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Danielewski's "House of Leaves"
Author: Published: January 2003 Nele Bemong
Abstract (E): This essay offers an approach of Mark Z. Danielewski'sHouse of Leaves (2000) – a postmodernist blend of literature, architecture, philosophy and film/documentary that selfreflexively incorporates the meta-narrative perspective of theory and criticism – within the framework of the prevailing psycho-analytical theories of the uncanny. The novel can be regarded as a narrative repetition of Freud's theorisation as put forward in his essay "The 'Uncanny'", where Jentsch's postulation of intellectual uncertainty is replaced by Freud's concept of suppression. In this essay I will primarily investigate why the main characters Navidson and his wife Karen created the impenetrable and unfathomable labyrinth that suddenly appears in their concept of the death drive. Abstract (F): Dans cet article nous nous proposons d'analyser le livre-culte de Mark Z. Danielewski's, autoréflexif
investigation will reveal both real and phantasmatic traumas and will ultimately lead to Freud's
Leaves (2000), un mélange postmoderne de littérature, architecture, de vue métanarratifs inspirés des réflexions psychanalytiques
philosophie, cinéma de fiction, film documentaire, qui intègre sur un mode ouvertement des contemporaines sur la notion d' « unheimlich ». Le roman de Danielewski peut être considéré comme une répétition narrative des théories de Freud dans son essay sur l' « unheimlich », où l'hypothèse de Jentsch sur l'incertitude intellectuelle est remplacée par le concept de suppression. Cet article s'intéresse essentiellement à la question de savoir pourquoi les deux héros du roman, Navidson et sa femme, créent le labyrinthe impénétrable et insondable qui surgit tout d'un coup dans leur
maison. Cette analyse mettra à jour des traumatismes réels et imaginaires, pour se
terminer par une réflexion sur le conception freudien de pulsion de mort. Keywords: Danielewski, postmodern fiction, the architectural uncanny
In House of Leaves, Danielewski seems to make the task of the literary theorist redundant. The book - the designation 'novel' no longer seems to be adequate in this case, or it has to be in a postmodernist sense - not only seems to be an ideal example of the research domain of cultural studies, since it integrates literature, architecture, philosophy and film / documentary; at the same time, it also incorporates the domain of the study of literature and of literary criticism, both in the text itself and in an extensive system of footnotes. Danielewski alternately refers to fictitious references and to existing scientific material, most importantly - in the light of this article - to Anthony Vidler's 1992-study The Architectural Uncanny. This self-reflexive mode of operation is already announced in the first chapter: "Numerous professors have made The Navidson Record required viewing for their seminars, while many universities already claim that dozens of students from a variety of departments have completed doctoral dissertations on the film." (Danielewski: 6) From these existing and fictitious studies, Danielewski will draw an endless amount of elements in order to create an exhaustive and comprehensive theoretical discourse around his story. We may however not lose track of the fact that this theoretical discourse is just as much an essential part of the book, and thus of our object of study, as the story itself. With the present essay, I would like to join those dozens of fictitious students, even though I myself will not investigate The Navidson Record - a film that is by the way entirely fictitious too! -; instead I will focus on the book, and more specifically on "its inherent strangeness" (Danielewski: 6).
by the end of the century. comes proximally to the expression: the 'nothing and nowhere'. Here the peculiar indefiniteness of that which Dasein finds itself alongside in anxiety. this is expressed in the following manner: "Confining us to the comforts of a well-lit home gives our varied imaginations a chance to fill the adjacent darkness with questions and demons. the horror was atypical. disturbing but most of all uncanny. a robbery. .first and foremost in the house. or an act of vandalism. unsettling. but it was so odd no one knew how to respond. stood for romanticism itself. or in other words. Thus that which is uncanny or unheimlich is neither homely not protective. too much or too big. (Danielewski : 24) Nevertheless […] Heidegger still fails to point out that unheimlich when used as an adverb means 'dreadfully'. playing. described and theoretically studied in the footnotes. and 'an awful lot of. nor comforting nor familiar. it is overwhelming. the passage from the homely house to the haunted house can be compared to the lexical ambiguity of heimlich and unheimliche. that pretends to afford the utmost security while opening itself to the secret intrusion of terror". With House of Leaves. 'awfully'. tentative exploration Already in chapter IV. however. Lacan and Heidegger.1.' [das Nicht-zuhause-sein]. (Vidler: 11) In Danielewski. the first uncanny change occurs in the house bought by the Navidsons: after a four-day visit to Seattle. a movement in most ghost stories where an apparently homely house turns gradually into a site of horror. "haunted or not. the change still destroyed any sense of security or well-being. Danielewski upholds a prolific tradition stemming from the nineteenth century. and unsettling." (Danielewski: 98) According to Vidler. where Danielewski combines the theories of Freud. Intrusion of the uncanny and a first. In their absence. they find a dark room between the parental bedroom and that of the children. all of a sudden.1 By far the most popular topos of the nineteenth-century uncanny was the haunted house. In other words: there is a "general drift of the uncanny movement from homely to unhomely.' Largeness has always been a condition to the weird and unsafe." (Vidler: 32) This is exactly what happens to thehouse in Ash Tree Lane. in a study Danielewski himself refers to on page 359 (cf. just run through it. its depiction in fairy tales. It is alien. On video. (Danielewski: 28) In the same vein. the Navidsons' home had become something else. Their children. horror stories and Gothic novels gave rise to a unique genre of writing that. we see Navidson acting almost amused while Karen simply draws both hands to her face as if she were about to pray. and while not exactly sinister or even threatening. No one could deny there had been an intrusion. obvious . remarks that 'the uncanny' as a concept has found its metaphorical homein architecture . completely oblivious to the deeper implications. giggling. the perfect description of the house on Ash Tree Lane. Vidler. is extensively introduced. Chad and Daisy.namely surprising. on which I will focus my attention in this article. infra).like for instance a fire. Quite the contrary. A pervasive leitmotiv of architectural revival alike. (Danielewski: 28) What took place amounts to a strange spatial violation which has already been described in a number of ways . It was not. 'heaps of'. But here 'uncanniness' also means 'not-being-at-home. (Danielewski: 24) The concept of the 'uncanny' in House of Leaves. In German the word for 'uncanny' is 'unheimlich' which Heidegger in his book "Sein und Zeit" thought worthy of some consideration: […] In anxiety one feelsuncanny. exposed. [T]he change was enormous.
