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Maná

Maná

Rock group

For the Record

Found International Success

Founded Selva Negra

Received Multiple Latin Grammy Awards

Selected discography

Sources

As Mexicos most successful rock group of the past generation, Maná has sometimes been described as a Latin version of such mainstream American rock acts as Styx or REO Speedwagon. Yet the group has consistently explored new musical terrain, featuring reggae- and calypso-style tunes on some releases in addition to its cache of rock songs and romantic ballads. In 2000, over a decade after its first release, the group had its best year ever, receiving the Spirit of Hope Award from Billboard magazine and netting three awards at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards. Outside the studio, Maná also sponsors the Selva Negra (Black Forest) philanthropic foundation whose work includes efforts to save endangered animal life (such as sea turtles and the Mexican wolf) and reforest areas stripped by logging and farming throughout Central and South America.

Manás roots go back almost a quarter century to Guadalajara, Mexicos second-largest city. Although Mexico City, about 340 miles to the southeast, was the unquestioned cultural and political capital of the nation, in the late 1970s a vibrant underground rock scene began to develop in Guadalajara. One group to emerge from this culture was Green Hat, formed by singer

For the Record

Members include Juan Calleros (born Juan Diego Calleros in Mexico), bass; Fher (born Fernando Olvera in Mexico), vocals; Alex González (born Alejandro González), drums; Sergio Vallin (born in Mexico), guitar.

Group formed in Guadalajara, Mexico, under the name Green Hat, late 1970s; made major-label debut as Maná with Falta amor, 1989; released another ten albums, including ¿Dónde jugárdn los niños ?, Cuando los angeles lloran, Sueños liquidos, and MTV Unplugged, 1992-2001.

Awards: Latin Grammy Award, Record of the Year for Corazón espinado, 2000; Latin Grammy Award, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for Se me olvidó otra vez, 2000; Billboard Spirit of Hope Award, 2000.

Addresses: Record company WEA Latina, 5201 Blue Lagoon Dr., Suite 200, Miami, FL 33126, website: http://www.warnermusiclatin.com; Warner Music Mexico, P.O. Box 7-1238, Mexico City, Mexico 7, D.F., website: http://www.warnermusicmexico.com. Website Maná Official Website: http://www.mana.com.mx.

Fernando Olvera (nicknamed Fher), bassist Juan Diego Calleros, and guitarist Ulises Calleros. The rock group signed a recording deal and released two albums, Sombrero Verde in 1981 and A Ritmo de Rock in 1983. Unfortunately, sales were disappointing, and Green Hat became defunct shortly thereafter.

Fher and the Calleros brothers decided to restart their careers with a new lineup in 1985. Alejandro González joined the new group, named Maná, as its drummer. It took another two years of touring small clubs, however, before the band attracted interest from a record label. Eventually, they signed with Warner Music Mexico and set to work on their first release, Falta amor, which came out in 1989. At first the release looked like it would suffer the same fate as Green Hats two albums, with disappointing sales for almost two years, until a track from the record, Rayando el sol, kickstarted its sales. With a number of other hits on the record, Falta amor became a sleeper hit, and the release of a Maná follow-up was assured.

Found International Success

In contrast to the groups debut, their 1992 release ¿Dónde jugarán los niños? was an instant success, selling over 1.5 million copies in Mexico alone, where a series of tracks hit the charts. To promote the release, Maná began an international tour. Their success in Spain, where the album sold over 90,000 copies, was particularly noteworthy, as few Mexican acts had achieved any degree of popularity in Europe up to that time. The band also started to make headway north of the Mexican border, where ¿Dónde jugarán los niños? stayed on Billboards Latin albums chart for a total of 97 weeks after its release; few other albums could match its longevity.

