The Veiled Oasis

September 15, 2014

In my previous entry, I posted an introduction and link to The Hyperlexicon, an online hypertext labyrinth that I created in 2006, as an undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies.

In December of 2010, I returned to the hypertext medium that I’d used to create The Hyperlexicon, and created a second project in that same medium: The Veiled Oasis.

I submitted The Veiled Oasis as my final paper for a course called Intro to Transformative Studies, taught by Robin Robertson and F. David Peat, at the end of my first semester as a student in the Transformative Studies Ph.D. program at California Institute of Integral Studies.

I regard The Veiled Oasis as a bona fide academic paper, albeit a nonlinear one that pushes the edges of the “academic paper” medium about as far as they can be pushed. And happily, the excellent Professors Robertson and Peat did decide that it merited full credit.

Despite using a similar hypertext medium, The Veiled Oasis is a vastly different work from The Hyperlexicon. The Hyperlexicon is designed as a sort of labyrinth, and exploring it is intended to have something of the feeling of exploring a labyrinth. The Veiled Oasis, on the other hand, in keeping with its subject matter, is intended to have more of the feel of wandering in an endless desert.

Like The Hyperlexicon, however, The Veiled Oasis is designed such that there are some areas that are easily reached, and into which it is easy to wander repeatedly (“Oh, no, not this page again!”), and other “deeper” areas that are more difficult to reach, and which a casual wanderer might never discover.

The Veiled Oasis has fewer pages than The Hyperlexicon, simply by virtue of the fact that I had less time to work on it. Like The Hyperlexicon, The Veiled Oasis has one relatively difficult-to-reach page that mentions the total number of pages, for the benefit of those explorers who want to make sure they’ve found every page.

Four-and-a-half years transpired between the creation of The Hyperlexicon and the creation of The Veiled Oasis. They were eventful years for me. I finished my undergraduate degree, got my master’s degree, and began work on my doctoral degree. My daughter was born, went through infancy and toddlerhood, and grew into a precocious four-year-old. I got out of a bad marriage and became engaged to the love of my life. I grew and matured a great deal, intellectually, morally, and spiritually. I outgrew some of my arrogant intellectual, moral, and spiritual certainties, and began to embrace wondrous uncertainties in their stead. I can see all of this when I compare the two works.

When I completed The Veiled Oasis, I put a link to it at the center of The Hyperlexicon. I think that the best way to approach The Veiled Oasis is to start at the beginning of The Hyperlexicon, make one’s way through The Hyperlexicon to its center, and enter The Veiled Oasis from there – thus simulating the experience of entering and exploring an underground labyrinth, and, at the labyrinth’s center, finding a door that leads to a vast open desert.

If you want to do it that way, you can go to my previous blog entry to read my introductory notes on The Hyperlexicon, or click here to enter The Hyperlexicon.

Or, if you want to head straight into the desert of The Veiled Oasis, just click the link below to

 

Begin Wandering

 

NeuroFly

The Hyperlexicon

September 13, 2014

In 2006 I was a student in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies (I’m now a faculty member in that same program). At the beginning of our first term, my classmates and I were given the following assignment:

Create a lexicon of words that are new, confusing, or of particular interest to you. This should be an ongoing process in which you keep returning to different words as the term goes on…

The idea was that at the end of the term, each one of us would share our lexicon with our instructors and classmates, through whatever medium of expression we chose.

Thus, at the end of the term, we were presented with lists of words that were worked into poems, drawings, songs, or stories; a list of words that was written on pieces of paper like fortune cookie fortunes and placed inside an enormous sculpted gourd; a list of words that was translated into full-body gestures and strung together into a dance.

And I made my list into The Hyperlexicon.

The Hyperlexicon is an online hypertext document, a collection of simple web pages interconnected by hyperlinks. My intention, in designing it, was to communicate a (grossly simplified) impression of how my experience of the meanings of the words included not only the associations each word called to mind, but the larger webs of association connecting each word and its particular associations with various other words and their respective associations.

In the design of The Hyperlexicon I also wanted to in some way touch upon my experience as a predominantly spatial thinker – that is, to address the fact that my internal experience of language, and my internal experience of the webs of association among concepts, words, meanings, stories, and memories, is to a large degree a spatial experience.

The interconnected pages of The Hyperlexicon are therefore designed to form a sort of maze or labyrinth. I view each page as a chamber, and each link as a passageway. Like any good labyrinth, it has a center, which can be reached only after much navigation of the labyrinth’s twists and turns.

