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House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XVIII

And we’re back again. Hopefully we will actually get to see the house in action again this time, even if the last chapter was pretty good.
So, we begin the chapter with Karen going back to the house, because Navidson was dumb enough to go back inside. Thankfully this time she’s left the kids in New York so that they don’t almost get killed again. I’ve decided that I like Karen’s mum, if only for the fact that she believes:

  • “her daughter’s trip will take her one step closer toward selling the house and suing Navidson.”

It’s a refreshingly practical view which no-one else seems to have taken throughout the entire narrative, plus I like the fact that her immediate reaction to her daughter’s crisis is “sue him”. Anyway, Karen’s first stop is at the estate agent’s, with a view to putting it on the market. The estate agent she talks to seems to have done some research on the house after she and Navidson went to get building plans, hoping to find something involving ghosts (which, to be fair, would be pretty cool). She says that she didn’t find anything involving ghost sightings or any mysterious event specifically tied to the house, but she does mention the “Jamestown colony” which impacted on a fair bit of the surrounding area. Whatever that is. Hopefully there’ll be some kind of explanation soon.
Apparently the Jamestown colony was an early settler’s colony that was almost totally killed off in the winter of 1609-10. After that it was burnt down. And then abandoned. So overall, not a very lucky place. Quite how historically accurate this is I have no idea, mainly because I’ve never studied American history (apart from Cold War stuff). Regardless, a set of documents are found several years later recounting the fates of 3 men who went hunting in that winter of death and weren’t too successful.
But, before we can make headway into this document, we get what looks to be a fairly substantial footnote from Johnny Truant. Firstly he’s confused about the occasional use of f instead of s in the document (which the editor informs me is his confusing a long s for an f, which is a reasonable mistake in all honesty). Secondly, he’s being evicted from his apartment so he’s decided to travel to Virginia to see if he can find the house in question. A questionable plan in my view, but it’s fairly plan to see that he went off the deep end a few chapters back. He goes around saying his goodbyes (which don’t seem all that well received to be honest), but then can’t find Lude. He eventually finds him in hospital, where he seems to have broken most of the bones in his body and face. Seems one of the recurring girls’ (Kyrie I think) boyfriend has decided to beat the crap out of him because Kyrie had told him lies involving Johnny, Lude and the act of accosting. Anyway, it appears this may be th last we see of Johnny for a while now.
Back to the main narrative, with the hunters. They seem to have picked possibly the worst place to hunt as they see absolutely no living creatures other than their companions and it’s pelting it down with snow. The document is quite short and fairly standard “hunting trip gone wrong” sort of scenario, apart from the last entry which reads (keeping in mind the f/s thing):

  • “Ftaires” We haue found ftaires!”

Somehow I think that might be the start of our house, or at least the creepy part of it. The fact that only 2 bodies were found is probably fairly significant.
So Karen finishes her meeting with the estate agent and goes back to the house, regardless of how much she hates it. I’m kind of hoping that this signals a re-union for Karen and Navidson, since it’s obvious that they still love each other, but then I can’t see it actually happening. Call it my inner romance fan, but I want to see them happy together. Anyway, she decides to explore the house in the day (the power having been cut off since the last time they were there). She looks around to find that the corridor has been reduced to the size of a cupboard, even with innocent white walls. It kind of presents her with a dilemma: no corridor means no having to face her claustrophobia, but then also no hope of finding Navidson. However, despite dwindling hopes, she decides to resume living in the house during the day, hoping to find Navidson coming back. And weirdly enough, she seems to be coming to terms with the house and Navidson’s disappearance, as there’s a long section describing how her smile has changed from something beautiful, but ultimately fake and defensive, to a less even smile that shows more of her character and actual feelings. In any case, after a month has passed since Navidson’s disappearance, Karen says to Reston that she knows that he’s still alive and that she’s heard his voice through the walls. Now, suspending disbelief for a moment (not too difficult as quite a lot has been shown to be possible in that weird non-space) the question that occurs to me is how in the hell has Navidson survived that long with no supplies? It soon turns out that Karen might well be right, as Navidson’s clothes, pack and video tapes are found in the children’s bedroom one day. The chapter ends on a rather ominous note: as Karen rewinds one of the tapes in order to watch it, one of the walls behind her is consumed by black, just waiting for her to turn around. And now I’ll have the heebie jeebies all night. Or at least I will if my neighbour decides to turn Madagascar off. Hooray for the little things.

A decent chapter with an excellent cliff-hanger. Looking forward to the next one immensely. Doubt I’ll get it done tomorrow though.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XVII

Hi again guys. I really hope that this is the last time I have to predict Navidson going back into the house, because this is getting silly now. Admittedly, after a chapter where the house has tried to eat them, you need a little time to get your heart-rate back to normal again. But 3 chapters might be taking this a little bit far, so if the house doesn’t make a re-appearance this chapter I will be sorely disappointed.
The starting quote seems to be about knowing intimately the spaces you can call home and how they’re the last barrier between you and infinity. I would point out the irony, but I think you’re all intelligent people and can figure it out. Other than that, maybe it’s hinting at some kind of attempt to map out the house?
Anyway, with the samples bringing in minimal results (made even more minimal last update by my terrible knowledge of geology) Reston is ready to call it quits, being smart and having no desire to court death again. Navidson, on the other hand, is totally obsessed. He manages to convince Reston that he’ll hand over the exploration stuff to National Geographic or whoever, but sneaks out in the night and goes back to the house. Reston goes after him, but finds that the house is empty and the corridor nowhere to be found. So, has Navidson vanished? Somehow it seems a bit sudden, so much so that it’s totally underwhelming; I had to re-read the last paragraph to actually make sure he wasn’t there. Anyway, it looks as if Zampano will be looking at why Navidson went back in there in the first place, which I suppose should be more interesting than wall samples.
Firstly is the Kellog-Antwerk Claim. At first glance, it seems to argue that he went back out of a feeling of possession over the house and to stake some sort of territorial claim on it. While it sounds plausible, somehow the argument puts me more in mind of Holloway, hence his arguably crazier behaviour. Anyway, Zampano’s problem with it seems to be that he never made public his claim to the house by luring television programs etc, but then do you really need recognition from others to feel that you own something? Regardless, this one falls a bit flat in my eyes.
Secondly is the Bister-Frieden-Josephsen (BFJ) Criteria which argues that Navidson goes back to the house as some kind of addiction to the darkness, maybe to help deal with his grief at Tom’s death or as Zampano puts it:

  • “He sought nothing less than to see the house exact its annihilating effects on his own being.”

