In the last post we focussed on the woof and weave of Australian civil society and the essentially corrupt and/or criminal nature of its police, judiciary, politicians and other members of the professional classes. To recap, I discounted the popular convict heritage effect to explain the current national character ie the fact that most of tubbyland’s citizens descended for convict stock, being shipped south from the UK in hulks for murder and assorted forms of thievery. The key concept here being that of deracination.
Rather, I opted for a climatic theory which argued that Australian civil society was shaped and organised by its climate. It’s corrupt because it’s bloody hot. Simple. Just think of all those movies where people are dying of the heat and consequentially decide that the old rules don’t apply anymore. The characters begin to focus on the essentials of life – monetary gain, murder and sexual lust – and before you know it things go all pear shaped. The Postman Always Rings Twice. Body Heat. The Treasure of Sierra Madre.
Now, a couple of unkind European commenters identified some weaknesses found in both theories, and one even went so far as to offer an alternative explanation which highlighted the importance of hereditary syphilis in the formation of Australian civil society. As this is an unfounded and cruel caricature I’m ignoring their nonsense, and instead resorting to the nineteenth science of phrenology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology”>Classical phrenology:
focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules.
If you need a quick recap on this arcane but valuable discipline, try David De Guistino’s Conquest of Mind: Phrenology and Victorian Social Though simply because I met him during my first year in the Big School.
Okay. There was a bit of theory slippage here since the above is a mug shot informed by the Cesare Lombroso’s typology of criminal types. And many more photos of criminality Oz-style 1900 – 1920 can be found at this brilliant site and with thanks. A tremendous social resource and the collection also comes in traditional book form.