May, 2011

Ripping off the Blindfold

May 24th, 2011 May 24th, 2011
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The scene before the battle royal begins, with the woman dancing in the ring complicates the idea of invisibility, individuality, and identity. “I had a notion that of all in the room she saw only me with her impersonal eyes” (19). I wondered, is there a borderline to being invisible but feeling like the most noticeable person on earth. Throughout the whole actual battle scene the narrator fails to be unrecognized or ignored amongst the fighting sweaty boys. It is undetermined whether or not he stood out because of his race or anything else, but he was a central focus to the antagonizing adults.

This moment with the tortured woman made me question the true nature of the narrator’s invisibility. In the same vain, what set of seeing or not seeing forged his way to be invisible, for when he gets to college, and even in this scene, blindfolds are distributed to be worn by all.

Still the narrator relies heavily on other senses. His extraordinary attention to detail is prominent throughout the telling of his tale. Everything he utters is felt with deepest emotion and accuracy to his vision and his memory. For these senses are his, which makes them all the more unique because he is invisible. And his senses are superhuman, supersonic senses, for he can delve his body inside a Louis Armstrong song and find a Church’s service in its strings of musicality. When thinking of the senses in this way that “Third eye monster” of Ellison’s becomes an almost super hero creature to the narrator’s subconscious. If being blindfolded by school, race, regulations and etc. turned the invisible man into that nameless face than sprucing up his hole with lights or donning a “photographic lens” as a third eye not only gives him the power to see but to be seen. Thus the woman in the beginning stages of the novel is seen through that third lens because she sees him.

And that “third eye” wonderment even appears in Invisible Man during the hospital scene, “and a man was looking out of a bright third eye that glowed from the center of his forehead” (231). It is semi-ironic that the third eye appears in this scene for the doctors.  The doctors are characterized as monsters in a sense, probing and probing the physical and mental body of the narrator. But another way in which it is ironic is that this scene, this chapter, is issued as a transitory one because the narrator is going through a rebirthing process – with literally no identity and no name. Thus there is also a simultaneous fear of the third eye, for now the narrator can no longer see or name himself – for he knows of nothing, and because someone else is seeing him – whether fictitiously true or not. So in this case, the “third eye” is an ominous portrayal of the life and the person that he left behind and the stereotypes of remaking a person.  Still he regains his sense of self by being only “invisible, not blind” (576) and by being “ ‘against’ ” society. Only when he separated from the pack of a forced community, embraced that third eye – which in Ellison’s case was physical – that inner eye releases an inner self, and his identity is no longer invisible.

The Real Real Thing

May 24th, 2011 May 24th, 2011
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The peculiarity of Henry James’ “The Real Thing” is that the unnamed artist that serves as the protagonist is attempting to attain something accurate with his art. However in trying to serve just that purpose the artist casts two robotic and mechanical productions as his muses, who call themselves the Monarchs. Samantha pointed out in her blog that the Monarchs stand as that symbol of upper class, but how that aura has quite diminished, so has their standing in society – which is why they scope out an artist to take their portrait. Nevertheless there is another reading that can be applied to the names ‘The Monarchs.’

The male Monarch came tumbling out like a giant from the artist’s hand and the female equivalent drew as “insurmountably stiff…[and] looked like a photograph or a copy of the photograph” (200). The artist goes so far as to say that Mrs. Monarch could sit or stand still for hours “as if she were before a photographer’s lens” (199), which rendered her role as being painted or penciled in quite unfitting. Thus The Monarchs should be a title that states the idea of mechanical production as what was in the forefront of that epoch. Since the world James was writing in was beginning to rise industrially, photography, and that sort of attainable truth was in more demand than an artist’s palate.

Still the accuracy of the photograph is being challenged by James’ words and by his main character. For the Monarchs then are made out to be cardboard cutouts, replicas of themselves and far from the ‘real thing.’ I believe James was showing us the hot air of photography by making the artist’s models model through the motions, “with their society laugh about nothing” (208). Several times the artist comments on the authenticity and ‘realness’ of the Monarchs, but he contradicts himself by stating the above facts, and thus describing them as culture copies – fake realizations of the ‘real.’ And thus the reality of the literal situation is what ultimately lends itself to making the truth come out, that the Monarchs are servants for the artist in the end. Their true roles are being served.


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