Saturday, November 29, 2014

Questions & Comments on Danielewski, Week IV

Post your questions/thoughts as comments to this post.  Again:  a paragraph is fine, or a couple if you feel so moved.  You are posting on a question, problem or topic of your choice.  Citing a particular passage is recommended but not required.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crumb (Final Draft - Second Revision)

For my final project I want to revisit my revision on Robert Crumb’s Genesis and take a closer look on the implications of his illustration.  What is of concern to me, is furthering the examination on the removal of holiness from Crumb’s reproduction to elucidate the problems this may create for Christian readers.  I want juxtapose Crumb’s rendition of the bible against other forms of visual depictions of Genesis such as Picture Bible by Hoth and Manga Bible by Siku to look at the differences between the depiction of religious iconography as well as its impact.  Particularly, important scenes where Crumb’s interpretation over the source text is stressed heavily will be cross analyzed against different depictions to see how his perceptions of religion create an atmosphere surrounding Genesis.  The form and unabridged nature of Genesis should appeal to a larger and more traditional audience than Crumb’s typical graphic novels, and because of this it serves as an interesting case study.  This comic book made by an underground artist, is supposed to reach a religiously conservative group and I want to explore the impact this has as well as its ultimate reception and connotations concerning religion not as simply the Book of Genesis, but as Crumb’s Genesis. I want to explore how this novel breaks free of a religious mold which is expected such as the normalized iconography and expected patriarchal lineage view of women.

I.                 Bibliography
a.      Borders, Liza A. "R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated: Biblical Narrative and the Impact of Illustration." Digital Commons. Liberty University, Spring 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
                                                    i.     This paper contains an in-depth look on the nature of Crumb’s work from a religious and non-religious standpoint

b.     "Cherub/Cherubim." CARM. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
                                                    i.     The quintessential version of the Cherub is needed to analyze against Crumb’s depiction as well as other versions of the cherub which show up in other versions of illustrated Genesis.
c.      Hoth, Iva, “The Picture Bible (1978),” The Ohio State University Libraries Exhibits, accessed November 26, 2014,
                                                    i.     Another illustrated version including Genesis which will be used to juxtapose Crumb’s work to show the religious dissonance and derivation from a typical rendition.
d.     Source 4
e.      Source 5
f.      Original Revision Argument:
Crumb creates his version of Genesis in a manner which rejects the orthodox conventions of the bible, to show a more humanistic interpretation of man rather than the subversive Christian archetypes which dominate the audience in the source text.  His visual style rejects the holiness surrounding man, which usually dominates the landscape perceived by the readers and followers of the bible, and produces a more agnostically toned manuscript to show that the human protagonists where nothing more than mortal in their facilities. 

I will change this argument slightly, and expand it to include is effect on Christian readers, as well as examine its impact on religious norms.

II.               Outline

a.      Introduction
                                                    i.     State the argument and expand upon the original stance of the removal of holiness
                                                  ii.     Explore the implications of Crumb’s work 
                                                iii.     Introduce the new works of literature being examined
                                                iv.     Extrapolate on the nature of Crumb’s work and its ties to religious personification of symbols and icons

b.     Main Paragraphs
                                                    i.     Examine the nature of Adam and Eve in the Garden
1.     Explore how Crumb’s edition differs from the typical depictions of religious iconography, including the presentation of Women.
                                                  ii.     Take a detailed looked at the construction of the Garden of Eden scene in both Crumb’s Genesis as well as Picture Bible and Manga Bible.  Focus will be placed on the scene with the cherubim and the flaming sword as its depiction is vastly changed between different versions.
c.      Expand upon my revision arguments such as the scene between Jacob and Esau, the bipedal snake, the cherubs and other scenes detailing violence such as the flood and grave human interactions.

III.             Explore Crumb’s Christian worldview, which empathizes a matriarchal lineage of religious over the patriarchal lineage which is typically expected.  The stress of matriarchy in Crumb’s work devalues the typical religious exchanges between God and male figures, such as God and Noah, Abraham and their descendants, which is of interest to me.
IV.            Further explore problems that Crumb’s Genesis may produce for Christian readers.

a.      This includes exploring Crumb’s comfort with pornographic images and violence which is rampant throughout the work.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

House of Leave: a special experience.

