6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
I just finished the final part of Michael R. Underwood's "Genrenauts:  Season One," and while it was a couple of metric tons of fun, it also led me to an insight about myself and my neuro-atypical (AKA autistic) difficulties.  Pretty good trick, if you ask me, but, then, I'm on the receiving end.

In short, the Genrenauts is a series about a team of people (well, there are many teams, but the narrative only followed one) who can access archetypal "story worlds," which are broken down by genre, and then by subgenre.  These story worlds affect our own world, and when a story has a "breach," or goes wrong, the Genrenauts go out to fix it, because broken stories have a negative effect on our world. When Western World gets a broken story, lawbreaking goes up.  When Romance World has a broken story, relationships on Earth Prime fall apart, divorce rates go up, and people stop looking for romance in their lives.  When there's a story breach in Fantasy World depression and despair go on the rise on Earth Prime.  The Genrenauts go and fix these breaches, which can be quite a bit of work. 

So, last night I finished "the Failed Fellowship," the last part of the first "Season" of the series, and I was eminently satisfied with it.  I sat and ran down my reactions to the various books, and wondered why I liked them so much.  Two of the genres visited-- Western World and Romance World-- were genres that I don't care about, even actively dislike.  Still enjoyed those, almost against my will.  Science Fiction and Mystery worlds I was comfortable as heck with, and to my surprise, the same for Fantasy world.  I could've understood that last if they'd been in the "Urban Fantasy" region, but they weren't, the team was basically fixing a High Fantasy, "Chosen One" story.  And I've long since given up on high fantasy, or epic fantasy, or whatever you want to call it.  So I thought about it, while waiting to fall asleep-- and I had that epiphany mentioned in the title of this post.

I liked all of these things more than I might otherwise have done because the viewpoint character, by and large, is the newest member of the team, a probational Genrenaut named Leah Tang.  Her outsider's point of view, her wonder and delight at being inside stories, at fixing broken stories, pulled me in, because... well, I share her viewpoint.  Only I'm not fixing stories, or anything, I'm not an outsider looking at a new and wacky world. 

I'm an outsider looking at our world.  The real world.

Now, don't freak out, or start the pity train or anything.  I'm okay out here, looking in, and there are enough people who work to make me part of their lives-- their worlds, in other words-- that I'm not spending a lot of time bored, or lonely.  But, yes, I'm kind of outside everything, mostly for the reasons discussed in my last couple-three posts; I don't think like a "normal" human being.  See two of the three posts preceding this for my rather poor attempts at explaining that, if you like.

Things that seem really obvious to other people aren't at all obvious to me, and vice-versa.  Sums it up fairly neatly.

But the epiphany that resulted also explained a couple of other things to me, and I am, quite frankly, relieved.   I have the beginnings of an understanding of why, over the last several years, my tastes have shifted, my focus narrowed, and my desire to read certain stuff that I used to enjoy dwindled to outright vanished.

I used to read pretty much any science fiction or fantasy that passed in front of me, and a lot of mysteries.  Nowadays, I'm much more selective.  I read little science fiction or science fantasy (Star Trek/Star Wars are examples of the differences), more mysteries, and the fantasy I read is almost exclusively urban fantasy.  Now, thanks at least in part to Michael R. Underwood's "Genrenauts," and thinking about why I enjoyed it so much, I have some idea.  

I don't read much science fiction or epic fantasy any more for the simple reason that I'm having a hard enough time understanding the world I live in, and have no desire to have to learn about another world in order to enjoy stories set there.  My science fictional tastes have shifted to mostly things that take place on Earth, in the future.  Still some culture to learn, but not so much as anything involving aliens.  Same for high fantasy, or epic fantasy.  (The latter term bugs me, because I think that "epic" is purely subjective, and that judgment should be left to history.)  You want me to learn about your lands, your races, your politics on a world that doesn't even exist?  No, thanks.  I have a hard enough time with understanding the real world, not gonna try to understand another one for the sake of entertainment.  I'll be over here, reading some urban fantasy, where I know the "basic rules" already, and only have to fit the weird stuff into the world I already know.

And that?  That's part of why the Genrenauts works for me, in part, I think.  Sure, there are "new" worlds, but they're not really new.  They're archetypes.  They're the basic set from which all others are derived.  So, I not only sympathize with Leah Tang and her wonder and delight, I get these worlds.  By presenting them as archetypal, by stripping them down to very basic levels, Michael Underwood has put them into a place, or I guess maybe a context, that I can reach and understand.

