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edited November 2014
House of Leaves November!

I started rereading on Friday and was excited to see Johnny Truant's intro dated 10/31/1998, or 16 yrs, to the day, at which the rereading commenced. Creepy! I've indulged in listening primarily to Nick Cave and reminiscing hardcore on 15 years ago, when I last read this.

If we're going to finish the book in a month, we'll need to read ≈ 170 pages a week. or 25 pages a day. I propose we read through part XI in week one (page 152), post thoughts throughout the week, then try to do a little discussion over the weekend. What say ye three other people?


  • Y'all, I went to Washington Square Mall because I had to return something I bought online to a physical store there. I figured I would buy this book while I was there, but there are NO BOOKSTORES IN THAT MALL. How weird is that?

    I did get an egg nog latte tho.

    I ordered the book from Amazon and should have it Wednesday. I might read a bit from this PDF I downloaded before then.
  • Coooool!

    I was about to say that only dog owners have committed to reading with us, which is weird, but now that's not true.
  • How come there are no bookstores in North Portland either? What's going on in this supposedly literate city?
  • Weird! Mike tried to buy our copies at Broadway Books because it's closest to us, but they didn't have it, so he bought them at Barnes & Noble in the mall. I've bought a few books at Broadway, but usually they don't have what I want.
  • Shoot. I'm probably not going to be able to join this club after all. We'll see. Don't have the book yet.
  • I bought two copies of the book, so I only have to read 12 pages a day, right?
  • In a surprise twist, that is probably too many pages for me to commit to, because of my new job, but I will try.

    I started to read it last night, but then remembered that next week I am going to a conference and staying in a hotel by myself, and I got scared I would get too scared...I will see how I feel tonight! Might light some incense and just go for it.

    I know Powells has a thousand copies of HoL because I always used to see it there! Why aren't you people going to Powells for gods sake
  • I bought the book but I also want a digital version so I downloaded a PDF, which might be useful for those that have one on order or just prefer digital (are there people who prefer that? that would be weird and cool).
  • It's a lot of pages. We could reduce the pages per week and finish in December if people felt that.

    I buy so much at Powells! But mostly because it is a block from my office, so it's convenient.
  • I really don't like going downtown and I live far enough away from the Powell's down south that I'm not going to trek there for a book. I checked to see if I could buy it online and get it shipped across town for free, but they won't do that, SO THAT'S THEIR LOSS.
  • Major: you must join us! We can mellow it out for everyone's sake.
  • I can do it! I might just fall behind!
    How the worm has turned
  • Can we also have a show and tell about all of our notes and post its. I plan to really really take too many notes. Maybe about the book. Maybe about what I was eating while I was reading the book. Maybe how I was FEEELLING.
    I'm starting tonight.
  • This is going to be hard for me. I hate academic writing and mostly B.S.'d my way through any college essay that required me to read stuff in this style.
  • edited November 2014
    Any kind of discussion, whether academic or abstract/intuitive I think will be fun. It's just nice to know that other people are in it with you.

    @moboton HI! You should inundate us with photos of your post-its.

    I am keeping the vocab list. Not 40 pages in: laconic, garrulous, vituperative, decimated (which historically means to kill one in every ten and is a word I love), bucolic, amaurotic. Amaurotic is so beautiful. I always bookmark with a running vocabulary list.
  • Oh, I meant the academic style of writing of the one guy :) Zampano.
  • I know all those except amaurotic, what's that!!!

    When you've read a lot of academic writing though you see how the Zampano parts aren't actually that accurately academic. The way he discusses the role of the wife in the film/filmmaking process would be so embarrassing if a real film studies scholar did it!

    forgot about this blog entry about this very issue!!! Here you go, may be some mild spoilers

  • Also please don't say things like "I hate academic writing." First of all, there's no way you've read enough academic writing to generalize like that. Why not say "I hate tedious jargon-y academic writing" or "I hate the extremely small sample of academic writing I read in college" or something? There is scholarly writing that is gorgeous and amazing and just because you read a couple boring things as a kid doesn't mean you know if you hate ALL OF IT!!! This is such an easy statement people make and it really bothers me. This enormous school of writing where people are trying so hard to get to the bottom of something and engage critically with something and then everyone just knee-jerk "hates it" because they had to read Derrida when they were too young to cope with it or whatever. There are people on this very board struggling to write scholarship in a readable and engaging way, and who have many many role models in various fields who do exactly this. There's nothing wrong with academic writing per se, only with certain people who aren't good writers who nonetheless are also academics. Yes, academic writing can be fucking awful but so can any kind of writing, when done by a bad writer.

