This is our story.
Please enjoy the video of Amoranalysis at Bird and Beckett Bookstore (the presentation begins at the 10 minute mark). Watch and listen to it with your Loved Ones, or listen to it as you drive, during a workout, for a class, or just over a cup of coffee 🙂 Feel free to share.
After reading from Barrio Bushido, Pura Neta, and Listo Love, the audience and I exchanged intense Amoranalysis: literary deconstruction for the purpose of interpreting and emanating Amor.
Please read the interview:
(Starting at the 43:50 mark):
These words can only do so much. Practice of Amor is more (important) than proclamation of Amor. Let’s practice some Amor together 🙂
Everyone how are you? What’s up? How are you feeling? All right, okay?
Let me invite you all to any kind of questions or any kind of comments, any ideas, any sharing you want to make regarding this, anything that I’ve stated. Please, your name.
Audience Loved One 1:
Rosemarie, um I’m reacting more to your conversation today about Amor. I think of love as caring compassion, but where, how can we, how can your characters have, you know, this sense of loving affection and just be so horrifically dangerously um outrageously deadly? I don’t know how to go on but…
Ben: Brutal, taboo, ugly, yes.
Audience Loved One 1:
They can profess all these feelings and behave so differently. I don’t get it.
I’ve been asked before, you know, is this fiction or non-fiction? Of course it is fiction because I cannot be these people that are spiders on this page, but at the same time I know, I know about love, and I can talk about Amoranalysis because I know very well what hate is and what ugliness is having grown up and been born and raised in the old Army Street projects, and then moving out of there, and moving out onto the streets by the time I was 10 years old, and in the midst of all this was the bloom of mass incarceration where I don’t even understand, why are they taking us off the streets? In and out of juvenile hall, I basically dropped out by the time I was in seventh grade, Rosalie, so even there, though, even there, there was light, and I would say comparing and contrasting to a common kind of consciousness and what is told to me is supposed to bring me some kind of fulfillment, some kind of Happiness, (but) where they never use the word Love. They’re forbidden to use the word Love.
Audience Loved One 2:
Who is they?
I would say all, all of it that’s out here, all of the words that they use. We could talk about all of the different systems, but the point is not to be just critical about it—the education system, the media system, the political system, my own existential issues. Nobody’s talking about the truth, and so they’re trying to say let’s go be happy, but at least we (street youth) were like I was saying earlier, in reading Pura Neta, Lobo had reflected later (in his life) like the gangster is an American icon because they rebelled. They see the Sham that’s going on, and these characters in Barrio Bushido they could not articulate it out into the world. They felt so worthless. The reason why they’re involved with such ugliness is because of the feeling of worthlessness and ugliness that they have that they can’t express that no one legitimizes for them. They are shunned, and they know that they’re punished simply for being who they are (Ben raises his hands and reveals brown skin).
So Rosalie, even there, though, even there, I think you could see some moments here especially with what they believe is the ultimate essence of Amor. They believe that that comes in the Brotherhood of the gang, and I understand this concept very well. I have had many, many loved ones just murdered, killed, dead on the streets. I was sharing with my class, it’s been I think three weeks now that I found out…I had seen him down in the TL (about a year ago), in the Tenderloin. He was a good brother, right, and you know, I hadn’t seen him in a few years, and he was down there, and he had a big smile on his face when he saw me, and I went and embraced him, and we chopped it up, and I helped him out a bit, and for me helping him out, and this, this is love right here: he pulled out this action figure that was still in the original wrapping. Do you all remember “He-Man”? It was in the 1980s, the cartoon character. He had a “He-Man” action figure that he was trying to hustle. You get what I’m saying? To sell, and he was like “Hey, Brother let me hook you up and give you this.” And I said, “Nah Bro, you handle that. You go sell that later. You know how we do it. Do whatever you need to do.”
