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review 2018-06-20 06:40
Difficult
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

On various fronts. The overarching subject, the sense of hopelessness, helplessness and despair, the long-winded, meandering way the story is told (which is on par with the idea that it is a stream-of-conscience recount), and the purpose way in which this guy's obliviousness is made plain (and cringe-inducing) for the reader (and the teller).

 

Found it brilliant, at points boring and quite maddening.

 

Oh, and I leave it with a feeling akin to what Catcher in the Rye left me.

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review 2018-05-25 18:31
Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino and everyone's imagination
Invisible Cities - William Weaver,Italo Calvino

“For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return. Each deserves a different name; perhaps I have already spoken of Irene under other names; perhaps I have spoken only of Irene.” 

         ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

My memory of this book a month after finishing it is almost like a memory of a particularly good guided meditation (OK, I don't have a ton of experience with good guided meditation, but I know bad ones!) This is a nifty book. It seems so simple: Marco Polo telling tales to Kublai Khan about his travels through the Mongol Empire, with some notable additions. So there's a realm where it's a bit like a travelogue to all the cities I've visited, lived in, loved or have wished to see ― a wonderful imaginative experience. And there's another realm where it's philosophy about cities, humankind, differences and similarities, the changes that happen over time both physically and mentally ― and this is the part where the meditation comes in. It's a terrific book that I wasn't sure I wanted to read before I started. It starts slowly, but once you start to see what's happening between the two main characters and the world in which we all live, it starts to seem almost too short.

 

It also made me very curious about a lot of things and one of the best things I found along the way was a course curriculum for school students based on Invisible Cities found here and the Yale National Initiative seminar "Invisible Cities: The Arts and Renewable Community."

 

Those are just two things I thought were kind of awesome, but there are other nonfiction books and all sorts of memory/artistic and other creative projects that tie into this book. You could spend a lifetime doing nothing but reading related texts. Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities is an incredibly imaginative springboard to seeing our world using our fullest imagination.

 

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text 2018-05-12 04:56
Reading progress update: I've read 360 out of 608 pages.
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

"Master it," Brother Jack said, "but don't overdo it. Don't let it master you. There is nothing to put the people to sleep like dry ideology. The ideal is to strike a medium between ideology and inspiration. Say what the people want to hear, but say it in such a way that they'll do what we wish."

Now there is a cynic

He laughed. "Remember too, that theory always comes after practice. Act first, theorize later; that's also a formula, a devastatingly effective one!"
            He looked at me as though he did not see me and I could not tell whether he was laughing at me or with me. I was sure only that he was laughing.

 

"You'll do all right. Now listen. You are to continue what you started at the eviction. Keep them stirred up. Get them active. Get as many to join as possible. You'll be given guidance by some of the older members, but for the time being you are to see what you can do. You will have freedom of action -- and you will be under strict discipline to the committee."
            "I see," I said.
            "No, you don't quite see," he said, "but you will. You must not underestimate the discipline, Brother. It makes you answerable to the entire organization for what you do. Don't underestimate the discipline. It is very strict, but within its framework you are to have full freedom to do your work. And your work is very important. Understand?"

 

Oh, man! No, he doesn't understand AT ALL. Neither what "discipline" implies, nor the true impact and consequences of his eloquence (because he does not realize how it'll be used).

 

On all this section, I'm finding it infinitely ironic, yet fitting, the fact that being a figurehead speaker is part of what makes him invisible as a person. There is this bit before

 

"Stephen's problem, like ours, was not actually one of creating the uncreated conscience of his race, but of creating the uncreated features of his face. Our task is that of making ourselves individuals. The conscience of a race is the gift of its individuals who see, evaluate, record . . . We create the race by creating ourselves and then to our great astonishment we will have created something far more important: We will have created a culture. Why waste time creating a conscience for something that doesn't exist? For, you see, blood and skin do not think!"

He really has no definition of personal identity and gets absorbed into being little more than a voice flavoring other people's ideologies.

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text 2018-05-10 09:51
Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 608 pages.
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Damn. This guy does not only traipse through interesting times being a naive youth, he's got a cursed luck too... and there come the valves

 

Some pages later:

 

"The machine will produce the results of a prefrontal lobotomy without the negative effects of the knife,"

 

Christ. It's shock therapy.

 

"Why not castration, doctor?"
(...)
"Then why don't you try more current?"
"You suggest it?"
"I do, why not?"
"But isn't there a danger . . . ?" the voice trailed off.
(...)
"Look, he's dancing," someone called.
"No, really?"
An oily face looked in. "They really do have rhythm, don't they? Get hot, boy! Get hot!" it said with a laugh.

 

Hell

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text 2018-05-10 07:19
Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 608 pages.
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

They were tightly sealed. I had read that letters were sometimes steamed open, but I had no steam. I gave it up, I really didn't need to know their contents and it would not be honorable or safe to tamper with Dr. Bledsoe. I knew already that they concerned me and were addressed to some of the most important men in the whole country. That was enough.

 

*whimpers* Such an oblivious boy

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