Personnel changes followed the bands initial success. In 1992 Ulises Calleros became the bands manager and was replaced by César López on guitar. A keyboardist, Iván González, also joined the lineup. They left after less than two years, however, and Maná performed for a brief period as a trio. During this time the group continued to tour extensively and recorded a live album, Maná en vivo, which was released in 1994. The following year, Sergio Vallin joined the group on guitar after a talent search that spanned South and Central America. It was this quartetFher, Juan Calleros, Alex González, and Sergio Vallinthat became most familiar to Manás fans.

Maná confirmed its status as a leading Latin pop-rock group in 1995 with a number of diverse projects. The group contributed the track Celoso to Francis Ford Coppolas movie My Family, and later recorded a cover version of the classic Led Zepplin song Fool in the Rain for the tribute album Encomium. Its biggest release, however, was its third original album, Cuando los angeles lloran. Another hit throughout South and Central America, it also earned gold certification in the United States. Worldwide, the album sold over 1.5 million copies in the year after its initial release; it also received the bands first Grammy Award nomination, for Best Latin Pop Performance.

The bands success was not without its critics, however. In the early 1990s the rock en español movement dominated Mexicos music scene with harder-edged, guitar-based sounds at a time when Maná was recording more melodic ballads. As the most commercially successful act in the country, the group was blamed for making Mexican rock music more mainstream. As radio deejay Jordi Soler told Billboard in a profile of Mexicos music industry in November of 1994, The record labels are grabbing the few rock acts they have and trying to integrate them into shows broadcast on Televisa [a major broadcasting network]. What will happen is that Mexicos rock artists will disappear into a medium that robs the identity of the most familiar acts.

Founded Selva Negra

In 1995 the members of Maná drew upon their interests in social and environmental issues to form the philanthropic foundation Selva Negra (Black Forest). The group had already tackled such issues in their lyrics, but the foundation allowed them to fund the causes they supported more effectively, including reforestation efforts in Mexico, Columbia, and Chile. Selva Negra also solicited the support of Mexicos government in efforts to save the sea turtle by raising 140,000 turtle eggs for release on the countrys Pacific coast. Maná also used their album releases and concert tours to promote environmental awareness. On one tour, the group gave out tree seedlings and encouraged people to plant them; it also donated the proceeds from T-shirt sales to an educational program and campaign to save the Mexican wolf. In April of 2000Billboard announced that Maná would receive its annual Spirit of Hope Award for its philanthropic work as an environmentally concerned band willing to actively participate in projects that will improve ecological conditions in Mexico and Latin America.

The 1997 release of Sueños liquidos marked another milestone for Maná as the album hit number one on the Billboard Latin Albums chart while debuting at number 67 on the Billboard 200. In light of the continuing criticism of the group as a lesser counterpart to harder-edged acts, the occasion caused John Lannert and Enor Paiano of the magazine to write in November of 1997, Clearly, Manás mainstream sound and commercial achievements run counter to the underground sentiments of Spanish rocks faithful. Plainly put, it just is not hip to like Maná. The writers added, Yet it is Manás very commercial success that can help grow the still-budding rock en español movement Rock-directed acts such as Maná are the artists who can drive the Spanish rock train because its universal, middle-ground appeal, which transcends local rock tastes, is what will entice record labels to sign and develop like-minded artists.

Received Multiple Latin Grammy Awards

In 1999 the band recorded a special album for the MTV Unplugged series. One of the tracks, Se me olvido otra vez, subsequently earned the band an award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the first Latin Grammy Awards in 2000. That was not the only award bestowed upon Maná that night, however, as the group picked up two additional awards, including Record of the Year for its collaboration on Corazón espinado with Carlos Santana.

For its next original full-length album, the band expected to work with the guitarist again; as Alex González told Billboard in October of 2001, Santana owes us [a] favor [for] Corazón espinado. Hes already said hes willing and able, and hes definitely one person wed like to have on the album. In addition to preparing for the project, the band also continued its philanthropic efforts, including an appearance with Alanis Morissette, Pearl Jam, and R.E.M. to raise money for the United Nations hunger relief programs. Our idea is to join these people and [let] them [know that] many of [their] neighbors are in the same situation. González continued, and if we can make this known and plan future concerts to raise money for these countries, well have accomplished our mission.

