A PhD on Celebrity Culture – Why Western Australia?

Posted by on Nov 26, 2012 in Critic's Area | 2 comments

Dear Readers,

Recently, I have been inundated with a lot of good wishes for having received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Media and Information from Curtin University in Perth, Australia.  I am incredibly grateful for the extensive love, inspiration, and support that I received during my journey there.  I will always remember the enlightened presence of the blessed individuals that came my way during that time.

When I began my studies at Curtin University, I believed that I was going for the highest education possible.  In fact, I learned immensely from my critical cultural studies on fame.  I also educated myself on the social, political and economic roots of reproducing talent and passion in popular culture.  However, my highest learning resided in an irony because there is no end to learning.  This learning begins with the talent of unconditional love which overcomes sexism, speciesism, and ethnocentrism.  One does not have to sacrifice moral values in love in order to achieve a higher desired goal.  You can achieve the highest form of success and happiness while practicing unconditional love for all beings.  In fact, intense and unconditional love is a driving force to attain higher states of mind and living which will make a difference to all.

Many people have asked me why I went all the way to Australia to do my PhD.  Since 2003, I had been a filmmaker and had been teaching communication and media at the University of Toronto.  In 2006, I went to Australia due to a fierce sense of love, not because I thought of pursuing my PhD there.  Interestingly, love is the least mentioned area in celebrity culture which I studied in Australia.  Yet, it is fascinating to realize how a risked, bold sense of love can celebrate life.  It also helps to develop a relationship with the inner core of one’s self.  Furthermore, it can become the magical force of realizing one’s deepest passion.  Finally, it enables one to realize limitless goals within success.

Losing my mother was very traumatic and scarred me with deep loss in 2003.  In Canada, Douglas Sechter was the only friend who bore witness to this severe death in my life.  When I went to Australia in 2006, I expressed my grief openly to the person who was my partner at that time.  However, I also experienced a creative spirit and bliss, due to him being a filmmaker and writer as well as a good friend.  I became a part of his ‘Taylor family’ that was kind to me.  Nevertheless, what I could not share with him was my parents’ dream and choice to pursue higher education and fiercely standing up for oneself in a way that was honest, respectful and emotionally safe.  In an ideal situation, one does not need to fight for that choice as sharing gifted paths and abilities can be a very humbling and mutually fulfilling experience.  Many men and women are under the illusion that they need to be happily married with a suburban house, car, job and children.  This is because our culture legitimizes and naturalizes institutionalized heterosexual monogamous marriages.  If such a relationship is carried out with fear and under pressure to fit into a society and there is lack of individualized choice and respect, it is not a relationship of unconditional love.   Therefore, I had no other choice left than to make a choice of my own.  I stood up for myself and chose my learning.  Instead of becoming Mrs Taylor, I chose my path leading to Dr Nandy.

Although I deeply grieved for my mother and I did not feel like living again, I chose to live the life for which I was born.  I chose to reclaim myself and therefore I used my spiritual energy to teach and learn in Australia.  I turned completely into being an academic, accepting PhD study after having received two grants valued at $120,000.  I started a new single life in a region that was remote and isolated compared to the city of Toronto that I had imagined to be the entire world.   Through the labour of love, I channeled myself and gave birth to my brain child, a manuscript, and I radically transformed into a new self with a burning desire to live through death (literal and metaphorical).  There were many moments that were emotionally tough, full of risks and tears, on the edge, and facing loss.  Nevertheless, I kept learning and fighting for myself.

The highest lesson that I received while deconstructing celebrity culture is how to celebrate all life with love.  I still remember the day when I awakened to this enlightened thought in 2010.   That day, I finished editing a thesis chapter and went for an evening walk in a park.  I got lost and ended up in a dark, remote area.  I was scared and isolated, but I reached out to a couple, Ted Pendergrast and Kerry Preston, that happened to pass by.  We met out of serendipity.  They were very kind to me and dropped me at my home.  On the way, they mentioned that their son Nick Pendergrast was doing his PhD in my Faculty.  I thought, what a small world!  I asked about his area of research.  They proudly mentioned that it was animal rights.  I was full of wonder, as I had never heard of such an area of work. I wanted to meet their son and his partner, Katie Batty, so I invited this kind family to my housewarming party.

Nick and Katie said they were vegan so I made sure I had vegan options in my vegetarian dinner.  However, I had never heard of the word vegan before and I was curious to know what was wrong with consuming dairy products as well as eggs?  I, like many, did not know about factory farming, humane myths of free-range farming, and about the ongoing slaughtering in the egg and dairy factories – the same factories giving birth to veal, beef, and leather – that is beyond cruel.  However, the good news is that there are amazing, vegan alternatives and I am still learning about them.

Even though I was doing 80 hours of academic work per week, it was easy for me to realize that to release the need for animal products and funding its industry is the easiest and most joyful thing to do.   I always thought that I had to carry a broken heart but when I discovered easy ways to practice the love of all beings, I unfolded a stronger soul that we all share and it was the driving force to complete my PhD about celebration.  I am so proud of our human talent, potential, and choices to create a beautiful world with fierce truth using the same sensual and aesthetic tastes.   It is not adequate to give birth to a child or to receive your own birth from your parents unless you learn how to give, receive, and celebrate the life of all sentient beings with compassion.   I learned that irresistible and healing love in Western Australia.  It is multiple and comes from One heart.

The main lesson that was learned in this whole journey is that you have to break free from dominant social systems, get lost, and be conscious of serendipity. The key to practicing this freedom is ongoing learning as well as having unconditional love in order to celebrate life.   With this, you can fearlessly cross the world (metaphorically) and achieve your dream(s).

My deepest gratitude goes to my life and soul partner Louis Massey in Canada, who I also met out of serendipity in Australia in 2008.  His unconditional love across the world as well as shared values of learning and compassion for all life are sacred to me.  I am also grateful to all faculty members, cultural institutions, my parents, soul family members, and friends that supported my learning and causes.  A special thanks to my friend and Doctoral colleague Yaya Mori for taking the above photographs in Australia.  My gratitude also goes to Douglas Sechter for offering reassuring thoughts, editorial suggestions and feedback in writing this blog in Canada.

I will be travelling to Australia, Singapore, UK, and Spain next month and I am looking forward to carrying thoughts of all loved ones throughout my journey.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing an open heart in reading this message.

Have a wonderful end of the year!

With affection and more to come in 2013,

Samita Nandy


  1. Beautiful.

  2. My sincere thanks to all readers and bloggers for reading and liking the post. Please feel free to share the blog for learning, empowerment, and healing. More posts are coming soon. Yours truly, Samita

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