Stupid Aliens

I came across some thoughts I wrote down a number of years ago. They are amazingly consistent with thoughts I have today, about the possibility of reaching out to my older brother and actually communicating. Mike is my older brother, who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal.

June 19, 2001

Portrait of MikeI’m sitting in Mike’s room at his group home. The staff asked me if I had any pictures of him they could have, to hang on his wall. I should really give them one or more of the ones from my exhibition; ‘Brother from Another Planet’ comes to mind, because of the slinky.

Mike showed some kind of recognition at my show, when he and his housemates came up for a private showing. I wonder what it would be like for him if he had a picture of himself on his wall.

autistic sibling viewing portrait


As I think about concepts of recognition, cognition, my brother’s inner life, I wonder if there is a way to communicate with an alien life form. When I think about extra-terrestrials as portrayed in science fiction, I think of smart aliens. They are clever; they know the universal language of mathematics. But what if we encounter a stupid alien? Ever think of that? We would probably have to use behaviorist techniques. “Good alien, here’s your life-sustaining oxygen.” Or “Bad alien, no oxygen for you.” A little one-sided, though; forget about two-way communication of any complexity. Even with a well-designed protocol, there are a limited number of possible responses: 1) the alien dies; 2) the alien escapes to another dimension; 3) the alien gets pissed of and atomizes us with a death ray.

Communication is frustrating enough, even with a familiar life form, and an alien mind.

2 thoughts on “Stupid Aliens

  1. It’s simply beautiful how you lace your true wish to be able to talk to your brother with humour. I think the simplest yet most often ignored way of communication between brothers is simple being in the presence of each other. I have a brother I love and there is always a sense of happiness when he is hanging around. We don’t necessarily have to be talking or anything. But the knowledge that he’s there is enough to bring a sense of calm.

    So don’t worry about communicating. You’re already doing it.

    Either ways, I’d keep the death ray guns locked. 😉

    • Thanks, Tassem. Yes, the death ray guns are in the locker, so don’t worry. You are very luck to have that kind of communication with your brother. I never know what is up with mine.

      Thanks for writing, and your kind words.

      Best regards,


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