Folks, since the comment thread on the Safety Dance post got so completely out of hand and off topic, I felt tempted to address the issue of labels and neurodivergence to a fuller extent in a longer article. Then I wondered if that would really a good use of my time, since this blog is about Buck-Tick and I still haven't been able to scrape together the time and energy to write all the notes on the Izora songs so I can post the full translations, and that, if I'm not mistaken, is what y'all are here for. But then I realized that I just can't address this issue to a satisfactory degree without writing a longer article.
I'm writing this in order to make my position clear, and hopefully calm some people down if they've been upset, but I'm not going to write this kind of article again and again on a regular basis. This is a Buck-Tick blog. If y'all want to have further long discussions about mental health topics, please go on Discord, or Quora, or wherever else people discuss such topics.
Also, before we start, another disclaimer. The comment thread on the Safety Dance post inspired this article, but this article is in no way intended to levy any targeted attacks at any specific Blog-Tick readers, or indeed, to attack anyone at all. I have responded to certain specific comments from the thread but the purpose is not to attack or dismiss anyone, merely to engage discussion. In fact, I want to thank all of you readers for inspiring me to write this piece, because I've been thinking about these themes for a long time, but it was your insight that helped me collect my thoughts enough to write about this and gave me a reason to, despite the fact that it is not related except tangentially to the content of this blog. Anyway, I want to make it clear that in this article, I'm going to be writing about trends. What I say here is directed at the general zeitgeist and trajectory I'm seeing in society as a whole right now, and absolutely not directed at any specific person or people. If you do end up feeling personally attacked, please sit on your own and think about it for at least three full days before leaving a comment on this article, but also know that personal attacking was never my intention.
All right, let's go. I'm going to try to keep this as simple as I can. (Clicks tape recorder, presses: Begin Rant.)
First, neurodivergence. What does it even mean?
Let's start with the roots:
"Neuro" for neurological, i.e., relating to the nervous system.
"Divergent," meaning "tending to be different or develop in different directions."
This term is derived from an earlier term, "neurodiversity," which was coined in the 1990's by Judy Singer, a sociologist studying autism. "Neurodiversity" means that people's brains work in a diverse variety of ways. Well, yeah.
The term "neurodivergent" was coined by Kassiane Asasumasu, to refer to "individuals who have a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of 'normal.'" (Rowan University.)
Neurodivergence can be innate (e.g., ADHD, autism, depression, dyslexia, or obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.) or due to a brain-altering event (e.g., head trauma, medicines, or drug use). (University of Massachusetts.)
It's important to point out right here that Kassiane Asasumasu is an activist, not an academic. She's not approaching the topic from a clinical position, but from a social position, so her perspective is necessarily different from that of a mental health professional. There is actually no scientific or clinical consensus on what neurodivergence specifically is. It's an umbrella term, used in different ways by different people and groups at different times, and the definition is evolving. A quick internet search for academic research into neurodivergence is enough to demonstrate that. But it's pretty clear that most people today are using "neurodivergent" as a more or less catch-all term for people who are wired differently from what society sees or expects as "normal."
As the University of Massachusetts website so succinctly notes, "normal" is a perception, not an absolute. To quote: "Neurotypical does not mean 'normal.' It simply means that the behaviors fall within expected boundaries, which can differ from one culture to another. (Direct eye contact, for example, is considered rude in some cultures and expected in others)." (University of Massachusetts.)
So, for those of you who are a fan of the phrase "do your research," there, it's done. Conclusion: there isn't one. There can't be one. There is no black and white. We're swimming in a soup of fifty shades of grey (lol).
I get that these times are a watershed moment for a lot of people, with issues of HSP/neurodivergence/The Andromeda Strain/whatever word you prefer coming into focus in the mainstream. If labels and diagnoses are helping you understand yourself and explain yourself to the world, great. So help me, I'm not knocking that, nor will I ever.
Within this umbrella of "neurodivergence," as many of you well know, there are a lot of very specific diagnoses. Autism is a specific diagnosis with a long, long list of criteria, ditto ADHD. But as I said in the Safety Dance common thread, there's a Venn Diagram at work here. All autistic people are neurodivergent, not all neurodivergent people are autistic, etc. So let us be careful with the labels.
