Samoan “Chief Tuiavii” on the Desperation of ‘The Papalagi’

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In 1920, Erich Scheurmann translated into German the speeches of Samoan Chief’ Tuiavii from the village of Tiavea, a work called The Papalagi (The White People) that describes his impressions of European culture formed during a tour as part of a traveling show. Tuiavii’s depictions of the greed and hypocrisy of the civilized Europeans has become a post-hippie inspiration for a counterculture movement to break out of the rigid confines of corporate capitalism. Despite controversy over Scheurmann, who published the manuscript without permission, we can nevertheless learn a thing or two from Chief Tuiavii’s words, summarized and excerpted below.

Der Papalagi, Erich Scheurmann

The first English edition, published in 1975, with illustrations by Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte.

The Inspiration of Western Travelers: Samoan Counter-Cultural Treatise or Cultural Appropriation?

The Papalagi (Der Papalagi with the subtitle: The Speeches of the South Seas Chief Tuiavii from Tiavea) is a book by Erich Scheurmann published in Germany in 1920, which contains descriptions of European life, as seen through the eyes of a Samoan chief named Tuiavii. Born in Hamburg in 1878, Erich Scheurmann, a painter and novelist, traveled to the then German colony of Western Samoa in 1914 on an advance from a Berlin publisher to write a book about the island country. Two months later, World War I broke out and New Zealand occupied Samoa, turning him into a prisoner of war. He had an arranged internment in the U.S.A. in autumn 1916, and returned to Germany only shortly before the war ended.

In Der Papalagi, Scheurmann claims he met the chief in Tuiavii’s village Tiavea on Upolu Island which belongs to the Samoan chain. Scheurmann reports that Tuiavii, a former pupil at the Marist school and a Catholic Christian, had visited all European countries as a member of a “Volkerschaugruppe,” or Native performance group, and thus became familiar with, and gained some insight into European cultures. After returning to the islands, Tuiavii is said to have drafted speeches which he intended as a kind of manifesto for his Polynesian contemporaries. In essence, the papalagi (Samoan for “white people”) wanted to drag them “into his darkness,” admonishing his people to guard against European influence. Scheurmann claimed he had obtained permission to translate these drafts into German, though he notes that Tuiavii never intended to publish these for European readership, and never gave explicit permission.

Given his short time living in the islands prior to the war, one must question his understanding of the language to translate such a work. This and other issues have given rise to significant criticism levied that this is a “noble savage” hoax written by a proto-hippie story-teller who once met up with Hermann Hesse while bouncing around Germany on the peninsula of Höri in the Bodensee. The essay by Gunter Senft (Weird Papalagi and a Fake Samoan Chief — A Footnote to the Noble Savage Myth) and the 1975 take-down by German ethnologist Horst Cain have carried particular influence in some circles. Clearly, any reader would have to put this manuscript, and its criticisms, into perspective.

“When you speak to a European about the God of Love, he smiles and makes a funny face. He smiles at your stupidity. But as soon as you show him a piece of round, shiny metal or a sheet of heavy paper, then his eyes light up and saliva starts drib­bling down his lips. Money is his only love, money is his God. That’s the thing all whites think about, even when they sleep.”  — Chief Tuiavii/Erich Scheurmann in ‘Der Papalagi’

Straight Translation? Creative Nonfiction with a Dose of Derivative Noble Savage Literature? Does it Matter?

One might surmise that Der Papalagi has some level of creative nonfiction, in that the translation may not be a strict interpretation of Tuiavii’s words. There is even a question if the Chief actually existed — but let’s assume this effort did not originate from the mind of Scheurmann. Was it’s form inspired by another similar ‘travelogue’ from Africa, The Journey of Lukanga Mukara Into the Innermost of Germany, by also German explorer Hans Paasche? Maybe, as some assert. According to Scheurmann’s great-granddaughter Jessica Rottschäffer, who is working on a doctoral thesis about her ancestor, Tuiavii is most likely a composite character.

