Inside the claustrophobic space of a fractured mind Memories and delusions intertwining Combining the external and internal Eternally blending and swirling Spilling and filling nonexistent voids Spaces between treacherous thoughts, feelings and faces Both real and unreal dancing, embracing Chasing dreams through nightmares and blank stares and who cares… Do you?
Originally released 4 years ago today, Disorder is a glitchy, atmospheric, durational piece weighing in at almost 42 minutes. It was composed and produced on a couple of iPads and features some spoken content synthesized from Wikipedia content.
The cover art includes source art from Wikipedia Commons, and is the first Mood481 cover to feature the custom “Struct” font used on 8 other releases in 2015.
In Wounds of Class, the late Mark Fisher recounts a memory of visiting a tea room with his sister and mother, specifically noting the discomfort level of his mother, who was not “half clambered out” of her class, as Fisher and his sister had become. For Fisher’s mother and father, taking up space alongside the middle-class occupants of an award-winning tea room equated to an existential crisis:
Stalked by fear and shame in such places, their sense of not belonging there, of being intruders, of being implicitly judged and watched and the anxiety that somehow they will be exposed is ever-present.
Though Fisher did not feel threatened by the tea-room, he did remember having felt the same way going to University, and equated it to his sister’s social anxiety and his own inability to “do anything” with his novels because of a need to engage with them. The underlying theme is an unrelenting feeling that no matter what you accomplish, you’ll never be good enough:
These are the wounds of class, ever-present, life-long. Knowing that you’re common, not good enough, not one of the decent people. That for some obscure reason despite all your work and care, being a good parent, educating your children, paying your taxes and scrimping and saving you should be ashamed, not of what you have done or failed to do but of what you are.
In the second half of the essay, Fisher contrasts the “wounds of class” with the “balm of class”, recognizing the benefit of the belongingness his mother earned from a lifetime of being part of the working class:
In a sense, living there for so many years, the repetitions, the routines, the small talk and the familiar faces, growing up an old in the shadow of that shipyard, in this provincial, working-class world that seemed to us as kids, encouraged to think about a life beyond it, sterile, grey and joyless, was the daily work, the daily investment that is being returned and repaid to her now by the whole town and it has helped immeasurably with her grief.
The wounds of class run deep, but then, as both Lynsey Hanley and Helen Mort have articulated brilliantly, the sense of discomfort at being stranded between classes, particularly at being a working class person in the more rarified echelons of higher education, can also be uncomfortable.
I graduated high school on the good graces of my teachers, since I was too burnt out to attend most of my senior year. I left college for the US Army Infantry after less than a year, with no credits and a string of incomplete classes. A veteran of the first Gulf War, I left the military after 5 years with no transferrable skills and a “General Under Honorable Conditions” discharge (meaning I retained all my benefits except my educational benefits). At the age of 24, I was back to living with my parents in eastern Kentucky, seemingly doomed to a working-class life with no hopes of paying for a higher education.
However, like Fisher and his sister, I somehow managed to “half clamber” out of my class by moving to Seattle, teaching myself how to code, and stumbling into the tech world. Two decades later, sans academic credentials, I work at the University of Washington, holding a position that would require of any other candidate a degree that I don’t have. Of course, I know intellectually that there is no school on the planet teaching the unique set of skills I bring to work every day, but there are still times I feel, emotionally, the imposter.
The old familiar imposter syndrome is even stronger as I consider presenting these thoughts to my peers, an inner voice that sounds like Jeremy Paxman questioning Russell Brand, the drift being, as Fisher wrote:
What gives this working class person the authority to speak?
I need a place to collect my writing and other output. Facebook’s algorithms favor memes over original content, burying anything of true value. Medium is nice, but has a certain media hustler flavor that I don’t find appealing. I don’t feel like managing a server right now, so here I am at WordPress.com.
I’m in the process of editing my identity across the internet. I’m methodically hitting dozens of apps and websites, changing my display name, pronouns, profile pictures, and all that. I’ve got brand new cards to hand out at networking events, and I’m becoming more comfortable with introducing myself using my new name. Today, I talked with my boss about communicating my change of preferred name to my team and department, possibly the scariest part of all of this. Thankfully, for the most part, everyone has been very supportive.
I’m not sure I would ever have felt completely secure and ready to begin asserting my identity in such a bold way. If I had waited for “the right time”, I’m pretty sure it would never have come. Ultimately, I just did it; one big Facebook post to out myself, and no looking back. However, it was far from an impulsive act.
