Quarterly update

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1.     News about the book

2.     A last minute plea for support for a film supporting women and girls in India

3.     Summary of my writing over the last quarter or so

4.     Bonus poem

FACEBUDDHA:  TRANSCENDENCE IN THE AGE OF FACEBOOK AND THE OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS

Happy Spring!  Thank you so much for subscribing to my occasional newsletter.  Last time, I mentioned I was looking for an agent for my book on the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens – and this time, I have good news!  I do have an enthusiastic and skillful agent for FACEBUDDHA:  TRANSCENDENCE IN THE AGE OF FACEBOOK AND THE OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS.  Of course, there’s no guarantee that a publisher will get behind my book, but I remain enthusiastic about the message of my book:  that real-world relationship is powerful, complicated and rewarding.  While social networks might be a route to relationship, and an important tool in this shrinking world, we need to understand how this tool influences our minds and hearts for good and ill.

THE WORLD BEFORE HER

FACEBUDDHA also contains a memoir of relationship; one of the topics near and dear to my heart is the relationship between men and women.  Many of us were deeply affected by the Nirbhaya rape and murder case in December, 2012.  This brought the world’s attention to violence against women in India.  This problem is hardly isolated to India, of course – we all have a lot of work to do to make the world safe for women and children.

I recently saw a brilliant documentary by Indian Canadian director Nisha Pahuja that can make an important difference on this issue.  THE WORLD BEFORE HER (rent or buy on iTunes, also available on DVD) has won critical acclaim and was shown on PBS last fall.  Pahuja highlighted women’s identity and safety in India through the stories of both beauty pageant contestants and more conservative Hindu fundamentalists.  Modernity and globalization bring challenges to India’s traditional culture, triggering defensive and violent reactions against women, and even by women, in the name of religion and culture.  This on top of a long history of violence and discrimination against women.

Pahuja is in the last day of a Kickstarter campaign to take the film across India and hopefully be a part of changing the mentality that leads to female infanticide and other forms of violence.  She has reached her initial goal, but more funding will help bring the film to more villages and cities.  Please consider making a donation before 8 pm PT today (Sunday).

BLOG POWER!

My top Psychology Today blog posts from the last year can be found here.  I entered into several cultural conversations this year, on Asian American issues and also on social networks.  From a psychological analysis of Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s controversial book THE TRIPLE PACKAGE (Underscoring Amy Chua), to Katy Perry’s bizarre cultural appropriation at the American Music Awards, to hashtag activism – blogging continues to be engaging.  I hope these writings stirred your interest.

I just completed my other blogging gig for my beloved Center for Asian American Media’s film festival.  All my “Memoirs of a Superfan” entries from this year can be found here.  The festival is a kind of meditative retreat for me:  the whole world comes to our doorstep here in San Francisco, and I get the opportunity to take it all in.  The festival always spurs thoughts and personal growth.  This year, I found issues on my mind about relationship mirrored in film, naturally.  The festival inspired writing on relational cultural theoryrelations between Tibet and Chinadoppelgangers, alter egos and relationship as revolution, and film as a shamanic journey.  The Great Star Theater in Chinatown inspired wistful writing about intimacy, and musician Cynthia Lin inspired writing about zombies smileyangry

BONUS POEM

Manga-Bangalore

Nov 2nd, 2012

The world beats in Bangalore;

My young girl cousins love Subway and Anime,

And spout Japanese phrases,

Cowboy Bebop their lingua manga.

Like children everywhere,

they complain their parents don’t understand them.

Like children everywhere,

they are inventing their own language

and creating identities that don’t hew

to the shape of an ancient, but timeworn, culture.

The call of India seems in part a din,

Something to wrestle with as much as love.

Growing up is always a struggle;

escape, always on the mind.

So NarutoOne PieceFairy Tail and K-On

give them homes when Bharat’s four walls

can’t hold their spacious souls –

Homes for the heroines they yearn to be –

the heroines they are.

They carry their own compasses,

unknown to parents, class, or clan.

They want to go to peace,

but they travel through war,

I have hope their journey

won’t suffocate.

Their hearts beat universal time,

and they need to breathe.

THANKS SO MUCH!  STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS!

Facebuddha: I need your help!

For Asian Americans, the release of BETTER LUCK TOMORROW marked a milestone.  Actor Parry Shen wrote a widely distributed email plea that roused Asian Americans to support Asian American film by going out to see the groundbreaking movie.  I’m feeling Shen’s urgency now as I move forward with my just completed manuscript, Facebuddha:  Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks.

The book is narrative non-fiction, about the psychology of social networks and relationships – but being written by me, a lot of it is also devoted to the Asian American experience, the immigrant experience, racism and love – all powerful components of relatedness and the real social network – Society.  Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks starts with deep soulful conversation on a Hanoi rooftop, and ventures through the relationship wilds of Facebook and the online experience via Linsanity and the blogosphere, and plunges deep into relationships in India before taking on the question of who we are when we are online – what happens to our mind, emotions, heart and attention – what happens to our sense of self and boundaries, and how our choices can affect our world. I think it is humorous, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and perhaps even transformative to the reader.  I’ve certainly been transformed as I’ve written this 80,000 word book and grappled with the multitude of issues raised by my investigation – inwards and outwards. You might also tell by the title that I come at this from a Buddhist perspective, as exploration of the mind/heart.  I’m mindful that in America, most of the respected authors in this genre are not Asian American.

Some comments so far (by very well-read and amazing individuals) are “Pitch perfect! Quite impressive and scholarly!” and “I did like the read! Thank you for your openness. I am touched by your candor. I hear a call to unite and feel moved to respond. I find your book thought-provoking.”

I’m in the process of looking for an agent now. (If any of you know an agent who would be interested in this genre, please let me know.)  But part of me questions how this will be received by audiences. Will they “get” me? I am very confident about my writing, but these latter questions can only be resolved if I can prove I’ve got an enthusiastic potential readership.

So I’m asking for your help. Can you please:
1. Forward this email and get your friends to sign up on my email list at www.RaviChandraMD.com
2. Follow me on Twitter at @going2peace
3. Please tweet “Looking fwd to #Facebuddha : Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks by Ravi Chandra! Sign up at www.RaviChandraMD.com@going2peace”
4. Please share this as a status on Facebook widely.

I’m not setting up yet another page which I will beg you to like – I’m not going to spam you – I’m don’t anticipate flooding my Facebook wall with posts about this book. But it would be very helpful to show an agent that there is an audience for an Asian American man writing about relatedness, psychology, and love with humor and insight.

Thank you for your continued support.

Ravi Chandra, M.D.