Tag Archives: Saga of the Golden Moai

Enclosures: “Saga of the Gold Moai” (2022)

A preamble on the enclosure backstories:

For every subculture, there’s that one seemingly unattainable artifact that sums up the hopes and dreams of so many of its members. For computer buffs, it’s a piece of Charles Babbage’s original Difference Engine prototype, complete with Lady Ada Lovelace’s holotype programming guide. For chess fanatics, it’s the original Morphy Watch. For comics people, it’s the hope of finding a pristine copy of Detective Comics #27, and the chance to gaze upon one of the only remaining copies featuring the debut of Batman. For us tiki enthusiasts, it is and always was about the Golden Moai.

Okay, so you don’t get tiki culture. No big deal. I understand. It’s like people who don’t get the fascination with rugby or model trains or the artwork of HR Giger. If you can’t understand why people would give up time and effort to travel following the Grateful Dead or go to Burning Man or watch the Tour De France, you’ll never understand why tiki enthusiasts get so, well, enthusiastic. No skin off our noses. If you DO get it, though, you’ll find a welcome to the culture that makes kaiju people or burlesque fans look positively emotionless.

With every genre or subculture, you have two constants. The first is a patois sans glossary, a shorthand that everybody inside understands but that can’t really be explained without experience. If you explain it, you’re likely to explain too much, and that destroys the magic. The other is that there’s always one item or concept that perfectly encapsulates that little part of the culture that defies explanation. Think of an Euclidean ideal for the inherent mystery, that accents the mystery because of its rarity and memetic power. Don’t think of a splinter of the True Cross, but think of the sole surviving nail.

After a while, after you’ve gone past the collecting stage and the composing stage and the cooking stage and the “bleeding Dole Whip and rum” stage, you start to hear from your fellow tiki enthusiasts about the Golden Moai. Hints, suggestions, hidden longings. Naturally, it’s not actually gold: the idea of an actual golden sculpture being shuttled on Polynesian outriggers is as ridiculous as M-60 mounts on a Viking longboat. The suppositions, though, when people who searched or even claimed to view it got a little into their cups late at night, was that it might as well have been. This wonderful artifact, carved from a stone that evoked greenstone and rainbow obsidian, was inherently ridiculous. Even more ridiculous was that if you stared into the stone’s deep shifting iridescence long enough, it tapped into the viewer’s longing and helped them get there. People say lots, and drunk people say lots more, and the Golden Moai was just one of those tales that touched all of the buttons in your head.

Yes, naturally it hit all of my own buttons. Yes, I searched for years, for hints and clues as to where it was. Every time someone found it, they made a point of hiding it somewhere else. If you didn’t give it up after you found it, the magic wouldn’t happen, and the better the hiding spot, the better the magic worked. The previous handler was absolutely brilliant in hiding it, but receipts and travel logs and passport stamps will tell. There’s no need to go through all of that now. All that mattered is that I dug it out of a cairn of rock in what used to be Leilani Estates in Hawaii, looked deep into the iridescence that looked so much like a solidified gold and green dust devil, and wished desperately to leave. To go somewhere I could be alone with my thoughts, a tropical paradise with no demands on my time other than what I chose. The ultimate dream of every tiki advocate, right?

I’m glad that I learned navigation by astronomy, because it not only gave me an idea of where I went, but when. I found my tropical paradise, all right: to the best I can figure, I’m somewhere in what will become the Chatham Islands off the east coast of New Zealand. As to when, the first tipoff came from literally tripping over a dinosaur within a minute of getting here. Beautiful beaches and palm trees that would be even more enjoyable if those beaches weren’t patrolled by those dinosaurs. The islands don’t have parrots, but toothed birds with that same level of curiosity, and they’re absolutely fascinated by my hair. There’s a weird egg-laying mammal here, looking like an otter with a opossum’s face, that’s the birds’ favorite prey, and they gather in flocks of about 20 or so to take them out. Well, this mammal’s fur is the same color as my hair, which is why, besides the big dinosaurs wandering the beaches looking for dead fish and sea reptiles among the flotsam, I don’t sleep on the beaches. The fishing is great, if you don’t get your catch stolen by those sea reptiles or, worse, even bigger fish, and you do NOT want to go swimming. Other than that, it’s absolutely wonderful. I promise.

Here’s hoping that the next person searching for the moai gets what they want. Me, I’d kill a dinosaur for a Dole Whip right now.

Dimensions (width/height/depth): 18″ x 24″ x 18″ (45.72 cm x 60.96 cm x 45.72 cm)

Plant: N/A

Construction: Glass enclosure. polystyrene foam, vacuum-formed plastic, found items.

Price: Commission

Shirt Price: Commission