Thursday, April 3, 2008

House of Leaves Formal Blog

2nd paragraph on page 107, Followed up by the sequence about getting hit by a truck

After reading the passage the biology major in my started thinking about how this guy is literally and slowly, killing himself. He reminds of those people you hear about in the news that play video games for 2 days straight and develop a blood clot which triggers a heart attack or stroke when they finally decide to get up. The type of commitment that Johnny shows to Zampano’s work still baffles me in the way in which Johnny’s life has completely been put on hold and he’s fallen into many tendencies that follow Zampano’s lifestyle. The problem is that Johnny is 25 and Zampano was 80, and that Johnny has a drug and alcohol problem that Zampano didn’t have.

The follow up that ties into this is in the next sequence when Johnny gets hit by a truck. At first while reading this I thought ok so this is where the story is going to take yet another sick turn where Johnny becomes some sort of wheelchair ridden amputee who rots in his apartment and dies while hanging over Zampano’s work or something. But no, be it the drugs or the blood rushing through his head it’s just another illusion of Johnny’s that makes me stop and think about the situation at hand again.

Danielewski never lets you just understand something on the surface he can’t just say this guy is a shut-in and leave it at that; he has to show Johnny’s deteriorating health and then because that just isn’t enough he follows it up with another graphically detailed description of Johnny getting cut in half by a truck accident. This “illusion” of the truck crashing into him just shows how far he Danielewski will go to get you to look at one aspect of the book, no matter how small it is. He could just say he had an illusion, but instead he shows how Johnny feels no pain while this is going on, and how he cares more about his car being totaled than of him getting severed in half. It made me read the passage over and over to see what was really going on here; it seems that Danielewski is trying to recreate Zampano’s work within his own work House of Leaves. You can’t just read something once, the story line isn’t even linear there is a parallel here in which Danielewski is actually Zampano and we are supposed to become Johnny. Someone in class talked about how they knew someone reading this book and how they had a notebook full of notes on this book. I can just picture Danielewski wanting this from his readers, maybe that’s why he says “this is not for you” at the beginning because the only type of readers that really get that message are the types that actually do some research within the text (or perhaps read it in a class). Small passages such as this one with the graphic details drive me to slow down as I’m reading and figure out what is going on and how it ties into the rest of the book. I think that is why this book is so damn confusing, because it creates something for us to solve and by solving it, it actually brings us into the story itself and we are supposed to see aspects of what Johnny is going through with all of Zampano’s notes. This type of depth makes the book a good read in some places but in others it’s just aggravating for me.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

One thing you're doing here is drawing attention to the book's form, or maybe how content and form relate to one another: the fact that Johny experiences illusions makes you read the book in a somewhat different way; illusion is one aspect of its form that arguably runs through the whole book.

Most of your actual interesting material is in one long paragraph -- creating some aggravations for your readers. You have several interesting ideas here which were worthy of unpacking and development (for instance, how does the illusion of the wreck relate to your sense that we are Johny and Danielewski is Zampano?). By crowding all of your best thoughts into one pararagraph, you constrict yourself unnecessarily.