Friday, April 12, 2013

Final Questions/Comments on Danielewski/Marcuse

As always, post your thoughts as comments to this thread.

4 comments:

Taylor Hochuli said...

The ultimate conclusion of House of Leaves saw Navidson give a physical sacrifice to live after fulfilling his quest to explore the house one last time. In the last chapter which reflects on the conclusion of the Navidson Record, I found a point that coincided nicely with a point in Marcuse’s conclusion (and also mentioned in a past chapter of his). The section talks about passion and how Navidson is reflecting on his experiences with the house. He feels guilty over doing nothing for Delial and in general not involving himself like his brother Tom would. After journeying into the house for the final time, he finally suffers to capture the house on film. Rather than grieve about his lost eye, skin, and right hand, Navidson is at peace and “somehow manages to remain passionate about his work." Danielewski then includes a quote explaining that “passion has little to do with euphoria…it means to suffer”. It is also worth noting that Karen had to confront her fear of darkness to find Navidson in the black hallway. Navidson tried to cure his longing through settling down and Karen tried to cure her fear with drugs, but they both had to suffer emotionally (and for Navidson physically) to finally get better. I feel this concept connects to Marcuse when he talks about psychoanalysis and its repressive nature. Marcuse notes that the point of psychoanalysis is just to “render [the] imagination happy” rather than actually curing the person. He says that we are “possessed by our images, suffer our own images” and only repress it rather than solving the issues. In a way, most of the characters going into the house had repressed problems that were manifested and only through confronting them do the characters find freedom. This societal idea of repressing and keeping people in a “happy consciousness” covered by Marcuse is expressed and conquered by the house. Only by breaking the characters ideas of physics do they think outside of societal pressures and conquer their mental daemons.

Besides this quick analysis, I only question how Johnny gets better in the end. With Navidson, we see an analysis which helps put the points together to figure out how Karen and Navidson overcome their problems. Johnny goes crazy, tours Virginia, returns to lose Lude, beats the pulp out of Gdansk man (finally seeing why Kyrie and him are important), and then runs away again and completes the book that drives him insane. Then he visits his mother’s broken down mental institute and finds his past home destroyed to make way for a lumber mill. It’s all very depressing and the only redeeming thing is that Johnny didn’t kill Gdansk man and gets all crazy with Kyrie. We can write off Johnny’s insanity as his mother’s condition re-appearing in him, but that seems to be over-generalizing. I feel confused on how all this craziness “cures” Johnny and how all these ending sections (tales from Virginia, false story about his fake doctor friends, dying child and his mother) connect together to give a proper wrap up to the story of Johnny Truant.

Karen Knutson said...

Well! I thought the ending of house of leaves was rather interesting. Navidson and Karen thankfully get an alright ending. At least both of them are alive, but we already kind of knew that Navidson would get out because his tapes exist. Johnny goes full insane for the ending, and I didn’t get the part with the dying infant. Is that supposed to be the death of Johnny’s childhood? Remarking again on how his mother failed him? I liked the fake doctor part though, that was hilarious ‘sunshine pills.’ It reminds me of when I read one flew over the cuckoo’s nest in their little garden, where they would get water and just lay out in the sun. Like the sunshine was supposed to fix extreme mental illnesses. Johnny reallllly went off the deep end though, to the point where he forgot everyone and nothing could bring him to reality, and he had to create his own to try and fix himself. He also can’t destroy his obsession either, he tried, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. His obsession becomes his life, but then he becomes so crazy that he can’t even remember…

Also RPG is going good! I learned all of the program that I need to, and I learned how to make events without the game failing! Its an easy program once ya get used to it!

Janine Talis said...

Johnny's ending confused me. I get that he basically goes full-on nutso, but at the same time he is sort of a co-narrator of sorts for the book. At some point he had to get his last ramblings to the editors for them to put it in the book. I think we established that Johnny is prone to lying, maybe there is a lie somewhere in there.

There was one word choice that I noticed that just stuck with me. On p. 376 in footnote 49, it says that 17 pages "vanished." Not went missing, or were destroyed by Zampano or Johnny, just vanished. Given the nature of the book, "vanished" has a completely different context.

Brian DeWillie said...

The first thing that struck me was the list of people that had come in contact with the house and the severity that it affected them. Obviously the people that lived there (Navidson, Karen, Chad and Daisy) and the explorers were affected the most but when the influence was removed, the people still most affected were the kids - Chad and Daisy. I think this probably is pointing out that the children are still very impressionable and much like Navidson's and Johnny's childhoods, they will always be affected/haunted by these traumatic events.

Also, to go along with this, I'm not quite sure why Johnny never really got over the house so to speak. I don't get why people who directly experienced the house can go to minimal post-exposure ratings but it seems like Johnny just goes insane.