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  • My new obsession

    Hi all. Finished the book tonight(Wed.); started on Mon. (unemployment is great). I've been incessently/obsessively babbling to everyone that I come across for the past 3 days about it.

    Sadly, I bought the book at a B&N in Austin (where I sometimes work) the day after Mark come in and signed all the copies on hand. So I have an autographed copy, but I need him to come back because I have questions. Many questions. Although I have been reading the board for the past few hours and it seems to have helped some. Thank you all.

    However I didn't find any comments concerning the cats in the book - Zampanos disappearing cats, Navidsons cat Mallory, Johnnies dead cat on the side of the highway. Anyone have any theories on the significance of cats or animals in general?

  • #2
    My new obsession

    I know what you mean about babbeling to everyone about how great this book is. It seems no mattter how hard you try you can never get people to understand what you are talking about and end up sounding a little crazy. I was talking to my dad about it and he said something to the effect of "You are making no sense," Like I was speaking spanglish (Spanish and English) And he didn't speak Spanish so he only got bits and pieces (No pun intended). I guess you have to read it to understand what is inside it's covers.

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    • #3
      My new obsession

      Glen-

      That is a good point...what is up with all the cats?! (although they also mention a dog that Johnny becomes attached to). I had kinda forgotten about the cats, but I am reading it again, and last night I started wondering about the connection myself. The only thing I can think of...and this is my first thought on it, so I bet it sounds really stupid...is that cats are kind of like the "feminine" creature...and the book makes a lot of references to feminine things. Like about how the is vaginal and all that. (To all you truly intellectual people out there, this may sound so stupid). As to why the cats die...I haven't put that together into my thought yet...but maybe somone else can add on.

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      • #4
        My new obsession

        I emailed this question in for the discussion on Monday (couldn't make it, live in Alabama). Years ago, a friend of mine was talking about how he'd read that in some 'spells' the act of multilating a cat was supposed to help open a 'conduit' or whatever to the supernatural. I've asked him about it and has no recollection of telling me this. Anyone else heard anything about this, or am I just making this up without knowing it?

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        • #5
          My new obsession

          To :

          I always find that leaving a cat alone - and simply marvelling at its beauty - opens the greatest conduits to the universe, the beyond, or whatever. I'm not implying that you disagree with me or anything - just wanted to offer up the anti-thesis to the hocus pocus, sacrifice animals to a higher power routine.

          Best,

          B. Wallace/author/Labyrinth of Chaos

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          • #6
            My new obsession

            Not interested in any of that stuff myself, but I do remember how oddly that memory struck me when I read the bit about Lude finding all the mutilated cats, it was kind of like 'where the heck did that come from?' Again, maybe it was just something I dreamed that got mixed up in memory. I just don't think it would have been mentioned in the book if there wasn't a significance. Later on, doesn't a female Truant meets mutilate his Pekinese? I'm on my second read through right now.

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            • #7
              My new obsession

              I'm not entirely sure what's up with the animal murders, either. I did have a thought a month or so ago that seemed to explain the cat slaughter.. but forgive me, as I've forgotten it (aah.. now this is gonna bug me until I remember).
              As for the scary porn star (if I'm remembering that one correctly) with the Pekinese.. you've got me. Unless, of course, there's a women are evil, false motherhood, deceptive nurturing-type motif going on. Now that I think about it, I always associated her big fake nails (minotaur claws, perhaps) with Pelfina's.. digging into Johnny's throat.

              -miharu

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              • #8
                My new obsession

                This whole cat thing has me stumped, too. And what about the claws in Zampano's room and on Johnny's back? Where did they come from? Could those have come from cats or am I just not thinking right? There's also another reference to cats in "The Whalestoe Letters", as well. It's in Pelafina's February 23, 1988 letter:
                quote:
                Fish must eat. Fish must dive.
                Beasts must run. Beasts must die.
                (Though what of the cats?)


                The only thing that I can possibly think of is that cats are sometimes thought of to be evil (they're more commonly associated with witches) and are mostly considered to be a "feminine" creature as someone stated above. Is this in any way implying that women are evil? And if you think about it, the was also known to be womanly ("vaginal") and it was what caused the men (Navy, Tom, Holloway) in the so much anguish and pain.

