The pyramid of place

Recent email from a young man who was seeking info on Asperger's - Aspies - ASD people - thinking he himself might be one, and he had found one of my blog posts on the subject. Starting correspondence with me, he had come to the question to me, if hierarchies were the main part of my problem. I replied that only in retrospect was I able to figure out that there had been hierarchical games going on that caused problems; but was not my focus at the time. I awoke this early morning with some insightfulness on the whole subject, an insight that seems uncommonly clear to me, at least right now.

So I write here attempting to describe that insight. Although it has little new that I had not mentioned in these blog posts before, it is arranged more neatly, I think.

I hypothesize that the world of non-Aspies - "normal" people - is made up of people and of who can beat up on whom; a world solely composed of the endless drama of people interacting; that is all.

To the Aspie, the world is made up of "the trees and the stars" (to use the phrase from Desiderata, a document of uncommon wisdom - but maybe wisdom only for the Aspies) and the mountains and the water and the people and the rest of the stuff that makes up the universe, visible and invisible. And each of their natures and how they interrelate. People are just part of all that.

In contrast, the non-Aspie world is only made up of people, and who can beat up on whom is all that counts. Because it is people who take control of everything and share - or not share - what they have acquired to provide the needs of themselves and their chosen others. And thus determines specific survival and reproduction, which makes possible the continuance of the people and the drama.

To the Aspie (at least to the degree I represent a typical ASD person) esteem is related to how well one can do something; and that crystalizes into some focus in life, on which the person prides him/herself as being unusually competent at, whether it be by expertise in tying fishing flies or figuring out nice mathematical summaries of how the world interacts in some way.

And in contrast, to the non-Aspie, it looks to me like their esteem is all about who can beat up on whom, whom is better than whom. It is only the people that count; and their web of hierarchies is formed as a result, determining one's "place".

The Aspie, largely unaware of his/her "place," tends to sometimes wander into other's "place" and thus gets into trouble. It is perceived by the non-Aspies a bit like someone trying to cut ahead into the line at the movie theater, I think; only on a worldwide scale. It is this giant pyramid of "place" that enables them all to function in coordination, taming the urge to beat up and grab away; that if unchecked would have destroyed everybody from the start, and there would have been no people remaining, merely another extinct species. So that hierarchical pyramid is very important. And focus on it is how they survive. Remember their universe is only made up of people, and so that pyramid is made of people. People who come with all the stuff of the universe that they have been able to get their hands on, all just props to their endless drama.

Now all this is from my viewpoint, which here is assuming that other Aspies are a lot like me. Yet the more recent label of "ASD" - Autism Spectrum Disorder - uses "spectrum" to indicate that there is a wide variation among members of the grouping. In my case, I was a bit unusual in that I had no siblings nor consistent peers in my world as I grew up; often having to move to a completely different place in the middle of a school year, losing what few friends I had been able to make in the short time, over and over again. It eventually got to be so painful to lose those friends that I stopped trying so hard to make friends anymore, so I would not sorrow over losing them. As for "who beats up on whom" I was baffled as to why some of the other boys would, for no reason I could determine, assault me physically or assault the things I had made, destroying them; baffling to me and causing me pain and sorrow. Only once - at maybe age of 5 probably - I recall that when some boy began to hit me for no reason, I flailed out with my fists and bloodied his nose and he ran away crying, and I felt a taste of pride in doing that. My self esteem felt different as I thought about that event. But it was soon forgotten in the melee of daily life, seeming a rather useless endeavor, constructing nothing. And it was not repeated. I became a little better at fending off the assaults, was all; but there was no satisfaction in causing hurt to others. I perceived them as being too much like me, and I did not like to be hurt; thus treating them as I wanted to be treated.

(Only much later as an older adult, did I realize that the other boys were seemingly automatically assaultive because they were compelled to begin their "who beats up on whom" quite literally as they strove to climb as high in the pyramid of place from the earliest ages. This insight was reinforced when reading an article recently complaining that some boys were no longer doing "roughhouse;" and thus caused worry that the boys were not quite so male anymore. Presumably "roughhouse" means physically beating on each other and smashing things up - thus establishing a start on their proof of how powerful they were so as to get up to the higher levels of the "pyramid of place." So my experiences with being assaulted by the other boys - sometimes physically, sometimes in different ways - was merely because I happened to be a handy target to assault as another stepping stone in their climb up the pyramid of place. Even later as refinements were taught, such as playing games to beat another person such as the games of chess and monopoly, was slightly modified to have groups pitted against each other; yet according to a set of rules applying to all of them, thus teaching limits as to what they could do in their climb up the pyramid of place.)

Life went on as I learned more about the trees and the stars until I became a young man, and my interest in the opposite sex gathered new kinds of interest in them, more craving for interactivity with the girls. But the girls ignored me, did not seem to notice I existed; yet in high school several of them were coming to class clearly very pregnant, they were clearly involved with other boys in the ways I would like to have been involved with one or two of the girls who I especially admired - yet who ignored me as if I did not exist. Now I realize it was because the girls -the young women - only saw a boy's - a man's - existence in terms of his place in the hierarchy; and my place was so far below as to be out of sight. Eventually I decided - perhaps from the car ads - that having a car, a nice car, was key to attracting the girl. And that kind of thing was explored from then on, somehow getting possession of things that hopefully would make me visible to the cute girls. It did not work well - now I realize the women were only seeing the position in the pyramid of places, and they wanted to tie up with a guy as high up in the pyramid as possible, to share in his abundant goodies in hand.

I write this because it may be useful to see from a different point of view. Water, to a land dweller, may be nicely described - it is wet, it splashes, it quenches thirst, it is H2O, it rains, it is clear and muddy - etc; yet to a fish, a being far more intimately involved with water, who yet may not even be quite aware of the existence of water. So I write this a bit like the land dweller, trying to share insight with the fish, about water.

Naively thinking that the fish would have any interest at all in my opinion about water. Their endless drama is most likely about other things.

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