“While in Samoa, Scheurmann met the high chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi I, and some other lower chiefs,” says Rottschäfer. “So Tuiavii seems to be based on a couple of different people.”

Samoan Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi I 1891 - Andrew Thomas

Samoan Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi I as a young man in 1891. He may have been one of the inspirations for Tuivaii in Der Papalagi. He ended up shot in 1929 in demonstrations against the New Zealand occupation of Samoa. Photo by Andrew Thomas.

Yes, idealization and cultural appropriation of Native lives, cultures, and their subsistence-based ways of living has promoted racist perspectives, literature, and movies, as well as colonization, hegemony, and genocide against Indigenous Peoples throughout time. However, any Western traveler who goes off the beaten path and into the communities of peoples who strive to control their land and culture against rapacious adventuring outsiders (white, capitalist) can vouch for a multitude of conversations laughing at or warning against the vagaries/deprivation/desperation of life in an industrialized ecosystem.

“You can also recognize the Papalagi by his wish for making us wise and because he tells us that we are poor and wretched, and in need of his help and his pity, because we possess nothing.

“…who can be richer than us and who can possibly possess more things from the Great Spirit than exactly us? Throw your eyes around to the furthest horizon, where the wide blue expanse rests on the rim of the world. Everything is full of great things: the jungle with its wild pigeons, hummingbirds and parrots, the lagoons with their sea-cucumbers, shells and marine life, the sand with its shining face and smooth skin, the great water that can rage like a band of warriors or smile like a taopou and the wide blue dome that changes color every hour and carries large flowers that bless us with gold and silver light. Why be so foolish as to produce more things, now that we have so many outstanding things already, given us by the Great Spirit himself?”  — Chief Tuiavii/Erich Scheurmann in ‘Der Papalagi’

Whether we ascribe a scientific or anthropological veneer over the treatise of Der Papalagi, the fact remains it speaks to the madness of our busy lives so-called-civilized-by-capitalism that now face ecosystem collapse, climate catastrophe, and widening global inequality. Take a look at the manuscript, and you will understand why it continues to inspire a reconsideration of a life saddled with “your mad dash to richness that binds the hands and the head, your passion for becoming your brother’s better, your many senseless undertakings, your curious thoughts and knowledge that leads to nothing, the aimless labor of your hands and all those other follies that hinder your sleep on the mat.”

The Papalagi

The lectures of Samoan chief Tuiavii from Tiavea to the members of his tribe – Introduction by Erich Scheurmann, Published by Peace Elements and NonDuality.com

(Sections translated from German into English by Jan Barendrecht and Peter C. Cavelti. See Cavelti’s translation in Tuiavii’s Way. Edited by Jack Eidt.)

Der PapalagiThe palm tree will cast off its leaves and fruits when they are ripe.

The Papalagi (literally foreigner, meaning “white people”) is living as if the palm tree would want to hold on to its leaves and fruits: “They are mine! You are not allowed to have them or to eat from it!”

How could the palm tree bear new fruits?

The palm tree has much more wisdom than the Papalagi.

Tuiavii never intended to have his speeches published for the Western public, nor to have them printed anywhere at all. They were strictly meant for his Polynesian people. Yet I have, without his consent and definitely in disregard of his wishes, taken the liberty to bring these speeches of a Polynesian native to the attention of the Western reader, convinced, that for us white people with our Western civilization it could be very worthwhile to find out how a man who is still closely bound to nature sees us and our culture. […]

The Papalagi Made God Poor

The Papalagi have a strangely confused way of thinking. They always rack their brains, to extract more profits or rights from things. And their consideration is not for humanity, but for one single person only. And that single person is themselves.

