Chapter 2: 1/4″ page 9

Line 3:

“Settle in maybe put down roots…” Word choice is an important detail to pay attention to in this book. One thing I’ve noticed, is that Navidson uses lots of tree adjectives to describe moving in and settling in, epically roots.

Line 4:

“I just want to create a cozy little outpost…” Another slightly unusual word choice that ends up reoccurring are words with war like connotations or definitions. The irony in this choice of word is particularly funny in that an outpost is constructed to protect stationed troops from outside threats and yet little do they know the threat is the outpost.

However we must consider why Navidson as a character chose this word and how it reflects in his state of mind. Navidson is a photographer who has spent more time in hostile and/or war zone than anywhere one would call “cozy”. This being so, we can reasonably assume that he approaches things like a soldier would: Who/What is the target? What is my mission? Ect ect. So now that he’s been given an ultimatum of working abroad or staying home he chooses to stay home but he’s not quite adjusted to home life. Even in home life he still views things through his scope: objectively. “My mission is to create an outpost for my family. The objective is to document the transition. The target is my family.” Viewing everything from through a lens seems to have removed something human from Navidson; he has lost his sense of engagement and traded it for the ability to be an observer trying to remain as interfering as possible (because the objective of a photographer is to capture candid moments, to remove one self from the picture as to not disturb the natural motion of things).

Footnotes

Footnote 13:

There are those editors again. They don’t say much but we can infer a little from what they do provide. Judging from their vernacular, they’re highly educated (which is expected from professional editors) and they’re in doubt of the authenticity of the “critical analysis” that Zampano is providing on TNR. The footnote they’re addressing is on page 55 which they seem to share the same sentiment as the lady being quoted in the footnote Johnny wrote.

The word choices they use do seem to set them apart from Johnny who speaks very colloquially, sometimes even vulgarly, however it still bothers me that they share a font with Zampano even though later on in the book it would seem it’s impossible for them to be the same person as Zampano. My best guess as to their purpose is to serve as the most objective/authoritative voice among voices in this book. Every other one of the characters has something that tosses their credibility out: Zampano is writing a critical analysis on a documentary that doesn’t seem to exist and if it did he is still blind; Johnny freely admits to changing/adding words to the text to suit his purposes (whether it be interpretation or just because he wants to).

The main reason I’m not counting Navidson as a voice is that even if the documentary did exist in the HoL cannon, we’re not getting it from the source, we’re only getting bits and pieces blended in with Zampano’s “lengthy narrative descriptions” acting as interpretive analysis.

 

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Chapter 1 Pages 5-7

Chapter I analysis: The Film

Pages 5 – 7

Line 8:

Here is the first mention about temperatures. The general temperature in the hallways are cold, like frostbite cold, however at the moment I’m still not entirely sure why. It may have something to do with the idea of a nautical hell (IE being caught in a never ending drowning scenario where the enviroment gets darker and colder as it saps the life from you) or some such.

Lines 30-48:

Here is an excellent example of how Zampano (or maybe Johnny decided on this but I’d feel safer in saying it’s Zampano’s decision) conveys the visual action of the documentary into a textual format. Lines 30-33 are jump shots so the text is chopped up into short sentences each shot getting it’s own line, then we see another continous scene (lines 34-6) which get’s it’s own paragraph and then lines 37-40 are more jump shots and we conclude with lines 41-8 with the final continous scene. This isn’t necessairly plot important, but it is a very creative way to relay the action from a primarly visual medium (movie) to the more imagination intensive medium (book). We’ll see this formating choice emphasized much more in later chapters particularly chapters eight, nine, ten, twelve, and thirteen to name some of the most dramatic examples.

Page 6

Line 25:

trope – not a story enhancing detail but the idea of etymologies and histories plays a part in this book and because of that I’m in the habit of checking the etymology of words that are interesting or I’m not familiar with. Trope is basically a synonym for a metaphor or simile and its origin:


1525–35;  < Latin tropus  figure in rhetoric < Greek trópos  turn, turning, turn or figure of speech, akin to trépein  to turn”

Which makes me think of the phrase “turn a phrase” which is possibly where that phrase came from (my Internet connection is currently down, can’t verify this until it comes back online). This is one of the few easter eggs I will consistently include since I have a fondness for etymologies of words and phrases.

Footnote 6:

Zeuxis – this is an example of how a small reference or easter egg ends up serving as a story enhancing detail. Zeuxis was a painter in ancient Greece however none of his paintings survived yet word of mouth about his paintings inspired the Renaissance art movement of chiaroscuro (which is a particularly appropriate style to reference in that many of the scenes in this book, both from Johnny and Zampano/Navidson if made into stills/paintings could be considered to fall into the chiaroscuro style).

Zeuxis also happens to be a Greek General which vaguely relates to the theme we’ll see emerge in the next few chapters of war and exploration.

Page 7

Line 14-5:

“…Navidson’s film seems destined to achieve at most cult status.”

I figure this is projection from MZD, knowing how unusual his first book is he figured he can only achieve cult status with his style. Mostly true, the cult status anyway, but it’s a kinda funny jab at his own work.

