Thursday, April 4, 2013

Prompt 1 - Why? Karen Knutson

In House of Leaves, there is a phenomenon in the house in which there is an area that constantly changes in size, shape and direction, completely independent of the other parts of the house. People get lost and even are to the brink of death trying to ascertain why this is happening, or possibly to find an end. However, there is no end, or if there is one, no one has found it.  There are a series of questions on pages 172 to 174 asking fundamental questions of the book that have no definite answers. Such as “Can Navidson’s house exist without the experience of itself?”

This question is posted almost like, “If a tree makes a sound, can you hear it?” in which there are two possible answers, but no solvable outcome. Either a) you accept the fact that the only thing in this haunted house that is existing is tangible and only the tangible parts that can be experienced exist, or b) due to the abyss of the room that basically becomes a cave, all of it exists, even though it can’t be experienced because it is forever changing. One of the main issues is,  once there is an experience, the physical becomes only a memory and then that section of the house takes on a whole new form. So once something is experienced, it can never be fully experienced again in the same fashion.


There are also two quotes on the previous page, made by the same man, that have the same conflict. One is, “architecture comes into being only when experienced” and the other “Architectural space certainly exists independently of the causal perceiver, and has centers and directions of its own” (Danielwinski 170-171). So even this person, fictions or not, cannot come up with a suitable answer because they are also dealing with the same issue. These quotes are almost saying that Navidson’s experience of the architecture will be different than  Reston’s experience, but it almost doesn’t matter because the architecture stands alone. It is the experience maker, not the other way around.


Then there is the added layer of that hidden question that is constantly churning within (at least my) mind of why and what. Why is this house behaving like it is and what specifically is causing it? It’s rather obvious that science has been thrown out the window and cannot aid the answer to this question, so then we need to turn to the metaphysical and spiritual ways, which still may not answer the issue. So far in the novel, a suitable answer hasn’t come up other than ‘movie magic’ which has been debunked because it would take an enormous amount of money; money that the Navidson’s didn’t have. So are we dealing with ghosts, demons, intergalactic aliens… we don’t know, and may never know throughout the course of this novel. The answer may just never show, just as the answer of the existence of the house cannot be fully answered.


The difficulty is in the unknown of the answer, which seems to be prevalent throughout the novel. We don’t even know if this section of narrative is entirely true because of Johnny Truant’s interpretation of the mess he found in Lorenzo’s house. There are entire chunks of Zampano’s work that we can be missing and not even know, and we are even missing some of Johnny’s writing for some, of course, unknown reason. Maybe its possible that we just need to accept this unknown, because this could have had an explanation, but we may never find it because Zampano burnt it. This question just goes into a void that cannot fully be thought through at this point because we do not have enough information of anything to make a conclusion, or in the words of Johnny Truant on footnote 206, “which you are quite right to observe makes no sense at all” (Danielewski 169).


Taylor Hochuli said...

You've touched upon a good topic in the book on the nature of the house. I never thought of the connection of the "experiences" brought out by the house to those architecture quotes and it really brings up this dilemma of existence. You also outline the meaning of the quotes well while also explaining them in a more simple way (i.e. connection the main quote with the classic question about trees falling in a forest).

This writing might be helped at the end with more direction rather than discussion. You outline the two possibilities of answers to the question(labelled a and b), and bring up issues about clarifying which is correct. However, the ending doesn't conclude anything except that it is unknown. Perhaps a better way would be to argue one side or the other, or trying to explain how both work together rather than leaving the reader with a "who knows what the truth is" feeling.

Adam said...

I don't have a great deal to add with Taylor said, but I'll put it in my own way, maybe extending what he had to say.

1) The topic is pretty good, although somewhat vague.
2) The best thing you're doing here is to bring focus on the novel's insistence that we think in terms of architecture, and that thinking architecturally has certain implications.

Beyond that, I feel like you say a number of well-articulated, insightful things that don't really develop to any great extent - the parts are greater than the whole. You needed to move in a clearer direction here. That being say, if you were to revise this (though I know you're much more likely to work on your RPG for a final project) it could work well by including the architectural material especially in Karen's section.