When somebody says: “My head belongs to me and to nobody but me”, he is very right and nobody can speak up against it. Up to this point, the Papa­lagi and me share our views. But when he continues: “That palm tree is mine,” only because that tree happens to grow in front of his hut, then he behaves as if he made the palm tree grow himself. But that palm tree belongs to nobody. To nobody! It is God’s hand, reaching out to us from the soil. God has many hands. Every tree, every blade of grass, the sea, the sky and the clouds that float by, they are all God’s hands. We may use them for our pleasure, but we may never say: “God’s hand is my hand.” But that is what the Papalagi do now. READ MORE…

About the Stone Boxes

The Papalagi is living like a sea mussel in a fixed housing. He is living between stones, like a centipede between the cracks of lava.

[…]

This way, in Europe as many people are living, as palm trees are growing in Samoa; yes, even many more. Some do have a yearning for woods, sun and light; however, generally this is looked upon as a disease, one has to conquer oneself. If someone isn’t satisfied with this stony life, it is said: he is an unnatural man; what has to be meant as: he doesn’t know what God has ordained for man. These boxes of stone are grouped together closely in large numbers, no tree, no bush does separate them, they are standing like people, shoulder to shoulder, and in each one as many Papalagi are living as in an entire Samoan village. At a distance of a stone’s throw, at the other side, there is an equal series of boxes of stone, again shoulder to shoulder and here too people are living. So between both rows there is just a narrow crack, called “street” by the Papalagi. This crack often is as long as a river and covered with hard stones.

[…]

The noise is huge. Your ears are stunned, because the horses are slamming their hooves on the stone floor, the people are slamming with the hard skins on their feet on it. Children are crying, men are yelling, out of joy or out of horror, all are yelling. You cannot make yourself understood other than by yelling too. There is a general buzzing, rattling, stomping, droning, as if you are standing at the steep surf of Savaii on a day a heavy storm is raging. And yet that raging is lovelier and doesn’t take your sense away as the raging in the cracks. Now this all together: the boxes of stone with the many people, the high cracks of stone coming and going like a thousand rivers, the people inside them, the clamoring and raging, the smoke over everything, no tree, no blue sky, without fresh air and clouds is this, what the Papalagi is calling a city. His creation, at which he is very proud.

[…]

Between all islands of stone is the real land, is that, what one calls Europe. Here, the land is partly beautiful and fertile, like with us. There are trees, rivers and woods, and here also are genuine villages. Even if the huts are made from stone, they are surrounded with many fruit trees, the rain can wash them from all sides and the wind can dry them again.

In these villages other people with other senses are living than in the city. They are called country folk. They have bigger hands and dirtier loincloths than the people from the city, although they are having much more to eat than these. Their life is much healthier and more beautiful than that of the men from the cracks. But they themselves don’t believe it and envy anyone they are calling do-nothing, because those don’t have to touch the earth and to put fruits in and out. They are living in enmity with them, because they have to give food from their land, have to pick fruits that the men from the cracks are eating, have to guard and raise the cattle until it is fat and give him half of it. Anyhow, they are having the trouble to produce food for the men from the cracks and they don’t see, why those are wearing more beautiful loincloths than they themselves are and having more beautiful white hands, not having to sweat in the sun and to freeze in the rain than they are.

The man from the cracks don’t care a bit about this. He is convinced to have higher rights than the man from the land and that his work is more valuable than fruits putting in and taking out the earth. This battle between both parties isn’t such, that there would be war between them.

[…]

However we, who are free children of the sun and the light, want to remain faithful to the great Spirit and not burden his heart with stones. Only confused, sick people, not holding God’s hand anymore, can live happily between cracks of stone, without sun, light and wind. Let us grant the Papalagi his doubtful happiness but stamp out any effort to build boxes of stone on our sunny beaches and to destroy our joy with stone, cracks, dirt, noise, smoke and dust, as is his objective.


In the 1930s, Western colonial domination and tokenization of Samoan culture had already taken hold.

The Papalagi Doesn’t Have Time.

The Papalagi loves the round metal and the heavy paper (Tuiavii’s description of money), he loves to fill his stomach with a lot of liquids from dead fruits and with meat from pigs, cows and other horrible animals, but above all, he loves what isn’t tangible and that is time. He makes a lot of fuzz and foolish talk about it. Although never more is available than between sunrise and sunset, it is never enough to him.

