Chapter no 16

House of Leaves

When mathematical propositions refer to reality they are not certain; when they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

– Albert Einstein



Up until now The Navidson Record has focused principally on the effects the house has had on others: how Holloway became murderous and suicidal, Tom drank himself into oblivion, Reston lost his mobility, Sheriff Axnard went into a state of denial, Karen fled with the children, and Navidson grew increasingly more isolated and obsessed. No consideration, however, has been given to the house as it relates purely to itself.

Examined then from as objective a point of view as possible the house offers these incontrovertible facts:


1.0 No light. I, IV-XIII* [*See Chapter.]


2.0 No humidity. I, V-XIII


3.0 No air movement (i.e. breezes, drafts etc). I. V-XIII


4.0 Temperature remains at 320 F ± 8 degrees. IX


5.0 No sounds. IV-XIII

5.1 Except for a dull roar which arises intermittently, sometimes seeming far off, sometimes sounding close at hand. V, VII, IX-VIII


6.0 Compasses do not function there. VII

6.1 Nor do altimeters. VII

6.2 Radios have a limited range. VII-XIII


7.0 Walls are uniformly black with a slightly ‘ashen’ hue. I, IV-XIII


8.0 There are no windows, moldings, or other decorative elements. (See

7.0). IX


9.0 Size and depth vary enormously. I, IV-VII, IX-XIII

9.1 The entire place can instantly and without apparent difficulty change its geometry. I, IV-VII, IX-XIII

9.2 Some have suggested the dull roar or ‘growl’ is caused by these metamorphoses. (See 5.1). VII

9.3 No end has been found there. V-XIII


10.0 The place will purge itself of all things, including any item left behind. IX-XIII.

10.1 No object has ever been found there. I, IV-VII, IX-XIII, XI

10.2 There is no dust. XI


11 .0 At least three people have died inside. X, XIII 11.1 Jed Leeder, Holloway Robert and Tom Navidson.

11 .2 Only one body was recovered. (See 10.0)




Where objective data is concerned, this was all Navidson had to work with. Once he left the house, however, he began to consider new evidence:

namely the collected wall samples.




In lush colour, Navidson captures those time-honored representations of science: test tubes bubbling with boric acid, reams of computer paper bearing the black-ink weight of analysis, electron microscopes resurrecting universes out of dust, and mass-spectrometers with retractable Faradays and stationary Baizers humming in some dim approximation of life.

In all these images there is a wonderful sense of security. The labs are clean, well-lit, and ordered. Computers seem to print with a purpose.

Various instruments promise answers, even guarantees. Still in order to make sure all this apparatus does not come across as too sterile, Navidson also includes shots of the life-support system: a Krups coffee maker hissing and bubbling, an Oasis poster taped to the vending machine, Homer Simpson on the lounge TV saying something to his brother Herbert.

As a favor to Reston, petrologist Mel O’Geery, up at the Princeton geology department, has agreed to donate his spare time and oversee the examination of all the wall samples. Prone toward bird like gestures, he is a slight man who takes great delight in speaking very quickly. For nearly four months, he has analyzed every piece of matter, all the way from A (taken a few feet into the first hallway) to XXXX (taken by Navidson when he found himself alone at the bottom of the Spiral Staircase). It is not an inexpensive undertaking, and while the university has agreed to fund most of it, apparently Navidson also had to throw in a fair amount himself. [337 -The actual sum is never made clear in the film. Tena Leeson estimates Navidson’s contributions were anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. “The High Cost of Dating” by Tena L.eeson. Radiogram, v.

13, n. 4, October 1994, p. 142.]

Setting out all the sample bottles on a long table, Dr. O’Geery provides the camera with a summation of his findings, casually gesturing to various groupings while he sips coffee from a Garfield mug.

“What we have here is a nice banquet of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic samples, some granular, possibly gabbro and pyroxenite, some with much less grain, possibly trachite or andesite. The sedimentary group is fairly small, samples F through K, mainly limestone and marl. The metamorphic group predominates with traces of ainphibolite and marble. But this group here, it’s composed primarily of siderites, which is to say heavy in iron, though you also have aerolites rich in silicon and magnesium oxides.”


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[2 pages missing]

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XXXXXXXXXXXXXc1eosynthesis [340]XXXXXX























XX abecedXX (spoken language versus the langXX




















[338-Radiometric dating includes work with carbon-14 (from a few hundred years to 50,000 years ago), potassium-argon (for dates ranging from 100,000 years to 4.5 x 1 O years ago), rubidium-strontium (from 5 x iO to about 4.5 x l0 years ago), lead isotopes (from 10 to 4.5 x iO years ago) as well as fission- tracks (a few million to a few hundred million years ago) and thermoluminescence dating (used to date clay pottery).]


