20 June 2019

Highlights from 'Every day is for the thief'

Cole, Teju. Every day is for the thief. Random House, 2014.

A personal background

One of my closest friends and I have recently built a birthday tradition. It's just that we find time to have a nice dinner together. What makes the event special is we're both Pisces, so there's some exclusivity to it. Now this post has nothing to do with that useless fact. This has everything to do with this other useless fact: me forgetting to prepare a gift.

I take pride in giving gifts (as recorded here and here), so I was horrified when I received a Teju Cole book from him and couldn't reciprocate the gesture. My memory lapse shall be rectified. After reading, I'll be thinking of a great, belated birthday book.

Some underlined bits
Much like these Pacific Islanders, Nigerians do not always have the philosophical equipment to deal with the material goods they are so eager to consume. We fly planes but we do not manufacture aircraft, much less engage in aeronautical research. We use cellphones but we do not make them. But, more important, we do not foster the ways of thinking that lead to the development of telephones or jet engines. Part of that philosophical equipment is an attention to details: a rejection of only the broad outlines of a system, a commitment to precision, an engagement with the creative and scientific spirit behind what one uses. (p 139)

Religion, corruption, happiness. Why, if so religious, so little concern for the ethical life or human rights? Why, if so happy, such weariness and stifled suffering? [...] "Shuffering and Shmiling" was about how, in Nigeria, there is tremendous cultural pressure to claim that one is happy, even when one is not. Especially when one is not. Unhappy people, such as grieving mothers at a protest march, are swept aside. It is wrong to be unhappy. But it is not necessary to get bogged down in details when all we need is the general idea. (p 142)

It is entirely possible to put on a happy face, but what no one can really do is relax. (p 145)

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