Friday, March 22, 2013

Questions/Comments on Marcuse/Danielewski, Week 1

As always, post your comments to this thread.

Reminder:  send me your revised work, or a reminder link to your unrevised work, to be workshopped next week!  Otherwise we'll pick some unsuspecting victim from last semester.


Taylor Hochuli said...

For this week’s post I feel that I can relate the two readings of Marcuse and Danielewski. This week Marcuse talks about the therapeutic treatment of philosophic discourse and how it relates back to domination in society. He notes that the “therapeutic function of function of philosophical analysis” is the “correction of abnormal behavior in through and speech.” Toward the end of this section of reading in House of Leaves, the text refers the reader back to the appendix with various notes from Johnny Truant’s mother. This section interested me very much since it shed some light on Johnny as a character and the writing makes the reader have to interpret and theorize about what is reality and what is madness. For anyone who just skipped over it, I would highly suggest taking some time out of the main story to read. Anyway, this sort of therapeutic philosophy can be seen during Johnny’s mother’s progression during the letters. She begins in a stable state, but begins to devolve into madness only to be brought back to a healthy mental state before she dies. The way that we can tell that the madness takes over is found in the language and writing used by the mother. She begins coding her letters and then becomes more and more cryptic with messages written in different fonts and at different angles across the paper. Once the language and grammar become comprehensible and the writing lines up again, the reader believes that the mother is right back to her normal self. The reader is practicing Marcuse’s therapeutic treatment of language and ideas during this section. The mother spits out poems and unique styles of writing that is instantly judged as insanity. Even out of context, reading one of these letters would make someone think that the person is insane. Some of the letters are meant to provoke this reaction like one with the words “New Director” repeated over and over again in different fonts and without punctuation. But others use poetry and different writing styles that are unique and interesting to read. The fact that we mentally push aside these letters as madness shows the domination though language Marcuse presents, even If the letters contain important, critical elements.

In a more general sense, I found the letters great, but am having trouble deciphering the letter for May 8th, 1987. It’s written in code, so this could add to the case of madness, but I am interested in finding out what she is trying to communicate. For Marcuse, I’ve been trying to determine what “mystic” elements of our society keep us under control. It’s actually not far off from the MAD example used by Marcuse, considering we still fear the nuclear power of Iran and North Korea. It’s less mystic, but still provides a threat that keeps us in line. In a way, terrorism was also used as a sort of mysticism to keep the population under control. After 9/11, fear of terrorists grew and was mystified so that government groups could increase security and even begin a war. The threat is real, but has been mystified up to a point where it can be used to “promote…behavior which accepts the insanity.”

Brian DeWillie said...

So far I am really enjoying House of Leaves. It sometimes is a little hard when the footnotes from Johnny interrupt a paragraph or page of Zapato's story and go on for a few pages. I often have to reread some of the story to remember what was originally going on when this happens. The one part that I found very interesting was the part about echoes. The literary echoes seemed a little abstract in the sense that any homophone (or very close to one) as well as just parts of words could be considered echoes. Often when he was comparing literary echoes between Greek and Latin it seemed completely unrelated. I was, however, really interested in the scientific definition because it kind of related back to my Biomedical Imaging class where we are currently learning about ultrasound. Peeking ahead a little the structure of the story obviously gets stranger and I'm not sure how much I will enjoy interpreting that, but right now the book is really enjoyable and interesting to read.

Janine Talis said...

House of Leaves is going to be weird. Right from the very start, before really even beginning Zampano's writings I could just feel the weirdness. I do not yet know if it will be good weird or bad weird, but it's definitely going to be weird. To be honest, I have no idea if I'm even enjoying it yet. I know I don't dislike it but I feel like I'm spending so much time trying to involve myself in the story and break through the interfering footnotes and random quotes from literary journals, and philosophical discussion on echoes that I haven't taken in a breath and felt "Yeah, I like this."

One thing I do like is the highlighting of "house." Even if it is part of another word, "house" is always highlighted in blue, since the introduction. It immediately marks the house as something other. A house is often equated with home. Homes are supposed to be our safe place, a place of comfort and familiarity. But Danielewski does not give that to us. He marks the house as an "other" which is everything a home is not supposed to be.

Karen Knutson said...

I didn't understand marcuse's idea of conceptual transcendance, or I may just need a clarification of what that means.

Does marcuse think that we need metaphysics such as astrology and alchemy? Well alchemy then turned into chem after more discoveries were made and it took alchemy to get to where we are in chemistry. Maybe its not that we need metaphysics, but we need to open the scientific society to newer ideas that conflict, but that happens... (look at the historical disscussions over cell membranes.)

Then he starts talking about philosophy and how the language of philosophy isn't English and is not as humble as some people believe it to be, which I fully agree with because sometimes people go too deep and need to come up for air.

I like the idea of opening up philosophy because it needs to be open to new ideas that may be considered crackpot but it may lead to interesting theories that may actually work. Like alchemy was nuts and then we got chem because someone decided to make stuff out of it and get reliable results.

I'd also like to quote "myths... yadda yadda yadda... for it reveals the extent to which non-operational ideas... have become expendable, meaningless." I totally agree with this. It doesn't mean that we need to accept it, but it can get a rise of ideas that may be beneficial.