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The connective tissue in the works of MZD and how it relates to HOL

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  • #16
    I like that idea. Reminds me of Tiffiny Aching from the Discworld books, one of the best characters in the whole series.
    Its interesting that Johnny seems to have a similar experience in HOL.
    "I started to throw up, watery chunks of vomit flying everywhere, sluicing out of me onto the floor, splashing onto the wall, even onto this."

    But can I mention what triggers it? A quote from Cervantes followed by an identical quote by Pierre Menard. Zampano's admiration for the "exquisite variance" between them seemed as strange to me as it did to Johnny until I finally read Labyrinths by Borges(a book that was clearly a massive inspiration for HOL and is deserving of its own entire thread to properly discuss.). Because Pierre Menard is aa character from one of Borges short stories. The story in question is about a lot of things, because Borges, but its main focus is on a man attempting to finish the manuscript of a dead colleuge, which was its self a word for word recreation of Don Quixote. The lions share of my intrest in this story is the idea that once finished the book will in fact be at least three diffrent books. it would be all at once the story written by Cervantes, a story written by Pierre Menard and a diffrent story written by the man character of the story.
    Maybe that hit too close to home for Johnny. Or maybe it was a kind of defensive reaction?


    • #17
      I'm a huge Borges fan. The Pierre Menard story is very funny, so Johnny's reaction was a surprise for me. But I think there can be a reason for it, related to what that story means. It is about using a (famous) text differently, having fun with it beyond author's intention, even against it. Like imagining Don Quixote was written by contemporary author. In another text (essay) Borges (or is it Eco?) uses another example: read the Bible as if it was written by James Joyce.

      This is of course very relevant to HoL, because the book leaves numerous clues suggesting that not all narrators are real, that their passages were written by other narrator(s). So we have clues that Zampano invented Johnny, that Johnny invented Zampano and/or that both were invented by Pelafina. And that's what makes Johhny nervous.


      • #18
        In my limited readings Borges had more fun with his writing then is probably even healthy. Honestly the only authors Ive read who seem to be having anywhere near as much fun as him are Pratchett and maybe Douglas Adams. Its amazing how quickly after I came upon him he became one of my favorites.

        The whole idea of P creates Z and J, as well as every other possible arrangement of the concept, is something that i cant really escape. Because I honestly belive all three characters are "real" as it were. But the conceit that each of them exists only through the perspective lens of the others combined with the narrative intrusions by(it seems.) all three parties means I have to incorporate the idea into my understanding of the larger work but I am so far stumbling.

        My best thoughts, half formed as they are, look something like this.
        In my second post in this thread I wrote "Every human consciousness is actually a quantum super structure made up of an indeterminate, though likely infinite, number of interrelated subsets, spanning the entirety of possibility space in the multi-verse and what you think of as "you" is just a small subset of a larger gestalt of consciousness". An ugly and kludgy attempt at describing Johnny's seemingly nonsensical experiences. Honestly I don't know if it made the point I was getting at, or if I explained any of it in a way that actually made sense.
        Thankfully TFv3 went and explained exactly what I was trying to get at. The Alpha&Omega section titled Heaven, outlines the idea clearly and concisely.
        So carrying this forward I wonder if all three characters might all be part of a very small and atypical subset. A single SELF expressed in three minds.
        Has anyone considered Z,J,P as the Norn? set aside gender for a moment and look at the three of them. Johnny as the Maiden, Young and vibrant, he is the naive innocent of HOL. Palfina becomes our mother, hardly a stretch of characterization. With Zampano taking the role of the crone, wizened and old, steeped in lore and earthly experience.

