The mythological imagination of the ocean and the appearance of 'the others' -Focusing upon Witi Ihimaera's 'Whale Rider'-

바다의 신화적 상상력과 '다른 우리'의 출현 -위티 이히마에라, "웨일라이더 Whale Rider"를 중심으로-

  • Published : 2006.12.30


Even in this current high-tech industrial age, mythological imagination is considered important. Although each mythology scattered all across the world may have an insignificant origin, to understand that particular society fully, one must not mistakenly assume that the mythology itself is a production of a primitive mind. Ultramodern physics and futurology professor Freeman Dyson has also acknowledged this opinion. He insists that in order for human kind to survive into the far future it most keep in touch with its far past. Levi-Strauss also observes that mythology and science aren't a entirely separate domains. The scientific mind is regarded as a source of understanding the intrinsic qualities of mythology. Taking mythology and science as a binomial opposition, and only weighing their prospects, should be put to the past as we should recognize the need for mythology and science's qualitative unification. In this new point of view, regarding mythology as a meaningless irrationality should cease, while finding out why the inevitably related world of mythology needs metaphoric, ideological consideration. By utilizing 'Whale Rider' by Witi Ihimaera(2004) we will discover why our lives require an 'image' that is borrowed from our experience. The author, Witi Ihimaera, is originally from the Maori tribe, who approaches the world with a mythological imagination, which is not easy to understand with scientific thinking nor in modern civilization. When looking into the mythology of the ocean which still lives in modern civilization, while noting that the world is one, the author indicates that reality and unreality, nature and the super-natural, present and the past, science and fantasy, were not divided from the beginning. However, overtime humans have divided the borders. To do this, the author interprets the ancient emotions of the Maori tribe which have been traditionally accumulated in the group identity in a new literary way by introducing the Maori tribe's ancestral god, Paikia, who can converse with the ocean and the whales. This piece, which has been made into a movie and won awards in 5 international film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, regards primitive emotions as a rational concept instead of an instrumental concept. Also these primative emotions are continuing their attempts to communicate with nature. Furthermore, it advises contemporary human beings who seek for eternal life to not exploit the cultural differences that have been formed naturally, and it is vital for human beings to transcend the ethnic boundaries and to think rationally. In the story, we can find "the dissimilar us" that philosopher E. Levinas mentioned in his sayings, which refers to responsible human beings who devote their lives for the sake of other people instead of fulfilling their own needs.