Monday, January 14, 2019

Is Adrian Piper like me? Someone with ADHD? (footnotes after the jump)



'Think About It' (1987) Mock-up for billboard design, Rephotographed newspaper images, transparent foil, text, and watercolor.
'Vanilla Nightmares #12' above 'Vanilla Nightmares #6' (1986) 
'Portrait' (1983)


I made it to the last day of Adrian Piper: Concepts and Intuitions, 1965-2016 at the Hammer. This is an artist who I've always wanted to know more about ever since I learned about this club called Conceptual Art. In 2004 or so I was vaguely introduced to her piece 'Funk Lessons' presented in some quick, semi-contextless lecture in a studio class with other short art films which I'm pretty sure were Pipilotti Rist, and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (which I definitely remember falling asleep to while watching). They all came across as 'classics', but of all of those artists presented, Adrian Piper’s piece stuck with me because of its cutting sense of humor and I felt like there was a sense of urgency that there needed to be more work like it. The short clip I saw was immaculately edited, and it felt bootlegged. I couldn't get my head around the piece, but I loved it. Was she being sincere? Was it "ethnographic"? Were the workshop participants in on how she was using dance (and other strategies) as a disarming way to bring up racial politics?
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How can this work have so many implications(1), and yet it seems to be universally lauded as work that art students need to see?.
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For other artists reading this, where were you when you first came across the words "W H I T E    P E O P L E    C A N ' T    D A N C E" emerging and blinking slowly across the bottom of that video piece? It's quite audacious to combine racial politics, leisure and intellectualism (philosophy), but she speaks with such authority that it makes sense to follow along without questioning it. Or conversely, one starts questioning everything, or at least do a double-take; this is a principal feature to her work. 
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Now that I think about it, I was introduced to 'My Calling (Card) #1' at the same time, the ones that said, "DO NOT TOUCH, TAP, PAT, STROKE, PROD, PINCH, POKE, GROPE OR GRAB ME.” (On the back it also read in German, FASSEN SIE MICH NICHT AN.) This discrete interjection was not just the most direct strategy I’ve ever seen in an art piece, but even in life, I couldn’t think of anything that was so readily available to be clear about boundaries, showing others how this is done, and nodding to a greater politics behind all of that. For anyone who sees this card in a gallery you know that you’re not suppose to just talk about it as a passive work in a gallery, admiring the font or something, but you can easily imagine it being used and somehow know without any need for documentation, that it had already been used. Another stack also included the infamous card: "Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark... ...I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.” 

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Here was proof that art wasn’t just an interpretation or reflection of life, but it was agency of a kind. And it wasn’t just ideas that could float around without consequence, or to be debated in the wider sphere of critics, it was about strategies, and considering how to get through to an audience, not just what I thought should exist for its own sake.



 

This work was kindof near those business cards, I think it was an enclosed film-cannister like space with four light-box photos and audio headsets titled 'Four Intruders Plus Alarm Systems'.
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I was this 19-year-old sponge at a state school in Michigan and just from the documentation of Piper's work, I felt like I was in the presence of 'Real Contemporary Art' and I wanted to make work that was just as provoking and considered as those works.
For someone like myself who saw Art as an adventure for the mind and hopefully my life, this work made me think about the joy (and a brilliant dry humor) in clarity.

.I think I tried to look up more of her work online but I don’t think I understood how to look for it. What I came across was a wash of white walls, a NY/Berlin gallery aesthetic that felt clean, in conversation with other NY artists, produced for sophisticated gallery goers. (I also admittedly didn't fully investigate, who is this artist? where does the work come from?) 
I recall thinking that I’d just have to revisit her work and then I started to gravitate to artists who made pleasurable looking forms which alluded to deeper undertones such as Robert Gober, Louise Bourgiois, Ray Johnston, Bjork, Glenn Ligon, Judy Pfaff, Sarah Sze and Dana Schutz to name a slew.

The most exposure I got to an experimental practice was through watching PBS’ Art 21 and what was showing at major museums. I wasn’t hip enough to be into
Jason Rhoades, Kippenberger, Yvonne Rainer, Jim Shaw, French New Wave Cinema, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andrea Zittel or Douglas Gordon.