objectless. . unhomeliness and alienation is indeed preserved. is transformed by repression into morbid anxiety. endlessly repetitive. the typical feeling of uprootedness. "for this uncanny is in reality nothing new or foreign. or 'unhomely' as the 'uncanny'. and then I opened my eyes and I could see trees and grass. derealized. the daemonic in oneself yields to a 'repetition compulsion..' But it turned out to be just our front yard. sweet air on my face." Among cases of anxiety. is perceived wherever we are reminded of our inner tendency to yield to obsessive patterns of action. I thought to myself. or the invisible slippages between a sense of the homely and the unhomely. The first dictionary extract he gives already starts with this denotation: "belonging to the house. but something familiar and old-established in the mind that has been estranged only by the process of repression. corridors. suddenly to become defamiliarized. rooms.' […] Freud […] maintains that "every emotional affect. This notion of derealization. this derealization is already announced when Danielewski mentions: "the impending nightmare [Navidson] and his entire family are about to face. Infra) This view is also explicitly uttered in House of Leaves.2 However. (Danielewski: 359) On top of all this.The house provided an especially favored site for uncanny disturbances: its apparent domesticity. as if in a dream. whatever its quality. man. Godless too." (Danielewski: 85) At the very end of the story. […] This endless drive to repeat is then uncanny. etc. In his article "The Uncanny". the notion returns in Karen's words: Q: How did you get him out of the house? Karen: It just dissolved. especially when taking into consideration the endless character of the labyrinth.' he observes." (Vidler: 37-38) In Vidler's terminology. of living in a dream." (Danielewski: 8) Wax too. its role as the last and most intimate shelter of private comfort sharpened by contrast the terror of invasion by alien spirits. it's like it's almost dream like. We've died and this is where you go after you die. Hallways. In the beginning of the second chapter. Freud finds the class of the uncanny. we could speak of "repetitive stages toward infinity". arousing a sense of agreeable restfulness and security as in one within the four walls of his house. (cf. but displayed in the abyssal repetitions of the imaginary void. Danielewski provides us with a historical-linguistic definition of the term 'uncanny'. The unheimlich. tame." You see emptiness here is the purported familiar and your house is endlessly familiar. in translating 'unheimlich' by the English 'unhomely' instead of 'uncanny'. We were in pitch blackness and then I saw. it was the fundamental propensity of the familiar to turn on its owners. 'We've died. its residue of family history and nostalgia. familiar." (Freud: 222) It is precisely this shade of meaning that constitutes the core of Vidler's study The Architectural Uncanny. Vidler thus summarises his interpretation of the concept of the 'unheimliche': "For Freud. no… actually my eyes were closed. soulless place. "in which the anxiety can be shown to come from something repressed which recurs. Q: Dissolved? What do you mean? Karen: Like a bad dream. Overruling the pleasure principle. regularly returns in House of Leaves. the enjoyment of quiet content. remarks: "It's so deep. being the translation of the German 'unheimlich'. 'unhomeliness' was more than a simple sense of not belonging. friendly […] friendlily comfortable. when confronted with the anomaly of the dark hallway and the sheer endless staircase." But this 'unhomely' might as well be called 'the homely." (Vidler: 7) The 'unheimliche' seems to situate itself on the thin border between dream and reality. not strange. both for its association with the death drive and by virtue of the 'doubling' inherent in the incessant movement without movement. Freud already pointed out this denotation of the German word 'heimlich'. (Vidler: 17) Vidler even specifies his definition of 'the uncanny' by giving a special status to 'the spatial uncanny': "one no longer entirely dependent on the temporal dislocations of suppression and return. […] A lifeless. intimate. I felt this warm. over and over again.
flickering. reason) and […] track[s] [his] prey (a solution)". which frustrates Navidson and eventually leads to an ultimate. lighting more flares. Karen voices this attempt when she cries out loud. of territorial mapping. and it was precisely for this reason that he wanted to set up an 'outpost' against the hostile and transitory world." (Vidler: 167) When he has to save Holloway and his team. The intrusion of the uncanny deprives the Navidsons "of any existing cohesion" (Danielewski: 83) and undermines the attempt at reconciliation which the war photographer Navidson and his partner Karen were planning to undertake by moving into this new house. however. After all. coming up with its own sense. he is the "classic hunter.above all . which leads to a dark. Tom and Reston continue forward beneath those gables of gloom and walls buttressed with shadow. "Techniques of spatial occupation. almost fatal journey into the innermost part of the labyrinth. of repression: he cannot admit to himself that something in the house escapes his control. Navidson will try to compensate his initial loss of control by an exploration of these corridors. implacable and now nothing less than obvious and undeniable . At a certain moment. shifting. there never could have been a moment when only the imagination succeeded in prodding those inky folds. look what's happened. However. the houseis 6 mm wider than on the outside by ascribing this "goddamn spatial rape" (Danielewski: 55) to inaccurate measuring instruments. It was supposed to make us a family.Q: You're saying the house dissolved? Karen: [No response] Q: How's that possible? It's still there. oh my god. however. But. knowledge implies power. isn't it?" (Danielewski: 532-533) Confronted with this first manifestation of the uncanny in the sudden changes in the house." (Danielewski: 321) Here. they enter an "immense.variable labyrinth of corridors. (Danielewski: 154) Immediately afterwards. of invasion and surveillance are seen as the instruments of social and individual control. this home. Navidson undertakes ferocious attempts to master the unknown. Navidson's first reaction will be one of denial. and finally dying around the men's continuous progress. however. with much more far-reaching consequences. until finally what seemed undefinable comes forth out of the shimmering blank. and thus enters the hallway with a concrete aim. trusting fully on the modern religion of the exact sciences. According to Heidegger. penetrating this world with their halogen lamps. stay in control for very long. was supposed to help us get closer. their relation perceptibly gets worse. while in the background Tom stands surrounded by flares which just as ineffectually confront the impenetrable wall of nothingness looming around the Spiral Staircase. he seems to attain some certainty about this radically unknown phenomenon . we recognize Heidegger's theorisation concerning the uncanny.mythic and inhuman. the postwar human being explicitly experiences the world as a homeless place. something far more perverse and contorted and heavy with things much stranger and colder than even this brief shadow play performed in the irregular burn of sulfur . In the living room. a second one announces itself. Navidson had had a similar experience of fundamental "unsettledness". she "refuses the . This reaction is expressed in his desperate but unavailing attempts to offer a rational explanation for the anomaly he himself records . Immediately after this first change. (Danielewski: 37) Karen refuses to discuss the anomaly. [He] select[s] weapons (tools. It was their last attempt to build a solid family life with their two children.as if there never could have been a question about the shape. That is precisely the reason why we so obstinately try to create a safe home. endless and . The leadership over these explorations is from the onset taken out of his hands by Holloway. because Navidson and Karen react in diametrically opposed manners to the manifestation of the uncanny. incomprehensible space […] [of] inky oblivion. sobbing: "This house. a door has emerged." (Danielewski: 155) Navidson cannot.on the inside.initially that is: Navidson. It was supposed to be better and stronger than some stupid marriage vow. As a war photographer.
