POST-MODERN MEANING AND MANA

POST-MODERN MEANING AND MANA

In my own art and poetry, I am wanting a “Polynesian aesthetic” in my work … what I hope is a “native” feeling to it.  Even more than that, I’d like it to be a part of my business.

This Polynesian aesthetic incorporates three things – a high level of skill, indirectness, and mo’olelo (story).

What makes an object a work of art to me is a feeling that the thing is “special,” imbued with a sense of the person who made the thing and the place where that person grew into the artist he or she is.  Art evokes presence, I am thinking, and that is why it is special.

The process of the manufacture of an art object or the performance of some song or dance or story has to incorporate the history, meaning and cultural identity inherent in the artist and in the place.  If art is to be a real expression of the person who is making it, then it does have to be built out of pieces of that person’s heart.

A business is also a human-made thing.  Could it not be practiced as an art?  Hmmm….

The making of lauhala hats is an honored Hawaiian art form passed down from generation to generation.  Aunty Elizabeth Lee is the acknowledged best of the practitioners in Hawaii and she has been one of the people who has helped to keep the art form alive.

Many of the artists who are Polynesian tell us that in order to produce good work the artist must be “of good heart.”  This, they say, will “show” in the work.

In the hat-weaving, for example, anger and discontent in a person is transmitted through the hands and the weave shows a tension that is not there when the person is calm and at peace.  The hats get misshapen and lumpy.

For this reason, many of these artists seem to make the art they do into a moving meditation filled with ritual and mindfulness.

Ritual is an important part of the Polynesian aesthetic and when ritual is a part of the object then the object becomes an amazing thing.  It becomes an opening and a gateway to a world where everything is interconnected and the parts all move in concert to more cosmic rhythms than are discernible in everyday life.

Usually, when someone is learning an indigenous art form, at some point they will be introduced to the rituals involved in the making of the craft.

A touching You-Tube Video, “Weaving From the Heart,” is a documentary made by Alayna Kobayashi about weaver Lynette Roster and her thoughts about  weaving the lauhala, the leaves of the pandanus tree, into a hat.

The weaver in the video, Lynette Roster, mentions that the weaver “asks” the tree for the leaves that will be used for making her hats.  The weaver thanks the tree and also takes care of the tree which supplies her materials.

This, it seems to me, adds another dimension to the process of weaving a hat.  It adds gravitas, a kind of spiritual “weight.”

Since much of the cosmic, “other” world is hidden from direct perception it can only be approached sideways…obliquely.  That’s why kaona, the hidden meaning, is important.

However, kaona slides away from a direct gaze.

Making this way of doing things a part of modern life is a bit of a puzzlement.  We moderns are so straightforward:  Okay….there’s the leaves….grab a ladder…pick the leaves…and so on and so forth.  Ritual gets us making faces and going, “You want me to TALK TO A TREE?  HUH?”

It gets even more hairy when you’re trying to put together a business.  The hard-nosed bean-counters roll their eyes at you when you talk about “meaning” and  “mana.”  Still, the times they are a-changing.

Here’s another video…one showing Steve Jobs talking about  modern-day branding.

In this video, where Steve Jobs introduces Apple’s Crazy Ones campaign to investors and his top people, he starts from the premise that marketing is about core values, values that don’t change.

He says, “People with a passion can change the world….Those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.

In this video, one of the best marketers of the modern age talks about “meaning.”  He’s talking about “mana” and how his company is going to promote some.  Interesting, huh?

Maybe “meaning” and “mana” has relevance in more than just the world of native arts and crafts.  Maybe it might have relevance for you as well.

What do you think?  Let me know.

Here’s another poem….


SMALL ENOUGH FOR DREAMS

It’s a complex thing,

This trying to get back to simple,

Reaching towards the place

That is small enough for your dreams.

 

The details of a life lived out loud can overflow,

Flooding through you,

Submerging the shine of

The mana-bits that sparkle in you

In an urgent, onrushing tide of

Other-people needs,

Other-people wants,

Other-people dreams.

 

Holding onto even the memory of your own dreams

Grabbing hold with both hands on

The knowledge that you are on your way to

Your own place in that onslaught

Can be a battle against an overwhelming force sometimes.

 

But, in the quiet time,

When the ebbtide flows out and away from you

And the moon rises up over a calmer sea,

Your half-drowned self can

Sit on some lost and forgotten beach

Just listening to the wind

Soughing through the ironwoods.

