House of Leaves

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House of Leaves (2000) by Mark Z. Danielewski[edit]

  • Prometheus, thief of light, giver of light, bound by the gods, must have been a book.
    • Entry for "O", 11 November 1994
  • ...and choose, however, to dismiss this enterprise out of hand, then may I suggest you drink plenty of wine and dance in the sheets of your wedding night, because whether you know it or not, now you are truly prosperous.
  • Here then at long last is my darkness. No cry of light, no glimmer, not even the faintest shard of hope to break free across the hold.
  • I will become, have become, a creature unstirred by history, no longer moved by the present, just hungry, blind and at long last filled of mindless wrath.
  • Little solace comes
    to those who grieve
    when thoughts keep drifting
    as walls keep shifting
    and this great blue world of ours
    seems a house of leaves

    moments before the wind. (p. 563)
  • [P: Written in the margin of the December 15, 1974 entry.]
    April 3, 1995

"Forgive me please for including this. An old man's mind is just as likely to wander as a young man's, but where a young man will forgive the stray, and old man will cut it out. Youth always tries to fill the void, and old man learns to live with it. It took me twenty years to unlearn the fortunes found in a swerve. Perhaps this is no news to you but then I have killed many men and I have both legs and I don't think I ever quite equaled the bald gnome Error who comes from his cave with featherless ankles to feast on the mighty dead."173 (p. 546-7)

  • My mother is right before me now, right before you. There as the docent, as the interpreter, maybe even as this strange and tangled countryside. Her shallow face, the dark lyric in her eyes and of course her words, in those far reaching letters she used to send me when I was young, secretly alluding to how she could sit and watch the night seal the dusk, year after year, waiting it out like a cat. Or observe how words themselves can also write. Or even, in her own beautiful, and yes horrifying way, instruct me on how to murder. One day even demonstrate it.
    She is here now. She has always been here. "Beware," she might have whispered. "Another holy Other lessens your great hold on slowing time," as she would have described it, being the mad woman that she truly was.
    She could have laid this world to waste.
    Maybe she still will.
    (p. 502)
  • To get a better idea try this: focus on these words, and whatever you do don't let your eyes wander past the perimeter of this page. Now imagine just beyond your peripheral vision, maybe behind you, maybe to the side of you, maybe even in front of you, but right where you can't see it, something is quietly closing in on you, so quiet in fact you can only hear it as silence. Find those pockets without sound. That's where it is. Right at this moment. But don't look. Keep your eyes here. Now take a deep breath. Go ahead, take an even deeper one. Only this time as you exhale try to imagine how fast it will happen, how hard it's gonna hit you, how many times it will stab your jugular with its teeth or are they nails?, don't worry, that particular detail doesn't matter, because before you have time to process that you should be moving, you should be running, you should at the very least be flinging up your arms-you sure as hell should be getting rid of this book-you won't have time to even scream.
    Don't look.
    I didn't.
    Of course I looked.
    I looked so fucking fast I should of ended up wearing one of those neck braces for whiplash.
    (p. 27)
  • This is not for you.
  • Known some call is air am.
  • Through all the windows I only see infinity.
  • Scars are the paler pain of survival, received unwillingly and displayed in the language of injury. (p. 130)
  • Muss es sein?
  • A wild ode mentioned at New West hotel over wine infusions, light, lit, lofted on very eventertaining moods, yawning in return, open nights, inviting everyone's song[...] (p. 117)
  • That House answers many yearnings remembered in sorrow.
  • [B] March 14, 1969: Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep. And when at last it is over, there is no evidence: no weapon, no blood, and no body. The only clue might be the shadows beneath your eyes or a terribly thin line near the corner of your mouth indicating something has been suffered, that in the privacy of your life you have lost something and the loss is too empty to share.
  • The following day both Karen and Will pursue the most rational course: they acquire the architectural blueprints from their local real estate office. As might have been expected, these blueprints are not actual building plans but drawn up in 1981 when former owners soon sold the property, claiming they needed something "a little smaller". (p.29)
  • The Atrocity is lost along with its secret cargo and all aboard . . . shhhhhhhhhhhh . . . and who would ever know of the pocket of air in that second hold where one man hid, having sealed the doors, creating a momentary bit of inside, a place to live in, to breathe in, a man who survived the blast and the water and instead lived to feel another kind of death, a closing in of such impenetrable darkness, far blacker than any Haitian night or recounted murder, though he did find a flashlight, not much against the darkness he could hear outside and nothing against the cold rushing in as this great coffin plummeted downwards, pressure building though not enough to kill him before the ship hit a shelf of rock and rested, knocks in the hull like divers knocking with hammers— though, he knows, there are no divers, only air bubbles and creaks lying about the future. He drops the flashlight, the bulb breaks, nothing to see anyway, losing air, losing his sense of his home, his daughters, his five blonde daughters and . . . and . . . he feels the shelf of rock give way and suddenly the ship rushes down again, no rock now, no earth, so black, and nothing to stop his final descent . . . (p. 299f.)
  • And so now, in the shadow of unspoken events, I watch Zampanò's courtyard darken.
    Everything whimsical has left.
    I try to study the light-going carefully. From my room. In the glass of memory. In the moonstream of my imagination. The weeds, the windows, every bench.
    But the old man is not there, and the cats are all gone.
    Something else has taken their place. Something I am unable to see. Waiting.
    I'm afraid.
    It is hungry. It is immortal.