So using the house as some kind of suicide or self-destruction? Given what we’ve been told of his history, I suppose it’s possible, especially considering he’s just had his twin brother die right in front of him. As part of the argument, a copy of the letter that Navidson left for Reston to deliver to Karen is provided. I can see this being somewhat emotional. It has to be said, apart from a few typos, this is a remarkably clear-headed letter from someone who’s apparently drunk, but then I suppose it affects us all in different ways. Anyway, I digress. He’s brought up a rather interesting idea though, so maybe the drinking has affected him a little; in his letter he asks Karen if she believes in God, then says:

  • “God’s a house. Which is not to say that our house is God’s house or even a house of God. What I mean to say is that our house is God.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I do love a theological discussion every now and again. For the most part, being an atheist in a relationship with a Christian I tend to get a fair few. But one thing that I’ve never been able to reconcile about the traditional view of God is that how can humans be created in the imge of God, yet have God be this wholly benevolent figure: having seen first hand how ugly people can be on the inside, it just doesn’t fit. So if God in this story is represented by the house, then maybe this is the part of God that is responsible for the presence of evil in people. I’m sure I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than read my theoretical musings on religion (however, I would welcome any comments from those more learned in theology than I am). Anyway, the letter continues with Navidson berating himself for the Delial picture and how he could have saved her and become a better person, instead of taking her picture and indirectly causing her to die. It degenerates pretty quickly, but it’s touching to see just how important Karen and his kids really are to him. There’s a quick footnote from Johnny at the end, which I think just about sums it up perfectly:

  • “Reminding me here, I mean that line about “a code to decipher”, how the greatest love letters are always encoded for the one and not the many.”

Hell, looking at it now, it doesn’t make much sense as a line, but it just fits; it’s first and foremost a letter to Karen to tell her that he loves her, in case the worst should happen. So I think I’ll keep the quote up there; besides, I rather like it as a line. Overall then, the BFJ Criteria seems a pretty safe bet so far, as there’s plenty of evidence why Navidson would want his own self-destruction.
Finally we have the Haven-Slocum Theory. This one argues that the longer one is exposed to the house, the more extreme an effect it will have on you afterwards, which is certainly possible. Apparently, due to Navidson’s prolonged exposure to the house damaged him to the extent that normal emotions and everyday scenarios have ceased to be important to him. Sounds like the house is building up to be something of an emotional crutch in this scenario. There are a few dream sequences being described and analysed, which should be fairly interesting to see.
The first seems to be an interpretation of the afterlife, maybe purgatory; a blank room, with no windows or doors and a well. When you’re ready to move on, you jump in the well; if you’ve had a good life, you’ll be taken away to a gentler place, but if you haven’t you just keep sinking into an endless black pit. The references to the house are obvious, and the implication seems to be that in order to be truly rid of the house, he needs to gain an understanding of his own life in there. Personally I made a weird mental connection to Albert Camus when reading the part about the well, The Myth of Sisyphus to be precise; it fits surprisingly well theme-wise, although the tone is probably less creepy.
The second dream sequence has him travel through the spiral of the empty shell of a giant snail that humans are in the process of eating. Right, okay, I’ll run with it. Whoever said dreams had to make sense? With due reflection I’ve realised mine rarely do. Well, in any case, there’s just been a line about a house that continues to grow with its inhabitant, which makes this dream sequence a lot less nonsensical. The analysis seems to equate the spiral shell to be an inverse of the spiral staircase in the house, which makes a certain amount of sense: white vs black, light vs dark, happiness vs fear, nourishment vs destruction etc etc ad nauseum.
The third dream sequence is hinted by Zampano to be both more disturbing than the first two dreams and to be far more complex. However, I won’t be able to simplify it for you because there are 2 pages missing. I’m beginning to view this feeling of frustration with something approaching deja-vu now. Oh well, there seems to be a footnote from Johnny that we can peruse instead. Apparently he’s suddenly remembered the dream/nightmare that has had him screaming during the night, so we’re getting that as a consolation I suppose. Having read it, I’m not sure what to make of it; at first he’s wandering about the passages in the bowels of a ship, not knowing where he’s going whilst still having some faint idea. He sees a frat boy preparing to swing an axe at him, which is explained when he realises that he’s badly deformed, but in a way that makes him dangerous to others. He goes to attack this frat boy, who then seems to change into an amalgamation of the important girls he’s met, looking at him with adoration. He doesn’t try to stop her/them killing him, almost seems to welcome it in fact. If I had continued psychology or something, that would mean something to me, but frankly that has me stumped. Well, knowing these dream symbols, they’d end up being Freud and subsequently a bit loony (if highly amusing).
Anyway, to sum up this latest theory, there’s a second chart of effects of those exposed to the house after Navidson re-enters it and in all cases effects were reduced or ceased completely. And, as Zampano notes:

  • “Even more peculiar, the house became a house again.”

So maybe the house was a physical manifestation of Navidson’s psychological state, as put forward a few chapters ago, which ties up well with this theory as well. Meaning that he knew that the house wouldn’t be normal until he went back inside it.

