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Headscratchers / House of Leaves

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  • The book is famous for printing the word House always in blue, regardless of what language it appears in (i.e. the German Hause is also blue). This is even flaunted at the reader in the Index, as it lists "House (Blue)" with lots of pages, and then "House (Black)" with DNE ("Does Not Exist"). BUT... Footnote 146 note  contains the Dutch word "Scheepvarthuis" of which the "huis" part is the Dutch word for "House" and it's the only occurence of the word "House" in the book not printed blue!note  This must have been a conscious decision by the author, seeing how carefully he handles the many foreign languages; also, just preceding it there's another Dutch example but that one has been translated to / is listed in English, and IS blue (it's listed as: Schröder House, instead of Schröderhuis). Also, Scheepvarthuis is spelled wrong: it really is ''Scheepvaarthuis, with two A's (again, the author must have misspelled this deliberately, but why?)
    • Maybe it WAS a mistake. We're all mortal, y'know. Having that many houses to keep track of in several different languages, languages which, may I add, might be difficult to translate as Johnny himself obsesses over nigh-constantly, will surely cause something to slip through the cracks.
  • How does Navidson get the Holloway Tape? Some of the scenes in it weren't recorded until Holloway was seperated from the group and died. There's no way anybody would've stopped to look for it, since their priority was getting out of the maze before they ran out of supplies.
    • It's possible the House preserved the camera and Navidson's team found it on their way to escape.
    • It's actually mentioned in the book. Navidson was going up the staircase, and was thinking, "Where's Holloway's stuff?" Lo and behold, the House produced it for him.
  • Why does the House go batshit insane and try to kill them? I understand why the Labyrinth would try something like that- it's the embodiment of true, endless nothingness, "things" make it sick- but why would the House do that? Rule of Scary doesn't apply when the book is as postmodern as this.
    • Wasn't Tom taunting it (or the 'monster') to get him when he was camping out near the staircase? Maybe the House decided to take up his offer since the Labyrinth didn't.
      • I thought the purpose of the Labyrinth was to test people's souls or somesuch by surrounding them with true nothingness until they were stripped to their truest form. Holloway was, at heart, rotten and executed for it, while Navidson's love was at the center of his being, so he was spared. The House just exists to draw people to the Labyrinth. Presumably, it doesn't like people leaving before they've been judged. I think.
        • My only problem with this theory is: what about Jed? Hook was struck with impotency afterwards, which seems to be the house condemning him for his promiscuity...but then, what did Jed do to deserve dying? Or because that was at Holloway's hands, it "doesn't count" as the house's judgement?
      • So it went insane because Navidson wasn't judged yet? From what I remember, while trying to escape the Labryinth, Navidson was dragged down with the increasing staircase. Then everyone tries to rescue him until he suddenly comes back, and that's when it started going crazy (if my memory is correct). And then Navidson decides to go back to conquer it, etc.
      • It's implied at one point that absorbing Holloway changed the House, somehow.
      • In which case, absorbing Tom might've changed it again, but made it less malignant rather than more so.
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    • Possibly the House was always part of the labyrinth, just the most stable and human-tolerant part. It could've gone berserk at any time, it just hadn't done so up to then.
  • What would happen if you put a pile of matter (such as bricks, or a huge block of wood) against the outside wall, then sent a non-sentient creature into the hallway? Would it skip over to the nearest open atmosphere, or would it Tele-Frag? The House seems to treat the hallway as an open door, where humans go to a place that is in the three or four dimensions we know the yard, while animals go to exacty the same place only being the yard itself, so would the House consider the material part of itself and extend the depth of the "door", or... yeah.
    • If I'm reading your question right, I think it'd either just let them go through, with the wall behind them and material in front of them (so they'd have to push it out of their way when they go through) or your open atmosphere theory.
  • How should I explain this...What would happen if you remove the wall that has the entrance to the hallway? Either from the outside or the inside. what would there be where there's supposed to be the entrance of the hallway? Or the wall that's 1/4 inch larger on the inside. It would be 32'9.75'' right outside and then you go in and then...?
    • You think that's a puzzler? What would happen if you detached that section of wall from the living room, rotated it 180 degrees, and then inserted it back into the wall again? Would the hallway still be there? Would it lead away from the Great Hall instead of towards it? How about if you moved it into the bedroom and attached it so that it fed into the first cross-passage?
      • Now you're thinking with portals!
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    • I know how you feel: my first move upon discovering the "5 1/2 Minute Hallway" would've been to station an observer inside the House, staring into the hallway, while I went into the yard, to the wall that comprised its "other side." Bring out Mister Drill, bore an inch-wide hole into the wall, and look through it. Will I see my friend? What'll HE see? Try pushing things through the hole. Shoot my water gun into it. Widen hole. Etc.
    • One experiment Navidson should have done: 1. Take one of his fancy cameras and point it at the outside wall. 2. Chase one of the pets into the hallway. 3. Watch the tape and find out what just happened! (Did the animal simply rematerialize at the other side, or come out of a hole that suddenly appeared, or what?)
    • What happens is you die horribly. You're not going to survive this if your first instinct is to shred local spacetime even more, and I doubt the House itself would appreciate getting holes drilled in it.
    • Theoretically you could do any number of experiments in the house to see what would happen. But if you expect the results to be consistent or to point to any sort of "rules" or physics within the House you're in the wrong place. The House is where physics go to die. It resists understanding.