     I have to say House of Leave is an “interesting” book, but not a page-turner. I used almost two weeks to figure out what this book really wants to express. It is hard to say it belong to any kind of type. In the beginning I thought it is a book combined fantasy and panic, but in the end I changed my mind --- it is a book belong to religion. Although there is no words connected with god and faith, but there are some key words, such as brave, love, and belief, made me thinking about the relationship between House of Leave and god. The main interpreter in the book always introduced some thoughts, and said it is mentioned in somebody interview someone. But like other interpreter B said that those bibliographies and footnotes did not exists. Meanwhile, there are signs that Interpreter B is also an irresponsible man; he always adds or deletes words in the book. Combine with those strange typesetting and tanglesome description, I feel confused most of time during my reading process. I have to say I have no interest with this intermittent style. There are also no special suspense and adorable roles in the book. The only thing I can come up with is also some on and off feelings.  
       It contains so many things. From the portrait photography to capture darkness; from madhouse to Greek mythology; from death to the mother’s letter, etc. All these things sounds like some crazy stuff for me in the beginning, but it is just interesting to think about it. I scared of darkness when I was young. When I read this book, I feel fear frequently. But the fear is not the deepest mood in my mind, sadness and helplessness are. Sometimes I keep the light on, but the darkness, just everywhere. It made me remembered those times I played with my friends till night when I was a child, and I cannot see the way to go back to home. The despair inside me was boiling in a moment, and unable to stop the time lapse caused the infinite helpless feeling. Although I cannot catch up those feelings repeatedly when I grow up, I feel it when I read this book. Those letters that mother send from madhouse also a really conflicted thing for me. On one hand, it made me scared and cold sometimes; on other hand, those delicate emotion and beautiful sentences in the letters made me feel the motherhood inside my heart.
     Mark Z. Danielewski used an experimental way to write such a complicated book. He tries very hard applying postmodern technique, such as meta narrative, into several stories. I do not think it is a good literature novel, but it is a special reading experience. It brought me some new idea about reading and writing. Sometimes I feel I limit myself into a box, Danielewski open that box and leading me to the outside. So I write those feelings about this book.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Space Between (Without Dave Matthews)

The Space Between
            Throughout House of Leaves, Danielewski makes use of spacing to effect the reader or the story in certain ways. The beginning of chapter XI, spanning from page 246 to 252, presents an example of this merging of space, words, and meaning. The section mainly pertains to a brief history of the relationship between Tom and Will Navidson. Danielewski’s formatting and use of spacing helps to present the background more clearly, and represents, symbolically, major themes within the section.
            The section in question is formatted most closely to a newspaper. The writing style is also consistent with that found in newspapers. When viewed in context with its content, the reasoning behind this becomes apparent. The section is backstory. It mainly helps to develop Tom and Will through anecdotal evidence as well as biblical references  (Danielewski 251). Newspapers often share much the same content, therefore this section is formatted like a newspaper. It is development of a character(s) after the fact with analysis weaved through. This helps break the reader from the otherwise chaotic formatting present in the book. It clearly sets the section apart as a “character development section” or “character information.” Evidence of the “character building” news-style is present in the content. On page 250, “Tom, however, never hid behind…” It is information regarding Tom’s character, who he is, what he stood for, all presented in the past tense as is typical of news articles.
            Continuing with the use of space and formatting in a news style as a means of presenting information, Danieliewski makes use of lines, symbols, and letters as breaks between bits of information. Reference any major newspaper’s “World” or “Quick news” section and the similarities between such things and the book becomes apparent. Particularly prolific is the use of “rzzzzzzzzzzz” as a section break, similar to a line break between multiple stories. It is through these snippets that Tom’s background is developed. For example, one small snippet deals with Tom’s childhood “During their childhood…” followed by a “rzzzzzzzz” break and the jump to Tom’s later life and development “Tom, however….” (250). This formatting allows Danielewski to break from the minimalism of the previous section and the chaos of the rest of the story in order to clearly talk about Tom and Will’s relationship, childhood, and estrangement.
            Lastly, the news-style columns and section breaks, symbolically show the divide between Will and Tom. Tom is the passive, soft brother, whereas Will is the aggressive, ambitious brother, and through these differences, as well as their different career endeavors and struggles, a major characteristic of their relationship is their opposition. Something of importance is said at the very beginning. “Will Navidson headed for the front line, Tom spent two nights in no mans land,” (246).  In looking at the formatting and the content, it begins to look like trench lines with no man’s land in between. Each column is a brother, and on each page they are separated, opposed, apart. Perhaps they mean something else, but the “rzzzzzz” page breaks begin to look like rolls of barbed wire, and like their real world counterpart they represent differing sides, opposition. They separate the issues, the different things that create the space between Tom and Will Navidson.
            At first glance, the subtleties of the beginning of chapter XI may not be apparent, but upon looking at the formatting and the content in conjunction it becomes clear the section mainly serves as a means of presenting Tom and Will Navidson, and personifying their relationship of opposition through the spacing and section breaks.


