Field Notes from the Otherworld
“like am I on another planet? tripping my face off? did I die? bc yooooo” — from a text message to one of my oldest friends // photo of the Full Buck Moon from Casita Ixchel, Abiquiu / El Rito, NM, 13 July 2022
- Notes on the writing of notes, and sometimes their persistence in the bardo
I’ve written approximately one million Field Notes entries that when I set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard clamor to be book length. these don’t make it here because they explode into infinite inroads of other observations / essays that demand and deserve their own attentions, and to which a discerning eye seeking to post a smaller version says, hmm, none of these, yet, but in which I’ve learned something from the writing itself.
Or sometimes, some excerpt becomes a post for social media, or the reverse: something intended as a “simple” post on social media spirals out into a longer essay that, too, probably stays a sapling in one of my many simultaneous notebooks or the notes on my phone.
Which is to say that, often, when I’m choosing to document I receive what I need without that process being a public one, and also in which I know (and am learning, continuously) that the sharing changes the thing. I am also learning that my neurodivergence is really important here — that my perception of what people would receive from my work and words is often deeply wrong, and that this is in part a symptom of my literal, data-driven way of relating — which is causing me to take more pause than I might in sharing myself and my thoughts and my life and my work, as it happens.
This has gotten called naïveté at many points in my life, but imho this is honestly a culturally problematic, not to mention ableist way of relating to others’ ways of communicating —our cultural, ancestral, physical, social, class, and other intersectional identities and experiences pretty much ensure that our relationship to “social cues” and the unspoken assumptions in communication is rife with deep differences. Every conversation, in essence, is already multiple conversations — the one each person perceives is taking place.
For me, as a neuroqueer person, the literal words are the safest and most clear place for all of us, where if we stick with the data, there is less chance for misunderstanding. Like many people on the autism spectrum, this sometimes means I do what other people seem to think of as “overexplaining,” when my perception of what I’m doing is ensuring clarity. I’m thankful that these past years have seen public information about the experience of neuroqueerness and autism explode from within the community itself, giving me comfort and a feeling of solidarity and shared experience where in the past I’ve often felt like a totally socially broken alien person.
I am often incredibly grateful that I think and perceive the way I do, because it seems the space of the least confusion, if others would only join me in the world of a literal reading of things — but this doesn’t seem to be the direction we’re headed, as multiplicity of data flows and intelligence styles is growing at an unprecedented, exponential rate.
You know, I think about phenomenology and ontology pretty much every day — which is to say that these philosophical frameworks (which address the ways in which we understand our world and represent and communicate that understanding) have proved central to my way of thinking and being. This is an interesting intersection with neuroqueerness, and maybe the root of my lifelong drive to research — what in the world is happening here? What is this other person experiencing? How is what I feel or think or am scared of or avoid or like totally the result of conditioning? And then of course also all the things about body and sky and mushroom and nanotech and quarks and parallel universes, literally I will never understand how everyone isn’t also in this space of must ask all the questions all the time pretty much all the time.
Or, I guess I do: it’s exhausting, hmm? And I’m not sure it feels like a choice, and I’m not sure I’d choose it, but also not sure I’d ever choose to try to be any other way?
But anyhow: learning experientially about the chasm between what I think people will hear when I say or write things and what they actually hear has made me more cautious. Sometimes this makes me sad, but it also feels like important and useful data (ie: to recognize and be mindful of the pitfalls of simply transparently sharing your experience, realizing that as often as not, others will see something of their own making, rather than receive what you intended to share). It’s all data, ultimately.
That said, I hold fast both to an active methodology of keeping field notes and believing in the power of others reading our personal, quotidian documentation (and correspondence, etc) without there being any outward-facing change to that documentation.
What this looks like in practice though is that there aren’t as many notes here as I intended, and that this also isn’t a reliable or even accurate space of reportage / log keeping in the way it was envisioned.
In part though this is a reflection of the sorts of dissociative compromises we need to make to survive late capitalism, more than anything, and this is one my first and most striking observations as I’ve processed and documented my experience during my first days here in Abiquiu. More on that soon.
Soundtrack: my days are deeply influenced and intuitively informed by the music I choose for them or that chooses me. Since arriving the following have been the accompanying score for important and substantive chunks of experience.
Today’s at-tune-ment: While I wrote this piece, I listened to this:
Note: these are Field Notes written during my residency in Abiquiu New Mexico in July of 2022 with Some Serious Business / SSB Away. Read more on my reflections about approaching an “art” practice at this time in their #50Questions artist’s interview series, here.