Rake and Bake

Hahaha, my roommate helped me come up with that title. I also had a hard time deciding what piece of post-print fiction to do my paper on. Originally, I wanted to do something new; I looked at different online projects, from sources on the course site, as well as the samples Professor Sample sent today. However, I realized that as much as I wanted to do something new, I thought that House of Leaves would be my best option, as I found it to have the most content open to interpretation. So I settled on that. Now, to explain my title, so its known that I’m not a druggie. We talked a lot in class about substance abuse – the marajuana and alcohol and most importantly, the HOUSE – that affected the various characters both in their own self-destructions and the destruction of their relationships with other characters; the obsession and the repercussions that follow it. The house in intself becomes an addictive drug, and is the main source of drama throughout the novel, so delving into how the house is drug-like and its effects is probably my main goal. Also in this analysis, I’d like to possibly address the depths of human emotions, the constant search for something more, and the need for other people. But if this is too far off my main topic or I have enough from that, I probably won’t add it in.

Lessons Learned

          I found Braid to be a lot different than I imagined (not that I’m a big gamer and had much prior knowledge to go off of). I thought the introductory sections, the little reading stones, were really interesting. It reminded me of Mario: the mission to save the princess; however, this explanation went into more detail, introducing the relationship between Tim and the princess. A relationship full of lies and hurt (mistakes) is portrayed from the tablets. I think the theme of “mistakes” and trying to correct them, or learn from them played a huge role in the make-up of the game.

          The first time that I “died” during the game, I freaked out. I thought that I was going to have to go all the way back to the beginning of the world, and start over. Then, when it told me to press the “shift” button, I came to see that I essentially brought myself back from the dead. At first, I pressed the shift button only long enough to get out of the fire pit, and encounter the hedgehog that had killed me the first time; so I died again. And again. Finally, I realized that I was able to place myself wherever I preferred to make a change in my previous path; I was going back in time, and able to correct my errors, just as Tim was trying to correct his mistakes. After I came to this realization, I was able to manipulate the game, knowing where I had to go before I died, so that I could get back there. The game became one of manipulation, but also proved that if you see where your mistakes lay, it is much easier to reverse the path in order to avoid them again; as long as you learn something, take something away from your errors, things will turn out alright.

Perhaps the Way Out is Within the Way Out

          I have to admit, the assignments for this week made me feel in touch with a “nerdy” side I usually don’t experience. I definitely enjoyed these MUCH more than the interactive fiction of last week, as I felt more in control.

          I got really hooked into I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies; give me a game where I have to complete levels and I’m in love (nerdy side talking). However, I felt like I got too into the actual movement of the game, trying to get through the mazes, and paid less attention to all the surrounding media/literature. Whenever I hit some word that exploded, I’d stop and read it, and then my eyes would avert to the surrounding clips and images; but I felt like I was more interested in getting through it than reading and interpreting what was written as I went.

           However, my favorite piece out of the selection was Genes the Hobo King. For one, I thought the entire set up, the images, videos, text and the genetic display was incredibly well put together; I could every type of media (video, music, recordings, etc.) that I wanted, and it kept appearing in ways that I didn’t expect, like lines of text automatically running across the bottom of the screen. A quick blurb on the oddest gene I clicked on: it was a voice recording that was supposed to be “hillbilly” chatter, sounding like someone was talking with a mouthful of food, and there would be one clear word every so often. I honestly don’t even know what I made of it; I think it just added to the effect of uncertainty that the site gave to me.

          I found the “gene” 4:n.h to be the most relevant to the previous readings we have done in class. This section was entitled the Hawthorne Aimless Way Gene, and each block you clicked on gave a different rotating picture underneath. At first, I just thought that these images were DNA, correlating with the whole genetics theme; however, when you scroll over them, it gives you an aerial view of the picture, which I then saw was a maze. In most of the readings so far, labyrinths or mazes have been addressed, or I have just felt trapped myself. In the interactive fiction (especially Violet), I was so frustrated by not being able to do what I wanted, and not selecting the right verbs, that I didn’t make any progress; it was a verbal maze that I couldn’t complete. In House of Leaves, the hallway literally becomes a maze of life and death, enclosing and killing members of the excavating crew, and mentally entrapping other characters, like Navidson and Truant, unable to escape the mysteries of the hallway. “Perhaps the way out is within the way out, or perhaps wrong” was a quote for one of the red boxes, which just left me feeling even more like I was in a maze.

