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Read, please! Interpretation of The House

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  • Read, please! Interpretation of The House

    My lame interpretation (all of this is opinion):

    Setting aside the theories that one person (Truant, Zampano', Pelfinia, etc) is the author of the whole mess, I believe the book is about the worlds we make for ourselves.

    Navidson didn't set out to accept (RILKE! Acceptance in light of the undesireable, see Sonnet to Orpheus II, 7) the , but to turn it into his outpost. Navidson was wrapped up in his world -- his own ' of leaves' hiding him from everything -- Karen, Tom, etc etc etc. He would never do anything to change it, but stayed locked up in it (Dream number one -- the well). The on Ash Tree Lane is a metaphor for this, and in the end it falls, much like his own personal of leaves falls (acceptance of Karen, eg, as his savior at the end of the book, when he's lost in himself and she brings him out.)

    To a lesser extent, you can make the same claim about all the protagonists. Zampano was lost in his Navidson Record (be it real or not), Karen was lost in how others saw her (What Some Have Thought, eg Look at How Important Other People's Opinions Are), Truant was lost in his world of sex and drugs, Pelfinia lost in her insanity.

    Zampano and Pelfinia escape in writing, and ultimatly in their deaths. Karen escapes in (like Navy) accepting her significant other and helping/being helped. Truant escapes his childhood with the ' of leaves' of sex, boose, and drugs, and then escapes that back into humanity through tons of events (the entire Johnny chapter, the introduction of the Navidson record in his life, etc.)

    I could go on, but I have to go. You can see where I'm going -- feedback, please!


    [ August 03, 2001: Message edited by: Marc ]

  • #2
    Read, please! Interpretation of The

    You put of leaves in quotes re: johnny= sex, drugs, did he use that title, of did you only?

    You say eg look how important what other people think is... did you mean ie? or did karen give that as an example?

    I like your insight, but I would like to see some evidence in/from the book to support your "breaking away" theory. the concepts of the one author, navy=Zampano are born of strange coincidence in the text, not just conjecture therefore they have compelling evidence. So, I am ready to listen, but I need more.


    • #3
      Read, please! Interpretation of The

      I don't think Truant used that term, and I don't think Karen ever outright SAID that everyone else's opinions were more important than hers. I can't supply more evidence for my theory of everyone breaking away from their perceptions of the world (being as my copy of the book is being lent out to a friend right now), and I realize that my theory is a little sketchy at best. I suppose my skepticism of the "schizophrenic author" is that I don't have the evidence in front of me, so I understand your disbelief of my conclusion.

      I was merely trying to get my idea out, so that people could munch on it and offer their evidence to prove/disprove it. Thanks for the input, and I look foreward to hearing more about what everyone things on the matter of my crazy little theory.



      • #4
        Read, please! Interpretation of The

        And then we (the reader) get lost in the book and it becomes our of leaves. The book is a self-conscious work. It becomes the laybrinth for each of us. That is the true genius of the book. I think you are on to something, but not everyone will agree, purely because we each have our own to explore. The text is a great representation of a post-modern epic. Without answers, without light, Danielewiski leads us into our own dark world. Understand? The book IS the .



        • #5
          Read, please! Interpretation of The

          I think you're right about that. The book itself ís the of leaves, our of leaves, litteraly. That theory is (in my opinion) supported by the fact that within the actual book (ie: our copies) there are references to the existence of the actual book... eh... see what I mean. (unfortunatly I don't have a copy in front of me right now). The whole scene where this expedition-guy is trying to read a book of 700+ pages (HoL?) and he only has ten matches (burning the pages he just read allows him to complete the book...) as well as the ongoing page-references en jumping back- and forwards through footnotes, letters, etc. creates a labyrinth within the book, which is about labyrinths. The longer you think about it, the more brilliant it gets, I think.
          MZD is the builder of a labyrinth that suggests it has an own existence, except that the existence of the labyrint MZD built us is only possible within the pages of the book. No wonder it took him ten years to construct it (LoL)!