The Papalagi is ever dissatisfied with his time and accuses the great Spirit that it hasn’t given more. Yes, he is defaming God and his great wisdom, by dividing a day in certain parts. He cuts it as if one would go with a machete through a soft coconut. All parts have names: second, minute, hour and one has to have sixty minutes or many more seconds to fill an hour. That is a complicated issue I never understood, because I get sick, reflecting on those childish matters. But the Papalagi makes a big knowing out of it.

Men, women and even children too small to walk, wear a small, flat, round machine inside their loin­cloths, tied to a heavy metal chain hanging around the neck, or around the wrist; a machine that tells them the time. Reading it is not an easy thing. It is taught to the children by pressing the machine to their ears, to awaken their curiosity.

Those machines are so light that you can lift them with two fingers and they carry an engine inside their bellies, just like the big ships you all know. There are also big time-machines, standing inside their huts, or hanging from a high house so as to be better visible. Now when part of the time has passed, it is indicated by two small fingers on the face of the machine and at the same time it cries out and a ghost strikes the iron in her insides. When in a European town, a certain part of the time has passed, a frightening clamoring and din breaks out.

When this timing noise is sounding, the Papalagi complains: “It is a heavy burden that another hour has passed.” At the same time he puts a sad face, like a man who is burdened with great suffering, although immediately a completely new hour arrives. I have never understood this other than it being a severe disease. “The time is avoiding me!” – “The time is running away like a stallion!” – “Give me just a little more time.” Those are the complaints of white men.

I say this could be a kind of disease; assumed, the white man likes to do something, his heart is longing to be in the sun(shine) or to sail with the canoe at the river or to make love with his girlfriend, this way he will spoil the appetite for it, clinging to the thought: no time remains to be happy. Yet the time is there, but he doesn’t see it no matter he is trying. He mentions a thousand things taking time, feeling resentment and complaining about the job he doesn’t like, that doesn’t give joy, to which no one is forcing him the way he is doing himself.

But suddenly seeing that he has time, that it is there nevertheless or that someone gives him time – the Papalagi are mutually giving each other time, yes, nothing is so high in esteem – he will fail the appetite, or he is tired from the unenjoyable job. And frequently he wants to do tomorrow for which he has time today. There are Papalagi, asserting they never have time. They are running around headless, like from the devil possessed, and wherever they come, create havoc and uproar, because they have lost their time.

This mania is a horrible condition, a disease no medicine man can cure, contagious to many and driving them into misery. As every Papalagi is possessed for fear of his time, he also knows exactly, and not only every man, but also every woman and child, how many sun- and moon risings have passed since he saw the great light for the first time. Yes, this is playing such a serious role, that it is celebrated in certain, equal distances with flowers and big eating parties.

How often did I notice, how one was thinking having to be ashamed of me, when asking, how old I am, and I laughed and said, I don’t know. “You have to know how old you are.” I remained silent and thought, it’s better I don’t know. How old, means how many moons have been living. This counting and figuring out is full of dangers, because it has been discovered, how many moons the life of most people will be. Now everyone is watching carefully, and when quite a number of moons have been passing by, he will say: “Now I’ll have to die soon.” He doesn’t enjoy anymore and will die soon.

[…]

The PapalagiFrom the Places of the False Life and the Many Papers

Beloved brethren of the great sea, your humble servant would have to say much to you, in order to give you the truth about Europe. To do that, my lecture had to be like a waterfall, flowing from morning to evening, and even then would your truth be imperfect, because the life of the Papalagi is like the sea, of which one can’t see exactly the beginning and the end. It has as many waves as the great water; it can storm and surf, laugh and dream. As no man can empty this with a hollow hand, I cannot carry the big sea of Europe to you with my small spirit.

