36 Views of San Francisco — a poetry and photography series created in the summer of 2018

Ravi Chandra, M.D., D.F.A.P.A.
4 min readAug 30, 2018

36 Views of San Francisco — Artist’s Statement

Go directly to 36 Views of San Francisco

36 Views of San Francisco takes its name from Katsushika Hokusai’s 1830s series of woodblock prints, 36 Views of Mt. Fuji.Instead of the relative geologic stability of the iconic Mt. Fuji, however, Ravi Chandra places San Francisco and his own selfhood and identity at the center of his concerns as an artist and citizen. The ground is shifting under our feet, seismically and metaphorically: in the city, the nation and even the world. What moods and messages rise from the streets and from his soul? The series comprises 36 images of San Francisco people and locations, each accompanied by a poem impressionistically capturing the spirits and narratives of San Francisco and the artist as place, people and mind, in the summer of 2018. Hokusai added 10 images to his original 36, Chandra adds 18 views to his series.

The goal is to bring viewers and readers to reflections, both meditative and visceral, on a city in transition and consciousness in formation. The soul of San Francisco, known for vibrant and diverse cultural communities, the arts (including poetry and photography), spiritual seekers and workaday eccentricity and individuality, is threatened by changing economics, demographics and gentrification. Many of us fight and bemoan the change; others are resigned. Perhaps San Francisco, City of Hearts, city of St. Francis, is a Mt. Fuji after all, and will rise to meet the challenge of newcomers, new intentions and new ideas arriving in the 21st Century Tech Boom Gold Rush. Maybe the self has to be a Mt. Fuji, stable under the changing weather, supporting the goals of climbers. These missions still seem in startup mode, though. Chandra is not an economist or politician, but rather a psychiatrist and artist trying to measure the city’s varying pulse, and also trying to bring his own soul to coherence through creative inquiry. Change is traumatic; ideologies clash; people suffer. We heal when we come to a deeper sense of self. We could understand the city’s difficulties as an identity crisis. We have not sorted out yet who we are and who we are in relation to each other. Identity is always a work in progress, not something fixed, stable and solid. Our shifting environment is calling us to a deeper sense of our narratives as individuals and as a collective. There is something dying, and something coming to life, as is true of all transformations. What emerged reflects the artist’s own sensibilities and spirit as he places his ear to the ground, from Mission to Market, from the Sunset to the Haight, from the Richmond to Bayview, from J-town to the Marina, and all points in the 7x7. Chandra went looking for San Francisco’s soul, and his own. This is what he found.

Chandra notes:

“As it turned out, six of the 54 total poems (Views 36+5 through 36+10) were written in New York City, so this project is a little bit of a tale of two great coastal cities as well, both of them in flux. Perhaps because I was on vacation, perhaps because New York is a Global Queen of a City with over ten times the population of San Francisco, I found myself cocooned by people on the streets, enlightened by conversations with strangers, music and culture, and warmed by the company of friends eager to see me after months apart. Perhaps some insights are that we are/I am far too invested in work vs. relationships in San Francisco, and being a smaller city, small changes in demographics and economics make a much bigger impact on the overall feel and soul of the city. My goal as a psychiatrist and artist in San Francisco is to commit myself even more to cultivating relationship and community in the remaining years of my life, partly through my compassion organization in formation, SF Love Dojo.”

Here are wistful poems, angry poems, hopeful poems, humorous poems, flippant poems, poems about aging, poems about the city, poems about our American predicament, poems inspired by Buddhism, punny poems, and doggerel verses, all paired with images related or unrelated to the poems’ themes. They will hopefully entertain you and make you think, and perhaps even inspire you to write your own poems and responses. Feel free to add your comments, and share with your communities. Each entry is paired with one of Ravi Chandra’s blog posts from Psychology Today (The Pacific Heart), the Center for Asian American Media (Memoirs of a Superfan), videos or books.

This poetry is a free offering and endeavor. If you’re really inspired, please pick up a copy of Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks, or ask your library to purchase a copy. Only 3 bucks for the e-book and a big bite of ideas. Podcast interviews and more up at facebuddha.co.

Thanks for your indulgence — please enjoy and share! May 2018 be bright for you and for us all.

Photographs were all taken with an iPhone 7 plus.

Dedicated to
The Muses and Mercury
Eros and Psyche
Saraswati and Manjushri
All Creative Acts Emanating from Heart/Mind and World
Peter Kenichi Yamamoto, June 25, 1954 — May 27, 2018
Frederic Hull Roth, July 27, 1941 — July 2, 2018
(Pete’s last poem is here; as I neared completion of this 36 Views, I discovered
that my friend Shizue Siegel had been writing beautiful Buddhism-themed poems for Peter, available on his Facebook page. Something about his spirit passing, his special connection to the muses and heavens, has touched so many of us.

Rest in Power, Pete.

We love you and miss you.

Dr. Roth, Fred, you gave me gifts of meaning, curiosity and warmth which I am still paying forward. Thank you.)

Pairing: Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks

Start: June 9, 2018

End: August 8, 2018

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Ravi Chandra, M.D., D.F.A.P.A.

Psychiatrist, author of Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Facebook and the Other Social Networks, https://www.facebuddha.co, https://RaviChandraMD.com