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For anyone that does know my work, I find it amazing that when I had a chance to debut work outside of my undergraduate environment in Detroit, sans assignments, it seemed like my first work was informed more by her work than any of the other artists I’ve mentioned.
For an installation at Detroit Industrial Projects called "Projections" (2009), Materials: Vinyl lettering, projector, plastic sheeting, white paint, transparency roll and a print out of a NYT op-ed article by Charles M. Blow.Visitors were presented with a blank projection which they rightly assumed they could write their responses to the phrase "black people are less racist than white people" to be displayed pubicly next to the work. These comments would be projected on a clear surface that had been painted white. The conversation of what was being written became archived as the acetate was on rollers. Written responses ranged from inflammatory to flummoxed.

.More amazing still is how it had all of these elements similar to Adrian Piper works:
  • a single line of provocative text
  • Inserting literal news articles as excerpts
  • Inviting people to participate and see all comments from other visitors,
  • bringing to light an inability for most Americans to deal with the complexity/baggage of race and privilege. (also, a literal light source that lights up a screen)
and yet I hadn't seen those particular pieces of hers until this exhibition in 2018!
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It was rare for me to come across any of her work in person, except on one occasion at Hamza Walker’s 'Black is Black Ain’t' that came to MOCAD, but otherwise I was only able to see her seven-part sculptural series 'What It's Like, What It Is #2' (1991) or 'The Big Four Oh' (1988) as images online. So I was a bit disappointed when I couldn’t find these pieces at the Hammer Museum and instead I felt blocked in  almost entirely by wall pieces, impressive text and grids, not unlike seeing Charles Gaines logic-based works that had been in the Hammer previously. 
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I kept thinking to myself though, why does the "early” work that gets presented feel like it has to convey PROLIFIC with a certain level of awareness, as if to suggest that art (and every piece leading to a masterpiece) is such serious work? To me, all of the systematic approaches stripped out personal politics to the point where this work could have disappeared amongst other logic-based art of the time, if one didn't read the details. Work felt presented in a default  linear way (as if the artist was dead) where wall texts created a separate portrait from the actual artworks, one of an artist who doggedly brought together ideas and praxis.
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The analytical aspects of some of this work and all of the writing is probably important but it was not something I could indulge in since I only gave myself about two and a half hours to take in the whole exhibition. I’m sure that part of the dense reading is about Philosophy, (specifically Kant,) and even a trajectory that was aware of its higher calling: to be presented in museums for the public rather than private collections. I don't like this immature position I default to when faced with so much banal density that I impatiently want to rush past the archive-ish stuff to get to the meaty bits, so to speak. I’m trained somehow to look for an institutional glimpse of the small moment in their practice when it all clicked. 
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Where did this tendency to look for the narrative of 'the genius' come from? 
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I remember when I asked one of my professors in my senior year of college: what is the greatest aspiration of being an artist? (We could tell that she had favorites and they were not the students who made other plans other than being a full-time artist) My professor's candid reply to us all was this: if it's good maybe it might get purchased by a major museum.
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The curatorial labels suggest that Piper's big breakthroughs could be detected in an early piece where she documented herself being blindfolded and she walked around a well-known artist hangout, or maybe it was when she took ads out in the Village Voice wearing drag as the 'Mythic Being'. But I feel like I've missed something. How did she make the leap from her earlier body of work that was pretty niche with its avant-garde art codes, structure-based process and racially charged pointedness to being able to still cover the SAME ground, but with this casually otherworldly video, 'Funk Lessons'?
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Two early conceptual sketches that are about the essence of the mark making material itself, not an illustration of something. From the series 'Drawings about Paper and Writings About Words #???'
Work either made while tripping on LSD, or maybe it's just titled that, probably not a big difference either way.
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I think I would've really enjoyed being a K-12 educator right at that moment, leading a challenging field-trip through this exhibition. Perhaps the students would reflect that the importance of mind altering drugs was only equal to the ability to immaculately keep a sketchbook. Or more likely, I imagine having to explain why students ended up saying that the art teacher was inciting violence or that 'drugs are great for inspiration!' to the administrators/concerned parents...