Selected discography

Falta amor, WEA Latina, 1989.

¿Dónde jugarán los niños?, WEA Latina, 1992.

Maná en vivo, WEA Latina, 1994.

(Contributor) Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, WEA, 1995.

(Contributor) My Family (soundtrack), WEA Records, 1995.

Cuando los angeles lloran, WEA Latina, 1995.

Maná, Polydor, 1995.

Sueños liquidos, WEA Latina, 1997.

MTV Unplugged, WEA Latina, 1999.

Todos sus exitos, WEA Latina, 2000.

Combinaciones premiadas, Universal, 2001.

Grandes, WEA Latina, 2001.

Lo escencial de Maná, WEA Latina, 2001.

Sources

Books

Broughton, Simon, et al., editors, World Music: The Rough Guide, Volume 2Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, Rough Guides, 2000.

Periodicals

Billboard, November 26, 1994, p. 68; May 13, 1995, p. 76; October 18, 1997, p. 79; August 28, 1999, p. LM-6; November 8, 1997, p. 38; April 29, 2000, p. LM-20; September 23, 2000, p. 87; April 21, 2001, p. 6; October 20, 2001, p. 34.

Online

English Not Required, Shepherd Express Metro, http://www.shepherd-express.com/shepherd/20/21/night_and_day/night_and_day.html (February 9, 2002).

Mana, Latin.com, http://www.latin.com/artistprofile.asp?artist=mana (February 9, 2002).

Mana Official Website, http://www.mana.com.mx (February 9, 2002).

Timothy Borden

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Maná

MANÁ

Formed: 1986, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Members: Fernando "Fher" Olvera, vocals (born Tlaxcala, Puebla, Mexico, 8 December 1959); Sergio Vallin, guitar (born Aguascalientes, Mexico, 26 May 1972); Alex Gonzalez, congas/drums (born Miami, Florida, 24 February 1969); Juan Calleros, bass (born Guadalajara, Mexico, 19 April 1961).

Genre: Latin, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Dónde Jugarán Los Niños? (1993)

Hit songs since 1990: "Vivir Sin Aire," "Me Vale," "Clavado en un Bar"


With intimate, acoustic-framed love songs, Maná rose to become the most popular purveyor of rock-en-Español from the mid-1990s onward. Rock in Spanish has been around almost as long as rock in English, but it took much longer to bloom into an autonomous genre. In its early decades it often suffered from political repression and creative apathy, with many groups simply translating hits from English or aping British and American acts. But Maná helped rock-en-Español mature, fusing the primal rock beat with Latin percussion and poetic lyrical imagery. Their music took on a timeless quality thanks to simple arrangements and avoidance of synthesizer, and was easy for thousands of cover bands to disseminate in nooks and crannies all over Latin America.

The nucleus of the group was formed in 1984 as Sombrero Verde. Juan Calleros's brother Ulises managed the fledgling band and continued to do so for the next two decades. During a 1985 trip to Mexico City, Fher Olvera met Alex Gonzalez. Renaming itself Maná, the group released its self-titled debut in 1987. While Olvera's raspy tenor and Sergio Vallin's twangy guitar drew comparisons to the Police, Maná carved out a Latin identity with Gonzalez's Afro-Latin backbeats and Olvera's sentimental lyrics.

Their major-label debut, Falta Amor (1992), was solid, producing the hit "Rayando el Sol," a catchy, sing-along tune about unrequited love, a common Maná theme. Alex Lora, the leader of seminal Mexican rock band El Tri, co-wrote the title track with Olvera in a symbolic baton-passing, though few then imagined Maná would become as popular as El Tri had been.

