The Faucian Bargain

(With apologies to Christina Rossetti and her “Goblin Market”) Morning and evening Folks heard the coolies cry: “Come buy our pangolins, Come by, come buy; Bats and lemurs, Bits of Uyghurs, Human femurs, Embargoed seegars – All ripe together In wintry weather,- Morns that pass by, Fair foreign bats fly; Come by, come by; Pass the wet market.” ♠ Evening by evening Beyond the fence and bollards, Shi Zhengli bowed her head to hear, Her Wuhan boss, who hollered “Lady, veil your blushes Crouch in your office like a cave In the cooling weather; With cautioning arms and clasping lips,…

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Elegy for the Tank Man

June 5, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, PETER'S WRITING, POLITICS |

[Tiananmen Square, Peking, 5 June, 1989] — A stand-off in the liquid heat of Tiananmen Square Caused Deng’s conga-line of tanks to begin rolling there. They rumbled down the avenue… Scoping tired students; waiting for their cue. — Suddenly a man appeared and stood before the ranks, Armed only with shopping bags – He defied the tanks, The lead tank turned and tried to pass, the man moved in its way; Then firing came, a soldier yelled but still he chose to stay. — He clambered on a tank and knocked, no friendly answer came, And finally the cameras stopped…

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Hamilton – The Musical

(Directed by Amy Campbell, Lyric Theatre, Sydney, 2021) (Reviewed by Margo Jakobsen) Masked-up and entering the Sydney Lyric Theatre in an orderly fashion, I was eager to see if the musical justified the buzz. Some already knew, a couple of fans wearing period costumes of their own. Others were clearly familiar with the moments. For example, a cry went up at the ‘immigrants get the job done’ line and Brent Hill’s crassly, juvenile King George, made a popular and delicious contrast with the rawest emotions of Chloe Zuel as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. The play ended with her enigmatic gasp. Amazing…

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Art Deco

April 15, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, LIFE, PETER'S WRITING |

What a Waste The Burial of Art Deco (With apologies to T. S. Eliot) Art Deco is the cruellest style, breeding High tech out of a dead hand, mixing Memory and elegance, stirring Dull wood with sprightly lacquer. Opulence kept us warm, covering Earth in sleek geometric stylized forms, A magpie greed with décoratifs. Le Corbusier surprised us, waging war on decor* With its many forms and guises; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into midtown Manhattan And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. “The elegant display of surplus labour in privileged objects.”** And when…

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El Greco

March 29, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

(Doménikos Theotokópoulos,1541-1614) The master of iridescent, intense, orogenic paintings, rocketing up to a boiling grey sky – so high the artist seems to want us to genuflect whilst viewing, preferably in dread as well as admiration. Filled with preternatural radiance and colours and sinuous, writhing, stretched bodies that eerily crowd his paintings, spurning conventional balance of framing, this singular genius and his dramatic and expressionistic style was first fêted, then ignored, then disparaged, then re-discovered. From Crete to Venice to Rome to Holy Toledo, ‘El Greco’ was influenced by Italian masters such as Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto (who also used clay…

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