Danielewski, Mark Z. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. 2nd ed. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.

Final Project Proposal: Advertising in America

1)      Lears, T. J. Jackson. Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America.New
York: Basic, 1994. Print.
Ward, Lynd. Vertigo. New York: Random House. 1937. “Print”.
Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon,
Wepman, Dennis. "Lynd Ward." American National Biography Online. N.p., Oct. 2008.
Web.24Nov. 2014
-         Using the sources about I will attempt to make the connection between Lynd Wards life and his use of advertising throughout Vertigo, as it is a clear point he is trying to make since it offers some of the very few words throughout. I will also use the history of advertising to connect the importance of advertising in the history of America in general with Jimmy Corrigan as another reference point, as vertigo and Jc do similar things with regards to background.
2)      My argument is that advertising is paramount to the history of America and how our society has been shaped. I may also tie this in with my jimmy Corrigan revised essay on the alpha and beta male argument, as advertising often has a very clear image of what a man should be like. Vertigo is an important tie in because it offers another point in history/varied (or not varied) view on what advertising means. Both Ware and Ward implement the signs and such throughout the background. I intend to highlight their points and show why it is important
3)      I want to begin my paper with the introduction, that will show the connection between books and the reasons why they make advertising out to be so key to the background of society, however, they really want to make a point that it is in the forefront. The body of the essay will then begin with the history of advertising, with me painting the picture of what it means, including (possibly) some sociology and gendering aspects (to tie into JC). It will then go to the bio of Ward to discuss why he feels so strongly about advertising and what it does to society, which will finally morph into Ware’s views to show how Wards coincide with his and Ware expands by using it as a point for the alpha v beta male dynamic.
*** This argument is worth making because advertising is everywhere in American society. It means, whether one realizes it or not, everything to our lives. It determines how we dress, what we eat, even so much too how we sleep. It paints an image of the way one should look, and often this ideal is unattainable, which creates many social issues. Ware and Ward are profoundly interested in this, despite making it part of the background. Yet, the background is the point, we believe it is also in the background of our lives while it really is not***

House of Leaves - Navidson Turned Upside Down

            In the book, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, there is a part where he uses strategic text layout and positioning to exemplify what is happening in the book.  The part I am referring to takes place on page 289, and it is the first instance when Danielewski makes you turn the book upside down to read it, which makes the reader feel uncomfortable and awkward while reading the book.  Furthermore, the words are written in a certain way to actually show what the words mean.  I believe Danielewski wrote the way he did on page 289 to help the reader completely grasp the enormity of the situation that Navidson was in and how his life turned completely upside down at that instant.
            On page 289, there are only eight words, but the meaning behind those words are extremely significant for Navidson at that time. There are three words in particular that are written in a way that help the reader understand what is going on.  For instance, the first word is sinking, which is written at an approximately 45° angle downward towards the center binding of the book.  This makes the reader look over the words going down into a dark cavity of the bookbinding and helps you visualize what Navidson is seeing and feeling at that moment.  He is sinking away from a possible escape from the darkness, and heading down into more darkness, alone and scared. 
            The second word is stretching, which is literally stretching over three quarters of the page, and is using the same ‘s’ used in ‘is’.  Danielewski used almost the whole page to show this because it was needed to help the reader understand how massive a stretch was happening. We find out later, with a quarter in free fall analysis, that the stairs have stretched an impossible distance that is greater than the earth’s circumference at the equator.  This immense stretching of the stairs needed to be written in such a way that it would not be merely glanced over by the reader.
            Along with the word stretching, expanding was written across the bottom of the page that took up about three quarters of the page’s width.  The letters start out closer together, as they did with the word stretching, and are written farther apart by the end.  These words are synonyms and are simply used in the same manner to further illustrate the changes taking place in the house. 
            I like to relate the house changing in such a drastic way, at the exact moment Navidson is the last man down in the bottom, to a passage earlier in the book on page 167 that reads, “Navidson, however, knows the stairs are finite and therefore has far less anxiety about the descent”.  This passage refers to when Navidson is going in for the rescue mission and is able to reach the bottom of the stairs in a matter of minutes, but then on page 289 the stairs are now separating Navidson from his family and his own survival.  All his anxiety is translated into the radical evolution of the stairs, and how they are now a seemingly insurmountable obstacle keeping him from escaping alive.
Along with his anxiety of escaping, he has also felt cut off and different from the outside world ever since he came back from Vietnam and started protesting the war.  That is why he has felt more comfortable with dangerous situations than with living a normal life.  I believe the house was able to sense Navidson’s true self, and even though he does not want to die down there, he knows if he makes it to the top of the stairs a part of him does die down there.  He will never be able to keep his family and go on another adventure like this again. Which again relates to how Navidson’s life is life is flipped upside down at the same time the words on the page are flipped upside down. Furthermore, the words being written upside down show how this is such a drastic shift in the tone of the book for Navidson and how his plans went from a smooth escape to an impossible survival mission all in an instant.
In the end, Danielewski is able to use the placement of words, and letters to better exemplify what is going on in the novel.  It helps the reader imagine the dramatic shifts in the book, with a certain amount of magnitude given to particular words positioning. 

