Sunday, November 1, 2015

Autistics Speaking Day, the Oberammergau Passion Play, and Vera



Note: this blog post discusses about grown (see "mature" or "adult") themes, and may not be suitable for a general audience. Reader discretion is advised. 

This is my participatory blog post for Autistics Speaking Day, which is November 1, 2015.

We all know that autistics can "speak," right? Some of us use our mouths, some of us use our hands, some of us use an AAC device, etc.

But I bet you're curious as to what do autistics like to "speak" about.

Now, I can not speak for other autistics on what we like to talk about. However, I can say that we autistics, in general, do talk about what we are interested in to the point of this so-called "fixation."

Okay, Mixter Brattissime. So is this post going to be all about the Rolling Stones?

You're lucky, Dear Reader. It's not going to be all about the Rolling Stones. Unless you want this post to be all about the Rolling Stones.

OH, HELL NO! I'm good, Vera.

Damn. I mean, okay then. Heh.

My latest interest revolves around a book I scored while doing my volunteer page work at synagogue.  One of the tasks I had to do was to cancel books, that were not being utilized or checked out, out of the library system. My job was to mark each book with a "C" for canceled, remove the library rental card, and remove the bar code from the back of the book.

This book I found was "A Rabbi's Impressions of the Oberammergau Passion Play," by Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf, D.D.

Ober-a-who-in-the-what?

Say "OH-ber-ahm-mer-gow."

What the hell is that?

Heh, funny you should ask.

The Oberammergau Passion Play is a retelling of the final days of Jesus Christ.  The "passion" is more of an intense feeling over how the temple should be utilized and not how it was being used back then. The performance came to be when the residents of this Bavarian village in southern Germany prayed to G-d to spare them of the bubonic plague ("black plague" as it was called then, where it turned melanin-reduced skintones into a shade of deep frostbite, mostly very dark and black appearing in color) in 1632 CE (common era; Christians would use AD, or "Anno Domini," meaning "Year of the Lord," in reference to Christ). The village was, in fact, spared of loss of human life due to the bubonic plague that year. So in 1633, the residents wrote this play to honor Jesus "for saving the residents."

In 1634, the first run of the Oberammergau Passion Play was performed. Shortly thereafter, the performance would run every 10 years in years that ended in zero (i.e. 1640, 1650, 1790, 1960).

So this book, written in 1901 and published in 1908, describes the 1900 performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play through the eyes of a Reform Rabbi from Philadelphia.  And let's just say, his "impressions" were not pretty at all.

How "bad" where this rabbi's "impressions"?

The play itself was so antisemitic, it inspired a certain individual to check it out twice; in 1930 and in 1934, when the village celebrated the play's 300th anniversary. That certain individual was Adolf Hitler.

Umm, ewww?

Yeah, tell me about it.

But this book in particular, not just the story, but the actual construction and print of the book, is literally so fascinating. I mean, the cover is hardback, but without that plastic covering. No pictures or artwork on the cover.  Hell, even the font type is awesome; there are points in the book where words that have a "c" and a "t" next to each other in that order, there's this halo shape that connects the two letters. 

That is pretty cool. So, why all the hype about it?

Welp, this is how my autistic brain works. To see something that is a part human history (to actually see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, and feel it) gives me a sense of euphoria. Whatever it is that I concentrate my focus on, I want to not only experience the sensation of it, I want to camouflage myself in it; to be one with the focus. 

The pages of this book are very thick and uneven. Some of these pages are actually watermarked; they become visible when held up to a light source.  The scent of this book is very musty, but there is a sense of comfort and care placed; this book copy was in a residence before being donated to the congregation in 1953. The book itself doesn't prompt me to actually stick the book on my mouth, per se; it does provide a taste of cardboard as the scent of the book travels through the nostrils and down to my throat, where it meets the back of my tongue.  The texture of the book is a bit rough; perhaps it was designed that way to last for many years.  Another oddity is that you can't really flip the pages to hear the sound of them. However, when you turn each page, it's almost like the sound is from a cartoon or an anime; very pronounced foley audio art.

Seriously? All this hype over a book?

Umm, yeah! But, again, this is how an autistic mind operates. Same goes for autistic individuals who are into airplanes, the Anime "Soul Eater," water, nouns that are red in color, or anything else that provides joy.

Can an autistic find joy in other things, like sex?

If that's what that individual finds comfort and destimulation (stimming) in, then sure. Some autistic individuals (me included) find that masturbating is a great way to stim and relax. Obviously, it is not something accepted to do in the public realm of society, but to get a moment to one's self in private, and to either mentally and/or physically pleasure themselves for the purpose of decompressing and destimulation, it is actually quite relieving. 

You know, I really didn't need to know that, Vera.

Well then, thanks for playing "You Asked For It!", heh.

So wait, non-autistics have interests too. Some folks love Elvis so much, for example, that they collect everything Elvis related.  Some even embody themselves by dressing up as Elvis 24/7. Does this mean they're autistic as well?

Great question, Dear Reader. My answer is no, and I say that because each Elvis impersonator or Elvis collector or Elvis fan is different. Instead of looking at the intense focus of their interest on a surface or superficial level, look at their presentation of that interest. Listen to the way an Elvis fan describes Elvis (you may hear mentions of his birthday and birthplace, his first performance, his last performance, possible sightings since 1977, etc.). If your nose picks up a scent of cologne, ask if that was something Elvis wore. Use your body (if applicable) to feel the vibrations of happiness that individual feels when they showcase their love for Elvis. All these and more come into play when discerning whether or not the individual in question is actually autistic.  And if all else fails, you can be polite and just ask.

Interesting.

Isn't it? This is probably why all of my friends, fans, followers, and chosen family think of me when they see something about the Rolling Stones, or Hugh Laurie, or Steve Blum, or anything else I get hyped over and cheerlead like there's no tomorrow.

I'm still kinda iffy about the whole masturbation thing you mentioned earlier, though. Did you really have to mention it? I mean....

Someone had to say it. Tell me you don't fantasize or give yourself a hand sexually every now and then. Come on, I'm paying attention.

....

Uh huh. Heh.

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