I’ve been in perpetual identity crisis mode for my entire life. Like most kids with adjustable-length names, I shortened my given name to a four letter word before I was out of elementary school. I’ve picked up, carried, and discarded a number of nicknames provided for me: Bubba, Duck, Stone. As a performing musician and recording artist, I started with my own name and later moved through a handful of personas (Echo Root, Mood481) as my musical styles changed.
My diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 43 was the signpost pointing to the fork in the road that ultimately led me here, now. That moment was my Point of No Return. The changes I’ve gone through in the past 5 years seem inevitable, like destiny. Finding my name was like coming home with the elixir at the end of my own hero’s journey.
“Qid” came from a completely different thought experiment, a broader brainstorm on the nature of Queer IDentity. I wasn’t even thinking about names. Synapses fired, neural pathways formed, planets aligned, the muse whispered… and Qid was conceived. As soon as it hit me that this could be my name, I was utterly euphoric.
I mean, it starts with Q, which is really enough. But it speaks queer… queer identity. It sounds like “kid”, so it queers age. It pays sonic homage to The Kid, hero of Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, The Purple One’s handmade personal myth. I love words, especially richly-encoded, made-up words that seem like they were there all along. “Qid” is more than a word; it’s a language.
In the language of Qid, “qid” means “we are”. We are Love.
I recently directed my first narrative film while wearing my pajamas. I’ve seen plenty of interviews with directors and behind-the-scenes footage, but I can’t remember ever seeing Scorsese, Spielberg, or Tarantino wearing sleep pants and slippers. While I do dress a bit more conservatively for documentary shoots, as long as I have a choice in the matter, this will be the set attire of choice.
Of course, there was some practicality in my choice of clothing. Like many spectrumfolk, I have some sensory issues and tend to blow through spoons a bit quicker when forced to dress like an “adult”. Comfort was a concern since we were working non-stop through the weekend, and quiet clothing was desired due to close quarters. Mostly, however, I just wanted to be comfortable emotionally and help the rest of the team be comfortable by being my authentic self and maintaining a playful environment on the set.
Dressing in graphic tees with funny memes or characters from Marvel movies helps me maintain a little better parity between my internal and external age. Shopping for “men’s clothes” is a borderline traumatic experience for me, and when I had to be fitted for a suit recently for an Oscar gala, I felt like a complete imposter hiding out in a man’s body. When I need clothes, I generally gravitate towards the young men’s section of department stores, sheepishly browse the Hot Topic or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall, or give up and shop online.
It seems that there is a connection between progression along heteronormative developmental timelines and age identity, but honestly I followed my southern-born script by joining the Army, getting married, and having my first kid by the time I was 21. By the time I hit my early 40’s, my kids were grown and I was over a decade into my career as a programmer. By all odds, I should be feeling my age and then some, so I largely attribute my internal youth to my neurodivergence. Many of my friends on the spectrum also have the feel of having aged on a curve, not necessarily stuck at a certain mental age, but not being generally concerned with (or consciously avoiding) “growing up”.
I’m thankful that geek culture makes it a bit easier and safer to dress down at work and surround myself with comfort items like bobbleheads, spinners and beanie babies to make it through the workday. I might lose my shit if I had to work in cubicle-land with nothing but a stapler and some paperclips to keep me company.
There are plenty of ways besides Groot t-shirts and Funko Pops to bring your external and internal age identities into balance. My mom is an avid gamer. A lot of my friends watch anime or cartoons, and read comics or YA books. Honestly, with Disney and Marvel pushing out so much content, no one really has to feel guilty for indulging their inner child a bit these days.
There are also plenty of us who find cuteness and playfulness attractive or downright sexy. There’s a certain warmth and intimacy to putting your adult away and letting your inner child fumble around a bit. I’d personally choose a cuddle party over a dance club any day of the week. 🙂
It’s been a while, and I apologize for not writing sooner, but you know… life and stuff. I hope you’re well.
Before I dive in, here’s a little “recent” history. I am in the process of retiring from a 20-year-long monogamous, heterosexual marriage (she’s fine, I’m fine, the dog’s depressed, thanks for asking). Slightly unrelated (but not really), I was diagnosed with Asperger’s / ASD a little over 3 years ago. Combine those two happenings with the fact that the 70’s were just barely a thing when I came along, and you could easily arrive at the following conclusions:
I’m not an expert at any of this.