Final Project Proposal - Vertigo (second revision)

            For my final project I am going to revisit my revision on Lynd Ward’s Vertigo.  In the revision I made the argument that America in the late 20’s and early 30’s was corrupted from its original path towards a bright future and how it had been twisted by capitalism and the upper echelon.  I used the 1929 “pocket history” section to accomplish this, and I also looked at a few images in the Elderly Gentleman section to make a comparison between America and fascist Germany in the same time period.  I think the eagle and the way it’s portrayed in Ward’s images, along with other factors and symbols, is a clear point for this view.  For this project I will expand my argument that Ward is likening America to Nazi Germany through similarities and foreshadowing in the images.  I think Ward does this because he sees America being twisted into the same darkness that Germany is and this book is a commentary about America copying the evil there.  By going more in depth into the Elderly Gentleman section I will examine the various uses of symbols and depictions of historical events to show Ward’s perspective on the path America is following.

Purpose behind the argument:
            I think this point needs to be made about the correlation between inter-war America and the rise of Nazi Germany because it shows why Ward made this book the way he did.  The darkness of the images as a result of using woodcuts helps symbolize how he viewed the world at the time and his mentality is a product of historical events.  Vertigo is an example of how people felt in America during the Great Depression and how hope was dying out in a darkening world.  By comparing America to Nazi Germany Ward is showing the kind of hell that common people went through in the Depression, and without change America would become a fascist autocracy or worse with the American people crushed underneath.


Petzina, Dieter. “Germany and the Great Depression.” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 4, No.4.
Oct. 1969. 59-74. PittCat.

-This source gives information about the effects of the Great Depression on both Germany and the U.S. and how their economies and labor forces were damaged.  It draws parallels between the two countries and practices of businesses in treatment of workers.  This source was used in the first revision.

Bernanke, Ben S.  “Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great
Depression.”  The National Bureau of Economic Research.  NBER Working Paper
n.1054. 1983.  Web.

-This source provides information on the economic practices of the Depression and how businesses ran themselves and treated their labor forces.

Herb, Steven. "Lynd Ward: graphic novel pioneer." The Horn Book Magazine Mar.-Apr. 2011:
89+. Academic OneFile. Web.

-This source has biographical information on Lynd Ward and I will use it to look at what might have influenced him to create the message in Vertigo.


Ward’s comparison of America and Nazi Germany

1.      Introduction
a.       Background of Vertigo
b.      Thesis – Ward likens America in the 30’s to Nazi Germany
2.      Ward
a.       Some biographical info.
b.      Thoughts on Great Depression, Nazi Germany
3.      The Eagle
a.       Presentation and character
b.      Location relative to perspective
c.       Meaning
4.      Laborers
a.       Scenes of riots
b.      Treatment of workers
c.       Responses by executives

This is a very rough outline of how I want to structure my paper.  From my original revision I have a section about the “pocket history” 1929 section that is fairly long, and I will use some of the points made in it but it will be for the most part shortened or cut out.