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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

House of Leaves - The Navidson Record - Part III

Hey guys, sorry for the wait between reviews. I had some work due for university, so I had to lay off the distracting stuff. Anyway, I've got a bit of a reprieve tonight, so part 3 of the Navidson Record it is. And we start off questioning why Will Navidson of all people is experiencing this. It's only the first line and I'm already on a mental tangent. I mean, from a writer's perspective, Will Navidson and his family are perfect for weird stuff to happen to because 1) they're all normal, and therefore relatable/empathetic and 2) he's a photojournalist, so he's used to recording his experiences. From a monster/ghost/eldritch abomination's point of view they're pretty good victims because they're normal and will scare easier. But if we suspend disbelief and imagine this is real, then it seems a bit too perfect. Maybe this implies fate or that the house has some higher conscience? I'm theorizing far too much in reaction to one sentence.... In any case, halfway through the second sentence we're interrupted by Johnny Truant translating some Dante and considering why he in particular was the one that picked up Zampano's notes, his basic explanation being that he likes collecting old abandoned things, all the while tempting me with hints about his childhood and the deaths of his parents. Knowing this book, I somehow doubt I'll end up finding out what that real story of his is. Back in the main narrative Zampano seems to say that Navidson himself wonders how he got where he is at that moment. While this is all very interesting, the interweaving narratives are starting to sound eerily familiar.
I now embark on Zampano's view on the argument that the house on the film is a manifestation of Navidson's psychological problems. While this initially sounds very interesting and intellectual, I'm just sat here wondering how in hell's name you project your own psyche onto film. Reading on, it seems to be arguing the case that every owner of the house (of which there appear to be many) has had their suffering imprinted into the walls; so what he's basically arguing is the authenticity (or lack of) of psychic imprinting, which is a theory behind ghost sightings, if I remember correctly. Perhaps a more understandable argument if you're a believer in the paranormal.
I am now treated to Navidson's biography, which should be fairly telling. And it's pretty damn depressing. Point 1) Drunken abusive father. Point 2) Father makes the family move every couple of years. Point 3) Mother proceeds to provide Navidson and his brother with abandonment issues. Point 4) Father dies (although that's perhaps no great loss) while the mother just disappears. Quite how this guy isn't a complete wreak as opposed to the fairly normal man portrayed in previous chapters I don't know. Although perhaps he is a bit of a wreak, but good at hiding it. Zampano seems to draw the conclusion that Navidson seeks to make up for the lack of love in his childhood by being a photographer and so make fleeting moments permanent. That's all very well and good, but surely being a good father to his children would fulfill that need for familial love just as well, if not better, surely? Yet again his wife and children seem to be sidelined in the narrative. And Navidson seems to agree in that he all he wants is to create:
  • "...a cozy little outpost for me and my family."
Although Zampano does seem to have a problem with Navidson's use of the word outpost, due to the defensive implication of the word; Zampano seems to interpret the film as protecting his family from transience. But then surely every good parent just wants to take care of their child and if that takes on defensive qualities, then does there have to be a deeper meaning to it? And I've just realised I'm debating with a book...probably not a good sign.
In any case, the chapter comes full circle and goes back to the question of "why Navidson?" and "why not someone else?". Zampano ends up agreeing with my writer's perspective that I mentioned earlier; he's the right temperament and the only one who can document it.

Considering the fact that this is probably the shortest chapter thus far, it's probably given me the most to think about as a reader. While I'm still annoyed that Navidson's family have been pretty much ignored so far, it's interesting to see some character development within the context of this academic essay format that Danielewski has chosen. So yeah, a pretty good chapter all round. Looking forward to my next session.

Signing off,

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