And that’s where the chapter ends. In a sense we’ve gotten back to the house, but considering the numerous references to Exploration 5, I think next chapter will be the actual house again. I’ll admit, I’m not as disappointed about the content of this chapter as I thought/predicted I’d be due to lack of actual house, but then with this there’s been more to think about than the last 3 chapters put together. If I hadn’t put so much time into reading this already I think they could have put me off a fair deal. In any case, a really decent range of subjects to think about and as I said earlier, I’d love to hear any opinions on some of them or any of my musings on them.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XVI

So, after a couple of chapters ending on melancholy notes, hopefully we’ll get a chapter that’s a bit more focused on the horror elements of it.
So we start with a quote from Einstein about maths. Quite what this has to do with the house or this particular chapter, I’m not sure. Anyway, the chapter seems to be dedicating itself to figuring out what exactly the house is, and not just how it affects the people in it. Looking at the actual facts of the place, it’s kind of underwhelming really: after all the turmoil and horror it’s caused, it feels like there should be more to it. But no, at its most basic level, all we can say about the house is that it has no light, humidity, air movement or sound (apart from the roar), the walls and ceilings are uniformly black, with no decoration of any kind, the size and shape can change at will, items left in there will be lost and 3 people have died in there at the current count. So not that much really. We’re pretty much left with the wall samples that Holloway collected whilst he was still (partially) sane.
So Navidson has taken all the samples in to be tested (for what isn’t made clear), making it quite an expensive undertaking really. The samples are lined up and apparently appear to be a mixture of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, but before we can get anything particularly definite, there’s a note saying that there are 2 pages missing. Wonderful. The next available pages are mostly crossed out with the occasional fragment of a word poking through. The footnotes seem to be mostly untouched, so I will endeavour to figure out what the main narrative is going on about. Well, for the most part it’s geology stuff that I don’t really understand, but there was one part which is quite interesting:

  • “As O’Geery indicates to Navidson, several of the XXXX samples also appear to have ages predating the formation of the Earth.”

Now that is certainly weird, and makes for a few logistical problems really. There are also a few footnotes regarding meteorites, so maybe it’s aliens. If it is, then I think I may feel just a little bit cheated. Now there’s another 17 pages missing, which is apparently Johnny’s fault from accidentally spilling a bottle of ink on them. Not that I think I would have understood the science stuff anyway; I was always better at Biology.
Anyway, when the narrative reappears in full, it turns out that the samples seem to get older the further into the house they go, the last sample being older than the solar system. Interesting as this is, however, I’m not really sure what this really tells us about the house. I mean, okay, the rock it’s made of is old and possibly made of meteorites: what use is that to us really? It looks as if Navidson’s test results will turn up later in the book, somewhere in his extra material, but according to Johnny that’s gone missing entirely, so we’ll never actually know what was in those ink-soaked pages. Again, not that I would’ve understood it. Johnny continues his footnote to talk about what would have happened if he’d actually gone to the psychiatry sessions. His theory? That they’d diagnose him with a mental illness and either send him home or put him in an institute. He’s certainly not sounding particularly healthy. Although looking at his recollections of his mum, it doesn’t sound like sound mental health runs in the family, considering she tried to choke him as a child.
Anyway, back to the main narrative, where Navidson seems to be using the samples to cope with the losses of Tom and Karen. And that’s where it cuts off. Somehow that seemed really unfinished and just feels weird to end it there.

Anyway, an interesting chapter, although a bit choppy and a fair bit of the geology stuff was beyond me. Hopefully the actual house will return next chapter. There have been hints this chapter, so I’m hopeful.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XV

Hi guys. Well, last update was certainly melancholy, so hopefully this chapter will at least have a bit of action/horror to cheer us up, as it were.
We begin the chapter with Karen in New York, 4 months after the events in the house. It’s also been 4 months since she saw Navidson who is still down at the house with Reston; quite why neither Karen nor I are sure. While she’s in New York, she’s been taking care of the kids and the film, creating a short film from it based around Holloway’s tape. Apparently, having sent out copies of it to people, we’re about to get the transcript of some of the responses that she made into a short film. There’s an interesting array of people so far: critics, psychologists, architects, playwrights and mathematicians to name but a few. And they all look at it from different perspectives. The critics and those connected to the arts seem to be convinced the least of it’s authenticity, treating it as if it were a text to be analysed and viewed critically, whereas the architect and the more science-based professionals seem to be looking at the practical ramifications of the house; particularly interesting, which surprised me a bit, was the architect, who is very concerned with what kind of materials the walls would be built from and what kind of foundation it would have to have, and stuff like that, which you tend to forget in the general freakiness of the place. One other thing that I find interesting, or at the very least is amusing me to no end, is that there are responses from Anne Rice, Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick; I don’t know if I can really think of people more able to talk about weirdness. And it has now taken the cake by having Hunter S Thompson of all people tell Karen:

  • “You need to lay off the acid, the mescaline, or whatever else you’re snorting, inhaling, ingesting”

The irony is just too much.
So we get to the end of this transcript and Johnny’s just chipped in. He gets a call from Thumper, who tries to convince him to visit, but his mental image of her is marred by the fact that he knows almost nothing about her as a person; weirdly enough, I think this bit of character development, despite showing how bad his condition is that even Thumper can’t lure him outside, is rather positive in a way. I mean, while I suppose it’s normal to get crushes on people without knowing them that well, it’s nice to see him looking at the more personal side of things. Then the phone company disconnects his line, leaving Johnny alone again. It can only get worse from here, I imagine.
We go back to Karen, who’s made another short film as well, entirely devoid of the house itself. This short film seems to be about Navidson, and hopefully about his relationship with Karen before things went so horribly wrong. Anyway, it starts off with a load of home videos from Navidson’s childhood; it seems a lot more idyllic and sweet here, which makes it seem sadder somehow, like it emphasises the innocence he lost. It’s followed by photos that Navidson himself took, images of war and suffering. It’s really uncomfortable to read to be honest; it’s a little closer than I’m used to getting with characters when reading. And it’s finally shown who Delial is: she’s a little girl dying from starvation as a vulture comes up to eat her. Fun.

