Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insatiable Native Nymphomaniacs

To me, Epeli Hau’ofa’s Tales of the Tikongs was a perfect combination of the previous two texts. I was as confused (and slightly disturbed) as I was while reading Wendt’s Black Rainbow, and equally as disoriented after reaching the halfway mark of Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Exploring the one-of-a-kind culture found on the imaginary island Tiko, Hau’ofa presents a social commentary packed to the brim with religious satire and misguided fundamentalism. Although I have yet to fully form my own interpretation of the text, I have begun to grasp Hau’ofa’s outlook on life. I can only assume that he is not a fan of organized religion, that he hates when things that work just fine are developed for the sake of D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T, and that there is nothing that irks him more than unnecessary imperialism.

I’m not sure if it appears in the second half of the book, but I was surprised to see that Tales of the Tikongs lacks a crucial element of the other works we’ve read thus far; not once did I find an individual character on the gradual journey towards self-discovery. Noeli finds new religions and Ti learns not to roll cigarettes while still half-asleep, but I myself could not find a sense of urgency and understanding. My favorite aspect of Hau’ofa’s work is how he introduces each new character just as Calvino exposed us to separate sectors of Venice. It would not be an exaggeration if you said every Tikong is quite the individual. They each have their own quirks and enjoy their life of leisure in their own way, yet I think there’s a deeper meaning in the fact that they all have an identical mindset towards life on the island. Manu is my favorite as he remains the individual amongst individuals, as well as, “the only teller of big truths in the realm” (Hau’ofa 7).

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