Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 12 - The Pink and Blue Number
Log 12 - The Pink and Blue Number

Gwynneth Porter (Editor)



"When God took the rib and made Joyce’s ‘the cutletized consort’, then the trouble started and we were in the game. Male and female, life and death, good and evil: problems of opposites..." (Joseph Campbell) 

Sometime earlier this year, Radio New Zealand aired a discussion between radio show host Kim Hill and her relationship expert woman psychologist in which the following assertion was made: that the traditional male characteristics are similar to those of mild autism. (My father reported this to me.)

According to the website of the Center for the Study of Autism, in Salem, Oregon (incidentally the setting for the soap opera I am presently watching, Days of our Lives, and also the site of the famous witch-trials) "It has been over 50 years since Dr. Leo Kanner, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, wrote the first paper applying the term ‘autism’ to a group of children who were self-absorbed and who had severe social, communication, and behavioral problems." It continues:

"Autism is three times more likely to affect males than females. This gender difference is not unique to autism since many developmental disabilities have a greater male to female ratio.

During childhood, autistic children may fall behind their same-aged peers in the areas of communication, social skills, and cognition. In addition, dysfunctional behaviors may start to appear, such as self-stimulatory behaviors (i.e. repetitive, non-goal directed behavior, such as rocking, hand-flapping), self-injury (e.g. hand-biting, headbanging), sleeping and eating problems, poor eye contact, insensitivity to pain, hyper-/hypo-activity, and attention deficits.

One characteristic which is quite common in autism is the individual’s ‘insistence on sameness’ or ‘perseverative’ behavior. Many children become overly insistent on routines; if one is changed, even slightly, the child may become upset and tantrum. Some common examples are: drinking and/or eating the same food items at every meal, wearing certain clothing or insisting that others wear the same clothes, and going to school using the same route. One possible reason for ‘insistence on sameness’ may be the person’s inability to understand and cope with novel situations.

Asperger Syndrome is characterized by concrete and literal thinking, obsession with certain topics, excellent memories, and being ‘eccentric’.

‘Theory of mind’ refers to one’s inability to realize that other people have their own unique point of view about the world. Many autistic individuals do not realize that others may have different thoughts, plans, and perspectives than their own. For example, a child may be asked to show a photograph of an animal to another child. Rather than turning the picture around to face the other child, the autistic child may, instead, show the back of the photograph. In this example, the autistic child can view the picture but does not realize that the other child has a different perspective or point of view.

About 10% of autistic individuals have savant skills. This refers to an ability which is considered remarkable by most standards. These skills are often spatial in nature, such as special talents in music and art. Another common savant skill is mathematical ability in which some autistic individuals can multiply large numbers in their head within a short period of time; others can determine the day of the week when given a specific date in history or memorize complete airline schedules.

Many autistic individuals also have a narrow or focused attention span; this has been termed ‘stimulus overselectivity’. Basically, their attention is focused on only one, often irrelevant, aspect of an object. For example, they may focus on the color of a utensil, and ignore other aspects such as the shape. In this case, it may be difficult for a child to discriminate between a fork and a spoon if he/she attends only to the color. Since attention is the first stage in processing information, failure to attend to the relevant aspects of an object or person may limit one’s ability to learn about objects and people in one’s environment.

There are great differences among people with autism. Some individuals mildly affected may exhibit only slight delays in language and greater challenges with social interactions. The person may have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation, or keeping a conversation going. Communication is often described as talking at others (for example, monologue on a favorite subject that continues despite attempts of others to interject)..."

The logo for the national parent support group, the Autism Society of America, is a picture of a child embedded in a puzzle. As with so many things pertaining to everything, most of the pieces of the puzzle are on the table, but we are still trying to figure out how they fit together. We must also keep in mind that these pieces may fit several different puzzles. For example, if the male might have a tendency to withdraw (is man an island?), how does this go with the way that the brain of the female is geared towards language and communication, in short, to being an outward-reaching pack animal? [cf. "We travel in packs and do it from the back" (Snoop Doggy Dogg). - Cont. Ed.] Is this his anima speaking? What on earth is my animus doing?

Are profound divisions the nature and tragedy of our physical universe? Is the Samsara (the eternal earthly suffering) the Buddhists speak of the ridiculous search for wholeness, for understanding in a universe that is expanding? Yes, according to Stephen Hawking. He says that ever since the big bang, everything is pulling ever and further apart, amping duality of all sorts (lyric/epic, romantic/classical, Apollonian/Dionysian...). Everything you need to know, say the T’ai Chi masters, apparently, is there in the yin/yang.

Did Christianity sense reality and build it into its Adam and Eve parable with the expulsion from Eden as the big bang, or rather that point that everything split into poles? Or is reality actually sensible at all? Like George Brecht said, "My life is devoted to research into the ‘structure of experience’ (I don’t think we can determine the ‘structure of nature’)..."

It seems we are damned to be always searching for something simpatico in the manner of Truman Capote. As a child he had a sit-in aeroplane that he would pedal as fast as his little legs would carry him with the hope that he would reach the East. As an adult he sadly wrote, however, that "You have to have a bottle to fly into the blue". Is the root of Samsara then the tragedy of not knowing?

And the tragedy continues... The East tells us "you are constantly exchanging your Self for the symbols of your Self". Take for one, the most ubiquitously masc. of all the Australian muscle cars, the XY Falcon. Chromosomal coincidence? No doubt. This shows sho’ nuff that, as Steven Weinberg, one-time Nobel Laureate in Physics, said, "The attempt to understand the universe is one of the only things that elevates the human condition from farce to the elegance of tragedy".



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room