Welcome, readers, to December’s issue of Synchronized Chaos International Magazine. This month we look at the ‘ancient forests’, the large systems and forces which shape life and history.
Most of what affects our world started long before our lives began, and will likely continue for millennia afterwards. We see this with Dr. Matt Fillingim’s lecture on Martian magnetic fields, atmosphere and climate at the Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, California) described in review here by Cristina Deptula.
Dr. Immanual Joseph’s novel Brahma’s Maze, reviewed by Bruce Roberts, casts a man’s quest for revenge after losing his family to murderers as a mythical contest of good and evil, a tale as old as time. Ryan Hodge’s new Play/Write column deals with the heroic quest within video games, how players choose their values and attributes and the kind of characters they will become within a world designed by the game’s creators. Hodge suggests that this dynamic more closely resembles real life, as we have more control over our actions than our circumstances.
Elizabeth Hughes’ monthly Book Periscope column reviews novels that draw upon age-old themes: family secrets, self-discovery, friendship and loyalty. A final title, Dr. Loretta Breuning’s I, Mammal, explores the neuroscience and brain chemistry common to humans and other mammals that helps to explain what we commonly refer to as ‘human nature.’ Ayokunle Adeleye exposes government repression of journalists within his home country of Nigeria, a social injustice which, although all too common in the past and present, is hopefully not an intractable part of human society. And Gary Berg illustrates the long shadow of historical oppression in his piece where a continent still grapples with the Holocaust.
Some contributors speculate in their pieces about issues of life, time, memory and history. Dave Douglas describes a weekend that passes more quickly than he intends, showing how our experience of time, and other aspects of life, can be subjective. Harmony Wicker highlights the tension between storytelling, public images and reality, highlighting the pressure on people in the public eye to enact in real life the narrative viewers expect from a story. Lino Sanchez questions whether historical memories are crucial for our identity or simply a hindrance in his fable about the last elderly Americans on a spacecraft to a new home. Charlene Spretnak, in her book The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art, here reviewed by Kahlil Crawford, asserts that the finest, truest art draws us out of ourselves into a larger perspective.
Andrew Condouris relates the existential worries a retired calculus teacher experiences when he confronts a dead or sleeping fellow traveler in the road. This surreal piece illustrates how uncomfortable we get with stasis, with someone not changing or not taking action of some sort. Much has been said on the natural human fear of change, yet there is also often concern or judgement for those who seem too sedentary or unproductive. Great spiritual traditions teach that life has intrinsic value regardless of how much someone works or produces, and we live with this psychological tension as we navigate life.
To some degree, change, growth and rebirth are a part of life. Plants and animals reproduce, the earth rotates anew around the sun every year, and the rain falls, allowing new leaves to bud on old and barren trees. Several of our contributors’ pieces seem like new leaves, going forward with life regardless of the past.
Anna Geiger brings out the awkwardness and hope of young crushes in her poetry, in a piece as rich and detailed as her other works that describe the claustrophobia of grief and the grime and dirt of poverty. She illustrates here that while life is full of loss and ugliness, it is also full of renewal and innocence. B. Diehl also writes in the voice of an adolescent or young adult, discussing young love, self-discovery and the desire to add one’s idealistic voice to critique society’s powerful. Creating serious poems with attention to craft that deal with these topics makes the statement that this material and this stage of life is a worthy topic for writing and consideration.
Halima bint Ayuba comments in a stylized piece on the process of making ceramics. She urges creators of pots and bowls to sculpt wings and feathers into the clay, providing lightness and balance to the solid material. Her other pieces comment on the fragility of relationships, how easy it is for people to simply miss each other, and on the complex and full life that goes on within darkness.
Clara Hsu’s new poetry collection The First to Escape, as reviewed by Christopher Bernard, explores themes of renewal, youth and deep love through a gentle, unassuming voice. G.K. Brannen celebrates the beauty of a vintage muscle car and the creative process of restoring such a vehicle. Deborah Guzzi’s poetry evokes San Francisco’s landscape of colorful Victorian painted lady houses and the pain of lost love and childlessness, and also contains a poetic meditation on sowing of seeds and children.
Luis Romero, in his motivational book You Are the Opportunity You Were Waiting For: The Philosophy of Success in 21 Timeless Principles, takes old ideas and recombines and recasts them into new thoughts. For example, self-analysis shouldn’t become an excuse to sit around and do nothing useful, and guilt itself has no moral value unless it motivates specific positive behavior change. He combines thoughts on personal behavior with advice for national and fiscal policy, thus creating a consistent worldview that can be applied at smaller and larger scales.
Ayokunle Adeleye also deals with another ‘new leaf’ in his second essay, which outlines his gripes with the cell phone plans and service available within Nigeria. He shows that he can pontificate just as well about personal issues and day to day thoughts as he can advocate for larger positions such as freedom of speech and the press.
In the end, both small scale, ordinary issues and large cultural and physical dynamics are important, because both play vital roles in our lives. And we encourage you to revel in the craft and poetry of this issue, along with contemplating the philosophical insights of our contributors.
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Announcement from our partner Rui Carvalho:
*** If you are a writer or a poet and dream of showing your work to the world, then we believe we have the best of opportunities to share with you.
For a small donation you can have your book presented as an e-book app for Windows Phone, Windows, Android or Kindle.
Details are the following:
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Revision of the text – (donation 50 USD)
Another donation can be for song lyrics (any type of music):
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We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!!!