Monday, 18 January 2010

Damn you, cruel fate!

There's a terrible twist to having Asperger's Syndrome that leads me to believe it was either designed by the devil, or I have been a very bad person in a former life. It goes without saying that I'm not the best face-to-face communicator which makes it all the harder for starting relationships. I can only really meet women in quite controlled circumstances… pubs and clubs are out of the question, as are overly noisy places or places where there are lots of distractions. Hopefully also a place the same woman habituates to allow me to gradually get to know her and work what little charms I have. Now let's throw into the mix the fact that all of my pastimes are either solitary or male-dominated, and it'd be easier finding a bacon sandwich in a mosque than a suitable partner.

My quiver is not entirely devoid of arrows though. Via a focused and controllable medium like e-mail where it is just me, the canvas, and time, I can be quite eloquent. When the social barrier that stops me taking part in the world is not a factor I can let my real self come out, I can express myself and engage with people. I imagine that the way I communicate through e-mail is the way normal people communicate face to face. These keys…these fingers…this is my face.

So at a certain level I am able to stir interest in a member of the opposite sex…but why do we e-mail people in the first place? Because we have no physical access to them, usually because they live far away. And that's the sand in the Vaseline. The one social skill I do have rendered completely useless.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Ben X

Tonight I watched "Ben X" which is a movie dealing with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). To say a few things, it is foreign language with English subtitles, and also that it is about someone who really does have AS, this isn't another "Big Bang Theory" where the "aspie" community have outed someone as having AS when they don't. Ben is a teenager who is relentlessly bullied at school, but seeks solace at night in the virtual worlds of on-line computer games. He teams up with a girl who plays the same game as him, his only real friend, and together they hatch a plan for revenge.

The movie shows an excellent knowledge of the subject matter, and as well as the scripted dialogue there are many unspoken, and sometimes fleeting, "moments" that people without an in-depth knowledge of AS would probably miss. Dialogue between Ben and other characters is cleverly filmed to highlight the way someone with AS perceives the world. I was really impressed with the way that not all of the symptoms were verbally rammed down your throat and explained in simple language…much of the film is exceptionally well underplayed.

Ignoring the AS elements for a while, this film has some of the short-comings of Mozart and the Whale in that for those not interested in the subject matter it's really just an "ok" movie. Perhaps even slightly sub-par.

It's also very intense; frequently harrowing, with very dark and desaturated visuals to hammer home the bleakness which never really lets up. The story is also incredibly bleak…don't expect to see an AS sufferer as "geeky and goofy but loveable nonetheless". Also don't expect to see a science genius who just has a few problems getting a girlfriend. No positive spin is ever given to Ben's AS - this movie focuses squarely on depression, loneliness, fear and anxiety.

If you have an interest in AS I'd say this is definitely worth watching. It's distressing but very well made and there are some really beautiful pieces of dialogue and moments that are so incredibly insightful you'll think the film maker has been reading the diary you only wish you could keep.