adventure time: fabulous explorations in neurodiversity
There is no adventure that is not cosmic, that doesn’t involve the emergence of novel universes. Adventure always moves at the speed of light, instant creation where, as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari say, “Thought and Being fall together into infinity.” (xx) That is to say that each event does not distinguish between what is Thought and what is Being, but rather that it gives shape to each. In this sense we can say that adventure concerns an absolute event in that it is the self-enjoyment of the event. This is far from a relative undertaking, where what is new is only so in respect to what is and was – such a relative undertaking maintains rather a correlation. The exploration in adventure does not involve a standpoint and a horizon that can be expanded by the discovery of other spaces (external or internal). Adventure is always an event informing a position, that is to say, in adventure things shape each other. Thus the exploration of adventure is the exploration of the event itself, in composing with its multiplicitous unfolding.
If adventure concerns an absolute event, it necessarily feels at the limits. Human experience per se is relative in that it holds a center, the subject, of that experience; only at the limits of that experience the held center dissipates. Adventure in this manner becomes a dive into pure experience. James calls experience pure in that it is not “pre-subjective” but rather “neither subjective nor objective yet – yet ready to be both or either, more and less, multiplicitously.” (Manning and Massumi 2014: 19) The purview here is, again, that of foregrounding the event, as that which informs both subject and object and thus its positioning.
It sounds like a lot but it ends up being the simplest thing. Listen to Tito:
When I was beginning to categorize my memory, smelling on the starched white table cloth corners at a doctor’s traditionally decorated office in India, where white ironed creases of the table cloth had captivated my vision, I realized I needed to rise up to the moment. I rose up to explore.
Normally space-time is apprehended (and thus distributed) in clear-cut ‘chunks’ (Manning, following Anne Corwin, calls the experiencing of neurotypicals a process of chunking): ready-made packages that hold qualities and intensities in check, ready to be used as functional. Neurodiverse experiencing tends more toward not holding the space-time distribution at bay, foregrounding qualities and intensities. As Tito is captivated in the more-than of experience, by qualities and intensities of this strange pattern and its potential universe, the rising up to explore itself signals the advent of adventure. It has its own time, an adventure time, wherein the explorations occur “in a continuance of drift that opens the spacetime of experience to the richness of its vitality forms, allowing the felt intensity of its shaping to stretch in duration, as it seems to do for autistics.” (Manning 2014: 193).
We can then hardly speak of adventure as an undertaking (for it does not concern doing something, more so something doing), nor of a passage (for adventure is hardly as simple as going from one place to another), and certainly not of a journey or venture (for who undertakes it when the event is impersonal?). No wanderings, no dwellings. Ad + venture, in-motion, in drift shaping things, composing-with. (Whatever the self is, here it has long since decomposed in this process, “stench included.”)
In what Guattari and Deleuze call schizoanalysis, adventure takes on a much needed conception in and of therapy. They will, in contrast to the dominating ideas of psychoanalysis at the time, argue strongly for an approach that not represses but composes with whatever emerges (‘what happens, happens’, Whitehead would say.) Guattari in this sense speaks of ‘a magical bird tapping on the window.’ (xx) A magical bird, Guattari contends, signals a novel universe in its potential emergence. But typical psychotherapy will consider such a thing as problematic, as intruding upon the subject and disturbing it. In other words, it is unwanted. It then means to repress it, to hold it at bay and deal with it as a symptom – though it is more precise to say that it is precisely in its repression that it becomes a symptom.
The direct consequences of such a therapeutical approach is an immediate construction of normality, and of course, what is not normal. A large space is cut out, discarded so to say. In terms of experience, neurotypicality is typical precisely in its selecting out of that which belongs to its world. It takes and holds the world as such and such, effectively, in a double move, making space as well as making it its own. There is no room for magical birds in this world, in that universe. And eventually little to no elbow room in its universe, to paraphrase Whitehead.
The proposition of schizoanalysis, fully adventurous, is then all too simple but vital. What if we were to move-with, compose-with what emerges? What if we were to listen to the magical bird’s knockings, to see what it could bring about? Have we not seen long enough the effects of being at the center of the universe, arrogant as only the human can be? An odd conception of the world wherein all the human centeredness, in its conception and inception, just amounts to life getting “imprisoned by man and in man.” (Deleuze 13)
Whatever emerges across different cosmic strata becomes a novel world that harbors not only magical birds but all sorts of creatures, virtually an infinite number. There are no limits to what can populate it, but it is certain that all things, ranging from fully concrete to fully abstract, are one hundred percent felt. They live within the creases of such a universe, continuously playing out completely new possibilities. Remark how … describes this feeling of aliveness:
Even at 57 years of age, the sadness I feel from objects stops me from becoming a fully-functional adult. At times it disables me and keeps me as a child that wants to cry all the time.