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And to that point about being a good student of contemporary art, I can only imagine her subconscious influence on scores of other successful contemporary artists, i.e. the autobiographic content and aesthetics of the typewriter in early work by Frances Stark, the aestheticized viewing of a sub-culture seen through dance in Mark Leckey’s 1999 video 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore', any meta artwork that comments on a viewer looking at work becoming uncomfortable and self-aware, any visual artists who decided to pursue a PHD... 
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'An Open Letter to Donald Kuspit (Kuspit Strangulation Fantasy)' (1987)
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After finishing this part of Adrian Piper's exhibition there were 3 things that stood out, 3 thought provoking themes that I cherished the most:
  1. "Adrian Piper's 1989 photomontage 'Un-Mutter #8' juxtaposes two provocative images. Both are reproduced from mass circulation periodicals that the artist adjusted to the same size and grayscale gradient. On the left is Jeff Koons's Artforum advertisement for his 1988-9 exhibition, Banality; on the right is New York Times photojournalist Peter Turnley's picture of a malnourished Somali mother and her child. Turnley's somber family portrait seems especially jarring beside Koons's theatrical shot of himself as a schoolteacher indoctrinating a classroom full of American kindergarteners into his art." - Kimberly Bobier
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  1. I liked the subtle nods to education in 'Un-mutter #8', and what I think was a large 'fuck-you' to Jeff Koons shown as a Ken doll teaching little kids to be jaded, it was juxtaposed unapologetically with a forlorn woman holding onto a child with the intense text superimposed: “Fight or die”.  I like thinking about that piece and its relation to the four large chalkboards 'Everything #21' with the partially erased repetitive words "Everything will be taken away”. It reminds me about the  most important aspect of racism that we need to keep in mind, that it is learned. We think that it's just a natural bias because it's about forming an "Us" as a group and "Them" as a group, but more importantly, every part of bigotry is learned, which means that it can be unlearned, and that unlearning has its own set of pedagogy... maybe located somewhere between buddhism, anarchism, and feminism. It also reminds me of Emma Kemp’s mantra in an Earl Gravy piece that reads “DIE LIKE THE REST OF US. DIE LIKE THE REST OF US. DIE LIKE THE REST OF US.” next to images of ‘secret’ safe havens made for and by the ultra-rich.
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  2. I like how Adrian Piper has always implicated the gallery viewer in a way that channels her personal and candid reflections so that her perspective is understood as authentic and reasonable. Comparably, I think about the conversation opened up by the #MeToo movement and how it starts from a place of vulnerability on social media, and then it relies on a power of numbers as well as the right people to stop looking the other way. And I wonder about how the conversation can be a sustained society pushing critique: recognizing when mainstream politics are still complicit, extending beyond predators that hide behind a system of power by wading full-on into feminist politics, confronting capitalism/patriarchy while still being a matter of care and camaraderie. It only seems like two years ago, no artists coming into or out of a MFA wanted to pigeon-hole themselves as a feminist artist, now I hear about Sarah Ahmad's book "Living a Feminist Life" almost every day, and now no one (including myself) wants to be called a social practice artist.

    Piper always puts herself one step ahead and talks about being other-ed as she describes a sticking point within the Women’s movement (see the partially typed out text in the caption for 'Political Self-Portrait #1' below) 
     and she gives an account of the kind of friction that is too sorrowful to become a meme. She has quite a few works where she describes being friends with people and it is a core subject matter of the work, and probably is a large part of her identity. In 'Political Self-Portrait #1' in particular, (it's a bit difficult to read when in front of the kids faces) the text about the tenuousness of friendship is very well explained, and I can't think of another artwork that brings this kind of nuance to the table.