'Stop drilling holes in my walls'. Jentsch attributed the feeling of uncanniness to a fundamental insecurity brought about by "a lack of orientation."in reality nothing new or alien. The hallway. The better oriented in his environment a person is. (Vidler: 23) So there is a relation of "the uncanny to the spatial and environmental. She is the (female) archetype of the collector." (Vidler: 55) The uncanny effect in House of Leaves can then be understood as a combination of Jentsch's intellectual insecurity.knowledge. [F]inally the lack of physical intimacy and emotional understanding leads both of them to make privately voiced ultimatums. as it were.contrary to Jentsch's . but something old and familiar. This demeanour is typified as denying as well as showing maturity. Danielewski narratively repeats Freud's movement: at first. in turn. Freud's concept of repression. A reluctant Eve who prefers tangerines to apples. and nonetheless has come to light. of which the presence is "incontrovertibly there but virtually inviolate to interpretation". 'knowing one's way about. the adventurer who has always been ready to put his personal safety at stake in order to attain his goal. that he is not heimisch [homely]. and hostile invading an old. […] he ascribes the central factor in the production of the feeling of uncanniness to intellectual uncertainty. which "offers no answers" and "remains meaningless". instead. The idea of intellectual uncertainty is however never completely abandoned. He characterises the uncanny as everything that should have remained secret and concealed. . and has nonetheless come to light. the uncanny effect seems to be caused by intellectual uncertainty. customary world. Karen: But I will say this. The uncanny in Jentsch's conception seems to express that somebody who has an uncanny experience is not quite zu Hause [at home] in the matter. In House of Leaves. foreign. it is precisely this intellectual uncertainty that Jentsch poses as the essential condition for the feeling of uncanniness. both can be applied to the "inherent strangeness" in House of Leaves. however. As the story evolves. I'm outta here. North it seems has no authority there. will come forth more strongly. 'I don't care. that of 'orientation. familiar. refutes Jentsch's thesis.the uncanny is not something new and unknown. in which case maturity has everything to do with the acceptance of 'not knowing'.: the impossibility of orientating oneself thus increases the uncanny feeling already present. and of Freud's characterisation of the uncanny as everything that should have remained secret and concealed. if he goes in there. Navidson: If she keeps up this cold front. Kids and all. something that suddenly returns. In Freud's theory .' she tells Navidson.'"4 In this light it is obvious that no compass can work in the house "the needle never stays still. the not being able to explain the phenomena taking place in the house. (Danielewski: 60. Freud." a sense of something new. the less readily will he get the impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it. you bet I'm going in there. rouses the "domestic tensions" and breaks up the family.flag-bearer of responsibility and categorically opposed to any risk that might endanger her family or happiness. caused by real traumas or phantasmagoria. now finds himself opposed to Karen . 62) Navidson. be something one does not know one's way about in. (Danielewski: 6) Initially. Jentsch's postulation seems to describe most accurately what is going on: the uncanny feeling arises from the not-knowing. that the affair is foreign to him." (Danielewski: 62) In psycho-analysis there have been two major theories concerning the uncanny and more specifically concerning its 'causes'. "though it is most assuredly not without effect". but something which is familiar and old established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression." (Danielewski: 30) She develops her own mechanism against this intrusion of the uncanny. Danielewski refrains from opting for one of these theories. completely unexpectedly .'3 . by leaving her stamp on the space: she hangs a couple of bookshelves on the wall in an attempt to introduce normality." (Danielewski: 90) . the accumulator. so that the uncanny would always. the 'unhomely'.
once again leading us on another circumambulation of this strange passageway. thus completely circling the doorway and so proving. What their exact meaning might be. especially for Navidson. albeit not of a labyrinthine house. Karen and Navidson still continue to say very little to each other. eliciting laughter from those in the room […] before finally returning us to the starting point. crawling back inside the house through a second window. What is the meaning of the labyrinth? Does it even have a meaning?6 I will now try to answer this pressing question.no ten foot protuberance. although the external reality seems to contradict its existence. as Navidson's hand appears in frame and pulls open the door. their own feelings seemingly as impossible for them to address as the meaning of the hallway itself. redirects the camera from the ground to the exterior white clapboard. comprehends the entire maze and so therefore can never offer a definitive answer. In one continuous shot. where we hear him grunt slightly as he knocks his head on the sill. that insulation or siding is the only possible thing this doorway could lead to.a framestory . beyond a shadow of a doubt. still remains an unanswered question. The earlier position that the dark hallway offers "no answers" and "remains meaningless" (Danielewski: 60).contributes to this intellectual uncertainty. not even a god or an Other." (Danielewski: 61) The hallway. and the labyrinth that is shaped by its windings do not seem to be as meaningless as what may appear from the previous pages of the book. but of a text .exploration (knowledge) of the hallways eventually becomes a true obsession for the men.in search of a meaning A haunting question has been lurking since the uncanny change was mentioned for the first time.in essence an exercise in disbelief which despite his best intentions still takes Navidson back inside to that impossible hallway. The text itself offers a whole series of possible interpretations.5 Whereas in many stories this intellectual uncertainty is evoked and maintained by a narrator who wilfully leaves the reader in the dark about which laws (natural or fictional) to abide by. for that matter. Navidson […] momentarily focuses on a doorway on the north wall of his living room before climbing outside of the house through a window to the east of that door. which is where all laughter stops. and the translucent summer air . pointing the camera to where the hallway should extend but finding nothing more than his own backyard . any way out remains . more thorough exploration. The formulation of such answer will however take the shape of an exploration in itself. where he trips slightly in the flower bed. Tom has installed a door to barricade the hallway): "Sadly. revealing a narrow black hallway at least ten feet long.itself a construction in its kind. climbing in and out of the windows. then moves right. (Danielewski: 4) 2. The structure of the novel . a muddy dart gun. imprisons or hides an innocent? As the Holloway team soon discovers. the specific structure of House of Leavesmakes it clear from the onset that this hallway does exist for the characters and the reader. Due to the wall-shifts and extraordinary size. It does however look as if there will be more than one meaning to it. even with the unnatural darkness7 now locked behind a steel door. until the point where they are willing to risk their lives in order to attain this knowledge. prompting Navidson to re-investigate. Navidson'shouse seems a perfect example." (Danielewski: 111) [N]o one. is refuted only a few pages later in the book (in the mean time. this time to the west of that door. answers to these questions are not exactly forthcoming. just rose bushes. "Is it merely an aberration of physics? Some kind of warp in space? Or just a topiary labyrinth on a much grander scale? Perhaps it serves a funereal purpose? Conceals a secret? Protects something? Imprisons or hides some kind of monster? Or. A second.
