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Friday, 4 March 2011

House of Leaves - The Navidson Record - Part XX

Well, after the disappointment that was the last chapter, I think we might actually be back in the house for real this time. Otherwise I may well have to hit something.
Well, hitting things should be avoided pretty easily I think, if the opening quotation is anything to go by:
  • "No one should brave the underworld alone." - Poe.
If anything could be described as like the underworld, the house has got to be pretty close to the mark. Purgatory at least.
I am currently confronted with what looks suspiciously like braille. A bit of an odd inclusion, not because it's unlikely (seeing as Zampano was blind, this is probably the more logical format really), but because it's an inversion of what's gone on before; thus far he's been getting on quite well with dictation, so why have the braille section here, especially so late on? Maybe it's something he wants to keep, but doesn't want the scribes to know what it is? In any case, the editors have provided a translation, which describes a place that is totally bare and will not let traces of the outside world exist or survive. Sounds a lot like the house to me.
So we revert back to normal text, and join Navidson as he embarks on Exploration 5. He's taking with him lots of camera equipment and film (all of which sounds quite technical) and some survival gear, including 2 weeks worth of rations (did he manage to stretch that out into a month's supply?), all of which is loaded onto a bike. It may sound weird, but I hadn't considered taking a vehicle in there; I don't know about you, but most horror films that I've seen has the main characters running around being eaten on foot. As he starts his exploration, he decides not to head straight for the staircase, but explores the corridors first. Quite how he makes a conscious decision not to go to a specific place I'm not sure, seeing as the corridors and layout seem to change every time they go in. Unless it somehow can sense that Navidson doesn't intend to go there yet and accommodates him accordingly, in which case it's an unusually helpful house of horrors. In any case, while his journey starts off rather slowly, he soon picks up speed and realises that the corridor is on a decline, so that by the time he stops for the night, he's travelled 163 miles. The next day he decides to head back again, as it'll take him about 6/7 days to get back to where he started if he goes back uphill. Except that even though he points it back where he came from, he's still going downhill; whichever direction he goes in, it's downhill. It gets to the point where one day he ends up travelling 428 miles in 14 hours, so a steady speed of about 30 miles an hour; I take back what I said about the house being helpful. The height of the ceiling and the width of the corridor seems to be changing abitrarily as well, as if things weren't weird enough to start with. And just to add to that, each change is accompanied by the growl. Navidson, I really don't envy you right now. His odometer (measures distance for those who don't know) has just broken, so his sense of reality has got to be getting seriously weird by now. Although there's still enough of it to sense the abyss he was about to fall into and just about stop himself in time. At the edge of the abyss, he finds a tower with a spiral staircase inside it; what's odd about this staircase is that it extends sideways, out over the abyss. Now that's something I'm having a bit of a hard time imagining, to be quite frank. He spends the night inside the tower and wakes up to find the door outside has disappeared and the stairs that were horizontal are now vertical, extending upwards; whether it still goes out over the abyss, I don't know. After the stairs (which swallowed up a load of his water and food, so good move there Navidson) he finds himself in a room where the only exit is a ladder up a narrow shaft. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it. After the ladder is a narrow corridor, which is still freaking me out. It gets narrower and narrower until he has to crawl on his stomach to get through it. He then gets to a room where it says:
  • "here everything about the room suddenly changes."
What about it has changed? I don't know because it's been blotted out. I'm trying very hard to stay calm, but seriously: WHY?!?!?! According to Navidson, it's an enjoyable sight, but I still don't know what the hell it is.
It's a window. Holy crap, it's an open window. I cannot tell you how weird it is to find that out; it just seems........wrong to be there. He steps out of the window onto a terrace where he finds that there is nothing to see, which is incredibly frustrating; abyss above, below and to the sides. When he tries to turn back, he finds that the room has vanished and he's left on this terrace which doesn't seem to be supported by anything. Another great move right there. The flares that he ends up having to use as a light source turn out to be pretty interesting. The first one gets dropped over the side and vanishes before reaching the bottom, the second one floats and the third one flies upwards and vanishes before reaching the top. It's not interesting for any other purpose than I'm rather amused by the trippy physics. Go figure. In any case, this leaves him utterly disoriented, literally not knowing which way is up. But all he can do is sit and read by the light of a match until either something happens or he dies. Fun prospects either way. Severely unamused by the book burning, but then that's just me (although the irony that he burns the book in order to read it does amuse me).
By this point, he has no water, no food, no light, some film left which he can't use because the flash is dead and the slab he was on seems to have vanished, so he's either falling or floating. I don't know about you, but this is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to imagine in the course of reading something (apart from the spinny chair for centaurs in Artemis Fowl, but then that's probably through lack of knowledge about horses rather than anything utterly unknown). So he's left to float/fall in total darkness while he dies of exposure. I can certainly think of more dignified ends, to be sure. The delirious talking to himself/the camera/the microcasette certainly doesn't help things. Towards the end of the film, Navidson sees light, which appears as a fleck of blue in the corner. Then the film runs out. And the chapter ends there.

Holy crap, that was freaky. I really have no more words left to describe what that was like, I'm just.........numb, empty, I don't honestly know. I mean, it's incomprehensible really. On that bombshell, I shall take my leave of you.

Signing off,

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