browbeaten into submission by forceful powers-that-be. And hybrids are especially fragile organisms.
Where may this Young Being go for nurturing and mentoring, that it may assimilate strength, verve and wisdom, that it may flourish and mature, and venture forth to make potent contribution to society-at-large?
I am in charge of this Young Being, ‘the work.’ It is a part of me, but only because I have lovingly nurtured it and brought it to life. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide for this exquisite entity on my own. Hence, I must try to find the resources and support necessary to cultivate, stimulate and nurture this precious living thing. They say it takes a village to raise a child, then by the same count, it takes a dedicated community to cultivate a vibrant work of research and creative embodiment.
Knocking on doors along the hallowed hallways of higher learning has been daunting. Especially because the one knocking on doors is autistic and operating within an alien milieu that is already harsh enough for anyone from within its native culture. That is, even the neurotypical academic has many stories of intense struggle to tell. Add to that scenario the hybrid nature of the work.
The visual image in my mind is that of a somewhat odd-looking autistic researcher and multi-artist with a gangly-legged black greyhound dog in tow, carrying a wriggling creature in a humble patchwork swaddling cloth, wandering through austere, echoing passages, tremulously tapping on closed doors.
Thus far, the menhirs of tradition have been overwhelmingly formidable, and their defenders have been variously horrified at and/or fascinated but flummoxed by this strange composite squirming animatedly in my arms, a Young Being at times looked upon as an unwelcome mongrel, and other times viewed as too peculiarly mystifying to adopt into the comfortably conventional fold.
Wish me luck. For, if I am unable to successfully find a trusted community to help nurture this Young Being, I shall have to abandon it to the wild elements of fate, and find another wheelbarrow to trundle in, along a completely different pathway on a new adventure. This, I am loathe to do, but Lucy is still my highest priority, and we both need physical sustenance to stay alive. I am willing to ‘suffer for my quest’ but I will not make Lucy starve to support my dreams.
If anyone knows of a community that will and is able to take us three onboard – autistic researcher-artist, Princess greyhound dog, and a hybrid art-science project with latent powers – please, please, send me a message!
(In the meantime, I have begun to eke out slivers of clement space making sensory-gentle adornment, inspired by Lucy’s peaceful regal beauty.)