Which brings me to the next topic I would like to discuss: labels.
Before we get too deep into this one, I'd like to remind y'all that we've been here before (collectively, as a culture). Who said "a rose by any other word would smell as sweet"? I think it was... uh... Shakespeare, right? (from "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet") "Tis but thy name that is my enemy," said Juliet. And I'm siding with Juliet on this one. My stance, forever, on all labels, has been and will always be this: labels are only useful when they're helping you sort out ideas in a positive way. They are not useful when they are divisive and limiting.
This goes for absolutely every sort of label. Even record labels! (cough Victor cough let's leave that salt for another salt-mine). Anyway, because this is a music blog, let's take musical genre as an example. Musical genre is a useful label when organizing a record store, or when publishing a music magazine. In other words, genre labels can be useful for music critics, music promoters, and music fans... but they're the opposite of useful to musicians. As soon as a band starts labeling themselves, they're limiting themselves. How far do you think Buck-Tick would have gotten if they'd labeled themselves as a "goth" back back when Aku no Hana came out? Wouldn't they have just kept on wearing black lipstick and white face and releasing the same album over and over, as so many bands we could name did? How would they have ever gotten from Aku no Hana to Kurutta Taiyou, let alone Darker Than Darkness? I mean, Darker Than Darkness isn't goth, it's JAZZ, ffs. If you can't see why DTD is jazz, I think you really need to study your terminology more before you feel qualified to discuss these concepts online. In fact, experts everywhere now agree that the walking bassline in "Kamikaze" and the saxophone of Atsushi Sakurai on the tour firmly places Darker Than Darkness as a jazz album, no ifs, ands, or buts, if you have sax, it's jazz, and if you have sax with a jazz, you are jazz-sexual, and now Buck-Tick are no longer a goth band, everyone knows no goth bands ever used a saxophone not even once
not even Auto-Mod not even Daniel Ash in Bauhaus you are woefully underinformed about the structure of goth music vs. jazz music and that's, quite frankly, problematic.
(I'm joking, but... maybe you get the drift here.)
However, my friends, I suspect that you're actually here, on this blog, because the whole reason Buck-Tick have stayed interesting for 36 crazy years now is the fact that they've aggressively avoided labels and genres of all kinds. "Why do you put your hair up?" they were asked when they were young. "Because we believe it's cool," they said. Then, the inevitable, "Why did you stop putting your hair up?" "Because we felt like it," they answered. (Source: paraphrased from the Sen-Sor documentary, Picture Product I video box. Not on YouTube but VERY worth a watch if you can find it somewhere).
Also, in Mr. Sakurai's case, he stopped putting his hair up during the tour for the album Taboo, which, for those of you new to Buck-Tickistan, is the album that contained one of Buck-Tick's most famous songs ever, a song that arguably defines their entire philosophy as a band: "Iconoclasm."
For those of you who don't know this word, or would like a refresher, let's review:
Iconoclasm (definition from Oxford languages):
1. The action of attacking or assertively rejecting cherished beliefs and institutions or established values and practices.
2. The rejection or destruction of religious images as heretical; the doctrine of iconoclasts.
Now, please take a moment to consider the ways in which "cherished beliefs" are taking center stage in global society (especially Western society) right now, and please consider how many of these "cherished beliefs" relate to identity labels. Please also take a moment to consider the parallels between religious dogmatists telling people what to believe in order to belong to a certain religion, and identity label gatekeepers telling people what to believe/spew in public in order to belong to a certain identity label. Then please consider how these phenomena fit in with the concept of "Iconoclasm."
(I'ma let that sink in for a minute.
*Plays Jeopardy! theme*
While we're waiting...
Fun fact: before Buck-Tick were called Buck-Tick, they were called "Hinan Go-Go" which means "Criticism Go-Go". My two cents: you can't have effective criticism without meaningful discussion, and you can't have meaningful discussion without differences of opinion. And this blog is a critical blog, I mean in the sense that I'm a critic, here.
Fun fact: Imai's birthday, October 21st, is the last day of Libra, cusp of Libra and Scorpio. This astrological cusp is known as the Cusp of Criticism.
