The monstrous nature of the house is really made clear in this section of the book as it attempts to take over the inhabited part of the house too, swallowing Tom and almost the rest of the group during the Escape. The mysterious darkness of the house comes out from behind its locked door to take away the safety that had been felt through the rest of the house. But it seems that the house has gone further than that. Johnny's apartment is suddenly talking on many of the characteristic of the void from The Navidson Record. Johnny isolates himself from the people around him - he leaves his job, stops calling girls, avoids Lude, even Thumper does not have the ability to call him out from the darkness of his apartment. The loss of electricity brings him dangerously close to living in the darkness resembling the house itself. He has stopped taking care of himself, only to preserve the book that embodies everything the house is. His own interruptions to the story have become less frequent, as if he is living less his own life and more of his life through the pages of the book. On page 327, we see he's added a footnote, but never written it. The nothingness of this absent writing shows how close he is coming to resembling the nothingness within the house. The isolation becomes most complete when his phone connection dies. He is no longer a part of the outside world, but living day-to-day, meticulously checking the measuring tapes and preparing to defend himself from something with the gun he buys. We last saw the failure of a gun in the face of the house with Holloway's failure, but will this failure repeat itself? Clearly Johnny is not the confident and adventurous man Holloway was, and his fear seems more paranoid than the brazen attitude Holloway had. Clearly Johnny's fear and obsession is unhealthy, but could it be fatal?
It was brought up earlier in the novel that perhaps the house changes depending on one's state of mind. With this in mind, I found myself thinking about Holloway and Navidson. We already know that the Grand Staircase seemed much longer and more daunting to Holloway than it did for Navidson, and we also know that at some point both men are trapped in the house. In Holloway's case, he loses his sense of direction and cannot find his way out. Incidentally, he also loses his mind in the house. Navidson is left at the bottom of the staircase unable to reach the other men at the top. The one big difference between the two men is that Navidson escapes. If the house is changing depending on the person, why does the house treat these men differently. They both come from rather rocky childhood backgrounds yet the house does not capture Navidson. Why does it let Navidson out and why does Holloway escape? Secondly, we know that Tom and Navidson are twin brothers. At one point the house captures Navidson and he escapes, but Tom is not as lucky. What significance, if any, does the fact that they are twins have on the their fates?
In this section of House of Leaves, I was particularly interested with Chad and Daisy. On page 313, one of their teachers, Teppet C. Brookes, explains how their drawings from class were really obscure. When asked to draw their house, they added creatures and a black square filling most of the space. I think the fact that the house is even affecting the minds of innocent children is evident of a real danger. The house tears the family apart and hurts them not only physically, but mentally and morally as well. On page 315, Karen is put in the position of choosing between Chad and Daisy or monitoring the radios. Karen chooses to keep by the radios instead of her children. Karen fears the house the most because she is afraid of what it will do to them. I think this is important to consider when Karen makes the decision to leave the house for New York. Karen’s distance from her children disappears one Navidson disappears within the house. This is when she begins to encourage their departure. Back on page 315, Dr. Lon Lew says that the house allowed Karen to break her dependence on Navidson. This then leads me to page 322, when it says, “Navidson’s arrival means she can leave.” It was interesting to see how the house was affecting Karen and the kids rather than focusing on the explorations.
What I found interesting about this section of The Navidson Record was the changes in the structure of words in relationship to Tom. We begin the section with two thin columns of words. These soon become paragraphs that are separated by the word/symbol "rzzzzzzzzzzz." Readers learn that this root means to tear apart or to shatter. This structure continues as Zampano details the comparison between twin brothers Jacob and Esau and Navy and Tom. The rzzzzz accompanying this comparison seems to be an indicator that hidden within Zampano's words is the source for what exactly tore the brothers apart, setting them on such different paths. Indeed, the hypothesis that Tom felt orphaned upon the birth of Chad is supported by various sources. The fact that this earlier structure appears to reflect the twins' relationship opens the possibility that this may occur throughout the book. The section of the book after Tom does not go down to join Navy (page #) ushers in a structure characterized by blank space. There are few words and no footnotes on the pages that follow Tom's disappearance. Could this emptiness be a final commentary on the relationship between Navy and Tom? Could the open space signify all the words they left unspoken and all the memories they were not able to make together because of the emotional distance between them?
There were many interesting sections in this week’s reading, but I found the section in which Will and Tom are compared to Jacob and Esau especially intriguing. The section begins on page 246 and continues to page 252. It explores which brother is Jacob and which is Esau and the similarities and differences between the pairs of siblings. Will is thought to be Jacob and Tom is thought to be Esau, his birthright being stolen from his successful brother. The incompleteness of some of the sections blend the two stories together creating a story combining both pairs. The whole part is in a two column format emphasizing that in both situations the brothers are two separate entities and must be shown as two separate columns, but are also so closely intertwined that they must be shown together. I liked this section and think it provided another way to view Will and Tom’s relationship with insight from the biblical story.
