Thursday, March 29, 2012

blog 7:House of leaves

Jacob Pavlovich

On page 48 of House of Leaves Johnny Truant tells one of his stories that I just cannot fathom the whole meaning behind it. Every few sentences at the beginning or at the end I feel like maybe I understand what he wanted to get across, however all in all, it seems like non sense.

He starts out just fine, thinking exactly what I am thinking about the previous passage on echoes, that for the most part yes it was the most confusing and wasteful thing ever. He then starts to talk about these “scars drawn long ago” (p.48). This is where I start to get confused; the best I can come up with is that these scares, are psychological damages that he has suffered over “two decades ago”. He talks about how “these scars [are] torn, ripped, bleeding” which leads me to believe that the recent events of him reading Zampanó’s literature and the creepy feelings he has been having since then, have reopened these long lost wounds. This would explain why reading Zampanó’s literature has had such affect upon him, for it has opened up some distant wounds. He then goes on to say how “they are first of all [Zampanó’s] scars”, which could mean that he is taking all the feelings of empathy that he has for this man and placing them on top of his already preexisting scars. This would create almost a stack effect for Truant, making his personal scars hurt more; however somewhat blurring the lines of what originally was his and what he has now taken on from Zampanó.

He eventually starts to ramble on about how this all began as a simple “failure” then progressed to the “Other loss, a horrible violence, before the coming of that great Whale, before the final drift”. This leads more to the idea that he might be suffering from more than just a bunch of addictions, however on a deeper level some sort of mental disability or illness. These scars start off as a failure, then compound upon each other. Violence can be a cause of many mental illnesses, especially when one represses past events which seems to have happened in Truant’s case. The next part of his rant I can throw to him being mentally unstable and just lost in his own words. He starts going on about death, logically because of the death of Zampanó. However when he describes it, he talks about things that “slip through fingers”. This could mean, he has shifted focus and is actually starting to think about how precious life actually is, no matter how one lives his life. But then he continues on about the “mutilations of birth”, which to be honest I have no clue where he is going at this point.

His psychosis picks up after Lude interjects into this ramble asking if Truant was okay (p.49). He starts to see “a strange glimmer everywhere” and “registering all possibilities of harm, every threat.” (p. 49). We can assume from this that he is having some sort of anxiety attack or just a mental break down again. Which judging from the hallway experience in a previous chapter, this assumption is not too far off.

Other than this analytical view of the words in the text, we can also look at why Danielewski decided to include this section and write it the way that he did. First off is the why did he include this section. I feel that he included this section as just basically a breather from this chapter. This chapter can seem extremely confusing, however since Danielewski threw in a more complicated and confusing footnote for the readers to grasp, it can make the other part of the reading more bearable. It brings a sense of, what they were talking about before seems rational now. This is because proportional to what Truant is saying, the rest of it is more rational. If he was trying to use this footnote as anything else actually adding to the story, he would have made it relevant. The only relevance he has added to this passage was at the very beginning when he talks about “the last bit ‘---perhaps your word ---‘” (p.48). Other than this Truant goes off on a complex rant intended on confusing the reader.


Adam said...

This is basically an explication of some of Johny's thoughts, explaining a few of the details of what he says on what seems to be his downward spiral into insanity. As such it's fine, but it's not a terribly focused response toe the prompt. First, it progresses through a substantial amount of text, explaining it phrase by phrase, rather than engaging at any depth with the most severe difficulties in it (the reference to the Whale, for instance, would seem incomprehensible to most readers - you should engage with teh true difficulty, not just with the parts which are relatively easily explained away).

Second, although you do ok with the first part of the prompt, you don't really do anything with the second part. You situate teh passage somewhat within the larger text - but what does the *difficulty* of it have to do with the book as a whole? Why is it hard *here*?

Ben Fellows said...

I like how you mention how Johnny really likes to shift his focus and avoid things. I feel like this is a really important aspect of Johnny's character, as shown by how he is constantly saying things such as "but that story is for another day" or something along those lines, in addition to his capability to create stories to explain his scars, but never actually tells anyone, including his best friend Lude, the truth behind them. This brings me to the scars, which are certainly another key component of Johnny's character, and your early focus on them is important to the interpretation.

I guess my problem with this paper is that you fulfill the part of the prompt that asks you to try to explain the difficult passage, but when you explain why it is so difficult, it isn't a strong conclusion. Is this section really a breather from the rather grueling chapter on Echos if it is a rather difficult passage? I also feel that there is more here, and that there certainly is a way to link the footnote and chapter together better.