  • Like I don't read The Marriage Plot and then say "I hate fiction"
  • Would love to hear a list of academic writing you had to read in college and hated. I wonder if I have read any of it! I would just really like a list of commonly-agreed upon "bad" scholarship so I could see what ways there are to generalize about it. I have some ideas about what makes academic writing "bad" but I'm interested if they are the same ideas as others'
  • Yeah, I agree that his writing isn't actually academic writing, because actual academic writing is so obtuse and confusing I can't even read it. I don't think I could give you a list, as I said, I mostly didn't read it. I would read a page or two and then give up because it feels so elitist and inaccessible. Then I would write a paper with a crazy premise and get a good grade because it would entertain the person grading the paper.

    This practice would have been unsustainable in the post-graduate scenario, but worked for an undergrad film major.
  • you are so bitter! it's emo

    you don't have to read "academic writing" (WHATEVER THAT EVEN IS) ever again, so why are you being such an ol' poop about it

    An Academic Writer
  • Also, I like how you tried to correct my overly-generalized statement, but guess what: I AM NOT A STUDENT AND CAN MAKE ALL THE INACCURATE AND BADLY REASONED STATEMENTS I WANT! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

    The sweet freedom from being graded!

    Must really burn you up. Humans have always hated all academic writing ;)
  • (Just trying to playfully tease you a bit, please don't think I'm trying to be too mean.)
  • "you don't have to read "academic writing" (WHATEVER THAT EVEN IS) ever again" That's why this book triggered me into ol' poop mode.
  • edited November 2014
    I think my frustrated experiences with academic writing were with art theory writings that were written in deep philosophy speak and could be easily summed in plain English after hours of tearing your hair out. But maybe the summary lost some nuance I didn't get.
  • Right, you have to translate it back into normal English anyways in order to understand it, so why not just skip that step and write it in plain English?

    Very sorry to have hijacked this thread, although this is a sincere reaction I am having to this book.
  • On Major's point about its not being truly rigorous technical writing: is that supposed to be obvious to the reader? I mean, it's clear that Johnny Truant is a potentially unreliable narrator (inserting his own words into zampanó's text just so he can go off on some self-involved tangent); so I wonder that we're supposed to pick up on signs about z's reliability. I just read through the echo part, which I think relates to the idea of the narrator. So far we know we have Z, Johnny and eventually Navidson. I liked the idea of the echo as proof of the existence of something else; in some ways, even if Z and Johnny are unreliable, their echoing of Navidson's tale corroborates it's existence and makes it real somehow. And the existence of other objects/persons necessarily garbles the echo.

    I like that Truant's name suggests an uneducated everyman.
  • edited November 2014
    Also, Zampanó uses the word enormity as a synonym of enormousness on page 46 and so I do not trust him. But I am peevish.
  • I'm on page 29.
  • edited November 2014
    I haven't started yet

    but re: the baroque prose style of some academic writing; don't you think language itself is interesting? Isn't it cool that there is a very different literary style in a Cormac McCarthy book vs. a Stephen King book? Do you think Gertrude Stein should just have "written in plain English," or do you think that the WAY she wrote was part of the point of WHAT she was writing?

    There is "academic" writing that I think falls under this creative category, where the style of the writing is meant to be ornate and complex to such a degree that your mind has to sweat to put it together. Derrida obviously is this way--he's not trying to just "tell you information." the WAY he is writing is part of the point of his argument about language. Similarly with some of the postcolonial dudes--they are writing in the most absurdly baroque, complex, jargon-y academese as they possibly can, because that's part of the point of their critique of culture. They "use the master's tools to tear down the master's house," to incorrectly paraphrase Audre Lorde (Lorde actually said the opposite but whatever). The prose itself IS PART OF THE "INFORMATION" being disseminated. There are some kinds of arguments and ideas that can't be delivered in "plain english" because they would be meaningless that way.