*Jeopardy! theme ends. Time to continue*)
I'm sure I'm far from the only one who's noticed a troubling trend in all the swirl and the churn of so-called "debates" in the global public sphere lately, revolving around everything from economics to pandemic countermeasures to gender to, whatever it is, pick a card, any card. And what I've been seeing is this: though there has indeed been a lot of incidence of people not listening to each other, there has also been a lot people accusing others of not listening to them, when in fact, the other person did listen, they just don't agree.
Let's remember how real debate works, folks. Real Debate: one person speaks their piece. The other person speaks a rebuttal. Each person then provides arguments and counter-arguments to support their respective positions. If the debate is carried out in good faith, each person listens to the other respectfully before responding. But if you want someone to agree with you who doesn't agree with you, you have to convince the other person of why they should agree with your views. However, these days, I'm seeing a lot of demands, rather than convincing. Demands, like "if you don't believe this exact thing (insert whatever the currently accepted party line is of whatever party), you're (insert identity label here)-phobic!!!" That's not debate, friends. That's no different from saying that if you don't accept Jesus as your personal savior, you're going to Hell.
"Commonly accepted understandings" of all kinds of things, from economic systems to human nervous systems, are in a huge, huge, HUGE state of flux right now. The "accepted facts" are changing like, every hour. Common, to who? Accepted, by who? It's all changing as fast as ChatGPT can churn out a new set of conflicting mission statements and post them into Google's promoted algorithm, one for every "side" of each new "debate." Have y'all noticed that? Friends, it's not going away. Things are going to get crazier, not less crazy. We are out of Kansas. We are never going back to Kansas. (Sorry, Kansas.) This is the New World we live in (hey that was a B-T song, let's cut to a commercial break to steer this wildly off-topic blog back toward Buck-Tickistan *cues "New World" PV*)
So, where are we going, in this new world? We're going out of that Kansas monochrome, into a technicolor world. Not even fifty shades of grey anymore, a world of fucking rainbows, baby cats.
And despite what you may be seeing in some corners of the internet, a rainbow means a diversity of experiences and opinions. (Look at the damn banner of this blog, we haven't changed it since 2017! We've been behind this rainbow the entire goddamn time.) Apparently, however, accepting a spectrum is something that's very hard for a lot of people to do, and therefore, many people are flailing. Apparently it's very scary to live in a world without binaries or status quotidians. The pendulum is swinging. It's probably going to be quite a while before things even out. Until then, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, baby! (watch the video it was recorded on March 7th 1965 and it's ELLA) But yeah. Nothing, nothing, nothing is in a box (except Schrödinger's cat). But, like Schrödinger's cat... nothing is decided upon but for what YOU decide upon (quantum physicists might be at pains to tell me that wasn't the point of Schrödinger's cat but I'm going to rebut them and say it was. Quantum Consciousness, baby physicist. Pick it up and run to Nobel, off with you now.) Anyway, if you're dizzy reading all this, just remember the friendly dialectic:
That is to say, first, people have an idea (thesis). Then some people come along and challenge that idea with an opposing idea (antithesis). Eventually the two ideas integrate and merge into a totally new idea that's a union of elements from the first two ideas (synthesis).
But you don't get to synthesis without antithesis. The anti. The Villain, so to speak (to bring this back to Buck-Tickistan again). So welcome all colors of debate and don't shut someone else down with lines like "experts agree that..." Which experts? When did they agree, and on what? Did you actually read their work or listen to their talks directly, or is it hearsay? Are you going to cite your sources? If you want to convince someone that your point of view is correct, back up your arguments! And also...
...use your own words, use your own mind! Observe the world and draw your own conclusions! Express your own feelings, from your own heart, from your own experience, not based on what some internet trend or meme is telling you! Come up with your own ideas! Resist groupthink! Have you noticed how many people out there right now are preaching "freedom" and "individuality" while doing their damndest to shut down dissent? And no, I'm not just talking about "those" people. Really look, y'all. See what's happening. Do you want to be some kind of vector, parroting dogma? I don't think that's why you're here. Be an Iconoclast! Isn't that why you came to Buck-Tickistan?
(Fan fact: as an Anarchic Republic, Buck-Tickistan has open borders and no visa system, so anyone is free to come and go as they choose so long as they respect the One Law of Buck-Tickistan which is the
Golden Ratio I mean the Golden Rule. Actually the Golden Ratio might work even better.)
