A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

The voice of genius inside us: Victor Villaseñor

Photo courtesy of Patch.com
Author Victor Villaseñor left California as a young man to live in Mexico. Returning to the United States at 20, Villaseñor has written nine novels and 65 short stories.

Acclaimed author Victor Villaseñor spoke to the Santa Rosa Junior College community 12 p.m. Monday at Newman Auditorium, sharing his wealth of knowledge and candid personal philosophy.

California native Villaseñor, 79, has received high praise for his novels “Rain of Gold,” “Macho!” and “Wild Steps of Heaven.” His works explore the stories of migrants and the hardships of the Mexican/American and Native American experience. 

Wearing his signature Panama hat and distinctive moustache, he opened up with a joke about a life long injury that was bothering him, and commented on how every new injury seemed to effect the same leg. Villaseñor would ask latecomers to the speech if they had ever seen him speak before, and if they said no, would kindheartedly direct them to sit with the “other virgins”. He spoke with a gruff voice yet friendly tone.

Villaseñor spoke passionately about the importance of becoming bilingual, polling the audience to find out how many listeners spoke multiple languages.

“One of the biggest, stupidest things going on in this country is ‘English only’,” Villaseñor said.

He voiced his concerns about the harmful impact of the American education system, and the behaviors it discourages. 

“We’re not taught to think. We’re not taught to imagine and open up,” Villaseñor said. “Principals and administrators are the first ones to crush genius.” 

He spoke to the dangers of organized religion, and how the church manipulated people into war and poverty. “What happens to truth when you put ‘the’ in front of it?” he asked the audience. “It becomes completely exclusive.”

With the confidence of a motivational speaker, Villaseñor strode the stage and asked the audience what they thought a genius was.

“Genius is the ability to stop thinking with shallow manmade words and start thinking with your intuition,” he said. “We gotta get back to the wildness in each one of us.”

Audience members brought their copies of his books up for Villaseñor to use as props. In his opinion, “Wild Steps of Heaven” is the most powerful book, but his first book “Macho!” is the best.

Villaseñor encouraged each of the audience members to stand up, find a partner, tell them, “I am another you and you are another me,” and then hug heart-to-heart and “wiggle your ass.” “The brains follow the ass, and a relaxed ass means relaxed brains. We’re only going to make this a kinder better world when we learn to relax our ass,” Villaseñor said.

Villaseñor took time at the end of his presentation to invite the audience to his annual potluck at his ranch in Oceanside, California. The potluck is open invitation, and intended to bring in people with diverse backgrounds from across the world.

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About the Contributor
Séamus Reed
Séamus Reed, Arts & Entertainment editor
Seamus Reed is the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Oak Leaf. 2019 is his third year at the JC.

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    Robert H.Oct 15, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Very good coverage of the lecture presentation, well observed and nicely written.