Layers of Edit

Disclaimer: You are reading one of my early blog posts for a class and will have no context for what I’m about to say. For that, I apologize

When we were talking in class on Thursday, I realized that the short analysis of Tom’s story was a commentary on Zampano, and maybe the whole book.  In the story, Zampano writes, “If Sorrow is deep regret over someone loves, there is nothing but regret her, as if Navidson with his great eye had for the first time seen what over the years he never should have missed.  Or should have missed all along.”  If we keep in mind that it is Zampano speaking and he has kept a fairly academic voice thus far, the italics and the very personal-sounding last statement seems a little out of place.   I started thinking about the minotaur parts being crossed out and about how crazy Zampano got about the  bible story, and I think that Zampano is giving us some insight into his life own life.  The story of minotaur and the maze winds up being a story of father and son, and Jacob and Esau is obviously about brothers and their fathers. It’s the stories about families that seem to get Zampano worked up.  It seems as if what Johnny was saying about Zampano’s possible family woes may be true.  This makes me wonder if Zampano sees the Navidson project as a surrogate relationship, or some kind of penance for a source of guilt over family.  What else could make him so upset?

If this is so, I don’t think it’s too far off to assume that the Navidson project Zampano is working on is also a labor of love, his weird and off-the-beaten-path apology to a wronged family member.  But who?  Who in the story is Zampano trying to dedicate the Navidson record to, the way that Tom’s story is a dedication to Tom?

Does Zampano somehow forsee Johnny reading?  Is Johnny the family member, or pseudo-family member, that Zampano wants to apologize to?  Clearly, Zampano’s work has pretty much wrecked Johnny’s life.  And Johnny and Zampano seem to have an eerie kind of connection.

It’s also interesting that Zampano notes how heavily edited he thinks Tom’s story is.  This seems almost like an admission of how edited Zampano’s story is.  Maybe Zampano, if he forsees Johnny’s work with the text, is conscious of the annotations he will be doing and the way he will be altering the piece.

I’m not sure this makes total sense.  I’ll have to think about it more.  But it’s interesting.  And I remain convinced there are layers of meaning to “A Short Analysis of Tom’s Story”

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The Monster in House of Leaves

Disclaimer: You are reading one of my early blog posts for a class and will have no context for what I’m about to say. For that, I apologize

I doubt it’s an actual creepy with fangs and rabies.

Is it whatever you’re most afraid of?

Is the monster people’s own personal, psychological demons?

Is it the black, endless, empty space itself?

At first, I figured it was whatever flaw each character had, except amplified.  But after reading about the children’s drawings and thinking about how Danielewski uses medium as a way to both show and tell, I feel like it’s a combination of that AND the fear of blank or black space.  Have you ever met someone who couldn’t stand to be alone with their own thoughts?  Who always needed to be around people or have some kind of external stimulus?  I feel like the monster is whatever they are running from, whatever terror manifests itself in quiet moments.  Silence moments make many uncomfortable, and I found myself feeling a little perturbed about all the empty spaces on the pages of House of Leaves.  I was wondering if the boxes of black and the empty page spaces are supposed to make us start confronting that silence.  Maybe that confrontation is what is making Truant crack.  It’s interesting that all parties, including those who embrace the house’s engulfing empty space willingly (Navidson, the explorer), compulsively (Truant–and, it may be argued, Navidson), or not at all (Karen) all seem to be suffering as a result of its existence.  I would think that those willing to confront the emptiness are those well-adjusted folk that have nothing to be afraid of in empty moments, and would find it’s not as bad as they thought.  Tom defeats the monster by embracing darkness, after all.  But even Navidson hears the monster of the empty space growl.   Maybe we’re no match for our own psyche.

Or maybe the monster is something totally different.  Who knows.

House of Leaves, Media, and Telephone

Disclaimer: You are reading one of my early blog posts for a class and will have no context for what I’m about to say. For that, I apologize

House of Leaves and our discussion of it on Thursday reminds me of the game of telephone.  Every time a story switches hands/media, there is a chance for things to be added or taken out.

So, the original story is the one that Navidson and his family experience from actually living in this house.  When that reality is chopped up and shown through the limited scope of film, the story changes.

As Zampano watches the film, he transfers the story into a new medium–printed narration of the events shows.  That changes the story again. Of course, we miss out on the wealth of things that might have added to our experience of the story if we were actually there in Navidson’s house–clues from peripheral vision, the clarity of external noise, a general sense of place.  We also lose a kind of depth of experience which we might have gotten from the film–the color scheme of the room, the texture of the furniture, the striking effect of visually seeing the bookshelf warped, etc.  Yet we might gain something from Zampano’s dedication to the narration–maybe he catches something mumbled that we wouldn’t have noticed if we were listening.  We get the possible benefit of his acting like a filter, straining out the many stimuli that would have been fired at us if we were watching the entire film, making it easier to concentrate on pieces of the art (which reminds me of “Ways of Seeing” and how this can be good or bad.)  The fact that Zampano is even writing such an extensive piece on Navidson’s story makes it seem very important.  People might put greater weight on the value of the Navidson story because Zampano wrote so much about it.  The story changes because we believe that, since Zampano viewed it analytically, it is worth viewing analytically.  And, when our goal is to analyze, we see a story differently than we do if our goal is entertainment.

Then, as his written form is published, we have more levels of “telephone”–we trust that the editors Truant and the characters called “the editors” have kept all of Zampano’s original text, but we don’t know that they have.  We also don’t know what is missing from Zampano’s original manuscript as found by Truant.  The added effect of footnotes also changes the story.  It  adds Truant’s story, for one thing.  It also adds weight to Zampano’s story (which, as discussed, adds weight to Navidson’s story)–because there are so many footnotes and editors, it makes Zampano’s text seem so important it is worth analyzing or even obsessing over.

The same thing happens with Truant’s additions to the text.  Because the actual editors at Pantheon left his text in and chose to publish the book, we see Truant’s part in the story as necessary to the plot.  We assume he is worth getting to know as a character, and he becomes a vital part of Navidson’s/Zampano’s story as we experience it.

All of this takes us pretty far away from the original story at Navidson’s house.  But that’s not necessary a bad thing. It’s just an interesting thing.