This has caused me a huge amount of sadness and anxiety over the years. I feel sad for the photograph that gets pushed to the back of the display cabinet, the guitar that doesn’t get played anymore, or the once loved camera that has now been displaced by a newer one. As a young autistic child, I played alone with my little toy cars and soldiers. I would be overwhelmed with sadness for the toy that got left out, or didn’t work properly. This was a constant source of anxiety and something I did not know how to explain to anyone, till now. (xx)
Sadness here is really only just what constantly covers and withholds the emergence of novel universes, which is simply that human veil of perception that constantly covers the world as it tries to parse it out. This means that there is no discovery in encountering these alive worlds, it just simply, for once, does not chunk and thereby take away the aliveness of these worlds. As Krumins says, “Everything [is] somewhat alive to me” (Krumins in Miller 2003, 86). We then don’t find the paradox in neurodiverse perception (as if life is instilled into things that are not alive as a sort of pure anthropocentric projection), it is found rather in neurotypical perception (what if the idea of projection just entrains and holds back …).
In What Animals Teach Us about Politics (2014) Brian Massumi thinks with a child becoming tiger in its play. In play, Massumi unfolds, the child does not imitate the tiger; involved in a process of double becoming, the child becomes tiger as the tiger becomes human, what he calls a certain tigeresqueness (xx). This play involves an event in which a movement that is other than typical human movement is felt in its full intensity. The child goes on adventure, tigeresque, and is no longer limited to the earthly restriction as its movement carries on wholly novel universes. It is then that play in its intensity becomes one hundred percent fabulous: “When does a tiger travel to other planets?”
When a tiger does travel to other planets, the explorations have long since become full fabulatory: they are of a becoming that allows the emergence of new universes. We enter here into a genuine multiverse, where each such instance offers a potential new universe in its becoming. It concerns tigeresque travels to other planets but also the exploration of a completely novel universe with the creases of the table cloth, as Tito knows. Both the space traveling tiger and the creases unfolding new planes bring into the world, at an instant, one that moves at the speed of light, a novel world by virtue of its contrast. As Deleuze and Guattari say, our fantasy here crosses “the universe in an instant, producing winged horses and dragons breathing fire." (DG WIP ) No longer imagination as a relative act of our thinking, but as one hundred percent thought in the act, full intentionality as it composes with pure experience to produce more than what is possible. The universe gets fuller and fuller, not by way of addition but in manners of contrast: things shape and in-shape one another continuously in a creative advance where novel universes keep emerging, where new creatures populate the boundless territories in strange worlds.
In a longer stretch of a more sustained manner, adventure time concerns the way one keeps two (or more) thoughts at the same time. This means that what is emerging does not necessarily need to be fulfilled or realized immediately. Rather, to be able to make sustainable adventure time, there needs to be a certain suspension of impulses as well. This is obviously an incredibly difficult task, where the composing with becomes a continuous play with the impulse itself to make it do other things. The fabulous dimension in adventure time then starts to fill not just the instance itself; rather, the drift is stretched coextensively with what was already there. The emergent universe here can be seen to take on a certain consistency (in the manner that Guattari speaks of it) by virtue of it being different then what was or is.
This means that the vitality that such an instance creates, like the entire universe of the white ironed tablecloth’s creases, is not just tied and held in the force of that moment but travels far beyond the boundaries of its incipience. Its texture, its qualities and intensities begin to unfold alongside whatever world there already was, and it is in the continuous keeping in play of these differing worlds that contrasts can potentially keep emerging. Adventure time, in all its cosmic force, falls together with what Whitehead calls the creative advance of the world, which foregrounds a becoming of continuity.
Most importantly, and here we see adventure time putting itself in complete contrast to any thinking that in some way demands moral, spatial obligations of thought. In adventure time the drift involves a continuous unfolding of that universe: it will bring along its concepts, its functions, its monuments. But if the instance of adventure is withheld, as all too often tends to happen, that universe can only turn into itself, and in a way turn on life. Fabulatory exploration does not stop with the initial emergence of the universe, but it becomes also a matter of continuing to tend to it – obviously this brings completely new risks with it, those of a closing in upon itself in cherishing, protecting, making that new universe all too precious.
But the entry to the event remains: thought in the act is always a fabulous activity, a creative act in its cosmic adventure. In its emergence, a new universe moves to the refrain of Deleuze’s adage: “Bring something incomprehensible into the world!” (xx) This universe makes no sense in regards to what is, being different in itself. No space travelling tiger ever made sense, nor do landscapes of white ironed creases, and whatever else comes to populate these worlds.
In how there is composing with what emerges, if the creative act tends to concepts, that is what we would indeed call philosophy; if on the other hand it tends to matter, this manner of expression is what we could call art; and if it tends to the state of affairs, it could be an invention that we could call science. These are the three disciplines that Deleuze and Guattari tell us the creative act tends to (xx). But what is perhaps more important than these disciplines, is that the creative act always makes them possible: each and every one of them exists only by virtue of this creative act, in its full fabulatory capacity. And that act has little to do with what we call reason, more so intuition as it always tends towards pure experience. At the same time, it affirms thought completely precisely in the act. The fabulatory exploration in adventure is then not devoid of thought at all, it is it in its fullness, composing with the emerging worlds, what Whitehead will call fresh realizations.
"There must be adventure of thought concerning things as yet unrealized, so that in due season man be aroused to fresh realization." (Whitehead xx)