John Pasmore's Occassional Blog

Paradise by John


I don’t know why Fiji Times and Pacific Magazine sit in my “weekly” favorites, but they do. Fiji found its way to my favorites mostly from an environmental standpoint but once there the on-going story of the indigenous people and the cultural impact of colonialism became just as compelling. Those beautiful islands we see in Pacific postcards are largely stuck in a post-colonial netherworld.

And as I write this post, “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935) rolls by on my TV, in black and white with the sound turned down. The “natives” don’t look very native. And the movie doesn’t delve into the fact that “First Contact” was a disaster for indigenous peoples.

But, that said, the “Mutiny” really did put Captain Bligh in a 23 foot boat that he would sail, with 18 aboard, over 3,000 miles. Armed with a sextant and aboard an open boat there are probably just a few sailors who could do what he did even today. C’mon no chart, no compass (no GPS). Very few.

A further aside is the story of many of the mutineers (from the year 1789 we’re talking) who made their way to Pitcairn Island where their descendants still live — some 47 or so. In 2004 there was trial of many of these wayward souls for sexually abusing their own inbred young people – read the Wiki. So the long arm of British justice still reached these remote castaways and stirred the very old pot. It’s a very strange story, one that Vanity Fair featured as well. Strange that the ghosts of that day and those people are very real and are still living off-balance lives in that faraway place so long after the original crime.

Can’t mention the Pacific without Captain Cook’s voyage and that is well documented — read Blue Latitudes.

But more so read Fiji Times. It’s curious to see such an ongoing upheaval politically, socially and now environmentally in a place we normally think of as Paradise. Maybe Paradise really is just a state of being, temporary and not any one place after all.

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