6th Planet from the Sun

              I personally found People of Paper to be the most interesting read, from the beginning, out of all the books we have read. I particularly like the individual stories all in one, and that the previous one introduces the character in the next. We are getting multiple viewpoints of the same occurrences, which interests me as a reader, delving into the minds of multiple characters.

              I found the reoccurrence of Saturn, to be very interesting. The chapter one, the first section is titled “Saturn,” giving an overview o the characters and the storyline. Is Saturn the narrator? That was my perception, even though the characters were also narrators throughout the story. So who is Saturn?

             My first thought when I read Saturn was the planetary system, so I did some research on the planet. Saturn is the furthest planet that can be seen by the unaided eye, a point that I thought was important, because it puts Earth and Saturn at opposite spectrums, almost as if destined to be enemies because of their polarity. The core of Saturn is also extremely hot, giving the planet a orange-yellowish glow, which reminded me of the use of fire to alleviate pain and suffering among Federico and his gang.

            After doing a little research on the planet, I came to the realization that Saturn was also a mythological God. He was the god of agriculture which relates to the novel because the EMF gang and many of the other workers in Los Angeles worked picking flowers and on plantations. Another interesting fact that I stumbled upon was that Saturn was in a war with his son Jupiter that almost destroyed the universe; Jupiter’s forces were those of the fifty-headed monsters. While the war with Saturn was of those on Earth and in the EMF, I thought of the connection of a war against Saturn, by those of some disfigurement (the EMF from their fire/pain alleviation).


I am not a gamer; or not a good one at least. My gaming days ended with Mario when Gameboys were the means of childhood entertainment, soooo over twelve years ago.

I have never been more frustrated during a game than when I was testing out VIOLET. When I played Mario, of course I got frustrated, but I was also competitive and kept going; I think that my attention was grabbed because of the visual images, and being able to jump on things.

This interactive fiction game, however, made me want to quit. I didn’t get frustrated because there were no images; I love books, and have a very vivid imagination when reading. In the movie, Get Lamp, playing interactive fiction was said to be like “playing a book.” However, I could not “play the book” for the life of me. I either received text like “I don’t understand” or “use a different verb,” for most of the things that I typed in. What was I doing wrong?! To lose a life or hit a dead end because you ran into another creature is reasonable to me; but having an unknown source tell me that my “move,” essentially, doesn’t work, I want to be given an explanation why.

There was also no set destination. In Mario, your goal is to save the princess; whereas, in VIOLET, my goal was to make a story, and I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. When I was successful in my input, and got a good response back, I was overjoyed, which peaked my interest again. Until, yep. There was “use a different verb” again. So I tried a different method, of taking a word or phrase from the passage that VIOLET sent me, and using that as my command. This worked to an extent, but I was still a recipient of my new least favorite phrase.

In Get Lamp, the connection between this interactive fiction and scientific coding was brought up, meaning a way to get from one place to another. Thus, I was thinking that my transitional method of using previously used verbs/nouns would help me in developing my text. But I think I need a different method. If anyone had extremely good success and would like to help an inexperienced interactive fictioner out… it would be greatly appreciated!

I could see how one could spend hours playing these sorts of games, making stories as you go along, as I especially like the idea of creating my own images in my head. However, I have to learn how to be successful in order to do that!  I need to figure out which verbs are appropriate for the storyline, and what exactly they can go with, as it seems they have certain requirements.  I wonder if maybe I prefer being told what is going to happen (like in a novel), rather than attempting to encourage the story along myself? These are my confessions.

