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Wigs, Darwin, polls, gongs and fiestas


Congratulations to Morag Fraser, the former editor of Eureka Street, who was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. The many community groups whom Morag has encouraged and supported will feel honoured by the award. Eureka Street basks in the reflected sunlight both of Morag’s medal, and of the AM awarded to Fr Kevin Mogg, the uncle of the present editor, for his contribution over many decades to social welfare and prison chaplaincy.

Splitting hairs

Casuistry is the art of applying firm laws to slippery situations. Jesuits were once famed (notorious) for their skill at it. It often produces a more flexible practice than we might expect. (Did eating at 12.15am, for example, break the fast from midnight once required for communion? Yes, said the letter of the law. No, said the casuists, not at least if you lived at Ceduna, where real midnight came later than the official clocks proclaimed.)

The great exponents of casuistry, however, are the Orthodox Jewish Rabbis. Their law prohibits married women from displaying their hair. This, being culturally awkward in Western societies, led the casuists to approve wearing wigs. Now the best (and most expensive) wigs are made of human hair, and come from India. This origin, however, has raised questions for the Rabbis: Indian women have their hair cut in Hindu temples. This fact has led the most authoritative Rabbis to ban Indian wigs on the grounds they are so intimately associated with idolatry. The casuists, undefeated, now reflect on whether the hairdressers had religious or secular things in mind as they sat in the temple cutting hair.

Darwin and the dinosaurs

Christians also struggle with culture. In Florida, many Christians were disappointed with the dinosaur exhibition at Disneyland, because it portrayed the reign of dinosaurs as predating human beings. So they opened their own Creationist Adventure Land, in which dinosaurs are shown to have been created on the sixth day of creation. Souvenirs include fishy T-shirts, depicting Darwin at the moment of being engorged by Truth. The struggle between God and the forces of mammon goes on in the Park office as well as in the grounds. The taxation people came calling to seize documents. They claimed that the Park had paid no taxes. The park owners retorted that churches owed no taxes.

Pretty pollies

Election fever and the polls threaten. Polls come from an old English word, referring to the human head. Governments have always liked heads. They counted heads for taxation purposes, and more recently have supplied talking versions for television. As one of the major functions of governments has been to decide who should lose their heads, polling appropriately embraces such apparently unrelated activities as cutting off the tops of trees and removing horns from cattle.

Polling is now done by pollsters, whose particular skill is to ask inane questions at considerable length with the goal of turning people into headless chooks. As is well known, parrots are also commonly named polly. This has been said to refer to the more primitive practice of politicians speaking repeatedly about what they have been told, rather than, as in contemporary practice, ensuring that they were not told at all. This derivation, however, is false. Polly is derived from Moll, a diminutive form of Mary. (See Gangster’s Moll, Bloody Mary, etc.)

Latino fiesta

Here’s your chance to support the people of Guatemala at the Third Annual Latino Charity Fiesta and get your dancin’ shoes on. Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez will make a special guest appearance to support Mission Quetzal in Guatemala. Much needed funds will go towards scholarships for students at the Quichè Technological Institute. The institute caters for the indigenous Mayan population by providing technological and civic education.
Saturday, 28 August 2004
Viva Cabaret
Level 1, 231 Smith St., Fitzroy
The fiesta starts at 7pm with Street Latin Dance Class with choreographer Christian (choreographer of the ‘El Tango De Roxanne’ scene in the film Moulin Rouge).
Adults $35, concession $30. Book at VIVA Cabaret on 03 9415 8166 or at
missionquetzal@hotmail.com or contact Paolo on 0417 301 154.



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