          • #6
            Read, please! Interpretation of The

            Consider the title itself. " of Leaves".
            Leaves are referenced in many ways throughout the book but first->

            Here is a definition of leaves from
            And I quote

            leaf (lf)
            n. pl. leaves (lvz)
            1. A usually green, flattened, lateral structure attached to a stem and functioning as a principal organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in most plants.
            2. A leaflike organ or structure.
            a. Leaves considered as a group; foliage.
            b. The state or time of having or showing leaves: trees in full leaf.
            4. The leaves of a plant used or processed for a specific purpose: large supplies of tobacco leaf.
            5. Any of the sheets of paper bound in a book, each side of which constitutes a page.
            a. A very thin sheet of material, especially metal.
            b. Such leaves considered as a group: covered in gold leaf.
            7. A hinged or removable section for a table top.
            8. A hinged or otherwise movable section of a folding door, shutter, or gate.
            9. One of several metal strips forming a leaf spring.

            If we take leaves to mean #5 the title points to the material of the being leaves. Literally pages in a book. It is also interesting to consider the #8 given the mutable structure of the itself.

            The is built on Ash Tree Lane. Ash is also the hue offset of the blackness inside the . Perhaps the tree to which these leaves once belonged is an ashen one. Or one that is burnt. In most cases ash is carbon and the result of combusting another material. The result of deconstruction, years of it in the case of the ''.


            • #7
              Read, please! Interpretation of The

              I like the Leaves post. But I've always considered Ash Tree Lane (at least one element of it) in the Yggdrasil argument (see that post, a few down from this).


              • #8
                Read, please! Interpretation of The

                In Dutch, of Leaves is translated as 'Kaarten', witch means as much as : a build of cards (from a carddeck, you know, playcards). This suggests that the whole construction of the (the book?) is very fragile. When you build a out of cards, you only have to blow once and it colapses, right? Everything you carefully constructed into to an apparently strong structure (the ) is not what is seems. In relation to the book: Navy and Karen thought they owned a normal , but in the end, the whole thing started collapsing around them. They thought they had a steady relationship, but Karen is not as monogam as Nay thought/hoped, the Minotaur looks like an awful, angry, mean, murdering creature, but in the end it turns out to be just a misformed youngmen crying form pain and unhappiness, etc.
                Meaning: the whole book is about things that look one way, but turn out to be something else.
                Although this is not as multi-interpretable as the English of Leaves (thanks for the definitions!) it's at least another interesting way of looking at HoL.


                • #9
                  Read, please! Interpretation of The

                  Perhaps, to support the original post, of Leaves, is not leaf plural, but leave.
                  he leaves
                  she leaves
                  anyone who enters leaves, themself
                  it is the of leaves.


                  • #10
                    Read, please! Interpretation of The

                    See Appendix I:F (poems by Zampano).

                    In the dutch version this poem is on page 571, it is untitled. The last two sentences:

                    'en die grote blauwe wereld van ons een kaarten lijkt'

                    which roughly translates to

                    'and that great blue world of ours seems a of leaves.

                    This, because earlier the poem refers to the wind, discredits the theory of " of leaves" meaning something to the extent of " of people that leave" (c'mon, you know what I mean!).

                    A is a classical symbol for foundation and contact with the earth. A " of Leaves" is fragile and easily blown away by the wind. The whole concept of a disappears when, like what happens to Navidson (but also to Johnny, who finds the "" his head is to be more fragile than he thinks (the parrallel between the and the Head, which is of course rather logical is further pursued in the song "Haunted" on Poe's latest album.) and starts losing it) the sensation of "feeling at home" is taken away.

                    Another reason for me to assume that " of Leaves" means just that is the last page, which reminds us of Yggdrassil, the mythological world-tree. The , like the tree, is made of branches and leaves, each leave being a room or a hallway.

                    Of course the other interpretation of the title is just as valid as mine.

