One symptom that identifies kids on the Autism spectrum is the flapping of hands. Kids with Autism and Asperger’s flap their hands a lot. It’s their way of combating commotion in the world. You see, these kids have an order disorder. Their world is a sensory and conceptual salad. Flapping reproduces in their hands what’s happening in their heads. It’s a distress flare, an act of protest, and the “handiest” way to will “all that” away
Which brings us to Monk, the USA Network series that ends tonight at 10:00. Monk is the defective detective par excellence. He is imperiled by germs, dentists, sharp or pointed objects, milk, vomiting, death, snakes, crowds, heights, mushrooms, elevators and blankets. No trace of Noir tough guy mastery or heroism here. Monk is self absorbed, vulnerable, and, yes, clueless. Noir detectives take on bigger themes. The world for Monk is all about Monk. (I know the show says he has OCD. But anyone who knows anything about autism knows this character rides the spectrum like someone in a Neal Stephenson novel.)
Monk has an eye for detail and a need for order. And criminal investigation is a kind of gift for him. It’s an act of restitution from the world, an act of apology for being so refractory, so difficult. Crimes introduce a highly managed form of disorder, perfect for sorting. And crimes submit with great grace to “solving.” People can be arrested. Laws applied. Sentences passed. And, clank, a fantastically clear outcome: someone goes to jail for 917 days. (“Why can’t they round?” Monk wonders.) Monk can never make everything in the great noisy world orderly, but a murder? Dude! That is so easy.
So tonight, if you are not in a mood to add to the disorder of the world, you know, at a noisy restaurant or an energetic dance club, how about staying home and watching the last episode of Monk? I suggest blanket and a cat. Cocoa possibly. It will be a small, tidy evening, perfect for celebrating the departure of our imperiled king of order. Don’t forget to flap your hands good bye.
Cowen, Tyler. 2009. Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World. Dutton. here
McCracken, Grant. 2004. The Monk in Nous. The Blog Sits at the Intersection of … June 25, 2004. here