Thursday, September 23, 2010

Very Imporant People

Hau’ofa, the author of Tales of the Tikongs and a self-declared clown, maintains a style of writing that pokes fun at just about everyone. One of his favorite pastimes in the book is to satirize the paradoxical nature of power. As we’ve discussed in Invisible Cities and Black Rainbow, a position of power can actually limit a person, as Kublai Khan’s ruling postion prevented him from seeing his whole empire as it was, and Eric’s Certification impeded him from making his decisions out of free will. Instead, we’ve found in these stories that the less powerful in society usually has greater, nobler role to play in the story (Marco Polo taught Kublai Khan about himself and the True Ones opened the eyes of Eric to the corruption of the Tribune).

Hau’ofa satirizes this paradoxical nature of power in the tale, The Seventh and Other Days. Sione Falesi is declared as a “Most Important Person who holds high positions in both the secular and the spiritual affairs of the realm,” (1). Yet the story goes on to show just exactly how much work Sione does not do on these so called secular and spiritual affiars. Rather he rests, plays cards, and gets back massages during “work” hours. Moreover, the cleaner of his agency, Lea, clearly in a less powerful position, easily and regularly uses flattery to con $10 out of Sione to supplement his underpaid wage. The story concludes with Manu’s question, “And who leads who in Tiko? (6) questioning who really holds the power in the story. Though Hau’ofa uses capitalization to highlight these positions as important, but this an exaggerated way of showing that the importance of the position is in the name only, not necessarily in the work that the person in the position does. Though Sione holds this high position of supposed power, worthy of capitalization in the text, the simple agency cleaner actually has power over him and outsmarts him on a biweekly basis.

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