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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Gregory L. Blackstock

My son's gonna love this book. Gregory Blackstock, dubbed "an autistic savant" by Darold Treffert, is also called "an everyday anthropologist."

At age fifty-eight, [he] began a new and exciting chapter in his life. The retired pot washer walked into Seattle's Garde Rail Gallery to attend the opening of a solo exhibition of the drawings he had made over the past eighteen years, the results of a consuming pastime relatively few people knew about. Beaming with accomplishment and self-esteem, he introduced himself to complete strangers, escorted them to the pieces of his work, and urged them to read a newspaper review of the show posted on the wall beside his biography. -- Karen Light-Pina

Adam loves encyclopedias and dictionaries and he examines every bug, every stuffed animal. The book arrived this week as I recover from surgery and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be one of his favorite books of all as he studies each meticulously drawn category -- of birds, tools, musical instruments and more.

I feel as if I've come upon a treasure of a book as if it were tucked away in a small Parisian bookshop -- where collectibles are as much valued as is Versailles, Monet, baguettes and cafe au lait -- each shop displaying historical relics to be resold over and over again, and hopefully to never lose their significance as marks of both man and time.

It's the same feeling I get when I look at Joseph Cornell's Shadow Boxes -- that collectible spirit made into art. Cornell is another artist speculated to have been autistic. Collecting is a kind of spirit, or at least a spiritual act. I'm in the spirit to collect these days. I've not normally been a collecting kind of person. I admire the level of interest in detail and passion a collector has to have. I've been watching Adam collect rocks recently, and plastic animals and airplanes. I've turned my head to honouring his and perhaps my own collections as much as the thought process and sheer passion that goes into them, with particular displays and presentations -- artful in and of themselves. We give objects significance when we place them carefully in the architecture of our lives.

As I still lie in bed (second week now) recuperating and working from here, I've been bidding on antique typewriter letters on eBay for Adam, and a few old and electric typewriters, thinking of how he may love the clicking sound, and considering making his new bookshelf embedded with typewriter letters. I'm sure my husband will shake his head wondering where I'm going to put all of these typewriters -- but I have my ideas. I am also thinking I may be punished for throwing out all of Henry's old wine bottle corks -- so I hear cork is becoming 'extinct.' There they sat taking up precious basement space in large plastic bags, if not a testament to the wine, at least one to Henry's love of it. He said of them just lying there, I can make cork boards. Wouldn't that be a fun project? That was about ten years ago. He has has since taken up golf.

Adam's fascination has opened up new worlds for me and I want to spend time, well...collecting not only myself, but the things that make our lives meaningful. For things are only things until we give them a place in our lives - for better or for worse. I think the things that we love should be our relics. We should give them places of honour. They do, after all, mark our time here upon this earth. They say, I WAS HERE. I EXISTED. MAYBE I EVEN MATTERED. AT LEAST THESE THINGS MATTERED TO ME.


Blogger Bev said...

I have been meaning to order this Blackstock book for awhile now. Just now got around to it, thanks for the reminder.

Have you read Utopia Parkway, a biography of J. Cornell? Very likely autistic, that one. I had not yet been diagnosed when it came out, and it was eerie to read about someone so much like me.

8:34 AM  

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