Building a mystery

Keeper of the flame: back in the day, it was someone’s job to keep a fire stoked for utilitarian and spiritual uses.

Figurative keepers maintain institutional knowledge and pass it onto new generations. We need them or we lose wisdom to the ages.

Concrete, for example, was used widely by the Romans in civilizing Europe. Roads and aqueducts were the very arteries of the empire. After the fall of Rome, the formula for concrete was lost. Modern concrete is an invention of the 20th century.

Keepers of the flame don’t hunt. They don’t cook. They don’t do laundry or any of the other hallmarks we associate with daily life. We call these tasks “executive functioning.” We use them to demarcate between your neurotypical person and someone who is autistic. We say that austistics have deficits because they lack executive functioning skills. We say they are disabled because of this.

But we are the keepers of the flame. Our job on earth is not to make grocery lists and check the mail. It is to collect data, information, knowledge, wisdom. It is to synthesize information from disparate and seemingly unconnected systems of knowledge. It is to organize, optimize, systematize and invent. And it is to pass on this essential collection onto the next generation.

Someone else can make the donuts.

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