So, yeah.  I'm on board with the Genrenauts, and in for the long haul.  And I owe the author for leading me to a better understanding of my rather atypical mind, so, if you're reading this?  Go check out some of his stuff.  I've enjoyed everything he's released, especially the Ree Reyes Geekomancy books and the Genrenauts.  At the time of this writing, I know some of each are on sale....

And in a day or so, once my brain's done digesting that last piece of the Genrenauts saga (so far), I'll go review the books on Amazon and Goodreads.

But in the meantime?  I'll be a lot more relaxed about the changes in my tastes, and why they happened.  Which I find pretty groovitudinal.

6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
I'm a serious anti-theist.  I oppose the very existence of religion, as I feel that it limits the human race, slaps on us the chains of anti-intellectualism, puts people in a position of behaving well only in expectation of reward or fear of punishment, and generally damages the chances of the human race's long term survival.

I'm not cool with that.  I want us to survive and thrive and colonize other planets, and somewhere in there, stop being a bunch of assholes to one another on a regular basis.

Religion is a direct (and undeniable, to my mind) threat to those things.

Gonna use a snippet of my logic that I posted in reply to a comment by one of my increasingly-few religious friends, here.  Apologies if you saw it on Facebook already.

I deeply, sincerely believe that the energy put into religion by the human race is wasted. Same for the money and the effort.

Apply that energy, that effort, that money, directly to problems like homelessness, mental health, poverty... and you will see a significant improvement in the world.  The psychological and sociological impact would be just as great. Greater, perhaps. 

My attempts to reach the rest of the world, to make them understand that sometimes you absolutely must use your head, must overcome the brainwashing that society tries to do to all of us from very early on?  I can't stop those.  Not and look in the mirror, anyway.

(And before you take umbrage at my use of the word "brainwashing," go Google the phrase "are religious summer camps brainwashing kids" and watch or actually read [no skimming!] some of the articles.  Of particular interest are "Brainwashed at Bible Camp" on Exchristian-dot-net, and the "Brain Washing (Jesus Camp ''Highlights'')" clip on YouTube.)

This is my way of trying my level best to make the world a better place. Well, one of my ways.  The other is writing fiction, because sometimes, a story is the best argument there is, the best teacher there is.  Besides, I love writing.  Might be that I couldn't truly stop writing, not and keep what sanity I have remaining to me.

But make no mistake; the stories I tell, when I'm telling original tales, at least?  (I've been known to do fanfiction, and wipe that smirk off your face, it's story-character-and-plot based, not porn!)  They won't include any acknowledgment that the christian god, or the muslim god, or any other god/dess from any Earthly religion exists.

Because those particular fictions?  They completely overwhelm my ability to willingly suspend my disbelief.

(Welllllllll... okay, there is one original story I've written [and tanked the rewrite on] that acknowledge the christian god and some of the others-- but that story does make most of the "mainstream" gods of the "primary" religions of this planet look like the jackasses that they would be if I thought for a second that any of them were real.)
6kinds_of_crazy: cane fighting (canes)
Events in the world of late have had me thinking about this more than before, even. Cops shooting people, people shooting cops, politicians (all the ones I've seen, thus far, republicans) acting like assholes over both sets of events. Muslim extremists. Christian extremists Political extremists. Conservative extremists. Liberal extremists.

Okay. I'd like to point out that none of these people, even those whom I agree with somewhat-to-a-lot, are actually thinking like sane people, in the judgment of the neuro-atypical, neurotic, anxiety-ridden, obsessively punctual, formerly-conservative-on-matters-pertaining-to-Criminal-Justice (and still conservative on some of those issues, but fewer as time marches on), anti-theistic, curmudgeonly, seriously snarky writer whose work you're reading.

I'm gonna put the example of my thinking that (I think) has the most potential to shock (maybe even upset) some potential readers out there first: I've been an atheist since I was eight years old. Seriously, not kidding, not exaggerating. Sure, there have been a few lapses into some sort of theistic belief or another, most of them when I was hurting emotionally in some way, but there hasn't been a real lapse of that sort in almost thirty years, now.

"What could possibly cause an eight year-old to become an atheist," you ask? You may well not like my answer.

