Inside the mind of an Asperger: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

I got The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time as a present for my birthday. My kids were polite and only later told me it was a children’s book. My son said he had read it for his English class. 51js6g5i9pl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
Mark Haddon has created an extraordinary story about a boy with Aspergers syndrome. I had read two books with a comparable first person perspective of a person with Asperger: The Rosie Project (Which I actually selected hurriedly in an airport kiosk for it’s interesting cover design) and the Dutch book Wat Is Er Toch Met Kobus (What’s wrong with Kobus). The first is written from the perspective of a full-grown scientist, with a light Asperger syndrome. Kobus is even more similar  to The Curious Incident: in it’s first person narrative form, and the young main character is a highschool boy.

Haddon writes from the boys perspective in a special style that enforces the feel of being in the mind of the protagonist: many sentences begin with And or But or Because. In school we we discouraged to do this in our stories, but Haddon uses this throughout the book without getting dull.the-rosie-project-book-cover-392x600
In the Curious Incident, the protagonist Christopher is quite dysfunctional though. When things get difficult for him, like being in crowds, or being lied to, he decompensated. Get sick and throws up. Or hits a policeman. Or runs away. Refuses to speak.
His parents have their own problems, with each other, and with Christopher’s awkwardness.
Christopher is able to analyse his own behaviour. For him man is a machine and the mind is a machine. And his views have interesting metaphors.
The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes the slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there’s a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it.
And that is why people think that computers don’t have are minds, and why people think that their brains a special, and ( different from computers. Because people can see the screen inside their head and they think there is someone in their head sitting there looking at the screen, like Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek The Next Generation, sitting in his captain’s seat looking at a big screen. And they think that this person is their special human mind which is called a homunculus, which means a little man. And they think that computers don’t have this homunculus. But this homunculus is just another picture on the screen in their heads.
And the mechanistic views extends to human emotions.1001004008557742
…Also people think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might have happened instead of what did happen, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.
And not only is man a machine, but life itself logical, though incomprehensible.
Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.
And religion is incomprehensible to Christopher.
I said that there wasn’t anything outside the universe and there wasn’t another kind of place altogether. Except that there might be if you went through a black hole, but a black hole what is called a Singularity, which means it is impossible to find out what is on the other side because the gravity of a black hole is so big that even electromagnetic waves like light can’t get out of it and electromagnetic waves are how we get information about things which are far away. “
Like Rainman in the movie, the autistic main character is despite his handicaps highly skilled in (too many?) specific areas. Christopher loves mathematics and physics. He is very good at it. He nominees for the A level in Math. In his school for people with learning disabilities he feels different.
All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call them stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and also everyone has special needs.
He compares his special skills with these of Sherlock Holmes, probably the most famous Asperger from world literature.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is my favourite book […] I also like The Hound of the Baskervilles because I like Sherlock Holmes and I think that if I were a proper detective he is the kind of detective I would be. He is very intelligent and he solves the mystery and he says the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes. But he notices them, like I do. Also it says in the book Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will. And this is like me, too, because if I get really interested in something, like practising maths, or reading a book about the Apollo missions, or Great White sharks, I don’t notice anything else and Father can be calling me to come and eat my supper and I won’t hear him.”
And like Rainman he has a photographic or rather filmic memory.
My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack. And when people ask me to remember something I can simply press Rewind and Fast Forward and Pause like on a video recorder, but more like a DVD because I don’t have to Rewind through everything in between to get to a memory of something a long time ago. And there are no buttons, either, because it is happening in my head.
But he is unable to recognise or express emotions. Simple emotions are impossible for him to read. But he also can not related emotions to his dead mother.
And sometimes, when someone has died, like Mother died, people say, ‘What would you want to say to your mother if she was here now?’ or ‘What would your mother think about that?’, which is stupid because Mother is dead and you can’t say anything to people who are dead and dead people can’t think.
All serious matters. A great insight in the Asperger’s mind. A children’s book?
And then for some free association with this book.
These days I feel there is some more compassion for Aspergers. Nerds are hot, and nerds have many things similar to Aspergers, if not they are right out nerds. Being socially inapt is somewhat acceptable for techies. There are nerd books, nerd websites, new podcast, nerd fighters. Hank and John Green are popularisers through Nerdfighteria http://nerdfighteria.wpengine.com/.
Second, since I had just read Purity.
This book could be called Purity as well. Christopher has the same purity as Purity in Purity, by Jonathan Franzen.purity-franzen-650
And one more thing that’scommon in these books. Purity grows up without a father, and his mother tells her the father has disappeared. Christopher grows up without his mother, while his father make him believe his mother is dead.
What to read next:
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
Wat Is Er Toch Met Kobus? by Inge Barth-Wagemaker.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Purity – Jonathan Franzen

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