This weeks reading was very interesting to me, while some parts did not make sense. In particular I could not understand why Tom had to be swallowed by the house in the end, and why the house made it impossible for him to leave. There were many instances when the house could have shifted and killed everyone in it, but it waited until the moment when everyone was trying to leave. I just thought it was curious that it went after the family at that time, and then made a point to ensure Tom never made it out. What motivation does the house have to kill the one guy who never ventured too far into the depths of the darkness? He was the one guy who could have walked away and been completely satisfied with not finding out what was in the depths of the house. Another part of interest to me was how Navidson left Karen to take care of all the editing and possible distributing of the movie, while he abandoned his family right after they left the house. At this point he has been gone for four months, and does not seem to care about the house project anymore. Is he that traumatized by his brothers death and does not want to be reminded of the house at all, or is he doing research about the house to see if he can understand what exactly happened there?
This week's reading has begun to change my opinion on the intentions of this house. Through the beginning of House of Leaves, I had come to agree with the philosophy that the physical transformations of the house, its very structure, is a product of the minds of those inside it (an example of this view is on p.166). The rescue team makes it down the stairs faster than Holloway and his team because they know it has a bottom and so the house now reflects that. I saw the house as not necessarily having its own personality or agenda because its characteristics were simply conjured by the mental state of any inside the hallway. It is expansive because it represents the expanse of their minds, and the gradual disappearance of objects is the fading of thoughts or knowledge from the mind. But when Navidson and Reston are returning up the stairs with the wounded men, the stairwell stretches to an impossible distance for no apparent reason, stranding Navy at the bottom. There are two possible explanations for this. Either I'm wrong and the house is evil and wants to claim Navy as a victim like it did Holloway, or the distance is a symbol of some chasm in Navy's mind. Maybe it could be the distance between him and Karen, the rift between their happiness together? Or possibly it represents the distance from him to letting the house go into his past by leaving. Once he finally makes it out, on p. 323 it says he still has reservations about leaving, even though enough has happened to force any normal person to insanity. Maybe Navy sees it as his challenge, something he has to prove can be figured out and conquered. But since the house is his mind and has the same indomitable quality, it's a paradox of him fighting his own will.
This weeks reading gives us a lot more information about Karen and how the house has changed her. While she still participates in an affair, her attitude towards it shows her love and yearning for Tom. Her prior disinterest in the film involving their previous film leads to countless time editing and seeking opinion on the film. With as much time as she is spending on the film it appears that Karen is infatuated with the events that occurred in the darkness, even though she refused to go in. Karen also spends as much time calling, writing, and contacting Navidson as she can but refuses to go back even when her methods have failed her. How has the house managed to change Karen so drastically while keeping Navidson enthralled despite the fact that he almost died in there? Does the house contain a lure for all of those who manage to stumble into the darkness regardless of their experiences in the maze while leaving all who don't enter emotionally scarred? What is left of the house to explore when clearly all it contains is darkness and danger that leads to insanity?
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At the very end of this week's reading. It's odd. Karen and Navidson got the house to help save their relationship. And for what we've read so far it seems like it had the opposite effect. It tore everyone apart. She and the kids even separate from him. Her own mother tells her to drop him completely. But instead she begins to work on his film, taking an interest in a part of his life that she never really seemed to before. page 369. We learn that she has stopped having affairs and plans for reconciliation with Navidson. Perhaps, in a roundabout way that left everyone involved feeling traumatized, the house did save their relationship. It makes me wonder even more about the house's inner workings and how it exactly interacts with people. Does it bring their greatest fears to reality or does it grant their desires or both at the same time? Is it some sort of wishing well that finds loopholes in your wishes and ruins your life while technically granting them? Even outside the Navidson record, Johnny Truant is getting his wish of attention from Thumper, but at this point he's too messed up to care.
This week's reading, as others have said, really presented a lot of background on Karen, and her experiences. Of particular interest to me is her actual contribution to the Navidson record. Obviously, she's left editorship over the work, but at multiple times the book alludes to how often she occupies herself with writing. Given the confusion, and her experiences with her claustorphobia how does this contribute to the presentation of the Navidson record, or how does this contribute to the work outside the Navidson record?
Danielewski plays more mind games around page 287 by hiding the words on parts of the page and creating a maze with the letters. There is an uneasiness trying to decipher what each letter is trying say. Usually there is a fear of the unknown and the blank spaces play off of this concept. The validity of the story is helped by trying to include everything to the story. Even the content Zampano wanted to leave out is included. I'm wondering why he includes pages 373-376 instead of saying it was part of the 19 other pages ruined by the ink. Is this supposed to show the detailed work of the person putting together the book? I got the feeling it showed the accident actually happened.
Everything about the book now is a puzzle being unraveled. The words, the story, the "truth". I am left wondering what is real and what is not. Johnny slowly loses his presence in the novel, with the lack of footnotes and also once his presence is back later it is a convoluted series of events that does not make much sense. The house seems to take over. On a side note, I find it amazing how interactive the words are, it truly feels like you are on the journey through the house. If this is Johnny's work, then is he becoming a part of the "house" too? Or did he keep Zampano's format in check. Very confusing.