I completed The Hyperlexicon in the Summer of 2006. So in addition to whatever impressions it manages to convey regarding the experience of associative spatial thinking, it now represents a time capsule of sorts, a record of some of the ideas (my own and those of others) that dominated my intellectual life during the first half of that year – a record of the books I was reading, the music to which I was listening, the things about which I was thinking, and the general state of my intellectual, moral, and spiritual development at that specific period of my life.

And that period of my life seems like a lifetime ago. My daughter hadn’t yet been born (though she was in the womb). I hadn’t yet become romantically involved with, or married, the love of my life (though I’d met her). I hadn’t yet been through my graduate studies – the M.A. program in Somatic Psychology, or the transdisciplinary doctoral coursework in Transformative Studies. I was still grappling with what it meant to be Autistic. I had understood and healed very little of my own history of trauma, but was beginning to awaken to how my life had been impacted by ancestral trauma. I was awakening to my own oppression but not yet to my own privilege. My journey as a scholar had not yet brought me to cultural studies, feminist theory, queer theory, disability theory, or some of the other theoretical frameworks that have subsequently come to play a key role in my intellectual and moral life. My aikido was not nearly as well-developed. I was desperately lonely, far more so than I consciously realized. Intellectually, morally, and spiritually, I was arrogant, dogmatic, and possessed of an unwarranted degree of certainty. And yet I had also begun, at last, to recover my youthful sense of the joy of creative play. I see all of this clearly when I revisit The Hyperlexicon today. And I also see a unique bit of art that I’m glad to have created, a first big attempt on my part at merging the academic and the creative, which turned out rather well.

Anyway, if you click on the link below, it will take you to the web page that serves as the “entry chamber” of The Hyperlexicon, and you can go in and explore it yourself.

WARNING: The Hyperlexicon has been known to draw people in and eat hours and hours of their lives. I like to think that it’s a worthwhile use of time, like reading a good book. Nonetheless, if you’re working on a project of your own and you have a deadline coming up, or if you’re a student who needs to get to work on studying or writing a paper, please proceed with caution.

 

Enter the Hyperlexicon

 

NeuroFly

The Process of Emergence: An Interview

September 9, 2014

The following interview with me was originally published on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog on April 22, 2014. It was part of an “Autism Acceptance Month” series that Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism ran over the course of that month, in which they interviewed various members of the Autistic community, representing a wide […]

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Autism and Gender Binarism: A Stern Letter to an Academic Colleague

September 8, 2014

Back in 2011 I was moved to write a letter to an academic colleague in Australia, calling her out on the gender binarism of her online dissertation research survey on autism and sexuality (this was hardly the only flaw in the survey in question – the entire research project was packed with ableism, stereotyping, stigmatizing […]

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Ripples of Goodwill: An Interview About Aikido

August 25, 2014

This is an interview with me about aikido, intended for an audience more or less unfamiliar with the art. The interview was conducted way back in February 2011 by Monika Broecker, a colleague of mine in the field of somatic psychology. Monika had an intention to publish this interview in some local magazine, but that […]

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Advice to Young Autistics: Stick Around and Be Awesome

August 21, 2014

In the summer of 2012, shortly after my wedding to my fabulous wife, someone involved with the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog heard from a teenager who’d been newly diagnosed as Autistic. Learning that she was Autistic had devastated this young woman; because the mainstream discourse about autism is so negative and stigmatizing, she thought that it meant […]

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Letter to an Autistic Aikido Student

July 26, 2014

I’ve been teaching aikido for more than three decades. As far as I know, I’m the most advanced Autistic aikidoka (aikido practitioner) in the world. There are few enough people at my level in the art that if there were another Autistic close to this level, I’d almost certainly have heard about them by now – […]

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Things I Wish I’d Known in Kindergarten

July 1, 2014

In August of 2012, as many families prepared for the start of a new school year, the editorial team of the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog contacted a few Autistic people (myself included) who’d survived the public school system, and a few non-autistic parents who’d worked hard to help their Autistic children survive the public school system. […]

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Five Steps Toward Autism Acceptance

June 16, 2014

Steve Silberman is a journalist and wonderful human being who’s done some superb writing on autism and neurodiversity. He’s currently working on a book entitled NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which I’m certainly looking forward to reading. On April 2, 2012, Steve posted on his blog an extraordinary piece entitled Autism […]

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Interview on MDMA-Assisted Therapy from the MAPS Bulletin

June 10, 2014

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is conducting a research study on using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat social anxiety in Autistic adults. I’m on board as a consultant. I’m pleased to be a part of this project, because it’s one of those rare studies that focuses on treating a problem (social anxiety) for which many Autistic adults […]

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