That was the last time I saw him. Now he’s dead. Fentanyl. I mean just right and left (it’s taking us). I already know what he was doing. You know what he was doing, right? And I know what these characters are doing, and even there, there are moments where I would say this, this is something: It’s a philosophical point, but it’s beyond philosophy—to step outside of the common consciousness and get into the taboo and beyond the taboo. It gives you like a second sight, and then when you feel something, you really feel it, you know, and so there are nuggets of Amor that are embedded in this novel. At the same time, I felt like especially when I was writing it, I felt like I had to be true to the reality of what we were experiencing, and the reality of what we were experiencing was like a machismo, violence, aggressiveness, trying to be over somebody, yet at the same time in the midst of all that, also serving—serving each other, when we could when we could, so I would hope that somebody could read this and see that the characters are on this journey of exploration. (They ask) what am I supposed to be doing? What is this, what is this thing existence?
I hope what I’m offering right now is an example and a practice of Amoranalysis because as I said earlier I can make points about politics, about economics, about a whole bunch of social issues, and those things should be discussed. We should be able to take those things out, but I know where I’ve gotten (myself), what it’s gotten me when my focus has been the spider symbols for power purposes, and I learned how to use the spider symbols, I felt, pretty well. I have a law degree, and I started a lot of good shit here in San Francisco if you did not know. I’ve been part of a few things where we were able to start some good shit with these things, etc. I was able to talk and make good arguments and counter their stuff and analyze it from a political perspective, etc., etc., and I will tell you, three o’clock in the morning came, and inside right here (Ben pointing to his heart), I know I’m still fucked up because I’m not offering Amor. It’s not about Amor. It’s about power and manipulation and some type of solution where there is no solution!
I offer Amor as a solution and not a solution because Amor is the spirit that’s here right now, and there’s no data to keep regarding that. How do we measure it, you get what I’m saying? A solution requires some kind of mathematical measurement that Amor simply does not have, and I believe in this idea of Amoranalysis. I’m still teaching at the college, but I don’t feel like I need to stuff it down my students’ throats or anything. I don’t even really mention it. I don’t talk about my own fiction, but I hope that they could feel it, that they could feel it, yeah we got a student right here! So, yes, thank you, thank you for asking that, and I hope whatever I did (right now), it’s here. Yes, please, Joan, please ask your question.
Audience Loved One 3:
What about the way women are treated?
Okay, yes, yes let’s talk about that.
Audience Loved One 3:
How could you write about it if you hadn’t experienced it?
I’ve experienced beyond any of this with males or female relationships. It’s been a journey of destruction and Love, destruction and Love. The women here (in the novel), let’s understand they (the male characters) are coming from this perspective where they’re supposed to be in charge, but the problem is they know that they’re not in charge of anything! They know that they are weak and trivial, and they’re putting on a persona in order to survive this existence with some kind of dignity, and let’s understand this from a historical perspective: this is coming out of this specific attitude towards women that was a perspective that was born because of mass incarceration. I’ve talked about this when I used to do presentations on the book. I haven’t done a presentation for a while regarding this, but let’s understand that before 1986, 1987 homeboys would have love songs about their significant others or their girlfriends! What happened here? Young men started going to prison, their families got broken up, they felt humiliated, powerless, and they knew if they were going to be gone, they could not depend on anything, so let’s understand what happened. Once the grit and the truth of the streets, that is somewhat portrayed in the viciousness of what this (book) is, you have the mass media jump on something called gangsta rap, and gangsta rap is telling the story; it is an authentic language that is used to convey what was actually happening during that time, and it was a defense mechanism. These rappers, they all had wives. They bowed down to their women, many of them. Do you understand that, but what happened was they started glorifying and romanticizing this violence that the mass media then used to blow up even further (mass incarcerate us even further), and we became separated from ourselves not understanding how we were being manipulated like puppets, so my point about this is they’re speaking in this way because something has happened. Something has happened. Something else that happened, too, and I’ve talked about this during different presentations was that the crack era happened, and men and women started smoking crack and then all bets were off. All morality was gone, and someone who was your Loved One, one day, the next day they were on the streets. They were hooking on the streets. They were abandoning their children. The homeboys were pushing shopping carts, etc. etc. All of this destruction that was happening, and they thought that this (downgrading women) is the way that they would preserve their dignity by downgrading someone else, yet at the same time, I would argue that the characters, the female characters in this novel, are stronger many times, if not most of the times—and forget strength!
