Today is International Dog Day. I celebrate with Lucy our differently embodied existences. Her canine Being is precious to me. Lucy is not “just a dog” – she is a dynamic and sonorous entity to who has not only saved my life on many occasions, but continues to enhance, enrich my realm with pulchritude worth far more than any human is able to provide. Thank you for being a dog, and so much more than my humanity can be. Lucy Like-a-Charm, I love you.
The dark despair of failure. Those depths of acrid, rancid, dissonant putridity. Purple – thick, viscid, slimy, clammy, choking and Stygian – swirling manic whirlpool inside corporeal core.
That feeling that one has failed a precious Parallel Embodied child. Closest companion. Most faithful entity who walks alongside without questioning.
Each and every decision affects this beautiful being – such cogent reverberations – in ways no human mind will ever fully grasp. Yet, just sensing the very peripheral waves, catching those soft crying top notes or unheard vibrating bass notes, is enough to thrust the human soul into the vortex of forlorn, hapless gloom. That is, if the human possesses just a sliver of empathic resonance for Other, and a tiny beam of light shining onto Self. Many, sadly, do not. Yet… Some humans really do. Some humans truly try.
What would one give to understand in full the abundance that thrives within the Canine Angel’s inner world?
What may this human proffer in exchange for this harmonic-rhythmic enlightenment beneath the mantle of verisimilitude?
Would the knowledge and the weight of its pulchritude and agony annihilate the tenuous human fragility?
No words. No answers. The silence deafens, as the senses listen intently, skimming the surface of myriad textures, smells, tastes, vibrations, images, sounds… Ebbing, flowing, undulating…
Anxiety is a demon, roaring fury echoing in mocking silence, dancing tentacles teasing and mutilating quivering raw flesh. Shortness of breath and throbbing heart escalating into blazing fury, gasping for breath under thick smoking dusty throws, pearly beads of toxic pain oozing from unseen frantic pores.
The Canine Angel is a mysterious entity. One does not need her the way air is exigency for life’s breath. In fact, many inconveniences present incorrigible upon such Angelic visitation. The Angel does not wait for opportune time and space, her Beingness occupies your entire ecology. She creates calm from chaos, yet stirring waves so gently disruptive the heavens chortle in cruel delight. Continue reading
Fragmenting. Imploding fissures. Tiny… tiny… very tiny… bits of gravel… rubbing against one another… producing contrapuntal friction that even nakedness cannot hear. Yet, it is felt. Like a thunderous tsunami. The soul shudders, staring at engulfing waves in wide-eyed petrification, rooted, transfixed by the shining brilliance of terror.
Thugs rule the world. Perhaps they always have? Perhaps we just live in an age where the camouflage of pretty adornment doesn’t anymore matter? Continue reading
This is porridge. It is goop. You do not chew on goop. It is sluggish, it does not flow, it is not pretty, the sound it makes is murky. Goop does not sing in clear mellifluous tones. Goop just flops and blobs and generally obstructs refinement.
I have been living in a state of goop lately. Despite the unwelcome sensory atmosphere, or perhaps even spurred on by the discomfort and often sheer agony, I have been ruminating… and chewing… and gnawing… there has even been a goodly gnashing of teeth… over the colossal conundrum of EMPATHIC RESONANCE.
Let me try to put this mammoth in two simple, broad categories. Continue reading
My Angel cannot speak the worded language. Yet, I know she tries to tell me things. There are times I am tuned in and able to sense, just by touching her, watching her eyes, her mouth, her body, but there are times when I am sadly oblivious, lost inside my own domain. Then, there are the moments of sheer terror, when she is unwell, and I am haplessly flailing, desperate to grasp her subtle wordless enunciations. Continue reading
Lucy has been unwell. Two months already. The trouble hasn’t stopped since we moved home. And yes, that accident… The schism that eternally severed the rhythmic flow of unfolding, cutting away from that split second on the former ecology of Being. Weeks of nightmares, twitching and crying in her sleep, ensued. The pain, sadly, did not end with the physical healing of the amputation.
Multiple vet visits for one thing after another. Vomiting. Diarrhoea. Lethargy. Weight loss with excessive hunger. Blood tests. Body checks. The works. Nothing conclusive. I don’t know what else to do anymore. All I know is that she is in pain. Still.
And it breaks my heart.
She is my nonverbal child, a parallel embodied entity, whose life interweaves with mine. Her sentience has propelled me into dimensions of knowing, weaving rich tapestries of narratives that I would never have entered on my own. Yet, I am unable to help her resolve her pain.
Today… frantic discomfort. A reaction no doubt from the latest medication – a painkiller – what twisted irony, wasn’t it meant to relieve her of her pain? But that is what happens. I know all too well, after a lifelong tumultuous relationship with pharma myself.
Pacing. Panting. I run outside with her. Rain pelting down – and Lucy hates the rain – we were soaked to the skin, she and I, but there was a more desperate mission at hand. Round and round, back and forth, up and down we walked and walked and walked. She stopped to sniff, then went on. Stoop, strain, stoop, strain – nothing. Repeat all over again. Thunder. Lightning. Run, pant, run, run, run! Stop, stoop, strain again… Little slivers of excreta… Her whole body taught… I massage her even as she is in position… It seems to calm her a little. What else can I do?
