Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Formal Blog- House of Leaves

The passage I chose that interests me is on page 114. It is footnote number 135, and it gives a quote from a man named Daniel Hortz and then Zampano tells us what he thinks the passage is saying, but that part is crossed out in red…
“At least as Daniel Hortz lamented, “By Granting all involved the right to wonder (e.g. daydream, free associate, phantasize, [sic] etc., etc.; see Gaston Bachelard) that which is discursive will inevitably re-appropriate the heterogeneity of the disparate and thus with such an unanticipated and unreconciled gesture bring about a reassessment of self.” (the next part is Crossed out) Or in other words, like the house, the film itself captures us and prohibits us at the same time as it frees us, to wander, and so first misleads us, inevitably, drawing us from the us, thus only in the end to lead us, necessarily, for where else we could have really gone?, back again to the us and hence back to ourselves.” (Danielewski 114).

This passage was very confusing, but I managed to get a grip on it (or at least I think I did). House of Leaves is, when it comes down to it, a story of finding oneself. If you think about it, all of the characters are somewhat lost. They all have some sort of self-self conflict that they need to work out. Zampano is a complete mystery, but what we do know about him, is that he keeps to himself and we assume this is because he becomes lost in the house, figuratively. As the story progresses we learn that Johnny also becomes lost in the house and this causes him also to be lost within himself. He begins to have weird dreams and fears and loses his grip on himself. He then realizes he never really had a grip on himself to begin with. Like the quote says, the house misleads and captures attention at first, then after wandering you end up lost, and then back where you started; still figuratively as lost as you always were. Navidson and Karen are a good example of this as well. Navidson gets literally lost in the house and it changes his life, but when he finds his way back he realizes he is still lost, just not literally. The house causes turmoil in their lives and causes them to realize that they aren’t actually happy. Karen wants to leave with the kids and eventually does because she doesn’t approve of Navidson’s adventurous lifestyle, and Navidson wants his adventurous lifestyle back.

Similar to their lives the house seems enticing from the outside view. Everyone that goes in to wander in the dark halls becomes to the realization that is their lives. I suppose that they think it could be their final moments and this causes them to rethink everything, so when they do find their way back out of the darkness, they remain lost. It seems that every character that hears about or comes in contact with the house becomes enticed with it, and then their wandering, whether it be in their minds or actual wandering, leads them back to where they started, but things are surfaced about themselves that they have been supressing. The characters that don't get lost in the house, such as Lude and Thumper, do not become affected and do not rethink themselves. Jhonny criticizes multiple characters that have nothing to do with the house, bringing up their lifestyles and personal problems that they seem to be perfectly ok with. For example, after reading the list Lude gives him about all his sexual partners in that month, Johnny thinks of made up reasons their lives are in turmoil and writes them down.

The house leads the characters that do get involved with it away from themselves but when they come back they realize they were never close in the first place. I believe this is an underlying theme in House of Leaves, and we progressively see the characters’ struggle with finding themselves and finding their way. They are perpetually lost. I think that it was crossed out because maybe Zampano was in denial that it was happening to him, just as the other characters are in denial.

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


balford said...

You bring up a good point about how the house causes characters to do a little self-evaluation and it brings out problems that they are dealing with outside of it. Holloway is a prime example of how his inner turmoil is brought out and eventually leads to his own death. In the hallway he feels the need to find the source of the growl and he refuses to give up. We find out that he has issues with depression, failure and feelings of inadequacy; this is what causes him to feel like he must accomplish his goal of hunting down the growl. The dark hallway forces him to literally face his fears and his worst nightmare of failure.

Adam Johns said...

This is a very interesting take on the book. I find it compelling because it's both straightforward and plausible - and really, with this book, to achieve both at once is rather impressive. It's so easy to become lost in the book's convolutions (which has its own advantages, of course), it can be hard to come away with a general response to it (let alone one rooted in a particular passage, like this one is) which actually makes sense. I'm quite taken with this reading.

Now let me add something. You note the fact that those who examine themselves get lost and stay lost. Isn't that curious? We normally think (I'm thinking pop psychology, Oprah, etc.) of self-evaluation as a step to something better: you need to realize that you're addicted to alcohol, or destructive relationships, or whatever, and understand why you are, before you can move on to something else.

But in your reading of HOL, self-analysis only leads Johny/Navy/Zampano farther into the labyrinth, the reverse of our ordinary expectations.

This is an interesting topic...

Adam Johns said...

Also, adding to what I just said, Brittnee's analysis is an example of what I just said - Holloway confronts himself, and ends up dead as a result.