Amanda Baggs, Movies and ‘the Splinter in Your Mind’

Films – the best ones – are something very different from escape entertainment. They offer a way of looking at things that’s fresh, or draw us beneath our surface impressions to perceive something deeper. Films like that are catalysts for new insights, what we need now more than ever. To get rid of the splinter, we must learn to see better, past the programming we’ve been saddled with. Great movies help us do that.

Last night I watched “The Luzhin Defence,” a stirring story about an eccentric savant chess master who finds love with a woman after a lifetime of being alone and exploited. It seems evident that the man has Asperger’s, although the movie was made before people were talking about that mild form of autism. Until Asperger’s came on the scene, people like Luzhin were typically regarded as “just weird.”

The gives a profound look at the life and mind of a person who operates outside the parameters of what most of us define as reality. And it heralds the power of love to bridge the gap between those of us who are stuck and those of us who are different.

Have you seen the incredible YouTube video made by Amanda Baggs, a severely autistic woman who is on a campaign to defend her version of reality? What a mind-opener. Baggs argues that she does not live “in her own little world” as society assumes by her strange behavior. Rather, she communicates with the environment in a different way than we do, and is intimately and sensually connected with it.

The first half of this YouTube flick shows Baggs humming and tapping things, looking weird and lost (in our conditioned way of perceiving autistic people). Then a computer voice starts talking. It is Baggs’ mechanical voice, activated by what she types on her computer. As she types, she explains her unique version of the world.

Check it out at YouTube.

And check out the Luzhin movie for another perspective on the mind of an outsider. It shows how we marginalize “different” people, withholding the love they, like all the rest of us, need to make living worthwhile. The movie also raises the tantalizing question: do we actually marginalize ourselves when we shut out people who are different? What fascinating worlds or dimensions exist that “normal” people can’t perceive and explore, imprisoned as we are by our judgments of others? Worlds that are the familiar, everyday terrain of people like Baggs and Luzhin.

Bronte Baxter

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© Bronte Baxter 2008

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1 Comment

  1. Barbara said,

    April 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I work with a woman who is like Amanda. She does the same things and doesn’t speak. I would love to be able to communicate with her better. This has given me some insight into the world of autism and I’m going to she my colleagues at work.
    best wishes

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