We return home. But she is restless, inconsolable… and a few minutes later, we are running downstairs again. Rain… wet… we are splashing across huge puddles… Stoop, strain, stoop, strain… run, run, run… more slivers, more massaging… Two bizarre creatures in the pouring rain, no umbrella, no time for her raincoat even…
She is at last in bed. I massaged her and she fell asleep. But only for awhile. Yet another nightmare. Whimpering. Shaking. So much of this lately. Ever since… that day…
But my brave child of another species, unlike the human one, she does not throw her hands up in despair, she does not give up… she just keeps going… and so, too, must I.
Dogs are wonderful creatures. In terms of comfortable, clement interactivity, they rank higher than humans for me. Well, animals in general, but in my case, specifically, it’s dogs. And more distinctly, Greyhounds. Umm, ok, narrow that down to one Greyhound: Lucy.
I grew up with a healthy respect for dogs. Dad believed in rescue and adoption, he despised the practice of buying a dog. Some of the rescued dogs were quite feral when they first arrived. I’ve been bitten by a few, our own and the free roaming dogs that lived in the nearby village (our family home was a large brick semi-detached in a modern residential estate, perched at the edge of a traditional Chinese kampong).
Long before the new science of canine behaviour emerged, in the relatively ‘ignorant’ days, there were nevertheless fundamental tenets of respect embedded in our mindscapes about living with dogs.
Simple Wisdom from dad: dogs have different ways of showing affection, different comfort thresholds and different communicative styles from humans. Do not taunt a dog. Do not rush head/face first at a dog. Do not touch the tail, pull ears, pinch, smack etc. Do not surprise the dog. Do not disturb the dog when he/she is eating. If the dog nips you, it is probably your fault. The dog cannot speak in words.
Simple Wisdom from dogs: dogs tolerate a whole lot from humans. Dogs try very hard to communicate with humans. Dogs tolerate a lot of rubbish behaviour from humans. Dogs are wonderful creatures that ought to be respected and treasured, because they can teach you much about how to be a better human.
Lucy has opened up amazing trajectories and dimensions to me, and inspired not only the desire and determination to love and care for her, but also much of my research and practice. To me, she is my non-verbal parallel embodied companion, a living sentience of my own theory and praxis.
Verbality is not superior to non-verbality. Affection and love has many systemic structures and are evinced in myriad configurations. Just because an autistic child/adult does not enjoy hugging or kissing you, or looking in your eyes, does not mean the autist feels no elemental empathic resonance for and with you. Learn to speak our language, especially the silent one, since we are making great effort to learn to speak your verbal one.
Dawn-joy Leong and Lucy present
Sonata in Z
10-14 November 2015 | 10am-5pm
Nick Waterlow Gallery, UNSW Galleries
UNSW Art & Design, Paddington, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
An autistic human,
A greyhound dog.
A journey of Being.
Endeavour of Empathy,
Spaces of Mind.
Sonata in Z is a ‘gentle space’, inspired by my autistic hyper sensory quest for sanctuary, and my Greyhound Lucy’s natural ability to seek out and create oases of comfort. Unfolding like a musical sonata, visual images of Lucy in sonorous repose introduce the theme of rest. Please leave your shoes at the threshold as you enter, symbolically shedding conventional notions of social communication. Once inside, we shall not speak in words, but the tranquility is neither silent nor empty, because our senses will lead the way into a different social ecosystem of softly undulating rhythms, patterns, sounds, movements, gestures, textures, smells, tastes and visual conversations. This is our refuge, an alternative empathic resonance, a nonverbal sensory equilibrium – and Lucy and I would like to share our clement space with you.
Check out Lucy’s photos and read the full description here!
Ever wonder what it feels like to consistently hear and see in mainstream media programmes, interventions and whatnot, all about you but without you?
I am mentally exhausted, and still physically shaking from the effects of this programme:
It was very triggering, I could not vocalise my reactions coherently last night, but am going to try now. I could write a conference paper on this alone, or more, but here is a brief.
Big glaring questions:
1. A programme about autism… BUT… Where are the autistic voices? A few seconds here and there, nothing more. Would this be acceptable if it were a programme about, for example, Chinese culture and nobody bothered to properly research or interview Chinese people seriously?
2. Has anyone thought how a more ‘severely autistic’ person would feel, watching this? OK, so I know many so-called ‘high functioning’ autists / Aspies may be quite happy with the programme, and glad for the functioning label that sets them apart superficially from the ‘lows’. But not me. I am not considered ‘severely autistic,’ and there are some sympathetic bits in this programme, but it was in general quite horrible to endure.
3. I wonder what the response would be if Down Syndrome or any other condition were to be examined and presented in this way? Today’s trend is autism. Have we really evolved in our attitudes towards differentness and difficult deviations from the prevalent norm? Continue reading