Sunday, October 26, 2014

Resume stuff! Yay!

Hey everyone, I know that we're going to be working on resume stuff soon and I just went over this with English Works so I figured I'd share the presentation I made for the last meeting.

Aside from this, there is some great material in the Career Development Office for this sort of thing; they have tons of suggestions on how to improve or design your resume, a list of action words to use so you sound accomplished (apparently a lot of them of scanned through programs to look for keywords so this is super helpful in making you sound good), and a bunch of stuff about cover letters, too. It's also really beneficial to make an appointment on their website and have them look over your resume because they'll tell you what you need to work on and what looks pretty vs. what doesn't. Also, they're really nice people so don't be afraid to ask for anything! I've made good friends with some of them already.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thar She Blows.OR whatever.

So I haven't gotten as far along in the book as I would've liked to by today.
But I'm getting there.
Perhaps it's because this book is


and I've had to sleep with my light on and windows open every night since I started reading it.

One thing that I'm getting more used to but that is still bothering me is reading the actual text.

 Then the footnotes.

Then back to the original text.

Not to mention the actually citation footnotes which in comparison are rather disappointing and quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Which very well may be a page and a half footnote later.

It's interrupts my thought process.
                                                                    And the flow of my eyes.

One thing I love is the narrative voice of Johnny Truant. At first he bothered me because he sounds just like my friend Cameron. His voice as a narrator and Cam's voice as a person are nearly identical. Same cynicism marinated in marijuana and spirits, paranoia, and an overactive mind. Highly intelligent despite what I can only assume as a rather grungy appearance. If Cam came across the Navidson Records he would go just as insane analyzing them. Now Johnny's epic footnotes are some of my favorite passages. Perhaps it's because Johnny's language is as lax and blunt as my personal speech outside (and sometimes inside) the classroom. Or perhaps it's because I am imposing a face and a body onto Johnny Truant.
 I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm excited to keep reading.
Even if that means I have to keep the lights on.
Even if that means I have to keep making big strong boys sleep at my house because I was already petrified of the dark and the things that move in the dark before I started reading the book.
And of enclosing spaces. Thus the open windows
And just like the hallway, it's fucking freezing in here.

Things are getting stranger

Maybe my title is an understatement?

I think we have just embarked on where the strange gets stranger. Things start to get really weird on page 97:

We have a visual shift that we did not have in the text before. Of course, in our earlier readings, we had the dynamic between Zampano's writing, the annotations, and Johnny's personal annotations. Now we have sections broken up with small boxes. These sections even break when a sentence has unfinished or there is no need for a break. 

Another visual on this page that really gets me going is this one:

What is up with that check? I know it is printed into the book and nothing something a previous owner had scribbled on. Does this check mean, "yes, this book is about to get a whole lot more visually stimulating?" It bothers me, much more than the large boxes we encounter at the end of out readings. It is such a strange and almost insignificant thing to be bothered by. 

On the following page, page 98, for annotation number 110, Johnny writes "There's something weird going on here, as if Zampano can't quite make us his mind whether this is all an exploration or a war." In the first half of this quote, I felt as if Johnny and I really had a connection. When I was reading it, I was thinking, "yeah, Johnny things are getting real strange." However, he is bothered by the actual meat of the text, if you will, rather than it's jarring visual dynamic (I'm thinking about you check mark).

Not far after, on page 100, we get introduced to a new layout:

This page has multiple short sections with small boxes in the blank spaces, where some of the boxes are blank or blackened. Furthermore, several of these sections cut off even if the sentence is not finished. 

The last thing that made me want to yell out "oh my god" is something that Johnny is talking about in his personal annotation which is on the final line of page 106. Thumper told Johnny that, "If you want my opinion, you just need to get out of the house." I feel so jittery just writing about this. What she said made me think about what is going on in the house that Zampano is talking about in his section of the book. During this part of the book, things seem to take a horror story turn where the men are going deeper into that house and I just want to tell them to get out of it! You can feel the badness that will come from it. Getting out of the house does not seem to be so easy. 

House of Leaves- ????

I was sick this past Thursday and missed class, which I'm regretting more and more the deeper I read into House of Leaves. To be honest, I'm quite lost and craving some class discussion. After finishing this blog post I'll read through every else's and hopefully make sense of what I've been reading!

My thoughts thus far revolve mainly around the relationship between Zampano' and Johnny. Johnny increasingly becomes a less reliable narrator as his violent hallucinations take over, while Zampano' seems a bit more reliable. But how reliable? Something I've been considering is how Johnny and Lude's description of Zampano' conflicts with the narration Zampano's provides once he enters the book. A blind man that wanders around a courtyard and dies alone is an identity that doesn't quite fit with the prolific writings that Johnny becomes obsessed with.