This is Amoranalysis!
They are more loving than the men in this book right here. The main female protagonist Maricela in Barrio Bushido is now over here in Pura Neta. What you will see in Pura Neta is Maricela is still a gangster girl, but she’s aged, too, and she’s wise, and before Santo died, without her knowing it, she became pregnant with his child, and in this novel Pura Neta here, we see little Santo grown up, so if you want to see a woman, a mother with Love and strength and intelligence and wisdom, she’s here in Barrio Bushido, but there she’s just a straight up Loca on the streets, and here now in Pura Neta, she’s a full-fledged mother, so that’s what I would say about the gender Dynamics, some issues of the gender dynamics that were happening during that time, and I don’t mean that as a justification for any type of evil, because let’s understand this is the truth, I believe, from my own experience and knowing how these things worked out. It’s what happened to many, many people, and many young men had that in their minds: they (women) are supposed to be bees and hoes. (Ben mocks himself): That’s the way we’re gonna pretend (we think), hahaha, that we believe that, but earlier I talked about three o’clock in the morning. What do you think happens at three o’clock in the morning thinking that bullshit? That shit ain’t true, it’s not true. You’ve just been following some rap that you heard, and some other homies that are in jail that try not to let it bother them while they’re in jail because their girl is gone, so they’re dealing with a lot of these different kinds of issues. Thank you. Thank you.
Audience Loved One 4:
This is more of a comment than a question. When you were listing the reasons for this kind of brutality, I was calculating for you to say the word pain, and pain seems to be so much part of it.
Yes, yes. No doubt, no doubt, and in that pain there’s an opportunity for Amor in that pain because these characters are purposely projected as some of the worst sinners you could experience. They’re in pain.
That’s who needs love the most. That’s who needs Love.
It’s easy to love our Loved Ones when everything is nice and beautiful, but it’s very hard to Love people who we think are so ugly, but they’re still human beings. They’re not monsters. Why are they like that? Why are we using our common consciousness based on logic to come up with some formula that some people matter right here because we have the data for why they progress society and lead to evolution, and these other people right here, they don’t matter because they can’t contribute anything.
Why does contribution have to be some kind of point for compassion?
I had said earlier when I started out this presentation, I’m not offering any type of solution here. I’m not offering any type of solution because I think I would be vain, and I’m still vain don’t get me wrong (Ben laughs at himself), but I think I would be too vain to think that I have some kind of solution for all of this.
I used to believe in solutions, progress, all this stuff, and it’s all just manipulation and gets us further away from what matters most, and I think we all as human beings know what matters most is inside of right here (Ben points to his heart), which has no explanation, has no words.
Audience Loved One 5:
Well, unfortunately, I didn’t hear about your book until later, so first of all I haven’t read it. I just met you for the first time today, and I see that you are coming from a perspective where you know both sides, what I mean sides, I mean two viable ways of living, and you will have an opportunity to explain one of them, and I’m just wondering how, I don’t know, how you participated in the world that you wrote about, how you bridged that leap from that world into your world, so that you are actually a member or could be a member of both worlds, but how did you bridge, how did you cross over so that you can now tell us what that world, what the experience is, what the reality is, and you can describe it apparently extremely well in your books, so I’m interested how you did that?
Thank you for asking this.
Violence was the bridge.