[339-Table 1:



Parent Isotope

Daughter Isotope


Carbon- 14

Nitrogen- 14







4.88 x 1O°



1.06 x 101



3.5 x 10l



1.4 x lob



7.04 x 108



4.47 x 10



[340-Scientists estimate the universe unfolded from its state of infinite destiny [341-Typo: “destiny” should read “density.”] a moment commonly referred to as “the big bang”-approximately 1.3-2 x 1010 years ago.]


[342-The age of the earth lies somewhere between 4.43-4.57 x 1 o years (roughly around the time our solar system formed). With a few exceptions, most meteors are younger. Micrometeorites, however, with high levels of deuterium, suggest evidence of interstellar material predating our solar system. See F. Tera, “Congruency of comformable galenas: Age of the Earth” 12th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 1981, p. 1088-1090; and LD.R. Mackinnon and F.J.M. Rietmeijer, “Mineralogy of chondritic interplanetary dust particles” Rev. Geophys. 1987, 25:1527-1553. See also those particle age-related studies carried out by Klaus Bebblestein and Gunter Polinger, published in Physics Today, v. 48, September 1995, p. 2430, as well as by the Oxford University Press, 1994, under the title Particle

Exam which includes in Chapter Sixteen fascinating data generated at the Deutsch Electron Synchrotron (DESY; pronounced “Daisy”) in Hamburg and even input from the HERMES collaboration which at the time was using the HERA electron-proton collider to study nucleon spin. Bebblestein and Polinger have also written extensively on the recent though highly speculative claim that accurate algorithms must now exist which are in keeping with Wave Origin Reflection Data Series as currently set forth by the VEM ™ Corporation.]


[343-(BGC) Berkeley Geochronology Center. Paul Renne. See Science August 12, 1994. p. 864.]


[344-One must not forget the crater created by a meteor in the Arizona desert 50,000 years ago: Canyon Diablo with a diameter of 1207 meters and a depth of 174 meters.]


[345-Internal isochron measurements of Rb-Sr ages have shown the

Norton County meteorite in the Aubrite group to have an age of 4.70 ±0.13 Ga (I Ga = io years). The Krahenberg meteorite in the LL5 group has an estimated age of 4.70 ± 0.01 Ga. As O’Geety indicates to Navidson, several of the XXXX samples also appear to have ages predating the formation of the earth. (Though the accuracy of those claims remains hotly contested).

See D. W. Sears, The Nature and Origin of Meteorites (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 129; and Bailey Reims, Formation vs.

Metamorphic Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1996), p.



[346-Robert T. Dodd, Meteorites: A Petrologic-Chemical Synthesis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), Dodd also explains on page 161: “A chondrite’ s first isotopic equilibration is usually called its formation. The time period between nucleosynthesis and formation is called the formation interval and that between formation and the present formation age. The time difference between a later isotopic disturbance and the present is called a metanwrphic age. We have known for a quarter century that all chondrites are approximately 4.55 billion years old (Patterson, 1956) and for a decade that their history up to and including metamorphism encompassed no more than 100 million years (Papanastassiou and Wasserburg, 1969). What parts of this brief high-temperature history were occupied by chondrule formation, accretion, and metamorphism has been and remains unclear, for it is not always easy to tell which stage a particular isotopic system records.”]


[347-Meteoritics: Asteroids, Comets, Craters, Interplanetary Dust, Interstellar Medium Lunar Samples, Meteors, Meteorites, Natural Satellites, Planets, Tektites Origin and History of the Solar System, Derek W. 0. Sears, editor. Donald E. Brownlee, Michael 3. Gaffey, Joseph I.

Goldstein, Richard A. F. Grieve, Rhian Jones, Klaus Keil, Hiroko

Nagahara, Frank Podosek, Ludoif Schultz, Denis Shaw, S. Ross Taylor, Paul H. Warren, Paul Weissman, George W. Wetherill, Rainer Wider, associate editors. Published by The Meteoritical Society, v. 30, n. 3, May 1995. p. 244.]


[348-A possible solution to the date line scheme detailed by Navidson and O’Geery. It certainly lends weight to those theories favoring the historical significance of the samples, though it does nothing to resolve the presence of extraterrestrial and possibly even interstellar matter.]