        Which is a good segway to something I would like to hear your thoughts on. Borges labyrinths, I have been going through this book,re-reading each story, making notes on each story and the connections to HOL are staggering. From the first story about Tion(hello CRASP), the Garden of Forking Paths(sets and subsets.), The circular ruins(speaking of who is real and who created whom...), of Asterion(Minotaur as a poor sad bastard.),The Zahir(Describes perfectly the effects of Zampanos manuscript of poor Johnny.) or even the Lottery of Babylon(Hello VEM, the all encompassing system.). And that's literally just off the top of my head. My favorite is Library of babel, I think the library described in the story is actually Yggdrasil. based on its structure and an interesting passage that describes the Library's lighting as natural growing fruit bulbs. This as well as Godel Esther Bach(I'm still slowly making my way through this but I feel if I go any faster I wont really understand it.) are quickly looking to be vital to putting everything together.
        All of which setup to ask, do you think I'm barking up the wrong tree? confirmation bias is a powerful force and HOL basically uses pareidolia for fuel.


        • #19
          Labyrinths were no doubt a huge influence for HoL, MZD aknowledges it in the Further reading section of the HoL reader's companion...
          HoL readers companion and suggested reading.jpg
          (if anyone has first page, please share)

          Not to mention that Borges himself was a huge inspiration for Zampano (although he knew wery little about the making of films* <-- Baffled, you should read this interview, I think you might enjoy it). And he was interested in Old Norse.

          I like your idea about the three narators being a subset of a single SELF. But I'm not sure I fully support the Norn theory. I see the three Fates more represented in The Fifty year sword (last letters in orphans names (TarfF, EzadE, IniediA, SithiS, MiciT) spell out FATES (and also FEAST)) and in The (the three Narcons, of course).

          My theory is kinda crazy, but I think the SELF is actually - a female author who lost a child.

          Bear with me.

          Every book you've ever read, everything you know, you carry with yourself and through these lenses look at and interpret the world. Well, I've read a lot of Umberto Eco. And in his Postscript for The Name of the Rose (book that btw owes a ton to Borges), he wrote that he was nervous about writing his first novel after writing about novels for so long, so he needed to distance himself from the story by creating a mask. He is not the narrator. Adso is the narrator. But that was not enough. So the manuscript was found and rewritten, retranslated by other people. So the book was his "Italian version of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth-century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German monk toward the end of the fourteenth century". a box within a box within a box. And finally he felt - safe.

          Back to our female author. In 1990, MZD learns that his father Tad Danielewski is dying of cancer. He hates the Redwood story, Annie saves it from the dumpster. Tad eventually dies in 1993. This traumatic event inspires two works of art. of Leaves nad Haunted. But MZD didn't wrote a book about a dying father. He needed to distance himself from the story. So he creates almost a negative: a mother who lost a child, writing a book to cope with her loss. But she also needed to distance herself. So she creates Pelafina, her alter ego. But that is not enough. So she invents an old man that (probably) also lost a son. Perhaps in the margins of darkness, I could create a son who is not missing. DEAR ZAMPANO, WHO DID YOU LOSE? But he, too, needed to distance himself. So he kills himself at the beginning of the story he creates, and leaves clues suggesting that this son, Johnny, is the author of everything. And that's where we, readers, begin. Unaware that this young man is an echo of an echo, hidden inside labyrinth inside a labyrinth. And finally, the female author feels - safe.

          I can hear your questions. Why insert a female author into the equation? Who is she? And why has Pelafina the highest rank of realness from the three characters? Well, Pelafina is realest because of the Foreword for The Whalestoe Letters (you can read almost the whole Foreword in the Amazon preview of the book) by Walden D. Wyrhta. There is quite a lot clues suggesting that Pelafina wrote the Navidson record and that Johnny is not real. Like she ask Walden for "a list of fishing gear delighting in the various terminology" (HoL pg 97: "Navidson over the last few weeks has been setting up in the living room, including (...) fishing line (anything from braided Dacron to 40 lb multi-strand steel").

          As for the female author, that's because Pelafina is dead. Of course, she might just fake her death, like Zampano fakes his death at the beginning (remember, if he invented Johnny, that means he's not really dead). But I like the idea of a female author more, because it destroys the many contradictions in the book and grounds it in a level of realness and believability that isn't yet the laconic real real world (I call it the VEM level) answer for the question of authorship: Who wrote it? Zampano, Johnny, Pelafina? Mark did. It also ties nicely with the feminist quotes by Marguerite Duras in the Various Quotes section. Of course, men can also be feminist. I am a feminist. MZD is a feminist. Obama is a feminist. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was a feminist. As I said, m& theory is kinda crazy.