Dear Mrs. Sample,

I believe that the Navidson Record was made up to create an interesting book, at least as far as the House is concerned; however, I believe that there may be some factual or real information involved in it.  I think that the House reflects the emotions, fears, dreams, and imagination of the author, Danielewski.  It seems that his childhood, without an attentive father, contributed to a lot of the paternalistic focus of the novel; where there really was a lack thereof.  The Navidson children had a somewhat absent father; Truant had an absent father.  And the author, Danielewski also had a poor relationship with his father due to his work, which happened to be similar to Navidson’s (film). The hallway and house was always changing, and I think that pertains to the lives of the characters, moving through foster homes or across the country, as well as to Danielewski, who traveled around the world following his father’s career.

Therefore, although I believe that this growling, ever-changing, destructive house is not real physically, I think it pertains to the minds of the characters and the author (and ourselves).

I definitely recommend finishing the novel, even if this record was ACTUALLY real, which of course is my opinion.  The fact that so much detail could be put into a fake account of a mysterious house should make us strive to find another meaning in it, and maybe look into ourselves.

If I Only Had the Nerve

      From the beginning of the novel, I really didn’t like Bill Gray’s character. If I had to pinpoint one particular reason for my dislike it would be because I found him not just to be afraid, but living in fear, which in turn had him not really living at all.

        By being afraid, I mean to say that his character seemed cowardly to hide his identity as a novelist from the world, even though terrorist acts were occurring at the time. But it seemed to me that he didn’t stand up for what he believed in, writing, and fear played a role in him being able to finish his book/publish it.

        I think that by the end of the novel, I wanted to change my insight of Bill, but I still saw him as a coward. I thought that throughout the novel, he seemed to progress out of his fear, little by little, first by going to New York to have his picture taken, and then going to London to give a reading for a poet held captive by terrorists. This was a transformation in my eyes, initiating a response to the terrorist acts against writers.

         But then when Bill is traveling and encounters the British vets, he denies his true identity as a writer once again saying: “No, no, I’m not that kind of a writer,” in response to the men’s skeptical question of whether they would know of him. Even while on a mission to give a reading about a trapped poet, he is still fearful of anyone knowing who he is.

        In his final scene, Bill is still en route to get to get to the poet in Beirut, hoping that his novel will mean something to someone; his finally finished novel. As he is traveling on the ferry to get to Beirut, he asks for advice on how to get about once he’s there. The clerk told him to tell the man from the Lebanese Forces that he was a writer, and Bill responded “Okay, I’m a writer” (214). Whether he was just saying this in confirmation to what the man was telling him, or it was his way of finally affirming who he was, was unclear to me. Bill goes on to state that “it was writing that made his life disappear” (215). Once again, I wasn’t sure if he was referring to himself, or the boy imprisoned, or perhaps both. Writing had made them turn to a life of hiding, but I saw the trapped poet as stronger and fearless compared to Bill.

       Bill spent his whole life pretending that he wasn’t a writer, afraid to publish another novel, afraid to show face, afraid to tell people that he was a writer, and at that, one that they may know. He died on the ferry and never got to get to the boy held captive, which I still saw as another expression of fear; like death gave him the easy way out. Because now he no longer had to run, and only his identity would be sold to a militia in Beirut.

      On a literal level, I think this ending of Bill’s character was the death to his book, the death to his fear, and the death of some hope for other writers. Thus, I felt that it evoked a sense of incompleteness, a lost identity, a cowardly disposition, and gave the presumption that fear is too great for some people.


            When I approached this week’s blog, I was a little concerned in which direction I would take. The one idea that kept coming back to me as I was reading Mao II was how I saw it compare to Italo Calvino’s novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.

            The first thing I noticed when I was reading Mao II was how the content in chapter one pertained to books. On page 19, DeLillo puts his character in a bookstore, and the way that he was talking about books, reminded me of the scene in the bookstore in Calvino’s novel. DeLillo writes: “He was a young man, shrewd in his fervors, who knew there were books he wanted to read and others he absolutely had to own, ones that gesture in special ways, that have a rareness or daring, a charge of heat that stains the air around them.”

            I saw this paralleling the text in Calvino’s introduction where he writes: “Books You’ve been planning to read for ages, Books You want to own so they’ll be handy just in case, Books that fill You with sudden, inexplicable curiosity, not easily justified” (5).

           However, in Calvino’s novel, the character was called “You,” whereas DeLillo’s character is referred to as “he.” I think that even though Calvino was speaking in third person, to me, it felt more like the second person tone, with the text directed at me, and DeLillo made it clear that he was referring to another person and his view on the books. I could really relate to Calvino’s character, partly because of the tone of voice.

            I also saw somewhat of a comparison of manuscripts, in Calvino, and photographs, in DeLillo. In Calvino, manuscripts were the sought after object, by You and Ludmilla, where You goes above and beyond to find manuscripts of stories to find the endings and why they got put together. In DeLillo, photographs of writers seemed to be the main object of appeal in the beginning of the novel. It was like who gets their pictures taken, where do the pictures go? It seemed a parallel to me in the sense that the photographer, Brita Nilsson, didn’t seem concerned with “he’s” questions about her pictures or where they ended up, just as the editor in Calvino’s novel didn’t seem too preoccupied with “You” and his adamant worries about the manuscripts.

            Although it was just the beginning chapters that I developed parallels from, I look forward to seeing if any more will be able to be drawn throughout the rest of DeLillo’s novel.

Author vs. Reader

            I really enjoyed the two pieces by Harris, We Feel Fine, and The Whale Hunt. I remembered them from the 325 seminar last year, but looking at them now, along with the current readings about authorship really made me dive deeper into the meaning and have a greater appreciation for it.

           “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (Barthes). This ending quote to Barthes piece really stood out to me both in wrapping up that reading as well as connecting it to the two pieces that Harris created. What I gathered from the reading on authorship, Barthes was saying that the author puts words out there, a story out there, but it is up to the reader to hold the pieces together, to gather information, make their own assumptions, and create the story.

          In The Whale Hunt, there were three options in which to view the story: the mosaic, the timeline, or the pinwheel. Giving this option to the reader, at least in the way I saw it, provided a different reaction for each. For the mosaic option, I was overwhelmed by all of the pictures and chose specific ones based on color similarities. The pinwheel and the timeline were similar in their appearance, showing spikes where excitement occurred, however, this made me more interested in the pictures in those areas rather than all of them.

           I was skipping over pictures based on similarities and excitement and therefore missed parts of Harris’ story, creating my own based on my own interests. And although Harris had captions that explained what pictures were, the actual events going on, the dialogue, and thoughts were absent, thus leaving me to my own creation.

           As for the We Feel Fine piece, I felt somewhat the same about authorship. However, instead of just one author, there were millions of people contributing to a streaming of emotions. Through each line that I read, I was able to create a sense of background in their story. “I am to address this suffering I feel I have to first come in touch with my perception of believing.” What is this person suffering from? What do they need to believe in? It is up to me to answer these questions, thus creating the loss of the author.
            This site also provided various ways to view the text, like in a stream line based on the time they hit the internet and in categories of connections like feelings and other words that tie them together somehow. This put many different thoughts and feelings together, coming from different backgrounds, but as a reader, you can assemble them to fit into one, or to create one story as well as several individual ones. I liked We Feel Fine more than The Whale Hunt, because I felt that I had more responsibility as a reader in creating storylines and interpreting what I read.

            Both of these pieces initiated reader responsibility, giving more leeway for creativity.