Another thing: people around the world have different views. Politics and ideology are very, very different depending on where you go. "Accepted norms" in the USA, UK, and Western Europe are very different from those in Japan, for example. The kinds of identity labels that are so preciously in vogue in the West right now barely register in Japan. Most people in Japan haven't even heard of them. Most people in Japan don't know that such "debates" are even happening. Hell, to go after some really ripe, low-hanging fruit... pronouns as Western languages know them don't even exist in the Japanese language in the way that they do in many Indo-European languages.
As for mental health... fun fact, kids: Adder@ll is illegal in Japan because the chemical structure is deemed by the Japanese government to be too close to mxxhamphxtamine (also censorship algos are killing my blog and the free internet as we speak so pardon the l33+sp3@k but y'know everyone knows that if you talk about drXXs on your blog that automatically means you're the kingpin of a cartel that's the kind of world we live in now). Japan's too scared of narco-smuggling to even be willing to medicate people with ADHD. That's the level we've got on "neurodivergence" in Japan. Not saying that neurodivergence is not a thing, or that people in Japan don't have it. Obviously, neurodivergence is a thing and it's just as much of a thing in Japan as anywhere else. But there is no one accepted worldview on this stuff, and when you talk to Japanese people about these issues, you're going to get very different perspectives than if you were talking to Westerners. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Japan has its problems, for sure (so does everywhere), but if Japan didn't walk its own way, where would Buck-Tick be?
Drifting in the void, an unrealized seed that never sprouted, that's where.
The world is a big, big place. All the more reason to skivvy out of your labels and run nude through the wonderful garden of human diversity. And neurodiversity. And Neuromancer.
...which brings me to my next two points.
1) As they say, to Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.
2) Will you be the hero of your own life, or will that station be held by anybody else?
Let's start with point 1.
Assumptions. Or, as my high school history teacher loved to joke, "ASS-umptions."
When you communicate for the first time with anyone at all, or you're just getting to know the person, and especially when you communicate online with a person you've never met IRL, there are a LOT of things you don't know about the person. Communicating with a faceless stranger on the internet, who lives in another country... in many cases, you don't even know the basic information about the person that you would get if you met them IRL (e.g. what they look like, what their voice sounds like, their sex, approximate age, physical mannerisms, and many other non-verbal details that give a lot of information about a person even on first meeting). You probably don't even know the person's real name.
But beyond this, what you really, really don't know, especially in cases of online communication, are the details of that person's life experience, personal history, cultural background, family background, etc. You have no idea what countries that person might have lived in, what places they might have visited, who they might have loved and lost, what their family life was like, where they've worked, what their hobbies and interests are, you don't even know superficial little things like their favorite flavor of ice cream or even whether they can eat ice cream or whether they're allergic to dairy of vegan or what have you... you know NOTHING, Jon Snow!
It's a cliché, but it bears repeating: you can never be sure what someone else is going through. That person who snapped at you at work, or frowned at you in the supermarket - you don't have a clue what kind of bad day, or bad year, or bad decade they might have had, to put them in that kind of mood. Yeah, maybe they're just being a jerk. Or maybe their best friend just jumped on the train tracks yesterday. Unless they tell you (and sometimes even when they do tell you), you just. don't. fucking. know. Yes, people need to be held accountable for their actions and words, but it's equally important to give everyone a touch of your grace, too. Because I guarantee you that you, being human, were definitely that person to someone else, at least one day in the past year, and probably much more often than that. And you might not even have meant anything bad by it, or even been aware of it. Let the person without sin among you cast the first stone. People in glass houses, etc. This is why assuming makes an ass out of you and me.
Extending from this: you have no way of knowing another person's knowledge base. You don't know what subjects they've studied, or what form their studies took (was it books, or was it the School of Life? You don't know, Jon Snow.)