          *How did Zampano knew so much about movies? I think that he was a movie buff. Zampano is not his real name, so he either took it after he saw La Strada or it was a nickname someone else gave him after he/they saw La Strada. Either way, it was probably related to his presence in Indochina. In August 1954 the war ended and La Strada was released in September 1954. He saw it and saw himself in the character - a brute that looses someone dear


          • #20
            Well that was an enjoyable and rewarding read. If there was any doubt Zampano was heavily inspired by Borges that interview seals the deal. Between his impossible to pin down accent to his muted but playful sense of humor and just everything really. Thanks and then thank you again.
            [One good turn, of course deserves another]( You can find page one there.

            Your posts never fail to intrigue me and send me looking off in interesting directions.
            I love your thoughts on MZD, and then the characters he creates, creating layers of distance between themselves and the story they are telling. Building dense layers of narrative to shield themselves from an omnipotent eye they cannot perceive(clearly VEM is still very much on my mind).
            I like that, it fits well with how my thoughts are coming together.

            Yes, I think your theory is a far cry from crazy, in fact not only do I think you are right but I think I can even put a name to your mysterious author.

            W.H.I.M., a S.E.L.F. in four parts.
            Johnny,Zampano,Redwood, Pelafina.
            And I believe she has lost a great deal more then "one" child.

            Now that's pretty grand statement so I am going to have to touch on a lot of stuff to explain myself. Whalestoe,H.O.L.Y.,New Courier font,VEM, and more all will have their turn.

            So lets start with Redwood.
            But to start talking about Redwood first we have to discuss The Whalestoe,Pelafina,Walden D. Wyrhta,VEM,The New Director, and war...
            As I have said before Pelafina and by extension Johnny, are not "mad" in the traditional sense. The malady they suffer from is one of expansive perception beyond what the human mind is meant to understand. This is important to remember going forward, she is sybil and demi-god both, trapped in the shell of a mortal woman. So then it is hardly a surprise that The Whalestoe seems to be no ordinary institution.
            The introduction* to The Whalestoe Letters tips us off to this. Walden tells us he is an information specialist, and seems eager to contribute to her existing corpus. Perhaps he means the first edition of HOL his wife shares with him, but I have an alternate explanation.
            "and whatever other records you have in mind.", that's how Walden caps off his explanation of what an information specialist does, an innocuous statement, at least until one remembers VEM. Look to the now and we can see that the the Cabal and Recluse made thier discovery of the first glimmers of VEM over twenty years ago by the time of Pelafina's incarceration. Then consider why the term "orbless revelation" has any meaning at all to Cas. Pelafina, and perhaps others like her must have been observed and studied. The corpus Walden refers to is the information Pelafina was used to obtain.
            Enter the New Director. With his introduction the Whalestoe takes on a sinister pallor. Something changes and if we look at her letters there are ample clues to suggest The Whalestoe is not what it seems, as long as we remember not to dismiss the things she tells us. "your father meant well when he delivered me into this Hell Hole but it was not what he assumed" Pelafina writes. So what is the Whalestoe then? The answer likely lies in Pelafina's coded message to Johnny. In that letter she speaks of strangers who rape her in the night, but knowing what we do I suggest the rape was not physical. rather it was her S.E.L.F which these horrific intrusions were committed upon. listen to how she describes her dreams, long before she sends her secret message "The ones I fear though, I fear because they have come to shape me.".
            But what do they intend to shape her into? I propose they intended to create a weapon. Hints to Pelafinas power are scattered throughout the text, mars runs in her blood, she is dangerous. The Whalestoe knew this, the very first thing they did when she arrived was tie her down and cut off her long purple nails, they knew a beast must be declawed before it can be domesticated. Then her S.E.L.F was twisted and bent into the shape they desired, Redwood. H.O.L.Y.'s Beast,a weapon in a war spanning all of the Verse.
            This then is the darker side of W.H.I.M.

