My Way 15 – Autism is a Different Culture [1]

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At the very moment when the National Theatre in Brussels welcomed Is There Life On Mars?[2] – a formidable show which tackles the subject of autism with great finesse – to its boards, a double page of advertising promoting the agenda of the ABA educative method appeared in two Belgian daily newspapers.

“No Lobbying!” was the response from Maxime Prévot, the Walloon Minister for Health and Social Affairs. What about a place for dialogue? Can we even dream of hearing, within this heated debate, about “a place for subjects!”? Indeed there is no autist to educate, but autistic subjects to encounter. It is this red thread which was followed by director of Is There Life On Mars? Héloïse Meire; it is by taking up the particularity of each one of the characters that she brings the audience into a disconcerting world.

Rather than a valid for all educative method, Michel Ángel Vásquez reminds us that “surely there is something to say to them”[3], as long as we take the time to identify the preliminary conditions for a possible encounter. From Temple Grandin, to Owen Suskind and Josef Shovanec: that which the testimony of well known autistics shows us, is taken up in this Issue by our two colleagues Mariana Alba de Luna and Chiara Mangiarotti. As Cecilia Saviotti points out, all these subjects “consented” to the treatment, from an encounter which opened up a path for invention.

[1] Josef Schovanec, in L’autisme pour les nulls, 2015.

[2] Is there Life on Mars ? Directed by Héloïse Meire–Cécile Hupin/Compagnie What’s Up ?!, Théatre National/Bruxelles, Festival de Liège, 2017.

[3] Lacan, J., Geneva Lecture on the Symptom. Trans. Grigg, R., in Analysis no. I, Melbourne, Centre for Psychoanalytic Research: 1989. p7-26.

Translated by Raphael Montague

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