When speaking of the mind we can relate it to several different things but often it plays a role in being creative and being imaginative. The eyes are part of our five senses and are sort of a recording camera for our brain to remember memories such as the surprise party that your parents threw and all your friends came over. I like to think of the mind and eyes as metaphors for fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is an open door into a writer’s creativity and imagination. As a reader you are guided into their imagination giving you a clear frame of what they want you to see. Nonfiction is broad and can be explained as something that is real , facts that have been collected by historians or just a curious writer who delved into a world they were interested in. Fiction as opposed to nonfiction is indirect as a reader it is up to you to interpret their work based on your reaction and how the work left you feeling. Taking a look at the Survey Graphic Harlem Mecca of the New Negro “The Making of Harlem” by James Weldon Johnson we understand that both the “mind” and “eyes” of the black American in Harlem is important in understanding the culture and history of the place they called home.
The culture of Harlem was something that cannot be interpreted but something that had to be felt. Poetry became a tremendous way of giving people an idea of what the Harlem renaissance was all about. Poets such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen and Georgia Douglas Johnson expressed the beauty and pain of black life and sought out to show the culture of a community who so often was plagued by white stereotypes. Upon reading the survey graphic I wanted to delve into the mind of Countee Cullen, specifically his work Harlem Wine. Cullen incorporates his own reaction to what Harlem culture was like into this 3 stanza poem. Cullen likes to compare the culture of Harlem to wine not water as water is too light and ageless whereas something like wine is thick and with age becomes much richer to its enthusiast. Cullen insists that such culture must spread regardless of where it is headed “This is a wine that must flow on ,Not caring how or where” (p.660). Through cullens mind we start to understand how rich Harlem’s culture was and how important it was for it to reach a broader audience through fictitious works. Through the minds of poets and their fictitious works we can interpret and create an image in mind of what the culture was like but when looking at it through the eyes of those who lived it that image becomes much clearer. The “eyes’ ‘ as mentioned before is the nonfiction writings of those who lived the reality of what was the Harlem renaissance. Writer Konrad Bercovici wrote in The Rhythm of Harlem Harlem was a revelation to me; that I enjoyed its colorfulness and vividness of life as much as I have enjoyed anything in this country” (679). Bercovici later speaks on how this culture that black Americans have created in such a community hold an important value to their history, something that separates them from all the others. The music , the art and the culture is a “ gift to the races they live with “ (679). The white stereotype plagues the black community making others think they are inferior but when one sees the culture through their own eyes as Bercovici did you start to formulate thoughts as “They do not have to strive for equality. They are different. Emphasizing that difference in their lives, in their culture, is what will give them and what should give them their value.” (679)
Culture is what sets people apart from others. A rich culture is something that makes others become curious of what that culture , music and art is. The ‘mind’ and ‘eyes’ are a perfect way of showing the history of a time such as the Harlem Renaissance and the culture that grew from it. Poems and essays written are what people read to paint an image in their head through a poet’s eyes or to have a clear visualization from a writer’s perspective. Fiction and nonfiction in fact are not too far apart from each other, not in the case of understanding a time where art, music and culture defined what it meant to be a black American in a small place in the large city of New York, a place called Harlem.
Duke Ellington musician that rose during the Harlem renaissance played at the Cotton Club in Harlem , New York a very popular place for musicians where people would gather to enjoy the sound of the Harlem.
Please feel free to play after reading the blog but i would recommend to play it while reading the blog makes for a better experience.