-notes on ecology 2 impress my bf-

so referring to smth as ‘socio-ecological’ is basically gesturing at the idea that ecology as an ontological category is all encompassing. there is a wing of world-systems thought referred to as the world-ecological framework. it’s a framework cos it is used by folks across v different fields to organize their own theories about how capitalism and ‘nature’ (or ‘so-called nature’ as my supervisor calls it) constitute each other. although, even that formulation is somewhat inaccurate, cos a world-ecological approach holds that (at this moment in history) capitalism precisely ~is~ nature, and nature is everything that there is. patterns of accumulation r never just between humans, but encompass land, commodity production, nutrient cycles and so on. the word economy and ecology is often used interchangeably.
basic idea is as follows:
capitalism is defined and made possible by two interchanging movements. i) enactment of turbulent and radical reorganizations of nature, and ii) establishment of relatively more stable relations of production, labour forms/patterns, class structures, etc. These two moments r sometimes referred to as ecological revolutions and ecogical regimes. the end of one phase always signals the rise of the other, and this cycle basically defines modernity. A revolution might be smth like a country entering a number of free trade agreements, the expropriation of land from peasants, privatization of key industries / services. It can also be technological, cartographic, maybe even architectural. it is a violent intervention that draws up the world differently, trying to make more of it available or even conceivable as resource for accumulation. it is the series of pivotal events that happen when there is crisis, and instead of falling apart capitalism shape-shifts and keeps going. a regime is what happens after – all the relations that are subsequently produced and that endure for some time (so not just the once new plantation or latifundia, but the whole network of relation imposing smth drastic like that has on given society and environment, or simpler said the given socio-ecology). as capital accumulation is self-destructive, burning through infrastructure, people and natural resource faster than these can (if that is even possible) be regenerated, eco regimes r basically just protracted moments of violence that always end in crisis and another ‘revolution’ is triggered elsewhere.
also, regimes are defined by ‘metabolic’ relations between cores and peripheries. very briefly, cores try to establish ‘commodity frontiers’ (ie when empire goes ‘let’s make loads of sugar in this bit of the caribbean now cos we can’) and peripheries are then ruthlessly reorganized, used up, sucked away (quite literally through trade) and eventually exhausted to service those ‘needs’, until capital jumps
elsewhere and leaves ruined socio-ecologies behind to rot and fester. 
it’s not sufficient to say, however – and u kinda talk about this when u mention past waves of anti-globalization resistance – that first world counties are sapping the wealth and energies from third world socio-ecologies (so not just the people are fucked but also their land is ruined, their water soaring in price and plummeting in quality, their urban systems mutating into giant slums, the deregulated and dangerous practices of waste disposal, etc). The ‘first world’ is constituted of a dynamic and unstable network of cores and peripheries, themselves locked into sharply uneven metabolic relations, which are themselves immediately affected by more large scale metabolisms.. ie opening consumer markets to dollar-a-day products from abroad means something for the wages and standards at home, etc.
world-ecological thinking helps to get away from idea of europe or even the west as a cohesive whole, and helps analyze for instance a nation’s internal divisions as they are globally constituted, and then thinking forward to smth like a post-european socio-ecological alternative, hopefully a more expensive, nuanced and just vision of the world…

-sext, late 2017-

sometimes when i mix alcohol w ritalin i fall into oneiric sub cognitive rabbit holes and most of the time you feature. / It’s always the same scene: I come to you w my bad vibes, my sad passions and you listen to my shit until we get bored and break through my fixations on the endless negativity of the present and in a sudden shift / surprising nobody I curl you under my knees & it’s ecstatic. / i’ve had dreams about you when given evidence either i’ve come or dreamt i was on the edge of cumming it’s not / tho / what i truly want from u cmon / i’ve come enough times in my adult life to gain a sense of perspective. / I want to fuck you sober n i want to fuck u fucked but so much harder than that i just want to hold onto this shatterglass dream as long as we both can stand it / and mind btw as i’m writing this the people at the bar / normal people r having a chat about being sober and how much they low key fucking hate it, trust. / I want to be back to spaces where it is dark and you hug me from behind and singe yourself on my outlines and everyone who can tell has told you to back off but for reasons, for now, idk y but u just won’t do it.

