Synchronized Chaos March 2015: What is Language For, Anyway?

This month’s issue poses a question: what are language and writing for, anyway? Why do we create and produce so many streams of words?
Fran Laniado spotlights a collaboration between writer S. Kay and craftsperson Gwen Rossmiller, where words take on physical weight by being engraved on wearable necklaces.Regular book reviewer Elizabeth Hughes samples a collection of fantasy novels with protagonists who gradually discover and step into their newfound powers, for good or ill. These include Victoria Alexandra’s The Book of Darkness: The Cora Myers Series, Nicole Quinn’s River of Disbelief (the next in her Gold Stone Girl series), and K.C. Simos’ Ambrosia Chronicles.Language can also be a tool we learn to use and a source of power and strength. Our contributors this month offer various suggestions for how and why we read, write, speak, and listen.Jessica Delgado’s poetry laments through songlike structured verse the trauma caused when addictions divide families, and renders in disjointed words the experience of being hospitalized. Her third piece, an essay, adds to this collection by directly asking why we should study writing and literature and then answering the question. These pieces together illustrate how writing can help us process intense experiences and convey them to others.Other writers demonstrate the power of words to ignite compassion and change.Deborah Guzzi’s poetry calls to mind social injustices and tragedies such as the brutality of the Cambodian genocide and racism against Jews and Native Americans. Her work also illustrates how language, taking the form of prayer, shared memory, and recorded history, can provide comfort and strength.
Rachel Stewart Johnson’s short story shocks us into awareness of others. We never know who we may encounter in an average day whose tragedies are greater than our own.
Adelayok Adeleye criticizes corruption within the Nigerian government on this international platform. Even administration changes never seem to make a dent in corruption or other real issues and often only have the effect of halting construction projects.
Tony Longshanks LeTigre reflects upon his experience surviving the deprivation and stigma of homeless life in San Francisco and on how the city has changed over the years to no longer serve as an affordable refuge for bohemians, students, immigrants, the working poor or those starting new chapters in their lives. Through his piece, we see how writing can allow people who slip through the cracks and don’t get a lot of positive notice in society to assert that they exist, that they are people with thoughts and lives.
Peter Jacob Streitz evokes a sense of grim disgust at the Holocaust in a piece written for the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Writing can allow us to make sense of our world through storytelling.

Ryan Hodge, in his monthly Play/Write column, details how moral choices players make for their characters during video games, such as whether to follow laws or behave according to commonly held real-life ethical standards for the treatment of other creatures, influence the character’s story arc and who they become.
Cristina Deptula’s review of physicist and docent Steve Mathews’ recent lecture at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California gives a brief overview of how the Western world’s scientists came to understand properties of light. Through a variety of languages, including that of mathematics, we are telling the story of how our world works and came into being.
As a counterpoint, poet, essayist and novelist Christopher Bernard posits a hypothetical ‘disinvention’ process, where we imagine taking apart the world as we know it and throwing away our technology. Whether motivated by environmentalism, asceticism or simply a desire to evaluate the world around us rather than immersing ourselves irrevocably into modernity, this process would represent monumental change.

Alexis Durante gives us a meditation on how three Greek goddesses might each come to meet her demise. We see beauty even in mortality, but also tragedy in that they leave behind much of themselves and become mere forms to be memorialized through statues and paintings. Language and art can be powerful vehicles for preservation of culture, but also imperfect windows to past and present flesh and blood realities, that mask truth or simply do not present the whole picture.

In some cases language is instructive and practical, a form of communication that brings information to an audience.

Amy Roiland’s description of her new FashionTap app, a social network for those interested in clothing and accessories that allows users to view, share and buy items directly through the application, lets people know about this new way to make the customer experience more personal and social. A blogger at the site, Roiland hopes that her company’s app will not only make shopping easier, but encourage people to see the selection of clothes and development of a personal style as a matter of participatory art and craft.

Continuing his series on entrepreneurship, Nigerian medical student Adelayok Adeleye urges small business owners to stay aware of and properly manage debt and to borrow only when necessary.

Language can also become an instrument to express emotion and render moments into things of beauty, as in James Brush’s poem. Brush gives us an ode to long journeys in a recreational vehicle, where lines on a map become part of lived experience and the sounds of nature and the road become part of a shared language between the two protagonists and the world around them.

Laura Kaminski’s second installment of fables inspired by her childhood in Nigeria also grafts human language and lived experience into scenes of nature: woodpeckers, hummingbirds, white poplar trees. In this way our thoughts and dreams become enduring, intertwined with all of life, with the Earth’s natural history, and gain meaning and dignity. Kaminski also reviews Elsie Augustave’s novel The Roving Tree, a story of a Haitian girl adopted by wealthy Americans who goes in search of her heritage. Augustave, and Kaminski, draw upon poetic words to illuminate an intrepid quest for country and self.

Thank you for taking the time to read over this issue. We hope that this use of language will touch your mind and heart.


Writer, pharmacist and poet Jaylan Salah, who hails from Alexandria, Egypt, has published a new article, “On Writing…” in her blog La Loba the Great. (adult content).

Synchronized Chaos Magazine encourages readers to help support the return of thoughtful contributor Frances Varian to her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Frances is the author of the poem “La Divina” and the essay “Love and Tragedy” published two years ago and lives on a small fixed income with a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease.

Our editors are also passing on this link to support Finn Gardiner, who has created many of our icons and graphic artwork over the past years and managed the magazine for awhile in 2010. He needs assistance with a heating bill and lives in the frigid East Coast, USA, where the land is besotted with snowstorms.

Finally, we are hosting a joint spring reception with literary PR firm Authors, Large and Small, at Oakland’s Rock, Paper, Scissors gallery. Event will take place Saturday March 21st from 6-9 pm at 2278 Telegraph, and is free. All are welcome to come and read and share work or just listen. Rock, Paper, Scissors is struggling to keep the doors open and this event is a no-pressure, voluntary benefit for them. Readers may contribute here

Public domain image

Public domain image