Monday, June 19, 2006

time to gather up the splinters

A few years ago when I was still studying (I use the term loosely to mean back when I borrowed books from the university library under the guise of studying and then forgot to return them because I never actually used them and I would end up with fines in the hundreds of dollars and not be able to get my results until I paid them) I came across a book called House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Basically the book is about a house whose interior is larger than the exterior - complete with spaces, corridors, doors and walls that shift when you're not looking..and sometimes when you are. This thought terrified me. It still does, to tell you the truth - I wonder about the book but I haven't been able to read it again. At the time it had just been released and though no one was discussing it in the real world, the internet world was abuzz with activity about it. I suppose it lends itself to the internet culture more than any other - the book itself is not quite what it seems. Part pseudo-academia (complete with footnotes), part horror, part poetry, part code, part memoir, part psychological study and a little bit hypertext. The book somehow goes beyond the page - into video, into speculation, into music. It's one of those books that enjoys a legion of hardcore fans who have read it 50 billion times and are still trying to figure it out. Good luck.

For me: I was terrified. I read it so many years ago and it still haunts me. I can't tell you why exactly - but I spent many a night with one eye open..

When I first bought my copy (after many months of hunting it down) I opened it and a postcard for Poe's album Haunted slid out and onto the floor. I knew of her, but not anything specific. I picked it up and flipped it over wondering why a postcard for a CD was in a book, it said that the CD was an accompaniment for the book (I later discovered that Poe is Mark Z. Danielewski's sister and that she wrote the album around the same time he was finishing it) - so out of curiosity I bought the CD. The CD also had a small postcard in it, but advertising the book.

Haunted is not just an amazing concept album but also an amazing collection of songs. Apparently before she started writing the album Poe had a dream where her dead father (a documentary film maker) told her to "find his voice" - a few days later she came across a box of his tapes containing many hours of his explorations and words. Some of these discoveries have made it onto her album Haunted. I can see how both siblings were influed by their father in their respective works - House of Leaves main idea comes from a footage of documentary film found - an exploration - of the strange house in question. I'm glad the siblings got together to mesh things together. It's a cool idea. After I finished the book I had Haunted on high rotation for a long while. Like the book itself, the album has its haunting bits - some echoes of children's voices subverting the songs - but it's also amusing, romantic, creepy and rocking.

So, my favourite song from the album is the title track - and quite appropriate regarding my own little explorations of late..

Haunted by Poe

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