Monday, November 10, 2008

The True Author of the Navidson Record

Reading through Mark Z. Danielewsli’s cult classic, The House of Leaves, left myself asking many questions. While I was reading through it, I found myself noticing how similar the text of Zampano’s Navidson Record was to the text spoken by Johnny. Is Zampano a real person? Did he write this manuscript or is the whole thing written by Johnny? I believe it is the latter. There is striking similarity in the house and a person who is under the influence, between how Chad and Johnny react to conflict, the personifications of the monster and where both Johnny and Navidson feel the most comfortable.

Now, we know Johnny has had and is still enjoying his fair share of illegal, mind-altering substances. If you have ever had experiences with any of the substances (via personal use or even watching movies, such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), that Johnny is talking about then you can understand my opinion on how trippy the book is. The whole idea of a house that is bigger on the inside versus the outside is insane. Then you take into consideration the whole concept of the new hallway off of the master bedroom as well as the hallway from the living room. Through my friend’s stories I have learned that while on substances it can seem to the user that the walls are melting, shifting, and other weird phenomena. This is very similar to the Navidson house.

If you do not believe the illegal substances argument, then lets look into Johnny’s psyche. There are numerous events throughout the story where you can draw a connection between what is going on in Johnny’s head and what is going on in the house.

We’ll first start with the idea of the monster. There are two manifestations of the monster. The one is in the house itself. It is the monster that makes that constant growling while the expedition members are within the house. There are bits of Zampano’s narrative that mention how the house reacts to the inhabitant’s psychological state of mind. So, when Halloway begins the expeditions by taking action and bringing weapons on the mission the monster is more prevalent and closer then when Navidson, who was weaponless, went into the hallway alone. The act of bringing the guns fortified the idea of a monster in all of the explorer’s minds. Similarly, Johnny’s encounter with the monster while in the storage room at the tattoo shop was triggered by an event that happened earlier. During Johnny’s footnote on page 70, he mentions that the effects of his dream of Thumper, alcohol and Oregon bud had worn off. Since this occurred, he thinks that Thumper won’t be coming into the shop today, an idea that kept him happy and got him out of bed. The next thing that happens is Johnny’s manifestation of the monster arrives. In both circumstances, the monster arrives due to previous thoughts. It is the person’s imagination that brings upon this monster that haunts them.

Stepping away from the monster, on page 92, Zampano discusses how Chad refuses to talk about his bruises from school. Johnny also mentions how he has been guilty of changing the subject or just not talking about things as well. This is another example of how Johnny can be creating the Navidson record out of his imagination.

Beginning on page 102, Navidson hears the distress signal from Halloway’s team. Navidson puts the domestic tensions aside and prepares to venture into the hallway to help. This instant brings Navidson back to his roots, the roots of adventure. He thrived in adventure and dangerous situations. That is where he got his fame in photography. Since Karen tried to domesticate Navidson, he hasn’t been himself. Now is his opportunity to return to where he feels most comfortable, adventures. Johnny also returns to his roots in this section. Before page 103, the last time Johnny was at his roots was when he was telling the story of the wild birds and fighting ring to the girls. Now, we read through a section of text where Johnny is describing his summer in Alaska to his boss and Thumper. Story telling is where I believe Johnny thrives. It is a time when inhibitions are set free. He truly seems alive and not a care in the world, just like Navidson on his adventures.

I don’t think Zampano wrote the Navidson record. I believe it is all a creation of Johnny’s mind. It is evident that the two narratives are very similar. It is also evident in the spacing of which the narratives exist. For all of the examples I have listed, they were all within the same page or same section. I say section because the last example is split up due to the endless rant on the Minotaur and other confusing text in chapter nine. There for Johnny is the writer of the Navidson record.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Your use of details here is very good, and you pay attention to some parallels which I had never before considered, so I certainly enjoyed this.

This raises a big question, though. Why? Why is it interesting, beneficial, or different, to read Zampano as Johny's hallucination or creation, rather than as a distinct character? What impact does that ultimately have on your understanding of the story? While the idea itself is interesting, I think the question of what it *means* is even more significant.