Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Courtney formal blog

The passage that was interesting to me is on page 337 in a footnote by Johnny. Johnny says, “As I strain now to see past The Navidson Record, beyond this strange filigree of imperfection, the murmur of Zampano’s thoughts, endlessly searching. Reaching, but never quite concluding, barely even pausing, a ruin of pieces, gestures and quests, a compulsion brought on by-- well that’s precisely it, when I look past it all I only get an inkling of what tormented him. Though at least if the fire’s invisible, the pain’s not—mortal and guttural, torn out of him, day and night, week after week, month after month, until his throat’s stripped and he can barely speak and he rarely sleeps. He tries to escape his invention but never succeeds because for whatever reason, he is compelled, day and night, week after week, month after month, to continue building the very thing responsible for his incarceration. Though is that really right?” (Danielewski, 337).

Here, Johnny is talking about Zampano. He is trying to figure out what compelled Zampano to put this story together and stay so indulged in it. The Navidson Record has torn his life apart, “to continue building the very thing responsible for his incarceration”. For some reason he cannot stop ruining his life with this story. Doesn’t it sound a little like Johnny is talking about himself? Johnny spends so much time trying to piece this story back together that his own life is falling apart. He has finally shut himself up in her room just as Zampano did. It seems as though the three main people in this story, Zampano, Johnny, and Navidson all have something in common; they all have an obsession with this strange hallway. Every person in the story ties together some way or another. Johnny is tied to Zampano in that he is piecing his story back together. Navidson is just like both of them because he is curious; curious about the mysterious hallway, just as Johnny was so curious that he took Zampano’s trunk from his apartment.

After reading the passage above I asked questions, just as Johnny did. Johnny questions if the reason that Zampano left himself locked up in his apartment and died alone was because of The Navidson Record. This is what I think should be done with this whole book; House of Leaves should be questioned. Everything that is brought up in this book can be questioned. We may never know the answers to some of these questions, but it is a different way to read the story if you ask a question about everything in this story. So many different questions can be asked. Some questions that could be asked are, where did the hallway come from and why could no one see what was happening from the outside of the house? My main question is what is the force that keeps pulling Zampano and Johnny to the story? And what keeps making Navidson keep wanting to go back into that strange hallway? Is the problem just their curiosity that is getting them in trouble, or is it something else making them? Another question that came to mind is, is Johnny turning into Zampano? He has already turned his studio into what how Zampano’s was described.

A whole book could probably be written by just asking questions about House of Leaves, even if they can never be answered. I think it is good to question anything you can.

Danielewski, Mark Z.. House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon, 2000.


Adam Johns said...

It's true enough that we could write whole books of questions. And you're also right that, at least beyond a certain point, we won't know all the answers. But what I wish for here is two things; you have something of the first, and little of the second.

1) Questions which are interesting enough, and focused enough, that we at least wish for an answer.

2) An attempt at some sort of answer, if only provisional and flawed, to these questions.

It's not that all the questions you're likely to ask can actually be answered -- but the process of trying to articulate a response is at least as interesting and rewarding as asking the questions - if nothing else, because the questions formulated in response to partial and flawed answers are going to be more focused and interesting than the initial questions.

Adam Johns said...

Oh, one more thing. One distant inspiration for this class is Martin Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology" (you might remember that Heidegger is quoted at length early in House of Leaves).

Here are the opening lines from that essay, which relate to both my goals for the class and your post: "In what follows we shall be questioning concerning technology. Questioning builds a way."

Questioning alone doesn't build a way; questions, followed by (flawed) answers, followed by another round of questions, does build a way.

Adam Johns said...

I just discovered that "The Question Concerning Technology" is available online. Anyone who gets a chance, check it out:

And pity the students next semester, now that I know it's so easily available.