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Some thoughts about myself

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.

17 thoughts on “Some thoughts about myself

  1. My wife has known her whole life that she was “different” from others and never possessed those social skills that come so easily to most people. As an adult she learned about Aspergers and was able to put a name to what she has been experiencing.

    People don’t know what to think of her at times, even my own parents. It is a shame that many will never allow themselves the chance to KNOW her instead of knowing what they want to know of her.

    In the end it doesn’t matter, she is happy and is my best friend.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I think I am half way between the “normal” people (or, as I have described them in a satirical posting, those with “Hypercommunicativity Syndrome (HCS)” :-), and those who belong to the Asperger personality type (I don’t consider it a syndrome, just a minority personality type). Between these is what I call the nerd zone and that is where I am. I have some degree of understanding for both sides.

  2. Haha! I am laughing. I got 29 on the AQ-test! Bit of an eccentric oddity really, I fluctuate on a number of things mentioned in the quiz. Nice to meet you, in an online, comfortable, kind of way.

  3. Score of 21. Frankly I think such tests that try to homogenise such complex information are worthless.

    Firstly, I could easily just pick random responses to get random results. Or I could pick answers that look as though the would be given by a “normal” person.

    Anyway, forget the test.

    I find your brief self-description very interesting, both for its content and for the simple fact that you were willing to offer it in the first place.

    We have some things in common and in other ways we’re very different. I think we agree more than we disagree and when we don’t, it doesn’t seem to be an issue that causes either of us any real concern.

    I find much of what you offer here of great interest. You are a contributor to my never ending education and I have no plans to stop “following” your blog in the foreseeable future.

    • Ineed, such tests are probably not very accurate but there seems to be a real correlation between perceived personality traits (whatever that is, it is also an inexact abstaction because everybody is different) and the score in the test. I don’t take it too serious but it is not complete nonsense.

  4. I find this interesting. There are many areas where we seem to share similar views and I agree with Rich about some of the online tests though there are a few that have very good pointers on your perception of things.

    And it is kind of you to share about yourself.

  5. Quite an honest piece of writing. That is probably why I read it; and I don’t like to read at all. I like images; that’s why I take photo’s. And I like music; as long as it is honest and from the hart; and has some meaning. I recognize myself in the part of the limited social skills. Fortunately (?) I am a good actor and can manage my way through the social life. Strange thing: one of the few books I did read was ‘Solaris’ by Stanislaw Lem. That was because I saw the wonderful movie by Andrei Tarkowski (‘Stalker’ is even better) that was based on this book. Cheers, harrie.

    • “Solaris” is indeed a very interesting and deep book. Maybe I will write something about it. I also like Tarkowski’s film. The Book on which the film “Stalker” is based (by the Strugatski-Brothers) is also very interesting.

  6. You’re not alone, buddy. I feel the same way, with just about everything you said. I am the socially awkward guy; the guy that doesn’t do well with small talk. I like talking about science, history and philosophy. And when I bring up such conversations, I usually get sighs, so I just keep it to myself. It’s kind of funny that there are so many of us, but because we’re introspective, we rarely come across eachother in real life. Meh. 🙂

    I don’t think tests like that are very valuable, but I’m intrigued now. I’m going to find one right now!

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  8. Stereotypes, computer tests, fiction preference — BAH. Those don’t hold a candle to your as-if-o-scope.

    I enjoy your thoughts.

  9. Shit, I just took it twice and got 34 both times. I took two other tests previously, a few months ago, and they both said it was “very likely” I have Aspergers, which just cracks me up. I’m certain I don’t have it. The reason I took these quizzes was because one of my characters in my novel has it, and he’s gay, so I Googled “Gay Aspergers” to read some forums and got sucked into these quizzes. The Aspergers ones were pretty bizarre. It asked questions such as: “Do you like to pick other people’s hair?” And I had to answer ‘yes’ because I do it to my husband pretty much every night, but he loves it so it’s okay. LOL. I still can’t wrap my mind around the significance of this bizarre act.

    This AQ test asked the same question twice. Was that a trick? To make sure you aren’t inconsistent?

    “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.”

    Did it ever occur to you that maybe the book just sucks? Maybe EVERYONE ELSE is wrong! Hey, you know, it’s possible. Think about all the other stupid things most people like! (Sports included.)

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