I have recently begun to explore the idea of the Autistic Rhizome as a futurist ideal of what the Autistic community could look like. In this concept, we explore communities that exist of networks with no single point of origin. They are interlinked but not dependent on one another for their existence.
Co-existing with this idea is my concept of The Chaotic Self, which I first discussed in my book A Treatise on Chaos: Embracing the Chaotic Self and the art of neuroqueering. This idea position’s the Self as a fluid entity, constantly changing with each new interaction, making one’s identity as changeable as your hair colour.
What I would like to consider is the interplay between these two concepts.
If we consider the Autistic Rhizome, we are connected to one another either directly or indirectly. We are not independent of each other, but also do not rely on one another for our space in this rhizomatic network. What happens when we queer our neurology and alter our sense of Self?
As the Chaotic Self alters and grows, its relationship with the rest of the rhizome is altered. This affords it a different set of interactions and experiences, which in turn queers the Self further. Due to the interconnected nature of such a rhizomatic network, neuroqueer theory becomes farther reaching than ones own neurology. By queering ourselves, we are queering entire sections of humanity.
One could assume that at a certain degree of separation within the network, our reach is stifled, but as we queer ourselves, the relational change with our immediate environment transfers the process onwards to the rest of our community in somewhat of an u predictable manner.
Perhaps then, the argument could be made that if we want to alter society, we must first alter ourselves. When Walker (2021) tells us to “throw away the masters tools”, we must realise that we are the masters tools. Society has made us complicit in our own imprisonment. To throw away the tools means queering ourselves on a fundamental level. We must become different on an individual level and, in turn, alter the world around us.
As such, to embrace the Chaotic Self requires us to embrace the rhizome. We must recognise that any change to our own embodiment and subsequent relationship with the environment alters more than our inner world, it has knock on effects for the human collective, that itself is an ever-changing, amorphous entity.
Neuroqueer Heresies by Nick Walker
A Treatise on Chaos by David Gray-Hammond
I also recommend becoming familiar with the work of Delueze and Guattari for a broader understanding of some of the motivations behind this post.