The thing that caused me to decide that god was in no way real, that the bible was a fairy tale from end to end? That would be reading the bible.

I was reading at three. Mostly the magnificent Dr. Seuss and Little Golden Books, sure, but reading them, understanding them, and needing help only very rarely. At four, I started reading my sister's old "Happy Hollisters" mysteries for kids. I climbed the literacy ladder rapidly after that. And, at eight, I read the bible. Somewhere, some relative had found a bible that I'd been given that had the pages split into two columns. On the left, the King James version of the bible. On the right, a "plain English" (they might call it a "New International Version," now, but this was the early seventies, folks) translation.

After finding out, at seven, that Santa Claus definitely wasn't real (I'd suspected for a couple of years), I worked out for myself that the same applied to the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Uncle Sam, etc-- and I started wondering about god. My family went to church (which I largely found dull and utterly pointless) fairly regularly for a while, up until I was seven or so, and I knew the basics of Christianity. Not long after my eighth birthday, I found that weird bible again, and I decided to read the thing.

It took me a while, because I couldn't just carry it around like an ordinary book (it was HUGE, and besides, my few friends would've thought I had lost my mind), and it was... well, even at age eight, I was a bit of a continuity nut, and I could only read the thing in small doses because of that. There were "continuity holes" all through the damned book, places where it contradicted itself and said radically different things, and then, of course, it horrified me in other ways, too. (SLAVERY!? Selling my sister for goats!? What the actual [CENSORED]!?)

(On the plus side, by reading both sides of that divided bible, King James and plain English versions? Yeah, I've never had any trouble with parsing out Shakespeare.)

I came out of it an atheist, sometime in early June. No way was I buying into that crap. Stupid, badly written, contradicted the things I was being taught in school, and made no sense! None, at all. Not even a consistent, internal logic, like, say, the Robert Heinlein books I'd read, or Peter Pan, or Robin Hood, or... or anything that, while fantastic-to-impossible, at least made sense within itself.

So, there. The first real example of my love of logic, and how seriously different I think from other people. If it can't be made to make sense, it isn't real. The bible makes absolutely no sense, so god isn't real. Seems perfectly easy and logical to me.

Which brings us to bigotry. I understand it. I still, on occasion, have to fight myself over it. I fail, on occasion, to be utterly honest. I'm trying to get better about that, but I honestly doubt that I'll ever completely succeed. Okay, well, I'm going to keep trying anyway. Because, you see, hating a person or group because of the color of their skin, of who they love, or how they express that love, or because they really, deeply believe that they were born the wrong gender? Because they come from another country or continent, another culture? Because they can't see, or walk, or hear?

There's no logic to any of that. None. So I try, really, seriously try, to avoid it. Sometimes? I fail. Still working on it. Never planning on stopping. I allow myself the luxury of being bigoted against bigots and other willfully ignorant people, that helps. (Ignorance? Not a problem, that can be repaired with time, and often will be. But deliberately staying ignorant, willfully being uninformed? That's stupidity, and stupidity will not be tolerated!)

I can live with that.

But there are things I may never be able to deal with.

Things like the religious extremists who declare everything but THEIR WAY of doing things to be wrong, or sinful, or evil. That's just stupid.

Things like idiots who talk about how homosexuality is a sin, it says so right there in the bible-- and ignore the bits about tattoos being sinful, about working on Sunday being sinful, or starting a fire on Sunday being sinful.

Things like fans of [INSERT FICTION HERE] who insist that a couple of characters hating each other is actually Unresolved Sexual Tension (and never mind the gender of the characters, and their demonstrated sexuality in the fictional universe). (And, yes, it bugs me just as much when someone turns a homosexual character bi or straight as it does to see them turn straight people bi or gay, because I believe that who we love and how we express it is central to who we are.)

Things like people who insist that Donald Trump isn't a racist bag of greed and filth, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Those things will probably always make me angry. Sometimes I can control it. Sometimes... not so much. (Bet on anything that I post anywhere on a Tuesday being anywhere from snarky to vitriolically bitter. I hate Tuesday, it's my shopping day, and I hate having to leave my home and deal with crowds.)

So, again, I ask; if I irritate or anger you (or even just disappoint you), consider that my thoughts are not like yours, that I have my own (possibly [okay, probably, yes]) skewed logic that led me to write/post/reply as I did. I'm not saying that you shouldn't call me on it-- you should, or I'll never figure out the boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate-- but don't rip me apart over it, please?

