Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Silent Echoes

 “House of Leaves” presents its readers with plenty of opportunity for confusion. The confusion is there for several reasons, some explainable while others are just unknown. One of the most confusing passages I read was written during the chapter on Echoes.

          During the Echoes chapter, Zampano gives entirely too many references and definitions of the echo effect and its deeper meanings. The passage I want to evaluate can be found starting on page forty-six. The paragraph that reads “Ironically, hollowness only increases … face of nothingness,” is what really boggles me. The main point in this paragraph is a description of “echoes” while I read it to more describe the blackness. I feel by using this definition it correlates two underlying themes present in the story: the echoes and the unknown hallways. There are several points when referring to the black hallways that it can only be described in size by the strength of the echoes that bounce around. Without this echo effect, the hallways would be forever dimensionless and unchanging, two aspects of the darkness we want to be able to spot. There may be more in depth reasoning for using this explanation that I may have missed, but I believe this one passage will ultimately define the hallways.

          Although I think I know what it represents, it is altogether harder to come up with an explanation of this. Before I start, I want to revisit “Which is exactly when Karen screams” (40). I found this very ironic that the last line before the echo chapter is someone screaming, as the black hallway is open. In some cases, an author will say how the scream causes someone to jump or how it reverberates through the entire house; Zampano however leaves us with silence. The explanation of this that I developed was that he was already hinting at the extraordinary size of the hallways, even when we only have the small passage way between rooms to look into. The sentence “delay and fragmented repetition create a sense of another inhabiting,” also offers up much interpretation. I think this foreshadows a couple things we eventually find out such as the growls in the hallways, as well as (more importantly) the break-up of Karen and Navidson. There separation can be linked directly with delayed and fragmented communication.

Another line from this paragraph I think I can explain would be “Strange that something so uncanny and outside of the self, even ghostly as some have suggested, can at the same time also contain a resilient comfort.” At first, I skimmed over this sentence and quickly pushed it to the back of my mind, but upon further reading I think the “something” refers to the hallways. From the start, Karen and Navidson never see eye to eye on what to do with the hallways. Karen thinks it is “ghostly” and wants to do nothing with it, while Navidson feels “resilient comfort.” He has always had the passion to brave the unknown. Their differing thoughts on the hallways will be the eventual downfall in their relationship.

In general, Zampano’s over explanation of the echo confusion can lead to confusion when read in context. After reading more of the novel, and re-reading this section, it is evident that all the definitions somehow pertain to other aspects of the story… one just has to think very hard to see the relationship.


Adam Johns said...

Sorry, I forgot that I was playing the part of your partner. Anyway...

Anyway, I think you have some interesting things to say about some difficult passages. Part of me wishes that you focused in more detail on a shorter passage, or a smaller number of short passages, but your explanations/responses are interesting in any case.

My main suggestion is actually on a more conceptual level. You do a nice job of explaining, if in a tentative way, some difficult material. Your thoughts on *why* it's so difficult, though, are rather short and vague - and certainly secondary - rather than being solidly the focus of the paper. Think more about the prompt and how you're dealing with it, in other words - there's a danger here of losing the overall assignment in your attempt to work through the specific passages.

Adam Johns said...

No revision, so I don't have any extra comments.