Trying to map out a timeline of the multiple stories has both helped and complicated my reading. The Navidson Record occurs first, then Zampano's reading, then Zampano's death, then Johnny's narration, but even his narration is broken across time. But before The Navidson Record, "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway" was released, then "Exploration #4," and finally The Navisdon Record. (Am I getting this right??) The fractured timeline we are presented with mirrors how the story is physically told on the page; Zampano's writings and footnotes depicting The Navidson Project (presumably in a linear fashion?) becomes slowly tangental, breaking off into Zampano's research and analysis of the film. Underneath all of this Johnny's own analysis and mental deterioration are typed.

Mark Z. Danielewski does an incredible job of having Zampano' explicitly analyzing the film and then having Johnny affected by this in his daily life without realizing it. Many times this daily application conflicts with Zampano's analysis. For example, when Zampano' details both the mythical and physical aspects of an echo, Johnny is dealing with the echoes of Thumper, the stripper from the tattoo parlor, and how those echoes are interfering with his present day life. We as readers are left to connect Zampano's writings and see the consequence Johnny's mental state is dealing with. In this instance, When considering echoes, Johnny cannot help but ask "what about light?, all of which made sense to me at a certaub hour before midnight or at least came close to making sense" (50). Zampano's constant points about darkness are counterpointed with Johnny's search for light. Moreover, as Johnny reads deeper into Zampano's text, his handle on reality loosens.

My thoughts thus far are not very complete, I know, but I'm working through them. Look out for a possible blog post from me over break, because writing my thoughts usually helps me connect them.

The Familiar and the Un-Familiar: Making You Think About the Way We Read

So I love, love, love this book! It took me a bit but I loved the format changes (other than the killing of the tress (the poor trees)) after I realized some strategies on how to read them. What I do first is read the section, just for reading sakes, to enjoy the story and enjoy the silliness of the format. After I read the section I set the book down, take some ibphrofane and think about what made me uncomfortable.
Looking at the sections that made me uncomfortable I ask myself, why? Why does this give me a headache? Why am does this make me so uncomfortable? The answer seems to always be that I am not used to the format, that is book goes against everything I have learned since I started reading. This isn't a mistake by the author, he intends to make you uncomfortable. He intends to make us as readers question what we consider the rules of reading to be and what a book makes up in total. This could be seen as pretentious, that a writer believes he has such a firm grasp on writing and that  a normal narrative is boring to him, but I don't think that this is the case with book. I think it's a mixture of fun for the author as well as a chance to make the reader feel uncomfortable. The discomfort makes us pause and look critically at books format and how we read.
One of the things that the author plays with is authorial power and legitimacy. The term "author" has significant weight and power that goes along with it. "Published" itself has some loftiness to it, especially when it comes to undergraduate college students. Individuals who are "authors"  do have a certain amount of authority given to them, that they are the experts on a certain subject, especially on the subject they are writing on. Therefore footnotes and explanations are often trusted, wither its truthful or not. Mark points this out in his own footnotes are untruthful, that he makes up information or that the footnotes themselves truly mean nothing to the story. This makes us question other authors and published works.
The second thing that the author plays with is narrator. We as readers give certain trust to the narrator to give us information a timely fashion, not to interrupt the flow of the story (especially in a framed narrative) and to keep side stories in check. We often have a unreliable narrator (One example being The Murder of Roger Ackyord) but there is always a truthful narrator somewhere in the mix. In this story we are given not one but three unreliable narrators. One is a crazy dead man, another a criminal and the third is an editor, not a very trustworthy bunch. So after reading this book I read something I am reading for pleasure, "Aesop's Fables". I found myself questions the narrator and wondering who exactly was speaking to me; the editor, the crazy dead man, or the criminal.
I love that this book is making me look at expected english truths critically, especially in my senior english class.

Warning: do not attempt to read this book late at night

I'm really excited that we're reading House of Leaves at such an appropriate time to be spooky because that's how I feel almost every time I read it.

I didn't mind the framed narrative, or the different colors, or the weird layout, or the made-up sources until about page 132 where it starts to get really funky because that was the last place where the text seemed to really cut loose for the first time. First, I recognized the structure was off and I was like, okay, I can let go of structure, and I kept reading. Then it was conventional lifestyles with Johnny really digging into the unreliable narrator role by always being drunk, high, or both, and I was like, okay, I don't need a reliable narrator, and I kept reading. On page 132, one of the footnotes ends at "whether" and I can't find the rest of it no matter where I look so now I've reached the point where I'm like, okay, I guess that's the end of the footnotes as well. And for some reason, that kind of seemed to be one of the last straws for me.