    Which brings me QUITE ELEGANTLY back to House of Leaves: should he have written this book in "plain english," without all the absurd footnotes and mazes and weird typographical shit? All that shit certainly makes the book harder to read; it's also a reason a lot of people refused to read this book in the first place. They took one look at it and said it was "pretentious" and "obnoxious." But those of us who have read it know that all that weird complex tomfoolery in the text itself IS PART OF THE STORY in a profound way you could never untangle. This book delivered in "plain english" would be missing 3/4 of its content.

  • i do want to point out that a lot of academic writing legitimately sucks and is stupid
  • Give me some good ol' Dan Brown! ;)
  • Ugh, reading on the plane mid-morning, a time when everything is usually fine in the world and not terrifying, and getting full-on body shivers.

    Had the first disorienting meandering path on pg 59: lengthy footnote to exhibit to appendix.

    I think if we can try to read to end of V by weekend, which includes the very lengthy appendices II D and II E, that would be a good first week.
  • Ok, I've read to there now. I'm skimming a lot of the nonsense. I didn't read much of the mother's letters.
  • OH, but you have to read Johnny's mom's letters! Also, what is "the nonsense"?

    Where are other folks? I know Mike has yet to start and probably won't. Maureen has probably already finished the book. Briggs?

  • edited November 2014
    Hover for SPOILERS (??) or if you are diane

    I don't actually know that those are spoilers because I never finished this book the first time around.
  • Interesting spoiler thing. The letters were completely uninteresting to me, but that's a cool note about them.

    I'm counting a lot of it as nonsense, but especially things like the two page list of photographers' names. I also went quickly through the whole part about the physics of echoes.

    Man, there was this one part, let me see if I can find it... oh yeah, where he goes into extreme detail about the type of door they install, including its acoustical performance rating code. This book really grinds against my own personality.
  • I also only skimmed the two page list of photographers. I think a thing like that doesn't necessarily have to be read.

    Why am I not even remembering the acoustical rating of the door? The one on the hallway with all the locks?
  • And the physics of echoes might be tangential, but I think the idea of the echo is pretty important.
  • Yeah, that door. Coded at ASTM E413-70T-STC 28
  • Google search for "house of leaves tears her to pisces" brings up some results. I'm only going to peek in case there are spoilers.
  • I think some of those weird details are just descriptive of the mental state of the narrator... not necessarily that you should recognize what that door is or actually read the list of photographers.
  • Damn, makes me bummed to be missing this. Going to be too busy this month to keep up, though.
  • LOL starting VII with a Jack London quote. I wonder why YT likes this book so much ;) It's like chock full of things you love.
  • ha ha
    I still haven't started it. I just got back from an epic conference and am scrambling to get ready for the week. I anticipate starting tonight and reading in fits and starts for awhile and then passing you all and finishing weeks before any of the rest of you assholes finish

    I've become SO MARRIED to the need/desire to actually read all "the nonsense" in books like this. I would have missed so much incredible detail and resonance had I for example skipped the infamous Incandenza filmography in one of IJ's endnotes. Like literally the thesis statement of the book is contained in one of the entries! Not to mention an explanation of the book's title, and explanation of so many subplots and weird unresolved things. Also I just really want to take the experience the artist is trying to impart. If David Mitchell wants us to read his book frontwards and backwards in these weird jagged chunks of interrupted narrative, I'm going to "go there" with him, because he must have a reason, and I want to be able to judge the work on its own merits, rather than just complaining that the structure was weird or something. I want to be open to this stuff that seems so impenetrable and tedious. For a long long time I felt resentful and resistant toward things like James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, other shit that I felt was emblematic of a certain strain of artistic violence toward their audience; hatred of their audience (a belief still espoused by dumb dicks like Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides when they talk about how their penises are bigger and better than DFW's). I don't feel that way anymore--reading IJ helped me break through--and now I try to READ IT ALL, and not skip.

    All my life I've "read for plot" and I think this is me trying to stop doing that

    Anyway no judgment but I do hope everyone will at least seriously consider reading all these mind-numbing and seemingly irrelevant details, and trying to construct meanings for them and why they are there

    I love Jack London

  • Oh yeah, Johnny Truant gets so James Joyce at times. Really easy to skip those parts.

    I'm on page 167.
  • It is so satisfying to find the nugget of info! It motivates me. Like a fun rambling sudoku puzzle.
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