Unless a person tells you (and sometimes even if they do), you have no idea what types of life experience might have them to hold the opinions they hold, and at least for a person who's a grown-ass adult enough to have lived life a little, you cannot assume that just because a person holds an opinion that differs from yours means that they are ignorant or benighted or "wrong." Maybe they know something you don't. Maybe they've seen something you haven't. Maybe they've been abused in a way that you haven't. People's biases come from many sources, and everyone has biases - look in the mirror before you start pointing out other people's pimples! Plus, if you dismiss someone else's opinion out of hand like this, you not only dehumanize them, you lose a valuable opportunity for learning what they might potentially teach you. Even if you feel that the person is a bigoted zealot, you can still learn from them about the psychology of bigoted zealotry, and that knowledge might serve you well if mitigating bigoted zealotry is one of your goals. Antagonists have at least as much to teach you as friends, and if you don't dismiss people out of hand, you might find friends in surprising places, even if those friends don't always share your exact same views. Stay open-minded. Stay humble. There's a reason Jesus and Mohammed walked forty days alone in the desert and Buddha sat silently under a tree. Awareness doesn't come from shoving your opinions down other's throats. Awareness comes from listening. (Yeah, yeah, I'm talking rather than listening right now but this is a blog, that's what it's for.)
But back to assumption - if you claim to care about mental health/neurodivergence issues, you need to be the absolute first person in your life to acknowledge that, when you talk to a stranger, you cannot know what the other person's mental health struggles might be. De-stigmatization of mental health issues is a laudable goal. But if you're devoted to de-stigmatizing mental health issues, first, you have to understand that you cannot make unfounded assumptions about people's mental health status, and you also have to understand that many people don't want to share their private struggles, not because they're ashamed, but because they want to keep their private lives private. Furthermore, you have to understand that even if people do choose to open up publicly about their struggles, there is still very likely a lot that they aren't telling you in public. So, you cannot assume. To assume makes you look arrogant and antagonistic. It shuts down discussion and debate. It creates the opposite of an inclusive environment.
Now, let's go full circle back to the debate thing. If someone voices an opinion that you disagree with, don't take it personally and shut them down with some line like "you haven't done your research." If you really think the person isn't educated about the issue, guess what: it's your job to educate them. Young'uns these days love to shriek "it isn't my job to educate people!!!" but actually, if what you want is for people to be educated, and they don't know something, then, yes, sorry, fans, but it is your job to educate, even by providing a few simple, concise bits of data, with references so that the person can pursue it further later, if they so choose (cite sources! And no, for most purposes, Tumblr memes and random blog posts don't count!) If you're tired and you don't want to bother, say so, and walk away. But if you just sit there and crow at the other person, "I don't have to educate you," while feeling smug, what it looks like is that you care more about preening your own ego than in actually arguing your point or convincing anyone why you're right... which isn't convincing at all.
However! Even if you do feel like you want to school somebody, because you cannot know what the other person may have gone through, to take a hoighty-toighty attitude toward "edumucating" them may not be the best strategy, if you actually want them to see your point of view. It might be warranted in some cases, like in political debates, but in many other situations, it might not be. In any case, first, listen to what the other person has to say. If they say something you disagree with, ask them why they think the way they do. If they give an argument that you disagree with, counter by using actual evidence, or your own original thoughts, not by just parroting back someone else's politically correct opinion without having digested or absorbed or grokked it at all. Think before you speak. Use your own words. Use concrete examples. And be respectful of the other person's intelligence and experience. Unless the person tells you explicitly, never assume they haven't read all the books you've read, or lived through the same kind of crap you've lived through, or even gotten the same diagnosis you've got. Two people can go through more or less the exact same shit and end up with totally different viewpoints. How many of y'all have siblings?
When you go and assume that your interlocutor doesn't know things, hasn't experienced things, etc., it's not only disrespectful, it puts the interlocutor in a nasty position of having to either open up about experiences that they might not want to discuss, or feeling like they have to defend themselves and risk looking like a defensive ass, or feeling like they can't continue the debate because you're dismissing them out of hand and that therefore there's no point trying to engage with you any longer. In political debates, the whole point is to defend your point of view without walking away. But in personal situations, it's a totally different game. In personal situations, when people are belittled because others assume things about them that aren't true, they tend to feel angry, frustrated, and silenced. Not a good look to end up with, for those claiming inclusivity.
(Incidentally, if y'all want a really good example of how to engage people in productive debate, watch Trevor Noah's interviews on The Daily Show. Noah is a paragon of drawing out people of differing viewpoints without ever disrespecting their identities, intelligence or experience. Recommended viewing for those of you who like to argue for the sake of ideas, rather than ego-boosting.)