So ultimately the chapter ends on a similar melancholy note, but did start off with an interesting look at the house from various different perspectives. From what I read about these short films being the break in the Navidson Record, I think we’ll probably be back in the house proper in the next chapter. Quite what Navidson and Reston are still doing there, I have no idea.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XIV

I’m not very good at this time-keeping thing, am I? I do feel rather bad about saying I’ll update more often, then not getting round to it when I said I would. Reading week ended up being a bit busier than I’d anticipated.
Anyway, part 14 of the Navidson Record, where the quote at the top would imply that it’s looking at the fall-out of Tom’s death and appreciating what you’ve got/had. A nice topic, but I can’t see this being the most exciting of chapters; a stop-gap chapter if you will.
We start the chapter with Navidson going away to sort out Tom’s things and not coming back to Karen and the kids in New York when he said he would, apparently going back to the house, like an idiot; Karen decides to have an affair while he’s gone, seemingly to spite him. While I’m of the opinion that adultery is one of the worst things you can do in a relationship, I can sort of see Karen’s reasoning; he’s effectively abused her trust so many times that you could almost say he had it coming.
After the ordeal in the house, Karen’s claustrophobia has worsened until she can’t go in dark/enclosed spaces of any kind. And the (possible) origins of said claustrophobia have just been revealed, making her behaviour make a lot more sense: when she was 14, she and her elder sister were raped by their stepfather, with the sister that wasn’t currently being raped lowered into the bottom of a well. It would make perfect sense in context, but Karen won’t comment on whether it’s true or not.
So we’re back to Karen’s affair, caused by the fall-out from the house and the problems she had with Navidson anyway. This guy, Fowler, seems to have helped her up when she fell over and twisted her ankle in the street. Of course, when the film gets some success, the press are all over it, with Fowler being more than willing to spill (some) details about it. Reston is more than happy to debunk some of them, which is nice, but probably fairly futile. The weird thing is that Navidson seems to have had some awareness of her indiscretions all along, through her collection of love letters from people, but hasn’t really focused on it much; I would’ve thought that would be a real hot topic of discussion for the two of them. Johnny interjects here with a protest that lots of people keep old letters, giving his mum keeping the first letter she received from him as an example; it’s really rather sweet, but really sad at the same time.
Anyway, back to the main narrative, where it seems that Navidson has gone back for a final exploration of the house on purpose, because he already knows that he’s lost her. That’s got to be the most depressing feeling possible really, to know that you’re going to lose the one you love because regardless of what you do, you’ve already caused too much damage. When Karen decides she wants to go back to Navidson, she’s lost him in turn as well.

A rather melancholy chapter, but I suppose I wasn’t that far off the mark at the beginning there. It’s more appreciating what you can’t have again though, which is somehow worse as a partner is one of those things that should be cherished as much as possible while they’re there. The people in your life, they’re the only things that should never be taken for granted in all honesty, because there will never be anyone exactly like them ever again once they’re gone.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XIII

As you could probably tell from my last post, I wasn’t particularly happy with where it ended. Mainly because I couldn’t think how Navidson was going to get out of there in a generally alive piece.
Well, the first thing on the first page is the title The Minotaur. Followed by a quotation that translates to something about a creature that cannot be named. This is sounding just a little bit familiar. Please let the monster thingy eat Holloway.
So the actual narrative starts with Chad’s teacher asking her class to draw a picture of their house; fair enough, keep the little kids amused and get them working creatively. Chad’s drawing isn’t like the others’ drawings however. Instead of your traditional idea of a house, his teacher receives a drawing of:

  • “nothing more than a black square filling ninety percent of the page…In the thin margins, Chad had added the marauding creatures.”

I pity that teacher. I mean, that’s got to be a shock when you’re expecting a little boxy house with a smiley yellow sun in the corner. Daisy has a similar picture, taking up less space on the page and presumably no monsters. Because the pictures have scared the hell out of her, she decides to take a visit to the Navidson house when neither of the children come in to school one day. And of course, everything will go horribly wrong. She goes to the door, hears screams and knocks; ordinary concerned citizen I suppose. Reston opens the door and asks her to call an ambulance, which are obviously for the two guys bleeding on the floor. Now, looking at the head-count, we can account for Karen, Tom, Reston, Jed (or the body formally known as Jed), Wax and the kids; at least that’s what I can gather from what happened in previous chapters. If my count was right, we’re still missing Navidson and Holloway. Ominous.
So, we skip back a little, where we see Karen neglecting her children as she monitors the radios for signs of Navidson and company, which cannot be healthy for either Karen or the kids. The distance from Navidson seems to make her switch her dependence from him to their children and helps her make up her mind to leave. She is in the process of leaving with the kids when Tom comes in with the gurney.
Well, obviously there’s horror at Wax’s condition, but then Reston slams the door behind him as they’re followed by a deep growl. Oh dear. It’s all a bit of a shambles really, especially with the teacher turning up.
If it’s any consolation, Wax apparently survives, although it’s kind of an abrupt way to tell it. Karen decides to show the police the corridors, which I frankly can’t see going well. And it doesn’t, seeing as it scares them and they, rather smartly really, walk out fairly sharpish. Apparently after the film, the door disappeared; maybe relating to that thing about the house reflecting the inhabitants’ psychological state? But anyway, Karen insists on keeping the door open in case Navidson comes back, but no-one’s really that hopeful on that front: in their minds I guess he’s as good as dead. We get examples of how they’re all coping (or not coping), when there’s a rather odd sentence regarding Tom. I’m not sure whether this is just a typo or deliberate, but when Tom starts drinking heavily to cope with the loss of his brother, it says:

  • “He might have spent all night drinking had exhaustion not caught up with me.”

