In this last section of House of Leaves, I went back to the question “Who’s house is it?” On page 390, in Navidson’s “love” letter to Karen, he states that God is a house. Not that their house is God’s house or a house of God, but that their house is God. This was the complete opposite of what I was thinking. I believed that the house was cursed and full of evil, nothing of which I associate with God. This is then related to page 406 when Navidson is compared to Jonah from the bible. “So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.” When Navidson returned to the house, the house became a house again. In addition, all the people who were suffering post-exposure effects from visiting the house were getting better. I’m wondering what made Navidson specifically so connected to the house. I also found Delial really interesting because Navidson was so caught up with her. She was “a memory, a photograph, an artifact,” yet she is what leads Navidson back to the house. “She is all he needs to find. After all locating (literally) the souls of the dead = safety in loss” (394). It was interesting how much her memory played a role in his mind.
If this week's reading is truly the last bit of the novel, I have to say that I am rather disappointed in how it ended. Then again, if you consider the fact that Zampanó died before he considered it finished and didn't even want it to be published, the ending makes sense. Something just seems off about the fact that when Karen finally faces her fears, it has to be for the man who she just recently realizes that she loves. It's way to cliché of an ending for a book like House of Leaves, which is out of the ordinary in every way. Something about Navidson getting eaten by the monster in the house is strangely satisfying thought, but perhaps that's just because of my interest in horror novels. The end of Johnny's tale seems to be even stranger. We see purple used for the first time in the book along with a story about a mother and her child that we don't really know where it comes from. Looking back at the novel as a whole, I really don't think Zampanò was always blind. He knows how to write and has the ability to describe things like a person who has actually seen at some point in his life. The true question is, how did Zampanoò get this way? Is it from a war experience that ultimately leads to his mental breakdown or some other life event?
This week I was particularly interested in the letters written to Johnny from his mother. What I found myself focused on was actually the way she signed all of her letters. She started out signing them "mommy" (in fact most of the letters are signed this way), yet as time went on, the "mommy" changed to "mom" and then to "mother" and finally to just "P.". Obviously this represents the changes she is going though and the different shifts in her state of mind, but do the signature changes correspond to anything in Johnny's life as well? Also, to me, many of his mother's letters sounded a lot like Johnny himself. Perhaps he is more like his mother than we thought. Could it be that he was actually "going crazy" due to hereditary or biological reasons rather than because of the Navidson record? Also, we now know that Navidson lives...what are we supposed to make of that? Is there a reason the house "lets" him escape?
There are many important parts in the last section of House of Leaves that provide insight into the background of the characters. I think one of the most critical is included in the letter that Navy writes for Karen. He writes it when he is drunk, and he does not form completely comprehensible sentences. When discussing Delial he writes, “i had no one to her to no window to pass her through out of harm’s way no tom there i was no tom there…” (393). He implies that he does not have the time to save the child from dying, but he changes time to tom. At the same time he references saving Daisy with the help of his brother. It shows how much his brother means to him and that he is someone who has actually always been there for Will. I think it also shows why Will goes into the house for Exploration #5 alone. He no longer has the lifelong companion of his brother and therefore he must conquer his fears and guilt which the house represents. He faces it one last time because he lost his brother to the house, he goes back to face it as much for himself as he does for his brother.
What intrigued me most about the last portion of House of Leaves was the letter from Navidson to Karen. I believe this to be one of the most insightful aspects of the entire book. We see Navy for who he truly is, a man torn apart by guilt at losses he believes he could have prevented. Delial became a symbol for Navidson of everything he had lost. She came to represent his friends who died in the war, indicated by his naming them in the letter. Most importantly, it seems that she came to represent the loss of himself. Navy talks about how he felt when he realized that he took time to take this child’s picture in order to obtain fame, rather than taking action to save her. To him, this showed the death of his own “good” character. This may have been the most devastating aspect of his loss, as he came to see himself as a glory-hunting and self-absorbed man, rather than a decent human being. What plagued Navy for the rest of his life was the guilt that accompanied this revelation. This guilt expanded to apply to everything he had lost, as Navy blames himself for the loss of all his friends as well as for Karen’s leaving. This provides readers with a firm understanding of why he is always running towards adventure and never satisfied; he is running from himself and his own guilt, something he can never escape.
I am still trying to figure out the significance of cats in the story. Johnny's mom "...waiting it out like a cat"(502), dead cat in the photographs(498), and "sometimes it seems like a cat"(508) are some of the later examples. We first see cats in the introduction(xii) when Zampono's house is described with eighty stray cats. I get an Egyptian feeling that it is somehow linked with the spirit of the person. The end of the book shows Johnny trying to relive childhood memories and put to rest bad ones. Maybe Johnny had a past experience with a cat which keeps bubbling into what he writes?
The letter from Navy to Karen is an interesting moment in the book, and though several people have already commented about the letter, what stuck out to me the most was the structure of it as it got closer to the end. Navy is apparently drunk and getting drunker as he writes it and the stability of the writing breaks down drastically, and by the end is hard to understand and almost chaotic. I think this is in relation to the house and the effect it has on him. Because he has been away from the house it is calling to him in his subconscious and he is beginning to unravel and become chaotic, much like how the house broke its order of stability when the family tried to leave, becoming chaotic and changing every room of the house instead of just the hallway and ultimately claiming Tom for itself. The breakdown of stability when the house was faced with the distancing of its "prey" is just like Navy's mind breaking down because he is distanced from his object of desire, that of conquering the house. On the surface it just seems like he is drunk but a deeper look shows that he is succumbing to the same destabilization as the house.
