Blog 7

May 27th, 2011

Throughout our lessons in “Techniques of the Observer” I have (no pun intended) opened my eyes to a whole new spectrum of vision.  Through such studies of Emerson, Turner, Dickinson, Holmes, Trachtenberg, James, and Ellison, I see the importance, the difference and the many levels of vision that control and encircle our lives, especially in literature.  The one thing I love the most about literature and English courses is the constant debate-like atmosphere; there is usually never a clear answer and things are always up for interpretation.  Not only did we learn that in this class, but we learned that through vision – from both the opposers of that view and the ones who believed personal interpretation was the essence of a human being.  I found myself gravitating towards the ideas and mentalities of people like Dickinson, Emerson and Turner; artists who believed you looked at a painting, a photograph and although it may be a direct representation or replica of a real-life image, it is up to the person and how they view it to determine it’s true meaning – a theory Holmes was so against.  He believed, through the camera obscura as well, that what you saw is what the truth was – limiting the ideas and wondrous world of knowledge that came from viewing an image.  Dickinson wrote about being able to interpret the world as you want-  and Emerson used his essay, “Circles,” to create a map of sorts to explain how the eye works.  All of this knowledge truly inspired me and shifted my focus and how I read not only in my other classes, but in my own free time as well.  Vision isn’t just for watching movies and reading books – it’s how we interpret what we see on a daily basis and how we view and shape our lives – something I never really noticed.  This class helped me no longer take vision and the visual aspects of life for granted, and I appreciate it tremendously for that.

Blog 6

May 27th, 2011

I found the book “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison to be a terrific read.  Instead of just giving a run-of-the-mill explanation of class and racial differences, it uses the idea of invisibility to express that gap in our society.  The narrator used other people’s opinions and ideals to seemingly define himself, for he saw himself as invisible.  He didn’t know his own identity because the ones around him never really showed him.  The “Battle Royale” part of the story was probably the most intense and gut wrenching; finally the narrator thinks he is going to be appreciated and understood as a person, but instead he is treated as the exact opposite.  Not only is he blindfolded, a huge representation of the invisibility that followed him around the entire book, but he is made to fight for money against other African American students while the rich white men stand around and shout at them.  He was brought down to the level of an animal; underappreciated and subhuman.  This isn’t what the narrator is, but Ellison uses this moment to explain how the other half saw him – and what he used to define himself which is completely sad and tragic.  After he suffered from amnesia, the narrator couldn’t even remember his own name.  At this point, the doctors use his ethnicity and race to try and define him by asking him questions that only a black child would have really known – something that seems to offend the narrator, who can’t even remember his own name – thus intensifying his true belief that he is invisible.  At the end of the book the narrator is finally, “free of illusion,” (Ellison 569) and finally is able to shake away from the identity he so believed defined him and who he is; he is able to accept himself and the man he has become.