It was the album Dónde Jugarán los Niños? (1993) that vaulted Maná to A-list status with hits "Oye Mi Amor," "Cómo Te Deseo," "Me Vale," "La Chula," and, most importantly, the group's signature ballad, "Vivir Sin Aire." The follow-up album, Cuando los Ángeles Lloran (1995), did not match their previous CD's success but it features the stately tear-jerker "El Reloj Cucú," dedicated to a father who died young and the family that misses him. Sueños Líquidos (1997) was a return to form, featuring the urgent "Clavado en un Bar" and the poetic ballad "Como Dueles en los Labios." It sold more than 1 million copies in the United States.

At the time Mexico's political climate was evolving. The country's "perfect dictatorship" was beginning to fray at the edges. In Guanajuato a charismatic opposition-party candidate named Vicente Fox had become governor. He was elected president of Mexico in 2000, becoming the first opposition-party candidate to win Mexico's presidency after seventy years of uninterrupted rule by the country's infamous institutional revolutionary party. As Mexicans sensed that the government's grip on media access was slipping, a new generation of hip-hop and punk-influenced rockers derided Maná's lyrically tame approach. In 1997 the rap-metal group Molotov sold 400,000 copies of its explicitly antigovernment debut album, Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, whose title parodied Maná's 1993 release.

Maná played it cool, choosing not to strike a punk pose at this late date. Instead they released an MTV Unplugged effort in 1999 that featured covers of regional Mexican classics like "Te Solté la Rienda" and "Se Me Olvidó Otra Vez." Fans were dismayed by reports in December 2000 that creative differences between González and Olvera had caused Maná to split. Fortunately, the principals set aside their differences and went on to reap a fruitful 2001 in Europe. "Muelle de San Blas," from Sueños Líquidos, became a surprise hit in Italy, and "Corazón Espinado," a Latin Grammy-winning duet with Carlos Santana on his Supernatural CD, gave Maná a foothold in Germany. Maná toured Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia in late 2001.

Revolución de Amor (2002), the band's first studio album in five years, debuted at an impressive number twenty-two on the Billboard 200 chart. The single "Ángel de Amor," a protective missive to an abused woman, shot to number six on Hot Latin Tracks. Another standout is "Mariposa Traicionera," a cantina-rock tune recorded Mexican bolero style, with two guitars, a requinto (small guitar) and a bass. Santana returned the favor from Supernatural by contributing some blazing licks to "Justicia, Tierra y Libertad."

By fusing rock with Latin elements, Maná made rock-en-Español socially acceptable among people worried about Anglo-American "cultural imperialism" and showed the way for many other musicians who were proud of their roots but could not resist the power of the backbeat.

Spot Light: Dónde Jugarán Los Niños?

The album Dónde Jugarán Los Niños? (1993) helped reignite the rock-en-Español movement with its fusion of folk, rock, and Latin elements. With songs that were informal enough for a hole-in-the-wall acoustic jam, Maná hit on a formula that had it playing to packed arenas by the following year. The up-tempo "Oye Mi Amor," which combined a Roy Orbison beat with a sensual Andean pan flute riff, captured relationship angst perfectly: "I could even give you my eyes / But you have another / a cold, boring guy," Fher Olvera laments. The percussive "Como Te Deseo," the most Afro-Latin track, pulses with the promise of seduction. Olvera gets about as rebellious as early 1990s mainstream Mexican standards allow on "Me Vale." In a defensive song aimed at anyone feeling henpecked, he roars, "Whatever anyone thinks of me / I don't care." But the album's massive hit was acoustic ballad "Vivir Sin Aire," better known by its haunting "como quisiera . . ." melodic riff. The musical version of candles and red wine, the romantic song tells a partner that life without her would be like trying to live without air or water. The album sold more than 1.2 million copies in the United States and many more in Mexico, making Maná the most popular and influential group in rock-en-Español.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Dónde Jugarán Los Niños? (WEA Latina, 1993); Cuando los Ángeles Lloran (WEA Latina, 1995); Sueños Líquidos (WEA Latina, 1997); Revolución de Amo r (Warner Music Latina, 2002).

ramiro burr

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Mana

Mana

A term indicating vital or magical force used widely throughout Polynesia. From his work in the South Pacific, R. H. Codrington observed: "The word is common, I believe, to the whole Pacific. It is a power or influence, not physical, and in a way supernatural, but it shows itself in physical force, or in any kind of power or excellence which a man possesses. This Mana is not fixed in anything, and can be conveyed in almost anything; but spirits, whether disembodied souls or supernatural beings, have it and can impart it. All Melanesian religion consists in getting this Mana for oneself, or getting it used for one's benefit."

