Most bloggers I know are happy to come up with maybe one really good post per week, if that. Due to the very nature of the blog beast, few readers expect the kind of consistent brilliance I’m seeing at two different blogs right now. Each blog features a tightly focused series mingling art and personal narrative with a larger social critique.
Teju Cole’s month-long Nigerian travelogue and meditation is due to expire at the end of January, so if you haven’t heeded any of my previous plugs, please consider doing so now. Here’s an excerpt from his latest post:
A phrase I heard often in Nigeria was idea l’a need. It means “all we need is the general idea or concept.” People would say this in different situations. It was a way of saying: that’s good enough, there’s no need to get bogged down in details. A flip, improvisory attitude. Idea l’a need. I heard it time and again. After the electrician had installed an antenna, all we got was unclear reception to CNN. The reaction wasn’t that he’d done an incomplete job. It was, rather: we’ll make do, after all idea l’a need. Why bother with sharp reception when you can have snowy reception? And once, driving in town with an older relative, I discovered that the latch for the seatbelt was broken. Oh pull it across your chest and sit on the buckle, he said, idea l’a need. Safety was not the point. The semblance of safety was what we were after.
The other thing I want to call your attention to is Natalie d’Arbeloff’s ongoing memoir project at Blaugustine. This seems to have happened almost by accident – sparked, as luck would have it, by a comment from none other than Teju Cole. While on the surface d’Arbeloff’s memoir appears more modest than Cole’s in its aspirations toward a larger critique, the sense of a life boiled down to its lyrical essence gives it a highly suggestive quality. Here’s an excerpt from the January 17 post, “Lost Treasure”:
So when and why did I decide to bury Mickey?
I’ve tried but can’t get back into the state of mind I was in when on a certain day of that happy Paraguayan childhood I went walking (was it by the river or in the orange grove or in the wide open flat expanse of thorny palms?) and at some point, bent down and started digging (with my fingers?), laid my beloved little Mickey Mouse in the hole and covered him with dry red soil.
Didn’t I even leave a marker on the grave, some stones or sticks? Why would I want to bury my favourite toy? All I know is that I was sure I’d find him again and when I couldn’t, some time later (how much later?) I was devastated.
And why is it that after all these years I’m still desolate about losing the Mickey? “Taking the Mickey” means to make fun of. What does Losing the Mickey mean?