[349-Therefore Navidson’s conclusion seems the only conclusion. Based on the evidence, sample A thru sample XXXX appear to make up an exact chronological map, which though simple, nevertheless still shows that … … … … . Inexplicably, the remainder of this footnote along with seventeen more pages of text vanished from the manuscript supplied by Mr.

Truant. – Ed.]


[350-I wish I could say this mass of black X’s was due to some mysterious ash or frantic act of deletion on Zampanô’s part. Unfortunately this time I’m to blame. When I first started assembling The Navidson Record, I arranged the various pages and scraps by chapter or subject.

Eventually I had numerous piles spread out across my room. I usually placed a book or some heavy object on them to keep the isolated mounds from flying apart if there were a draft or I happened to bump one with my foot. On top of this particular chapter I stupidly placed a bottle of German ink, 4001 brillant-schwarz or something. Who knows how long ago either, probably when I was still sketching pictures and tinkering with collages, maybe in August, maybe as far back as February. Anyway, there must have been a hairline crack in the glass because all of the ink eventually tunneled down through the paper, wiping out almost forty pages, not to mention seeping into the carpet below where it spread into a massive black bloom. The footnotes survived only because I hadn’t incorporated them yet. They’d all been written out separately on a series of green index cards held together by a yellow rubber band.


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[17 pages missing]

· ·.· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·


Navidson asks.

Dr O’Geery mulls this over, takes another SIP of his coffee, eyes the samples again, and then finally shrugs, “Not much really, though you’ve got yourself a nice range here.”

“Nothing peculiar or out of the ordinary?” Navidson presses.

O’Geery shakes his head.

“Well except maybe the chronology.”

“Meaning?” Reston eases his wheelchair forward.

“Your samples all fall into a very consistent scheme. Sample A is pretty young, a few thousand years old, while K is a few hundred thousand. Q over here is in the millions and these-” referring to MMMM through XXXX “-well, in the billions. Those last bits there are clearly meteoric.” “Meteors?” Navidson shoots a look at Reston.

O’Geery nods, picking up the sample marked VVVV. “In my opinion Rubidium-87/strontium-87 is the best dating method we have, yielding formation ages anywhere from 4.4 to 4.7 billion years old. If .’ place the age of the earth at around four and a half billion years old, it’s pretty obvious these had to come from someplace other than here. I doubt lunar but maybe interplanetary. XXXX, your last sample, is by far the oldest and most interesting. A composite of younger material, 4.2 billion years old, combined with deuterium rich particles suggesting that possibly, now I want to stress possibly here, but this deuterium could indicate matter older than even our solar system. Interstellar perhaps. So there you have it-a very nice little vein of history.”

Reston wheels back around to the table, as if Dr. O’Geery’s explanation should now somehow cast the samples in a new light. Nothing about them, however, has changed. As Gillian Fedette exclaimed on August 4th, 1996 at The Radon Conference in St. Paul, Minneapolis: “Not surprisingly, despite

[O’Geery’s] analysis, the samples continue to remain obdurate and lifeless.”

“Where did you say you got all this from?” O’Geery asks. “Antarctica?”




Primarily thanks to O’Geery’s conclusions, some fanatics of The Navidson Record assert that the presence of extremely old chondrites definitively proves extra-terrestrial forces constructed the house. Others, however, claim the samples only support the idea that the house on Ash Tree Lane is a self-created portal into some other dimension. [351-A Lexicon of Improbable Theories, Blair Keepling, ed. (San Francisco:

Nifiheim Press, 1996). In chapter 13, Keepling credits The Navidson Record with the revival of the Hollow Earth Movement. Tracing this implausible theory from the wobbly ratiocinations of John Cleaves Symmes

(1779-1829) through Raymond Bernard’s The Hollow Earth: The Greatest Geographical Discovery in History (1964) to Norma Cox’s self-published pro-Nazi piece Kingdoms Within Earth (1985), Keepling reveals yet another bizarre subculture thriving in the Western world. Of course even if this planet were truly a hollow globe-an absolute impossibility-Tom’s dropped quarter still describes a space far greater than the earth’s radius (or even diameter).] As Justin Krape dryly remarked: “Both arguments are probably best attributed to the persistent presence of schizophrenia plaguing the human race.” [352-Justin Krape’s Pale Micturitions (Charleston, West

Virginia: Kanawha Press, 1996), p. 99.]

Keener intellects, however, now regard scientific conjecture concerning the house as just another dead end. It would seem the language of objectivity can never adequately address the reality of that place on Ash Tree Lane.