Now I don’t know about you, but that’s just a tiny bit weird. Anyway, Tom and Reston try to go back in and save Navidson, but find that the corridor only extends 30′, with no branching corridors. Chad refuses to go back inside when he hears a bang followed by a sound like someone dying; probably Holloway then. Tom starts drinking even more, which is unfortunate but understandable. Karen starts paying attention to her children again and gets ready to leave with them, which is understandable and really should’ve been done a long time before in all honesty. Reston continues toman the radios, even though the hallway has shortened to 10′. Everything seems lost when Navidson walks out of the door, presumably amazed that he got out at all. Karen seems pleased to see him, but makes no change in her plans, which is a very smart thing. Holloway seems to have disappeared within the house, leaving behind only the tape he was recording. Apparently the only one who still wishes to stay in the house after watching that tape is Navidson, but then we’ve already seen that he’s just a bit of an idiot regarding that.
So we’re now on to Holloway’s tape. According to a footnote by Johnny there are gaps where some kind of ash (type unknown) have burnt through the paper, which he’s decided not to try and reconstruct. Obviously he links it in his head to some kind of explosion; thanks for that bit of paranoia, Johnny, thanks a bunch. Lude visited and advised him to get rid of Zampano’s papers: wise words but a bit hollow from the guy dumb enough to show them to Johnny in the first place. Johnny himself knows how bad these papers are for him, but he can’t seem to quit them until he’s made them into just a book. If it doesn’t abate, he has a new gun to shoot himself with, which is probably the kinder fate in all honesty.
Anyway, back to the main narrative which is looking at the madness of Holloway. Seems he was treated for depression, which, from what I can remember from college psychology, doesn’t generally make you want to go out and shoot people. Considered suicide due to feelings of inadequacy despite all his achievements, so so far so vaguely normal. Started dating a girl in high school who dumped him for a footballer; still vaguely normal, and beginning to wonder if any of this will actually account for what sent him over the edge, seeing as these aren’t exactly uncommon. The argument seems to be that his insanity was caused by Jed and Wax’s desire to turn back as a final sign of his inadequacy and failings, which I guess makes a certain amount of sense. The book also seems to equate suicidal depression with murderous rage; having seen people suffering from clinical depression this is, if you’ll pardon the term, utter bullshit. Frankly, anyone with genuine depression finds it hard just to get up in the morning, let alone try and kill people, so this is pretty offensive really. Although we now have an opposing viewpoint, which seems to be less attacking suicidal people and more actually thinking of a credible reason. In this, it is shown that Navidson too had suicidal tendencies, but managed to avoid trying to take two people with him; however, no actual reason for Holloway’s actions. Oh well, we’re on to the tape now, which should be more interesting.
Basically what we have is Holloway wandering around, getting more and more lost, continually muttering who he is and that he doesn’t deserve to die; I’m sure Jed and Wax would disagree with that last point, but that’s beside the point I suppose. There’s an emphasis on Holloway’s assertion that there’s something stalking him, however critics can’t seem to decide whether it’s a real monster or something more rational. Great, more uncertainty. In all the uncertainty, Holloway shoots himself. Despite the fact that I really didn’t like him, it’s almost sad to read. Almost, but not quite. Anyway, right near the end of the tape, there’s a minute or so of nothing. Then claws reach out and consume Holloway in darkness. If that isn’t creepy, I really don’t know what is.
After watching the tape, everyone except Navidson is understandably a little freaked out and decides to get the hell out of there, with Tom creating a barricade against the door. Although I’ve just had the thought of: “Surely there’s still that closet thingy upstairs?” Why do I get the feeling that will become important again? Anyway, there’s a nice little scene between Navidson and Tom, before Reston hears something. It builds, making you think it’ll knock down the barricade, then dies down and knocks. Somehow, that’s scarier than if it had just stormed straight through. Turns out the house is going to change to try and get them instead of using the conventional means of the door, starting with Karen. Well, at least we know that the monster is creative. Yippee. And the house has eaten the kids. Dear God, and right after they were starting to be interesting. Never mind, they’re safe, if traumatised for life. Instead, Tom bites the bullet, as I predicted he would a couple chapters back. And that’s where the chapter ends, with Tom falling into a black abyss. So the house got angry that they were leaving, huh? So much for this being a house to create a closer family.

Anyway, I’ll probably update again tomorrow, but while I still have time, let me just wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, regardless of how you spent it.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XII

