Synchronized Chaos December 2015: The Individual in Relief

Welcome readers to December 2015’s edition of Synchronized Chaos Magazine. This month’s contributors deal with questions related to the individual’s connection to and responsibility toward the larger human or planetary universe.

Recurring contributor Tony GlamorTramp LeTigre speculates on the social order that could emerge if people used personal safety rather than traffic signals as a guide for when to cross the street. He reassures readers that his piece is a metaphor while raising deeper questions about alternatives to blind obedience. In another piece he celebrates compassion among neighbors, as he relates the tale of an old woman who goes by ‘TwoTooth Marie.” Tony also gives us a few poems, including a gentle piece about pumpkins and a short essay about exploring and feeling out of place in a wealthy Oregon hillside neighborhood, illustrating how alienated we can feel even when surrounded by others. His piece provokes thought about implicit versus explicit forms of social exclusion.

Rick Hartwell’s poetry also articulates the costs of invisibility and alienation within a social environment, as an individual falls through the cracks unnoticed to commit an inexplicable violent act. His other pieces present an aging speaker still questing for purpose in life and a dying ship sinking into oblivion.

Neil Ellman sends poetry designed to accompany paintings from Chilean artist Roberto Matta Echaurren that probe the nature of the self, the ego, and the creative mind. (For more information about this artist, who was a leading figure in surrealism and abstract expressionism, you may click here). Or here for Roberto Matta’s page on showcasing his work.

Elizabeth Hughes reviews a set of novels in her monthly Book Periscope column that grapple with loyalty and independence. Hannah in Adina Sara’s Blind Shady Bend finally lives for herself and sets up a new and unexpected life in the California gold country and finds connection to others along the way. Most of an entire family throws off selfishness and dysfunction and learns to come together and use their creativity and gifts for good to help heal a sick teenager in Rea Nolan Martin’s The Anesthesia Game. Through helping Syd, they discover other ways they can make choices that enhance their own lives. In Joy Brown Coates’ Integrity: An Obsidian Guardian Novel, Audra and her guardian Castile find each other and realize their mutual roles in a shared destiny while both try to hide from past failure.

Charles Markee’s Maria’s Beads presents a very young woman who must defy the adults in her life to save her dying best friend. In her case, her loyalty motivates her independence. In Jennifer Ott’s Desperate Moon, a medical researcher and natural philosopher’s rational approach to life leads him to see a female vampire as a natural living creature rather than an esoteric monster, which leads to a truly loving relationship. The novel shows her growing openness to mutual friendship and respect after a lifetime of survival through seeking power and protection.

Regular contributor Christopher Bernard reviews Cal Performances’ production of the Rude Mechs’ show Stop Hitting Yourself, which suggests through humor and physical energy the possibility of honoring both the values of individualism and charity, freedom and morality. Bernard also highlights his individual responsibility for the effect he has on the climate of planet Earth and evocatively honors the survivors and the departed from the recent attacks on Paris. Dami Lare, from Nigeria, also sends an abstract intellectual essay elucidating the limits of both dogmatic faith in religious or political systems and of atheism and skepticism. Lare does not entirely discourage readers from adopting big picture value systems, but reminds people not to use their chosen system as a prophylactic against rational thought.

Returning poet Michael Robinson speaks of the comfort he finds in times of pain and loneliness from his mother’s memory and from his spiritual faith. He also adds an older work of his to this issue, inspired by the suffering of inner city and refugee children and advocating compassion. Kimberly Brown reviews Linda Baron-Katz’ memoir Surviving Mental Illness: My Story and her children’s book Peter and Lisa, highlighting the strength the author showed in creating a meaningful and workable life for herself with bipolar syndrome and also how Linda’s reaching out to doctors, therapists, family and friends made her journey possible. One can and must be strong to survive, but one need not find that strength alone.

Shelby Stephenson contributes an alternative review of Roald Hoffman’s play Something that Belongs to Me consisting of conversation and excerpted dialogue from the production. The show, and this style of commentary upon it, posits individual people against a backdrop of large scale historical atrocities and the perennial dueling kindness and cruelty within our nature.

Finally, Joan Beebe’s poetry celebrates Christmas traditions: carols, nativity scenes, church services, presents, snow, sleds, children and families together. At its core the Christmas story in the Christian faith depicts an individual in relief: the incarnate Christ within an ordinary universe of people, plants and animals.

We encourage you to read this issue and see where you fit amid the backdrop of these contributors and their pieces. We wish you well and thank you for including our publication in however you choose to mark this season.

Public domain image from Marina Shemesh. Viewable and usable free here: