Asperger's, Tourette's and Art:

Tightrope walking beneath heaven


Diagnoses are man-made classifications of ailments, conditions and disorders. A diagnosis can make it easier for a person to understand or explain why he or she is struggling, whether it be physically or mentally. It can also make it easier to understand a person's behaviour and unusual lifestyle.

In my case, having always been an outsider, the Asperger diagnosis came as no surprise. In fact, it was a relief. It offered plausible answers to so many of the unanswered questions that have accumulated regarding my many "collisions" with life. I do recognise many of the traits that fall into the concept of "Asperger's Syndrome". Moreover, it was also a relief to fit into a ready-made category since this rules out other, more serious diagnoses as to what the symptoms might be an indication of.

Having said that, I have come to realise that these "labels" are of somewhat limited use. I do share many of the common, cardinal traits of the Asperger classification. Yet some of the characteristics I cannot fully recognise in myself, and I seem to have other characteristics which are definitely not typical of the Asperger classification; for example, I thrive on wordplay and humour. Making people laugh gives me immense pleasure. I do understand irony, and I do believe I can read a person's facial expressions. However, I struggle very much in social settings: I react negatively to being exposed to too many impressions. Essentially I am a recluse.

In any case, my point is that a diagnosis must never be taken as an absolute. It is useful is some cases, but it should not limit a person. And it should never be used against a person as an excuse to ostracise him or her from society.

In short: A diagnosis at its best fosters understanding, but at its worst it brings forth preconceptions, and hinders self-realisation.

Tightrope Walking

It might sound strange, but every title of the works I have created through the years seems to fit my life to a tee; so does «Tightrope walking beneath heaven» – a symphonic poem from 1993.

The titles have become self-fulfilling premonitions. I can see this very clearly and I realize I am the titles of what I create: I walk the tightrope through life beneath the heavens. I can't help this situation, but I have to fix my eyes on an external, faraway point to prevent myself from falling off the rope, in a world that is conventional. There are only a few exceptions from this rope and having to look far ahead not to fall: when I am alone in nature I can lower my eyes; and alone with art or my muse I can lower my eyes.

To me, one day equals a lifetime. Not a single hour passes without my brain working full speed; automatically, inexhaustibly and incessantly creative. There is never a recess. My brain is like a sensor receiving impressions all the time. I have always been this way. I haven't developed in any direction since I was a child. I have always had the same thoughts, always seen the same things, always heard the same sounds and felt the same emotions. I can see and hear "everything", but it is a daily struggle. This enriches my life immensely but it also makes my existence very dynamic because neurotypical people have a tendency to flock around what I see as conformist life-lies or illusions. To me that equals breathing in a vacuum; I cannot harbor life-lies. I cannot accept a world run by religion and moralising politics, which gives the state unsubstantiated power over the individual.

Finding a way to turn my creativity into a living is an imperative. This is indeed very challenging and almost unnatural, because it often demands my being social and present in conventional settings. I cannot go through with this without risking psychological "meltdowns" trailing behind. I am an autodidact; I am completely without a formal music education. Not because I don't acknowledge or respect schooling. Asperger's syndrome has made it very difficult for me to meet up and cope with what others perceive as mundane and trivial. That is why I cannot manage having a conventional job.

I am born without a «filter» and that forces me to act with caution, being very selective in my choices and how I interact. Everything I do is carried out in an alternative way: without a safety net. I have ended up outside the conventional world on a parallel pathway, and I exist in my own orbit circling around the Earth.

I experience euphoria and despair; unlimited elation and bottomless pits. There are many things I cannot do in this life, but I do make art continuously. I see that there are a striking number of people carrying autistic traits that have made incredible art; the painting you admire, fantastic inventions or the music you cannot stop listening to. I believe that there is a "third eye" in play here, an extra dimension making the rich experience even richer for the audience; someone seeing on behalf of others; someone carrying the intellectual and philosophical strain. There are, and always have been, other artists with Asperger's syndrome; I am not exclusive in this respect. I want to contribute to the task of giving Asperger's syndrome and Tourette's syndrome a human face, even if I walk the tightrope alone.

Beppe is diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome and Asperger's
syndrome. The social limitations often connected to these
syndromes might explain why Beppe could not take conventional
musical education.

As far back as I can remember I have perceived my work as a breathing situation: inhaling impressions and exhaling music. Without breathing you cannot live. Knowing that I can leave a lasting fingerprint on the world renders my life manageable and un-pathetic.

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