Lucan

November 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, HISTORY, WRITING & LITERATURE |

AD 39, 3 November: Lucan born. Lucan spoke truth to power.  This from the Pharsalia: “These nations, Caesar, if now the fire does not consume them, with the earth it will consume, with the waters of the deep it will consume. One pile in common is left for the world, destined to mingle the stars with its bones.”

Continue Reading →

Frank, My Dear, We Don’t Give a Damn

The Nuremberg boys (Hans Frank in the dock's front row, with arms folded, wearing dark glasses)

East West Street, written by Philippe Sands (2017) “To do a great right, do a little wrong” (The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1) It was a dilemma – in the smoking ashes of WWII, there were several handfuls of Nazi insiders scooped-up by the Allied forces. What to do with them? Hitler and his main henchmen were gone, bullets in their brains or cyanide caps twixt their clenched teeth (sometimes both) – and the residue claimed the time-honoured defence, ‘Befehl ist Befehl.’  Whilst the ‘odious apparatus’ of the Third Reich assiduously documented their outrages, prosecutors yet faced awesome…

Continue Reading →

Gandhi

October 2, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

Born 2 October 1869 Whether he was making yarn or making salt (Gandhi in Dandi), he was usually making trouble.  When the Brits offered the Congress Party of India a deal – help to the allies in WWII in exchange for Indian independence afterwards – Gandhi described it as a “post-dated cheque drawn on a crashing bank.” George Orwell, in a 1949 essay reviewing the autobiography and reflecting on Gandhi, wrote: “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent…In Gandhi’s case the questions one feels inclined to ask are: to what extent was Gandhi moved by vanity…

Continue Reading →

Leonardo da Vinci

(by Walter Isaacson) (2017) We picked up this heavy tome in Washington DC and carried it all the way home. It’s well put-together, beautifully illustrated, and fairly well organised. Whilst Leonardo the Man remains opaque, this book manages to avoid drowning in the sea of speculation, as a disastrous recent work on Beethoven does not. Leonardo da Vinci lived and died 500 years ago, and left behind a tantalising body of mostly incomplete work, in particular, some startlingly radical and luminous paintings, fanatically detailed drawings, and thousands of pages from inspired commonplace books.  Although his siege engines and tanks and…

Continue Reading →

21 August 1911: To Steal the Mona Lisa

August 21, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

On this day early last century, Vincenzo Perugia entered the Louvre in a worker’s smock and spirited the Mona Lisa away. Nowadays, you can hardly see her, imprisoned behind a wall of thick glass…

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.