 

Chapter 1 Page 4

Chapter I analysis: The Film

Page 4

Lines 8-11:

“…hanging whole above the gates of such schools as Architectonics…” I have no idea what most of these are so here’s some info:

Architectonics – the principles of architecture(?)

popomo – short for post-modernism

consequentialism – the ethical philosophy that the consequences of an action are the ultimate judge for the action it self omitting the intent of the actor. Opposite of the school of Deontologicalism  (however, as it seems to go with every thing in philosophy, their mutually exclusive status is up for debate).

neo-Plasticism – rather abstract movement in furniture design.  Reminds me of an abstract approach to minimalism with colour constraints. I’m pretty sure this stuff is still pretty chic.

phenomenology – a increasingly defunct school of thought (with the break through in neurology) that tries to tackle the subjects of consciousness and perception through empirical thought exercises on ontology.

information theory – the closest summary to this theory is that it’s the unifying theory among mathematics and sciences which seeks to inmate human judgment.

marxism – Socialist/communist cornerstone. Basically Marxists believe that as humanity grows, captitalism will become a defunct and inefficient system that will need to evolve into a socialist system then ultimately communist.  It almost sounds like a guy (communism) trying to convince his girlfriend (capitalism) that a three way is in every ones benefit (socialism) in a first step towards converting her to being a swinger (communism).

biosemiotics – this is pretty over my head but here’s a try: Approaching biology in a way that can be broken down into universal signs rather than cultural/special specific expressions.

neo-minimalism – this picture is probably the best way to convey neo-minimalism. Thanks NY Times and fellow wordpresser Sky Pape

Conveniently, this list is encompasses a good starting point for ideas and theories to keep in mind while reading this book.

Line 24:

“…focuses on a doorway on the north wall of his living room…” the position of this door way changes several times through the book. It goes from north to east to south and back to north. (it may occur on the east as well. I’ll take note of the positions as I work my way through and update this at a later point.)

For those of you who want a visual reference for what’s going on in this scene (because it took me a while to fully visualize what was being gotten at) here’s a diagram:

North

West                                    Window——-| door | ——- Window                                  East

South

Footnotes

Footnote 4:

This is the first part where Johnny will interject and explain/interpret or translate something for us. It’s approiate that his first footnote is translating the quote “Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create…” as this page marks his and our entrance into the hell that is encompassed in this house.

Footnote 5:

So this is an interesting footnote to address. Here we’re introduced to another set of characters and another layer of this story.

On the ground level we have Zampano, the original author of the book. His is the primary voice we hear/read through out the book. In the cannon of the book, we are shown plenty but not conclusive evidence that the Navidson Record does not exist so given this I’m not counting Navidson’s “voice” as a layer since (as of now, I’m holding final judgment until after I finish this project) we’re assuming Zampano created the movie that he “transcribed”.

Zampano’s voice is the split into two layers. We have the transcribed actions of the Navidson Record and everything else which includes the strike through parts, the footnotes which Zampano used to supplement his analysis of this documentary, the coloured words such as house, and the red strike through parts or Minotaur parts (you’ll see all of this if you followed my recommendation of using the Full Colour Remastered Edition of HoL).

Next removed is Johnny’s voice. His is a bit more transparent because as he is the one whom is taking all the notes and narrative bits he found in Zampano’s apartment and composing them into the book we have here. His voice is also split into two layers: the composition of the work and his footnotes. The most obvious of the two is his interjections via footnotes which are later used as his medium to tell his own story but the more subtle layer is how he chooses to transcribe and compose this work. As we’ll see in later chapters he’ll mention parts he had to interpret due to obscure language references, quotes from dead languages, parts of the text that Zampano seems to have tried to blot out or remove, and even down to word choices and spelling mistakes.

Next removed is the editors, which is the most unusual and, in my opinion interesting, layer. We should first note that the Editors are the ones who have had final review over the book before publication so when we see spelling errors or strange grammatical choices we have to assume they decided to let it slide. They seem to have tried maintain the most transparency and in this vein this is probably why they’ve decided to keep the syntax and grammatical choices as is to help preserve Johnny’s voice. Also it should be noted that the Editors assigned the different characters different fonts to help cut down on the confusion and to give everyone another layer of significance. They’ve chosen to assign them selves the same font as Zampano, which is a strange choice to me but here’s why I think they did it: In order to maintain the most level of transparency they “blend in” with the majority of the rest of the text (which is Zampano’s/Navidson’s voice). The Editors play an extremely minor but significant role being that since this project has been passed through at least 3 sets of eyes (Zampano, Johnny, and the Editors collective) that every choice and thing in here is there for a purpose. Nothing was an accident. Supposedly, however just because everything in here is done for a reason it’s not to say every choice is a plot important one. Keep this in mind, it’s what keeps me from loosing focus personally because it’s very easy to get lost in some small and seemingly significant details of this troublingly dense book.

 

Chapter one Pages 1-3

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)

Page 1

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.

Page 2

The Navidson Record – This is the formal title page to the work that will follow, the fictional documentary transcribed here as “The Navidson Record”.

Page 3

Introductory Quote:

I saw a film today, oh boy…”

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.

Line 12:

…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.

Line 13:

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.

Line 19:

…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.

Line 23:

…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)

Footnote 1:

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.

Footnote 2:

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.

Footnote 3:

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.