(you're already there)1
Much is broke in here, and
There is much to bee hound.
To the extent that anything can be mapped here.
I'll do my best to keep you close.
Work begun and carried on elsewhere continues
Ongoing glee here.
'Paradise? But, like, I already know what that means. Everybody does.
'Do share, daughter.'
'A perfect place. A place of peace. Without hurt. Without sic— a good place.'
— The Familiar, p. 86
We are all our own conditions.
Accompanied by our own (im)(p)alements.
Victims of sicknesses we inextricably are.
The hiccups we can't miss.
The viscous we can't lick.
Me? I'm deeply allergic.
Not just to the air, the dust, the pollens of both plants and animals.
I'll sneeze at the lightest provocation, even after I've prepared.
I'm hyperallergenic. Or at least,
I have been.
Not just the dusts, though, that flip beneath the cracks in in my exterior,
that lodge themselves distinctly in my orbs and openings.
That's not all that makes me balk.
No, for way the heck too long, I've been allergic to...
Otto Rank calls it "the thwarted artist," or maybe that blurrier term,
distended by a century,
I'll open up here, all right? But only if you promise not to judge me.
This is a safe space.
If we compare the neurotic with the productive type, it is evident that the former suffers from an excessive check on their impulsive life, and, according to whether this neurotic checking of the instincts is effected through fear or through will, the picture presented is one of fear-neurosis or compulsion-neurosis. With the productive type the will dominates, and exercises a far-reaching control over (but not check upon) the instincts, which are pressed into service to bring about creatively a social relief of fear. [...]
The neurotic [...] is generally regarded as the weak-willed type, but wrongly so, for their strong will is exercised upon themselves and, indeed, in the main repressively so it does not show itself.
And here we reach the essential point of difference between the productive type who creates and the thwarted neurotic; what is more, it is also the point from which we get back to our individual artist-type. Both are distinguished fundamentally from the average type, by their tendency to exercise their volition in reshaping themselves. There is, however, this difference: that the neurotic, in this voluntary reshaping of their ego, does not get beyond the destructive preliminary work and is therefore unable to detach the whole creative process from their own person and transfer it to an ideological abstraction.
So there I've been, for the most part of the last century. I mean decade. I knew what it was like to be a productive artist-type, and then a series of disorienting events and a lack of broader experience on my part shifted me strongly away from productive ego (if possibly over-eager) into a self-destructive psycho-pattern of my own hated reinforcement.
Oops! I forgot my
Too much control over your impulses,
you enter the realm of the neurotic,
never trusting yourself to act.
Too little control, and you veer into
the unrealm of the psychopathic,
where most teenagers spend at least a little time.
Certainly most kids.
The neurotic is the totemic Sein,
by which I mean -feld,
(hooooooooly smooooookes haha,
Seinfeld und Zeitfeld!)
by which I mean sign, by which I mean
a pretty handy way of thinking about modern humans under our
technobabbulent-fascist, corpulent-capitalist, winner-fakes-all
Best Western society,
"We'll leave the light on.
... and that's all we'll leave on,
because it helps us see what you're doing,
and also it's gonna cost ya."
We have to keep such a tight reign on ourselves,
no wonder there's such a libertarian-baby boom,
crying, "JUST DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!"
while wielding unmarked guns... baby-shakers... etc.
So, anyway, neurosis. Tearing down as the foundation of building something new,
and as an artist you have to build/grow yourself, first.
Become your own soil.
But I let my confidence be so eroded that
the only part of the process that could take place
was the clear-cutting.
I'm only hesitantly out of that clearing.
Stepping delicately back into the forest of lively action.
I've avoided art, avoided parties, avoided doing much of anything at all.
Avoided trying, for fear of flying only too briefly.
each flight's just a flap. Then another. Then a coast. And a song.
This is one of my sicknesses. The sibilant neurosssiisssss
that says, "What if you fail? What if you're embarrassed?
Better not to begin, but also never to abandon the possibility of beginning,
so that every moment is a torment of what I wish I was doing
while hardly doing anything, especially that."
It's a fear, in a certain way, of misspeaking.
Especially as it applies to things like this, like the forums,
like a chance encounter with an admired personage
toward whom you would like to spill countless diatribes,
to fill fountless cisterns of questions unwished for.
Or even a friend,
who even though distant,
is certainly nearer than most.
But to whom the fear of sounding foolish
makes me a pre-emptive
I read Xanther's description of Paradise.
A good place. A place that goes without.
And I consult the etymology, at Anwar's patient prompting.
A question that gets asked but not immediately answered.
It just gets Anwar'd. Then Xanther'd.
Then waitstaff interrupted.
Here's the Webster's Revised Unabridged (1913 + 1828):
Paradise \Par"a*dise\, n.
[OE. & F. paradis,
L. paradisus, fr.
Gr. para`deisos park, paradise,
fr. Zend pairida[=e]za an inclosure;
pairi around (akin to Gr. ?) +
diz to throw up, pile up;
cf. Skr. dih to smear, and E. dough. Cf. [snip 'Parvis' cannot be found].]
