Today, those old familiars, you know, those ghostly wisps of Artaud and Wagner, my goodly pals that seem to follow me around and suck me into merry gyrations of bizarre comedic-tragic theatrics? Well, they paid a nice little surprise visit once again, of all times, during my TEDx speech.
Almost surreal, it was. First, as I was setting up, at the beginning, the tech folks splashed a video on the screen that wasn’t supposed to be there. I didn’t notice it at the time, so intent was I on the nicely choreographed introduction, and I only realised that was what was happening when I viewed the photographs (lovely photography by my friend Eric Chen). Then, a couple of minutes into my speech, the microphone failed. That thing that wrapped around the back of my head, wound over my ears and curled around my left cheek ending in an awkward bulb-like thing two centimetres from my mouth. We tested it last night, too much feedback, but they told me they’d adjust it. Well, whatever adjustments were made (or not) the awful sensory assaultive feedback was still there this morning – that is, when it did work. Of course when the thing completely died, the feedback disappeared. Right, so I had to stop the flow of my talk, reach across to the man who was handing me the substitute microphone, and walk back to my spot – what was I to do but to seize the moment to illustrate yet another point?
They say autistics are inflexible? Well, here we are, don’t ever say autistics are rigid and inflexible again, please. Look at this!
Back to the carefully scripted talk. Then came the next technical glitch. Second video refused to play. Uh oh. Here we go again. This time, a long protracted fumbling and bumbling around, tech crew leaving me hanging like a clueless possum from a creaky cracked tree branch. At one point in the lengthy frustrating interruption, I remarked: “So, now you understand why autistics prefer animals to humans? Quite obvious why, isn’t it?” Human error. Lovely. How difficult is it to play a simple video? More fumbling and bumbling. Tech person called out from the back of the room, “Why don’t you carry on without the video?” What???!!!! No way! I want my video, it is a very beautiful video!
Then the compere came onstage, presumably to ‘save’ the moment? “So, where are you from? You look very tribal!” – ummm… baffling to say the least. How do you answer a question like that? Thankfully, that ridiculous moment was cut short, with the return (at long last) of my video.
… tres outré …
All right, back on track… or so I thought. The grand finale was upon us, I’d created a beautiful video (or so I think it is) with bewitching soundscape (my opinion only, of course)… but what happened? Well, first, they played the wrong video again. Then, when the correct video finally came on, there was no soundscape. Sigh. I gave up. I just continued with the rest of my speech to the very incomplete, unfulfilling and exasperating end. How difficult is it, how terribly complicated can it be, to play three short videos correctly? Mind boggling, really. Considering Lucy and I had already gone through sensory hell the night before in situ with a tech-run and all.
Anyway… Thank you, TEDx, it was truly a unique and distinctive experience: sui generis! One of a kind, and hopefully never to be repeated. But I truly did enjoy it all.
What about Lucy Like-a-Charm? My exquisite Greyhound Princess conducted herself with such elegance and grace, remaining calm and poise throughout. Her steadfast knowingness held me together, I did not suffer a meltdown, nor was I even flustered (quite astonishing really), because her presence was like an anchor amidst the flurry.
It had to be me. Everyone else’s nicely put together slides went on display without any problems. But when it came to my lovely videos, the grand machinery just fell apart.
I chuckle at the thought of Artaud and Wagner hovering over us, laughing in devilish delight at the stirrings and whirrings. I am quite sure nobody else saw them. Just me. And maybe… Lucy.
TEDx deconstructed, demystified and rendered quotidian.
Nevertheless, it was rather fun, I delivered the message I wanted to, about genuine Autistic Thriving, and I made mention of two organisations that have been like bulwarks of strength to me: mindDog Australia and the Disabled People’s Association Singapore. Mission accomplished, albeit with eccentric unorthodox sangfroid.
I learn from the best. Lucy Like-a-Charm. I couldn’t have done all this without her. She is the true luminary.
Back home now, my celestial being is snoring contentedly in bed next to me, thus wraps up another day.