Now, the ASS-umption principle applies to all kinds of situations. But in this specific situation, here on Blog-Tick, if you want to get personal, this is about as personal as I'm willing to get, on this blog:
I don't get personal on this blog.
The main reason being: this blog is about Buck-Tick, not about me.
If you want to cultivate a relationship with me as a person, feel free to write me an email (sorry I've been slow on correspondence lately, but I do enjoy hearing from readers and I make an effort to respond to everyone even if it takes some time.)
Anyone who's reading this who isn't a personal friend of mine: beyond the opinions I've expressed on this blog over the years, you actually have no idea who I am or what I've been through. You can't even be sure that "Cayce" is the real "me" now, can you? Do you think Gothique Prince Acchan is the real Acchan? Who, indeed, is the Real Slim Shady? How do you know I'm not Spartacus? Please, do not assume. Whatever, whoever you think I am, if you actually knew the truth, I have a strong feeling that it would surprise you.
Because everyone is a fucking surprise inside.
Even your closest friends and lovers can be total enigmas at times.
Therefore, Aretha Franklin said it best:
Golden Ratio I mean the Golden Rule.
Now, on to point 2.
Being the hero of your own life, with respect to this ongoing dialogue about neurodivergence.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, neurodivergence is a very recently coined term, and a recently minted concept, as is HSP. The research on these topics is ongoing and rapidly evolving, and there is no consensus, as I already mentioned. But beyond that, if you really want to go about this scientifically, to try and claim "consensus" is in total opposition to the scientific method.
The scientific method:
1. Formulate a hypothesis
2. Design an experiment to test the hypothesis
3. Conduct the experiment and gather data
4. Revise your hypothesis as necessary, based on the data you gathered
Science is not a belief system, but unfortunately, a lot of people who call themselves "scientists" these days go around acting like it's a belief system. Actually, it isn't even "these days" - a lot of the greatest scientific breakthroughs were widely ridiculed before being accepted in the mainstream as what we now call "fact" (if you're interested in the history of science and want to look more closely at this, look at not only Copernicus and Galileo and heliocentrism, but also tectonic plates, and my favorite, Ignaz Semmelweis and hand-washing... but the list goes on and on.) Why does this happen? Dialectic. Antithesis. And more importantly, for the same reason most stupid things happen on this planet: ego, money, and ego, and money, and ego, and power, and money, and ego, and power. And people don't like change. But real science is the kind of science that evolves. (Oops... remember Darwin? Remember how people reacted to him? And remember Lamarck? And then people accepted Darwin and Lamarck got kicked out of town... and now with epigenetics it's becoming clear that Lamarck was onto something too and actually they were both right! Poor Lamarck, he was right too but people didn't listen!
Synthesizers Synthesis, baby! Look up the history of evolutionary theory if you want to learn more, it's a fascinating tale.)
Anyway, yeah. Stay humble. Stay curious. Stay experimental. Keep debating. That's how we learn new things. That's how we change paradigms. That's real divergence, in a positive way.
From Robert Frost's famous poem, "The Road Not Taken"...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I get that people who are currently known as "neurodivergent" are not served well by the society we live in today. For the record, I don't even think that "neurodivergent" is a bad term. It's actually a great term, as far as it goes. (Though as for this whole idea that "consciousness comes from your brain" *spits vodka soda out of nose laughing* GOOD JOKE GUYS don't even get me started on brains, consciousness studies, and "the hard problem"... please look at Rupert Sheldrake's work on morphic resonance and then let's discuss universal consciousness and then maybe we can finally, finally get out of the damn brain scans and on to actually finding the Unified Theory of Everything *cough cough the key is the forbidden C word nope not C for Cayce but C for Consciousness whoops I let the Schrödinger's cat out of the bag but the Buck-Tick guys have only been singing about it for 36 years now seriously you would have been able to SEE it if you stared at Andromeda hard enough here have a Nobel baby physicist congrats on "discovering" that water is wet now maybe we can actually start to do FUN things like vibrational healing and anti-gravity kthxbai*, but I digress...)
