this video appauls me. you can call me calous for taking that stance, but as a person who saw 13 years at a special school, who can see in this video the almost subhuman way they treat the pupils and the dogmatism of the parens, I find this vidio pretty revolting.
I think my recent blogs have done me good. In forcing me to question the precise nature of disability and the paradoxes inherent to it, I’m thinking more critically towards film, and have been producing some good stuff. Mind you, Alan hasn’t passed comment on my most recent submission, so, like my blog, I could just be going round in circles. Oh well, articulation is articulation. How Lacanian.
I was down in London this weekend, doing a lot of thinking. I’m not satisfied, fully, with my theories of disability. Everyone is equally different, and therefore everyone has equal claim tot be termed normal, yes, but this has ramifications for multiculturalism. Sometimes, we need ‘difference’. Its cool – yesterday in the park people with families from all over the world were walking; I love the mix of cultures, but this could be seen to contradict some of my attitudes to disability. Should I ask everyone to assimilate; do my fears concerning the disability sphere ghettoising it’s us and them mentality and therefore ghettoising themselves not also apply to any other subculture? If so, should I not attack multiculturalism rather than praising it?
Of course not. Let me put it this way: I love mixture. I love the mix of cultures we have in Britain. I love having Greek Turkish or Indian shops around the corner. To me, the danger lies in a failure to mix. If we look inwardly too much, fettishiising our disability, focussing only on disability politics and how ‘we are hated’ that the danger lies. If members of any other subculture – say, the Greeks – chose only to interact with their selves, rarely spoke to non-Greeks and found it vitally important to ram the fact that they were Greek down everyone’s throat, then they would effectively ghettoise themselves. By no means should he stop worshipping in Greek churches or drinking ouzo, just as we need to continue to use the gadgets of disability. On the other hand, a lightwriter is a communication aid, not a mark of culture; it is my voice, and I cannot leave it behind. If I, say, went from England to US, I’d theoretically swap cricket for baseball, as culture is somewhat fluid; disability is more fixed. The alllusion to culture onlyy holds so far, but it nevertheless holds. I guess a balance needs too be struck. It is only when it goes too far, and you refuse to change or mix that it becomes dangerous. Until then, vive l’difference.
Lee dropped by today. Like my father he has a habit of appearing, without warning, at my window; yet , like my father, its always good to see him. We went out to the cinema – I was very eager to do so, as I wanted to test a few theories I have, and its always good to get off campus. So down to festival park we drove, in lee’s nice new fiat. The film we chose was ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’.
Interestingly, I doubt we could have chosen a better example of how memetics can be applied to film. It is as if the producers took 5 or 6 other scripts, cut them into chunks and mixed them together, and then piled a shitload of christen imagery on. It is about a book, which describes these magical creatures in our world. Some are good, some are evil. The evil ones need this book because it would allow them to rule (can we say ‘ring’). To win the day, these three kids must get the author of this book to return from this magical glade where he was prisoner. There was a griffin stolen directly from both potter and narnia. Almost every shot was borrowed from somewhere else. Even the name of the central baddie, Mulgarath, is strikingly similar to morgoth. So only by protecting the book can the kids defend themselves in an obvious reference to the bible. When he returns from the glade, spiderwick hasn’t aged, saves the day and is last seen ascending to the sky. I mean, this is a blatant piece of Christian imagery: comes again as if from the death, uses his all-powerful book to defeat the baddie, and then goes up to the sky. It would be fascinating to deconstruct if it wasn’t so awful.
I was thinking today about why I call myself a cripple while maintaining that I am just as normal as anyone, and came up with a theory which might resolve the contradiction. Historically, cripple was both a medical term and term of abuse. It denoted other-ness. But in using such words o refer to their selves, the connotations of otherness are removed from the word. It becomes just a word by which I describe myself, like ale-drinker, transvestite or trekkie. This makes being ‘a cripple’ as normal as being an ale-drinker – cp is just an attribute of myself, like brown hair. Inasmuch as if I have the correct equipment I can do anything I want, I am just the same as anyone. This is why I object so strongly to people calling non-disabled people ‘normals’; its as silly as people with red hair calling brown-haired people ‘normals’. Yes, we cripples sometimes have to club together to get stuff done, but I refuse to see myself as different to the rest of society. I am normal – ale-drinker, transvestite, cripple, and the rest.