The techniques of arousing and acquiring mana were extensively explored by Max Freedom Long (1890-1971) in his study of the kahuna magic in Hawaii and described in his books, notably The Secret Science Behind Miracles (1948). Long established the Huna Research Organization to conduct research and spread knowledge of mana and its basis in kahuna magic.

The concept of mana has been expressed in many cultures under different names. Among the Iroquois and Huron Indians, it is known as orenda. In his book Primitive Man (vol. 1 of A History of Experimental Spiritualism, 2 vols., 1931), Caesar de Vesme wrote:

"We are in a fair way to recognize that we find (approximately) Mana in the Brahman and Akasha of the Hindus, the Living Fire of Zoroaster, the Generative Fire of Heraclitus, the Ruach of the Jews, the Telesma of Hermest Trismegistus, the Ignis subtilissimus of Hippocrates, the Pneuma of Gallien, the Soul of the World of Plato and Giordano Bruno, the Mens agitat molem which Vergil drew from the Pythagorean philosophy, the Astral light of the Kabbalists, the Azoth of the alchemists, the Magnale of Paracelsus, the Alcahest of Van Helmont, the pantheistic Substance of Apinoza, the Subtle Matter of Descartes, the Animal magnetism of Mesmer, the Will of Schopenhauer, the Od of Reichenbach and Du Prel, the Unconscious of Hartmann, the Entelechy of Driesch, the Plastic Mediator of Éliphas Lévi, the Psychode and Ectenic Force of Thury, the Force X and the Cryptesthesia of Richet, the Metether of F. W. H. Myers, the Spiritus of Robert Fludd, the Spiritus subtilissimus of Newton, the Spiritus Vitae of St. Thomas Aquinas, and many more Spiritus besides, if it were permissible to touch upon the different theologies."

Sources:

Codrington, R. H. The Melanesians: Studies in Their Anthropology and Folk-lore. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891.

Long, Max Freedom. The Secret Science Behind Miracles. Vista, Calif.: Huna Research Publications, 1954.

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Māna

Māna (Pāli, Skt.). Pride, conceit; a moral fault in Buddhism. It takes three forms: thinking of oneself as inferior to, equal to, or better than others.

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mana

mana especially in Polynesian, Melanesian, and Maori belief, pervasive supernatural or magical power.

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mana

mana: see animism; taboo.

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Mana

Mana (inherent power): see MAGIC.

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mana

manaAlana, Anna, bandanna, banner, Branagh, canna, canner, Diana, fanner, Fermanagh, Guyana, Hannah, Havana, hosanna, Indiana, Joanna, lanner, Louisiana, manna, manner, manor, Montana, nana, planner, Pollyanna, Rosanna, savannah, scanner, spanner, Susanna, tanner •Abner • Jaffna • Patna • caravanner •Africana, Afrikaner, Americana, ana, banana, Botswana, bwana, cabana, caragana, Christiana, Dana, darner, Edwardiana, garner, Georgiana, Ghana, Gloriana, Guiana, gymkhana, Haryana, iguana, Lana, lantana, liana, Lipizzaner, Ljubljana, Mahayana, mana, mañana, marijuana, nirvana, Oriana, pacarana, piranha, prana, Purana, Rosh Hashana, Santayana, Setswana, sultana, Tatiana, Tijuana, Tirana, tramontana, Tswana, varna, Victoriana, zenana •Gardner • partner •antenna, Avicenna, duenna, henna, Jenna, Jenner, Morwenna, Ravenna, senna, Siena, sienna, tenner, tenor, Vienna •Edna • interregna • Etna • Pevsner