            Zampano second then.
            Zampano is simpler. Zampano is the agent through whom WHIM engineers her freedom. One piece of the SELF offered up as sacrifice to preserve the others. TNR,and arguably even Zampano himself, were created in order to draw out Redwood and bind him to the manuscript. All so it might find its way to young Johnny. When Zampano speaks of creating a son in the margins he isn’t talking about creating a fictional character, or story. Instead he is referring to the new person Johnny becomes after his ordeal with TNR. As the author of TNR Zampano is the source of the seed that impregnates Johnny, and thus father to the man Johnny becomes.
            Though truth be told I could be convinced Zampano isn't a member of the WHIM super-set, but for the moment it seems a good fit. HOL loves its sets of four.

            Next, Pelafina
            There is so much to talk about when it comes her. So in the interest of preserving even the slightest pretense of brevity, I am going to focus on drawing a clear line between Pelafina and WHIM. So to do that lets start with a quote from The .

            “WHIM suffered massive decimation but managed to marshal a defense preserving the ambit of her personality.”TFv2;The Unwilling,Alpha&Omega

            The time spent in the Whalestoe could not better be described then as a “massive decimation”, and Pelafina tells us over and over that she has conceived of a plan to escape her imprisonment. In fact she tells us quite a lot if, we take her seriously and don’t dismiss her claims. which is certainly easy to do, because Pelafina doesn’t actually know what the plan is. Her understanding of her position is greater perhaps then say, Johnny. But Pelafina is not W.H.I.M in total, there is likely much she does not understand, more she could not understand and yet even more that is being kept from her**. She possess awareness far and away superior to the normal person, but things like the war spoken of in “Our Common Horrors” are still beyond her understanding. Though perhaps not wholly

            “To see you through it all, to a better place, a brighter chance; to cradle your future far from all my horror.”TWLpgxiv.

            But if the Whalestoe was the Decimation, then how did W.H.I.M preserve the ambit of her personality? Johnny. Using the TNR W.H.I.M makes of Johnny a host for something new.

            And so we come to JT, and its him who ties this all together.
            The key words for what follows are;Possession,Transmogrification and stoichiometry.
            So under this theory Johnny becomes a triumvirate. HOLY,WHIM and himself.

            “What they found near where he lay, four of them...for I saw the impossible marks near the trunk, touched them, even caught some splinters in my fingertips...I swear still fester beneath my skin...just like other splinters I still carry, though these much deeper, having never been worked out by the body, but quite the contray worked into the body...calcified and fused to my very bones,”HOL;pg78

            I have trimmed the relevant passage a bit to get at the meat of things. There is a lot we could get at here, reams of relevant passages(The soup, The panther , wings veined with purple.). But this post became a monstrosity several paragraphs ago, so I’ll try cut off some fat as it were and get to the chase.

            “I’ve wandered as far west as I can go.
            Sitting now on the sand, I watch the sun blur
            into the aftermath. Reds finally marrying blues. Soon
            night will enfold us all.” HOL;pg.516

            This quote comes one page away from the “what I am remembering now” line and is the key to this whole idea. The purple ink is our signal, the point where the triumvirate becomes a singular. Thus it is printed in New Courier font. The other sections in NC represent the moments where Host and Possessor harmonize as one, hence why Johnny seems to channel Pelafinas voice so strongly in those sections.

            So there you have it in rough broad strokes. I have skimped on my citations and the depth of my explanations, shame upon me. With some good fortune though, my point came through despite my best efforts. Thanks for prompting me to put some of this down though. putting things down to text does wonders for clearing my mind.