#goodchoices

-Notes on binge/purge-

ok i’m gonna try to explain in condensed form. Ive got anorexia nervosa binge/purge subtype (no bingeing for the last 2+ years). I developed bingeing behaviour as after prolonged period of starvation when i was in my teens, having previously never struggled with overeating. My case is not an anomaly but exemplary of statistical variance in ED populations – we don’t know exactly why the hormonal changes caused by starvation cause bingeing behaviour in some sufferers but not others, but we know that it’s the case. presumably it’s a highly individualized combination of genetic and environmental factors at play in each individual instance and at different moments in the history of psychiatry different explanations were privileged. What we do know nonetheless is that bingeing is not just a straightforward case of bad choice of coping mechanism. Post war large scale studies of hunger and behaviour like the Minnesota starvation experiment have given us a statistical sense of how starvation affects a sample population (i.e. the probability of an individual developing bingeing behaviours for the first time after a period of starvation is higher than bias allows us to imagine). Ultimately bingeing is a pathological response to stress that has a compulsive character, similar but not identical to substance abuse, i.e. people keep doing it although they know it’s bad for them generally, or even if there is always a ‘come down’ period after the initial high/relief. When I had a hardcore bingeing problem I was immensely more distressed than I am today (restriction only) because every binge episode was followed up by a period of increasingly unmanageable guilt, shame, self-hatred and sometimes suicidal ideation (including one attempt). I felt trapped and reduced to doing things that to my anorexic mind were unspeakable (almost like a perverse act of self harm).
In this light consider the logic of restriction again and note the parallels between two seemingly opposite styles of ED suffering – whatever the sufferer thinks denying themselves food will achieve in positive terms is inevitably outweighed by the negative reality of being an ED sufferer/patient. Restriction is often the cause of social isolation, depression, sleep issues, paranoia, obsessive/compulsive behaviours, distorted thinking esp re self-image and generally a more circumscribed lifestyle (to say nothing of the physical risks). You don’t choose to restrict so much as you feel like you have to. Eating disorders have a choke-hold on the disoriented, distressed person grasping for ways to stabilize their life and cope.. they promise certainty *if* a number of exponentially steeper conditions is fulfilled & the sufferer doesn’t notice the goalposts keep shifting until it’s too late. Anorexia always pushes me to give up more, to make myself want less, to punish myself harder for transgressions, to lie to ever more people because it tells me nobody can be trusted, they just want to make you fat. Anorexia makes me feel like it is the only thing I can rely on, the only thing that is truly mine and truly satisfactory. In the final instance that narrative is a lie of course, but if seeing the number on the scale go down didn’t make me feel truly ecstatic i would probably be free of it by now. Same with bingeing – it’s an extremely effective coping mechanism that comes with an ever-higher price; often the only way to cope with the lows of bingeing is to binge (and purge) more, sinking deeper and deeper into the cycle.
Final thing to note is that while starvation (although not the starving woman per se) is valorized in western christianized society. Self-denial might have an addictive logic but culturally it is still understood as an honorable if slightly extreme expression of willpower and spiritual purity. In other words, it’s easier to confess to starving than to bingeing, as in the popular imaginary bingeing registers as weakness of the will and an act of surrender to low and sinful desires of the flesh. The incentive to hide any ED behaviour is already significant. For many of us, the ED is the only thing we feel like is truly our own, the only aspect of our lives we can still control; the ‘wrong’ people knowing increases the risk of a (forced) intervention. With bingeing, medics w the possible exception of specialists only monitor the most obvious factors like BMI and vital signs. Someone w bingeing issues, esp if that someone is driven by an obsession with thinness easily can slip under the medical radar for too long (ie until an easily observable/highly dangerous pathology emerges like electrolyte and heart issues), becoming ever more addicted to the bingeing in the process.

#binge #purge #bulimia #ontology

MH

mental health in autistic people 

is not something anyone outside the autistic community is really interested in 

the way anxiety and depression and sleeping and to a lesser extent now eating issues work for me

is not how they work for my nonautistic and especially NT peers 

we don’t get each other when we try to empathize 

I seek out autistic people

because I struggle undertanding the way mh works for me

I wish there were therapies and workshops and even groups to go to 

I would go

I would get out of my safe room and go and try really hard 

I have a diagnosis but now I need to work out how to live as autistic 

what is there to access for me?

can we help each other?

what do you struggle with?

W is for Why Time is a Rubber Band, for Un-Boxed Brain

Why time is a rubber band: on autistic perception of time as difference without deficit  

This is a non-definitive short essay on autistic temporality.

I became interested in the question of ‘autistic time’ a few months before my formal diagnostic assessment. Perhaps typically for an undiagnosed adult questioning whether they are ‘on the spectrum’, I developed a fixation with autism. Everything about autism pulled me in, indiscriminately. It was as though I tried in a single colossal yawn to suck in everything ever produced in response to the concept, and anything else that may possibly relate. I cannot explain what happened exactly, but I know that months flashed by like days. Time always seemed to, under similar conditions, rapidly escape me – completely ‘pass me by’ – something my mother remembers as markedly atypical about me as a child. You seem to have a distorted, poetic sense of time, she said. And now again, fixated on a new problem, it was as though the timeline of my days – having gone stretched and stretched and stretched in months of frustrated ennui – had finally been released, snapping me into the future.

I don’t really remember those months. Nothing else seemed important. This is what makes Autistic interests ‘special’ perhaps, what makes them so unlike (but also alike) other obsessions. It’s not the interest itself that is so odd or strange. It is the sudden rapidity gained by the world around it, the sheer velocity that life can take.