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Mana

MANA

MANA . A generic Polynesian term for self-effecting or self-transcending efficacy ("power") that is at once personal and impersonal, sacred and secular, contained and containing. In scholarly usage the term exemplifies a vogue, commonplace in the "evolutionist" and "diffusionist" phases of anthropological speculation, for appropriating exotic terminologies and making universalist claims upon them. Mana belongs to a small set of anthropological "markers" for concepts that are very difficult to put into words. Some of the others include the Siouan wakan, Iroquois orenda, Aztec nagual, and Arabic baraka.

If it takes a certain amount of power even to comprehend what power itself might be, then terms of this sort provide an explicit ethnographic contextualization for a sense of power or empowerment that is wellnigh universal. Mana is not merely "power," in the sense of an efficient causality ("energy," "skill," "artisanship") necessary to effect the felicituous outcome of some human task or intention, but rather an exponential (power times power) or second-order derivative of the potency at issue. Electricity, one might say, has mana, but the invention of electricity is mana. So the Maori of New Zealand, who often use electricity or electrical current as an explanatory analogy for mana (for example, one may generate it, apply it, use it, or lose it) would have to face the charge that although electrical energy may be bought or sold (or at least rented) mana itself is nonnegotiable. One cannot buy it or sell it, or take currency for its use, and its only direct analogue in the realm of purchase and exchange would be those priceless "heirloom" valuables that are never circulated.

Hence, although one may specify kinds of mana according to the requirements of certain tasks, such as the mana of woodcarving, of curing, or of deep-sea navigation, mana itself is not specific or specifiable in that way. It is not overspecific but underspecific, like the role of the denominator in a fraction, determining a quotient. John Keats might well have had Shakespeare's mana in mind when he spoke of the Bard's talent as negative capability, "that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."

The mana of an American president would have less to do with the job description, the vote count in the election, or the fact of being an elected representative of the people than with personal qualities over and above the demands of the office. So the determination and rhetorical skill of an Abraham Lincoln, the feckless bravado of a Theodore Roosevelt, or the social standing and charisma of a John F. Kennedy would be particular to the mana of those individuals. A woman president might add "gender" to that list, provided she were the first to be elected. The presidency, in no uncertain terms, has mana, but the personality of the president, as a unique reinvention of the office, is mana.

Remarkably, then, a truly omnipotent deity, unless it could transcend itself like the Norse Odin, might have all the power in the universe but no mana. Hence the need for the mediating figure, the prophet, savior, demiurge, the president who is answerable to God but not divine, to serve as a common denominator of divine immanence, dividing it into measurable components of efficacy. Conversely, possessors of heroic mana, like Hercules and Perseus, make the opposite trade-off, losing earthly potency when elevated to the status of constellations, mere "superstars" of the night sky.

Imagine, then, the mana of the black hole, which exhausts the empirical criteria for existence to become, as astronomers have put it, "the most potent source of energy in the known cosmos." "You do not play with mana, " the Maori might want to add, "except that it plays with you." This feature of the concept, its agency in subject-object transformation, may be the secret of ancient Maori sorcery training. A story tells of the veteran Maori sorcerer who calls his young apprentice to him and tells him he must use all the techniques and self-discipline he has learned to kill his own mother. Appalled at the very thought of this, the apprentice has a major crisis, and then marshalls his thoughts and his feelings and eventually accomplishes the deed. Morally demolished, but full of pride, he returns to his mentor to ask whether he has now truly become a sorcerer. "Almost," says the veteran, "but not quite. Now you must kill me." As a legacy, mana is made of very stern stuff.

To what extent can mana be moral? To the extent that the morality in question has mana. Otherwise it becomes a superficial and empty category, like those "politically correct" agendas and protocols of the late twentieth century that were either coldly indifferent to, or cruelly patronizing of, the "minorities" they pretended to justify. Mana has no pathos, and no false empathy either.

