Monday, November 10, 2008

Credibility in House of Leaves

Throughout House of Leaves, the credibility of Zampano’s story, along with the Navidson Record, is constantly brought into question. The story is about a fake movie, complete with fake sources to back up what is going on in the story. With the reader knowing that these two things are false, the credibility ultimately gets called into question. With all these things brought to the reader’s attention, it is very hard to be sure who is actually writing the story, and if the story being written about is the real thing or just one huge hoax.

During most of the novel, Johnny is constantly adding his own asides and additions to Zampano’s story. The reader figures out that Johnny is actually a very good storyteller from the interesting tale he tells about him being a fighter. Another reason that points to the fact that Johnny could have actually written the story is that in some of his tangents he actually seems smart. He does have a job any moron can do, but that ultimately does not mean he cannot comprehend some of the concepts he believes are going on in the Navidson Report. One main example of this is when he is interoperating some of the sources Zampano has used. One good example of this is on page 169 when he is talking about how a certain passage doesn’t make any sense at all. When I read this passage, I was so confused that I could not tell if the passage made sense or did not really. Johnny also openly admits that he has changed a few passages, which complicates things even more with statements such as, “Not at all. Zampano only wrote “heater.” The word “water” back there—I added that” (16). Not only was Johnny’s recalling the story brought into, but the actual Navidson Report was as well.

Many people who write about the Navidson Report question whether the story is truthful, or whether it was all just a Hollywood hoax. In one passage, they decide on how much it would cost to actually create a movie like this and the cost a minimum of six and a half million dollars. They then determined that Navidson would be five and a half million dollars short to create the effects. One of the points where they question the believability of the movie is when Reston is describing the events that would ultimately lead to Tom’s death in an interview. This interview is brought into question because it is not Navidson who actually tells about the incident, he relays the incident to Reston, who relays it to the camera, or person conducting the interview.

“In the future, readers of newspapers and magazines will probably view news pictures more as illustrations than reportage, since they will be well aware that they can no longer distinguish between a genuine image and one that has been manipulated” (141). In the Navidson report one cannot truly tell what is real and what is not because no one is really a credible source. With all these questions that arise in House of Leaves, Danielewski creates a labyrinth to hold in the secret about the true story.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Credibility is certainly a problem here - as are related terms, like authenticity (the idea on which Zampano's manuscript begins). The issue with this post as an essay is that, while the issue you raise is important, you don't seem to take any particular stand on it. Any intelligent reader will understand that authenticity is a problem in HOL - the question is how we should respond to that problem.