My name is John Coutelier. If you have any problems with the video, then below is everything written out in text, after some links and crap:
I often drop in on Tumblr and follow groups on Facebook. Don’t really use Twitter at all, but I guess if you want to try contacting me on there I’ll get a notification on my phone. And tips or follows on Patreon are of course always welcome. So here is that text I promised:
Look – I’m not really good with people. I mean there are many people that I like, but many people all at once I really cannot deal with. If I’m dropped in a party and someone comes up to say ‘Hi, I’m Steve. Pleased to meet you!’, then honestly, Steve, I find you a little bit suspicious. How can you pleased to meet someone you don’t even know? Why are you showing me your hand? You want me to… okay. Good. We’ve shaken. Can I go now? Is our social transaction done? Honestly, I just got dragged along. I really don’t want to be here. Not that you’re not lovely, probably – I mean you could be a serial killer for all I know. Look, it’s just all the people and the noise – I just want to go home, okay? STOP LOOKING AT ME!
So anyway, I thought it would be a good idea before I really got into it to make a little video introducing myself. Explain a bit about who I am and what kinds of things I’ll be doing. Which unfortunately does mean I’ll have to talk a bit about the thing I least like talking about – me.
Who I am is an adult diagnosed with a type of autism commonly called Asperger’s Syndrome. Psychologists now usually talk in terms of spectrums, because something like autism is a whole set of characteristics that will affect everyone differently and to greater or lesser degrees. But most simply I have autism but without any learning difficulties. So I can understand intellectually what phatic expressions are and what they’re for, yet my brain just isn’t really wired for them – I’m having to think all the time about things that come naturally to other people, which gets exhausting. Also ‘grooming talking’ just makes it sound creepy. Don’t call it that.
And it doesn’t mean I’m like Sherlock – I pay a lot of attention to some things, but I’m not going to mind palace you or anything or deliberately be an arsehole. I’m also not really good at doing any maths in my head, or at translating entirely alien languages.
Now I was an adult when I was diagnosed. This means all my time in secondary school at least was miserable and very often I decided just not to go. I would go for a walk in the country instead, read a book, write something. At school I was always distracted, could never focus, and didn’t understand why it was I couldn’t enjoy the things all my peers seemed to. I was good at exams though so I passed all that, but it turns out exam conditions aren’t really applicable to the workplace. So it just went on. Occasionally well-meaning people will be ‘hey, why don’t you come to the pub with us? Have fun. Be normal’. But imagine trying to have a conversation with someone in a room with thirty other people and every conversation they’re having is equally as loud as the person sat next to you. And not just that; every phone, every key jangle, every clink of glass. It’s impossible for me to have fun like that. I can’t be normal. So now I’m just depressed. Cheers.
But eventually I did go to see a psychologist and was diagnosed, and that helped me to reflect a little more on my life and behaviour and also have something I can tell people to help them understand better. But getting to the point, my retreat through all of this was always just escaping into my own world.
Since I was a child I was always into fantasy and science-fiction. But I think what it is in particular is that I’m drawn to the character of the ‘intelligent alien’. I’m not saying I think autistic people are aliens – Jesus H flipping Christ. What I mean is, a character who is a bit different and mostly views society from the outside, and often just doesn’t quite get it. So an alien stranded on Earth may have knowledge and technology millennia ahead of ours, but still make fools of themselves because they don’t understand the norms of human society. Data in Star Trek and his often-bumbled attempts to fit in with humanity is another fairly obvious example.
But it can also just be a character who is out of time or just exists on the very fringes of society and not really involved, so are puzzled by things everyone else just accepts as normal and thus have never really questioned. In my current writing project there are at least two characters I can identify as intelligent aliens. Jennifer, who is perhaps the most like me; except I’m not a girl, my parents are fine, and I don’t have a supercomputer that looks like a Martian living in my lighthouse – it’s not all autobiographical is what I’m saying. And Tenley, who is a child that has had a very abnormal life thus far, and now finds herself into an adult world where things are often confusing, unfair, and sometimes just a bit silly.
And I think it is important for everyone that these types of characters exist. The perspective of outsiders lets us all look at ourselves and examine things we might otherwise have not thought about. Ask important questions, like, what is the point of neckties, really? Why do you want something that looks like a fish dangling around your neck? Is it comfortable? Sure – if you like the feeling of having something close to your throat anyone could strangle you with… I know you can get clip ons. I don’t care. I’m just fundamentally opposed to ties. And shoelaces. Those are the only things I stand against. Or would if those damnable laces weren’t tripping me all the time. So anyway – what’s going to be happening here is I will post bits of my own fiction in some form or another. And in between that maybe I’ll talk about some influences – all the shows, movies that I grew up with. The odd bit of mythology or real science perhaps. Maybe play the odd game. And about once a month perhaps a thing where I answer real questions.