Hey guys, again sorry for the long wait between updates. Uni has been a bit hectic recently. Thankfully I have a bit of a break, so I should make some headway into the rest of this. Anyway, last time we were focusing on Tom and his mental collapse at the top of the stairs. My bet is that Tom won’t be found alive in this chapter.
Although, considering that the quotation at the top of the chapter is one about how sometimes people can go missing without ever being found, Tom’s fate will probably never be known….. Fun.
So Navidson and Reston get back to the base of the stairs and Tom isn’t there like they agreed. They’re all in pretty bad shape (and they seem to be bringing Jed’s body with them, which seems a tad pointless to me to be honest) so I imagine they aren’t going to be too happy with him. Until the rope comes down. So he is still there. Probably.
So instead of meeting them at the bottom, he’s made a gurney on a pulley system. Which is pretty damn good really. It’s all going swimmingly until Reston’s being pulled up and suddenly the scale changes, growing exponentially, yet somehow Reston still keeps going up to the top. Which doesn’t make sense by the laws of physics, so maybe he’s actually gone down instead. Nope, he is going up, but Navidson is stuck at the bottom now. But the staircase has lengthened beyond the scope of the rope, so it’s snapped. Fun.
Now, an interjection from Johnny. Frankly, a lot of his stuff is actually scarier than the main narrative, mainly because the main narrative doesn’t have the same sort of paranoia to it, which is generally scarier to read about than axe-crazies like Holloway. Anyway, Johnny goes to work for the first time in 3 weeks to find they’ve replaced him, unsurprisingly really, but he’s not all that bothered. He goes back to his apartment which is beginning to sound legitimately crazy now: egg boxes soundproofing the room, tin foil stapled to the windows to block out the sun etc. That’s rather worrying, even if I have considered soundproofing my room so that idiot in the next flat will be silenced for once. Anyway, despite these precautions, he’s still getting these attacks of paranoia about this weird monster thingy. And he suddenly remembers something, I can’t remember what that was now as he’s rambled on to a rather graphic description of a sinking ship. Ah, yeah, it was that girl that he had a one night stand with who she said had met him in Texas. Sorry, that ramble was truly epic in length, about 3 pages in one sentence.
Anyway, back to the main narrative, where the rope holding up the gurney Reston is in has just snapped. Again I say: fun. Thankfully Reston is saved from being a splat on the floor below by Tom catching the rope before the gurney drops. From what the footnotes have just said, the staircase is now between 27,273 and 54,545 miles deep, which is longer than the circumferance of the Earth. I somehow doubt Navidson is going to get back up to the top any time soon. He has food for about 3 days. But then I really doubt he’ll be able to climb that in 3 days. 3 years maybe, but he doesn’t have that long in all honesty. And now the film’s run out, as if things couldn’t get worse. And it ends there……….excuse me while I scream in frustration and rage at it. Why end it there?!?!

Well, I at least have some time to get back into reading this, what with reading week now. Hopefully it’ll explain just how Navidson is going to do this, as there’s been references to his survival after the main narrative, so he’s got to get back. I predict that he’ll end up meeting Holloway again down there and be forced to put the crazy bugger out of his misery. At least that’s what I hope will happen. You can probably tell I’m not a big fan of Holloway.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part XI

Hi guys, sorry for the delay. I went home for the a few days around the weekend, then had my busiest days of the week, so all in all not much of a chance to read this. If I remember correctly though, Jed had just been killed, Holloway was shooting at them and Navidson and Reston had Wax out on a stretcher.
We start the chapter with a quote about the staircase. It’s going to grow again, isn’t it?
Anyway, we’re focusing on Tom for now as he sits at the top of the staircase and smokes weed, which is probably rather sensible given the circumstances. Mostly it seems to be focusing on the differences between him and his brother, which are pretty drastic for twins. Although it never actually says whether they’re identical or not; if not then it makes much more sense. On the whole, Tom seems to be the one who is most liked, while Navidson commands more respect; makes me feel slightly sad for Navidson, if I’m honest. It starts to compare them to the Biblical twins Jacob and Esau, but then becomes all jumpy because Zampano ripped up the next few pages, citing that they were:

  • “too personal.”

After that choppy section, we get a transcript of Tom’s view of events shown in the film. His monologues to the camera are for the most part scared (and with good reason really) and they sound genuine, with little clips of him radioing Karen and Navidson until he goes out of range and him telling jokes to keep his own moral up, which I think is a nice touch.
The scene is interrupted by Johnny, who’s getting seriously messed up now. He was just ordered to have a day off after scaring the depraved biker client. Which must have looked kinda funny in a very weird way, this little skinny guy freaking out the biker who could beat the living daylights out of him. He talks about one November’s worth of one night stands for him and Lude, which is really rather sad, definitely melancholy more than anything. It makes you wonder what their emotional lives must be like if they just flit from person to person. And from his revisiting the list, it looks like I was right. And he begins to tell “the story of the pekinese”, whatever that is. Having read it now, I don’t think I could recount it. Poor dog….
Anyway, back to Tom. Talking on the radio to Karen, we find out that she intends to take the kids and leave after Navidson and the rest get back and that her feng shui stuff she’d gotten to improve the house’s energies (because of course that would work so well) have disappeared. Tom is getting steadily more scared and stir-crazy, which is totally understandable. His panic when Navidson asks him to meet him at the bottom of the stairs is understandable too, especially seeing as the staircase lengthens before his eyes. You’ve got to feel sorry for him really.
The chapter ends with a summary of the scene, with a focus on the tenderness with which Navidson edits it. Considering there have been footnotes of Tom’s friends talking about him with fondness, I have a very bad feeling that this might be the last that we’ll see of Tom, which is a pity as he seems a genuinely nice guy.
Anyway, that’s the end of another chapter, which felt more like a stop-gap than anything else. I mean, it did have some interesting and engaging moments, but it was bereft of anything to really stir the intellect or a sense of creepiness. Hopefully next chapter will be more engaging like that.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part X

