Sam, great post.
When I first bought this book and flipped through it, I spit a decent amount of derision its way. I dismissed it as overly clever, or intentionally opaque, or just another example of someone getting caught up too much in deconstructing a medium. All of this wildly ironic given my proclivity for wanting to destroy conventions, mediums, and the such. I must be my harshest critique.
I found the book to be staggeringly brilliant. To the point of using an unnecessary adverb. *That* brilliant. I cracked it open late Friday evening and I was entranced. Horrified. Amazed. Smashed into the page, I tried to channel my glee at this Wunder Beast into words towards my friends. Trying to explain exactly what was going on.
"Uh, it's a book...about a book...about a movie...that doesn't exist...and uh it references scholarly articles that don't exist and....you just have to see it!" I whipped it out at a party Saturday evening and forced everyone to check it out. It was like I found something sacred.
The glory of the book (to me) is that it is *so many things* much like an Internet webpage or the such would be. Given that we're following through this conceit that it is indeed a representation of the Internet. Though I have to say I find it indicative of any kind of hypertextual experience, and perhaps even more closely creating something. I could be wrong.
Anyways. It's a horror story. It's a love story. It's a blisteringly hilarious (there we go with the adverbs again) enormous middle finger to academia. This is ironic given the author’s parentage. It's a piece of hypertext. It's on and on. It's fitting that it is hat way!
Anyways, I'm in love.
Reading it was a curious quest, and I completely agree that no two people have read it the same way. Footnotes pop-up and babble and laugh at you across the bottom of the page. During some chapters the entire structure of the page falls apart, and it's up to you to decide where to start. Where to start!
To get particular: I was a bit fastidious in my reading of the footnotes. Whenever I got to one, had to read it. You can imagine the (large) pain in the ass this became during long sections of Johnny's, where I'd have to scroll forward pages then double-back to pick up the original text.
If the book is a facsimile of the Internet, then it explains my anxiety at getting buried underneath the onslaught of information. At points the footnotes became almost too much. Overbearing. Which ones to read?! I tried my best, but I’ll admit: when there were portions of the footnotes that weren’t by Johnny I could occasionally begin skimming them.
Do you really need to read every single architectural structure listed? For pages and pages? It was one of the points where I was convinced the book was laughing at me. And I was laughing at it laughing at me. Perhaps this again carries on the idea of the age we live in – an age when we have to choose our information wisely. Because there’s too much. Because we can’t handle it all.
In regards to time. And space for that matter. I think the book is trying to argue that time and space are constructions all the same just like everything else. At least in the arts. Within the confines of the book, time and space crack, snap, loop, bend and flatten. Within “the walls” of any “house”, time and space can be manipulated by an unseen “force” – the creator. Linearity is an illusion, one that the book goes on and on trying to destroy and point out as silly.
Consider the hypertext!
You can see I’m totally drinking the Kool-Aid.
Anyways, again, great post.
Also, in regards to which narrative I found more enjoyable, that’s a difficult question. Watching Johnny’s reality fall apart and bleed under the neon lights of drugs and sex and Los Angeles was engrossing, but I was more interested in Zampano’s madness-genius. His continual referencing of things that weren’t-were there (for what does that mean within the context of the book?) and his insistence on describing the horrors of the house had me riveted.
It’s close though.
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