Welcome readers to October 2015’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine. Our theme this month is In and Out of Time. Our contributors explore how we relate to the dimension of time. What focuses us on the present moment, what helps us remember and causes us to forget, what gets us up and out of ourselves and our time-structured worlds.
Strong emotions such as grief can pull us out of normally structured time into a subconscious world of our own, where we go to process our losses. Michael Robinson and Sharifa Petersen eloquently illustrate the dislocation of mourning, either through literal visuals of bodies and hospital beds or more abstract images of trains and ghosts.
Unchecked anger, even when directed at legitimate social injustice, can cause us to lose our sense of historical and emotional perspective and violate commitments we’ve made, behavior essayist Ayokunle Adeleye criticizes in his homeland of Nigeria. We must not forget that we have created a society based on the rule of law and so even those we despise deserve impartial legal action and an examination of the facts surrounding their actions rather than a public witch hunt.
Romantic love and self-discovery can also draw us into another time frame, as Holly Sisson points out in her review of Patty Lesser’s new novel A Discerning Heart. Love can take us to a world all our own, as Rui Carvalho shares: a dale of flowers in our mind’s eye.
Rubina Akter depicts a longing for love which cannot be satisfied even through connection with another person, which she describes as a quest for the divine. Her speaker does not live according to his own timeframe, or even on his beloved’s schedule, but seeks something more eternal. Akter’s other pieces point out our vulnerability to pain and abuse as human beings by depicting the suffering of innocent and confused children.
Patrick Ward and Ash Gamble also call attention to our weaknesses. Ward writes of people who feel trapped in their physical bodies or by their mental states and emotions and Gamble creates a humorous vignette where our human concerns don’t translate well to other creatures.
Ryan Hodge, in his monthly Play/Write column, probes why apocalyptic and raw survival scenarios remain popular in video games and movies. He suggests that we actually crave reminders of our vulnerability. Through these scenarios we can make ourselves feel strong by vicariously rebuilding or triumphing through disaster and deprivation along with the characters, even when we don’t literally have to face starvation and gunfire. We know deep down that many live, and have lived without, many of our modern comforts and would like to think that we are also tough enough to survive without them. Having to find food, shelter and physical safety brings us out of our heads and our subconscious worlds back into the reality of our immediate situation, and perhaps we seek that refocus, that heightened awareness of what is most critical.
Ayokunle Adeleye shows another way to rise to the challenge and overcome one’s obstacles to build something enduring: start a small business and invest in land, leaving behind a legacy.
Rick Hartwell’s poetry illustrates encounters with nature that call us back into the immediate moment. Hartwell’s speaker focuses on specific sights and sounds around him, falling leaves, lizards and other reptiles. Nature operates according to seasons and cycles and creatures act differently during each season. We, too, can experience each one fully without getting too far ahead of ourselves.
Patrick Ward also describes different aspects of sound: scary, comforting and fun, depending on our mood. Listening to what is around us and paying attention to how it makes us feel can refocus us in the present. Ash Gamble also writes of the tension between miscommunication and breakthrough, memory and resilience.
Ajise Vincent shows how some acts of violence, such as the terrorism of West African group Boko Haram, shake us out of our reveries and bring us back to the moment, where we must face what has happened. Vincent’s work directly addresses and condemns brutality, exploitation, and injustice in strong terms without flowery language. Poetic grief can come later, but now is the time to speak up and be heard in the face of atrocity.
Elizabeth Hughes, in her Book Periscope column, reviews Peter Jacob Streitz’ new poetry collection Hellfires Shake the Blues. She points out how poetry can grab our attention, bringing us out of our own minds and into the world of the poem. This can happen involuntarily, arresting our consciousness like sudden sounds or motions on the horizon, and whether or not we consider ourselves fans of poetry.
Joan Beebe also gives us pieces of reminiscence and gratitude, calling us to share her fun and peaceful moments and also reminding us through her piece on the car crash how we are vulnerable to disaster and none of these moments are guaranteed.