    "The only women friends I have with whom this has not happened are either lesbians, or straight women who have stable relationships with the same man for at least three years. When I am around these couples I cannot relax. I have to be very careful about how I look and act. I am impersonal, assertive, almost butch with the man. I try to be polite and genial, but also to exhibit a special lack of interest in him. I barely look at him, and make sure I do not appear to be listening too intently to whatever he has to say. I never address my remarks to him alone. I feel uncomfortable and resentful at having to go through these contortions. But it seems to be necessary in order to get the woman to trust me. For I see now that most of my women friends will probably always subordinate our friendship to their relationships with men in various ways, and this forces me to do the same. I see why it is that friendship with another woman is so important to me, yet so fragile. It is because we have not yet learned genuinely to trust one another, in spite of all that the women's movement has achieved."


  3. This is going to sound counter intuitive, but I like how bad one of her latest art pieces is: 'The Color Wheel Series' (2000); with its overly digital features, and opaque context definitely couched in a specific Indian culture. It's refreshing because however dis-congruous its color palette appears against any other works she has in the exhibition, (I think the hear no evil, so no evil, speak no evil appears in some other works) it just made me feel like she's willing to keep finding forms for her interests, which means she takes risks and they don't always work out.
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    I like that success for her means always being willing to try and to put the odd works in the same playing field as all of the other pieces. I think it's more bold than say... making things consistently abstract, which let's just get the critique out there... I like looking at art such as Math Bass’ (whose wall installation is the first thing you see when walking into the Hammer in the lobby) or Laura Owens paintings, but these works seem off limits for them to be examined in the same critical way, since they don’t promise very much. The content on their canvas shy away from potential controversy, and I believe it's a symptom of the kind of non-risk art that is made when there is less public funding for the arts. It's prevalence shows how well it competes with other artwork for visibility in a marketplace that demands work to be internet/consumption/investment-ready. Unfortunately it really doesn't add anything to a conversation about feeling disillusioned or alienated by contemporary art.
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    .Adrian Piper really likes being in the flow of making her work, and she really considers the viewer, frames our discomfort, complicates defining the gray areas, and relentlessly reminds us of all of the ways that sometimes we fail (where there's no good reason for not being better, or being more self-conscious.)




I ended my time at the Hammer Museum by sitting down and watching an interview with Adrian Piper on the ground floor and I had a revelation that I cannot un... connect-the-dots. (Much of the above was also further solidified by hearing her in her own words describe her practice.) There was a point when she was explaining Immanuel Kant where I became worried I was just going to tune out, in the same way that I did after reading the first chapter of her memoir when it starts going into the baggage of all the ways that Wellesley College drained her life. It’s a tough read.
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Adrian Piper was answering a question fielded to her, "What is Time?” She went into the intricacies of Immanuel Kant's conception of how we unconsciously create a conception of continuity that we call time. This switched a little light on my head because of something that Dr. Russell Barkley calls “Time-blindness” or ADHD(2). As she continued to speak about how time seems to allude her especially in terms of making art and forgetting to do things such as brushing her teeth, she was going into something that I think goes beyond her work on self-awareness. When she was describing how her life is punctuated by unfortunate requirements of life (chores, her professional responsibilities) she described a wish that she could do away with it all, those things that keep her from being in a constant creative state of flow, where time stops.
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I am not a doctor and am not attempting to diagnose, but I keep reading into the work and what she says about it with the filter of someone who has Time-blindness and I want to posit the possibility that if Adrain Piper had Time-blindness that it’s another opportunity to explore and connect parts of her work to her life, not to pass judgements whether it meant that a certain outcome was good or bad. I’m just so curious about something that has dictated a great deal of my life more than I could have imagined and from what we know about it, it has very complex implications(3), just like some good Adrian Piper Art. Also, I will definetely be going into a whole separate discussion about Time-blindness (ADHD) more(4), but I hope that this actually very theoretical claim may bring a very interesting context to Adrian Piper‘s output. 

