Frierson realized, some time or other, that Westerners bring their own perceptions of volcanoes -- founded on the Abrahamic religions -- to Hawai'i, and that this colors our understanding of Hawai'i culture and the volcanoes there. She spends several chapters on this topic, and I would like to share with you just one example that she provides. This particular example is the below painting, and here's what she says of it: "Cole's painting, with its juxtaposition of wayward nature (the volcano) and wayward female (Eve) suggests to me that the volcano may symbolize something more than the wild -- perhaps unholy? -- side of nature" (91). I could probably spend a few paragraphs discussing this quote (there's a lot packed into it!), but the basic and relevant idea here is that, according to Western thought, volcanoes are wild, unholy, ungodly, destructive, and basically bad things.
|"The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" painted by Thomas Cole.|
Frierson seems determined to avoid Western ideas of volcanoes, which I think is why she spends so much time discussing those ideas -- so that they can be recognized, acknowledged, and then ignored or extinguished. Only then can she/we really understanding Hawai'ian culture, mythology, and the volcanoes properly. So you can imagine how amused I was when she slipped into Christian terminology.
When discussing volcanic activity in 1868 Frierson says "These campers, if they had such dreams [of paradise], jolted awake to a living hell" (180). What is this if not reference to Christian mythology?
I guess this shows that when you grow up in one culture/mindset it is difficult to remove it completely from your thinking.