But I won’t fail from telling you from it, because as the sea cannot be without water, so European life cannot be without the place of false life and not without the many papers. If you take both away from the Papalagi, he resembles the fish, thrown on land by the surf; it can only jerk its limbs, but no more swim and play around the way it likes.

The place of false life. It isn’t easy to picture this place, white man calls cinema, to you, so that you can recognize it with your own eyes. In every village everywhere in Europe there is such a mysterious place, the people love, more than a house of the mission and from which the children already are dreaming and with which their thoughts affectionately are occupying themselves.

The cinema is a hut, bigger than the biggest hut of the chief in Upolu, yes much bigger still. It is dark, also at the brightest day, so dark, that no one can recognize anyone. So one is blinded when entering, more blinded when leaving. Here people are sneaking in, groping their way until a lady with a spark of fire comes and takes you there, where room is left free. Close together one Papalagi sits next to another in the darkness, no one is seeing the other, the dark space is filled with silent people. Everyone is sitting on a narrow board; all boards are pointing in the direction of the same wall.

From the bottom of this wall, as if from a deep canyon, loud sounds and buzzing comes along, and as soon as the eyes have adapted to the darkness, one recognizes a Papalagi, sitting down and fighting with a box. He hits it with spread hands, on many little white and black tongues, stretching out from the big box, and every tongue yells loudly, everyone with another voice at every touch, so that it causes a wild and crazy yelling like at a big village fight. This ordeal should distract our sense, rendering it weak, so that we believe what we are seeing and don’t doubt if it is real. Straight in front of the wall beams a light, as if a strong moonlight were shining on it, and in the shine are people, real people, looking like and dressed as real Papalagis, moving, coming and going, who are laughing, jumping, like one is seeing it all over Europe.

It is like the mirror image of the moon in the lagoon. It is the moon, and yet it isn’t. Likewise, this is just an image. Everyone is moving the mouth, one doesn’t doubt that they are speaking, and yet one doesn’t hear a sound or a word, no matter how well one listens and no matter, how torturing it is, to hear nothing. And this is the main reason, why that Papalagi is hitting the box; he should create the semblance, as if one only couldn’t hear the people because of his noise. And for that reason letters occasionally appear on the wall, proclaiming what the Papalagi has said or is going to say.

Nevertheless – these people are semblance people and not real people. When touched, one would recognize that they are consisting just of light and aren’t tangible. They are only there, to show the Papalagi all his joys and suffering, his foolishness and weakness. He is seeing the most beautiful men and women very close to him. Even when they are silent, he sees their movements and the twinkling of the eyes.

[…]

But he also sees, how the Papalagi steals the girl from a man. Or how a girl betrays her lover. He sees how a wild man grabs a rich gentleman at the throat, how his fingers are pressing deep in the flesh of the throat, the eyes of the gentleman are bulging, how he is dead and the wild man grabs the round metal and the heavy paper from the loincloth. While the eye of the Papalagi is seeing such joys and horrors, he has to sit very still; he isn’t allowed to yell at the unfaithful girl, to help the rich gentleman in order to save him. But this doesn’t cause the Papalagi any pain; he is looking at this all with great delight, as if he wouldn’t have a heart at all. He doesn’t feel frightened or horrified. He observes everything, as if he himself were another being. Because the one, who is observing, always has the firm opinion, he is better than the man, seen in the shining light and he himself would evade all foolish acts, shown to him. Silent and without breathing, his eyes are glued to the wall, and as soon as he is seeing a strong character and a noble portrait, he draws it into his heart, thinking: this is my portrait. He is sitting totally unmovable on his wooden seat and stares at the steep, smooth wall, on which nothing is living but a deceptive light beam that a magician throws through a narrow slit at the back wall and upon which yet so much is living as false life.

Assimilating within, these false portraits, that do not have a real life, is what offers the Papalagi such a high enjoyment. In this dark space he can without shame and without other people seeing his eyes, make himself part of a false life. The poor can play the rich, the rich the poor, the diseased can imagine himself healthy, the weak strong. Here in the darkness, everyone can assimilate and experience, what he hasn’t in real life and never will.

