When I first started this blog, I had been calling myself Junglemonkey for years. People came to the website assuming it was a statement about race, and I got some offensive comments.
Like humans, monkeys are primates. Maybe that’s why humans assume they can look at a monkey and know what it’s thinking and feeling.
But they can’t.
Monkeys aren’t human. They have an entirely different way of experiencing, and therefore perceiving, the world. People who study primates can tell you that similar facial expressions on monkeys and humans have very different meanings.
Even among monkeys, there’s another distinction. Monkeys in a zoo are like people living in another country. They exist in our culture, they may even understand our language, but they are still experiencing the world through the lens of their own species. They’re absolutely not human, but they’re very different than their wild brothers. Even so, in places where humans and primates live in close proximity, there are tons of stories of humans being injured and killed because they misunderstood the primate’s feelings or intentions.
Monkeys in the jungle have their own language, their own society, their own rules. If they are aware of human culture, they show no desire to join it. But even though we cannot know their thoughts and feelings, humans continue to anthropomorphize them, assuming that just because our features are similarly arranged on our faces, our thoughts must be similarly arranged in our minds.
All my life, I’ve been a jungle monkey living among humans. I neither understand, nor particularly care about the day-to-day lives of most people, and my interactions with “normal” people have left me convinced that the feeling is mutual.
Only late in life was I told that this is the autism spectrum.
People assume that if you look like them, you are like them, but no matter how much I may wish I were, I’m not like them. No matter how much time I spend with other people, I can’t figure out how they think or feel. This leads to a whole lot of episodes where, because people assume I’m like them, they take offense at things I do or say, even though my intentions are good.
Nowadays, I write short fiction, which gets published, and long fiction, which does not.
When I’m not writing, I’m Editor in Chief at Zoetic Press, doing software project management, shooting arrows at faraway things with varying levels of success, creating chain maille, or sending out postcards. I collect tarot cards, music boxes, postcards, and teapots. My house burned down August 20, 2020.