This past summer I found one of my publications had been photoed, Instagrammed and hashtagged #Aspergistan by someone living on the other side of the world. The “Shy Radicals” movement had found me. I followed the Shy Radicals Instagram. I learned that there was an entire book on the movement compiled by Hamja Ahsan. I found that it was at that point only available in the US on Amazon, which made me a little sad, as my standing arrangement with Amazon is that I do not spend any more on their website than what I accrue in royalties from them in a year. But that’s another story.
Luckily, it is possible to order Shy Radicals, The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Extrovert directly from Book Works, its UK publisher. (It is also very likely available in a few quiet, unassuming book shops in the Eastern region of the North American Continent.)
Ahsan’s book is a sublime work of cultural criticism. Even before I began reading the body of the text, when I had merely perused the table of contents and found the first chapter was entitled ‘Draft Constitution of the Shy People’s Republic of Aspergistan, I wanted to know where to apply for a passport. At the same time, I didn’t necessarily feel like leaving the house, or talking to anyone in order to make that happen. So I found the quiet corner near my bookshelf, with the comfortable, if second-hand, chair I like to sit in, and began to read.
I also read on early morning light-rail commutes when the train wasn’t so crowded. I would have read in the break room at work, but there are extrovert in there who keep trying to talk to me, so I often spend my lunch breaks on walks where the only voice I have to hear is my own. I read in bed. I savored. Every chapter, every page, every sentence resonated with me (except, perhaps, for the author’s comments on the film Heathers. I recognize, however, that these conflicting thoughts are pedantic on my part and not substantiative. But, really, one of the most important details in that film is the underlining of the word esquimeaux in a copy of Moby-Dick. But, alas, I also have a standing agreement with the world to not get into arguments based on the importance of Moby-Dick, so I will let it go.)
As I read, I quickly realized that #Aspergistan is not just a dream, it is real, and that there was no need for me to apply for a passport, as I had, in fact, already established an embassy.
The world is our corner…
Aspergistan Embassy, Damascus, Oregon