Giving way to this false life has become a great passion of the Papalagi, often it is that great, that he forgets his real life. This passion is sick, because a right man doesn’t want to have a life of semblance in a dark room, but a warm, real life under the bright sun. The consequence of this passion is, that many Papalagi, leaving the place of false life, no longer can distinguish it from real life and having become confused, think themselves rich when poor, or beautiful when ugly. Or commit atrocities they would never have done in real life, but are doing, because they no longer can distinguish what is real and what isn’t. It is a very similar situation like you all know from the European, when he has been drinking too much European kava, and thinks to be going on waves.

[…]

The ‘many papers’ also bring the Papalagi into a trance of a kind. What do I mean by that, the many papers’? Try to imagine a mat of tapa, thin, white and folded, parted in the middle and folded again, closely covered with writing on all sides, very tightly; that’s how the ‘many papers’ look and the Papalagi call it ‘newspapers’.

The newspaper is also a kind of machine, it daily makes a lot of thoughts, many more than a single head can make. But most thoughts are weak thoughts without pride and power, they will fill our head with a lot of food, but don’t make it strong. We could just as well fill our head with sand. The Papalagi is overfilling his head with such useless paper food. Before he can throw away one, he is assimilating a new one already. His head is like the mangrove swamp, suffocating in its own mud, where nothing green or fertile will grow, where only bad vapors are bubbling up and biting insects are thriving.

The place of false living and the many papers did make the Papalagi to what he is; to a weak, erring man, who loves what isn’t real and that what is real no more can recognize, who holds the image of the moon for the moon itself and a mat on which is written, for life itself.

Samoa mapThe Severe Disease of Thinking

When the word “spirit” enters the mouth of a Papalagi, his eyes grow big, round and fixated; he raises his himself, starts breathing heavily and stretches himself like a warrior who has slain the enemy. Because this ‘spirit’ is something he is particularly pride on. We aren’t speaking from the vast, powerful Spirit, which the missionary calls “God,” from Whom we are but a needy image, but from the little Spirit, belonging to man, who is creating his thoughts.

When I’m looking from here at the mango tree behind the church, that isn’t Spirit, because I only see it. But when I recognize that he is bigger than the church from the mission, well, that has to be Spirit. So I just don’t have to see something, but I have to know something as well. This knowing is what the Papalagi is practicing from sunrise to sunset. His spirit is always like a filled gun or like an ever active fishing rod. Therefore he pities our people of the many islands, because we aren’t practicing this knowing. We are poor spirits and dumb like a wild animal.

It may be true, we are little practicing this knowing, what the Papalagi is calling ‘thinking’. But the question is, which one is dumb; the one thinking little or the one thinking too much. The Papalagi is thinking continuously: “my hut is smaller than the palm tree, the palm tree is bowing from the storm, the storm is speaking with a loud voice.” That is the way of his thinking, be it in his way of course. But he is thinking about himself too: “I am small. My heart always rejoices when seeing a girl. How I love it to go to Malaga.” And so on…

That is merry and good and may have many hidden uses for the one, loving this game in his head. But the Papalagi is thinking so much, that thinking became a habit, necessity, even a compulsion. Ever he has to think. Only with great difficulty, he manages not to think, and to live with his entire body. Often, he is living just with his head, while all senses are completely dormant, although he is going, speaking, eating and laughing. The thinking process, the thoughts – these are the fruits of thinking – keep him imprisoned. It is a kind of intoxication from his own thoughts.

