Friday, April 12, 2013

4/11 Blog Entry (Slightly late)

As mentioned in my Wednesday blog entry, I found the quote, “marriage of the positive and the negative-the objective ambiguity,” to be very interesting. As I read more of House of Leaves, I also thought that it applied to the house. The house is many things – it has many hidden rooms that come and go, it takes away and it gives back, and it is an always changing between what it is and what it could be.

The house is described as “collapsing, expanding, tilting, closing, but always in perfect relation to the mental state of the individual.” This is especially important as Navidson and the rest of the explorers come to understand the house. At the surface, and as the house is still mysterious to the crew, the positive (as the house is) view of the house is a massive and constantly changing entity. It reflects the fact that they are still exploring the house and don’t know what the house contains or what it means. Once the Halloway crew reaches the bottom and Navidson comes in after him, the stairway shrinks and they make it down in much faster than the other crew. As well as the point made in the book that “Navidson’s rapid descent reflects his own knowledge that the Spiral Staircase is not bottomless,”  I think this reflects the negative view of the house (the house as it should be). Navidson, Tom, and Reston are on a rescue mission and they know that they need to find the others soon. The house changes to meet their mental state and thus the staircase changes from an estimated 13 miles down (and hundreds of feet in diameter) to a mere 5 minute walk and only about 100 feet down. This all connects back to the objective ambiguity of experiencing events in different ways based on their knowledge and understanding of the event.

Karen is another great example of the objective ambiguity in House of Leaves. At first I was very much inclined to dislike Karen. She comes across as, one of the many fake references used in the story describes her as, a “cold bitch, plain and simple.” From the accounts given in the book, she is depicted as a cheater and impatient and petty with Navidson. The whole reason that they move to Virginia is because Karen has offered an ultimatum that Will spend all his time with the family and not on his job or she would leave. Soon, there is new information about Karen presented that shows her in a new light. She has a crippling case of claustrophobia that was brought on, if not from a rape that her sister had claimed, possibly some other unspeakably horrible event in her childhood. When Navidson wanted to explore the new hallways, Karen was terrified for him and asked him not to explore it further for his safety. It showed that she did care about his welfare and wanted him not to feel any of her fear about the place. Also, she is shown as forgiving later in the book when she is putting together A Brief History of Who I Love and finally finds out what Delial means. She tries to turn her life around to prepare for reconciliation. This objective ambiguity shows that Karen is a human with both good traits and flaws but is all the more interesting of a character for not being so one-dimensional.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Paraphrasing can be unnecessary or even counterproductive - but one thing I wondered here is what your understanding of the Marcuse quote is. It's interesting to pull it out of context - it may be effective here, even - but it *is* pulled out of context, and that inevitably creates problems (positive, negative, and objective all have fairly precise and arguably unusual meanings in Marcuse).

The second paragraph shows that your reading has merit. You *have* thought it through. I do think it would be better if you more clear about what you were doing with Marcuse, rather than kind of winging it.

Your analysis of Karen't ambiguity is fine - but I don't know that this is anything like "objective ambiguity" in Marcuse's sense - again, you needed to do some kind of analysis of Marcuse himself in order to really work with this line.