Maybe I even get that "neurodivergent" people are not served well by the society we live in today because I'm not exactly "neurotypical" myself. I mean, how "neurotypical" is it to live as a disembodied genderless internet icosahedron of photonic plasma who's been blogging about Buck-Tick for nigh on eighteen years (pass me the smelling salts!) and I mean, dear sweet readers, have you actually read this blog? ("Mad, call I it, for to define true madness, what is't but to be nothing else but mad? But let that go.")
But maybe, just maybe, I have a bit of an iconoclastic view on society.
Owning your pain is a vital step towards healing.
Understanding that you have struggled, and where, and why, is a vital step towards knowing yourself.
And knowing yourself, in turn, is a vital step towards expanding your consciousness into a higher awareness.
But let's not forget that the ultimate purpose here is healing. And expanding your consciousness into a higher awareness.
Pain doesn't make you special. One shitty fact (spoiler alert) about this life: pain is a universal human experience.
Being "different" doesn't make you special, except in that everyone is special, because everyone is different from everyone else. That's by design. That's to be celebrated. That's why we're fucking here, people. Only you can do you. Otherwise, you wouldn't exist at all. For further reading, please check the lyrics to "Only You" (lyrics/music by Imai Hisashi, quoted in the banner of this blog).
Yeah, society is unfair, and it treats people badly, and some people seem to have a harder time fitting into the demands of society than others, and some of those people are what we call neurodivergent.
But... how do you really know that other people, the so-called "neurotypicals," are having so much easier of a time? How can you be sure that everyone isn't having a shitty time and faking it? (Ass outta u and me again here). How do you know who's neurodivergent and who isn't? Neurodivergent doesn't only apply to people with either autism spectrum disorder or ADHD. It applies to many other types of people as well, including people who are bona-fide "weirdos" and have a certain number of traits in common with ASD or ADHD or both, but don't meet any diagnosis, and don't even need a diagnosis, because there's no "treatment" required for being a weirdo. Being a weirdo isn't a disease. (I'm also gonna argue that autism isn't a "disease" either, because "disease" implies that there's something wrong that should be fixed, but let's come back to that.)
You want to get personal? Okay, let's get personal. To my autistic readers:
One of the people (not Cayce) who has been a vital behind-the-scenes supporter of this very site/blog since the very beginning is autistic/ADHD. We've been working closely together for 18 years. We know each other better than family, in a lot of ways. I helped this person through their diagnosis, but even before they were diagnosed, we spent a lot of time discussing issues related to ASD/ADHD in depth, and this was long before these issues were out in the open in popular discourse like they are today. As I mentioned earlier in this article, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, as they are currently defined, both have a long list of very specific diagnostic criteria (for criteria, please look at the DSM, not at random blog posts. Clinical psychologists are using the DSM to diagnose, not random blog posts. Yeah there are problems with the DSM but let's be consistent here.) The experience of people with ASD/ADHD is extremely distinctive. That's why I honestly think it's disrespectful to armchair over-label people with these diagnoses if they haven't been diagnosed. You can speculate but you can't assume.
Because, as I said in the previous paragraph, there are many other people who have many of the same traits, and a "weirdo" experience of life, and may be obsessive introverts who love cats and don't get along well in the hypermacho hustler technocratic capitalist hellscape we hilariously call "society," yet demonstrably are neither autistic nor ADHD. Maybe I know someone like that, maybe I don't. That's for me to know and you to guess privately. If these people desperately need a label, HSP seems to fit pretty well.
HSP definition (from The Mayo Clinic):
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a neurodivergent individual who is thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. Some refer to this as having sensory processing sensitivity, or SPS for short.
While highly sensitive people are sometimes negatively described as being “too sensitive," it is a personality trait that brings both strengths and challenges.
The term highly sensitive person was first coined by psychologists Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron in the mid-1990s. Elaine Aron published her book, "The Highly Sensitive Person," in 1996, and interest in the concept has continued to grow since then.
If y'all want to look more at the HSP thing, look at the work of Elaine Aron, take it from her, not me, I'm not a psychologist except when I'm sitting in an armchair, lol.