Mana is the most practical and "natural," and the least idealistic or "supernatural," force in the world. It could only be called "magical" or "mystical" in cases when it does not work (for then it is not mana either), and someone is obliged to make apologies or excuses for it. Mana never apologizes; the Maori apprentice in the story becomes unimpeachable (not "innocent") by killing all the witnesses to his deadly acts. Conversely, the magical or supernatural must always leave little traces of its cunning lying around to assure the skeptical that some sort of cheating was going on. Mana does not leave clues.

As the prime organizer of human tasks, crafts, rowers, and vocations, mana not only guarantees the social hierarchy but actually substitutes for it, assurring the secrecy and sanctity of social status and position. There is a mana of leadership, closely akin to that of oratory; the king of traditional Tonga was considered to be the actual begetter of his subjects. Otherwise mana does not obey boundaries or limits without, as a liminal quality, transcending them, so that the need to differentiate in some final sense pairs the concept with another indispensable Polynesian original, that of taboo. Mana knows no limits; taboo knows nothing else; together they comprise the form and content of the comprehehnsible world.

The real epistemological challenge, for the outsider as well as the Polynesian subject, would be to authenticate each of them as an objective, independently existing entity. There must be a mana of knowing just exactly what mana is all about, a single, convergent, and perfectly understandable "yes" that controls all the difficult, dangerous, and divergent forms of "no," the quotient of an infinite divisor. Would that be the same thing as the one single and singular taboo that banishes all others? Or would it be totally different? We do not know.

Hence, if an unconditional taboo were placed upon the very existence of mana, that mana inherent in that taboo itself would increase beyond all measure, swallowing the world in a generic potency of its own particulars. The very intransigence of the concept, like that of the Chinese tao, renders it invincible (as it is said of death, that it is "not only educational, but perfectly safe "). If gravity, for instance, were to be reconceptualized as a general taboo placed on straight-line navigation, then the old Polynesian adage that "the sea closes upon itself" would make sport of our terrestrial geometries.

Like the "big bang" theory of modern cosmology, or the notion that the universe came into being through the disintegration of a gigantic proto-atom, mana simplifies the eternal problem of creation ex nihilo by supplementing it with a transformation instead. A quality that increases in direct proportion to the resistance offered it, and does so quite simply by identifying itself as the force behind that resistance, has no necessary relation to the beginnings and endings of things. Polynesians might argue about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their gods or mythic heroeswhat parts they played in the creation and even why they may have played thembut there would be no question as to what they used to do it. Mana is inherent in the created things of this world (for example, all natural objects, elements, and processes) for the same reason it inhabits the artifacts of a skilled craftsman.

In one respect mana resembles the concept of the dreaming (formerly "dreamtime") among the Australian Aboriginal peoples. Understood as an alternative "phase" of everyday reality, the dreaming is only incidentally attributable to the past (for the purpose of certain stories or illustrative accounts) and is fully present to its own ritual enactments. In that way mana might be understood as the inceptive energy coefficient of the objects, persons, and actions to which it is attributed. It is nonlinear, and one could no more escape its effectiveness than one could avoid dreaming at night.

Philosophically, then, mana is not only explanatory but self-explanatory and plays a role in Polynesian thought not unlike that of gravity or energy in the physical sciences, evolution in the life sciences, and culture in the social sciences. It is at once the mirror of our artifice, and the artificer of our mirror. Science performs its observations and experiments to discover the truth of things; mana, immanent at one and the same time in both the test and the result, the cause and the effect, the question and the answer, is the thing of the truth. Everyone can know, down to minute particulars, exactly what science has done and wants to do; no one can really know, despite all the energy expended on its definition, what mana may truly be. All we can do is say its name and hope that something really good will come of it.