I'm trying to get better about interpreting the world around me, seriously. I'm just... not successful anything remotely like all the time.

This didn't really go where I wanted it to, but... it does have some merit in explaining that I really think "outside the box," as it were, so I'll post it. But I'll be grumpy about it, probably.

6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
Okay,  honestly, no one thinks exactly like anyone else, but with me?  The difference is pretty exaggerated, mostly thanks to my Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Or, to use a term I've become very fond of, the difference is pretty exaggerated, mostly thanks to my being "neuro-atypical."  (Meaning I have a brain that is physically  weird, as well as the varieties of weird that you probably know or at least suspect.)

The basics of Autism are that some part (or parts) of the brain under-develop, and some other part (or parts) of the brain over-develop.  (Brain scans have shown this consistently.)  There are some fairly typical symptoms, but not every autistic person will have those symptoms.  I, for example, have no real difficulty with making eye contact, a fairly  common issue for autistic people.  I'm neuro-atypical in different ways.

Dictionary-dot-com defines autism spectrum disorder as "any of various disorders, as autism and Asperger syndrome, commonly manifesting in early childhood and characterized by impaired social or communication skills, repetitive behaviors, or a restricted range of interests."  I didn't manifest in childhood, not strongly enough to attract attention, anyway.  Or not the kind of attention that got me tested and treated or anything.  

I do have some of those symptoms.  I've never really socialized well, and the older I get, the worse that gets.  I tend to dislike change in my personal world (but not enough to be a republican, ha-ha!), and I have long preferred to communicate in writing over verbalization, at least when something was emotionally important to me, because I do so much, much  better than I do verbally.

But, in the end, it all comes down to this: I don't think like you do.  

That's hard to really wrap your head around, and, believe it or not, I get that-- because I have to constantly  remind myself that very few people remember things like I do.  This was pointed out to me a few years ago, when a friend mentioned some things we'd done when we were young and dumb, then said, "I'll bet you thought I forgot all that, didn't you?"  When he seemed puzzled by me answering "of course not," we started talking about memory... and  I came to understand that it wasn't just him that had a memory that wasn't as good as mine, it was most everyone.  (Only my best friend comes close to having a memory that works like mine, and as well as mine, and [I think] better than mine on some subjects.)  (Well, him and my gaming buddy R, whose memory is... actually kind of scary-good, even next to mine.)

I remember everything I've ever read that interested or amused me.  Not verbatim, no, but by content.  Hand me a book, I can tell you if I've read it or not without ever opening it, most of the time by title and author, though I sometimes have to check the back cover/inside flap copy.

I also can plot some hugely long book, or fanfiction, and keep that plot in my head, despite it sometimes taking literally years  to finish the project.  I've never outlined, and consider it a silly habit (sorry, if any of you who do it are reading this), because all of that is in my head, usually before I finish the third chapter.

I see mystery's solutions, often long before anyone thinks I should be able to, and I'm right about my deductions an ever-increasing amount of the time.  I spot the horribly subtle clues that are in the book/show/movie, and there's the solution, boom.  (To be fair, I miss the obvious  [in both entertainment and life] a ridiculous amount of the time.  Goes back to that whole "different way of thinking" thing, I suspect.)

I think about a ridiculous number of things that you don't have to, most likely.  I have to think about socializing, which can make things a bit... odd, at times, I suspect.  I have to work  not to think about problems, be they mine or those of people I'm close to.  I am currently nearly constantly thinking about either my upcoming disability hearing, or one friend's losing their job and having to move back home, or another's potentially dangerous problems that are a mix of personal and potentially legal.  I have to actually push those things aside to think about other things.  Irksome, on occasion, but other times, that kind of focus can be really  handy....

Thing I'm trying to get at, here, is that all of you are going to (if you haven't already) very probably lose your patience with me, someday.  When that day comes, ask yourself... "is this because he's being an ass, or is it just that he's neuro-atypical?"  Because there's at least a chance that the difference/rigidity of my thinking is at the root of the behavior that irked you in the first place.

Honestly, I'm very rarely a jerk on purpose, especially to the people who are likely to be reading this in the first place.

"Neuro-atypical."  That sounds so  much better than "autistic," don't you think?
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