We learn

In a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

The Plague by Albert Camus

This was a good read. And it fits the times we live in. A small happy town has been struck by the plague. First, the authorities are not sure of what to make of it. When the deaths start piling up, measures are put in place to address the pandemic. And it is in the lives of those who find themselves within the city walls that we find we are in sympathy with their situation and wish that it goes away.

Tarrou who has been busy helping the doctor in his work succumbs at the very last moment. And it is such a sad take. The priest dies too. And Othon’s little boy. The old man who’s battling asthma survives the pandemic & such is life. Unpredictable. Cruel sometimes. But also provides room for greatness.

A book I would recommend to you all.

On vice and virtue

On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.

Albert Camus, The Plague

the first man

by Albert Camus

Is one of the books by the Nobel Prize winning author published posthumously.

It is set in Algeria and France where the writer takes us through the life of Jacques Cormery, the poverty of their household, the disabilities in the house and their struggle to live.

He tells us about the dead sons/ fathers/ husbands who lost their lives in the war and the question we ask is for what. We go with Jacques to visit his father’s grave. He is 40 years old. His father was 29 when he died in the war. The son is at once sad for he feels he is older than the father he never knew and for whom there seems to be so little he can learn.

We see Jacques through school with teacher M. Benard, who for the school year takes the place of the father who was never there. Jacques tells us he had no teacher for morals, for good or bad but we see in him an honest child and later man. He has learnt some practical morality from I don’t know where. In the fights between the pupils, I see our school days where there were fist fights mainly to redeem ones honour.

We are introduced to the iron lady of the family, the grandmother, on whose shoulder all the decision-making for the family rests.

We meet Uncle Ernest and his dog Brillant and his hunting colleagues. People united in their poverty. The only difference between them is in degree.

There is the hilarious story of Jacques first communion. First communion was received at between age 9 and 12, a time at which Jacques will be in school after having won a scholarship. The grandmother decides the grandson is having holy communion and he is having it now. The priest can’t believe the old lady who tells him either now or never. He gives in and Jacques has to do a crash course in a month in time for holy communion. The curious thing about this family is they are not practicing Catholics. God is never talked about in the house. Jacques for all intents and purposes is without a religion.

In the end, I really liked Jacques. He worked hard in school. He was painfully honest except for the few infractions he committed but which we can see his conscience troubled. He loved his mother, was loved by his uncle and had a great friend Pierre whom they went with to school.

Apart from the life of Jacques and their poverty, there is a problem of race that the author addresses. We have an Arab customer whose throat is slit by a Moorish barber. The fights on the streets between the Algerians and French demonstrate the tension between the two groups.

The book is a great read. There are two letters at the end of this book that will make you after finishing the book to see it in a different light. It is worth a read. I enjoyed it.

The god hypothesis

I will start by saying the title is very misleading, it’s not god I want to talk about today, on the contrary I just want to write about things as I have seen them in the last few days. On Friday I stayed in traffic for slightly over two hours and the most part of that time we didn’t move a feet. I think all car owners in Nairobi are dim wits. Any time it rains all I think is they must use their brains for umbrellas! It defeats my why they all seem to be in a rush, throw all courtesy out of the window; none wants to give way. For a moment there is collective stupidity, all they are doing is hooting at each other at the same time, they are the very people responsible for the gridlock. Sometimes I want to be the city prefect just to bring some order, but this is just as a wish, am not seeing it become real since we have no Napoleon or Bishop Sixtus for France and Rome respectively.

On other news, I was up-country again and while I was away I here Sirikal[Gor Mahia FC] lost the KPL cup and some disgruntled supporters went on a mayhem causing damage to property of unknown amount of value. I don’t care what you think, but I will maintain football is a game for hooligans and an excuse to hooliganism. There are people who hold it that should Raila win in the next election his kinsmen [yours truly included] will be ungovernable, and for evidence they quote the hooligans who throw stones every time Gor FC loses a match, well I don’t know about you but it is only an obtuse person who would come with such an absurd idea.

I finished reading The Rebel: An essay about man in revolt by Albert Camus and he does it again in this volume. If you haven’t read any of his books, it is time to do so, you could while at it start with The Myth of Sisyphus and I promise you it will be a worthwhile cause. In the rebel he starts with the question of suicide ,which he covered in his essay the Myth of Sisyphus, and asks the all important question ‘if we can allow suicide for one man, can we allow murder universally? He then continues on the subject matter for which this essay is about, a man in revolt. A slave says yes and no to his master, and in this answer there is no contradiction, the yes is up to that point, the master could treat him as he wished but beyond that point he says no. He recognizes at that moment there is something inherent in him and all humanity that he can’t allow himself to be treated as such and it is here he lays the case for a revolution. 

I mentioned a few days ago I was reading Bert Ehrman’s God’s problem:How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer  and here, he explores the problem of suffering and why the bible fails to answer this big problem. I particularly like his treatment of the story of Job. In this poetic dialogue, for those of you in the know, Job is a sinless man in one evil city and even god acknowledges this. Satan not impressed by this, a rich person who is obedient to god, pushes god to place a bet that if Job was to lose everything he’d curse god, well you know how the story ends. When Job is before god, he demands an explanation for his suffering but there is no response from god. In fact all god does is to awe Job in his majesty though even that state Job still maintains his innocence. All we can infer from the entire episode is that Job suffered so god could win a bet. I don’t know about you, but am not worshiping this god even if he/she/it were to exist. Such a god is not worthy of worship by any right thinking person.

In the book am reading currently,which I will write more about in due course, there is a dialogue between Alyosha and a young lad Krassotkin when he goes to see Illusha the young lad from his school and he [Krassotkin] says

Oh i have nothing against god. Of course, god is only a hypothesis,but ……… I admit that he is needed…….for the order of the universe and all that….and if there were no god he would have to be invented.

I think, I want to agree with Krassotkin on this one.