  • It bugs me that Danielewski draws attention to the concept of the Minotaur by crossing it out and making it red. Because by doing so he makes such a concept more important than other possibilities. And then it becomes harder to imagine the whole labyrinth as nothing more than a modern version of the Labyrinth of Crete, even though someone says it's not really that. Or maybe I shouldn't have read the fourth Percy Jackson book right before this one.
    • The Labyrinth of Crete is one of, if not THE, archetypical labyrinths, so of course it HAD to be referenced in some way. As for the Minotaur, whether taken literal or not, I thought it was pure, unadultered Nightmare Fuel.
    • My take: Holloway is convinced that there is a monster stalking him in the labyrinth, reasoning that the omnipresent growling and the damage done to left-behind items are its handiwork. It turns out that there is no monster. Perhaps the author is convinced that the myth of the Minotaur must be relevant, indeed even vital to the story given the obvious connections... and then strikes it out when he realizes later that it is not.
    • And my take: The Minotaur is some sort of psychic spirit that causes physical deformities. It hit the actual, physical Minotaur, and was, in retaliation, somehow trapped by its own feng shui or whatever in a labyrinth made out of its own (and others') minds. Later, it got to Zampano, who trapped it in another labyrinth: the book. Which then made its way into the hands of Johnny Truant, and the rest is history.
    • I think it was Johnny, not Zampano, that struck out the mentions about the Minotaur. Why? Because it was Johnny that got an obsession about the monster that wants to get him and identified it with the Minotaur.
      • No, it was Zampano who struck them out and Johnny who chose to include them anyway - at least the text that is not just red, but red-and-struck-through; it's specifically mentioned that is text that had been deleted but Johnny decided to put back. Also, Johnny being hunted by a monster (or whatever) actually made him more interested in the Minotaur story.
  • Why, exactly, is it called "House of Leaves"?
    • "Leaves" is a word often meaning "pages". The book itself is a "House of leaves".
    • I don't think there's really a concrete answer unless you ask the author himself. There's many theories, like one about how leaves changing during seasons symbolizes the House changed, and another about it relating to Yggdrasil.
      • For the record: I did ask him. He wouldn't tell.
      • Not that it matters. Books belong to their readers.
    • See also the last "Untitled Fragment" at the end of Appendix F.
  • I have searched everywhere without finding an answer, and I believe now that only my fellow Tropers can give me one: How far did Navidson's freaking coin fall down the shaft? I simply don't have the competence at physics to work it out for myself and it's been bugging the hell out of me. All I know is that Zampanó forgot to factor in terminal velocity.
    • I'm not a mathematician, but according to the formula of terminal velocity and my guessed area and weight of the coin, it fell approximately 366 kilometers (or 227 miles). Very far, yes, but not even close to the radius of the Earth.
      • Accounting for air resistance, estimates I've seen usually hover around 5-7 miles, certainly no more than the earlier given figure of 13 miles. As I noted on the page, Zampano's version would have it hit the ground at 86 times the speed of sound with the energy of a stick of dynamite.
  • Not so much a complaint as a question, how did Johnny end up? It seemed like he was on his way to a happier life (albeit as a hobo) but then his footnotes end with him running from his beating of Gdansk man (which presumably happened much earlier), a musing on his mother, burning his copy of the book, and then the story about the baby. So is he better now or not?
    • Welcome to the Gainax Ending, my friend. It's been ten years and we still only have theories.
    • You might want to pay attention to the dates that are on the journal entries...
  • In the introduction it says that he rented Bambi and watched it. But doesn't it mention later somewhere that he doesn't have a TV?
  • When Johnny finally opens his mother's locket, he finds the first letter he ever wrote her. Granted, he did describe it as a bigger locket than most, but still...How the heck did she stuff a whole letter into a locket? Unless it was written on the back of a fortune cookie note. Or is the locket is also Bigger on the Inside?
    • Folding and/or crumpling, plus the locket being big, means it could probably fit in there fairly easily.
  • Why is the word house written in blue in English, German and French, but not in several other languages (Dutch, Italian, Spanish)? Why does the only Dutch word that has "huis" in it contain a typo, when Danielewsky insists that the book has no unintentional typos?
    • Well, clearly, Johnny and/or Zampano and/or the unnamed editor made those typos! the excuse you can use for basically any "mistake" in the book.
  • Why does Zampano refer to Tom as "me" on page 320? In most books you can write that off as an editing mistake, but this one uses typos as part of the narrative. Is Zampano Tom, who wrote a false death for himself in The Navidson Record? Did he just empathize with Tom in that moment and slip up? Did Johnny change "him" to "me" the way he admits to changing other parts of Zampano's writing? Why? Was it because he related to Tom's drinking? Is Tom SCP-426? WERE WE ALL TOM THIS WHOLE TIME??? WHAT IS GOING ON???
    • ...Parallel universes?
  • How can anyone in Navidson's universe consider the Record a fake? What do they think happened to Tom, Leeder, or Holloway? And wouldn't the testimony of a well-respected university professor or the local sheriff convince them? And some researchers evidently had access to medical records of the survivors, given some build an entire hypothesis around their inexplicable illnesses and subsequent recovery. Unless they think Sherrif Axnard gave himself a stomach ulcer and that three men faked their own deaths for years for either minimal personal gain or outright demonization in Holloway's case, how can anyone begin to think it's a set-up?
    • Maybe those people are untraceable.
    • Or maybe Zampano's delusions didn't think that bit through.


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