    Worse, it knows nothing of whim.
    (p. 78-79)
  • Not seeing the rip doesn’t mean you automatically get to keep clear of the Hey-I’m-Bleeding part.
  • Look to the sky, look to yourself and remember: we are only God’s echoes and God is Narcissus. Hanson Edwin Rose
  • Why did God create a dual universe?

So he might say, “Be not like me. I am alone.” And it might be heard.

  • Heart may still be the fire in hearth but I'm suddenly too cold to continue, and besides, there's no hearth here anyway and it's the end of June. Thursday. Almost noon. And all the buttons on my corduroy coat are gone. I don't know why. I'm sorry Hailey.197 I don't know what to do. (p. 150)
  • “Les jeux sont faits. Nous sommes fucked.” (p.38)
    • The game is set (In Roulette when all bets are in). We are fucked.


  • Zampano liked animals. Far away. All those cats he would talk to in that weedy courtyard. At dawn. At night. So many shades slinking out from under that dusty place like years, his years, could they be like my years too? though certainly not so many, not like him, years and years of them, always rubbing up against his legs, and I see it all so clearly now, static announcements that yes! hmmm, how shocking, they still are there, disconnected but vital, the way memories reveal their life by simply appearing, sprinting out from under the shadows, paws!-patter-paws-paws!, pausing then to rub up against our legs, zap! senile sparks perhaps but ah yes still there, and I'm thinking, has another year resolved in song?-- though let me not get too far from myself, they were after all only cats, quadruped mice-devouring mote-chasing shades, Felis catus, with very little to remind them of themselves or their past or even their tomorrows, especially when the present burns hot with play, their pursuits and their fear, a bright flash to pursue (sun a star on a nothing's back), a dark slash to escape (there are always predators...), the spry interplay of hidden things and visible wings flung upon that great black sail of rods and cones, thin and fractionary, a covenant of light, Ark for the instant, echoing out of the dark and the Other, harmonizing with the crack-brack-crisp-tricks of every broken leaf of grass or displaced stick, and so thrust by shadow and the vague hope of color, into a rhapsody of motion and meaning, albeit momentary, pupil pulling wider, wider still, and darker, receiving all of it, and even more of it, though still only beholding some of it, until in the frenzy of reception, this mote-clawing hawk-fearing shade loses itself in temporary madness, leaping, springing, flinging itself after it all, as if it were possessed (and it is); as if that kind of physical response could approximate the witnessed world, which it can't, though very little matters enough to prevent the try-- all of which is to say, in the end, they are only cats but cats to talk to just the same before in their own weaving and wending, they Kilkenny-disappear, just as they first appeared, out of nowhere, vanishing back into the nowhere, tales from some great story we will never see but one day just might imagine (which in the grey of gentler eyes will prove far more than any of us will ever need; "enough," we will shout, "enough!" our bellies full, our hearts full, our ages full; fullness and greater fullness and even more fullness; how then we will laugh and forget how the imagining has already left us) slinking back into that place of urban barley, grass, fennel, and wheat, or just plain hay, golden hay, where--Hey! Hey! Hey-hey! Hay days gone by, bye-bye, gone way way away." (p.77)