Leapfrogging

October 25th, 2016

Murray, in his book Representing Autism, pushes back against the mainstream narrative that reduces autism to a condition that is explained by way of analogizing or understanding it in terms of metaphors. In the current cultural narrative, autism is explained by a set of criteria that are listed in DSM-IV. This kind of characterization reduces an autistic individual from having any agency and selfhood. One way Murray asserts his claim that “autism is constituted primarily is terms of individual and with differing individual emphases” is by showing how Baggs, Grandin, and Williams narratives provide a more diverse and subjective autistic presence. One of the strategies of contextualizing secondary sources that is mentioned in Gaipa’ reading is leapfrogging. Murray uses this strategy very effectively. Even though he admits that there might be some truth to the claim made by Mitchell and Snyder, Murray quickly asserts his position by pointing out the flaw in their argument.

Mitchell and Snyder believe that because Grandin acts as an insider, as an interpreter, who can explain autism to “normal” people, she “require legitimizing from a majority audience”(39), which is a stance that is poles apart from the one Braggs takes where “there’s nothing to understand, .. nothing to fix”(35). For Braggs, she is simple being herself, and autism isn’t a condition that needs fixing. So for Mitchell and Snyber, this tendency in Grandin’s writing to explain autism, makes her writing about a narrative of overcoming autistic barriers.

Murray, however, points out that Mitchel and Snyder’s postulation are too generalized and broad and doesn’t take into account most of what Grandin has to say in her autobiographies. Murray reveals that Grandin makes explicit in her writings that autism is not “a removable element of her being” (40). But Grandin is someone who can only function through autism.

Surrealist Images in Invisible Man and We Love You, Charlie Freeman.

October 11th, 2016

Both Ellison’s novel Invisible Man, and Kaitlyn Greenidge’s novel We Love You, Charlie Freeman, use surrealist images and scenarios to depict the psychological trauma of racism. It is quite clear that Greenidge believes as Ellison did, that in order to provide a more rounded perspective on how racism effects the individual psyche, one must look for an explanation that is not limited to understanding socio-economic conditions, but an explanation that also encompasses and helps elucidate the psychological effect of racism. And the only language that shines a light on the psychological aspect are images that shock, revolt, and repulse the reader. In short, images that seem totally unimaginable or surrealist.

The scene where Charlotte walks in on her mother breast feeding Charlie is one such example. And this scene is even more difficult to read when Ginny figures it out when she is there for the dinner. On page 219 Ginny says, “He lunged at her. And tried to eat from her. Like a baby would. She’s feeding him. She’s sick.”  The imagination freezes to even form a picture that is depicted by Greenidge because it is so repulsive and one’s whole body begins to recoil from tension. But why would Greenidge use such evocative imagery if not to show a part of Laurel’s psyche? What prompts Laurel to such drastic measures and to prove what? And I believe her diatribe to Charlotte when she is picking Charlotte up from Aida’s house is quite helpful in understanding Laurel’s mindset. She explains to Charlotte the significance of this experiment by emotionally rehearsing, “It’s realer than any history and it’s better than anything written in that book. It’s realer than anything this book could ever imagine” (Greenidge 181). Here we see Laurel completely dismissing her heritage, her history. By cutting ties to her past, she is essentially erasing her identity. So for Laurel, her actions are not just actions that suppose to reflect on her but the entire African-American race. And that is evident when she says, “you start in on this, you decide to make a statement and play the victim on this and it’s not just you who ends up hurt. You’re being selfish if you think it’s just you” (183).  And that is the problem of racism because the act is never seen as committed by an individual but by the entire race.

Ellison also evokes this kind of horror in the reader through his surrealist scenes. One cannot read Trueblood’s incestuous act without repulsion. And I think the purpose of such imagery is to show the psychological effect of racism.

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