When the sun is shining beautifully, he is thinking immediately: “How beautifully it is shining!” Always he thinks: “How beautifully it is shining at this moment.” That is wrong, fundamentally wrong and foolish. Because it is better, not to think at all, when it is shining. An intelligent Samoan stretches his limbs in the warm light and doesn’t think at it. He doesn’t absorb the sun just with his head, but also with hands, feet, thighs, stomach, with all limbs. He lets his skin and limbs think for themselves, and certainly are they thinking, be it different than the head. For the Papalagi however, thinking is in many ways like a big chunk of lava he can’t get out of the way. He is thinking in a merry way but doesn’t laugh; he is thinking sadly but doesn’t cry. He is hungry but doesn’t take Taro or Palusami. Mostly he is a man, whose senses are living in hostility with his spirit; a man, split in two.

The life of a Papalagi resembles in many ways to a man, making a journey by boat to Savaii and, leaving the shore, immediately thinks: “How long will it take before I arrive at Savaii?” He is thinking, but doesn’t see the pleasant scenery through which the journey is going. Soon, at the left bank, he sees a mountain ridge. As soon as his eyes capture it, he can’t get away from it: “What could be behind the mountain? Is it a deep or a narrow bay?” By thinking in such a way, he forgets to sing along with the youngsters, he doesn’t hear the merry jokes of the young women.

Hardly the boat is lying in the bay behind the mountain ridge or he is tortured with a new thought, if a storm will start before the evening. Yes, if a storm will be coming. At a clear sky he is looking for dark clouds. He is ever thinking of the storm that possibly could arrive. The storm doesn’t come, and he arrives at Savaii in the evening, unharmed. But now it is to him, as if he didn’t undertake the journey at all, because always his thoughts were far from his body and outside of the boat. He could have stayed in his hut in Upolu just as well.

A spirit however, torturing us that way, is a devil and I don’t understand why so many are loving it. The Papalagi loves and honors his spirit and feeds his spirit with thoughts from his head. He never lets it fast, but at the same time he isn’t troubled when the thoughts are mutually feeding on each other. He makes a lot of noise with his thoughts and allows them to be loud as uneducated kids. He behaves as if his thoughts were as exquisite as flowers, mountains and woods. […]

He behaves, as if there would be a command that man has to think much. Yes, that this command would be from God. But when the palm trees and the mountains are thinking, they don’t make such a noise with it. And certainly, if the palm trees would think as loudly and wild as the Papalagi, they wouldn’t have beautiful green leaves and golden fruits. (Because it is firm experience, that thinking accelerates aging and makes ugly). They would fall (from the tree) before they would be ripe. However, it is more probable that they are thinking very little.

This thinking should make the mind great and high. If someone is thinking much and fast, in Europe they say such a one is a great mind. Instead of having compassion with such great minds, they are extraordinarily honored. The villages make them to their chiefs, and wherever a great mind comes, he has to think publicly what to all affords pleasure and is admired a lot. When a great mind dies, there is grieving in the entire country and a lot of wailing for what has been lost. An image of such a great mind is made in natural stone and installed before all eyes at the market place. Yes, these heads of stone are made much bigger than they were in life, so that the people really admires them and can reflect on the own little mind.

If one asks a Papalagi: why do you think so much? he answers: because I don’t want and am not allowed to stay stupid. Worthless, every Papalagi who doesn’t think; although essentially he is prudent, he doesn’t think much and yet finds his way. However I think, this is just a pretext and the Papalagi just goes after his urge.

That the real purpose of his thinking is, to find out the forces of the great Spirit. An occupation, he himself calls eloquently “acknowledge”. Acknowledge, that means to have a thing so clearly before one’s eyes, that one is touching it with the nose, yes is piercing it. This piercing and ransacking is a tasteless and contemptible desire of the Papalagi. He takes a centipede, pierces it with a little spear and tears a leg away. How does such a leg, separated from the body, look like? How was it fixed to the body? He breaks the leg in order to measure the thickness. That is important, is essential. He removes a splinter the size of a grain of sand from the leg and lays it under a long tube with a secret force enabling the eyes to see much more sharply.