            *its worth noting though that the preface also drops an interesting little bomb. ",although there is no direct evidence any were actually sent.". The natural assumption is likely to assume the Editors are talking about only the letters Walden contributed, but the subject of the sentence is not the additional letters but all of them. Implying the Editors were unable to prove that Pelafina actually sent any of her letters to Johnny.
            **Which gets back to your idea of a woman creating layers between herself and the story. It would seem I am suggesting the safety those layers offered was more then just metaphorical. Which provokes an interesting idea, the Alpha and Omega segment says WHIM crossed the borders of VEM. So could that be the reason for the entangled authors? A tangled and recursive nest of events and characters so complex that observation becomes impossible? A story beyond the borders of VEM?


            • #21
              Hmm, yes i really like this idea. Whim seems to be an important word in HoL in Johnny's passages, it's hidden in code (Where Have I Moved? What Have I Muttered? Who Have I Met?), the thing that chases him "knows nothing of whim", doing something on a whim seems to bring him closer to Thumper and Hailey, it stops him from killing Gdansk Man etc...


              • #22
                While re-reading HoL, I noticed a passage where the distancing is explicitly mentioned in the narrative: Page 346, Footnote 308, Tom's death. Because the cameras were ineffective in capturing perhaps the biggest action scene of the story - the trying to devour Navidson's - it is in the movie retold via interviews and in the book via just normal text with no expressive layout. And it is Reston who is retelling the moment of Tom's death (In The Reston Interview), even though he saw none of it, not Navidson in The Last Interview. He is just recounting what Navidson told him. So we have: "1. Tom's broken hands -->2. Navidson's perception of Tom's hurt -->3. Navidson's description of Tom's hurt to Reston --> 4. Reston's re-telling", because "the memory is too painful to Navidson".

                O course beside our WHIM narrator, this mirrors multiple losses for other narrators too. Johnny is noticably absent in this sub-chapter, so this can be Donnie's death, Johnny's death to Pelafina, and the death of whomever Zampanò lost (my guess is maybe his brother).

                But more to the topic of this thread, this moment when something is trying to swallow someone into the underground is accompanied with heavy rain. Sounds .


                • #23
                  The rain is an interesting connection, and it isn't just the rain but the sea(on mars and otherwise.) as well. It makes me wonder if it dosen't have something to do with the secret cargo that sank with The Atrocity.
                  I kind of hope the mystery of the Atrocity's cargo shows up in TF(or the contents of the Zero folder, I could settle for that.). Not to mention Sled, The Mother of Strays. But with all that said I don't really know what to do with all those pieces.

                  And speaking about things I wonder about a lot, Ive been spending a lot of brain power mulling over what I like to think of as "the problem of the fictional Danielewski(s)".

                  So where to start with this.
                  I suppose it must start with, like HOL, fathers.
                  Marks father specifically. Because its with T.Danielewski that HOL's(and TF's) meta-narrative begins. Page 708 contains what many have(and not without seemingly solid reason), I think, considered a throwaway line commemorating a passed and estranged father.

                  "Special thanks to the Talmor Zadactur Depositary for providing a VHS copy of "Exploration #4" pg.708

                  So why should we look at this as anything worthy of further examination beyond what Ive already mentioned. Well there are a few reasons, because with MZD there is never just one reason, but first off is this, MZD didn't write HOL.
                  Now obviously MZD did write the whole book, but within the larger meta narrative around the book(I'm talking to you mysterious first edition.), the book we read is a found document. That's why Zampano gets front page billing despite being fictional. As with almost everything I inflict on poor souls bored enough to read my posts,this begs the question "so what?", to which I respond "Just wait a minute I'm getting there.".
                  The there I'm getting at is the identity of the ever mysterious Editors.

