February’s Synchronized Chaos: (Re) Incarnation


Hello, and welcome to February’s issue of Synchronized Chaos! This month the theme is incarnation, or re-incarnation: personalizing, embodying, entering into another’s life and experience.

Victory-Girl, a company creating vintage military-history and airplane nosecone art, helps pilots, history buffs, and others to personalize and develop a relationship with their planes. As with American art-car and classic-car culture, the planes (or jackets, bags, etc) which Victory Girl adorns become more than transportation machines, but almost living beings, interacting with the pilots.

Cynthia Lamanna’s elegant piece on Valentine’s Day and the month of February brings older-style vintage writing and a nostalgic conception of the holiday back into today’s consciousness. Return of the spring to the Northern Hemisphere represents a form of physical re-incarnation, re-inhabiting the Earth after a long colder winter.

Frank Allred’s new film Beat Angel presents the physical reincarnation of Jack Kerouac, come back to inspire a crowd at a poetry slam. Yet, through the imagery and dialogue, the movie brings his resurrection beyond a mere fantastical thought experiment and shows how it illustrates and symbolizes the larger process of creative people’s building off of each other’s work over time.

Owen Geronimo also describes the cumulative process of artistic influence during our interview with him concerning factors contributing to San Francisco’s fashion resurgence. He speaks of San Francisco’s cultural mystique over the centuries as a place of innovation and discovery – from the Gold Rush to the hippie to the information-technology days. Still, for Geronimo and others within the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants’ Alliance, style can be affected by where one lives, but ultimately becomes a matter of personal confidence and choice.

Empathy also involves individual choice, and represents one of the best ways we here on Earth can actually enter into another’s situation and state of mind. Tony Long illustrates what happens when people choose against empathy, or simply stay so preoccupied with themselves that they don’t use their capacity to understand others, in his humorous short piece “Leaving So Soon?” In contrast, Patsy Ledbetter illustrates empathy in action during her vignettes: imagining herself in the place of a homeless woman, which brings her to a place of gratitude, and sharing health information with others.

Empathy represents an intellectual and emotional challenge and can bring great rewards during our social interactions – yet becomes a difficult task in modern city life, when we are surrounded by literally thousands of very different people. Connie Noyes illustrates these feelings through her mixed-media collages, where various colors and materials blend into one another throughout the collection, entitled, “Human Steps.” Yet, Noyes finds beauty and poetry in the assortment of imperfect interactions – and uses ordinary materials, even ‘garbage’ about to be thrown away, to constitute her collections. Perhaps, to Noyes, ordinary people, like ordinary materials, can find the strength and heart to attempt empathy, and thus ‘incarnate’ themselves temporarily as someone else.

Richard Ghia-Wilberforce and Noel Dawkins philosophically explore the experience of multiple minds within one body, whether and how the human mind and brain can generate multiple, distinct individuals. Rather than describing this phenomenon as a mental illness, they examine a different way which some people experience ‘incarnation,’ or sentience, consciousness, the capacity for self-reflection. Finn Gardiner’s poetry mimics the rhythm of conversation, presenting a cafe as a unit of social organization, an organism in itself, coming into being through simultaneous, spontaneous interactions. Separate-bodied humans make up the cafe, but the piece echoes Ghia-Wilberforce and Dawkins’ ideas about what constitutes consciousness and existence, in a more poetic, abstract format.

David Selsky attempts to set up a self-organizing system through his photography, snapping spontaneous scenes which attract his eye. To Selsky, intentionally ‘composing’ a picture might actually detract from what is really happening subconsciously behind the scenes. As with Gardiner’s self-organizing cafe, the theme comes into being without conscious direction – yet, merely because Selsky does not define the collection’s theme or even know what it is beforehand, he does not turn towards nihilism and assume that no unifying theme can, or does, exist.

Perhaps the search for meaning can itself become a source of meaning, can represent our current best efforts towards finding whatever is out there. Through that search, we, like the Beat writers, can leave ideas behind which become ‘reincarnated’ philosophically into subsequent generations, who then continue and proceed with our search.

Please feel free to search for meaning within the posts of this month’s issue of Synchronized Chaos – Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate.