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House of Leaves
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2012 Book Discussions > House of Leaves - Chapter VII - X - pages 80 to 245 (October 2012)

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Mikela On page 98, end of first paragraph, we read that "Navidson refuses to view Exploration 4 in any other way except from Reston's vantage point...a sequence dedicated solely to the much more revealing details of waiting." What do you think is meant by this?


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
We already know that there is a lot of tension between Holloway and Navidson. Navidson wants his account of his experience of waiting to be just as valid - if only for reasons of his own fame and fortune. But, Navidson doesn't want to collaborate with anyone. “He has been deprived of the right to name what he inherently understands as his own” (p.85)

What are we to make of Holloway’s hand on Karen’s back and her response? (p.82)


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Some of us struggled to get through the long passage about echoes at the beginning of Chapter V (starting at p. 41). As I read on from there, I kept finding "echoes" used in various ways, including as a way to estimate distance in the mysterious hallway. Lost in the hallway on Exploration 1, Navidson uses echoes to find his way back. The story itself also seems to contain "echoes" of another sort. Parts of the story seem to "echo" other parts. We see Truant developing the same sorts of problems he had noticed in Zambrano, including agoraphobia and a fear of some dark creature hovering around him, waiting to attack. Appendix II.E., the letters from Truant's mother, fill us in on Johnny Truant's side of the conversation in the way that the mother's letters echo what she has gotten from Johnny's letters. Since the letters are written by a crazy person, we are left to decide for ourselves what is really happening, and what is delusion. (is the institute censoring her letters, or did she only imagine having written them? Is she being mistreated at the institute, with the letters describing that mistreatment being deliberately not mailed, or is it all in her head?) Getting back to Johnny at footnote 77, which runs from page 69 to page 72, we get a story from Johnny about his experiences in the back of the shop, up some steep steps, in the dark, and we're left to wonder what really happened, and whether Johnny is delusional. Echoes and shadows are recurring themes in this book, along with the question of what is real (and what is echo or shadow), and what is dream, and what is delusion.


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
Some great points there, Casceil. I'll have to keep that motif in mind as I read through this section.

One thing I want to note here (in case anybody missed it) is the checkmark at the bottom right corner of Chapter VIII on page 97, which is the signal requested by Johnny's mother in her letters. The chapter is baffling enough that the reason for the checkmark is lost on me, but I'm hoping some sense is made of it later in the book.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Thank you, Daniel. I was wondering about that checkmark. Is it supposed to be a signal that he got some particular letter or message from his mother? Do the times coordinate?


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Help. I haven't got a checkmark.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Are you sure? Take another look at p. 97, bottom right corner, in the margin.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Also, in case you've wondered about the funny patterns of dots and dashes preceding some of the text, I think it is supposed to be morse code for SOS. But when it repeats, sometimes different parts are in bold.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
I really pity anyone trying to read this book alone, with no one to compare notes with.


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
I agree that the dots breaking up the text are some relation (or echo, perhaps?) of the SOS signal, but I'm also unsure what to do with it. And yes, this would be much more difficult without a group to compare notes! As to the checkmark, I've got nothing (sorry). It was more to point it out, which was apparently the right thing as Sophia's copy doesn't seem to have it.

Sophia, which edition are you reading (of the four listed at the bottom of the copyright page)? My copy has the "2-Color" edition outlined. Would that perhaps account for the missing checkmark?


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Well my theory about there being some time corelation didn't work out. The mother's letter is written in 1987. As far as I can tell, the events occurring in the text in the vicinity of the checkmark are happening in 1990.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Casceil wrote: " we get a story from Johnny about his experiences in the back of the shop, up some steep steps, in the dark, and we're left to wonder what really happened, and whether Johnny is delusional...."

I assumed it was something with drugs, but now that I am in the middle of reading his mother's letters, it occurs to me that it is also possible he had the same type of issues as her. I love how everything in this book is questionable as to what the truth is.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Julie, read this after you finish the mother's letters. (view spoiler)


emdoubleu | 10 comments Casceil - Truant's intro to the text is dated Oct 31, 1998 (p xxiii), wherein he states Zampano's death occurred Jan 6, 1997 (p xix). So if we believe any of this, as far as I can tell the events taking place in Truant's writings occur from 97-98. I think it says somewhere that he is around 25 years old.

The check mark, as Daniel reminds us (thanks!), is a code between mother & son (p609) to let her know he received her smuggled letter.

The check mark randomly appears on a Zampano chapter talking about Morse code. Zampano is discussing the Navidson film and how the scenes are shot in short/long segments corresponding to the SOS code. At the same time, his own structure is also corresponding to the short/long segments, broken up by dots (p 97-102). The structure of the film is echoing the distress call of the explorers. The structure of Zampano's writing is echoing the film. The structure of Truant's writing is also broken up by dots, but not as easy for me to make sense of (what do the little open squares mean?) This is most likely deliberate, I don't think he is supposed to make sense.


Has anyone entered the labyrinth yet? Holy crap, labyrinth indeed!


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
I have entered the labyrinth, and I really should have brought more string, or fishing line, or whatever. Anyone have any theories on why footnote 135 appears on p. 114, when the text it accompanies is on p. 107, and there are about 15 footnotes in between?

Emdoubleu, back on p. 24, we are told that the Navidson's trip to Seattle (when new parts of the house first start appearing) was in early June of 1990. Footnote 69, p. 59, refers to an article published in 1995 as having come out "after the film became something of a phenomenon." On p. 74, we are told of an incident that takes place on August 11, 1990, a week after Navidson's first, secret, exploration of the hallway. This is the incident where the dog chases the cat apparently into the hallway, but they turn up in the yard, where the dog has chased the cat into a tree. I think Truant must be writing years after the actual events took place.


Catherine (catjackson) Labyrinth indeed!! I'm just about 2/3 of the way through the labyrinth and am loving it and tearing my hair out. Love what the footnotes do along with the chapter. The footnotes seem to mimic the "architectural" quality of the text itself. You can get lost in the footnotes as you can get lost in a labyrinth.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Casceil wrote: "Julie, read this after you finish the mother's letters. [spoilers removed]"

I think so. His description of his experience in the storage room also makes references to asphyxiation and dying. He even writes. "I should be dead. Why am I still here?". Thanks for making me go back to read that!


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
The labyrinth is pretty fun, although I nearly lost it trying to find footnote 147 (I looked back at the start of 146...oops). And Catherine, I like your description of the footnotes mimicking architecture. I was too busy chuckling at the cleverness of the back and forth trails of footnotes continually leading back to Derrida's "center", but there certainly is a planned architecture evident in the layout.

Another thing that seems to be developing is the yonic nature of the book (and yes, I had to look up that word to find some acceptable literary counterpoint to phallic imagery; alternate terms are appreciated if known). The door itself is a passage to a womb-like cavern, and the men's apprehension could easily be interpreted as misogyny. The "square" footnote on page 119 also references the thread as an umbilical cord and, alternatively, as semen. This all brought an added level of subtext to Holloway's refusal to "abort" the mission on page 124.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "Love what the footnotes do along with the chapter. The footnotes seem to mimic the "..."

I've almost finished the book and this is probably one of my favourite sections! Talk about concrete fiction.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Casceil wrote: "Are you sure? Take another look at p. 97, bottom right corner, in the margin."

No, I really haven't. Maybe the UK edition is different. My page 97 is the first page of VIII.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
NB I now know why Julie suggested one would need a Kindle Fire - for the colour. There was I, thinking what is she on about??? But when I looked to see if my edition is British I found that there are several editions: Full Colour, 2-Colour, Black & White and Incomplete. I've got the Black & White edition, which must mean I'm missing out. Not for the first time I wished I lived over the pond ;(


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Sophia, console your yourself about the lack of color with the knowledge that it saved you from having to read pages of red footnotes,all struck out with red lines. Lack of color is at least a mixed blessing. Though it does mean you're missing out on the fact that the word "house," any time it appears, is printed in blue ink.


emdoubleu | 10 comments The midpage boxed footnotes throughout chapter 9 are also blue. The outline of the box itself is blue, I mean. So I take that to mean the box is a symbol for "house".

Any detectives here able to make sense of the non-numerical footnotes in this chapter? I've seen F, X, W, |>, K, etc. Not sure what to make of those.


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Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments It's probably not that big of a deal if you don't have color, but I like to have the full experience. :-)

I am about to enter chapter 9 now!


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
In the discussion of House of Leaves on the Brain Pain group, in response to my question about the odd arrangement of footnotes in chapter IX, the moderator responded with this helpful advice:

To keep you trapped in the labyrinth. Throughout Chapter IX you'll find footnotes sending you back to footnotes you've already been to. Eventually, as I mentioned above, Danielewski has trapped you in this chapter. Once you recognize that fact, chuckle quietly to your self and say, " Good one Mark, you sly bastard!" and move on...


emdoubleu | 10 comments We get a helpful hint from Zampano for getting through this chapter where he says (regarding the house), p115:

"In order to escape then, we have to remember we cannot ponder all paths but must decode only those necessary to get out. We must be quick and anything but exhaustive."


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Thanks, I hadn't thought to apply that to reading the chapter.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
I've made it p. p. 129 now. Johnny is explaining how he got the scars on his arms when he was four. Compare his mother's letter of January 3, 1988, on p. 627.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Casceil wrote: "Though it does mean you're missing out on the fact that the word "house," any time it appears, is printed in blue ink. "

I get a different font and it fades in and out. And, of course, it never sits exactly on the line.


message 30: by Julie (last edited Oct 22, 2012 05:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Daniel wrote: "The labyrinth is pretty fun, although I nearly lost it trying to find footnote 147 (I looked back at the start of 146...oops).

Was that the one that was upside down?

And Catherine, I like your description of the footnotes mimicking architecture. ... there certainly is a planned architecture evident in the layout...."

Yes...the square boxes reminded me of windows with writing on them. The writing was correct on one page and turn to the next page on the other side of the paper and it was backwards.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments The poem or whatever it was about Natasha: it says to see Appendix F, but Appendix F seems to only be random quotes. Anyone figure that out?


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
I've now finished the book, so I've no idea what you're talking about! Can you tell me which page you are referring to - where the footnote reference appears), please?


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
I think it's more along the lines of wilful misdirection, but there is a poem in there that references Natasha (see page 561, "Love At First Sight").

One thing that boggled me in this appendix was the lack of translation for "La Feuille" on page 564, mostly on account of it seeming so thematically apropos of the book. "La feuille" translates as "the leaf" (as in House of Leaves), and at the end it speaks of becoming lost in a forest of leaves and, when the author exits the forest, there is only fog, which prevents him from seeing the house or the meadows.

The obfuscation here again seems wilful—why neglect to translate?—and the urge is to find hidden meanings where none may have even been intended. Then again, I'm finding that to be the true genius of this book. It is a Rorschach Test in which you can make as much or as little of any particular element as you like, and the literary framework is strong enough to support just about anything. It's rather impressive...


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
The index is rather fun, too!


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
Julie: I just now noticed that you had two posts in a row. Regarding message 30, yes that footnote was upside-down. And I agree about the "windows" of footnote 144. What makes that imagery even clearer for me is that the backwards text on the verso is merely the inverse of what is printed on the recto pages. It's like we are looking at a window where we can see straight through.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Mirror writing.


Catherine (catjackson) Julie wrote: "Daniel wrote: "The labyrinth is pretty fun, although I nearly lost it trying to find footnote 147 (I looked back at the start of 146...oops).

Was that the one that was upside down?

And Catherine..."


Yes, like windows... or the empty space that exists within the labyrinth. In one sense we can see through the windows, but in the labyrinth we can't see what's on the other side.


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Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Sophia wrote: "I've now finished the book, so I've no idea what you're talking about! Can you tell me which page you are referring to - where the footnote reference appears), please?"

It's on page 116 in my book where it says to see Appendix F for "A little but Zampano wrote about Natasha". It is in the middle of footnote 141. I think Daniel answered my question though. I was looking under section F of Appendix II! So confusing.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Those of you still plodding through the labyrinth of Chapter IX, take heart. When you get to Chapter X, p. 153, there is so little text per page you feel like you are flying.


Daniel | 738 comments Mod
Julie: I'm pretty sure that Johnny always references Appendix I and the editor references Appendix II (and specifies the second appendix). Like you, I also flipped to Appendix II at first, because it's not entirely clear.


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Thanks, Julie. I'm glad to know the citations to appendices are not just in random order, which is the impression I was getting.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Daniel wrote: "Julie: I'm pretty sure that Johnny always references Appendix I and the editor references Appendix II (and specifies the second appendix). Like you, I also flipped to Appendix II at first, because ..."

Good to know. I think I forgot there was two for awhile.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Casceil wrote: "Those of you still plodding through the labyrinth of Chapter IX, take heart. When you get to Chapter X, p. 153, there is so little text per page you feel like you are flying."

I am getting close. I had a hard time finding a place to stop last night where I could remember where I left off! With footnotes inside of footnotes, you go all over the place.


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
I used a lot of different coloured post-its.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments emdoubleu wrote: "Any detectives here able to make sense of the non-numerical footnotes in this chapter? I've seen F, X, W, |>, K, etc. Not sure what to make of those. ..."

Me too, especially since I could not even find footnotes labelled X or that weird looking K...


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
It's been suggested elsewhere that these are Ground to Air Emergency Codes.

And the same group (http://www.houseofleaves.com/forum/ar...) states:

"So, here is a list of the symbols I found in chapter IX (The Labrynth). Interestingly enough, the meaning of each of the symbols seems to correspond with what is going on in the text with which they appear.

p.107: two X's
p.109: one K and two mirrored L symbols
p.114: two X's and a K
p.115: one X
p.119: two squares
p.122: one F
p.123: one X
p.133: two II symbols
p.143: two W's
p.144: one X and two double down arrows
p.151: one K and two |> symbols"

Hope this helps!


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
Here is a link to an explanation of ground to air codes.

http://www.astm.org/Standards/F1591.htm

The other forum also has speculation that the "K" symbol may refer to baseball scoring for "strike out."


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
Right... Wot larks!


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Casceil | 1672 comments Mod
I have not verified the statement (from the other website) that "the meaning of each of the symbols seems to correspond with what is going on in the text with which they appear." What I found on ground to air codes did not seem to cover all the letters that were used. Here are a few that do:

X = requires medical assistance
XX = We are not able to continue. Returning to base.
W = require repair (or engineer)
F = require food and water


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Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Mod
They certainly seem pertinent.


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