Nothing much is happening this end. Something mind-numbingly stupid is happening online, but I better not talk about that, even though I’m very angry about it. I was over at my supervisor’s apartment in Crewe yesterday; Alan’s place is so cool, chock full of books, decorated in strong, vibrant, north African colours. He had invited me over after our weekly meeting, and we were talking films and sipping espresso. Alan says my thesis is going well, but I just need to be more academic and back up my ideas. He seems excited, as I am.
He told me a story I think is worthy of recording. Some years ago, Alan was burgled, and books were taken while he was living in Birmingham. Many years later 30, I think he said – Alan was in a book store on the walls in Chester. He found a copy of one of his stolen books, and looking inside found his name. what are the chances?
This subject really has got to me, and I’m furious. Some of my disabled colleagues have misread what I wrote on Saturday, and taken it wholly out of context: I want 1voice to stay true to it’s original intention, but they do not. There is nothing in it’s manifesto concerning campaigning outside of fund raising etc, or indoctrination, just empowerment. It’s about showing kids what they can achieve, that they can hold their heads up, and be proud – nothing more. For thee record, I do not hate my fellow role models. My words have, I fear, been misunderstood, deliberately taken out of the context in which they were intended, and now because of the blatant stupidity of certain people (who have little to do with Onevoice anyway*) something I care deeply for is being taken away from me.
I’m pissed off.
*not a fellow rolemodel
The more astute of you have probably spotted a small hypocrisy on my part. While I have attacked what I see as the increasingly insular behaviour of the disabled community on account that it might be shooting itself in the foot, I still partake in my own freakism by referring myself as a cripple. By using this word, I automatically allude to an idea of normal which I exist outside of. Yet in recent blogs I have shown how I believe that there is no ‘normal’, and therefore I am ‘normal’. Why, then, do I still to myself as a cripple? This occurred to me as I signed myself ‘the cripple’ in a message to a friend last night.
I like doing so. I guess I like the feeling that I am slightly different to the rest of society – a freak, as it were. I want to celebrate the power of using a word reclaimed from a term of abuse. Yet society has no normal, thus I am not a freak. How do I square the two. It goes back to what I wrote here: ” I am supposed to expect people to accept my needs and differences, but shouldn’t have to explain what those differences are to people; I shouldn’t be expected to have to conform to an essentially arbitrary status quo, yet I hate people staring at me for being ‘different’. Nor should I have to explain my views on the politics of the status quo to people. I belong to a community, a subculture, yet I am no different than anyone else.” I am simultaneously a freak and normal, and I like being both equally. Inasmuch as I am as free as anyone else, liberated under the social model, I am ‘not disabled’, yet without cerebral palsy I would not be me. The truth is, I cant get my head round it.
I have just been thinking. There is a difference between politicisation and empowerment. I am against the former, but for the latter. The disabled community has become too politicised, I think; that is to say that it has become too dogmatic – increasingly we are adopting a politics of ‘us and them’ and talking about the need to fight. There are those who use the term ‘normals’ to refer to people who aren’t classed as having a disability. To me,, this is childish. For heaven’s sake, there’s no such thing as a standard human, so I have just as much right to call myself normal as anyone. This ‘radicalism’ which seems to have infested itself in certain people will do us no good in the long term. We need to include people, to show them how our bodies move, but other than that we are just as normal as they are. We need to celebrate our normality, not push people away by shouting political slogans. It’s a case of tortoise and the hare.
Of course, we must first be able to compete. Disabled kids should not be told how different they are by being pushed into special schools. They need to feel just as able as anyone else. That’s what Onevoice does; it enables kids to become empowered by interacting with adults with the same disability, thereby showing that they too are ‘normal’. I fear that some people in the disabled ‘sphere’ would have Onevoice act as an overt tool for the politicisation of the young people involved; it isn’t.
those young people don’t need telling what to think, that they are hated by certain members of society; or that they need to fight. I doubt that this was Tamsin or Katie’s intention. They need to be inspired and empowered, not politicised. I would strongly oppose anyone who tried to turn Onevoice into such an organ.
Doubtless disabled people face certain challenges. To overcome them, we need to hold our heads up high, be proud of ourselves, sure of our abilities. We do not need to ostracise people with combative politics which underlines our differences, not our similarities.
The quickie groove I was test driving went back today. It was ok, I suppose. Apparently, the battery problem was just that particular model, but that didn’t solve the problem of the charging port being hard to get at. I need a think. On the other hand, I might just make myself one of these.