I finished the reading to the appendices just yesterday and I'm feeling a bit hollow. I suppose we got resolution to the Navidson story but the book sort of leaves us hanging with Johnny. Did anyone else get that feeling as well? Then again, I'm not sure what else I should have expected since the whole book is less than conventional. I was also surprised to read that Will actually believes the house to be God. Not a house of God but actually God. I know we've discussed this more than once in class but I never expected it to become explicit within the reading itself.
Once the Navidson Record concludes and we are left with only the aftermath of Johnny's efforts, the novel seems to shove in a large amount of "curveballs" very quickly before the appendices begin. The most jarring of these is definitely the revealing of the book that even we ourselves are reading, "The House of Leaves". I'm not quite sure of the importance of this additional layering, and even more unsure of what it implies when considering that the book also seems to appear within the Navidson Record itself.However, I did find the Whalestoe letters (which may or may not be included in your individual editions of the book) to give additional insight into Johnny's early childhood life, and provide additional a believable basis from which his damaged and insane psyche emerges from. We know from the main text that Johnny had a terrible and abuse-filled childhood, but the specifics go a long way in making the gravity of his prior situation realized by the reader.
I would have to agree with Carmen regarding the Whalestoe letters. I wound up reading them earlier when prompted by one of the footnotes; knowing this it helped provide kind of a foreshadowing for Johnny's mental state, but also provides kind of a genetic background for why it is that way.
Wow. This book, besides being mind-numbly frustrating, was wonderfully well written and extremely interconnected. Each time I found myself frustrated with turning the book to read the passage I just had to stop and think about why I was doing it to really appreciate the brilliance of Danielewski. The way that the text was placed on the page during Navidson's exploration reflected the room he was in, so that we as readers were having a similar experience to Navidson. I found that brilliant and extremely freaky. I also thought page 404-405 referring to Johnny's dream were really well interconnected, as he dreams that he is a minotaur about to be attacked by "frat boy." All the different ways that connects to other aspects of the text just astound me, but to list just a few: Kyrie's appearance in his dream sequence (as an aside in quotation marks) and later her boyfriend the Gdansk Man beating Johnny up, and Johnny's relating to the minotaur because they both have "daddy issues" to extremely oversimplify the term.Overall, I really liked this book, although it made my head hurt trying to figure out why Danielewski made the choices he did, because each one was deliberate and all so very interconnected.
At the heart of House of Leaves is House of Leaves. More than maybe any other line from the book, one will stick with me: "Physics depends on a universe infinitely centered on the equal sign" (32). Both for the truth and irony of it. In HOL, characters and events align and mirror, and come close equaling each other. I can't think of a better example of this than what Sarah pointed out - when Johnny's nightmare (and Navidson's?) is equal (or similar to?) Zampano's version of the Minotaur. As Zampano's footnote tells us, Navidson's reading of House of Leaves serves as the climax of the film. So the heart of the book is equal to the book cover. But to say this is to say nothing of the physics of the book, how the nature of the equal sign isn't binary, but it runs in all different directions. I'm rambling, and this book encourages it.
The eerie letters from Johnny's mother to him are the most uncomfortable part of the book for me. It's odd knowing that a person as messed up as Johnny came from such a seemingly affluent family, but after reading just two pages of the letters, it was pretty obvious why Johnny is the way he is. It would've been interesting to see Johnny's responses to these letters (if any), but in a way, the fact the letters never seem to be responded to kind of makes them even more unsettling.
Overall I enjoyed House of Leaves. I found it interesting that the book, as others pointed out, began to mirror itself. I also found it interesting that Navidson is able to do what Johnny cannot and burn the book. It is out of necessity that he does so but he also is able to eventually escape the house and to some extent his madness. While Johnny is left, at the end of the book, in his. Also at the beginning of the book the editors mention that chapter 21 was added later. Without this chapter we are left with even less knowledge about Johnny’s condition. I’m not sure how significant it is but I just thought it was a bit intriguing.
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