To a greater or lesser extent, any text is a memorial. What I mean is any text is testament to a creative mind being behind it. Even if you were to copy Don Qioxte word for word, by virtue of rewriting it, you are saying ‘I rewrote this’. If you put a new date and authors name at the beginning of the book, you have added new context and questions to the work (‘Why have you copied this text word for word?’ ‘Why have you done it now’?)
House of Leaves is not a straight copy of anything (the varied attributions on this board, from Borges to Paul Auster are testament to this), but it is a memorial text. It’s like the Attic of a house, were all the leavings of your past are stored. It has been pointed out before that the book names all the states of America, a good number of other countries, all of the Zodiac, and a good cross-section of important literature in the western canon.
Is this more than just an effect?
Is it more than Danielewski setting tasks for his writing, setting an in-joke?
I think so.
Imagine a blind man and his memories. He has no family album of photographs to look through, he has no video tapes of birthdays and Nativity plays to watch. He has no family to talk to or reminisce with. He no longer has a family. Except for the times when the readers come to visit him and his mornings and his evenings with the cats, he only has his memories. But memories, like cats, disappear. In the end, he knows that he will as well. What will be left? An empty apartment, a cheap plot in a cemetary. No headstone. Like any of us, he wants to be remembered, he wants to be missed. To this end, he [by which I mean Zampano] contructs a text that, while not a straight autobiography (who’d want to read about a blind man who had been in a hidden war?) contains the s-p-a-n of his life, what he had read, where he has been, what he has seen, what he has done. But he drapes it in this esoteric film idea because, as he shows in the first chapter, he knows what makes a cult film, book, whatever. And we all know how much fans of cult books read into and analyse things don’t we? How much they make these characters seem real-as-you-or-I.
Anyway, what do you think? I hope you could punch as many holes in this idea as you can, because I’m writing a story based on this theme (which I came up with, I must add, before I was even aware of HoL).
[ March 17, 2003: Message edited by: Stencil ]