[extropy-chat] fiction and autism

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Apr 23 16:44:16 UTC 2007

At 08:35 AM 4/23/2007 -0400, Keith wrote:

>In between session conversation, Dr. Tooby mentioned (due to his work
>trying to understand the EP origin of fiction) that autistics can't enter
>the mind state required for fiction.  Dr. Pascal noted the same thing about
>religions.  Autistics are essentially blind to both religions and

But as often noted, people on the boundaries 
(Aspies, etc) are unusually prevalent among 
science fiction readers and to a lesser extent sf 
writers. Hard to know whether the typical 
characterization of much sf is due to the 
Asperger readership or vice versa. Notably, 
characters in Greg Egan's fiction often exist at the margins of autism.

Of course, there are aesthetic reasons for this 
as well--technically, sf's foregrounding of its 
schemata, maps that serve as territories, rather 
than récit; sf emphasizes aspects of the 
objective world (as science tries to do), 
although of course usually through the engaging 
or plodding invention of stories about imagined 
subjects - that is, aware, feeling, thinking 
persons (typical of literary fictions). And sf's 
"sense of wonder" is a naturalized form of the 
religious response (or perhaps religion is a 
perverted form of natural wonderment) to the 
vast, sublime and ineffable--and an attempt to eff it.

I wonder if Tooby has investigated such paraliteratures?

Damien Broderick

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