A Change of Scene

             Upon reading the last half of the novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, a variety of things intrigued me, from parallels to transfers of characters.
              First of all, I felt that the second half of the novel was much easier to get into, therefore enjoying it substantially more than the first half. However, I felt that reading the first half, especially the beginning, and truly grasping a feel for the writing style was essential to reading the second half of the novel. I almost saw the midway point as a new beginning for a few reasons.
                At the beginning of reading the second half of the book, I saw a recurring theme of the bookstore, where the narrator is telling “you” about what “you” like to read, and the importance of that. In the seventh chapter, the narrator is in Ludwilla’s home, and looking at her bookshelf, surveying her books, and making assumptions and conclusions about her based on them. “Let’s have a look at the books… books read and rarely reread, or books you have not or will not read but have still retained” (145-146), is a parallel to the first chapter where the narrator talks about “Books You’ve Been Planning to Read for Ages, the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success…” (5). I saw this as important to the novel because it shifted to Ludwilla’s character, at least as I perceived it, giving insight on her character and not just “you.”
                  However, it seemed to me to have a transfer of character, as far as the term “you” was concerned. In the beginning, “you” appeared to be the guy that is pursuing the manuscript interest with Ludmilla. But starting in chapter 7, where the books are belonging to Ludmilla, stacked on her shelves, the narrator seems to be addressing her as “you,” by making claims to her character based on her selection of books, and using the pronoun to represent Ludmilla, rather than focusing on the man.
                   After this change in character, the narrator seemed to shy away from the use of “you,” giving proper names like “Reader” and “Other Reader” to define and name the man and Ludwilla’s characters. I thought this switch in what felt to be the 2nd person writing to the 3rd person as far as “Reader” and “Other Reader” were now concerned spiced up the introductory chapter to the story, In a Network of Lines that Intersect, throwing my prior interpretation of the novel off guard, ultimately making it more interesting to read.  It was definitely one of the oddest and most challenging books I’ve ever read, but it helped to open my mind to different types of writing and voice styles.

Controlled and Unaware

           Trap: “Any device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares” (Dictionary.com). As I began reading the novel If on a Winter’s Night, by Italo Calvino, I would define myself as trapped, a word the author mentions throughout Chapter 1. The use of 2nd person throughout the section really took me off guard, as I am not used to reading a piece of literature in that fashion. I felt like I was on a personal basis with the narrator, as if he or she knew me; it was like having a one-way conversation. “You are at your desk, you have set the book among your business papers as if by chance; at a certain moment you shift a file and you find the book before your eyes, you open it absently, you rest your elbows on the desk…” (7). This passage, along with most of the first Chapter, seem to be subtle commands.

        The narrator talked a great deal about distractions and other things that would get in the way of concentrating on reading, but I found that because of that, my mind didn’t wander away from what I was reading. The narrator talked about how the television usually blares in the other room, so you should close your door, but I found myself not thinking about whether the television was on in the other room or not, because the matter was being addressed as I read. It felt as if someone was controlling not just my thoughts, but me. As I read, I pictured some kind of movie, where a person’s mind was overtaken, and someone was speaking to them within, telling them what their every move, every thought would be.

          This idea of a sense of being controlled was even stronger for me as I transitioned into the section If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. The narration switches to 3rd person but the idea of being trapped and controlled prevailed. Page 14 of the novel was the biggest contributor to these feelings. Phrases like “I only know,” “the people from whom I am to receive instructions,” and “I am a subordinate,” give way to my assumptions that the narrator knows not what they are to do, and they are inferior to someone, who is indefinitely in control.

        I also came to wonder if the author purposely ended things short, giving the reader leeway in making assumptions or finishing conclusions about the stories and the characters themselves. To begin with, the title doesn’t even sound finished: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. If on a winter’s night a traveler what? I think that leaves a lot of open area for the reader to see what the traveler is doing throughout the story, rather than just judging and interpreting what they think they should read due to a title. The characterization of the characters seemed to me, to also be left up to the reader: “The author… decided to call the character ‘I’ as if to conceal him” (15). It seemed to me that “I” was almost hidden in every aspect, like thoughts, feelings, physical descriptions, and left up to me to determine who he or she was.

           Thus far, the reading has greatly captured my attention, although it has been a lot different from my “normal” read. However, I have enjoyed it because of that, and can’t wait to finish the rest.