James has lived in many locations internationally, including Cosa Rica, Mexico, and Nepal. His family is located in Hawaii, where he will often visit during his breaks from school. He is a student in London, United Kingdom, studying fashion.
JAMES: Obviously I am not native Hawaiian, but having spent some time there—especially now that my family lives there—um, there’s obviously a pretty rich cultural… culture of storytelling, and obviously they had their own kind of mythology and stuff. And one that always stuck with me was that on oddly enough, in the hotel that we used to say at often when we would go to Maui, there was a huge massive like—oh gosh, it must have been, it was probably like 30 feet tall, 20 feet tall and like 40 feet wide—is a massive wood carving of Maui harnessing the sun. Which comes from… obviously, Hawaiian legend and myth—of how in the early days of creation, the sun raced—was obviously a personified person, and they would drive rapidly around the earth, basically, racing around the earth and… days were so short, that people couldn’t do anything, they couldn’t get anything done. And so, they—the people, you know, cried out to Maui their demigod savior, and said, “Can you do something—[laughs]
JAMES: —about this?”, as people tend to do of their deities and stories, and even in modern days, but that’s a lit—that’s a different issue [laughs]. Um… and yeah, so as far as I’ve been told the story, it’s—Maui climbed up to Haleakalā, which is the, uh… largest—larger of the two volcanoes on Maui, and cast out his fishing net—which is one of those ones that you like… yo—I don’t know like, the term for it, but you like, swing it out, and it like, spreads out. And he managed to catch the sun, and brought him down to earth, and was basically like “Hey!”… basically threatened him, which I feel like you shouldn’t do to like, the *sun*, but… he… basically threatened him—
INTERVIEWER: [laughs] You’re nice to the sun?
JAMES: [voice broken by laughter] You know? Like, you kind of… be polite, [or(?)], diplomatic, but—
JAMES: Anyways, I guess you can do whatever you want if you’re a demigod. And uh, yeah. But he harnessed the sun, brought him down, and basically [showed him(?)] like, “Hey! You—we need like, more… we need longer periods of light. Because otherwise, the food isn’t gonna grow, and if… we can’t just keep working at night, because you know, electricity isn’t a thing. And so, please go slower.” And then he released him, and that is where they believe the day comes from. The… uh, as far as… in its longevity, um… and its consistency, I suppose, being where they are at—near the equator. Um… but yeah! That one always stuck with me, mostly because we would just see this massive woodcarving over, um… in the foyer of this restaurant. [unintelligible] is always… like, like right in the middle of the hotel. Um… but I always… I always loved the Hawaiian myths, I suppose. I think they’re very… mythology in general, I mean, is just fascinating…
James has a general interest in religious folklore, especially the folklore of those places he has personally visited. He expressed a positive view of folklore in Hawaii, citing institutional efforts of preservation and respect, such as laws surrounding burial grounds and other sacred land, as well as the consistent invocation of traditional Hawaiian symbolism around government buildings and tourist areas (e.g., the statue mentioned in the transcript). When countered on this idea, James acknowledged that many of these efforts are, in his words, “performative”.
This story is best categorized as a myth, as it is a creation story and an explanation of a natural phenomenon: the length of the days. Based solely on the narrative of the story, the myth of Maui harnessing the sun seems to reference a fundamental trust in deities to intervene on behalf of man, even capturing one of the (if not the single most) powerful natural force.