The mass media did not like our brand of violence (street violence), but they loved that mass combat War violence. I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old. My Brother (RIP) was in Susanville at that time, and I knew I was going to be going to prison soon (out of my own volition). I only had to wait until I was 18. I was gonna have to go to prison, and this is the time period where you’re supposed to prove your warrior-hood by going to prison and fighting and joining the bigger kind of super gangs that were created because of mass incarceration, and then I was supposed to get killed or die in some other manner, like so many stories like that. Let’s understand (this): what I was doing on the streets somehow, some way, I mean I did not have a formal education. I had a seventh grade education, but I got into the Marine Corps. I’m the littlest guy. I’m not very tall. You got Farm dudes from Oklahoma, Florida et cetera, and you know what? The Marines saw something in me. They saw I was pretty violent. They saw that I was aggressive and that I could go, and I would not stop. I had boxed for a couple of years in the Mission District (and Tenderloin), so they’re seeing that, and they like it, and I’m just saying what happened (Ben bows his head): they made me a squad leader. How could you make this dumbass kid a squad leader? He’s only 17 years old, and they loved that, and then once I got into the Fleet Marine Force and went into combat, they loved me even more, and they gave me medals. They gave me medals for things that they would have put me in prison for (on the streets). Do you understand what I’m saying? If you really want to understand that bridge, it was the bridge of violence that then after four years I come out, and I’m just sick with it on the streets. I’m carrying a gun everywhere I go. I’m sleeping with a gun right next to my pillow. For years I was like this, drinking, sleeping under cars. I did not care what I was doing. In one moment I would just be violent. I was lucky that I never got busted for any of that (and ask forgiveness to everyone I hurt).
Earlier Eric and I were talking about it: one place that gave me an opportunity to go explore different things was City College of San Francisco. That was it, but I would not go to class because I would be too anxious to go to class. I would feel like I would stutter over my words, so I remember that at that time, the library was in Cloud Hall, and I would go. I would cut class to go to the library stacks and just walk around the library, pick books out, and just start reading, so that became a bridge, too, and then as I said earlier (the American Pit Bull Terrier).
He looks like a little cutie right there, he’s a puppy (Ben holds up the Listo Love book cover with a puppy Pit Bull on it). I’ll show you his latest picture (Ben goes into his backpack and shows a notebook cover with a grown physically fit Pit Bull on it). These are the dogs that (helped me) because they’re hella physically fit, they’re hella slim, and the real ones should be able to be athletic and agile and everything, and I was kind of like that, and I wanted to be like that, and they helped me. They were a bridge, and this new book (Listo Love) is really going into the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier and is an explanation of Merica, and that’s the bridge. This thing that I love for its Spirit, but I’m not about that ugliness anymore. I hope I’m not. Of course, I’m a human being, so I’ll go there from time to time, and that’s why I said just a moment ago, it’s not just about proclaiming Amor. I don’t believe that—because words are just words. You’ve got to go and practice Amor, so I try to practice it in my everyday life. I hope that’s what I’m doing right now with you all—is just practicing Amor so, that was a bridge, a big bridge. There were little pieces from the professors, from the books. I was getting little pieces of Amor, but I don’t want to romanticize it either:
There was the violence in the language, too, because how I was taught, and this is the way that we were taught if you’re in an institutional education: you use the words to have a point and be better than someone else. Your argument should win, and I bought into that shit. I used to teach like that.
No, no more, no more of that.
I don’t want that. That’s no good. That’s not going to help the students. I don’t believe that is going to help the students. It’s gonna make them think, “Yay I got it! I did it! Et cetera.” You’re happy for a grade? What is it? It’s a letter (from the alphabet)!
I mean what’s happening in here (Ben points inside of himself)?
Thank you for listening. All Amor to everyone here. Thank you for coming. Blessings. I hope we meet again. Goodbye.
2 thoughts on “Video of Ben Bac Sierra’s “Amoranalysis” at Bird and Beckett Bookstore :)”
You will never cease to amaze me! I so know that is a great move forward. 🙏⭐️📖💕
All Amor, Juana 🙂