A slave to the big picture

At some point the idea needs to sink in that this project, this inquiry 2, does not warrant a visual representation of the preplexity of the novel (which my Esheresque attempts seem to presume) but instead a compilation of some data, something quantifiable.  Whereas I seem focused on how these narratives and perspectives intertwine and compliment each other, the first part of any map-making project is a steady, informed delineation and demarkation.  This novel that is swirling in my head, a multivarious morass to be sure, is currently defying such attempts.  My problem is that, apparantly like Danielewski in his ironic way–but I could be way off–scholarly interpretation and single-minded focus on certain themes or individual characters seems to risk some deadening of the narrative thrust of the work.  (Imagine how much smoother a reading of House of Leaves would be without constantly checking the bottom of the page and rummaging through esoteric, recondite, and sometimes, or most of the time, imaginary sources; but then such a loss would lessen one of Danielewski’s greatest sources of humor; but can that be said to be the point of the actual scholars?).  Empathizing with the freneticism that spawned that last aside might help you understand my problem.  Ahhh, but I digress…

If Danielewski can allow for the varying discourses of architecture, aural mathematics, labyrinthine construction, perhaps my long atrophied left-side-of-da-brain might just be able to commit the most heinous act of deconstructing this monster into some cohesive categories.  Just today as I was going over so many aborted three-dimensional drawings of staircases and hallways, I realized that perhaps the dreadfully common bar graph might lend itself to the shape of those staircases.  Throw in another line graph (I’m still sticking with my laminated layer approach) and we’ll have ourselves an entirely different picture, won’t we?  Maybe as perplex as I find the novel itself to be, though I wouldn’t trust anything I think up to actually make it from mind to paper intact or in the shadow of the former really.  The question remains, however: how do I entrap the relative value of Truant’s narrative or story or trajectory to something so simple as a bar or something so terse as a line.  How might I visualize the scope of Navidson’s camera which, as I see it, is far from being stuck in Zampano’s head and instead carrying quite a degree of relevancy and dominance over the lives of the other characters.  At least Navidson appears somewhat honest and forthcoming–something everyone else in the novel owes it to themselves to be.  But wait, I’m not here to judge just overanalyze.

But like the footnote to the Seneca’s quote, in which can be found the quote Pascal telling us, according to the editors, that ‘If one reads too quickly or too slowly, one understands nothing.’  I found Danielewski’s talk about the labyrinthe inspiring.  In the midst of floundering ideas and even worse artistic endeavors, I found myself asking myself why, if Danielewski can represent his characters in the history and concepts of the labyrinthe, why can’t I take those characters and make defined concepts out of them; or, who knows, maybe with my roommates’ help, maybe making a mathematical equation for one or two of the buggers.  As I find myself leaping through the novel, barely taking a breath, I must remember that one mustn’t tire oneself out too quickly, or disparage too soon, when dealing with a maze.  I can’t imagine I’ll be lucky enough to stand back and see my final project and see even an inkling of my original ideas within that mess.  (Such a statement makes me chuckle when reminsicining that Danielewski appropiately notes that only some airborne or celestial diety might view a labryinthe in it’s whole–who can imagine that disappointment, really?).  Hopefully I will be able to entrench myself so deeply in this project so outside my comfort zone that I might at least glean something from the struggle, and have some numbers or data that are as confusing as this novel prides itself in being.


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One thought on “A slave to the big picture”


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    Professor Sample says:

    Definitely interpret “map” very loosely for this inquiry — a set of graphs, overlaid with scatterpoints, could be extremely useful. I welcome any kind of mathematical formulas, too. Perhaps instead of map, I should have used the word model, an abstraction from the original source that lets us see it in a new way. Any model that deepens our understanding of House of Leaves will be a productive one.

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