I am not a fan of footnotes by any means. I think they're disruptive, they distract me from the flow of the original text, and most of the time I'm not going to look up that extra source so it might as well not be there at all. That's with the majority. These footnotes I've made friends with because they're different. However, when the author decided to take them away or leave them unfinished, it really bothered me. I really wanted to finish reading that footnote - it meant something to me. (What is this book doing to me?) One speculation of this is that up to this point, I've been pretty dedicated to the footnotes because they've told me so much that the story NEEDS to continue. It's not just all extra bologna. And since I've learned so much through them, once I'm unable to, it's very disturbing as a reader because of the lack of footnotes, not because of their presence. Interesting changes...

I think that one of the biggest aspects of this book is to force readers to let go of expectations and all comforts, and it achieves its goal splendidly. I adopted a very passive role when I started because that's just what you have to do to get through it, and every once in a while Johnny or Zampano will throw you an anchoring event in the plot to grap onto while you're drowning in this sea of concepts. The point of the novel is to be uncomfortable. He wants you writhing in that armchair, upsetting your cup of tea, that's for sure.

I'm really glad that someone mentioned the whole scholarly "echo" business because that stood out to me as well. It's so formally written and the tone is so different from not just Johnny's but every character's voice that it made me take a double take while reading. Obviously, Danielewski is playing with form but for some reason I think there's more to this part than that. The concepts of the labyrinth and the echo are so relevant to the entire Navidson record and even Johnny's story (if not more metaphorically) that perhaps Zampano decided to make these entries more scholarly in an effort to convey the idea that these concepts should be taken more seriously. Obviously, not that seriously because the whole thing is just one big mindfuck of a story but you know what I mean. Serious in the appropriate context for the story/ies.

I'm really enjoying everything so far, although the amount of cold medicine I've consumed in the past few days does make the crazy layouts more difficult to comprehend. But maybe an altered state of mind is just what I need to really get this book - we'll see.

Still Struggling

Despite my best intentions, I am still having a wicked time getting into House of Leaves. I suppose that I can appreciate its strangeness as an idea, but it is so far out of the realm of something that I would normally read.
            It still strikes me as pretentious, but I am pushing ahead. I sort of like the idea that the whole thing may just be a series of crazed recollections between Johnny’s highs. Maybe it is just Johnny’s mind creatively (or crazily) putting his psyche back together after a few too many rails or bong rips. I also certainly enjoy his strange narrative of life.    

If this is all it is I’m entirely not sure what to do with it. Is it a “don’t do drugs” kind of thing, or maybe a “if you do drugs at least do something cool with the craziness”? It obviously can’t be analyzed in the traditional “English major” way. My best guess is that we should just sort of read it for what it is (whatever that is) and try to untangle it as a group. It takes a lot to bewilder a class full of intelligent people, but House of Leaves is doing a great job so far.

HOL: Double Narratives and the Nature of Reality

I'm really taken with the idea of a double narrative (Zampano and Johnny Truant, whom I might call JT because it amuses me) mostly because I think it's interesting how Johnny and Zampano work through this mystery with the monster/monstrous house/...whatever the hell it is.

Zampano intellectualizes the house: he reaches back into the past to ancient and canonical sources for clues on how to express and deal with this phenomenon, hence the bit about Minos' maze. If not that, he refers to other critical works somehow--if tenuously--related to the Navidson Record, though he tends to enjoy pointing out how they're wrong or misguided rather than actually thinking about how it might help. His parts are just as much a stream-of-consciousness narration as Johnny's are, they're just framed in a different way. Unlike Johnny though, Zampano seems not to be okay with suggesting things wholly on his own, and so he adds all the names in the side margins and other places to add a ridiculous sort of credibility to himself in a way that isn't actually...credible. We always mention how Johnny isn't a reliable narrator, but then neither is Zampano, at least not entirely. But I think Zampano's intellectualizing, at base, is something we can understand, as the highly-educated English majors we are. I feel like, faced with the absolute weirdness of the situation, we would also reach back into what we've learned, both the processes and the content, to find something familiar, hoping there would be a predecessor to help us understand.

Johnny, on the other hand, pulls from his own experiences, sexual and drug-induced in nature as they may be. His experiences as the house monster starts ripping his life apart parallel the growing knowledge of Navidson and the others listed in the Record, just as the form and the organization of the book itself degenerates. He is the layman to Zampano's educated man, and his experiences that he draws from are just as credibly incredible as Zampano's, and therefore have just as much merit. And let's face it, JT's sections are much more interesting and poetic to read than Zampano's seeming digressions. I feel like there's a reason for that.