 

If you’ve managed to hang onto that dream –

The one that gives your own life meaning –

If you remembered not to let it go

In the middle of the flood-time,

Sometimes you can catch the glimmer

Of the shine as it starts coming real…

As you start coming real.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Hala (Pandanus tectorus) by David Eickhoff via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

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26 thoughts on “POST-MODERN MEANING AND MANA

  1. Hi I just came across your site.

    What a lovely blog if i might say so myself. I really enjoyed reading this, all tho its normally something I would enjoy reading.

    Somehow your writing is very capturing 🙂

    I am looking forward to reading your next post and more

    Well done

    Coll

    1. Hey Coll…thanks for the visit and your kind comments. Please do come again!

  2. What a beautiful page… You could almost feel the breeze and smell the trees…
    I specially enjoy the article about the hat making. The video is so inspiring.! To see this 80+ year old lady showing with such a pride her craft, and then transforming her little business into a Workshop where people go and learn from her.
    Very inspiring to see that no matter how old you are, or how basic your knowledge is, if you love what you do, you will succeed. Remember what she said. You learn by practicing. There is not such a thing as instant success.
    Congratulations TitaWorks… I really love this post.

    1. Hey Gloria:

      Thanks for the visit and the comments! Please come again!

  3. Hi Netta,

    I just want to applaud you for such a beautiful post. You have a gift for writing poetry! I believe you use the freeform verse? I love the rhythm of your words. Just like the way the fingers of lauhala masters weave their hats with expert hands, so do your words weave themselves into verses.

    I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’m a literature major and it’s been a while since I read poetry. Thanks for making my day better! 🙂

    Needless to say, I will be checking back on your site consistently. Cheers!

    1. Hey Peter: Thank you for the visits and for your encouraging words. I am really pleased you enjoyed it. Please do come again….

  4. Ok – so this will be an interesting review.
    It’s almost a motivational site but not quite
    It’s almost a poetry site but not quite or I guess after further review, that’s the intent. Let me know if I am on the right track please.
    It’s part inspiration but mostly poetry? – correct?
    Anyhow, I think it’s interesting but it doesn’t appear to be a platform for earning money, as I see no revenue generating tools – or did I miss them?
    Are you trying to create a community for poets?
    If so, thats pretty cool.

    Bill

    1. Hey Bill:

      Thanks for your visit and for your thoughts on this thing. What it is, I am hoping, is a mash-up that leads to a gestalt-making platform for finding meaning and mana that enriches an ordinary life. It IS a poem, I am thinking, of the most esoteric kind and I want to rev up people’s heads with it. The whole website is like that.

      I’m still building the site so I haven’t figured out how to monetize it and rather than pitching stuff to people prematurely, I am building product and sharing the early iterations of it with folks for comments, ideas and feedback. I do want to thank you for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate that you took the time to do it right.

      I’m still just trying to get to good with it and find my audience with it. When I figure out who THEY are, I’ll figure out how they can help support this endeavor. Just looking for my tribe, guy!

      Please do come again….

  5. Hey Netta, 

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of useful information. I’m always excited to read your posts because you always publishing interesting stuff. Which language does the word “MANA” come from? Is it Spanish or Latin?

    Thanks in advance for answering my question. Well Done Netta!

    1. Welcome back, AV2001.  As far as I know, the word “mana” (as I use it here) is part of many of the native languages of the Pacific Islands — Polynesian, Melanesian, Austronesian and so on.  It is always tied to spirit and to heart.  

      Thanks for asking.  

      Please do come again.

  6. Hi Netta, 

    Your use of the Polynesian aesthetic to explain meaning and mana in tin modern business world, was nothing short of artistic. I am impressed with how you skillfully wove your analogy into your article. 

    In a nutshell, the state of your heart is translated into the outcome of the works of your hands. In other words, to be successful in your business, you must channel the right meaning and mana to your entrepreneural endeavours. 

    1. Exactly, Peace.  Thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.

      Please do come again….

  7. I love poetry.  These are very unique and well written.   What is your biggest inspiration?   

    Thank you for enlightening the world and bringing joy through your words.   Would this blog be a journal of your poems?  Or is this a community for other poets to submit their work?  Either way – good stuff. 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for your interest, Zach.  I do appreciate it.

      My biggest inspiration, always, is Life-Its-Own-Self.  That’s why I call my poems “life-built”.  Seems to me every time you think you’ve got it down, Life throws in another curve-ball.  Hee!  It’s very cool.

      This blog grew out of my poetry-making habits, which grew out of my response to Life, the World and trying to play in the Infinite Game.  Once you put on those juju poet-eyes, it’s sort of hard to go back to grub-colored visions.  

      There is a “portal” among the menu offerings above where any other poets are welcome to submit a poem of their own making that has meaning and mana for them.  I do encourage them to share the back-story and I do appreciate anybody who’s willing to make the run.  (Playing is a good thing.)

