continued adventures of my brain

You may know from my earlier post on my experience with Asperger’s that I’ve been putting a lot of work into consciously changing the way my brain functions. This is an adventure in itself, and I’ve been wanting to express what it’s like. It causes a lot of chaos, especially when I run into situations where I’m used to relying on programming that doesn’t exist anymore.

My main objectives when I first started to change my brain were to be able to:

1:  Talk and think at the same time, in other words, to be able to speak a sentence smoothly without stopping to compose the whole thing first.

2: Read tone of voice, expression and body language as well as listening to a person’s words when they speak to me.

For this to work, the first things that had to go were two finely-tuned programs I had been developing all my life and which I relied on every day.

1: Precision filter – a routine that scanned my words before I spoke them and made sure I was expressing my thoughts as precisely as possible.

2: Perfect recall – a database of every word I had heard spoken that seemed important enough to be stored.

I miss these things so much! I misspeak all the time and forget what people say and think they said stuff they didn’t and forget stuff they did! It’s very annoying. But apparently it’s how normal people operate, and I can understand what people are saying better now that I can see how they are feeling rather than having to rely on the precision of their words, and express things to people better by speaking my sentences normally, smoothly and with expressive inflections.

The rest of the changes are much fuzzier and harder to explain. For example, I could still relearn calculus or geometric proofs, if I had the motivation, but things like that just don’t interest me anymore. The kind of focus they require to think about would mean that I would have to tune out my sixth sense entirely, ignoring people’s emotions and the state of the room around me. I find this very distasteful, and most of the time, not worthwhile.

The problem with dealing with my family is they care about things like this. I have to constantly switch back and forth between complex thought and a consciousness of people’s feelings. It’s exhausting. I’m using the remnants of my old programming and the whole of my new programming, which are both incomplete and in the process of being reshaped, and also they overlap slightly, so it feels like I’m using more than 100% of my brain.

It’s already tiring to pay attention to people’s emotions all the time – I haven’t really learned how to process and filter all that information. I’m only now getting to the point where I can recognize the input well enough to start organizing it. So whenever I’m with people, all this stuff is flooding my brain unchecked, and it can be pretty overwhelming.

I’m getting better at realizing when I’m running low on emotional energy and making a polite exit from the situation, but it’s still often too late to come up with a coherent excuse. Fortunately, the people I spend the most time with already understand, at least that sometimes I just have to duck out, if not exactly why.

Writing is kind of an exception to all this, because it’s a skill I’ve been building since before I woke up, and it’s always been important to me. The part of my brain that writes has kept using the precision filter, kept using complex thought, and kept using the old structure of my brain that ties facts together in complex webs rather than suspending them in floaty clouds of emotion. Reading and writing are the two activities that allow me to focus my whole brain and shut out the input from my sixth sense even when I’m not alone. It’s because I’m still passionate about words.

The way rebuilding my brain has affected the way I write is simply that I have more ways of collecting facts for use in my stories. I can write much better dialogue now, because I understand much better how normal people have conversations. I can write a more diverse and realistic array of characters. I can understand better how to pace a plot for emotional effect. I use the same skills I’ve always used, I just have a much broader range of resources.

Art, on the other hand, has changed a lot for me. I’ve always been interested in drawing, because of my affinity for patterns, and my interest in precisely and concisely transmitting information. I enjoyed things like charts, anatomical drawings and especially architectural drawings. I could draw anything from a photograph, and could also reproduce a variety of styles, but I had trouble making my own style or putting emotional meaning into my art.

Since I woke up, my main focus in terms of improving my art has been facial expressions. I’ve made a lot of progress in that area, and that helps bring emotion into my art, of course. But it has taken me a long time to get out of my old way of seeing art, and realize I’d been missing the point. Recently I’ve begun to see how art can be emotionally evocative in other ways.

My whole idea of aesthetics has been based on intellect and harmony, interesting patterns and interesting visual concepts. I had no sense of emotional aesthetics at all. Landscapes, for example, meant nothing to me. They did not appeal to me or fill me with awe. I would wonder, what do people find so interesting about one line between the earth and the sky? It’s so boring.

I wonder if my idea of all places has been changed by my being able to recognize the feeling of home. Maybe I should look at landscapes and see if I can figure out what kind of person would call this place home?

I’m still not good at knowing how to evoke emotions through art, but at least now I have an idea of how to go about learning. Most of the many how-to books I have assume that anyone who wants to be an artist already has a natural sense of what is evocative, but there are hints of specific tricks for helping create different moods, and I can start there. I can try to draw when I am with people, to capture the feelings I get from them without involving complex thought.

This will be the next adventure in reprogramming my brain.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] I’m guessing I should refer back to my two previous posts about what’s up with my brain, so here:  The first one The second one […]

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