Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Formal Blog - Sean

“Scientists estimate the universe unfolded from its state of infinite destiny…”`1


To start with this entire chapter has been interesting to me, since it’s laid out in a logical and almost scientific manner and it has information pertaining to physics and chemistry, so it interested me even more.  Strangely enough reading the footnotes I did not notice the ‘typo’ in the above footnote.  I simply glazed over it since I am familiar with the big bang theory (and black holes), but it was the footnote, which drew my attention to the ‘typo’.


First, I use the word typo in quotes, because I don’t believe it is a typo.  There are too many other places where typos could occur (especially in many of the scientific words), but it occurs here.  Furthermore, this footnote is unnecessary, because it denotes a passed which has been lost with the exception of a part of a word – “cleosynthesis”, which should probably be “nucleosynthesis”.  This is the process by which all these isotopes/atoms are made that Zampano refereneces for radiometric dating.  Aside from the nucleophysics, this page lacks real substance with the exception of this ‘typo’.


My initial thoughts are somewhat convoluted on how infinite destiny could directly relate to the house or this story.  Clearly, this story is strange with the house changing shapes.  Superficially I assume the infinite destiny could refer to the multiple/unlimited configurations the house assumes.  But this seems too simple.


Going further the footnote mentions “the big bang”.  This is the event when the universe started, but it also shares kinship with another celestial phenomenon, a black hole.  While I’m not an astro-physicist, I can tell you that both the Big Bang and black holes are singularities meaning that they have infinite density.  (Density = Mass/Volume, if Volume à 0, then density goes to infinity.)  A comparison of the house with a black hole is somewhat useful.  The walls are black, and there are no windows.  This could give anyone who venture into the hallways a feeling of being trapped in a black hole.  (No one can see beyond the even horizon.)  Furthermore, when Navidson is at the ‘bottomless’ spiral staircase.  The new additions made by the house must have felt like an infinite black hole with no end in sight.  A final comparison to a black hole is that the house will swallow items left behind like neon markers.


Finally, “infinite destiny” can be used not only to describe the physical house, but the entire book (and not only The Navidson Record).  If you interpret infinite destiny meaning anything could happen, I believe this describes the entire book perfectly.  First, the The Navidson Record contains a story about a house that can change form.  Johnny is constantly telling stories that are extraordinary to the readers, and it’s easy to assume anything can happen in all of Johnny’s stories.  Since so many weird things have happened so far in the book, this passage suggests that things to come in this book could be anything at all.  Unlike traditional books, where you can predict the outcome, you have no idea where this book will take you.


(One final note, I also believe that this book is infinitely DENSE)


1 Danielewski, Mark. House of Leaves. Pantheon Books: New York, 2000. p 373.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Your final parenthetical is perfect.

Your whole discussion here is very good, good enough that I may just copy it and bring it in to class - you're focusing my attention on an area of the book to which I hadn't given enough thought previously.

As much as I like this post, though, I like the last line best - there's much more you could have gotten out of the density/destiny confusion which reigns over the text here (incidentally, Danielewski claims that there aren't any typos in the book. What a perfect, utterly arrogant thing for him to say!).

One thing that fascinates me about singularities is that the way I understand it, time doesn't properly exist there; when people ask what happened "before" the beginning of the universe, that's not actually a coherent thought, because, well, there wasn't any time.

So, weirdly, the two words work together: "destiny," like "teleology" is all about a sense of _directed_ time: time is going somewhere. Whereas infinite density means that there is no time at all.

So infinite destiny is a perfectly directed sense of time (narrative?), while infinite density is the nonbeing of time -- and the two clashing together is, perhaps, the house?

I hope my connections are clear - those thoughts may seem random, but they were certainly inspired by your excellent post.