Maybe consider this writing more as fan fiction than conjecture?
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Also, how absurd would that look to "out" someone with a disability?
"Well would you look at that? Isn't that the politician who voted against the disabilities act of 1990... he's about to get into the car in the handicap spot! Look at that weasel, look at how he's leaning real heavy on his aides so it doesn't look like he need a wheelchair! That's pretty disgusting. This man is out in public all limp legged, can't even walk on his own, and he's sending young kinds to straight-back conversion therapy. We gotta tweet this! #LizardChiropractorPeople"
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I don’t believe Time-blindness necessarily leads to producing any specific quality of an artwork, those with ADHD are not a homogenous group, but I may be attracted to the kinds of tendencies fostered by someone with Intention-deficit disorder. I guess this is about camaraderie, what it means to recognize a quality or feel like I’m in a greater conversation with inspiring artists.
By talking about what I believe are patterns that emerge from what I can see and hear about her work, by extension it also gives me a chance to open up more about my own experiences and maybe even if she doesn’t have Time-blindness, I’d like to propose that this may be work that an artist with ADHD may find particularly moving because there’s something familiar about her decisions that is only ever referred to as an ‘otherness’, and I don't think we should be so quick to equate that sentiment with only race or gender. 
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Ok, and for the uninitiated, what is Time-blindness a.k.a. Intention-Deficit Disorder a.k.a. ADHD? I think this clip illustrates what I would like to get across about it rather than to have you watch a 2-hour video by Dr. Russell Barkley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=574&v=wGCZrq93pyg




Here's the clues that I kept connecting, where I have definetely felt exactly the same:
  • She described that yoga was one of the only ways that gloriously calmed the incessant thoughts in her mind. I believe she did a hilarious impression of a chipmunk chattering to prove her point? I wrote a whole blog post about what yoga seemed to do for my ADHD.
  • She described time philosophically, as a drag. Chores were a drag and at one point she admits to all the things she forgets to do when in the midst of being compelled to will art into existence, but also she wondered aloud why can't she just be left alone to do things at her own pace? She'd be creative all the time otherwise! 
  • In one of the works I mentioned, Political Self-Portrait #1, the first passages are evidence that in her childhood moments are marked by the struggle to keep 'best friends' and there is an intensity with thinking about and describing the relationships.
  • Work that shows a high amount of pre-determined organizational systems, and sometimes that information is also paired/contrasted with elements of fear, fear of being lost, making the strain apparent in trying to be as clear as possible about the feeling of conflict.
  • When something interests her, she doggedly analyzes it, especially with others. From her memoir "Escape to Berlin”: she “behaved uncontrollably […] raising my hand every five minutes in every class meeting to innocently request clarification […] dumbfounding my instructors.”
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    Then there are the things that are less... clinical symptoms let's say...
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  • She's really funny. 
  • She has this common theme of being acutely aware of being on the outside, but it didn't always come down to race or gender...
  • A super nuanced attention to how one presents oneself
  • Super dense texts (which may be hyper-focus? but it reminds me of notes I've written just after taking Adderall)
  • In some of her works she kind of presents to the viewer many bits of information that I believe are meant to be overwhelming, perhaps to illustrate a way she experiences the world.
  • She conformed her entire work environment (by leaving the US) so that her work schedule would be as ideal as possible to how she finds herself functioning the best.
  • She couldn't be satisfied with just one focus, she had to do art AND philosophy equally in great depth.
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This works is for no good reason missing from the MOMA catalog! It's an important relational piece: 'I Am Some Body, The Body of My Friends #1-18' (1992-95)

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I also think it's interesting then to think about how she talks about her difficulty with the administration at Wellesley, and ultimately her quitting. I wonder how much of it may have to do with Time-blindness, and at the same time, I don't think it's crazy to imagine that another professor also with Time-blindness, perhaps lighter skinned, perhaps having some male privileges of not coming off as difficult, and perhaps they may find it easier to ask for more time off for their projects, get excused for their lapses or strong will, it's somehow expected that people fill in for them... I'm just saying that for those with Time-blindness, jobs don't have to accommodate the work place for a brain that works differently (it's merely a recommendation to the manager), and it can be both systematic racism, and an inability to adhere to a disinteresting structure that makes a situation untenable.

