Nowhere Man by Pico Iyer

Intention- Iyer’s intention of Nowhere Man is to display the increase of depersonalization in younger generations, as well as the lack of connection between home and self and self and others.

Ethos- In his essay, Iyer describes the “transit loungers,” a group of people that spend most of their time traveling and not forming an emotional or physical connection to any sort of geographic location.  Iyer himself is a “transit lounger,” making his knowledge on this topic credible. He starts the essay off stating that by the age of nine, he was already used to taking transatlantic planes from his California home to his English boarding school. He has experience in mass traveling, giving him ethos.

Tone- The beginning of the piece is written in a lighter and content tone, as Iyer recollects and explains the “transit lounger” lifestyle.  However, as the piece continues, Iyer’s tone shifts to a negative one, as he comes to a somber realization that the “transit lounger” lifestyle has many shortcomings and negative effects on those who live in it.

Quote- One of my favorite quotes from this essay is, “We pass through countries as through revolving doors, resident aliens of the world, impermanent residents of nowhere.” This quote really describes the urgency that travelers have to get from place to place. They never truly had a place to call or consider “home,” but they always have a house (or hotel) to stay in. This quote fully encapsulates the intention of the essay.

–Katie Tegenkamp

Style: Iyer uses “we” in certain sentences when referring to those who are “the transit loungers”, likely in order to imply to the audience that both the readers who are “transit loungers” and Iyers himself are a unified group with the same outlook on the world. This stylistic choice helps to further boost his ethos by further establishing that he includes himself among the “transit loungers” and therefore knows what he is writing about.

Quote: A quote that stood out to me in this essay was when Iyers stated, “We became professional observers, able to see the merits and deficiencies of anywhere, to balance out parents’ viewpoints with their enemies’ position.” I like this quote because it expresses how not aligning oneself to a specific affiliation or standpoint allows travelers to be able to see situations from various viewpoints with little bias for one side or another.

Invention: Iyer uses cultural context in describing the similarities many countries have in the forms of “Holiday Inns, direct-dial phones, CNN, and DHL”, as well as in referencing culture-specific things such as Saddam Hussein and “China’s…cultural reasons for Tiananmen Square” in order to provide evidence of things that travelers like himself have become able to observe and discuss because they aren’t single-nation people.

– Mira Bauer

The intention of this piece is to demonstrate the various pros and cons of living an unrooted, mobile, international life.

Iyer was clearly aware of his modern audience as he was writing this piece. In his descriptions of the connections between various countries around the world, he says, “All have Holiday Inns, direct-dial phones, CNN, and DHL. All have sushi, Thai restaurants, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.” His list of such modern societal norms that many people would be accustomed to seeing in their daily lives establishes a connection with his audience. If he had cited examples from the past of how countries were similar, the readers wouldn’t have been able to connect with the speaker as well, and they wouldn’t be as receptive to his intention.

One memorable quote from this piece is, “Seasoned experts at dispassion, we are less good at involvement, or suspension of belief; at, in fact, the abolition of distance. We are masters of the aerial perspective, but touching down becomes more difficult.” In this line, the author is able to demonstrate an advantage to his lifestyle: he is able to see things from an omniscient point of view, as well as a significant disadvantage: he, and those like him, find it challenging to connect with others. This line is also important for its metaphors. The metaphor of the aerial perspective (or a bird’s-eye view) is one that has been used before and that readers may be familiar with, but the author continues it in a unique way when he says that, “touching down becomes more difficult.” The continuation of the metaphor causes readers to pay closer attention to what he is saying.

The author also uses a tricolon of rhetorical questions that work as an appeal to pathos in the lines, “But what does the transit lounger feel? What are the issues that we would die for? What are the passions that we would live for?” These rhetorical questions cause the readers to stop and think about what their lives would be like if they didn’t have any passions. This then works as an appeal to pathos because many people would feel empty if they didn’t have any passion. This causes the readers to feel sorry for the speaker (and the others who live like him) because they don’t think that he is leading a fulfilling life. At this point, the author is clearly focusing more heavily on the disadvantages of his lifestyle.

–Alex Stevens

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