                  Now how does knowing that HOL is supposed to be a found document do anything to illuminate the Editors? Look to MZD's personal mythology and one of the impetues for the creation of not only HOL but Poe's album Haunted as well. A box of papers, audio files and film reels left to them by their father.
                  The Editors it would seem, are actually MZD's father. Or rather MZD and his father. A reconciliation in text. A touching idea, but the point of this thread is what HOL can tell us about the rest of MZD's work and vice versa. Well to get to that we have to look at pg.512 where Arale pointed out to us that Circle Round A Stone Publications was responsible for the first edition of HOL. It stands to reason( stands adjacent to reason, I know when im out on a limb.) then, that T.Danielewski was associated with CRASP, and that at the time of HOL's publication MZD was not. But that dosent really tell us anything about CRASP, or any of MZD's works other than, perhaps, that MZD loves him some meta. No to get to anything like that we have to step outside of Of Leaves and turn our attention to All The Lights Of Midnight. except, I lie. Before we look to ATLOM and speak of what it suggests we have to take a few steps further away from the .
                  If I could impose on you to read Tlon Uqbar, Orbis Tertius1.
                  Go on, its a rather short read and I'm rather confident you will enjoy it, and if you've already had the pleasure I encourage you to do so again, but with MZD's works firmly at the front of your mind.
                  Its very likely you picked up on many things that called MZD to mind in that tale but whats important right now, for our immediate purposes, is the second half of the stories title.Orbis Tertius. No not because of "orb" being right there in the title2., but who Orbiis Tertius are, and what they do.
                  A secret society of intellectuals preoccupied entirely with impossible scholarship. Whose work is handed down from master to student across generations. Zampano to Johnny, T.Danielewski to MZD, MZD to Atelier Z. While this is an interesting thought with pleasing resonances that mesh nicely with HOL's themes of authorship and legacy, now is the time we turn, at last, to look at ATLOM. Its in this story we find a compatriot in this kind of work. TNR and and ATLOM are likely(for a given value of "likely") both works by scholars belonging to a larger secret group of like minded fellows. Now you may be thinking that two people is hardly a society is it? two people is at best a conversation. but what about three? three is enough to suggest a larger organization, three is company. So if ATLOM is a sister to Zampanos TNR then where to look for a third? Not far it turns out, the third is Clip4. But Realic, if he were a member of a group such as I'm suggesting, would hardly have been so disturbed and confused by his investigations into Clip4 would he? of course not, that's just one reason to assume our third scholar isn't realic, though the more relevant and dramatic reason is that he is dead. Nor is our scholar likely to be miss Weld, we would have to assume she is quite cruel indeed to play dumb about Clip4. It seems much more likely that our third scholar is in fact the mysterious B.C, who published(and likely edited.) a dead mans essay on an impossible video clip.
                  This all seems to suggest that CRASP is a group very much like Orbis Tertius. Which is where The comes into play, because TF fly's under CRASP's banner. Implying MZD has been brought into the fold as his fathers successor(this may be why after HOL MZD's next two books both credit VEM for contributing vital content to both and The Fifty Year Sword.).

                  It might surprise you at this point to know that the reason for this post had very little to do with making sweeping claims about Zampano, The Editors or CRASP. The reason was to show the extent that MZD has entwined himself and his family into the meta narrative structure surrounding his body of work. His sister, his Father, even his brother(though in a much more limited fashion) and even his mother, though her inclusion is suggested by his near absolute silence on the subject of her. So whats the problem I alluded to at the beginning of this rambling mess? the problem is I have no idea how to go about treating real people the way I teat fictional characters.It feels Squicky. And I don't think I'm alone, throughout the forums you can see ghosts of conversation about MZD's family but the majority go no further then insinuation and implication. And arguebly rightly so, its one thing to write about MZD himself, but how do we look at the others in his family(assuming of course there is anything to connect the rest of them to the larger meta narrative) in a way that at least attempts to be respectful? Or is this something that I'm blowing out of proportion? Does anyone have a thought on this matter?
                  Though truth be told in attempting to clearly show that a overarching narrative does seem to exist, I seem to have suggested some much more interesting avenues to myself. Perhaps Ill be able to delay my little "problem" indefinitely.

                  I really need to stop being so lazy with citations.

                  1. for those who find themselves unwilling to humor me(and fairly so.) here is a link to the wikipedia page, though I really cant reccomend the story highly enough, it is worth the time entirely on its own merits, the connections to MZD's are simply a pleasnt dash of hot sauce on a already fantastic meal :

                  2. Though certinly dont ignore it, think of Yggdrasil,The World Tree, The Axis Mundi, The Aleph and think then on VEM.