Okay guys, so last time was just a little bit confusing, frustrating and sad, due to the weird layout, pointless looping footnotes and the (presumed) deaths of Jed and Wax. I can only imagine the layout gets weird from here on in, so you may as well brace yourselves for various bits of ranting sprinkled throughout this particular post.
Back with the rescue team now, where of course we have the tensions between Karen and Navidson brought up again. I think it’s pretty clear that their attempts to salvage their relationship has failed rather badly. There are remarks about the kinds of images of the spooky bit of the house, mostly about scale and emptiness; this might well be why the pages are so full of blank space. There seems to be about one paragraph per page maximum. I’m really beginning to pity the printer or whoever had to format the pages for these last two chapters.
Anyway, they make it to the staircase, where Reston makes camp. Navidson and Tom are going to go down and try rescue Holloway and his team, but Tom suddenly panics, leaving Navidson to go by himself. Have they not figured out that going alone is a very bad idea? Yet he goes down the staircase, that he’d estimated as about 13 miles deep, and gets to the bottom only 100 feet down; I suppose that makes sense considering the corridors branching off from the staircase and how everything seems to shift. Anyway, Reston makes his way down the stairs, so Navidson is effectively forced to take him along; while this at least improves on the whole “going on alone” thing, a physically handicapped man is probably not most people’s top choice of companion in a dangerous situation, no offence meant. They continue their search, following traces of Holloway’s team, when suddenly Reston is nauseous; this is a new development, probably not a good one either. Zampano theorises that this is to do with the explorers’ expectations: Holloway et al went in with caution (initially anyway), so everything is huge and uncertain, but when Navidson go in, they know the staircase is not bottomless so it’s tiny in comparison. This is all very well when explaining size shifts, but that doesn’t explain how the rooms change place. Unless maybe that reflects Navidson’s original panic when he couldn’t initially find his way back out. But this general theory now brings up the question that if there was no human perception anywhere in the house, would all this spooky stuff actually exist? Maybe this is something in the house responding to something in Navidson, always described as the “man of action”, and creating a situation that fulfills a sub-conscious desire for adventure. If you take this theory as the truth of whatever’s behind the spooky stuff in the house, it certainly portrays Navidson in a different light.
That discussion about perception continues for a bit, then Johnny pips in again. He’s gone to the doctor’s with his panic attacks, causing me some confusion before I remembered that the American health system is very different from here (or at least it was, I have no idea what the state of that National Health scheme is in). They give him meds which he promptly crushes, making it seem a bit of a waste really, as well as throwing out the rest of the drugs in his apartment, of which there seems to be an alarming amount. I somehow doubt clearing his system of all those drugs isn’t going to help him much though; his general health might be a bit better for it though. Yeah, this is why optimism is rare in horror, it just sounds silly.
Back to the main narrative. Navidson and Reston make camp, but nothing happens overnight. The second day they’re down there, they hear something; personally, while I’d like to be proven wrong, I very much doubt that either Jed or Wax are alive so the noise is either the creature that’s presumably down there or a batshit crazy Holloway. I’m putting my money on Holloway. We find out that something’s wrong with Karen via Tom, but we don’t find out what because the radio cuts off. I don’t know why, but I suddenly get the distinct feeling that Karen’s going to take the kids and make a break for it, maybe shutting them in the spooky part of the house before she goes; or maybe I’m being too harsh on her. Anyway, they continue following the cries until they find a door that’s locked, another new development; maybe this is where Jed and Wax are, with the locked door being their attempt to keep away from the axe-crazy. And I actually turned out to be right! Except now he’s been shot in the head goddamnit. Of course Holloway has to butt in. And the blank space has increased, with there only being a few words per page; slowing things down maybe? And we’re back to a paragraph per page now; at least they gave Jed’s death a bit of emphasis. Of course they had to kill the most sympathetic one first; I’m not surprised though, this seems to happen to all my favourites. Although I’ve just figured something out: he was shot in the front of the head, with the bullet exiting through the back. How did Holloway make that shot? He has to either be behind them and either shot between Navidson and Reston or through one of them, or he has to be in front of them, which they would notice surely? Either way I think they’re pretty screwed. Anyway, Reston starts firing back, because he apparently had the forethought to come armed; I see they’re (well, some of them anyway) becoming more genre savvy. Although it seems a bit pointless moving Jed out of harm’s way, seeing as he’s kind of dead now. Oh no, not quite, but pretty much dead. Wax, on the other hand, is very much alive. Hooray for the little things. Looks like my prediction that the quiet one would live was completely wrong though. The chapter ends with Navidson and Reston loading Wax onto a makeshift stretcher and making their way back.
So, all in all a pretty decent chapter, both in terms of action and things to think about, even if my favourite character was killed off. RIP Jed, I’d hoped you’d be the last man standing, but apparently not. Hopefully Wax will make it though. It would make things kind of pointless if he got killed on the way back. Now I’ve said it, it’ll probably happen.

Signing off,

House of Leaves – The Navidson Record – Part IX

Hi guys, here we are again. Part 9. Just before I start I was wondering if I could direct your attention to the little rating boxes down at the bottom of each blog entry. I can see that occasionally people have been looking in and I’d love to hear your opinions about anything that comes up in these blogs, even if it’s just a little click on the box you think most appropriate out of the ones listed below. Thanks.
Anyway, last time we had the SOS chapter, where everything seems determined to go pear-shaped. The rest of the team have gone in to try and rescue them, although personally I’m not sure why; call me a cynic but if they’ve been down there for 8 days already, the other team aren’t going to be that successful either, especially seeing as they hadn’t prepared for being a rescue team. But it does have to get worse I suppose.
We start with a footnote of Johnny’s, in which he seems to be getting even more paranoid about getting out of the house. Although I’m sure the result of leaving the house is graphic enough that I’m sure he’s rather glad he did; I mean, admittedly there’s been sex depicted in this already, but that was a bit of a shock.
Back to the main text again, it begins to talk about mazes and labyrinths, which I suppose is rather apt really. What’s interesting though is when some of the text is crossed out, specifically that of the Cretan Minotaur myth; maybe a hint that the house is the entrance to the minotaur’s labyrinth (so to speak) and that the current cast reflects the figures of the Athenians sent down there to be eaten by the minotaur? Certainly the fishing line is very close to the magic thread used by Theseus. This certainly brings up some interesting implications if this is the equivalent of that mythic labyrinth. Zampano seems to make the case that the minotaur of legend was merely a metaphor for deformity, which is interesting in itself, but he seems to have wanted this section to be destroyed. Maybe whatever is/was/used to be in the house was more dangerous than the mere deformity argument would suggest? Any answers don’t seem to be forthcoming any time soon though. What we do get though is lots of stuff about centres and structures, so basically stuff that is incomprehensible to me due to my general lack of interest in architecture and/or physics. I probably should, seeing as I’m kind of actually studying centres in a way when analysing the city, but I will studiously ignore this in favour of being dumbfounded. We seem to talk a little about how perspective changes the view of a maze, which is fair enough but somehow I don’t think we can really apply it here, seeing as it’s impossible to see it from any other view but inside the maze. The film itself is compared to a maze, which is apt; the irony being here that the entire narrative of this book so far is maze-like, having been given a glimpse of “the end” with Johnny and never quite knowing what is going to happen next. Frankly the text and footnotes have been a bit all over the place this chapter, so that increased the weird, dreamy, maze-like feel to it, although that’s probably the point. The footnotes keep going back on themselves; I’m treading the same paths over again, which is really unsettling. As is the line I’ve just read regarding the structure of mazes; it’s not especially openly scary, but it’s certainly put me on edge a little:

  • “And if you do lose yourself at least take solace in the absolute certainty that you will perish.”

