The Poor in Spirit series is first of all a high-functioning autistic spiritual journey including a satisfyingly bitter rant about religion and quite a lot of stuff about philosophy, taijiquan and the Dao. But it’s also a romance, and a thought experiment about sustainable living, not a million miles away from the Green Party manifesto as it turns out, except for one radical idea about public money.
Autistic characters make a useful plot device – it’s like a special power. The excellent Millennium series by Stieg Larsson is a case in point. Lisbeth has a memory like a photocopier and uses it to splendid effect. Yes, I read the whole trilogy. Couldn’t put it down.
My main characters include two high-functioning autistics. They don’t have particular savant skills, but they’re just weird enough to have a string of uncomfortable memories (which, I hasten to add, I don’t document in the story). But in the scenario they are in the right place at the right time, and they get it right.
When I got my own diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome my main feeling was ‘that explains a lot’. It explains why my comfort zone so often evaporates unexpectedly; why I haven’t had a career even though I’ve got three degrees; why I still blow it, time and time again; why I’ve always wondered whether I’m spiritually disabled, born blind in the deepest possible way.
So I hope the series gives some insight into what it’s like to be ‘my kind of autistic’, as well as being enjoyable to read.
And in the end, I’ll find out whether I am actually spiritually disabled, and I’ll deal with it if it turns out that way. So far, it’s an open question. But now in my early sixties, it doesn’t matter so much any more. I just have to say this stuff while I still can.
By the way, you can pronounce his name how you like but I pronounce it to rhyme with ‘Brian’. As in life of.