Eloquent Composition

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"But more so than either of these, Emerson thinks of eloquent composition as a process of musical collaboration that draws upon, channels, provides a conduit for energies already in circuit among 'the people.'" - "Eloquence and Invisible Man" by Christopher Hanlon.

I chose to look at this quote because it reminded me of my own blog, and also of recurring themes in the story. Music is obviously a dominant theme throughout the novel. Descriptions are often made in terms of music, instruments are pointed out in scenes, and characters are usually uttering songs. Perhaps the invisible man has been chosen as an eloquent composer of the people. This may be the significance of the scene at the party, during which a man expected the invisible man to sing, almost as if this expectation was instinctive. In my blog, I spoke of the invisible man's speech, and how he did not know from where the wrods came. The invisible man may be a channel through which energy is elicited This energy is then transferred to the audience, constituting the members as a group, and unifying them in purpose. Brother Jack even goes on to say that the energy stirred up by the invisible man merely be channeled in the appropriate way to achieve the desired results. The article goes on to quote Emerson in sayin, "no one can survey the face of an excited assembly without being apprised of new opportunity for painting in fire human thought, and being agitated to agitate". Perhaps this was why the invisible man described the audience as being blurred and consisting of faces he could not clearly see, yet he felt a kind of affection for the members of the audience as if he belong to them. Maybe this blindness to the faces did not mean, as I preciously considered, that the invisible man was preaching ideas in which he did not himself believe, but rather that he needed to view the audience as one "social organism" in order to channel its energy.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/04/academic_article_1/

4 Comments

Alyssa Sanow said:

I find your point very interesting. At this point in Ellison's novel, his narrator seems to merely adopt the beliefs and ideals of those around him. Dr. Bledsoe, the brotherhood, and (later) the street mob all "adopt" him and he adopts their principles. The narrator was naive to simply accept the worldview of Dr. Bledsoe without question and continues to make that same mistake with new people. It is not until the end of the book and the narrator cuts off all connection with others that he develops his sense of self. For the entire novel, he is merely going through the motions, seeking acceptance, and unquestionably accepting the ideals of those he deems more powerful than himself.

Rosalind Blair said:

The idea of the brotherhood channeling all the energy into one idea to bring about results is definitely something that can lead to "invisibility". If everyone is molded to have the same ideas, and to preach the same philosophies, that is how people become lost. They are unable to be differentiated from others, and soon they lose the drive to become themselves. I think that this is what kind of cause the narrarator to become invisible in the first place.

Alicia Campbell said:

The invisible man is undoubtedly objectified all throughout the work by numerous characters. Your suggestion that people become lost by being forced to accept the same ideas and preach the same philosophies is interesting, Rosalind. It reminds me of when Brother Jack said something to the invisible man to the tune of you were hired to speak, not to think.

Alicia, you make such interesting points about this novel. Your point about the protagonist's eloquence being like a kind of energy has an Emersonian ring to it, but more than that you make me think of the end of the novel (and the beginning), where the protagonist is sitting in a room lined with light bulbs lit with energy he is literally stealing. Is that what orators do? Thanks for making me thinking of this moment in a different way, and thanks for reading my essay so carefully.

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