Somehow Johnny seems to have interpreted Zampano’s theory that in the face of a maze like the house, all solutions are personal to mean that Johnny’s personal way of continuing a normal life is to have sex with any of the girls in his life. Well, I guess he took the “personal” aspect to heart. In any case, none of them seem to answer their phones. Actually, have any of them ever answered the phone? Oh well, he’s gone drinking with his best mate Lude, which does seem the next best thing. Never mind, it’s evolved into a one night stand. I should’ve have guessed, huh?
Back to the main narrative, we’re finally beginning to find out what Holloway and his team have been up to. Seems they actually got to the bottom of the staircase and decided to explore further. Holloway’s exploration seems to be getting more frantic as well, desperate to find something down there maybe. Maybe it’s a reflection of how weird this is getting, but one of the footnotes has been boxed off and is floating towards the top of the page. The footnote itself seems too rambling and generally unimportant to be granted such detail and separation from the rest of the footnotes. Regardless, all Holloway’s search finds is more empty corridors and more empty rooms. I really shouldn’t be as tense as I am right now, I mean I just scared myself accidentally knocking something over on my desk. I’m going to come out of this a quivering wreak, aren’t I? Just as you were getting to know me too. I’ve just turned the page and the layout’s gone insane: the boxed footnote from the last page is there but in mirror-image, the footnotes are at the side, there’s a new boxed footnote; it’s just all over the place, but somehow still recognisably structured. Well kind of. The footnotes aren’t even self-contained anymore. Please excuse me if I begin crying, seeing as I’ve realised I just have to backtrack quickly. Maybe that’s the point. And that bloody boxed footnote was still completely pointless! I don’t think I’ll bother with the side ones either, seeing as that looks like a list of names again and the ones on one side are upside down. This is one screwed up layout, as you may have guessed from the barely coherant rantings I’ve just subjected you to.
In the main narrative (which is thankfully still pretty much recognisable) we’ve moved from the house’s structure to the question of occupation. Specifically that of “who is the true occupant of the house?”, which in turn brings up the idea that the house’s original owner might still be there, a concept which is somehow vaguly terrifying.
On the way back up, Holloway and his team, having left some caches of food and supplies on the staircase to ensure they had stuff on the way back, find that their second cache has been destroyed by something with claws. Oh dear. In light of this, Holloway decides to explore some more, securing his status in my mind as a Grade A moron; if there is something destroying your stuff and obviously doesn’t wish you well, why explore more or try to follow it? When his assistants say they’re going home, he doesn’t seem to take it well; then again, he’s probably gone just a bit crazy now so I suppose it makes complete sense to him. While his assistants are smart and head back, he storms off by himself. Good riddance, I hope he gets lost. At least he hasn’t gone postal, although knowing me and knowing this book I’ll probably eat those words. Anyway, there’s no sign of Holloway coming back, so it seems he has gotten lost. Yay. Never mind, he’s back and has managed to shoot Wax. I should’ve known. Instead of helping Jed get Wax back to the main house, he wanders off again, hopefully for good this time. And he’s back again, shooting at the assistants again. They run, understandably, but get lost in the process, hence the SOS signal last chapter. Somehow this links to Johnny’s recollection of meeting a ghost;don’t ask me how, I’m not all that sure myself. This leads on to meeting Ashley, a girl who keeps calling and seems to know him while he doesn’t have a clue who she is. Fun. If very weird.
Back with Jed and Wax, things don’t seem to be doing too well for them. Wax is in shock (the clinical version, although I would imagine the original version is there too) which I’m really not surprised at. This leaves Jed with medical duties, which can’t be an easy job, especially when they can hear the evidence that Holloway has gone completely off the deep end. And I’ve lost track of the footnotes now. Hell, I’m just making do now, it’s far too confusing to be made like this by accident. It diverges into comparing the current situation to mutiny, which is an interesting use of the word, although you can’t really say that Holloway didn’t deserve it. This has branched off from a discussion about how similar the Navidson Record is to Hollywood produced horror/ghost stories. Somehow, I’m kind of losing track now. Anyway, the main difference seems to be that the use of familiar actors, techniques and CG creates a sense of disbelief, reassuring the audience that it’s all just entertainment, which the Navidson Record doesn’t do. But, with the proliferation of CG, it’s becoming more and more difficult to determine whether a picture is real or not, an idea that does make a bit of sense, even in my numbed state. This leads on to whether the film is genuine or not. Again.
Johnny chips in with a story of another one night stand, this time a girl that he scared off by screaming weird stuff in his sleep. Eerie, if vaguely funny at the same time; maybe the chapter’s been too long to maintain tension for. And the girl in question seems to have contacted the editors about this bit, asking where Johnny disappeared to. Hold the phone, what the hell is this? That was a bit out of the blue. How can Johnny just disappear, I mean, he’s one of the main narrators.
The chapter ends with whatever is making the growls beating at the door that Jed and Wax are behind. It’s the last clip that is seen from them. But then, if that’s true, how did they get the clips? In any case, I’m kind of sad to see Jed go, I thought he was sweet.
Anyway, I might read another chapter tomorrow (later today), but I may well need a recovery period after that.

Signing off,

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