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Spaces of Expression and Repression in Post-Millennial North-American Literature and Visual Culture

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Edited By Izabella Kimak and Julia Nikiel

The essays included in this book offer an overview of literary works, films, TV series, and computer games, which reflect current social and political developments since the beginning of this century. The contributions intend to x-ray the most crucial aspects of contemporary North-American literature and culture. Addressing a variety of media, the authors of the essays probe the many ways in which repression and expression are the primary keywords for understanding contemporary American life and culture.

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The Dynamic Space of Divinity and Ontology in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (Andrew J. Ploeg)

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Andrew J. Ploeg

The Dynamic Space of Divinity and Ontology in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

Abstract: House of Leaves offers parallel notions of God and self as unforeseeable becoming, which disrupt the presumably stable foundations upon which essentialism and fundamentalism are built and from which they precipitate intolerance and violence today.

Keywords: House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski, divinity, ontology, postmodernism

Multivalent and mercurial, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000) is as resistant to summation as the paradoxical Navidson house that constitutes its complex and elusive subject. The thoroughly postmodern novel is, in part, a fictionalized study by a blind, elderly recluse, referred to simply as “Zampanò,” of a film entitled The Navidson Record. It is also composed of extensive contributions by “Johnny Truant,” the troubled and hard-partying tattoo parlor employee who discovers, annotates, and eventually publishes Zampanò’s manuscript. In the film, the Navidson family, comprised of Will, his partner Karen Green, and their two children, discovers that while outwardly quite conventional their house contains within it an infinite and ever-changing maze of doors, stairways, and corridors. A highly successful photojournalist, Will is driven to investigate and to document the house’s structural anomalies, entering the labyrinth alone late one night. During this initial foray, Will begins to realize not only the immense size of the house, but also its confounding mutability, which makes even a “simple path into an extremely complicated one” (Danielewski 69). Later, struggling to express...

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