I began my exploration with what I would now call the ‘pathology paradigm’. I read landmark papers, case studies, diagnostic manuals in their many historical reiterations. I looked for myself in the changing, competing and contradictory definitions, now seeing a part of myself precisely reflected, now losing that glimpse again. The literature of impairment was not what first made me question if I were Autistic, however it spoke to some of my seemingly incorrigible struggles, identifying my actions as ‘behaviours’, my tendencies as ‘traits’. What I thought were my own idiosyncrasies now fit uncannily well with a pre-pathologized way of being. And yet, I was frustrated and underwhelmed. The pathologists seemed mostly uninterested in theorizing connections between Autistic ‘inner’ experience and ‘outward’ behaviour, favouring biomarker-behaviour speculation instead. The Autistic to them was a rudimentary mind locked in an android body, encasing an enigmatic brain that will one day, they seemed sure, be completely understood.

And yet despite the pathologists’ faith in the existence of the elusive biomarker – the material cause of ‘the autism’ for neurobiologists to locate – their accounts seemed to lack any talk of difference. Instead, they seemed to assume that Autistic people are the same as typical people, only with more hemispheric lesions, more suffering in their lives, more incoherent fears and desiresand an innate and almost unique inability to truly access and appreciate the world.

Again and again, the perverse conclusion: Autistic difference is really a failed identity with the healthy control, only ‘different’ insofar as deficient, only deficient insofar as pathologically ‘less’, or pathologically ‘more’ than the typically developing, the ‘neurotypical’. Even if the Autistic can do something well or ‘better’ than the non-autistic, this is still to be understood as necessarily bound to lack. Whether good, talented, gifted or ‘savant’, the Autistic is still to be shown as shut off from something, a ‘something’ that would so easily and naturally be available to ‘the rest of us’, to anyone with a normal neurology.

Autistic life forms were conceptualized, I came to understand, as typical life forms, only ‘affected’ by a disorder and therefore – no matter the specimen – smaller, shrunken, shriveled.  This is the difference between the Autist/Autistic and ‘person with autism’. The ‘person with autism’ is denied personhood, because their identity is not theirs to describe.

Unsatisfied, I turned to Autistic autobiographies. I came across a website which many of you may know, M Kelter’s Invisible Strings. I read and reread M’s writing. It gave me a strange feeling. It was as though I recognized the unnamable things he tried and often struggled to describe, although our situations were quite different. Rather than a sense of identity with M’s descriptions of himself, it was the kinds of problems that he couldn’t quite pose that I knew were my set of problems too. I read a story about a final year of college, philosophy books, long walks, insomnia, isolation. About something without a name eroding your sense of time.

This struck a chord, familiar.

It’s true. The world rushes fast past me and I can’t stop it.

Memory. People, gestures, expressions. Collaged parts of other children’s moving bodies. No memories of their faces. Contours of static objects multiply into terrifying cinematic series. Shadows constantly moving around me when I was small. The unending roar of a toilet flushing a floor above. The obsessive need to close doors to minimize the incoming, to minimize aural and visualmovement just at the periphery of my perception, to try and arrest for a moment the change imperceptible to flippant parents and angry teachers and laughing peers. Unnamed objects full of colour, bursting with shape. Trees, terrifying, snaking, incredible tactile trees. Being dragged away from every single thing I enjoyed, constantly nudged, rushed, screamed at. Don’t be so slow. Pay attention. Why can’t you plan ahead.

Each faraway memory stands out stark, loaded with several incomplete pictures within it. Each picture dragsheavy with overbearing, excruciating levels of detail. Each image encodes several seconds of motion, repeated meaninglessly on loop over and over and over, like a complex .GIF file. Sensations stand out like open dollhouses, odd figures without date and context.

Years go by and I don’t get as far as I am expected. I drop out, I fuck up, I don’t get a job. I lose friends, I lose people I love. I don’t learn the social lessons fast enough to keep the people who run out of patience. I am always late.

‘It’s not a mental illness. It is a neurodevelopmental condition’.  

Rubber bands are hard, elastic, musical, rich with potential energy. A rubber band can stretch beyond your expectations, and snap painfully just as you thought you understood how it works. The doctor who diagnosed me had one around his wrist. The italicized words are his.  I don’t remember his face, I was too sick with anxiety to try. And yet, so easily I recollect the memory of his thin wrists, thin fingers, thin pen, floating over and across the lines and pages of my life as he pauses over and takes into consideration my partner’s testimony, my earliest school reports, my medical records, my atypical pain threshold, my shit jokes, my repetitive head hitting, my anorexia and bulimia diagnoses, my hospitalization, my anti-social behaviours my frequent suspensions my sexual assault my failures to turn a fresh leaf my inability to meet people halfway my spinning my screaming my loss of speech my years of exclusion and isolation.

Snap, goes the rubber band. I drop my commas as everything that my diagnostician tried to arrange into a linear timeline happens to me again, unevenly, in warps of association, a simultaneous sequence of inaccessible nows, happening again together unevenly all at once. He asks me questions about the present and I try to filter the patterns of the past to give a good answer but people, impatient again talk around me as if I don’t understand, as if I am not quite there.

Autistic time is a rubber band; elastic, non-linear just like and unlike any other. I just need a minute to catch my breath.
This essay forms part of a series of posts addressing themes from the neurodiversity movement and paradigm which will be published during the course of April 2016. To read the rest of the posts, please click here.