Pura Neta means you will mostly be misunderstood and maligned, for what you are advocating for is pure truth, which is a fiction—both truth and imagination combined. Most people cannot understand or accept this absurdity, which is at the root of everything. Those who actually know Pura Neta say it with a smile or a face of death, laughing and crying at the same time. It is beyond good and evil.
What to do with this knowledge? You can caress it and lay it gently into a treasure box, or you can shoot it out to stars.
Praxis is a constant state of proof: theory plus action equals transformation. Praxis means you do not just blindly obey lies nor do you hoard truth.
Praxis requires courage, which cannot truly be taught through any class or book. Praxis requires the world to be the stage. You learn truth and action it out into the world. It is the final perpetual step of authentic education. You challenge not simply your mind but your will.
You must gift your heart so that it can be burned.
The ancient Maya believed that the smoke that rises reveals secrets from ancestors, blessings to us all. The spirit lives when you put your heart on the line, even if it means you will be disappointed, betrayed, or even killed.
Pura Neta Praxis requires you to know what you know even though you do not know it and to leap into faith in a manifestable manner.
Pura Neta, the book, is ultimately art, and as such it means what it means to individuals in their own way. Not even I, the author, have answers to all the meanings in and about the book. I have embedded certain themes into the story, but there is no thesis. It is a story, a tale of human beings and a community trying to survive and live with dignity, truth, and originality in the face of overwhelming oppression, sometimes subtle and many times brutal. The book is not propaganda, but there is a message I am trying to weave throughout: fight the power; in that fight there is light and life. Truth and Imagination (Pura Neta) are the most potent forces in that fight.
If some get it while others do not, is not the point. I wish for readers to engage, to experience, to feel the characters and their specific stories and to feel the over-arching story as well. This leads to the question of audience: who are the readers?
This book is not everyone; that is impossible. I have not created and labored for a generic audience because a generic audience will simply not pick up and read a book that is this outside of the mainstream. Trying for a generic audience would have created a bland book, a McDonald’s style, that I have never been interested in writing. Literature is meant to be a subjective intimate experience, a private communication that happens in the mind for an extended time period, in this case 200 pages, approximately five to ten hours of thoughtful commitment. Yes, it requires commitment, so I respect my readers, want them in the story, want them to be entertained and provoked, want them to experience a strange fable, a magical world where even the dead and the earth themselves tell tales of the metaphysical. I want readers to feel a city where the human beings confess both stupidity and wisdom. I want some readers to say, ‘yeah, that’s me,’ and also for them to meet new friends, new flawed friends and fellow human beings that never existed but that may be more honest and real than, perhaps, any human beings they have ever known.
The ideal reader who will actually review and spread the excitement of the book is a person who can appreciate art, fiction, literature, and imagination and who doesn’t mind going beyond what they see, read, and hear in plain propaganda. They should have some appreciation of Urban Chicano Cholo culture, indigenous mannerisms, vida loca philosophy. I also imagine Chicano/Latinos and people of color reading to find or to cement within themselves their identity. Those people will read and laugh and get the many inside jokes. I can imagine a reader lost in this existential wilderness or stuck in the prisons finding hope and entertainment. The book, although complex, is not too hard to understand in story form, yet it is challenging enough so that the reader can respect the special journey. I am hoping for someone to read the book and feel that they have experienced a unique odyssey, especially because I do not think there has ever been a book formatted in this fashion, one that goes from prose to poetry within the same text in order to tell the story, a book that has characters who sometimes speak in and dialogue using stanza poetry, their own complex street style poetry. Let the book be music and laughter, perhaps some tears, but not melodrama. The tears, if any, should be for the sharing and blessing of suffering, the core of the heart.
The reader wants knowledge, may not get all the allusions, but she has respect for authentic education and honest history, so even if she doesn’t get all of it, she will want to learn about it and can also assume that the concept, the scenes, the words are there for a logical reason. In that way the book is a teacher. It pushes readers to question and also to research, which is an element of Praxis. One goal is that the audience reads it as fiction, but realizes that it is also connected to reality and that if they venture into reality with imagination, they will discover that the story is pure truth, Pura Neta. In that way it is a bridge between imagination and truth, which is the same thing, for truth was once simply imagination, and imagination is necessary for the evolution of truth.
It is sometimes a complicated book because life is sometimes complex. The main character Cartoon comes back to what he does not know with an idea to help his community, guide others, and fix problems that he knows he cannot fix by himself. He is not a savior, but he has a duty. Their ultimate solution (to get back to who they naturally are) is stupid, overly simplistic, yet it is exactly what they need. We human beings make things too complicated, when that is not reality. Reality is simple. You can simply sit there and exist. We make too much of ourselves. In the middle of the novel, in the San Quentin prison visiting room, Cartoon and Lobo realize reality is simple, and know that in order to fight, they must simplify, whittle down to what is necessary and real so that they can be graceful and agile for the fight, a fight where armor will only weigh one down.
A pure clear mind is the most precise weapon for Pura Neta Praxis.
This is all what I would hope for an audience to get out of the book. We do not need giant solutions. The big problems are a lie. We exist today. Right now. We can help an abuelita carry her groceries right now. We can buy a loved one a slice of pizza or a beer right now. The big problems will continue to exist, but like the ancient Japanese book Hagakure says, “Matters of great concern should be treated lightly. Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.” So, I would hope that an audience sees that, to help people in a humanistic natural way, in this era, is to be brave and crazy, for it does not make logical sense to fight overwhelming oppression, an oppression they reinforce constantly and explain can never be overcome. In this fight, Vida Loca must be appreciated and embraced, especially by those most oppressed. Then when a big tragedy occurs, like the murder of a Loved One by the police, the positive beautiful energy is already there for the gente to rise up. That is the way things can get done. The victory is in the constant struggle, the beautiful struggle.
I want to get people talking about strategies for art and empowerment. I want to talk about plain folks who are actually superheroes: SUPERHOMES. I want us to create our own mythologies and monuments. I want for people to read the words as if they are medicine. This is our story, the story of the oppressed and the power of the oppressed, their voice, their story, their solutions outside of the system. It is not the system, but simply the people, the grassroots people that got game.
Speaking about the book, sharing the book, listening to others share about the book will spark critique and creation. I hope to help others create their own stories, find their own voice. Then we can link together and share and create more. We can help heal each other from so much trauma and also fight against too many lies.
This is my goal for the book. This is what I want for my life. To serve, to steal, and to share. To live this life while I am alive.
I live what I write, and I write what I live.
Benjamin Bac Sierra
Pura Neta Poetry Praxis
Pura Neta Lowriding Praxis