Sunday, April 29, 2007

We have been in our favorite place for the past week, Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Missouri. Caught up on some reading and only attended one show. The show will be featured in an upcoming blog.
Wanted to say a word about a great book I read on the trip. The Speed of Dark is a remarkable book that puts the reader inside the mind of an autistic young man. Lou Arrendale is a highly functioning autistic, as a matter of fact he is near genius. The reader sees the world from his point of view and amazingly it’s a refreshing perspective. He works for a drug company, is an expert fencer, a lover of classical music and learns complex subjects at an astonishing rate. He lives in an orderly world and sticks to a very ridge routine that allows him to function in this chaotic world of “normals.” He is not hampered by many of the human emotions that affect “normals”, such as jealousy, competition, hatred and anger. He has been trained in many social skills but he often raises questions about their meaning. He is, however, falling for one normal emotion, love. He has been stricken by the love bug for one of his fellow fencers.
Darkness does disrupt his wonderful existence by a very threatening individual. This forces him to cope with many unpleasantries that play havoc with his established routine and perplex him in understanding why something like this would happen. A very demanding boss at work also complicates his life. The greatest disruption comes when he is confronted with an ethical and life changing decision about taking a drug, developed by his company, which will make autistics normal. It is an experimental drug and Lou and his fellow autistic workers are coerced into making the decision about becoming human guinea pigs to become normal. The book is great portrait of an autistic but it is also the story of the dilemma of changing a human live to so called “normal” and the ethics for using humans as subjects for experimentation.
I was a little astonished at the conclusion. As for me, I was greatly enlightened about the world of an autistic. In many ways it is far better that the world of the so called “normal.” It would be nice to be as pure at heart and as focused as Lou Arrendale.
As far as the Speed of Dark is concerned, that is one for the theoretical physicist. It is said that darkness is the absence of light. Before light comes into a place it is dark, so darkness was there first and must be faster. Lou said, “dark is always there waiting ; it is, in that sense, always ahead of the light. He said he was glad, because it means he will never come to the end, chasing the light.
The book is by Elizabeth Moon a well-known writer of science fiction who lives in Florence, Texas. Her husband is Dr. Richard Moon who acquainted me with her writings. They are most interesting people and the parents of an autistic child. Her web site is definitely worth a visit.


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