                    [ August 16, 2001: Message edited by: Leaves and Trees ]


                    • #11
                      Read, please! Interpretation of The

                      Well said, and I'm sure that 99% of veteran readers here will agree with you. What keeps us coming back here, sen, is the fun in sharing our insights and interpretations of the various citations and puzzles implanted throughout the novel.

                      I don't profess the novel to be the next Bible (although I have sometimes referred to it as a otherworldly Message from a Superior Being); and I don't think others do or should take it as religion.


                      • #12
                        Read, please! Interpretation of The

                        Originally posted by sen:
                        It seems some of us (myself included at times) have forgotten that in the end, this is just a book, written by a man...

                        Yes, I agree with you in spirit - IMHO someone would have to have completely lost track of reality to do otherwise.

                        However, I do feel that the book raises such powerful arguments about the true meaning of authorship - with all the notes people write all over HOL, and the conceived effects these varying authors may have over the characters. To me, HOL raises an important issue over the ownership of these characters of a work of fiction.

                        As a photographer, I understand that I do not own the people I photograph - to think this would just be silly. However, am I the owner of that part of the person's character that exists within the photograph? Legally, I am. If someone uses that persons image without my consent, I am entitled to sue them. The person who was photographed does not have these rights over their image. In effect, whilst I do not own them - I own their image, as captured on emulsion.

                        This is the same as a painter - when a portrait painting is sold, no regard is usually given to the person whose image is contained within the canvas - they receive no financial credit, and little of any other kind.

                        I suspect that there is a reason for these examples. When a person views a picture of another person, their is an emotional connection, more than (eg) for a picture of a tree or a cloud. This emotional connection also somehow gives the audience a sense of ownership of that image - they relate to it and feel they in some way possess it. As such, the photographer in effect shares ownership of the subject's image with his/her audience.

                        This character portrayal on film or canvas is not the real person. It is not even close; it is nothing more than a character. The audience make false assumptions about that character, based on how they look - a person who looks unhappy in a photograph may be conceived as an unhappy person, which may not be true.

                        However, this falsehood only exists because their is a real person behind the character. In a work of fiction; a painting or a novel, the characters can be entirely false, based on no real person whatsoever. These characters have no base in reality, and so any assumption about their character cannot really be said to be inaccurate.

                        It is my opinion that it is this feature of the absolutely fictional character that allows its audience to feel an even more heightened sense of ownership. Readers of HOL may feel a strong empathy for Johnny, and in a sense feel he is theirs.

                        This is a phenomena encountered by celebrities - soap stars get accosted on the street by their fans, without those fans considering whether they have the right to interfere with that star's personal life. Again the sense of ownership from the audience.

                        I maintain that this feeling is even more exaggerated in the case of the purely fictional character.


                        • #13
                          Read, please! Interpretation of The

                          Originally posted by jenwingard:
                          Understand? The book IS the .

                          Exactly!!! I couldn't have said it better myself lest I stood over your shoulder and copied what you were typing.
                          HoL is just a reflection. There are so many diff. opinions because it affects each reader in a completely different way. The book is one big inkblot.

                          *By the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes.*


                          • #14
                            Read, please! Interpretation of The

                            Originally posted by jenwingard:
                            And then we (the reader) get lost in the book and it becomes our of leaves. The book is a self-conscious work. It becomes the laybrinth for each of us...
                            ...The book IS the .

                            Absolutely. Presumbly the only way to truly solve or escape our labyrinths is to close the book and leave it behind, like Navy did. Hopefully we will not wait until we have lost eyes and limbs as he did, but instead find ourselves stepping outside to remember the colour of the grass, and the smell of a rotting pigeon...

                            ...That is when we find our own Yggdrasil; the world around us. Full stop.


                            • #15
                              Read, please! Interpretation of The

                              Originally posted by Andrea1204:

                              Exactly!!! I couldn't have said it better myself lest I stood over your shoulder and copied what you were typing.
                              HoL is just a reflection.

                              "Look to the sky, [the rotting pigeon], look to yourself and remember: we are only god's echoes and god is Narcissus."
                              p. 45, of Leaves