                I dunno. I'm just throwing out shit. This book has got me seriously messed up [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

                [ July 20, 2001: Message edited by: Spanish_Doll ]

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                • #9
                  My new obsession

                  I know what you mean about no-one understanding what you're talking about!
                  I've tried explaining the book to a few people and they just look at me "worryingly".
                  They can't understand HOW I could enjoy something that looks sooooooo complicated! Ha fools they won't laugh when I have all the answers and take over the world!!!!!!!!
                  Just kidding!
                  It would be nice to know ALL the answers but maybe that would spoil it's "charm" [img]images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img]

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                  • #10
                    My new obsession

                    Can I go out on a limb here?

                    I will anyway.

                    I have an out-there theory on the porn star. She considered herself the mother to all strays, but ended up killing one {the famous Pekinese}. There were 80 {?} cats in the courtyard. The ones found slaughtered could have been victims of her. That might ruin the connection between Zampano's and Navidson's animals, but maybe not. The girl might have been the personification of the creature in the that might have ended up causing Zampano's {un?}timely death. Kinda like what Mirharu said about the girl's fake nails and minotaur claws. Since someone {I don't remember who} mentioned that every word in HoL held meaning, when Johnny said that the girl threw the dog out with an 'almost unimaginable amount of force' that might mean that, as her true self, the girl could be an unimaginable being. Also, Johnny said that the Pekinese was a projection of himself. The girl destroyed the dog just as the existance of the creature in the {whether it was real or just Zampano's fabrication} destroyed Johnny's life.

                    This leads to saying some things I just thought of now. They're farfetched, but so is most of the book.
                    -What if Zampano believed in the monster so much that it became real for him and anyone experiencing the Navidson Record?
                    -What if Zampano created the monster and the somehow in the past and wrote about what happened to a real or fabricated family that purchased it?

                    I think I've written enough for now, so I'm done. . .
                    What does everyone think?

                    -Vesper, ShoGirl.

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                    • #11
                      My new obsession

                      About Zampino making up the , after reading the Whale letters, I have come to believe it was in fact Johny who concoated the . There are so many references that seeem to allude to passages in the NR. I wish I could think of them now, but I lent out my copy of the boook (which I now regret), whihc I will get back in September. At least i converted somebody! [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

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                      • #12
                        My new obsession

                        References? I haven't gotten around to finishing the Whalestoe letters yet... [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

                        -Vesper

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                        • #13
                          My new obsession

                          What if Johhny is the Minotaur and Zampono is his father who abondonded him like Minos? COuld Johhny have killed Zampono and forgotten it in his sub-consious, starting this obsession? After all Johhny WAS living in tha same complex after coming out of a "nut"

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                          • #14
                            My new obsession

                            First off, I really enjoyed your theory, Vesper, about the porn girl being a personification of the 's minotaur, and your secondary one about Zampano (and, if the theory is correct, most definitely Johnny) creating the minotaur/creature with their own belief. I'm not sure if either fit the book--I'll have to re-read some more parts once I get done with my second read-through, especially the porn star section. But I'd like to add my own theory on, not cats in general, but Zampano's cats, and also on chapter VI (where Hillary and Mallory--the Navidson family's husky and tabby cat, respectively--run into the hallway, and end up, apparantly magically, outside of the ).

                            I'd like to preface this theory by re-quoting the first portion of chapter VI, as it's kind of integral to both semi-related theories:

                            "[Animals] lack a symbolic identity and teh self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world wihtout time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being... The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness; a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over..." -Ernest Becker

                            I read this quote, and, most importantly, it's placement in HoL as a significant point to the fact that animals live only in the present (according to Ernest Becker and perhaps HoL as a whole--I'm not saying I agree). They have merely the moment they live in--no future, no past, because they do not contemplate such things. With that understanding, I'd like to quickly dip into both my theories:

                            Zampano's cats: I had this theory my first read-through of the book, and it still seems to ring true. Following the "every word serves a purpose" line of thought about HoL, note the fact that nearly every time Z's cats are mentioned, it is prefaced by "eighty-some" or "over eighty" or a similar term. Strange that MZD felt such a need to emphasize the number of Zampano's cats, right? Now, look at the first sentence of page xiv of the introduction, where Lude states, regarding Zampano, "Eighty fucking years old, alone in that pisshole..." [Emphasis mine] Now look at foot/endnote 82 (page 77 specifically), where JT, in a high/drunk daze, is rambling about Zampano's cats: "So many shades slinking out from under that dusty place like years, his years... years and years of them, always rubbing up against his legs... static announcements that... they are still there, disconnected but vital, the way memories reveal their life by simply appearing..." [Emphasis mine, sections edited out for brevity and to keep tangents from blurring my intent in placing this quote] For whatever rhyme or reason, I think the eighty-some/over eighty cats that seemed to only exist when Zampano was around each represent a year in the old man's life. It seems strange, but the numbers correlate, and JT's endnote certainly hints at the idea. And if we take animals as beings only existing for a short time and unconcerned for the distant past or future, we can kind of understand how each cat is the personification (animalification?) of one short year in the old man's long life, and when he went for his walks, they would commune with him. Perhaps Zampano would remember different parts of his life as he walked--the cats rubbing against his legs--and that is why he so often went out in the courtyard--to relive his past, as he had very little in the present. As Zampano came close to dying, the cats began to disappear (note they didn't all die at once--they slowly began to disappear months before Z's death, according to page xv). This could represent Zampano's steady decline into senility, as happens with most elders; slowly the years of his life faded away as he could no longer remember them (for, besides his memories, what else remained of his past?). Some just faded out, some were brutalized (perhaps symbolizing memories that Zampano forced himself to forget, and thus destroyed?), but they were all gone by the time the old man died. I'm not sure what the point to the animalification of Zampano's past is or what the deeper symbolism to it is, but I thought I'd bring it up.

                            The second theory is much shorter (lucky you [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] ). It simply deals with the content of chapter VI, which seems unaddressed both in Hol and this board (which, granted, I've only read 75-80% of, so I might have missed it). This is the chapter prefaced by the Ernest Becker quote I stated earlier, and deals with Hillary and Mallory running into the hallway and ending up in the backyard. It's interesting to note that this is the only chapter where, instead of footnotes, there are endnotes, which I think supports my theory that animals represent a live-in-the-moment sort of consciousness--the story of Hillary and Mallory isn't directly interrupted by the intellectual dissection of the story, but instead the human contemplation of such things is put on the next page, so that Hillary and Mallory's story can simply continue from word to word with no thought of intellectualism.

                            Anywhoo, my question and posed answer are this: Why were Hillary and Mallory "rejected" by the ? Why did their foray into the hallway simply end up with them outside?

                            I figure that if, as has many a time been suggested, the is created by the minds and scarred psyches of those inside it, and the halls shift in response to those people... perhaps, for animals, who, in the world of the novel, anyhow, have no thought for anything but instinct, no past to scar them, no future to worry about... perhaps their psyches are so clear that they HAVE no in their mind. They have no dark mental labyrinths with minotaurs of secrets and repressed memory. They simply act according to inbred impulses, and, thus, do not create any halls for themselves. That's just my take, and I'm not sure if it makes much sense to anyone, including me, but I thought I'd put it out there.

                            Kimba

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                            • #15
                              My new obsession

                              Re: the porn star (Johnnie - now that can't have been a chance naming, can it?). I think there's a connection between her and the monster Johnny sees on p70. Maybe it's just the red eyes & claws that link them for me, I don't know. Of course, the Mother of All Strays could just be P. appearing in Johnny's head again, in one of her many guises.

                              As regards the idea of Zampano creating the monster by belief, Flann O' Brien wrote about an author who physically created characters rather than just putting them down on paper. Flann also wrote one of the first books (as far as I know) which contains an entire sub-plot written in footnotes, and this suggests to me that Mark has read at least some of the man's work. In other words, it's possible that Zampano did create living characters ( la Mr O'Brien's Author), as HoL tends to reference a lot of other books. As an aside, am I right in thinking that nobody's commented on the similarities between HoL and Moby Dick?

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