creating clement space

 

As the BIG Anxiety festival draws ever nearer, I am plunged into a flurry of making, musing, more making and more musing. While crafting the installations for Clement Space in the City, contemplating the concept itself, and trying to find spaces of clemency along the way, an old song of mine wove its way into my consciousness.

The road is long and the dark night is lonely“… A line from one of my songs, “To Touch the Edge” written and recorded 1998/1999. I did not realise it at the time, but it was a plea to find Clement Space: a place – mental and/or physical – where mind, soul and body may dwell, even for a few brief moments, without threat or assault to intrinsic Beingness. (Click on title of song to access on SoundCloud.)

Days are now filled with the sensory textures of netting, organza, cotton, linen, yarn, thread, pinpricks on fingers, and the whirring gargling rattling of my mother’s trusty old Singer sewing machine. Continue reading

dogly comestibles

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Food. Nourishment. Sensory engagement. Pleasurable. Challenging.

Textures so beautifully sublime. Textures so horribly excruciating.

Decorated. Sloppy. Aromatic. Stinky.

Synaesthesia. Association. Memory. History. Imagination. Creativity.

Every morsel contains a story. A luxurious narrative. A simple note.

Tendrils spreading and intertwining inexorably.

The good, bad, and the downright ugly. Not forgetting wonderment and gratitude, so often delicately woven into comestibles too ordinary to warrant reviews. Yet, for many with sensory atypicality, the aversions are real, as are the struggles. And for others, there is just no food. Or not enough. I am grateful that I eat. I am also mindful of my own sensory attractions and aversions. My interest in food in its complete resplendent glory emerges from this multi sensory, multidimensional engagement.

Go ahead and photograph your food. Capture in the visual as much of the sensorial richness as you possibly can. Make no apologies for food obsession. I don’t.

Dogly. Full of dogliness. Thinking of my friend Rick, as I tuck in. Thanks for the noshful souvenirs!

mini-maieutic

After yesterday’s sensory agitation, Lucy crashed into bed and slept through the night, till our usual 5.30am. My recovery was less exuberant. I woke up in considerable pain – what is wrong with those shoulders and elbows? – but Lucy always ushers in the day with so much dignity and judicious consideration that I cannot stay in bed rotting inside my mental swirls. We cuddle, then she tells me it is time for our early morning walk by bouncing out of bed, standing parallel to the side, and waiting for me to place my hand on her shoulder for balance as I slowly creak out of bed. Yes, creak, a sonic production as much as it is visually pathetic. Nobody sees this but Lucy, no ma’am!

I have been feeling utterly inadequate again. I am told it is a common malady of all good Ph.D candidates. Cold comfort, really, because I am quite convinced that I am brilliant, but yet utterly stupid at the same time. And I fear I may be unequal to the task of such monumental intellectualism. Does one have to be intellectual all the time? I am often not at all. I think a lot, but it is a very sensory based activity. The better way to describe it is that my senses engage in a lot of thought. I am sure there is a better way to say this in classical Chinese language. I wish I had learned the language better. Someday, I shall apply myself to that task – I promised my father before he passed away, that I will. I inherited his carefully compiled Cantonese pronunciation handbook, and all his classics. In my sensory mind, there is a photograph of the books on the top shelf in my bedroom at my other home. Far away from here, but the visual image is very near, and I can smell the books. Continue reading

le sacre

This video is a repost. I love Pina Bausch. This woman knew about passion in a very cogent, stark and confronting way. Her work lives on forever and grows more and more powerful in the inspiration of those who embrace, resonate with and admire her work.

As a musician, I have always been fascinated by Igor Stravinsky. Le Sacre du Printemps remains one of my favourite works. Stravinsky’s music has very concrete links to the visual and tactile senses, to me, they are not meant merely for ‘listening’ to alone. That said, even though I am not a true synaesthete, I am nevertheless unable to engage merely one sense in conscious isolation, in any case. Pina Bausch’s interpretation of this work is the best I have ever seen. Her work is full of tactile associations, with sometimes overwhelming emotional, psychological and philosophical threads interwoven into a massive confronting tapestry yet so delicately intricate and detailed at the same time.

Both Stravinksy and Bausch are “in-your-face” geniuses. Their work speak things that makes some people uncomfortable, and yet brings immense exhilaration to others. These are no bland, neutral background New Age sonic sensorial stirring in the cosmic atmosphere. These are challenges to spirit, soul, body (senses) and intellect.

Autism, too, is “in-your-face.” Therein lies our strength, but also our vulnerability. We are not to be easily obfuscated, even when we may be easy prey to those who seek to control and manipulate us. Continue reading

sensory contrasts

We had an earlier start to the day – the Princess woke me up at 4.30am and insisted on going out. After a few play-barks at the lifeless teddy bear, she proceeded to pounce on mummy. OK, I don’t want to wake the neighbours or receive any complaints, so I took her out pronto! Once outside, she wasn’t so keen on the pee or poo thing, she walked me straight to the Bowhouse shop – where else? – and lingered there with her nose between the grilles looking in most longingly. Not pleased when mum said, “Nobody is in, honey! It’s closed!” Continue reading

extero-interoceptive musings

sweet LucyLou

sweet LucyLou

OK, look at this face. Look at how beautiful this creature is. I am not the only one to say so, 90% of the neighbourhood agree with me. So, tell me, how could anyone be nasty to her? Apparently, some, of course. The remaining 10%.

