Fetch a Rope!

July 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, LIFE, RELIGION, Ulalume |
JohnHeith

Historical sex charges are problematic.  These types of antique sexual allegations are awfully easy to make, awfully serious, and awfully hard to refute. There always are metaphorical torches carried in the streets (in the middle of the day) for those charged. People write with relish at the thought of a show trial; they say they have always known the truth about the accused, whom, while ladled with qualifications that “X denies the charges, which are yet to be proven,” nevertheless are pinned with labels such as “paedophile” and “monster.” These witch hunts (“Gee, a high-placed religioso is charged, so let’s throw him in a pond to see…

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Dante Defeats Disappointment

Image of Dante by Agnolo Bronzino

Image of Dante by Agnolo Bronzino

Giosuè Carducci (27 July 1835 to 16 February 1907) refused the Dante Chair in Rome because, among other things, he feared its politicisation, no doubt correctly. Yet it must have rankled because Carducci knew what many of the wise knew: that the life and work of Dante Alighieri is a miraculous example to all. In these times of artistic, financial, intellectual and moral bankruptcy, verged on a new theocratic age, it is salutary to consider this extract of Carducci’s poem to Dante: “Dante, how comes it that my vows I pay To thy proud image? Still I meditate The verse…

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Vladimir, you’re needed!

July 2, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Nabs

Vladimir Nabokov died 2 July 1977.  Forty years later, his crisp, lush, exquisite prose, his deep insight and weirdness, as well as his celebrated courage in tackling the extremely tacky in a highly sophisticated way, is needed more than ever, in the face of what some like to call ‘contemporary literature’.  There’s no need to buy brick walls of modern novels – go into a decent second hand store (if you can find one) or Kindle up a copy of, say, Despair, Lolita, Pale Fire, Pnin, Transparent Things, etc., or his great memoir, Speak, Memory. Our appreciation of Nabokov was written…

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In a League of Its Own / Straight Through the Middle

July 1, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, LIFE |
sanflFred2

An exhibition celebrating 140 years of the South Australian National Football League and SA Football (State Library, June – August 2017) The Varnished Culture staff set aside partisanship and went to these twin homages to local footy. An interesting congregation of photos, video, medallions, badges, guernseys, books, scrapbooks, committee minute-books and other memorabilia, we could have done with a bit more, but it was a piquant taste nonetheless. SA clubs at every level, several long defunct, featured in rich and diverse parade. In this winter of discontent, a little unbalanced reporting suffused with weary, wistful nostalgia for the Glenelg Tigers glory (or at least,…

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Submission

(photo by Jorge Royan)

(photo by Jorge Royan)

(by Michel Houellebecq) (2015) (translated by Lorin Stein) Submission is a good idea for a novel, which terminates just when it seems to be building a head of steam. A ‘Lower’ Sorbonne Professor of Literature, specialising in J. K. Huysmans and an unenthusiastic promoter of ‘A’s for lays,’ finds himself on the academic outer when a version of the Muslim Brotherhood wins the French general elections. The professor skips town, ultimately decides to return and collect his redundancy payment and pension, only to be seduced by the new paradigm into converting to Islam and returning to academe, now deloused and free of…

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