(update: As an example of certain institutional preferences where misogyny is both subtle and kindof not... Adrian Piper's retrospective meant to come to Haus Der Kunst has been cancelled and will be filled in by an older white painter from Germany. I think Adrian Piper should let some of her works continue to be shown just outside of that space as a kind of protest. One of the things I wanted to say earlier when I was describing how rare it was for me to come across her work, was that I wish her work was shown more often with works from other artists made around this same period so that her choices in contrast to other people's choices could be felt even more. This isn't to say that work should be put in competition with each other, but I think that good work continues to do its work when its context, say of otherness, is echo'd all around it. Et Tu Germany?)






Footnotes
Look! There's feet! Footnotes. This piece outside of the gallery is Adrian Piper's 'Vote/Emote' (1990)

(1) How much was the audience in on being described as 'White'? Was she implying that 'White' bands such as Talking Heads aren't as good as the original 'Black' bands that she explains have more complexity and are less beat driven and more melody driven? Was this billed as Was this funded by the NEA because the project was intended to help everyday people deal with racism? Was this one of the first pedagogical art pieces? Is she implying that white people have colonized funk music as a culture when the advertising for 'Funk Lessons' reads: "Funk is Dead. Funk is something you can learn in school" So many questions... Also what did her application spell out to get this funded? What was her budget exactly? And unrelated to this piece, does anyone actually have typed up versions of the audio that plays within her installations?

 (2)
https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/6ena1b/whats_the_consensus_on_the_executive_function/dibxagi/
This diagram is not actually from Russell Barkley, but it's the most simplified diagram I have ever seen depicting ADHD.


And then there's this GIF:
Hal from the TV show Malcolm in the middle perfectly depicting the frustration when moving from simple tasks and getting distracted by more and more complicated ones.


(3)
The implications of ADHD are very interesting indeed, too bad it almost always co-exists with anxiety/depression/+more disorders which... sucks.
Just take Russell Barkley's other names for ADHD for example: Intention Deficit Disorder and Time-Blindness. If this Intention Deficit Disorder is also hereditary trait, then this would suggest that self-control is also hereditary. On one hand this could be dangerous in the same way that predictive models may be used by law enforcement, or equally bad, insurance companies, to more accurately predict how much more likely you and your kin will be to get into a car crash or a fight and thus they will follow you much more closely, or it'll cost you a lot more. Just like anything else in life, it comes down to being aware of one's weaknesses (or predispositions) but just as behavioral economics has blown up the 'rationality' of the free market, Time-blindness/Intention Deficit Disorder could take something considered fundamental and ruin it for everyone. Yay!

And what if we focus on how those with Time-blindness experience intense extremes, feelings of all-or-nothing and the reality of stopping altogether in the face of adversity, and start thinking of it as a wider societal symptom? Could these feelings parallel economic extremes that we are seeing in wealth inequality in America and in the world? This is not a metaphor, but rather the activities that artists with Time-blindness take on, where often lives are made up of clever strategies for survival, they are a barometer for economic systems with particular demands of flexibility or failure placed on people not on situations.



When work is re-framed to empower and accept the limitations of those with Time-blindness, this reveals vigilance on the part of those with Intention-Deficit Disorder for alternatives that rely on external supports, many of which connect to the most critical and engaging radical movements of our time. I'm in the middle of reading Crip Theory, but I'm wondering how coping strategies may crossover with the work of Johanna Hedva (Sick Woman Theory) depicting chronic illness as a form of intentional or unintentional protest, Fred Moten (the Undercommons) advocating for informal self-organization from within oppressive institutions, and Jeffrey Vallance (The 20 principles of infiltration) emphasizing sincerity and close proximity with what you want to critique, all provide very generous accounts of making space for alternative ways of being. 

As of the last two years I've been gaining an awareness that my coping strategies and the mental labor involved are often at the heart of my work with artist communities over the last 10 years. Because of my disability, I often must rely on a network of intellectuals who can take in information in ways that I cannot in order to be a part of a larger discussion about art and labor. At the same time, because of the path blazed by artists such as Adrian Piper, I never take the usual art conventions for granted and I always look forward to finding ways to challenge the usual passive consumption of art.