The world has changed tremendously since I got here.
I am definitely qualified for a mid-life crisis.
So, with those caveats, I like to take this opportunity share what I’m learning and discovering about myself and the world. In order to do that and avoid a lot of confusion and unnecessary Googling on your part, I should probably start with a few newer-to-me terms that I’ve found useful in thinking about and discussing some of the turns my life seems to be taking. Also, words are important.
So… I’m neurodivergent, but you can call me autistic. Of course, I’ve always been autistic, but up until a few years ago I didn’t know it, which is why I never told you. So I was, maybe, awkward, emotionally unavailable, obsessive, depressed… basically a tortured artist / fucking genius. But now I’m all those and autistic.
This little tidbit of info caused a bit of a meltdown and a major reboot as my conscious brain scrambled to reevaluate the sum of my life experiences through a completely new filter. On the other side of that process, I am not the same person. Nope, not at all.
The good news is, I have new tools and info and community for making my time on this planet a bit more comfortable than it has been in the past. Also, I stopped taking those pills for the thing I didn’t actually have. I feel the same… no, actually better, because now I know why, and the answer is that it’s just who I am.
Genderqueer / Non-binary / Genderfluid
Gender is a spectrum. I know this now. And although I’ve historically identified/performed as male publicly, my relationship with my partner of the past two decades could easily be viewed through a heteronormative lens as textbook role reversal. I’m not a macho guy, and honestly I can’t stand the fuckers. I like cute and fuzzy, I’m playful, and feel all the things(!) deeply. So, while I may not be putting on a skirt anytime soon (note: by December I was all kilts and jean-free forever!), I do love going places in my PJs and I totally love my Eeyore plushie (not that it matters anyway).
So if gender is a spectrum (it is), then terms like straight and bisexual just don’t work so good. As mentioned above, I have very little use for manly men, and only slightly more use for womanly women (and thus I’m not pansexual, if you’re keeping score). Beyond that, I tend to crush easily on smart and cute (hearts, not parts) with a leaning towards other genderqueer folks.
This is a big topic, so I won’t try and cover too much here. I stumbled across this concept in the past 6 months as I was navigating non-monogamy, and it just makes so much damn sense! Basically it looks a lot like non-hierarchical, ethical non-monogamy, while expanding to cover non-sexual and/or non-romantic relationships as well. In a nutshell, it means I’m striving to have intentional relationships and allow them to each take their own unique form, while treating each as equally important. It’s a work in progress, and mononormative deprogramming has definitely proven to be challenging.
This is the big one, the sum of all the above parts and a lot more. Read this or tl;dr here:
What are the various practices that fall within the definition of neuroqueering?
Being neurodivergent and approaching one’s neurodivergence as a form of queerness (e.g., by understanding and approaching neurodivergence in ways that are inspired by, or similar to, the ways in which queerness is understood and approached in Queer Theory, Gender Studies, and/or queer activism).
Being both neurodivergent and queer, with some degree of conscious awareness and/or active exploration around how these two aspects of one’s identity intersect and interact.
Being neurodivergent and actively choosing to embody and express one’s neurodivergence (or refusing to suppress one’s embodiment and expression of neurodivergence) in ways that “queer” one’s performance of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, occupation, and/or other aspects of one’s identity.
Engaging in the “queering” of one’s own neurocognitive processes (and one’s outward embodiment and expression of those processes) by intentionally altering them in ways that create significant and lasting increase in one’s divergence from dominant neurological, cognitive, and behavioral norms.
Engaging in practices intended to “undo” one’s cultural conditioning toward conformity and compliance with dominant norms, with the aim of reclaiming one’s capacity to give more full expression to one’s neurodivergence and/or one’s uniquely weird personal potentials and inclinations.
Identifying as neuroqueer due to one’s engagement in any of the above practices.
Being neurodivergent and producing literature and/or other cultural artifacts that foreground neurodivergent experiences and perspectives.
Being neurodivergent and producing critical responses to literature and/or other cultural artifacts, focusing on intentional or unintentional characterizations of neurodivergence and how those characterizations illuminate and/or are illuminated by the lived experiences of actual neurodivergent people.
Working to transform social and cultural environments in order to create spaces and communities — and ultimately a society — in which engagement in any or all of the above practices is permitted, accepted, supported, and encouraged.