mostly in a horizontal position. experienced as a replica of the self. the halls. Or.T. where Klara explains the horrors Nathanael experiences as existing solely in his own mind. […] While some portions of the house. These almost typical and eventually commonplace qualities the attributes of haunted houses in Gothic romances are the most well known . expanding. the horrors with which Navidson was confronted in his house were nothing more than manifestations of his own confused mind. The outer world only plays a minor part in these strange manifestations. on a psychological level. (Hoffmann: 145) A glance at Navidson's youth teaches us that his father was a violent alcoholic who was more often absent than present. tilting. Deprived of light. Navidson's house functions like an immense isolation tank. Navidson's very first human relationship was thus characterised by absence. many inter-communicating passageways encountered by individual members. even with only a glance. corresponding to Vidler's characterisation of 'the uncanny' as "outgrowth of the Burkean sublime": "[i]ts favourite motif was precisely the contrast between a secure and homely interior and the fearful invasion of an alien presence. and the rooms all become the self . and that his mother soon left Navidson and his twin brother to make a career as an actress . All solutions then are necessarily personal. are thus a projection of one's own fears. not refer to buildings summoning an uncanny feeling on the basis of for example "special effects of design". Ruby Dahl. […] Spatial estrangement [. closing.singular and applicable only to those on that path at that particular time. . in its aesthetic dimension. in other words. seem to offer a communal experience." (Vidler: 3) The anomaly of the house. as Vidler states: "the 'uncanny' is not a property of the space itself nor can it be provoked by any particular spatial confirmation. as it were. where the other is.A.. (Danielewski: 115 and 118) On closer examination. the house primarily seems to externalise the psychic problems and anxieties of its inhabitants in its architectural structure. its play was one of doubling. where a dark psychic power takes on a form reflecting or mirroring." (Vidler: 11) "The architectural uncanny" does. strangely enough. it is. his own being. (Danielewski: 330) In this view. change in temperature and any sense of time. will never be re-encountered by anyone else again. extraordinary absence of sensory information manufacture his or her own data. all the more fearsome because apparently the same. the mutations in the house on Ash Tree Lane reflect the psyche of its owners. as well as in light of. nevertheless have been seen as emblematic of the uncanny. [ ]d depen[ ]ng on the duration of his stay begins to project more and more of [ ] personality on those bare walls and vacant [ ]allways.' arguing that 'the house. Holloway's descent remains singular.collapsing. like the Great Hall for instance.] represented precisely that mingling of mental projection and spatial characteristics associated with the uncanny. One can only say that "the buildings and spaces that have acted as the sites for uncanny experiences have been invested with recognizable characteristics. heightener. in spite of. the individual begins to create his own sensory [ ]. a representation of a mental state of projection that precisely elides the boundaries of the real and the unreal in order to provoke a disturbing ambiguity. the legacy of which he would carry with him all his life.. future investigations. but always in perfect relation to the mental state of the individual. (Danielewski: 165) In many ways. the terrifying dark hallways. The same idea is to be found in E. reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it.while evidently not essentially uncanny in themselves. as the cultural signs of estrangement for particular periods. Dr. a slippage between waking and dreaming. Therefore. Hoffmann's story "The Sandman". thus leading him to grant belief to that power and give it the necessary space to fulfil its dark work. in the calls the house on Ash Tree Lane 'a solipsistic Haugeland asserts that the forces the individual to stupendous study of space." (Vidler: 11) Likewise.
"" (Verhaeghe 1999 (a): 28-29) Henceforth I will take on a Lacanian perspective to try to come to terms with the meaning of the dark hallway. taken greater risks and become increasingly more successful. With this line of reasoning. […] The Real is apparently traumatic in itself and yields a primal anxiety as a basic affect.what discourse shuns. we can regard the subterranean corridors in House of Leaves as the Real that has to be dealt with defensively in the Imaginary and/or the Symbolic. one (eventual) meaning. not even ten thousand photographs can secure a world. he was ultimately misled in feeling that his labor could make up for the love he was deprived of as a child and the ultimate sense of security such love bestows. Nevertheless.' It did not matter that the house existed in Virginia. passive equals feminine. This defensive assimilation takes the shape of repression." (Verhaeghe 1999 (a): 39) The implication of this Lacanian reading is that the labyrinth expresses femininity . navel. and so they crave it. desire its end. only that it existed in one place: 'One place. and so while Navidson may have worked harder. possibly the omnipotence. They lack the hollow. the uterine cavity. its . any creative life-yielding physiological incavation. N.Perhaps one reason Navidson became so enamored with photography was the way it gave permanence to moments that were often so fleeting. desire it. impregnate and if necessary even be consumed by it. this [notion of the omphalos. what immediately imparts her with the power. (Danielewski: 22-23) "On every woman falls the shadow of the mother. The core of our being as well as the omphalos of the dream share ""the opacity of the trauma (…) its resistance to signification" and "the pathogenic nucleus as what is being sought. Freud's core.keeping in mind the multi-interpretability of the concept of the labyrinth itself ("the house frustratingly resists any single interpretation" (Vidler: 119)). conquer. destroy. N. (the real) cultural critic Camille Paglia says: Notice only men go into it[?] Why? Simple: women don't have to. "In 1995." (Verhaeghe 1999: 53.that which is without signifier. characterised by lack of desire .Freud had discovered the lack in the Symbolic system: there is no signifier for The Woman. for which there is no signifier in the Symbolic. "[f]rom a Lacanian point of view. however. Hausmaninger claimed that Navidson's house was analogous to the blind spot created by the optic nerve in the retina: 'It is a place of processing. she soon altered this supposition. "the core of our being" understood as the relationship between the Real and the other two orders [the the Symbolic.' However. invade. of sense-making. i. parapsychologist Lucinda S. That it is precisely the passive feminine that constitutes the Real (that should be repressed) in House of Leaves. but which repels discourse . it lies precisely outside of any determinant. My translation8 ) This absence of the proto-relationship cannot. In a (fictive) interview with Karen. its knowledge.. is expressed in the work itself.its essence. it is everything but "a place of processing.] can be Imaginary and dynamic drive resisting every attempt to give it representation. "To be more accurate: passivity became a substitute signifier for femininity because even Freud could not find the right words for it. as Verhaeghe points out. the traumatic Real.e. of seeing.to use here a Strangelove-ian phrase . is the impossible Real that lies beyond the Imaginary and the Symbolic. describing it as 'the omphalos of all we are. we have reached Freud's theory of desire and urge or drive. They know there's nothing there and can live with that knowledge. primal scene or mycelium. A lot of questions are raised here. of seeing". inhabit. the element. They're haunted by that infinite hollow and its sense-making allure. In other words. of sense-making. is femininity.'" (Danielewski: 414) Now. B.in Freud's theory. It really comes down to what men lack. of the mother. Freud discovered that this repulsive material is always a passive trauma. but men must find out for sure. They must penetrate." (Verhaeghe 1999 (a): 28) Thus. In this perspective.]. explain in itself why Navidson had to create such an impenetrable / unfathomable labyrinth. This might be the right place to turn our attention to the theories of Freud and Lacan. to which we cannot immediately formulate an adequate answer . The whole thing's about womb .B.
into the heart of the labyrinth. the way back lies open.by the male supposed and feared . whatever you prefer. runs downwards. Beyond the female. the mother. Every corridor he cycles through during his last exploration. he is different) results in an intense feeling of displacement and loss.pleasure. my trans. the figure of the Omnipotent Mother arises. In other words: absent. where it has to be fought or fled. The female. is that the thing or condition most fled from. The subsequent realization that he is unlike her (he has a penis. my trans. (Danielewski: 357-358. and it is precisely this more balanced theory that applies to Karen. desiring an unlimited sensual pleasure and using her product. driven by an inner force unknown to him and therefore situated outside himself. is at the same time the most desired. […] How would I describe [that place]? The feminine void." (Danielewski: 425) A way out no longer exists since there is only one way: downwards. This myth presupposes an insatiable mother. For men. that which he first identified with: the vagina. for the . invites him to cross this boundary. something real. a lust reducing the male to a mere object. is the passive position towards the other10 . Every female opens up the abyss." (Verhaeghe 1999: 140. Beyond the fear lies the desire for that passive position. together with a primitive logic: we stem from it. Camille Paglia characterises the struggle between the sexes as follows: 'For the male. for her supposed lasciviousness. who has to be either mastered or fled." (Verhaeghe 1999: 145. she doesn't. This attempt at mastering is the most obvious in the institutionalised genital mutilation of the clitoridectomy. Verhaeghe notes that within each patriarchal monotheism (itself evolved from a matrilineal clan system). The pleasure of the Other thus becomes threatening for us. "The male fear for the female.)9 Here we arrive at the origin of the mythological consuming genital. sex is a struggle for identity. my trans. as Verhaeghe adds: "What Freud does not emphasize. still he keeps joining it. the danger supposedly residing inside her has to be curbed before it is even named. my trans.envy or vagina envy. "It's as if I'm moving along a surface that always tilts downward no matter which direction I face. my trans. 364) The house as vagina: The adolescent boy's primary identification lies with the mother. (Verhaeghe 1999: 133. "an unresisting. what every subject has to manipulate. 'Female' stands for something different. the hallway seems to force Navidson to penetrate deeper and deeper into it. it is the female who has to be mastered.) The female is thus regarded as a danger which the male should master. the vagina dentata. inwards. This kind of mutilation is directed against the .) "Sensual pleasure.) Freud however adjusted his initial theories. […] What the male fears.) In House of Leaves. […] Navidson's house is an incarnation of his own mother.female lasciviousness. His fear is thus a sexualised modelling of a much more ancient anxiety. merely through her femininity. as well as anxiety and aggression will be directed against the female. Apparently it is not only the male who flees from the presupposed and frightening female pleasure. The boy must seek out a new identity (the father) … Navidson explores that loss. in the woman. her fruit to this end. awakens the need in him to transgress this limit. which affects both man and woman in their status of children. "What every subject flees from." And yet. (Verhaeghe 1999: 143-144.always partial . the remainders of the labia majora are stitched up as well. something indescribable. the womb. the male is consumed and released again by the toothed power that bore him. is the resulting fear. next to the excision of the entire female genital. At the cost of that woman. spineless instrument that is used and consumed.' Sex is a battle that the man always loses. in which the male fears. every act of intercourse is a return to the mother and a capitulation to her. so consequently. the crossing of a boundary beyond which he no longer exists. is the fear to disappear in the female body. (Danielewski: 358) Paul Verhaeghe's collection of essays Love in a Time of Loneliness. from which I have quoted above offers a number of indications for such an interpretation. In the most serious form of clitoridectomy . beyond any form of ." (Verhaeghe 1999: 143. but at the same time longs to fall into. the female dragon of nature.called infibulation -. is the transgression. In sex.
From the moment that any return seems to be impossible.) The fact that the claustrophobia turns up precisely in the confrontation with this dark space is not surprising. The jouïssance or enjoyment lacks precisely this delineation. it is precisely the characteristic of endlessness11 that frightens the men to death. In her first confrontation with the dark.) So it is an attempt to give Karen some kind of control. and irresistibly returns to his origin. or at least a feeling of control. fruit of and for the Other. and can pass on the Black Peter. "However it does not seem unreasonable to consider a traumatic adolescent experience. the literal absorption of the other himself". In a psychopharmacological investigation Karen once participated in. c'est le désir de l'autre'. thus offering a safe anchor. the 'jouïssance'. the genital orgasm. one pays it with oneself. "carrying in itself the risk of losing oneself in it. 'Jouïssance': usufruct. my trans. Desire is delineated or scanned in time.) 'Le désir de l'homme. namely "the rewriting of a scenario through which one gets a better role than before. my trans. one disappears as a subject. Verhaeghe puts us on the track of a possible explanation." (Verhaeghe 1999: 60. There is however a secured form of enjoyment. The lacking of such a necessary end point is an essential characteristic of the drive or urge. it becomes clear that Karen most likely . all the objects of fear and phobia that have returned with such insistency to haunt the imaginations of those who have tried to stake out . as a possible source for Karen's fears. is driven to the female. namely the (male) phallic-orgiastic one. to 'get beside oneself'. my trans. my trans. she should be mastered as well. Willy-nilly they hope to find the exit to the labyrinth. 'Better' usually means active-controlling instead of passive-enduring. there was no evidence of a history of sexual abuse.) In House of Leaves. to use Lacan's words. where "the body has built in a security mechanism through the installation of a direction and an end point. For the disappearance in the other. time after time. Tom hands the keys over to Karen. The drift is a serious step backwards in relation to the desire. to that other. whether a fantasy or real. that was left behind." From this lack of delineation stems the anxiety of the ego for the enjoyment. Afterwards. the fact that Tom. unknown hallway. over the horrors behind the door." (Vidler: 175) In this perspective.) irresistible urge to return that drives Navidson: "The obsession just grew and grew until it was Navidson who was finallypossessed by some selfdestructive notion to go back there and yet completelydispossessed of any rational mechanism to override such an incredibly stupid idea. just like his attempt . a frightening incorporation. he is after all the part that fell off. since "space is assumed to hide.subjection to the other. Navidson's twin brother. linked directly […] to the death drive. As Verhaeghe puts it: "The price for the totality is extremely high.12 The distinction between desire and urge is primarily a distinction in the related perception of time. where we are satisfied "with the identification.) It is exactly this (incomprehensible.right after their escape from the devouring tunnels (where two men lost their lives and two other men barely escaped the same fate) . panic however strikes. since it presupposes a totally. passively being absorbed by the other. and thus the disappearance of the own self. and as a woman. my trans."13 (Verhaeghe 1999: 168. this seems rather strange since she is a woman. (Verhaeghe 1999: 184. the absorbing of the desire of the other"." (Danielewski: 386) There is a "notion of an impulsion toward a loss of the subject into dark space. to 'disappear'." (Verhaeghe 1999: 180.has been sexually abused by her stepfather. In the course of the novel. At first sight." (Verhaeghe 1999: 145.to barricade the door and thus 'stitch up' the entrance to this frightening 'female genital'. The drift is the "incorporation." (Danielewski: 347) Tom's handing over the keys can be understood as a concession to a fantasy of Karen's which is common to victims of sexual abuse (whether real or fantastic). tries to create a sense of security "by installing a door to close off the hallway" (Danielewski: 61) becomes acceptable.) Moreover. Karen suffers a fit of claustrophobia a form of the original global anxiety expressing itself in an "anxiety to 'fall'." (Verhaeghe 1999: 170. in its darkest recesses and forgotten margins. However. my trans. it is no coincidence that it is the male who. of disappearing in the shoreless stream and of no longer being able to return.
In a long." (Vidler: 167) When Navidson enters the house as a modern Jonah to ward off the storm. Again. Delial. he tries to justify this return (which he himself significantly calls a "penance". I'm not going to do it again. which seemed to mortgage the attempt at reconciliation entirely. this attempt might never have worked? 3. and who subsequently had to watch his twin brother being swallowed up by his house and die in a horrifying manner. But the photo. signifies.Delial and the death drive Finally I have come to the point where I can formulate an answer to the previously asked question why Navidson had to create such an impenetrable / infathomable labyrinth. Delial. Answers . we have to go back to Navidson's past. the hallway was a challenge to Karen as well as to Navidson. written down without punctuation and full of spelling mistakes. no mother nor day [sic]. Should we dare to conclude that without the hallway. i had no one to [sic] her to no window to pass her through out of harms way no tom there I was no tom there and then that tiny bag of bones just started to shake and it was over she died right in my hands the hands of the guy who took . very emotional interior monologue. Ultimately.a penance or something. who was already outside thehouse and thus in safety. he had won the Pulitzer price with a photo of "a Sudanese child dying of starvation. that's not what I can't get out of my head right now. that Navidson keeps mentioning in his dreams. and what he thus wanted to conceal. Delial. has become even more vivid after Tom's death in the latter's attempt to save his niece Daisy when the house collapsed on its inhabitants." (Danielewski: 368) Navidson named the little girl. that's all she is Karen. pointing out the state of mind he was in at the moment of writing it. too weak to move even though a vulture stalks her from behind. no people just a vulture and a fucking photojournalist i wish i were dead right now i wish i were dead that poor little baby this god god awful world im sorry i cant stop thinking of her never have never will cant forget how i ran with her like where was i going to really run i was twelve miles from nowhere (Danielewski: 391-393) The remembrance of this failure. Inadequate. Not the photo .but who she was before onesixtieth of a second sliced her out of thin air and won me the pulitzer though that didnt keep the vultures away i did that by swinging my tripodaround [sic] though that didnt keep her from dyding [sic] five years old daisy's age except she was pciking [sic] at a bone you should have seen her not the but her a little girl squatting in a field of rock dangling a bone between her fingers i miss miss miss but i didn't miss i got her along with the vulture in the background when the real vulture was the guy with the camera preying on her for his fuck pulitzer prize it doesnt matter if she was already ten minutes from dying i took threem [sic] minutes to snap a photo should have taken 10 minutes taking her somewhere so she wouldnt go away like that no family. As a war photographer. Danielewski: 391). the uncanny anomalies disappear like snow in summer. In a letter to Karen. that thing .'" (Danielewski: 102) "[…] and now I can't get Delial out of my head. Delial . he reveals the significance of the name 'Delial': she represents his failure . Only at the end of the novel it becomes clear what this mysterious name. To answer this question. whom he could not save from death. that has been haunting him ever since he came back from Sudan. written the night before his return to the house in Ash Tree Lane. Tom handed over Daisy through the window to Navidson.that photo.spaces to protect their health and happiness. he was powerless in the confrontation with death.the name I gave to the girl in the photo that won me all the fame and gory [sic]. Again. And now I can't understand anymore why it meant so much to me to keep her a secret . just the photo. Navidson himself was safe while a little child (this time his own daughter) was in danger of her life. and Karen takes the liberating step in the dark out of love for him. Well there it's said."'I waited too long with Delial.
