Hannah wrote:I get where you are coming from, MmeJavert, but as I understand it, this is not a thread for people to ~impose~ their ~modern ways of thinking~ on historical characters, it is a thread for people who usually cannot attempt to identify with characters in this way without getting shut down; if you don't think anything's *wrong* with it but you just don't see it *personally*, why do you think it's necessary to explain for paragraphs about why he is not "that way"? I think it's interesting that you say it bugs you for some reason you cannot put your finger on, because I think the reason it is bugging people that they cannot put their fingers on has a lot to do with the stigma associated with non-neurotypical people in general. Of course, there's no way *I* can see why it's bugging you on some subconscious level, but that's my hypothesis.
Because I am sure you guys are all thinking of this as a balanced discussion or whatever but what is actually happening here is... members of a marginalized group are daring to venture so far as to share interpretations of fictional characters that they can personally identify with in a way that USUALLY THEY BASICALLY NEVER CAN, and you are coming into what they were hoping would have been a safe space for that activity and telling them that they are wrong; you shouldn't be taking the idea of Enjolras as autistic personally, you're right, but you can bet your ass that the non-NT people on this board are taking the RESPONSES to this thread personally! Because what you are sounding like, whether or not you mean it, is that these fictional characters we are all so fond of are too good to be the same as them.
I really don't mean to shut down any of this conversation any more than you all did by saying this, but ... Yeah.
If that's what you thought it was sounding like, then I apologise.
I could clarify again, especially since you seem to have this theory that I am apparently neurotypical and am jumping on people who are not like me. And maybe that comes across, which is not what I wanted. (By the way ... I had NO FUCKING CLUE what NT stood for, until someone used the long word. I do not know all the PC terms for everything. I don't know everything, and I hate when people assume that I do and look down on me when I don't.)
My problem is *not* that people are reading traits of autism or Asperger's into their favourite characters. My problem is *not* that people are finding ways to identify with their characters. My problem is that people are taking that reading, that interpolation, and expanding it to say: "here is why I think Enjolras has autistic traits." That's what it looked like, and my mind has been rebelling. I have never been capable of expressing myself very well, and I have felt squirmy about this topic for ages a) because it bugged me and I couldn't quite explain it and b) I felt that as soon as I did someone would jump right on me.
The word "autism" did not exist when Enjolras lived. Asperger's syndrome did not exist as a classification when Enjolras lived. Same with homosexual and transsexual. These are not words you're going to apply to someone of that time period, because they did not exist. This is honestly my primary reason for getting buggy about the words. Yes, I write slash, but reading slash stories wherein characters primarily identify as gay makes me squirmy THE SAME WAY. It's the words.
I guess that makes me a prescriptivist because like I said in my post, describing 19th century mental conditions with 21st century words just doesn't work. I would feel the same way about a post asking, if Enjolras lived today, whether he would vote Democrat or GOP. It's the wrong time period; it's jarring. You're using autism and Asperger's to describe a character whose world did not know or recognise these things. I hate when people try to shoehorn historical people and characters into modern boxes.
I do NOT have a problemw with people saying, "Hey, Enjolras and his reserved demeanour reminds me of myself and my traits of autism/my Asperger's/my condition," I do not have problems with people saying that they identify with their personal favourite characters. It's when they try to stuff those characters into their favourite boxes FOR that reason that I get wiggly. And yes, it's very much trying to keep lazy characterisations out of fanon Enjolras.
It's the historical characters in the historical novels. If you took your favourite modern day novel and said they were autistic based upon the traits the author bestowed on the character, it wouldn't have any effect on me because it would be a valid interpretation: the characters live in a world where autism exists. If you started a discussion thread about Luna Lovegood's Asperger's, I wouldn't bat an eye because it would exist in that time frame of those books.
I didn't want to post on this, but it bugged me for so long and it really did look like people wanted to make this a valid reading of Enjolras. You are reading into the canon something that was not put there. It is not an invalid way to read a book or a character. But deriving something from canon does not mean it is canon. We all may have our fun with Enjolras having the hots for Grantaire based on those classical allusions, but canon is not explicitly supportive of Enjolras having sex with Grantaire. And I think as long as a) we're not trying to use late 20th century boxes to describe early 19th century characters and b) calling it CANON, I'd be less bothered. And maybe no one has gone there or said that, but it looked like it was going that way.
Enjolras is a metaphor. The ideal personified. Republic, revolution, idealism in a human. He will therefore exhibit behavioral extremes. He was the priest of the revolution. Before all else he chastely dropped his eyes. Yet he had friends, he studied. If Enjolras was a living, breathing human being, those harsh edges and sharp distinctions would be softened, his black and white would have tones of grey. You cannot explain his idealism with a mental illness; to say that his idealistic nature comes from mental illness removes the entire core of his character.
However, to say that in his pursuit of the ideal he exhibits certain tendencies, that's a different story altogether. The way he single-mindedly works towards the Ideal Republic might be a symptom of autism, but it might NOT.
I will tentatively suggest this, too: we tend to read in our favourite characters something of ourselves. Whether or not the characterisation or the traits are there, we will sometimes see those things if they are a part of ourselves. I am not saying this is wrong or bad, but I AM saying that you have to take that with a grain of salt. I identify a lot with Grantaire, some days, and tend to project my own depressive/ADD mind onto him, but I'm not ever going to put that on him as a canonically-accurate label. And I'm not implying there's something wrong with me for doing so, and I certainly don't want to imply that Knitterlywitch is wrong for seeing autism or Asperger's in Enjolras -- it's just that there are lines that look like they've been crossed. There is no visible canon support for autistic/Asperger's Enjolras. He is the ideal revolutionary republican in person. Hugo made him to be "perfect" in that respect. No, having autistic traits or Asperger's does not make you less perfect. But his ideals and the pursuit of such are not symptomatic of anything other than his own convictions. That is the reading I see, and I'd like to see counterpoint on why you DO see it as such.
Now, to be slightly modly:
Knitterlywitch, don't ever apologise for posting a topic for discussion! One of the reasons I love Abaissé is that we are all wonderfully intelligent people with informed and wonderful opinions, and if we all agreed all the time about everything it would be boring. I like alternate points of view. Sometimes I am wrong. I may be the Voice of Mod and All-Powerful where the board is concerned but I don't know or understand everything and I don't always get it all right. The times I've posted on the topic took me ages to post and then when I did I just didn't like the way anything came out.
And in general, as Marianne said: We do not call this a safe space. As administrator, I will not EVER tolerate someone making tasteless jokes or speaking carelessly about triggering concepts, but triggering concepts are not off-limits entirely. Things may be said that may upset people here. Please try to approach everything with an open mind, rather than ready to be offended. No one is required to be perfectly politically correct here at all times; the requirement is not to be an asshole, to say mean/rude things deliberately. If you are easily offended or easily hurt, or you have certain topics on which you are likely to be easily upset or triggered, you may want to steer clear of them. And yes, this applies to me as well as everyone else on this board. Please keep an open mind and of course be mindful of Abaissé Rule #1.
Me, personally, and me, as a mod, I apologise if I have ever said anything that upset you and it seemed to you it was out of line. Again, I am not perfect. I'd rather you called me out on it than sat there silently because "it's the MOD." Dude, I'm a person, just as fallible, even more so because I read everything and try to get involved in everything. You are all welcome to PM me or e-mail me if I said something to you that bugs you. I have tried very hard to stay open-minded and inclusive of all thoughts, but I often fall short.