Invisible Man

Invisible Man is a book written by Ralph Waldo Ellison who was born in Oklahoma in 1914. At the age if nineteen he won a scholarship to study music at the Booker T. Washington Tuskegee institute. In 1936 he went to New York and there he met the black writers Langton Hughes and Richard Wright.

In the first paragraph in Ellison’s book he writes, ‘I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus side shows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination indeed, everything and anything except me.’

Psychoanalysis investigates the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind. A method of this is to get the patent to talk freely, in such a way that the repressed fears and conflicts which are causing the problems are brought into the conscious mind and openly faced rather than remaining ‘buried’ in the conscious. Linked to this is the idea of repression, which is the ‘forgetting’ or ignoring of unresolved conflicts or traumatic past events.

Sigmund Freud suggested a three part model of the psyche the ego, superego and the Id. Transference the phenomenon whereby the patient under analysis redirects the emotions recalled in analysis toward the psychoanalyst. The antagonism or resentment felt towards a figure from the past might be reactivated.

Symbolism of the Rhodes statue has led to resentment in South Africa towards a figure from the past, that activated anger due to apartheid, which they lived through, therefore the symbolism of Rhodes had to be removed. As did Rhodesia had to change to Zimbabwe. The antagonism which is felt by the statue of Rhodes in Oxford has led to traumatic past events rearing it’s head as the statue of Rhodes evokes the horrors from the past. Ralph Waldo Ellison wrote invisible man in 1952 we are now in 2016 and still black people are invisible.

Freud suggested a three part model of the psyche the ego, superego and the id. Rhodes to the white hierarchy gives them an ego, superego and an identification of power over the black population, if it didn’t the statue would be gone. As long as the statue stands their superego remains in tact.




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