(4) Since you made it this far and are actaully curious about my take in Intention Deficit disorder (aka Time-Blindness), here are three ways that I find ADHD super difficult topic to get ones head around and I'm sure i'll want to edit this only a week after I put it out there:
  1. Is it “real”? The discourse on ADHD depends on the latest scientific research papers and how it gets disseminated. Science FACTS are a kind of truth that gets instrumentalized to whoever has the means. Sir Ken Robinson was giving a lecture on the broken American education system where he alluded to how ADHD may be highly over-diagnosed in kids, (but ironically under diagnosed for girls rather than boys) which has also fed a myth that Intention Deficit disorder was invented by the pharmaceutical companies... But rarely does a discussion of overprescribed medications also take care to address the stigmatization of not just medications, but how we hide our difficulties with mental health in general. I think this is why we have so much self-help and armchair web md diagnosis going on. We're scared to be caught seeking help, appearing weak or needy, not to mention you don't want to end up on some kind of list if denying pre-existing health conditions comes back around.

    So in terms of research (and there is a lot) some would point to how it shows up (or rather is underdeveloped) in brain scans of the prefrontal area of the brain which houses the executive functions of the brain: planning, emotional reactions, organizing, and paying attention. But it hasn't reached the point where it can replaced subjective tests set out by a clinician (experts). ADHD is hereditary and there's a 75% chance that parents pass it on to their kin, so that somewhat removes environmental factors from the equation. But alas this is the hierarchical, categorical, domain of science and medicine.

    What I’ve constantly been accused of, is that all my references are anecdotal, but I don’t find describing science as a fun or compelling thing to do. Which hurts when you can’t convince everyone with enough evidence that you aren’t just being lazy, when the reality is that more research is needed and popular culture will always see through the lens of the mainstream (Comfortable-white-Anglo-American-abled-cisgendered-hetero-male mainstream?)
  2. The question of “what do we do about ADHD” is primarily a personal endeavor (parents and partners are not meant to take on the baggage, but rather to reinforce responsibility). It has not yet reached a wide appeal for sympathy/accommodations in the same way that nut allergies, football head injuries and gluten intolerance has. The work and energy I spend trying to help fight for Intention deficit disorder rights and recognition might make me some kind of underpaid ADHD worker, but it intersects with needing to be aware of other people’s unpaid labor too. If those with Time-blindness have not completely re-arranged their life the next logical step is to educate/placate others. But this is best understood as a kind of self-protection; not from the harm from another person, but to protect ourselves from blaming ourselves for anything that is not actually in our control (See: Therapy). There is no reward for working harder than a neurotypical brain because it's necessary for survival, to not forget things, to temper prickly emotional reactions, to be safe, to deal with the anxiety and/or depression that usually accompanies Time-blindness. It means that I have to imbue my life with vigilance through the not romantic combination of medications, structure, exercise and talk therapy. I'm still trying to get more ADHD friends together, and you better believe it's like herding cats.
  3. Certain cultures, (Maybe France?), doesn’t consider it an illness/disability/problem, which places it into this category of culturally specific ailments. What makes ADHD or anything else “real” is how it is understood in the mainstream, which usually means medically rooted symptoms, but it is also captured in the popular imagination in the stories that are written by those that live through it and at some point stereotypes are formed, which is the extreme on the other end. that means that the lived stories are important, context is important. Disorders that may seem alien to our own medical industry as needing a separate diagnosis could include: “Exorcisms” in Haitian Voodoo culture that to non-practicing people would refer to simply as “seizures”, Japan’s “Home Boys”  or the instant deaths from overworking exhaustion that we’d only refer to as “Depression”. I think its cultural implications are really meaty, even from a medical standpoint, it fundamentally questions the notion of control, free will and even the expectations of capitalism. This also probably makes it an uphill battle for recognition, because it disrupts how we see the world and often that is too much to ask, so of course this viewpoint has not gone mainstream, it’s possibly marginalized. But that discussion is a bit of wishful thinking, first I feel compelled to make sure I’ve brushed up on my understanding of post-capitalism, medical anthropology, feminism, crip theory to call a spade a spade. Or I could just write about this great exhibition I saw at the Hammer...

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