As y'all with the ASD/ADHD know, there is a LOT more to what you've got than simple hypersensitivity. A non-ASD/ADHD person who does Adder@ll is going to get high on it. Don't ask me how I know. Maybe I know someone who did that and got high, maybe I don't. That's for me to know and you to guess privately. But just because that person got high doesn't mean they aren't hella extra special sensitive. I mean... did you actually listen to the song "Speed"? This is a Buck-Tick blog, not a mental health blog.
I think HSP is just as relevant and useful a term as "neurodivergent," because HSP captures the essence of what it is to be one of those neurodivergent weirdos who don't have any diagnosis, they're just sensitive weirdos.
Common things general HSPs ("clinical weirdos") do that ASD/ADHD people also do:
- Get overstimulated easily (therefore often have trouble with crowded trains, nightclubs, etc.)
- Get deeply obsessed with things
- Go into hyperfocus states (like staying up all night and forgetting to eat because they're writing a blog article)
- Prefer to spend a lot of time alone (this is just introversion folks and nobody's got a patent on it)
- Love cats maybe a little more than people most of the time (also not patented as neurodivergent)
- Have digestive issues (wait that's not neurodivergence, that's what you get when you've been drinking all of Tokyo under the table since 1987 not gonna name names but if you wanna catch him just leave a big ol' bottle of sweet potato shochu in a bondage harness out overnight and in the morning you'll find him happily tied up in red rope clutching an empty bottle fast asleep and then you can feel free to use his red lipstick to draw a d*ck on his face whoops I think I just gave too much personal shit away there)
- Feel they don't fit in in society (LMFAO who actually feels that they fit in in society, or as I like to call it, "society"? If you do, please leave a comment and tell us all about it!)
No, these HSPs are not "in denial and have secret autism." Maybe a few are, but many more are not. Why not, and how do they know? Because maybe, just maybe, they actually did look into it! Maybe they did some casual research. Maybe they did some in-depth research. Maybe they got clinically evaluated. Maybe, more than likely if they're such clinical weirdos, they have a lot of ASD/ADHD friends, and they've seen on a daily basis with their own eyes that the ASD/ADHD experience isn't their experience... but they also know from their own lived daily experience that they're neurodivergent as hell. Sure, they've got sensory issues (shut up, Japanese talking vending machines!), but nothing like an autistic person. No trouble making eye contact. No trouble communicating and making friends with strangers. No trouble flirting or playing conversational games. Able to play a chameleon in "neurotypical" social situations and enjoy it at least for short periods of time. No hyper-distinctive sensory issues like being unable to eat out of metal bowls, or feeling excessively disgusted by certain smells that other people can't even smell. And the list of potential examples goes on and on and on. Spectrum, people. Venn diagram. Rainbow.
So, how does this have to do with being the hero of your own life?
It's because of the simple fact that we can't control what other people do, but what we CAN control is how we respond.
Whether there is any such thing as "objective" truth is a subject that's been debated since the beginning of philosophy, but one thing's for sure: however you define your reality, within your own soul, that's how reality is, for you.
It's undeniable that neurodivergent people are at certain disadvantages in "lolsociety." Neurodivergent people, HSPs included, have to deal with sensory overload all the time: traffic noise, air pollution, trucks driving around blaring political speeches, annoying talking machines, obnoxious blinking lights, TV screens in all the trains, anime girls with giant balloon boobs wherever you look... good god, try being neurodivergent and living in fucking Tokyo! If you're neurodivergent and you visit Tokyo, make sure you never leave your AirBnB without sunglasses and a good pair of headphones!
But, everything is a yin-yang. Flip it around. Would you, sensitive person, really give up all that sensitivity, that enables you to feel so much, perceive so much, appreciate so much - would you give that up in order to be a herpdy-derp office drone? Would you give up those unique sensory gifts that allow you to perceive aspects of the world that many other people don't have access to? Would you surrender your secret key to join the hive? To the extent that you have felt set apart from others, confused by others, misunderstood by others... do you want to give up your essential self and be like them? Or do you want them to accept you for who you truly are, but they haven't done that yet, to the extent that you wish they would?
I'ma let you sit and think about it for a minute.
*Puts on "Check-Up" by Buck-Tick while you think*
From the lyrics to "Check-Up":
How are you? Lesson 3: yourself
Which one did you choose?
1. The type who survives by bowing to power
2. The type who waits for a lucky shot