OK so here’s the format of chapter analysis 2.0, I’m covering one to three pages at a time per post to make it easier for referencing, searching, reading, formating and it’s less labor intensive. This isn’t just a rehash of the old long read posts of each chapter, I’ve gone through and updated some references now that I have a better macro prospective and cut some of the fluff. I hope you enjoy. Continuing to reformat the rest of the chapters this week. Hope to have more new content on chapter eight tomorrow.
Chapter I analysis: The Film
(note: All the titles for the chapters are found on page 540)
“Muss es sein?” German: Must it be? It’s a hard call as to whether this is Johnny or Zampano who put this here or why or why German. As of now, I’m going to say it’s Zampano because through out the work he seems to borrow phrases from other languages with some regularity. As far as the significance of the phrase, my best guess is it has something to do with the quote in the introduction from Zampano to the potential reader (found on page xix):
January 5, 1997
Whoever finds and publishes this work shall be entitled to all proceeds. I ask only that my name take its rightful place. Perhaps you will even prosper. If, however, you discover that readers are less than sympathetic and choose to dismiss this enterprise out of hand, then may I suggest you drink plenty of wine and dance in the sheets of your wedding night, for whether you know it or not, now you truly are prosperous. They say truth stands the test of time. I can think of no greater comfort than knowing this document failed such a test.
When the work is viewed in this context, having an opening such as “Muss es sein?” Makes perfect sense in that Zampano clearly feels chained to this project/work but has to ask any potential reader/publisher if it must be this way IE if this work must be perpetuated knowing all the misery it’s brought/caused him. Or it could be him asking the source of the project/work if it must be this way as if the work is a master holding his chains and this is his final plea for mercy not for him self for anyone else unfortunate enough to discover this force.
It should also be noted, even if this is obvious, that this phrase is written in the font Times, even if it is in italics which is Zampano’s assigned font. However what is interesting is that this is one of the only times (as far as I can remember) that Zampano wrote in italics. This might be an effort to differentiate his plea from the rest of what the editors may have added in since both Zampano and the editors share the same font.
The Navidson Record – This is the formal title page to the work that will follow, the fictional documentary transcribed here as “The Navidson Record”.
This is a Beatles song in reference to the movie John Lennon was in“How I won the war”. According to paul mcartney2002 “Actually it is about a film that John was in called How I won the war, he had a small role in it, and that is when he started wearing glasses”. This movie is John’s only non-beetals movie (and also only non-musical role). I’m guessing this reference was chosen because the movie follows a lot of different genres through out, ranging from “vignette, straight–to–camera, and, extensively, parody of the war film genre, docu-drama, and popular war literature” similar to HoL‘s genre evading style. This movie also perpetuates the war theme that’s so prevalent in the book.
“…and probably wintering in the Florida Keys.”
Keys and locks play a underlining theme in the book and are worth keeping an eye out for.
“billy Meyer’s film on flying saucers…”
So “Billy Meyer” is a baseball player for several teams and managed one team the only link I can see to this is he played for the White Sox which were nicknamed the “Black Sox” for the world series game they threw in 1919 which ended up being the biggest controversy in baseball history. However this was before Billy’s time as he only played for the White Sox in 1913.
On the other hand, “Billy Meier” is one of the most famous UFO “experts” (Note: I only put “expert” in quotes due to the lack of hard evidence on the subject of UFOs) from Switzerland this is the second mention of Aliens ( “like lost metal roods or, from a different angle, the fragile ribs of some alien ship.” introduction, page xviii, lines 50-1). Billy was told of a “prophesy” (Note: I don’t give credit to most [all] pseudo-sciences) from said aliens he “keeps in regular contact with” about a major war breaking out between 2006-2011 (which now that it’s well into 2012 that’s probably one major nail in the coffin he keeps his credibility in). However this is another mention of war in this book.
“…like Melville’s behemoth…”
Reference to Herman Melvile’s Moby Dick, not the first nor last, being the house it self is big and white (just like Ahab’s whale) and the institution JT’s (Jonny Traunt) mum was held in is “Whalestoe” institute. This is also the first of numerous nautical references whether they be references to nautical literature or stories about sailing on the sea. This is another theme through out the book to keep an eye out for.
“…merely a ghost story…”
This is another theme to keep an eye on, is the idea of ghost stories. The house seems to faciliate the idea of housing “demons/ghosts” which supports my ideas of the labyrinth being similar to Tartarus in Greek mythology (as mentioned in my chapter 8 page 98 post).
Footnotes (page 3)
The theme of truth and credibility in photography epically considering the additional factors that come into play while entering the digital age. As it gets easier to manipulate to media, the lines between reality and fantasy begin to approach a state of melting.
Daniel Bowler – Danny boy seems to be yet another reference to a long list of people cited in HoL’s footnotes where the “authors” of fictional books tend to be convicts or murders. The connection is doubled in that he committed his crimes and lived in Richmond VA where The Navadison Record takes place.
There are many of these type of references that are more “easter eggs” rather than bits that advance the story. I’ll include some of the more interesting easter eggs but I’ll leave some of the more obscure/mundane ones for you to hunt down for your self if so interested.
cottingley fairies (I had never heard of these, and from a brief overview I see nothing significant other than that they’re were supposedly caught on film and since so much of this book revolves around capturing the impossible on film and tape I figured some info could be interesting)
kirlian photography (again more photography of the impossible) the most interesting part of this is the tie into the trees theme where Semyon Kirlian, the inventor of such photography, initially used this technology on leaves to measure their “aura” in an effort to prove that living things have “auras”. What’s more interesting is that Kirlian photography captures “The phenomenon of electrical coronal discharge is also responsible for the more well-known phenomena called St. Elmo’s fire.” St. Elmo’s fire is a phenomenon that sailors would occasionally see just before a storm and would interfere with compass readings. Both references to nautical phenomenon (ships, ocean, and sailing in general is a prominent theme in the book).
ted serios’ thoughtography basically this guy would “project his thoughts” onto a Polaroid camera as it was taking pictures. Supposedly there’s some evidence he created some legitimate pictures this way but until I take further investigation ill remain skeptical. What is interesting is that most of the pictures he “produced” were of blank or black Polaroids which ties into the stark themes of black and white/dark and light. The final point of interest is that Serios supposedly “created” a picture psychically of Jule Eisenbud’s ranch (Esienbud wrote a book on Serios) but the ranch was distorted in a unnatural way which reminds me of the house being portrayed in “unusual and unnatural” ways through The Navadison Record”.
Alexander Gardner’s photograph of the Union dead – According to John B. the photograph was manipulated. This does add to the theme of photograph and filmography credibility. What I can gather is that this was supposed to be a photo of many dead Union soldiers when they were actually confederate soldiers, my guess for the motivation is as morale boost for the south.
- Chapter 8 page 98 (houseofleavesblog.wordpress.com)
- Chapter 8 page 97 (houseofleavesblog.wordpress.com)
- Interesting theories about House of Leaves. (aussand.wordpress.com)
- Great War Movies You Might Have Missed (mrmovietimes.com)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: What’s the Title? (philosophersdiary.wordpress.com)