This double narrative, on a larger scale, illustrates the very different ways that people can approach a particular problem/phenomenon. (I have a particular example to use here, but unfortunately it's further on than we've read). Not to go into the whole "is there really existence" debate, but it's entirely possible, as some of you have pointed out, that this whole thing is an imagined drug trip by Johnny Truant. But couldn't we say that about any odd experience we've had? Couldn't we also say that of literature, even that which we really like and in some way, believe that it's true? Reality and its relation to truth is a very postmodern problem that hasn't been solved, and it's definitely a central issue of this book. There's no way to tell what's real or true in House of Leaves, so the story comes down to what we believe as individual readers, not really being able to prove anything, just going from instinct and what we think might be true or real. And isn't that just like life?

You know, I think I like this book. :)

Golden Ratio Spiral Vs. the Maze

So, this book pretty much shatters every preconceived notion I have about how a book should be formatted, as well as how a plot should be narrated. In class last week we talked a lot about how the we reacted to the format of the book and how that impacted our reading of it. In fact, this discussion was the basis of the entire class. It is hard to get into this book without really considering how it is visually and spatially set up, as well as how the multiple narratives alter the story. To me, what is interesting about this is the way in which Danielewski uses the formatting of the book to add meaning to the story itself. A book is often set up in the way that makes it the easiest for a reader to read. In this book, it is set up in a way that makes the reader understand the narrator and the story itself more (well maybe…).
We talked a little bit about the cover in class and I think that this provides a fair example of how the book itself functions. In class we talked about how the spiral on the front is a mathematical sequence that occurs in nature. This represents natural order and beauty, the things that are predictable in the world. On the outside of the spiral is what looks to be a maze. A maze is almost always filled with uncertainty, confusion, and possibly even fear of finding the way out. These very different representations are an indication to what will be found within the book. There is this weird sort of academic and reasonable undertone contrasted by the confusion and even hysteria that is incited by this house that nobody can understand. It almost seems as though the house leads people away from the natural order of things into the more confusing and less certain. This can be seen in the way that the format becomes less linear. We also see this in our main narrator, Johnny, as he learns more he becomes more confused and uncertain.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I would like to talk about the Introduction because I think how you read this really explains the rest of the book for you. It opens with a narrator who is clearly unreliable; “I tried every pill imaginable… with shots of bourbon… a few lung rasping bong hits” (xi). The narrator tells us he is so tried and needs sleep and he still gets nightmares. I notice that like this narrator the entire book is crazy, upside down, right to left, blank, underlined, etc. The last line of the introduction, “And then the nightmares will begin” so is this whole book just one big, drug induced nightmare because I think it is.

            The house is also the center point for the story; everything it seems is connected by this “optical illusion” of a home. I think house is in blue throughout the entire book for a reason. The layout of the book is exactly like the description of the house itself. Danielewski is breaking a lot of rules and yet follows them at the same time.

• • • – – – • • •

· · · – – – · · ·

· · · – – – · · ·

· · · – – – · · ·

According to my dear friend G, “· · · – – – · · ·” this weird Morse code in chapter VIII (from 97p to 106p) means S.O.S, which is Save Our Ship, more easy way, anyway SAVE ME! While I was reading chapter 8, 9 and 10, I also wanted to yell “HELP ME!!!” to everywhere. The section was very confusing and it was hard to focus on the basic plot; which is Holloway Robert and other two members’ scary labyrinth excursion. 

I had to encounter several obstacles while I was reading as if I was one of the members of Holloway team. The book leads us to go somewhere in the book.

However, when we follow the footnote, we will confront these missing signs.


Now, I know printed books can physically distract me. Furthermore, when I start to focus on Zampano’s narrative, Johnny writes the footnotes over one page to interrupt me concentrating one plot. When Wax gets shot (I was very serious at this point and wanted to know what would happen to Wax and Jed), Johnny suddenly cuts the middle, and tells his childhood ghost story. Danielewski introduces the house’s labyrinth not only using structure but also rearranging plots of this book. Besides, random blue boxes are filled with juxtaposition of random nouns, and some letters in the box I could not read without mirror. Readers will feel overwhelming and even want to get out of this chapter. In the strange and scary hallway, Holloway members feel exactly same. 

           This book breaks the prejudice that we might have about printed literature. It mocks how books are supposed to be. Footnotes have to give useful information to readers. However, among millions of footnotes, either Zampano or Johnny does not explain what this Morse code (· · · – – – · · ·) means and you cannot finish this book without holding upside down and using mirror. Besides, some footnotes distract readers to concentrate rather than help to understand the story. In addition, we usually think reading books give various indirect experiences. However, the printed books give both direct as well as indirect experience. When I was in the elementary school, my teacher almost forced us to read books during summer break. She explained if I read books I could experience various things indirectly. However, while I passed through this crazy labyrinth, I was seriously confused and annoyed. It does not belong to only indirect experience anymore. How it formatted makes you feel really intricate. This entire format challenges traditional structures of printed books.