Most of them agree on one point: Delial would soon transcend the meaning of her own existence. re-identification with a lost object.'I was no Tom there' . (Danielewski: 393) In the pages following the revelation. who characterise the letter as drunken babble chock-full of expected expressions of grief." (Danielewski: 394) Everything happening in Navidson's life in some way gets connected with Delial. Therefore his grief fuses his sense of self with his understanding of the other. and what she concretely meant to Navidson. and time turned her bones into a trope for everything Navidson had ever lost. possibly the omnipotence. experience. The very shape of the hallways. maybe he's the one I'm looking for. The desire to save Delial must partly be attributed to a projection of Navidson's own desire to be cradled by his mother. (Danielewski: 397) This refutation in fact points back at Freud's earlier discussed concept of transference. And finally he had watched his lifelong companion flee to her mother and probably another lover. and it is used to interpret information and to guide action. in his usual style. as Navidson experiences them during his last exploration.' It is a harrowing admission full of sorrow and defeat . After all in a very short amount of time Navidson had seen the rape of physics.points out. taking with her his children and bits of his sanity." (Verhaeghe 1999: 53. of the mother.after twenty years of silence. the repressed keeps popping up where it is least expected. thus making Delial the centre of a web of different meanings. It is no coincidence that as Navidson begins to dwell on Delial he mentions his brother three times: 'I had no one to pass her to.three minutes two minutes whatever a handful of seconds to photograph her and now she was gone that poor little girl in this god awful world i miss her i miss delial i miss the man i thought i was before i met her the man who would have saved her who would have done something who would have been tom maybe hes the one im looking for or maybe im looking for all of them". (Danielewski: 395) "She [Delial] is all he needs to find. neither friends nor family nor colleagues knew that Delial was the name Navidson gave to the starving Sudanese child . He had stood helplessly by as his own brother was crushed and consumed. all ventilating their own opinion concerning Delial.in his assumed role of literary critic . He had watched one man murder another and then pull the trigger on himself. This interpretation of Navidson's letter is however refuted by other critics in Danielewski's book. There was no Tom there. what immediately imparts her with the power." (Danielewski: 176) The repressed keeps coming back. Danielewski again. Delial also comes to represent the loss of Navidson's twin brother Tom. (Danielewski: 395-396) An explanation for the sudden importance of Delial in Navidson's last letter ." (Danielewski: 395) As Danielewski himself .seeing his brother as the life-saving (and line-saving) hero he himself was not. is partly determined by his past: "[Environmental image. I was no Tom there. according to which "on every woman falls the shadow of the mother. a generalized mental picture of the exterior physical world] is the product both of immediate sensation and of the memory of past experience. causing him not only to mourn for the tiny child but for himself as well. There was no window to pass her through out of harms way. . having less to do with Navidson's lost brother and more to do with the maternal absence he endured throughout his life. and plenty of transference. although his death takes place twenty years after hers.is grounded in a repressive mechanism enabling [Navidson] to at least on a symbolic level deal with his nearly inexpressible loss. before the appearance of "The Navidson Record". comes up with a whole series of critics. my trans. "Memory.) Indeed. Tom.
The point of recounting these observations is simply to show how understandable it was that for Navidson the impenetrable sweep of that place soon acquired greater meaning simply because […] it was full of unheimliche vorklänger and thus represented a means to his own personal propitiation. "Navidson began believing darkness could offer something other than itself. 'Was Navidson like Jonah?' The Haven-Slocum Theory asks. See. nothing. it seemed. It is not for sale. sort of coming out of the shock of it. I told you it was nice out. 'Did he understand the house would calm if he entered it. even put to rest the confusions and troubles of others. there weren't [sic] no breeze to speak of. "The only ominous note was struck by the ambulance driver who took Navidson and Karen to the hospital: It was late afternoon. and she started to cry a lot.' producing projections powerful and painful enough to 'occlude. rueful. […] when Tom died every 'angry.Danielewski suggests that only after 'finding' Delial and reaching an understanding about his own life. […] 'Even the brightest magnesium flare can do little against such dark except blind the eyes of the one holding it. And the hallway in the living room now resembled a shallow closet. Karen still owns it. […] That houseanswers many yearnings remembered in sorrow." (Danielewski: 402) He sees himself as the biblical Jonah. real peaceful. the space between the master bedroom and the children's bedroom had vanished. I seen that happen a lot. So finally I lookt [sic] over at the houseand sure enough their screen door was slamming open and shut. During his very last exploration of the house. a curative symmetry to last the ages. 'the utter and perfect blankness. suggesting Navidson did not wholly come to terms with his own past. But that screen door was banging open and shut like we were in the middle of a darned hurricane. the house became a house again. As she warns: 'There is nothing there. Its walls were even white. The sea.' It is nevertheless the underlying position […] that Navidson in fact relied on such projections in order to deny his increasingly more 'powerful and motivating Thanatos. I forgot about it until I'm driving back to the hospital. Well that was true. self-indicting tangle' within Navidson suddenly 'lit up. bang. nice.he being about to die and she crying and all . the house (and only the house) offered "the possibility that he could locate either within himself or 'within that vast missing' some emancipatory sense to put to rest his confusions and troubles. A few weeks later I drove by thehouse but the door was closed and they'd started putting up that big fence.' In the end. had quieted. the somatic and psychological symptoms of everyone exposed to the housedecreased (Danielewski: 406: table). It was real intense . As Reston discovered. Karen's bookshelves were once again flush with the walls.can be found in Navidson's unconscious desire for death.' (Danielewski: 550) His last enterprise seems to have failed too. […] . […] The house still stands on Ash Tree Lane.so I shouldn't have noticed anything else but I kept hearing this banging. he sought nothing less than to see the house exact its annihilating effects on his own being. Navidson will be able to properly escape the house. this positive outcome is refuted. The trees weren't swaying. just as Jonah understood the waters would calm if he were thrown into them?'" (Danielewski: 406) In the scraps of paper to be found in the Appendix. Be careful. Real nice. [e]ven more peculiar. deny and cover' the only reason for their success in the first place: the blankness of that place. and we got him on a stretcher and loaded up.again expressly offered in the book itself . Thus one craves what by seeing one has in fa ct not seen. bang. The reason for this new failure . however. To Navidson. just still. bang. Over and over.
