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Well really, more on Language

Okay. More on House of Leaves. They just turned on our access to ProjectMuse at UWE, which means a few thousand journal articles have suddenly become available to any member of the student or staff cohorts. I’ll be dropping in and out of the collection over the next few months, but for now I’ve grabbed the three other academic essays that reference Danielewski’s book:

Exploration # 6: The Uncanny in Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” by Nele Bemong,

Mark B N Hansen’s “The Digital Topography of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves”,


“This is Not for You”: Nihilism and the House that Jacques Built by Will Slocombe.

So far, so good. The Hansen I’m leaving until last, as it seems to retread a lot of ground I’m familiar with from the Hayles essays, and so I’m reading the other two together (seemed like a sensible strategy for a book that revels in multiple layers of meaning).

Damn. Fire alarm. Back soon.

Nope, just a test.

Right, were was I? Ah, yep, reading two papers at once. The Bemong piece is, this far, the lighter of the two, although it expands on the reading of the Uncanny supplied in HoL, comparing it to the broader range of interpretations of uncanny in language and psychology (and architecture). What’s really rather wonderful though, is the Slocombe essay. Starting with notions of nihilism, Slocombe unpicks (he’s careful, usefully, not to deconstruct the idea of nihilism, rather to subvert its meaning by working within the language). From the middle of the essay:

“Thus, structurally, the text and the House realize the extent to which they are founded upon a blank space and in so doing are in some way complicit with the notion of containing, destroying, and eradicating, through their presence, any sense of the nothingness that existed before.”

“Our desire to enter the House is the same as Navidson’s, because it is a process of interpretation by which we seek to bring this House into Being.”

(Being, in this instance, representing the over-writing of nothing, that which we start with).

So, aside from representing (I was going to use ‘being’ there, but decided against it on the ground that it’s confusing enough around here already) a challenging reading of Danielewski’s texts, what does Slocombe do with it?

Well, he’s arguing about the nature of language, and HoL is all about language. and how we access and process it. The issue with Zampano being simultaneously blind, and capable of mediating the contents of Navidson’s films is part of that complication, as is Zampano’s status as a character within a novel, and an extra-textual existence outside the frame of the writing as a character within an Italian Neo-realist film of the 1950s.

More as it occurs to me. Screenwriting lecture tomorrow. After this afternoon, if I don’t mention the complications of language then everyone gets a special badge.


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