Not sure if this has been brought up yet. I know I've thought about it, but I can't, at the moment, remember if I've written on it. I'm also too lazy at the moment to look up whether I've brought it up. Anyway, the typos, as corrected by editing. I don't think that they are actually typos, but rather odd wordings specifically put in that you might normally gloss over. The "edits" pointing them out, well point out these odd wordings.The first one I noticed was actually before this week's reading, back when Jed is shot. "To begin with" it's edited to "to begin with." fully adding it on to the previous sentence. This attempt at making it grammatically correct just makes me think of a rule about prepositions. They are something that you're apparently not supposed to end a sentence with. Those words also fit in just as well as a start to the next sentence about Ken Burns. They even fit in with the blank space. Of course, they could just be removed completely and neither sentence would suffer much.The next one was at the start of this reading, on page 373. He refers to the state of the universe before the big bang as a state of infinite destiny, which is corrected then to density. Being that this is in a section about the scientific findings of the house, it would make sense to read as density. In fact, if it weren't for the footnote pointing it out, I would not have noticed that Zampano refers to the time and space before time and space as a state of infinite destiny.But then, on page 401, Johnny pretty much confirms the idea with the footnote 384 "I haven't corrected this typo because it seems to me less like an error or transcription and more like a revealing slip on Zampano's part, where a 'parenthetical' mention of youth suddenly becomes a 'parent-ethical' question about how to relate to youth." So, one could go back and apply this observation to the others if they haven't already made it themselves. So, could I ask, why does it take him until now to point out that these 'typos' may not actually be typos? Could it be a change in his own thinking about Zampano's writing as he's editing it? Or perhaps it is a clever trick to try and get you to page around and find all the "typos" and figure out what they really mean- taking the book out of order yet again.
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In the last reading for House of Leaves, I was particularly interested in the letter that Navidson writes to Karen and how he says that the house is God. I thought this was a little extreme at first but then I thought about it a little more and I guess in a way he was right. The house had the ability to take life away and give life back, as it showed on multiple occasions. When Navidson was lost in there by himself, the house could have continued to shift and change in a way to never allow Navidson to leave, but it decided to allow him to find an escape and live.Another part that I thought was interesting, was the part when Karen is talking to the real estate agent and how she says that there have been many owners over the life of the house but none of them stay longer than a few years. The origins of the house are very unclear, and the stairs are even referenced in the journal from the 1600's. I think the house could very well be God like or built by some sort of God, but there is never a clear meaning as to why it basically tortures people until the leave or disapear, and why it was ever built in the first place.
From pages 484-487, Danielewski formats a what seems to be a poem in his typical strange fashion, using a colon, followed by space and then two sets of brackets with an asterisk inside. These pages are particularly puzzling for me. As a whole, they look like they might be a plane, a person, a sword, arrows? The meaning is further obfuscated by the asterisk, making the brackets seem as if they at some time contained some text. Is the asterisk an unfounded footnote? I could present a variety of guesses, but none seems more correct than the last. These pages seem distinctly different from the other similar pages in other sections, mainly because of the brackets and colon, but I have no idea why they are formatted in this way. Perhaps there is no specific reason.
Building off of Brandon's comments about the significance of cats, it is very intriguing to me. Zampano was initially identified with as the old man that walked through the garden with all the cats being very attached to him, and then the cats disappearing which meant something problematic had occurred. Along with the examples Brandon brings up, on page 509 Johnny tells us after revealing his fake story about his doctor friends that he's staying in Los Gatos Lodge in Los Gatos, CA. Gato is cat in spanish. What is it about cats and the authors of this fake movie? Very strange.
One section I thought was well done in the last section of the book was on pages 466-467, where Navidson attempts to read his book as he sits trapped and alone in the dark. With only a few matches remaining, Navidson is forced to burn the book as he reads it. He must read faster and faster as he runs out of pages to burn and the flames slowly creep towards his place in the book. There comes from this an interesting overlap of destruction and creation. In order to accomplish what he sets out to accomplish, Navidson must destroy as well. This serves as a kind of parallel for the rest of the book, as Navidson originally moves to Virginia with his family to grow closer with them, to fix the problems they had. The house they move into instead creates destruction, ending the lives of his friends and his twin brother, almost seeming to consume them as the flame consumes Navidson's novel. The only thing that can keep Navidson's family together also becomes the thing that could destroy them all.
In this last section of the reading I kept focusing on the part in Navidson's letter to Karen that the house is God's house. I am curious as to how he got to this point, and why he thinks that. I think it can be related back to the bible, specifically genesis. The house acts in curious way and is in some ways similar to how God acted towards people in Genesis. Throughout the entire book we have this view the house is cursed, and people die in the mysterious hallway. Just as God acts in mysterious ways towards people, and bad things happen and the reasoning as to why is many times blurred. I think looking more closely one can relate house of leaves to Genesis.