Thursday, April 10, 2014

House of Leaves: Love or Frightening

House of Leaves: Love or Frightening


                When reading through the novel House of Leaves by Danielewski, there are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind.  At times I tend to have a discomforting feeling or maybe get disturbed, but that sense of emotion only plays out the way the book is being interpreted.  Also, at times I have a warm and affectionate feeling from other parts of the book.  Even though I get two different types of feelings that are total opposites from one another, I’m still confused on rather or not to call this book a love story or a frightening story.

“You shall be my roots and

I will be your shade,

though the sun burns my leaves.

You shall quench my thirst and

I will feed you fruit,

though time takes my seed.

And when I'm lost and can tell nothing of this earth

you will give me hope.

And my voice you will always hear.

And my hand you will always have.

For I will shelter you.

And I will comfort you.

And even when we are nothing left,

not even in death,

I will remember you.” –Danielewski

                This is one of the better known love quotes that I believe Danielewski phrases in his book.  It basically sums up how one will take care of the other with shelter, comfort, and protection.  No matter what life may bring, even through death, there will always be a remembrance between the two.  All through the novel you will find quotes that are similar to this one in particular to give justification on the loving-kindness that is being portrayed in it. While I can see this novel as being about love in many ways, you can’t forget the frightening part of it either.

“You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep.

Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.

And then the nightmares will begin.”

            When reading through this quote you can almost get the feeling of shivers just thinking about it.  Well at least I know I could feel that way.  Just the feeling alone of having to give everything you got in order to not face the thing you dread most is something people probably can’t even imagine or put their finger on.  Through most of the story you’ll see quotes like this as well.  Danielewski makes it possible to give you a sense of fear, anxiety, and even give some people nightmares.

            Overall, the novel House of Leaves is a very interesting and captivating story.  It displays love and frightening both at the same time, with the unique format and unusual page layout the way it is presented.  I believe that the novel itself will have you thinking about the frightening end towards the beginning, and while you keep reading you’ll eventually see that it turns out to be about love.


Adam said...

What I like here is that you are trying to make us think seriously about the ongoing, serious attention the novel pays to love. Drawing our attention to that feeling (or our response to that feeling) is a good starting point - but a starting point isn't yet an argument. What you really needed her was a clearer *argument* about the role of love in the novel, and why we should pay more attention to it. Starting out with passages is good; explaining why they matter, or how we should read them, is better.

Courtney Elvin said...


I think you chose an interesting topic to inquire about. I think it’s valuable to investigate how the book makes the reader feel, and your attention to this subject is good. I think your idea could use some more support from the text. The quotes you have included are relevant and exemplify your topic, but require more context, especially the poem quote. It would be interesting to look into the relationship between these two ideas and the potential parallels. They both present intangibility and a sense of an endless/limitless abyss while evoking different emotions. I think you have an interesting concept to work with here, but I think there is more analysis to be done.