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Thursday, 24 February 2011

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,

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