Knight. was: "was the subject a haunted house?" (Danielewski: 6). The Architectural Uncanny.T. ----. or rising? Is he right side up. It is for good reason that Holloway takes Jed. References Danielewski." (Danielewski: 359) 3. Is he floating. because he had always placed someone else between himself and the threat. falling." (Danielewski: 472) At the end of the tunnel. that which is uncanny may be defined as empty of knowledge and knowing or at the same time surfeit with the absence of knowledge and knowing. […] Maybe that is the something here. My end. Essays in the Modern Unhomely. Freud.1999 (a). a place that would threaten no one else's existence but his own. author of "Murder's Gate: A Treatise On Love and Rage" […]: 'It is therefore sacred. The only thing here. Navidson. 2000. 1999. London: Doubleday. E.Thus emphasizing the potentially mortal price for beholding what must lie forever lost in those inky folds. a guide. 'Does the woman exist?' From Freud's Hysteric to Lacan's Feminine. XVII (1917-19) London: The Hogarth P: 217-256. Hoffmann. 1969 . A frequently asked question at the publication of "The Navidson Record". Paul. The husbandless Madonna. Ed. Mother of God. See also Anthony Vidler's "The Architectural Uncanny: Essays In The Modern Unhomely" (Cambridge. "While unheimlich has already recurred within this text. "Returning to Ash Tree Lane meant removing the other. While lacking the Germanic sense of 'home. Chicago: U of Chicago P. (Danielewski : 388) 14 4. Compulsive Beauty.' Questions plague him. 1964. as a photographer. and so without understanding exactly what repetitive denial still successfully keeps repressed and thus estranged. Mother of Mother. "is slowly becoming more and more disoriented. It meant photographing something unlike anything he had ever encountered before. Freud's death drive was awaiting him… "Non enim videbit me homo et vivet". 1992. though indulging in repetition nonetheless. House of Leaves. Foster. Vol. forever preserved. "The Sandman. Drie verhandelingen over drift en verlangen.' uncanny builds its meaning on the Old English root cunnan from the Old Norse Kunna which has risen from the Gothic Kunnan (preterite-present verbs) meaning know from the Indo-European (see OED). a place without population. there has up to now been no treatment of the English word uncanny. during his last and almost fatal exploration. The ultimate virgin.A. 1992). Anthony. Sigmund. Inhuman'. London: Rebus Press. Hoffmann. Verhaeghe. Leonard J. with him. Volume 1: The Tales. The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud.T. Vidler. which. "The Uncanny". un-cann-y literally breaks down or disassembles into that which is not full of knowing or converselyfull of not knowing. Massachusetts. Mark Z. In the words of Perry Ivan Nathan Shaftesbury. be regarded as an encounter with the threat of death. The 'y' imparts a sense of 'full of' while the 'un' negates that which follows. The MIT Press. 'like I've got a bad case of the spins. Cambridge (Ma): MIT P. in the last resort.A. (Danielewski: 81). upside down or on his side?" (Danielewski: 465) 4. Vidler: 23. "'I guess all we've got now is your . 2000. even in previous visits to the house." (Danielewski: 387-388) Navidson's return to the house could. inviolate. Kent and Elizabeth C. 2. Liefde in tijden van eenzaamheid. He suffers from surges of nausea." (Danielewski: 422) "Only my end exists. In other words. Marc du Ry. Cambridge: MIT P. Footnotes 1. and trans. Hal. without participants." Selected Writings of E. who "possesses an uncanny [!] sense of direction" and Wax.Trans. he never had felt. Leuven: Acco.
Love in a Time of Loneliness . Navidson writes: "God's a house. to everything? Where?'" (Danielewski: 94). which is to say then. structural impossibility. New York. "The shores are delineated and the energy is channelled. I will use the word 'enjoyment'. "Maurice Blanchot translates this as "whoever sees God dies. The thrust reaches its height. ergo no meaning… Or: "I trace the lines." (Danielewski: 388)." (Danielewski: 356).what kind of foundation is it sitting on?" (Danielewski: 355) Something without foundation. filled with dark stone walls. I come' is truly the right expression. no other. From here on. 9. to us. The 'I come." (Danielewski: 361) "Just as a nasty virus resists the body's immune system so […] the house resists interpretation. Whatever you like but something. "Though Wax puts his faith in Jed's unerring sense of direction. All translations of Verhaeghe 1999 are therefore mine. really. Derrida answers: "The other.albeit a pretty weirdhouse. Jed admits to some pre-exploration apprehensions: 'How can I know where to go when I don't know where we are? I mean.) 14. The house seems to deny all laws of nature concerning supporting power. Moreover. [Pause] Or what other. (Kofman: 150) 6." Meaning could only originate "if you tied the house to politics. 8. impossibly high. but the finish is in sight.Three Essays on Drive and Desire. London: The Other Press. This interpretation gains even more power through the support of another quote: "Realizing what is about to happen. my trans. The literal translation goes as follows: 'The man who sees me and lives does after all not exist. deep. wide . the I was far gone. but he is too late. its mass… In the end it adds up to nothing. When asked for his interpretation of the house. 10. and all I come up with is… well the whole thing's just a hopeless. was that the certain 'something' Holloway so adamantly sought to locate never existed per se in that place to begin with. What I mean to say is that our house is God. 7. Both in its sense of enjoyment as in its sense of usufruct.' In his letter to Karen. for a fantastic world. Rebus Press). science or psychology. When asked for his description of the house. I have not been able to consult the English translation of this collection of essays. the dams break." (Danielewski: 95) 5. At the end of the 18th century. has no ground. (The reference of the translation is: Verhaeghe. Which is not to say that our house is God's house or even a house of God. but irrevocably waiting to be cut through. ¥ : the mathematical sign of infinity. one should keep in mind one issue: "It could represent plenty of things but it also is nothing more than itself. Navidson makes a desperate grab for the only remaining thread connecting him to home. Entirely according to Kofman's theories." (Danielewski: 293) This thread of course suggests the umbilical cord. where is that place in relation to here. do the math. Hofstadter answers: "A horizontal eight. 13. ." (Danielewski: 90). 12.sense of direction. of course. study the construction. beyond dimension. which as Luther Shepard wrote: "Only helps to emphasize how real the threat was of getting lost in there'." (Verhaeghe 1999: 168." (Vidler: 169). connecting the new-born to its mother. hiding places and dungeons. Paul. as will be indicated." (Danielewski: 361). And therefore substanceless and forgettable. beforehand. but one must keep in mind both meanings of the word. "Absolute darkness [was] the most powerful instrument to induce that state of fundamental terror claimed by Burke as the instigator of the sublime. the same thing. A spatial phenomenology of darkness came to life. its magnitude. "The problem. the fear of darkness brought about a great fascination for everything concerning the dark side of life. The other." (Danielewski: 364). "So that place." (Danielewski: 390). for. Despite its weight. 1999.' Wax jokingly tells Jed. You see?" (Danielewski: 365) 11. The darkness reigning in the hallway is not coincidental. a house .
Leuven on the historical novel.Nele Bemong is currently working on a Ph.U. .D at the department of Dutch Literature at the K.
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