This morning, the smoke alarm was once again triggered – for the umpteenth time. It’s one of the perky things about this apartment building. Together with leaky ceilings and terrible hot-cold water from the shower. Anyhow, down the stairwell we went. My baby is now so efficient, she is ready before I am, waiting at the door the minute the warning signals sound. I do become quite disoriented by the loudness and the frequency of the alarm, both pounding and piercing at the same time, so I am glad that Lucy is now able to calmly walk down the stairs without coaxing or extra help. Continue reading

light green

light green…

This morning, I received a piece of good news. I feel a great sense of relief, that one issue on the list of things to be resolved is now dealt with. A positive outcome is always welcome too!

So, for lunch, I am indulging in a huge helping of spaghetti and minced beef on a bed of lettuce leaves. The last minced beef patty was used for the tomato based sauce, and the last few leaves of lettuce formed the base. Dressing is the same old mustard, flaxseed oil and soy sauce mixture – us Aspies seldom deviate too far from our routines and habits.

Light green. That is the general colour of this meal. And the colour of relief, to me.

On the subject of colour, here’s yet another musing set off by my beautiful black velvet furred Lucy: Continue reading

haptic-visual miam!

Another page I am loving. The visual images are egging me on to begin another crochet project. Some wild ideas bubbling in my head already, but will my arthritic fingers be able to persevere? (Not to mention the bum and back ache from sitting for hours on end on a lousy cheap chair because I cannot afford a proper office chair!)

Anyhow, check this out, even if you are not a crochet freak and you don’t like the haptic sensational of twisting, turning and winding yarn, the visuals are great!

“Free Crochet” on pinterest.

And my all time inspiration, the wonderful crochet project kicked off by mathematician Margaret Wertheim and her artist sister: Hyperbolic Crochet. Such a wonderful collaboration of art and science, haptic and intellectual, and making it all accessible to anyone who wants to get involved. Beautiful!

More information and inspiration here:

Crochet Coral Reef – about the project

Mathematical perspective on hyperbolic crochet – this one is great for the ones who are curious about the maths behind the project

And here are two photos to whet your appetite.

hypbolic crochet image from the Institute for Figuring

hypbolic crochet image from the Institute for Figuring

hyperbolic crochet reef exhibition (Hayward Gallery, London)

hyperbolic crochet reef exhibition (Hayward Gallery, London)

itchy boots

Observing my Lucy and her responses sometimes reminds me of my own hypersensitivities. I am sure many autistic individuals identify better with animals in many ways than with neurotypical humans. Temple Grandin’s now famous book tells us that “Animals Make Us Human” – if by being ‘human’ in this context means more insightful, kinder, more caring, and more aware of the state of ‘being’, of pneuma, then yes. Lucy has made me a better human being.

I ordered a set of lovely red boots specially made for Greyhounds, all the way from Canada. This online shop had all sorts of things for Greyhounds. This was after Lucy’s accident, and I ordered them to protect her wounds from the elements when we were out walking. Unfortunately, they took too long to arrive and she had already healed by then. Anyhow, it was raining the other day, and so I decided to try them out on her.

She hated them. For some reason, no matter how tightly I wound the velcro around her ankles, they kept sliding off. What was worse, she decided to try to take off the front boots by nibbling at the velcro. Funny thing was, she was ok with the once on the hind paws. They’re a darling looking set of boots, but I don’t blame her for disliking them, they didn’t fit well. A pity.

This whole experience reminded me of my own search for comfortable shoes. I once had 200 pairs. All very expensive. Salvatore Ferragamo was my favourite because their shoes were most comfortable. Still my favourite, even though I can no longer afford their shoes on my meagre scholarship stipend. Anyhow, regardless of the number of shoes I once owned or now own, I still have the habit of only wearing about 4 pairs. The rest are sort of like eye candy, or a sense of ownership.

I guess the preference for only a few very pairs, worn repeatedly, is more in sympathy with Lucy’s focus on sensory comfort and nothing else. These ones are my sneakers. A pair of dark green soft patent leather Ferragamo, black suede and patent Geox, moss green suede Bally, sable calf leather Ferragamo, white calf leather Acupuncture, cheap black boots bought in an alley in Hong Kong, and wine red Doc Martens lace-up boots. I have not worn any of my other 30 pairs (all that is left of my old collection from my former glory days of fashion) in a year now.

Having far too many than I need is a human thing, not a doggy thing.

At the end of the day, Lucy knows better. What’s comfortable. What’s better for our senses, will ultimately be better for our mental functioning and emotional wellbeing.

So here they are. Lucy’s shoes. And my shoes.