Transcript Slide 1

Why this book?
– Theory Week
• The Sign – Charles De Gaulle
• The Author – Who wrote this? + Faked books, fake authors
• The Sensible – No central experience, The Physical act of
reading, the emotional thrust of the story coming through
the layers of critical mediation.
– Symbols & Evidence
• The mystery of the house, its status as symbol and of what?
– Words | Reality
• The central question of the book asks us to think about
media, mediation, and our relationship to the real.
– What happens when we encounter the uncanny?
– What is media’s role in helping us record/understand it?
– This ties into questions of language, our position as readers who
come to the book as our sole means of access to the uncanny
house, etc.
Why this book?
• “As Danielewski explains in an interview, the novel’s true protagonist is the
figure of interpretation – that is, the act of reading or the embodied
Let us say there is no sacred text here. That notion of authenticity or
originality is constantly refuted. The novel doesn’t allow the reader to ever
say, “Oh, I see: this is the authentic, original text, exactly how it looked, what it
always had to say.” That’s the irony of [Truant’s] mother’s letters [which are
included as an appendix to the novel]: at first you probably just assume that,
okay, this is the real thing, but then the artifice of the way they look starts to
undercut everything, so you’re not sure. Pretty soon you begin to notice that
at every level in the novel some act of interpretation is going on. The question
is, why? Well, there are many reasons, but the most important one is that
everything we encounter involves an act of interpretation on our part. And
this doesn’t just apply to what we encounter in books, but to what we
respond to in life. On, we live comfortably because we create these sacred
domains in our head where we believe that we have a specific history, a
certain set of experiences. We believe that our memories keep us in direct
touch with what has happened. But memory never puts us in touch with
anything directly; it’s always interpretive, reductive, a complicated
compression of information.”
Hansen, Mark B.N. “The Digital Topography of House of Leaves.” Bodies in Code. New York: Routledge,
2006. pg. 226
What is this book?
1. House on Ash Tree Lane, moved into by Will Navidson and Family.
2. Video documenting the move into the house
3. Zampanò’s critical assessment of the video and its academic
footprint [in notes]. Z. by the way is BLIND, can’t read, can’t watch
a video.
4. Johnny Truant’s compilation of the notes [with significant editorial
commentary, his own spin, and revelation of his life surrounding
the book]
5. In 2nd Edition. We get footnotes from the Editors.
6. Mark Z. Danielewski’s “A Novel”
So what is the text? What are you reading when you read this book?
How do you approach it? As fiction, as critical essay, as recovery
project? Does it make a difference?