Paradise is an enclosure where you can throw up,
pile things up,
smear them around;
bake bread from the dough of your throw.
That really tosses a different chunk
onto all this business of vomit.
Johnny's trouble keeping anything down.
Sam & Hailey's frequent spit stops.
Everything hurled, even Hurls of Dudes
amongst their swirls of rudes.
I am the ralpha, and the throwmega.
our Worldhurling blur. / our Worldturning blur.
Faces turning blur from slack of oxygern.
So, since I've gotta go, I'll wrap up:
Paradise could be a place where you can't misspeak.
Where what you say is what you meant,
especially when you didn't know you meant it.
Z's books, that depend so much upon hearing what was written
even when something else was expected,
are a kind of paradise. Or a searching for it.
And this place, my verdant lawn,
will be a place of paradise
— for there is not just one paradise, but potentially many —
— potentially any —
where I will toss things around and have,
already begun to do so.
Heaven is exactly this,
just two inches off the ground.
Where's it's not so bad that
we're all inescapably haunted by
Let's also note,
The artist, as it were, takes not only their canvas, their colors, or their model in order to paint, but also the art that is given them formally, technically, and ideologically, within their own culture; this probably emerges most clearly in the case of the poet, whose material is drawn from the cultural possessions already circulating and is not dead matter, as is that used by the plastic arts.
(Though Derrida might have something to say about that.)
In any case we can say of all artistic creation that the artist not only creates their art, but also uses art in order to create.
Because Fiction's province is the imagination and thus concerned with the argument of empathy over representation [...]
Art unequestionably has an end, probably even serves a variety of ends — but the ends are not concrete and practical, they are abstract and spiritual.
One thing is certain:
1. I will embarrass myself,
2. I cannot please everyone,
3. This is fine.
Too much has passed without comment.
A new volume slides up the horizon,
less Kubrist monolith and
It's coming. In a sense, it's here
(in the sense that I read an ARC a couple of months ago)
(and in the further sense that a finished copy arrived a couple of weeks ago)
now, with us, among us.
(And in the furrier sense that, as I suggested years(!) ago,
it was already present in the earlier books, in the house, in Only Revolutions, in everything,
and The Familiar confirms that immediately in a way that is
both gratifying and,
I have to admit,
a little terrifying).
And I don't scare easy.
No pressure. This is just another beginning.
Putting my infrastructure in place.
This is a weird form of fanartfic,
one I feel compelled to enact
even after so many years.
While I can’t really respond well to personal usages of these impersonal symbols, let me just note here that I’ve always been a little curious as to why Danielewski didn’t play more with upside-down text. One huge paranoia-inducing opportunity is that were “snow” capitalized it would allow SNOWMONS (mound, mountain) which is just too damn perfect. (Of course I think Danielewski’s after bigger game than inducing psychedelia, but he certainly seems to enjoy making his symbolic spaces as densely interconnected as possible.) This seems like something he would have noticed; why he might have avoided it is totally unclear to me.
For rigor’s sake, I went quickly through the Spectrum font in which Sam and Hailey are set to look for symmetries; Danielewski’s interviews suggest that he was very font-conscious for OR, presumably in more than name, so symmetries that DO exist are presumably significant. I really don’t know my typography, so I’ve invented descriptive terms when needed—sorry. Lowercase d, b, p, and q are almost symmetrical, except the placement of line thickness on the circle differs between d&p and b&q, and the shape of the long-staff serif differs between b&d and p&q. u and n are rotationally symmetrical. Capital H, lower-case but NOT upper-case s, upper-and lower-case o, upper- and lower- x, and upper- and lower- z are rotationally symmetrical. Lower-case l, upper-case N, and again upper-case S are NOT symmetrical.
OK, that was pretty pointless.
I've been too orderly, too (aca/epi)demicallly quotatious a babe,
And basically no one's responded, so maybe that's the wrong tack;
Allso overwhelming, sure, trying to bring all these pieces succinctly into view for your benefit
As swell as mein;
Sewwww hear, more made looser for you silent goosen:
(Spring, allso, sounds an audible "ee")
On the very first pages, eee's and aaa's abound. Their sounds accustom.
And allso substitutions; wiggle and waggle; spin & twist; smile and frown.
Ruin sounds like rune; mutiny's an inversion of order, of hierarchy;
Swap and spin the runes to see more.
—Harms are arms with a dash assault, A Five Decade Blade swishes.
Winding Corridors hrrroan: —Defend a stray's hun. What's the differance?
All these books point at spans, snaps, snips, and spins.
Reversals and substratutions that don't just allso happen to work.
E and A is obvious; this is Derrida's différance write large,
e's where a's should be, and e's allso where a's are.
The era is aware they are.
The lower-cases, seriffed, are rotationally symmetrical!
e () a
ease a breeze
Ss, H, Oo, Zz, N, Xx are immune to that, but many other letters aren't.
p () d
u () n
e () a
m () w
[maw and mew?]
q () b (dependent on typeface)
r () j (maybe, maybe not)
t () f (not rotational, but flippantly)
y () h (Maybe.)
I and l might work for direct swaps. Might be considered immune to rotation.
Sam and Hailey are entirely composed of these letters:
sam () sew / wes (just letters / whole word)
hailey () yeilah / haliey (just letters / whole word )
Which implies perhaps that it's not just e and a that should swap, but any of these rotational letters.
Further, the fluidity may extend to other, noncanonical swaps, stitches or smushes.
Wheel/weel suggests that s and h are free to come and go. Eventually.
For order's bonds easily slipped.
And "seem" doesn't appear because there are no "seams," either;
No visible joins because everything that's joined is joined by space,
But is also completely contiguous;
Seams show where two things originally separate have been joined,
And in this World all things are allways connected.
We leave the seams to their tresses.
Most importantly, your judgment is
Required every time; not every e should be an a, nor
Every p, a d.
(P.S. (parenthetical script) DNE/DNA — and/end)
What about Creep? Creap, Craep and Craap give giggles, but no insight (yet),
But: Creed? A pronouncement, a statement of purpose?
Firmament among the shifting?
This indeed gives pause.
And what's the Latin origin of creed?
Credo. "I believe." A statement that aims and guides.
The o has been consubsumed. The tail's been turned, disguised.
And all their freedom's compromised.
But if Creep is Creed, he's still allso Creep;
And Wheels are Weals are Springs.
Multiple simultaneous correctness is essential.
The play in the space between is the thing.
Woo! I've warn myself out.
But one last!
What's the one word that's the same, regardless of a or e?
What's the one, pale word that saps and strains?
What word describes the glint-making spiders in Zampanò's hall?
What, besides his lashes, is the Man With No (H)Arms,
And the weepings he uncrates?
The tint of going naturals?
Thanks for indulging and doing more pertinent, hands-on research, ducknerd! I didn’t even look at Spectrum specifically, silly me!
I think Danielewski is doing things with upside-down text (and every other direction), it’s just a lot subtler than… oh, wait. Every single page of Only Revolutions has “upside-down text” on it. :p
Which actually makes all of this a lot more “acceptable” to the skeptic; on every page, depending on where you are in the story, and how you’re holding the book, you’re seeing approximately half of the visible letters upside-down. That some of them might get jostled in the constant rotation is only logical.
In a certain way, I think that the Reader’s manipulation isn’t constrained by the rules of the text. Maybe, maybe, and it may turn out that all valuable substitutions just move around the particles which are already there. But, again, I think it’s about the spaces between, which aren’t confined by math and meter.
SNOW something doesn’t mean he didn’t think about it. The Concordance goes a long way toward suggesting that what “isn’t here” is actually really important; technically the contents of the Concordance are in the book, and what we actually have to look for is what’s not written anywhere inside, whether in the body, the endpapers, or anywhere else. More importantly, just because it’s not explicitly included doesn’t mean that it’s not relevant; in my personal estimation, the things we Readers are able to develop and mutate are potentially just as valuable as the original text.
Awfully serf-centered of me, I know.
And, as should be assumed at this point, everything in the text is at least as important as what might be omitted but stilll relevant. And vice versa. It’s not about “the answer” or “the secret,” it’s about what the entire system adds up to. Which is, I think, the point of House of Leaves, too, and why everybody still grinding away at that book by its lonesome, looking for bone keys and secret staircases, is bound to wind up right back where they started. Or allone somewhere in the dark, worse off than when they started. And, by extension, why so many die-hard HoLiers are so put off or nonplussed by OR. The suggestion that the pursuit of one magic component is fruitless, and symptomatic to boot.
I don’t mean to pick a fight. I mean to share the joy of discovery. And get those folks some vitamin D.
So, why did MZD avoid MONS? Maybe he wanted you to find it. And tell it to me and everybody else. And now every time I see the Mountain, or Snow, I’m going to think about MONS. And you have now mutated and, in my estimation, added to the experience of the book. Thanks.
I’m interested that you mention psychedelia; the Wikipedia article’s first paragraph defines that as
The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, “soul”) and δηλοῦν (deloun, “to manifest”), translating to “mind-manifesting”. A psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one’s mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences elicited by various techniques, including sensory stimulation, sensory deprivation as well as by psychedelic substances. Such experiences include hallucinations, changes of perception, synesthesia, altered states of awareness, mystical states, and occasionally states resembling psychosis.
Which, actually, soul- or mind-manifesting might be exactly the terrain we’re navigating here. The creation of a film by way of reading; the creation of two “people” just by following the words they project while passing. Colors becoming letters becoming something else entirely.
The effects of their wave. I mean wake.
Do you see any other pertinent swaps in the text? What other upside-downs would you have included?
Somewhere in the middle I noted “Massaging our feet,” when twirled, becomes “Messaging our feat." Which I like.
Oh, and g’lord I forgot to mention (my notes are extensive and a real mess):
“wheel” swaps to “wheal” which becomes “weal,” the past tense of which is “Welt” which is the German for “World” (and also part of a shoe(!!!)) which comes back around to rhyming with “whirled” and WA-BAM that is awesome. Implicit rhyme and homophonymism is just as much a part of the play here.