Monday, March 22, 2010

Compare and contrast

The celebrated Australian phrenologist Professor Joseph Fraser spent time in the 1870s in New Zealand, travelling among the Maori.* Now I'm not saying that Fraser wholeheartedly adopted local customs, nor am I saying that anyone was still practicing cannibalism in those days.
Just saying that when he went back to Australia and resumed his practice, a surprising number of people entered his examination room and never came out.

Fraser also wrote utopian science fiction.

* This is kinda interesting because the traditional Maori world-view held the head to be the most tapu part of the body. It was where a chief's mana inhered, and for it to be touched was a dreadful act of desecration. But this rule did not seem to apply to Europeans, and Maori leaders like Te Whiti were happy and indeed flattered to have their heads prodded and rubbed by phrenologists like Fraser.**

** Must credit Alan Whelan for this observation.

6 comments:

Substance McGravitas said...

Where can I buy more of the Amour de la vie part of the brain? Asking for a fiend.

mikey said...

I must have some Maori in my soul, 'cause I don't mind having my heads rubbed by white people either...

merc said...

Stupid fuking white men. Nobody.
From film Deadman by Jarmusch.

hembre, a She Hombre.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Te Whiti? Could he be a 1337 speaking time-traveler punking the Pākehā?

Did Te Whiti have a pronounced Bump of Benevolence?

Smut Clyde said...

The 1879 Wanganui newspaper summary of Fraser's lecture does not mention that particular convexity.

Another Kiwi said...

And if you can't believe the Chronicle, who can you believe?
Te Whiti was actually Spanish as can be seen by the article thus his lump of benevolence could be from that side of the family tree. Stretching all the way back to Cortez and such like humanitarians.