Mark Utter was born with a form of autism that makes it impossible for him to say what he’s thinking. For the first thirty years of his life, Mark did not have access to the world of words, except as a listener. An observer. When he was thirty, he was introduced to supported typing, and for the first time in his life, with the help of a facilitator and a typing pad, Mark started his life as a writer of words. This is an interview about what it’s like inside the life and mind of Mark Utter.
50 Best Podcasts of 2015, The Atlantic Monthly…#38
Mark Utter lives in Colchester, Vermont. He receives services that assist his day to day ventures with negotiating a world that functions differently than he does. The more you read about him the more you will realize that we are more alike than different.
Emily Anderson is trained to support people who type to communicate. She was the producer of “I am in here.” She has a background in social/political theater and uses it to assist creative projects that bring odd people more positively into the limelight.
Mark’s Web site: www.utterenergy.org
To view the “I am in here” trailer or purchase the DVD: http://www.utterenergy.org/iaminhere/
Mark’s Blog: http://www.utterenergy.org/blog/
For more information on the form of communication Mark uses: http://www.utterenergy.org/supported-typing/
Music for this show by Podington Bear, and the Free Music Archive
i’ve met mark, and seen his movie – an extraordinary human being, as is emily (a friend from bread and puppet theater) who resonates with mark with infinite patience and empathy.
i sense your struggle to communicate with him in spoken language, while he is so direct and poetic in expressing himself on the keyboard. granted it’s slow, but profound, and worth waiting for.
What an extraordinary few minutes you and Mark and Emily have brought us. Honestly, I can recall nothing quite like it.
Thoughtful, lovingly constructed questions, asked in a thoughtful, lovingly modulated way which elicit spare, exquisite responses. The questions and the and the answers are so remarkable that I am reminded of how collectors seeing the Faberge eggs of the Romanov’s must have felt when they were seeen for the first time; or how the literary world must have felt when Emily Dickinson’s verse finally escaped her upstairs bedroom.
The piece is a treasure to be savored again and again.
Well said….remarkable indeed.
I am reflecting on Mark’s articulation of his (and everyone’s) wish for love in the form of someone who really knows him. In my experience the greatest paradox of the desire for love is that while we want our beloved to know us deeply, to break open the cell of our existential loneliness, sometimes we also resent the presumption of loved ones who think they know us so well that they can predict our thoughts and actions. We wish to be loved and known, but keep the freedom of our essential unknowableness. And so, it seems to me, our behavior is guided by two contradictory longings – to express our inner reality authentically and to guard our vulnerable core. I was intrigued by the question you put to Mark about whether he felt he had lost something when he gained access to typed communication. The mystics exhort spiritual practitioners to go beyond the nominal, to go beyond an experience of reality that is conditioned by words. I wonder if Mark gave up some of that unconditioned experience for the gift of communication. The mystics say that the deepest experience of love transcends words, transcends the illusion of self and other.
Erica, this is a beautiful interview with my friend Mark. (I was lucky enough to appear in his film as the well-meaning van driver who mistakenly drops him at the library – a scene you refer to in one of your questions.) I could tell that you really “got” Mark and this was reflected in your insightful questions. You’re a really topnotch interviewer!
I believe Mark has an amazing message for all of us “normal” people. Because aren’t we all struggling daily to express our inner light and find love and connection with others? Mark’s condition brings the essence of our shared human condition into stark reality.
Thanks for seeing Mark and bringing him to Rumble Strip! love, jernigan : )
Congratulations on having this intimate and wonderous audio interview recognized. Well deserved!
I’m a longtime fan of Mark, Emily, and the wonderful film, “I Am In Here.” It took me several viewings to catch on to all the messages and I’ve been hooked on Mark’s blog ever since. Congratulations to all concerned with the podcast.
I love this interview…thank you.