      Please do come again….

  8. Ibrahim Abdulrahman says:

    Mana is a generalized, supernatural force or power, which may be concentrated in objects or persons.  Although I am hearing this word for the first time, however your article has made me to research more on it. And the examples you sighted in the article shed more on it, I will be glad to see more articles on this probably as a continuation or follow up.

    1. Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Ibrahim.  You may want to check out the blatherings in the “About” section of this thing.  It elaborates on the underlying philosophy that seems to inform my bit of the world, exposing the bones of this thing.

      My own thought is that mana is the way we move and direct our energy in the world and how the world directs its energy through us.  Being mindful of the meaning and mana of life is, I think, a recognition that an ordinary life really is a sacred thing.  

      Please do come again. 

  9. Bumping into a wonderful content like this is always a joy. I have been looking for a piece like this one for a long while. 

    Reading something that takes my mind away for a while is very essential. And I am grateful for this piece. Please do more to provide more of this kind of content.

    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Marshall and for sharing your thoughts.  I am pleased you enjoyed the post.  

      Please do come again.

  10. Hi Netta. The video is so motivating, if a old woman can do that and find happiness in it, I think nothing can stop me. I learnt from her to keeping doing whatever I enjoy.  Honestly, the poem is great. I wish I could write like you. I’ll be looking forward to new posts from you. Thanks for sharing 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Alex.  I’m glad the video moved you.

      Please do come again.

  11. AnnetteCristina says:

    Interesting. You have a very unique composition style. So it’s introspective poetry? It’s been a while since I’ve read poetry.  The video was interesting to watch. Her fingers move so adeptly weaving each strand. She makes it look so easy. Not sure I understand your connection to “meaning” and “manna”. Manna was food from heaven and as such refers to provision. Therefore, it’s a physical thing, not an abstract idea. Just my opinion, of course. 

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, AnnetteCristina.  

      You’re right.  “Manna” with two n’s is a Hebrew, Biblical sort of word.  It is the stuff that fed Moses and his followers as they wandered around in the desert after they took off from Egypt where they were second-class citizens.

      The “mana” in this post is a (Pacific-wide) Oceanic concept and is more of a mindset than a physical thing.  For me, mana is a significant component of the meaningfulness one finds in one’s life.

      I call my poems “life-built” because they are my responses to Life-Its Own-Self.  Sometimes  a poem is sort of dreamy.  Sometimes it gets angry or raucous and snarky.  Sometimes it just gets downright silly.  Like me, I suppose.  

      The poems are basically springboards for the posts that are mostly about different ways of walking that work pretty okay.

      I hope that helps.

      Please do come again….

  12. Edwin Bernard says:

    I enjoyed reviewing this website post of yours. I watched both videos and learned a lot from them. 

    Aunty Elizabeth Lee said something about the basket weaving conference that resonated with me. When students learn one skill, they want to move over to the next one immediately. Her advice was to repeat what you learned to have a better shot at retaining that knowledge. 

    At WA we are taught many skills. I found out that I needed to dwell a bit longer on each lesson to remember better what I was just taught. This wise lady knew what she was talking about.

    You promote the importance of art forms and simplicity. Apple proved that they are the master of that philosophy. It is by inspiring the soul that creates a strong attraction to ones brand. 

    This statement you made meant a lot to me. There was a word left out to make it grammatically correct and I added it in parenthesis. 

    “If art is to be a real expression of the person who is making it, then it does have to [be] built out of pieces of that person’s heart.”

    In order to make that important connection, no matter in what pursuit, the reader needs to know this is the case. Although you didn’t state this overtly, this is an important virtue to have to connect with potential customers and associates in our chosen fiend of online affiliate marketing. 

    The poem at the end was a brilliant way to use your own poignant poem to teach an important lesson in placing the needs of ones customers above ones personal needs. However, in doing that our own needs will be met more than we can every imagine. 

    Netta, your website is unlike anything else I have come across in my WA education. It was an honor to read it and provide you with comments. I wish you continued success in your online business presence. 

    1. Edwin, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate the way you relate the rather esoteric concepts in this thing to everyday.  Perfect!  

      Please do come again….

  13. Cherryl Darling says:

    Nice blog. Picturesque view of life. The meaning of the modern world.

    The idea of creating art and integrating it into our internet business is smart. I suppose you could say what Steve Jobs did to the internet is a form of art. It was brilliant. His name is forever ingrained and would be remembered in the history of the internet.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Cherryl.  I do agree that life, when lived as a form of art, makes it all way more interesting.  

      Please do come again.

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