Today I want to write something about myself.
There is a test called the “AQ-Test“, the “Autism-Spectrum Quotient” test. If you search for “AQ Test” on the internet, you are going to find it. It consists of 50 statements where you can tick one of “definitely agree”, “slightly agree”, “slightly disagree” or “definitely disagree”. If you search, you will also find the scientific articles about the rationale behind it.
I don’t know what to tick on some of the questions, but which way ever I do it I end up at around 25 points. That means I am about halfway between the “hyper-communicative” people who score below 10 (most people are between 10 and 20) and the more “autistic” people who lean more towards the 30s to 50s. Most of you would consider me a quiet, maybe even a strange guy. I think I am what people call a nerd. Nerds are those guys with big glasses who program computers (yes, I have glasses and I am a computer programmer, so it looks like the stereotype is not completely wrong :-)). When I am at a party, people quickly form groups and talk. I am one of those strange guys who stay alone, except I find somebody with similar interests. Or you would see me joining this group and joining that group, but I don’t know how to make a conversation. That is probably one of the reasons I started blogging. It is a medium that fits me better.
Some of you are probably blogging here because they like writing (and reading) fiction. Now, one of the statements in the AQ-Test is: “I don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction”. Here, I definitely agree. There are some exceptions, some types of fiction I like, but if I look into my bookshelf, I see a lot of essays (in the wider sense, from scientific articles and philosophical treatises to artistic essays), I see a lot of poetry and I see only a little bit of fiction. I have sorted out most of the fiction books I had. It has taken some time before I realized I was not really so interested in them. There are a lot of fiction books that people say are great (and I don’t doubt they are) and I just don’t know what to do with them.
It looks like to enjoy the typical fiction, the type dealing with people and their psychology and their relationships and their everyday life, you need abilities I don’t have. I am not very good at dealing with people face to face. Compared with most people, I think my social skills are relatively limited. And it looks like you need such social skills in order to enjoy or understand or write this type of fiction. I imagine there are people who have no musical skills at all. Such non-musical people will not enjoy music that I would find totally fascinating. For them, it will be some kind of complex noise, leaving them at a loss. They don’t have an organ to perceive the interesting and beautiful structures in it that make it great. With me and a lot of fiction, it looks like it is just like that. I am sure a lot of those books and stories are absolutely great but they don’t talk to me. I am lacking the specific mental muscles needed to play those games that make up the reading experience when reading such books. I don’t know how to derive enjoyment from them, reading such books is hard work for me. There are many books that are said to be great and I tried to read them but got stuck and gave up. Why must I work my way through pages and pages describing what invented people say and do? If the author wants to convey a certain idea or thought with this, why does he or she not plainly write it down?
There are exceptions, but these are books that mainly contain ideas (e.g. some books by Stanislaw Lem), essays disguised as fiction. There are also some others, for example some historical novels by Yasushi Inoue which I like, but I like them partially because they contain interesting stuff beyond just the social and psychological processes making up most of the typical fiction and I like some of them particularly because they are written in a kind of dry style reminiscent of zuihitsu (the Japanese version of essays). My favorite book of Joseph Conrad is none of his fiction but “Mirror of the Sea”, a book partially contemplative and essay-like, partially autobiographic. I think most people would find most of the books I like quite boring.
With theatre, it is the same. The typical theater is a drama and I can’t get myself interested in these works. I am also not watching too many fiction films again, except some art house cinema, if it is interesting on the side of ideas or in its visual qualities.
Recently in a train on my way to work I listened to somebody talking on his phone about a theatre play. He was obviously somebody from a theatre or maybe from a publisher. I guess somebody had sent them a play and they were discussing it: “…that is no theatre at all, just page after page of philosophical monologues. Who wants to see such a thing…”. I thought I would have liked to read that play, I would have liked to see it on stage. I would like to see Plato’s dialogues on stage or Imre Lakatos’ “Proofs and refutations” which contains very fascinating philosophical dialogs about mathematics. But actors and theatre people tend to be of the communicative type and they are not interested in such things, so the type of theatre I would like to see on stage is never going to come into existence. Of course, people like me are a minority and a theatre playing Plato’s “Timaios” would probably go bankrupt for lack of an audience. Who wants to see such a thing?
Another thing I am not interested in very much is most of sports. The reason might be the same. Sports like soccer are social activities. I have long puzzled about what fascinates people in such sports and why they keep doing it. My hypothesis is that when you play such games, it is actually about getting approval or acceptance by your friends. I don’t know if this is true, it is only a hypothesis. I actually don’t know what such games are about. I don’t know what creates the fun in watching them. Boredom is not a feeling I usually experience, my had is full of stuff I find interesting and I normally don’t get bored. But I think if I had to play such a game, it would bore me after 10 seconds. For other people, it is the most wonderful thing in their lives.
I guess most of you think and feel very differently about these things. People like me are strange to most people but most people are also strange to people like me. I hope you people find my blog interesting, but I will not write about sports (except strange things like the previous paragraph) and I will not write much about fiction (except some of the more untypical kinds). I hope you will still find interesting stuff here and keep following.