Synchronized Chaos June 2013 – Glimpses of New and Familiar Worlds

A month to honor fathers and graduates, June also offers World Butterfly Awareness Day (the 2nd) and the anniversary of the publication of Ernest Thayer’s famous baseball poem, ‘Casey at the Bat’ (the 3rd). Superman made his first comic appearance in June, and Egypt first became a constitutional republic rather than a monarchy years ago this month. Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova entered space June 1963 as its first civilian, and NASA launched Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity ten years ago in June, to provide footage of the red planet.

In the same spirit, Synchronized Chaos International Magazine’s June 2013 issue permits our readers glimpses into new and familiar worlds.

Lukas Clark-Memler continues his travel narrative from Borneo, while Heather Spergel’s children’s book hero explores magical realms with the help of a very special guitar. Regular columnist Leena Prasad, author of the neuroscience column Whose Brain Is It, explores the phenomenon of hypnosis.  Fe de los Reyes’ musical Amerikana dances through the frustration and hope of the Filipino-American immigrant experience, and Romanian writer and painter George Teseleanu reviews Charles Ayres’ memoir of working within the Japanese entertainment industry as an American expatriate.

While Ayres has peppered Impossibly Glamorous with anecdotes about Japan’s music industry, the backbone of the tale is Charles himself: his resilience, humor and hunger to create places for himself to belong, wherever he travels. Although this can become a cliche of travel writing when not done well, the author experiences as much self-discovery as international education through his work abroad. He learns to select elements of various lifestyles and subcultures he admires, and incorporate them into his own life, consciously choosing to create his world rather than merely becoming a product of his environment. Summing up these hard-won life lessons as humorous commandments, he demonstrates how he has processed and integrated his experience into his daily life.

The Filipino/a immigrants in Fe’s performance piece also assert some control over their own identities, by choosing to appreciate both their homeland and their new lives in the United States. Even more so than Charles Ayres, Fe knows who she is and where she comes from. This knowledge gives her the strength to survive a complex and difficult immigration experience and embrace what she finds positive in a new culture.

Social scientists who have examined the psychology of extreme altruists, such as those who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust or launched initiatives to feed the poor or care for the elderly, point to feeling secure in one’s identity and having a sense of belonging as a predictor for pro-social behavior. If you know who you are, and are part of a solid, even if small, community, you can be more willing to do the right thing even when it is unpopular or risky.

Those factors may promote creativity and courage, as well as altruism. Feeling comfortable with yourself, and knowing that you have a home where you are welcome, can make you brave enough to explore a new world and experience it on its own terms, rather than projecting your own needs and insecurities onto its canvas.

Many of this month’s contributors have found the strength to peer out into new worlds, providing a glimpse of different realms of experience. San Jose’s Elizabeth Hughes mentions and reviews several new self-published and small-press books, in the first edition of her Book Periscope column.

Mimi Sylte also kicks off a new column dedicated to fashion, unique in that she focuses on designers in or near San Francisco, a city known more for writing and other forms of art. In her first piece, Sylte introduces herself and why she’s writing on the subject.

Poet Dave Douglas twists around a common metaphorical frustration, creating a personal landscape out of his ‘writers’ block.’ Like Charles Ayres, he responds with resourcefulness to create something for himself out of loneliness and confusion. As reviewed by Christopher Bernard, the Etel Adnan exhibit at the California College for the Arts also plays with words and artwork to render each in a fresh way.
Darion Wilson illustrates an entrancing but dislocating experience watching exotic dancers, processing the moment by rendering it in words. Katie Farris looks at the curious mixture of rivalry and loyalty in sibling relationships in her short story Batman and Robin, and Darion Scruggs poetically evokes the traditions of family and country life in his piece Generation After Generation. 
Staff writer Cristina Deptula examines the technical promise, logistical challenges and environmental concerns involved with the process of natural gas extraction known as ‘fracking’ or hydraulic fracturing. As with most ventures, there’s both potential and room for improvement.
There are some events in life we should count ourselves very privileged to have had the chance to observe, as Christopher Bernard underscores through his review of a one-night-only modern dance performance. The show, Continua in Light: Three Acts, springs up, then disappears. For some experiences, one simply has to be there, right in that moment. Watch now, and hold the memory forever. 
Frances Varian echoes that sentiment in her prose piece Love and Tragedy. Her memorial essay for two friends who passed away from incurable illnesses provides glimpses, not of death, but of life. And she examines the titular words, verbiage that has been repeated often enough to become trite, in new ways by going back to what they actually mean, through the lens of personal experience.
Those she knew overcame their grief and fear of death not by pining for an afterlife, or craving to be remembered, but through making the most of today through kindness and awareness. By being so alive, as Varian says, that even their deaths were celebrations of life, and thousands of healthy people signed up to be with them as they were dying. 
We hope this issue of Synchronized Chaos both grounds and inspires you, and provides a launching pad for you to head forth, as Spirit and Opportunity, to encounter new worlds and reflect upon your experiences.
(icon courtesy Finn Gardiner, a collective of artists in Boston, MA)