Author: jrleahy

Boundaries & Representation

The stripping of the Sympathizer from the narrative voice was rather interesting, and I thought, at first, that he was being striped of his faces. The opposite seemed to happen though, as the narrative voice returned to him and he began referring to himself with pluralities. It seems like the stripping removed not the faces but the arbitrary boundaries the Sympathizer set up between them. This goes back to his fear of representation, and leads me to wonder whether he mis-represented himself previously or if he ended up losing his representative faculties in the end. The former would be supported by the return of the narrative voice, while the later would be supported, I think, simply because he was usually understood in the terms of others, with the relevance of his mixed cultural heritage being the prime example.

Does a spy lack an interior?

The Sympathizer defines himself in the gaps between two opposing sides. But does this confession admit to the Sympathizer’s interior? Even when he questions the morality of neutralizing a falsely accused man, he occupies some pace between the conflicting voices of duty and conscience. Even though he admits his conscience is the only thing more abused than his liver, he also burned the journals with all his past thoughts and beliefs, as if destroying his concrete interior was the only way for him to fit into the role of “a man of two faces” (1). It’s as if the Sympathizer could not play to both sides without crafting an interior, or two, that accepted both sides, while the corresponding mask was needed for both sides to accept him.

Color of Influence

This memoir seems to be literally colored through her father’s influence, as the color is either a blue in the shade or some blue and yellow combo that favors the blue, reminiscent of when the yellow carriage was being colored in, as her father intervened and, preventing it from becoming a blue carriage, turning it ‘back’ into a yellow carriage. If color is so important, what does it mean when black silhouettes take the stage at important moments? For example, the last panel of chapter five on page 150, we are told what colors the sunset had (certainly not the ever present shaded blue/blue-green) but at this moment, the two are black silhouettes as if preventing their different colors from intervening in the scene, making this lack of color seem like abject truth. But then in the middle panel on page 203, as we again rehash the visit to the bookstore (following the Ouroboros-like nature of this memoir), it seems like Roy’s black silhouette stands in the background, only to disappear in the next panel as if he was never actually there. Perhaps here the silhouette stands to show the truth of her father’s influence on her, and while this claim might be supported by a similar phenomenon of her brother fleeing a man reminiscent of her father on page 193, and perhaps Roy, and no her father, appears because the parallel between the influence is more appropriate, but while I like this claim, I admit it struggles because Roy, and not her father, appears here.

Do I share a bias about the need for words to mean something?

Words are the definitive way to communicate knowledge, although another way to phrase it would be that they are the ultimate signifiers. Towards the end of the book, there is a claim that all that’s left are words, and to me this meant words without meaning (124). I think words lacking meaning play a large role in Oedipa’s paranoia, as one of the few times I remember receiving an explanation for the meaning behind something in this book occurred when Cohen explained what crying was, and Oedipa responded by saying his fly was open, but personally I thought the crying at an auction was quite obvious, regardless of any potential deeper meaning (151). It seemed like the explanation went against some rule in this book,  hinted at by the (incidental) breaking of a societal convention. Oedpia, and I believe I as well, have been strongly conditioned to believe that words, because they exist to communicate must have meaning, and as we operate under that bias paranoia surfaces.

Name change tied to a new persona

Upon joining the Brotherhood, the invisible man is given, and begins living under, a new name- although to us he remains nameless. This new persona lets him step into a new world, or at least take a peek behind the curtain, and with its development he recognizes “that there were two of [him]”, one for each of his names (380). The new name seems directly tied to the creation of this new persona that makes speeches and plays the part of community organizer. But his new persona is not free of the binds of his old one, as indicated by Ras and the presence of a fight ring when his new persona first took the stage, or even when the picture of Frederick Douglass was put up in the office for him. This unknown name ties into a partial realization, a change from a blind man into a one eyed man, but I am unable to decide whether the invisible man uses this new eye to see inside, outside, or both.

Thoughts on the Character of the Invisible Man and his Role

I have found that for the most part the Invisible Man lived up to his name, as I had not been able to grasp any attribute ascribable to him rather than the race as a whole. This notion was reinforced in chapter five where music and weaving at the loom indicated that all individuals at the college were part, or at least acted the part, of the same harmony and cloth, leaving the Invisible Man feeling “more lost than ever” as he realizes his dissonance (133). But when he arrives in Harlem, he also describes the protest there as having “a strange out of joint quality” (160-161). This marked a turning point in my eye where a vehicle for the Invisible Man we met in the prologue changed to a character we would refer to as the Invisible Man. Even starting in Dr. Bledsoe’s office, the Invisible Man is no longer defined by the purposefully portrayed meek image, and in his dissonant actions I saw a character for the first time.