Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's late, but I thought I'd mention it anyway...

I know that this blog will soon be abandoned as everyone returns home and tries to drown this past semester in a sea of knock-off liquors and cheap beer, but I figured, just in case someone was still interested, I would post some findings about that bastardly list of photographers in House of Leaves.

Well, there were over 700 of them in there. And for the first 500-600 they're almost all real and verifiable; only five or so didn't bring up any information on photographers. This, of course, poses the interesting question of how to actually prove they aren't real since there's countless factors involved. At any rate, it seems that Danielewski actually took the vast majority of them out of some collection book of the most influential photographers in 20th century America, though many are of foreign roots. The collection book had, I believe, ~780 authors total, though some were deleted in the 3rd (and latest) edition of the book, which, yet again, proves to be a real noggin-scratcher. The pattern Danielewski uses, however, seems completely random. And they come from all different backgrounds (even the ones I looked up that weren't in that book): fashion, nature, eroticism, still life, war, the American West; hell, the one guy was a photographer in five separate wars.

Though none of you will read my paper b/c I had never posted a draft (didn't help that I just--for awhile--ran under the assumption that it was just for comments and whatnot, not for credit), I think the list acts basically as an extension of the house, in that it possesses God-like characteristics much like the house (considering the fact that the list includes photographers that have recorded essentially every event since the invention of the camera and in every field imaginable). What's more, though, the list contains its own darkness and properties of an infinite plane, as you could spend forever exploring the fine details of each photographer, his or her life, his or her work, and the connections between them and the book. I felt a lot like Navidson during the whole thing, too; my "two-inches" of difference (which manifests itself in the list in various ways) is what constantly pulls me into the list, until, of course, I'm trapped with no return. Luckily, I made it alive without losing any limbs or other body parts, just a little sanity, sleep, and will to live. At the same time, it mirrors the devices employed by Danielewski. In other words, the narrative is a 3-way layer (Navidson > Zampano > Johnny)--four-way if you count the editors. The list is essentially a House of Leaves, inside the review of a movie about the House of Leaves, all contained in the book called House of Leaves. It's just layer after layer of this, as I'm sure Johnny would put it, flying fuck shit.

A couple names are repeated. Interestingly enough, one is named William. If that weren't going to cause enough trouble, he was the great-great nephew of the guy who was used as the basis for 'Uncle Sam.' So now there's even more to talk about concerning the continual assertion of Will as somewhat of an archetype man, perhaps the true, red (white, and blue) blooded American. A few names are spelled wrong, too. I don't think that they were any of the ones that I found in that collection book, though, which leads me to believe that Danielewski (gasp!) actually made a typo or two. Then again, Zampano's supposedly putting the list together, so it could be his doing. Or Johnny's. Man, fuck this book (just kidding... kind of).

The Vietnamese names stir up problems, though; I could hardly find information on any of them, thereby leading me to believe that they're made up. Who knows, though? Maybe Danielewski had another book with all Vietnamese photographers. Whatever the case, it's an issue worth exploring.

There's a lot of black-and-white photographers, too, which is, obviously, partially a result of the fact that many of the photographers came from a time when there was no color. Even so, though, the ones that seem to have been put in there by Danielewski personally, i.e., those not in that book, are also noted for black-and-white work. One guy worked in some color, but he was big on being neutral in taking his photos; in other words, he, too, worked in black-and-white, albeit differently.

And don't even get me started on the bitter irony that I used Wikipedia, an easily changed and fabricated source, to determine the existence of these people. I laughed a few times because of that one.

So, yeah, just thought someone might be interested. Dr. Johns at least. I can't wait for the semester to end. Nothing like daytime TV and binge eating/drinking for as long as you possibly can.

1 comment:

Tim said...

if what you are talking about is the list on pages 64 through 67 i have something to mention...

maybe it was mentioned in class... maybe not.

but, if you look at the list of names starting with "Lucien Aigner" (the third line down on page 64) and you take the first letter from each of the photographers last names, you will notice that it spells out "A. L.O.N.G. L.I.S.T."