Mana is the power of the named over the nameless (cf. Laozi: "The named is the mother of the myriad creatures"), the existent over the nonexistent, the creative over the uncreated. It is the divine part of the human and the human part of the divine, the least visible part of the metaphor that controls the visible world. Might it not be the case that the early explorers and anthropologists who named the Polynesians as "savages" or "barbarians" had their categories reversed, that the people did not drift randomly to their remote islands, in fear of some uncertainty, but actively navigated the wave trains to find homes for themselves at the center of infinity? Or so the name of Kapingamarangi, a remote Polynesian outlier, would tell us. Literally translated, it means "The Place That Is Held Together by the Horizon."

If there were a Nobel Prize for the naming of things, the old Polynesians might at least expect an honorable mention. And a niche in navigation's hall of fame: all one has to do is keep to the latitude where the star Arcturus (Hokulea, "The Star of Joy") is on the zenith, and sooner or later one will run into Hawai'i. That is part of the mana of finding Hawai'i, the actuarial value of which has increased exponentially since the days of Captain Cook.

Real mana, of course, does not profit a smile; it eschews negotiability and must pursue a fugitive existence in those islands. It is not begged, borrowed, or stolen. We have superstars whose voices or countenances run into the millions, but all that might be said of the mana of image, including its bizarre narcosis in the modern "global" culture, was said by William Shakespeare in one of his sonnets: "They are the lords and owners of their faces." Real mana is something much more civilized than we could possibly imagine. We have a difficult enough time with aroha (arofa, aloha ), commonly translated as "love."

Like the distinctive face or personality, mana inheres solely in the one who possesses it (or, more properly, is possessed by it), so that "teaching" it or "passing it on" implies qualities of holism and autonomy that are largely incommensurate with those terms. One would not learn it or acquire it but teach onesself to it. Tattooing the skin, a practice favored especially by the Maori, would, if accomplished with the requisite mana, effectively embody the social power of "face." And the mana of the expert woodcarver would transfer the stamp of personality inherent in that transformation to the utensils, objects, houses, and canoes of the surrounding world. Mana is only the specific, Polynesian version of a conceptual motif found widespread in the Pacific region. "Now you see me as I am," a lavishly decorated dancer at Mount Hagen, in New Guinea, once told the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, meaning that he had turned himself inside out, showing the beautiful intentions of his soul (numan ) in the befeathered lineaments of his outer body, that he had taught himself to the dance.

Mana is not the self, but the artistry of the self. It has no other ego. Examples of this sort suggest that although the total effect of mana resembles that of abstraction in many ways, its power is actually opposite to what we know by that term. Scientific abstractions depend for their explanatory power upon known and testable qualities, which are then extended over the range of phenomenal experience. Mana, which is noumenal rather than phenomenal in Kant's terminology, does not so much explain as it transforms, and the result is always something that is very concrete and specific. To abstract is to derive, generalize, render a subject remote and incorporeal, control the mind with intellectual fictions. Mana, which controls by nonfictions, makes its sense, or makes sense of the world, in a totally different way: the cold eroticism of the long, dark Pacific. There might be a mana of logic, but never a logic of mana.

See Also

Atua; Polynesian Religions, overview article; Power; Taboo.

Bibliography

Best, Elsdon. Maori Religion and Mythology. Wellington, N.Z., 1976. A classic ethnographic sourcebook, including many evocations of basic cultural concepts by Maori people in their own words.

Caro, Niki. Whale Rider. New Zealand Film Commission, 2003. Film. The dramatic understatement of mana in this film of contemporary Maori life makes it the most powerful representation of the concept ever produced.

Handy, E. S. G. Polynesian Religion. Honolulu, 1927. A synthesis of one of the world's most dispersed religiosities.

Hiroa, Te Rangi (Sir Peter Buck). The Coming of the Maori. Whitcoulls, N.Z., 1949. Romantic account of Maori history and concept.

Schwimmer, Eric. The World of the Maori. Wellington, N.Z., 1966. A distinguished contemporary analysis of the working concepts in Maori life and thought.

Roy Wagner (2005)

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