With this big and strong eye he ransacks everything, your tears, a shred of the skin, a hair, everything and everything. He divides all these things, until he arrives at a point, where there remains nothing to break or to divide. Although this point is the smallest of the smallest, it is anyhow the most essential, because it is the entrance, only the great Spirit does possess. This entry is also denied to the Papalagi, and his best sorceries still haven’t revealed it yet. The great Spirit doesn’t have its secrets taken away. Never.

Never did anyone climb a palm tree, higher than that palm tree his legs surrounded. At the crown he has to turn; the trunk would fail to climb higher. The great Spirit doesn’t love the curiosity of mankind, therefore he has put big lianas that are without beginning and end. Therefore anyone, investigating all thoughts, certainly discover, that in the end he will always remain stupid and will have to leave those answers he can’t give himself to the great Spirit. The most intelligent and courageous of the Papalagi actually acknowledge this. Nevertheless most thinking-diseased ones don’t desist their passion, and so it comes, that the thinking leads man on his way so manifold astray, as if he would be going in the jungle where no path has been made yet.

[…]

Serious and disastrous is therefore, that all thoughts, whether good or bad, immediately are thrown on white mats. “They are printed” says the Papalagi. That means: what those ill ones are thinking, now also is written with a machine that is mysterious and miraculous, that has thousand hands and the strong will of many chiefs. Written not once or twice, but many times, infinite times, ever the same thoughts. Then, many thought-mats are pressed together – “books” the Papalagi calls them – and sent to all parts of the big country.

All are infected, to absorb these thoughts. And one is swallowing these thought-mats like sweet bananas, they are in every hut, one piles up entire boxes and young and old will be nagging at it like rats at sugar cane. That is the reason, why so few still can think intelligently in natural thoughts, like every sincere Samoan has. In the same way as many thoughts are shoveled into the heads of children as can be. Every day they are forced to nag their quantity of thought-mats.

Only the healthiest reject these thoughts or let them fall through their spirit like through a net. But the most overload their head with so many thoughts, that no more space is left and no more light can enter. This is called: “educate the spirit” and the remaining condition of such a mess “education”, that is common. Education is called: filling one’s head to the brim with knowledge. The educated one knows the length of palm trees, the weight of a coconut, the names of all his chiefs and the eras of their wars. He knows the size of the moon, the stars, and all countries. He knows every river by name, every animal and every plant. He knows everything and everything.

Put a question to an educated one and he shoots the answer at you before you close your mouth. His head is ever loaded with ammunition, is ever ready to fire. Every European dedicates the most beautiful time of his life to make his head to the fastest gun. He who wants to be exempt from that, is forced. Every Papalagi has to know, has to think.

The only thing, that all diseased from thinking could cure, forgetting, slinging away thoughts, isn’t practiced: therefore, only very few are able to do so and most are carrying a burden in the head, making the body heavy, powerless and weak before its time. Should we, their loving, not thinking brothers, after everything I told you in genuine truth, really imitate the Papalagi and learn to think as he does? I say: No! Because we should not and must not do anything, that doesn’t make a stronger body and doesn’t give a greater sense of joy and uplifting. We have to beware from everything, that could rob us the joy of life, for everything, that darkens our spirit and takes away its brilliant light, for everything, that will cause our head to fight our body. The Papalagi proves us by himself, that thinking is a severe disease, decreasing the value of a man manifold.

The Papalagi Want To Drag Us Down Into Their Darkness

[…]

And let’s take a pledge and call out to them: “Stay far away from us, with your habits and your vices, with your mad dash to richness that binds the hands and the head, your passion for becoming your brother’s better, your many senseless undertakings, your curious thoughts and knowledge that leads to nothing, the aimless labor of your hands and all those other follies that hinder your sleep on the mat.”

We have no need for all that, we are happy with our fine and noble pleasures that God gave us in abundance. That God may help us not to get blinded by his light and that he may help us not to get lost and will always shine on our path so that we can follow his road and absorb his wonderful light, meaning, loving each other and carrying much tafola in our hearts.

Updated 20 September 2020

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt