In House of Leaves, the footnotes are obviously a very important part of the story. Throughout the first two sections of reading, many of the footnotes were confusing but they seemed to have a point in the context of what was being said in the actual text. However, I was especially confused about footnote 142 on page 118. This note contains no words and is just five lines of lines. I found this to be really bizarre and I spent a good deal of time wondering why Danielewski would have included this footnote; so far, I haven't come up with anything. I did notice later in the reading that there was a footnote that commented on the peculiar layout of the pages (page 134 footnote 165) saying, "Mr. Truant refused to reveal whether the following bizarre textual layout is Zampano's or his own". Perhaps the transition from rather normal formatting to completely random formatting is Truant's doing; maybe it represents him beginning to go crazy...Is his formatting starting to resemble the way Zampano wrote the story down? Maybe that helps to explain footnote 142.
In the second half of the book, we see a dramatic change in the formatting style. There a more empty spaces, strange boxes, and a maze of footnotes to follow. Clearly intentional formatting, but much of the intention is difficult to interpret. In chapter VIII we encounter the SOS signal (later shown to have been sent by a dying Wax but changed by the house itself to create the meaningful signal). This chapter is filled with dots between paragraphs and occasional lines that could all be taken to have meaning. Some codes are clear -- like the three dots, three lines, three dots that translate to SOS directly, and the three dots, three lines that end the chapter with "SO?"-- but the dots (some filled in black, some left empty) are more difficult to interpret. At one point we are given a signal of two lines followed by three dots. The meaning of this is also less clear. It could be translated to the number seven, or a few different two letter sequences, but none of them seemed very significant as far as I could tell.One of the most interesting sequences of dots to me was on page 102 within the block text at the bottom of the page. An intentional dot exists between the two paragraphs, then below it, by lining up the period of one sentence with the dot over an "i" below it, there is a series of dots created almost (bot not quite perfectly) in a row. The spacing was clearly manipulated to create this sequence, but it's meaning is difficult to interpret.I also considered who might have added these codes -- Zampano or Johnny? Many of the dots exist within Johnny's footnotes, so he may have played a hand in adding this cryptic language that seems to originate from the walls of the house itself.
The footnotes in House of Leaves are in interesting component of the book to me because of how they disrupt the flow of the story. Truant includes them with the intention that they are not only just as important as the story of the Navidson Record, but in a way are a narrative in their own right. Looking at footnote 98, He goes off on a tangent about Kyrie that lasts multiple pages and he really only talks about her because he is explaining how he got a phrase translated. But the footnote itself is interrupted by the story, almost like a reminder that the tangent was merely a footnote, but then it returns after half a page. I think Truant does this to elevate the footnotes to the same status as the Navidson Record and in a way is telling his own story within another. These narratives seem to cycle and eclipse each other again and again and it seems like Truant is asking us which is the more important story? The answer could be both, or simply that the layout doesn't make sense because Truant is slowly going crazy.
During the second reading of Danielewski’s, House of Leaves, the events going on inside the home becomes a lot more intense, and interesting. Now the reference to the military outpost in the beginning of the book starts to make sense, because of how they are running the expeditions like military operations, and how they are completely on their own when any sort of troubles arise. I also thought it was interesting to find out that it only took Navidson a few minutes to reach the bottom of the stairs, when it took Holloway’s team a few days to make it to the bottom. The idea of the house transformations depending on what the person in it perceives it to be is an interesting idea.The blue box that appears on page 119 and continues until page 144, goes into great detail listing what the mysterious room and hallways do not have. I am not sure why it shows the front and back of the words for each box, and why it is placed where it is on the page. It looks like if could be a window until you reach the last box that is completely filled in with black. Does anyone know what the purpose of the blue box was supposed to be?
Aside from the odd ways the text is presented to us, I thought the second half revealed a lot more about the house to us, making the story more interesting. Throughout reading the second half, my mind lingered with a question that was asked on page 121 – “Whose house is it?” It was a question about the occupation of the house. The more I read after reading this question, the more I thought that the house was in fact really haunted. However, Danielewski then went into the psychological aspects of the house and I started to question if the happenings within the house were of pure psychology of the individuals in it. On page 125, he references a study conducted in the dark Sarawak Chamber, claiming, “individuals exposed to total darkness in an unknown space have suffered adverse psychological effects.” I also thought it was funny that in my last post I commented about the Navidson documentary being similar to Paranormal Activity, and on page 134, he brings up the relation to Hollywood releases. The ghosts haunting the house are the same as The Shining, Vertigo, and he goes on to list many more movies. However, then, on page 206, Ken burns explains why The Navidson Record is beyond Hollywood because nothing is predetermined or foreseen and it’s all painfully present, making it painfully real. Because of this, I’m still questioning what in this book is real and what is fake.
As I continued reading House of Leaves, I noticed the clear change in formatting. The beginning of the book is not traditional, but it is not nearly as radical as the rest. I found one of the most fascinating formatting techniques to be the use of dots and dashes to separate segments and make Morse code. However, I am curious as to why Danielewski used certain variations of dots and dashes. Sometimes the dots are larger than others or are not filled in. The meanings of the code is not always clear as well. Even the obvious “…---…” representing SOS varies throughout the text. Why does Danielewski choose to sometimes make the initial three dots larger than the second set of dots (p. 97), then make the dots all the same size (p. 98), and finally make the second set larger in size than the first three dots (p. 101)? I know that the SOS signal corresponds with the rescue mission inside the house, but I’m curious about the other codes and even what the variations in dots and dashes means.
At this point in the story, it seems that the house has an aura that seems to take out the worst of everybody. Karen results to flirting and cheating on her partner in their own home. Navidson's need for thrill in his life leads him to break his promise to Karen. Holloway would rather chance discovering something new rather than stick to the plan. Zampanò decides to continue the story in every single direction possible as long as it's down on a piece of paper. If anything, Zampanò is as much as a victim of the house as the rest of the cast of the Navidson Record are. Slowly, his thoughts become more scattered and his footnotes become illegible. The orientation of some of the pages is similar to the orientation of the dark hallways. At this point, I'm wondering what madness has taken Holloway. He's no longer coherent and is running off of nothing besides insanity. Is that the behavior that will ultimately overcome everybody in the house? If so, why aren't the children impacted?
What I find most interesting about House of Leaves is the incorporation of so many different viewpoints. The footnotes provide a forum for Mr. Truant, the editors and Zampano to all comment on the work. However, these asides, especially those of Mr. Truant's, sometimes seem to barely address the storyline. An example is the endnote on page 76. Mr. Truant even acknowledges that he is drunkenly rambling about cats and his stripper crush, Thumper. In fact, the footnotes tend to take the reader out of the story, something that is usually undesirable. Writers usually want to envelope their readers in the world they create with no distractions. Danielewski must have wanted readers to be knowledgeable about every level of the story, from Zampano's writing it to Mr. Truant interpretation to the editors' take on it. I am sure that these seemingly irrelevant asides serve a sort of purpose, but I am currently unsure as to exactly what Danielewski was trying to accomplish by including them. As he was deliberate in making all these choices, I know they are important to reading experience and I hope that the purpose becomes more evident the more I read. The hypothesis I currently have is that they serve some sort of purpose in mocking the world of academia and its endless list of references and excess information.
I went back and re-read the first part of House of Leaves. In doing this, I actively focused on who was presenting what information, and how they went about doing that. Something very interesting is how certain characters are associated with certain forms of media. For example, Truant's work largely appears in typewriter font, or at least associated with the appearence of typewriter font. In reading further, I'll be paying attention to further connections between form and authorship. What further connections can be made to help organize this chaotic work? Are other forms of type or media connections to other authors? Is this utilized in some meaningful way, and if so how? To what end?
I'd like to talk about text that is red and struck through. There is a note on page 111 that says, "Struck passages indicate what Zampano tried to get rid of, but which I, with a little bit of turpentine and a good old magnifying glass managed to resurrect." So, that note addresses why they are struck though, but not the fact that they are bright red. Unlike the subtlety of the dark blue which recedes into the page, the red violently lashes out, screaming to be seen. Most of the red text is analysis dealing with the story of the Minotaur. The story being that King Minos's wife had given birth to a half man-half bull, and Minos was so disgusted and ashamed of the thing that he had the craftsman Daedalus build a great labyrinth to house the beast, so that it may be hidden away from the world without outright killing it. The labyrinth of the story is a clear reference to the labyrinth of the house. But what is interesting is he built a giant, conspicuous structure to hide something he thought should not exist, and then later even began feeding kids to it. It has the same effect as strike throughs and vibrant red lettering does on passages that Zampano thinks should not exist. By drawing such attention to these passages, one can't help but focus on the labyrinth and the minotaur as major themes of the house, and when they begin hearing noises, the reader can't help but ponder the same conclusion that Holloway comes to, that there is a beast in the depths.
The transition between stories seems to be getting murky. Earlier I felt like the horizontal line helped separate the author's thoughts/story and Zampano's story. A lack of the horizontal bar is shown during transition from page 117 to 118. The change is made apparent by the contrasting font and the immediate use of Exploration #4. The section where the pages have boxes foreshadows that everything written will eventually be indistinguishable. The text is getting harder to read and there is more of a need to skip over pages. Another thing that seemed strange, this might be obvious, is why color is added to the text that is crossed out. Either one would suffice in showing that Zampano didn't want it included.
The change in format is very clear from the first section to the second. There is odd additions of boxes for footnotes, reflected texts, blank lines. All of it though seemingly connected to the footnotes. These footnotes are the story in my mind. The navidson record seems like the backseat. Of course not to Zampano, but to Truant. Jimmy wants to figure out what draws Zampano to this story. Also, on the pages 120-145 where the clear format change starts, the boxes are blue, much like the word house is always blue. Is this Danielewski's way of telling us that the format change is because of the house? The house changes itself and the inhabitants?