Perhaps for us the most significant thing gleaned from this segment is Navidson’s persistent use of all the data [353-See Exhibit Three for all test results, including rubidium-87/strontium-87, potassium-40/argon-40, samanum-147/neodymium-143 dating, as well as a complete set of reports on uranium-235 and -238 contents in lead isotopes.] to deny the internal shattering caused by Tom’s death and Karen’s flight. He only speculates with Reston about what it could mean that samples A thru XXXX form a timeline extending back before the birth of even the solar system. He uses his camera to embrace the Princeton laboratory equipment, seek out the appeasement of numbers, all the while never openly reflecting on the very real absence continuing to penetrate his life. Similar to the way Karen tried to rely on Feng Shui to mitigate the effects of the house, Navidson turns to the time telling tick of radioactive isotopes to deny the darkness eviscerating him from within.




[354-Don’t worry that thought crossed my mind too. Unfortunately Exhibit Three doesn’t make up for the spillage back there because there is no Exhibit Three. Aside from a few notes, it’s missing. I’ve looked everywhere, especially for the Zero folder. Nothing. Who knows, maybe it’s for the best.

Today, for no reason in particular, I started thinking about Dr.

Ogelmeyer, wondering what I might have found out if I’d had the money, if I’d taken the time to see his specialist, if I’d opted for the tests. Of course if if were a fifth I’d be drunk, which I’m definitely not. Maybe that kind of confirmation is unnecessary anyway.

Still I wonder.

I grew up on certain words, words I’ve never mentioned to Lude or anyone for that matter, words orbiting around my mother mainly, sometimes whispered, more often written in letters my father would never have let me read had he lived.

(Now that I think about it, I guess I’ve always gravitated towards written legacies (private lands surrounded by great bewildering oceans (a description I don’t entirely understand even as I write it down now (though the sense of adventure about words (that little “1” making so little difference), appeals to me-ah but to hell with the closing parent)he)see)s) (sic)

Before I understood the significance of things like “auditory hallucinations,” “verbigeration,” “word salad,” “derealization,”

“depersonalization” I sensed in them all kinds of adventure. To reach their meaning would require a great journey, which I eventually found out was in fact true, though the destinations did not exactly turn out to be Edenic places full of gold leaf, opal or intricately carved pieces of jade.

Count yourself lucky if you’ve never wandered by the house of Kurt

Schnieder or Gabriel Langfeldt, or if the criterias of St. Louis, Taylor and Abrams or Research Diagnostic leave you puzzled. The New Haven Schizophrenia Index should give more than enough away.

In my case, would Ogelmeyer have turned to those tools or would he have begun first with a biological examination? Look for hyperactivity of dopaniinergic systems? Check for an increase in norepinephrine? Or more than likely run an MRI on my brain to see if the lateral and third ventricles were getting larger? Maybe he’d even take a peek at my delta activity on the good old electroencephalogram (EEG)?

What sort of data streams would be generated and how conclusively could he or his specialists read them?

I’ll never know. Which is not to imply it’s the wrong road. Quite the contrary. It’s just not mine. All I hope for is a moment of rational thought and one shot at action before I’m lost to a great saddening madness, pithed at the hands of my own stumbling biology.

As it stands, I’ve dropped eighteen pounds. A couple of eviction notices lie near my door. I feel like I haven’t slept in months. My neighbors are scared of me. Whenever I pass them in that dim brown- walled hail, which happens rarely, only when I have to go out for more tuna, books from the library or to sell blood to buy candles, I hear them whisper about my night screams-“He’s the one, I’m sure of it.” “Shhhh, not so loud.”

For some reason, I’ve been thinking more and more about my mother and the way her life failed her, humiliated her with impulses beyond her command, broke her with year after year of the same. I never knew her that well. I remember she had amazing hair, like sunlight, extremely fine and whisked with silver, beautiful even when it was uncombed, and her eyes always seemed to brim with a certain tenderness when I visited. And though most of the time she whispered, sometimes she spoke up and then her voice would sound sweet and full like chapel bells caroling in the foreign towns I’d eventually wander at dawn, echoing down those streets where I’d find myself in the spare light, rubbing my cold hands together, hopping around like a lunatic, waiting for the pastry shops to open so I could buy a piece of bread and a cup of hot chocolate.

She also used to write me these letters, always handwritten and full of strange colored words. They started after my father was killed, loaded with advice and encouragement and most of all faith. I don’t know if I would have survived Raymond without them. But she was never that well, and eventually her words soured, until- Well, I wish I could just stick to thoughts of her hair and her brimming eyes and caroling bells in foreign towns at dawn.

It’s never that simple though, is it?

One day I received a letter in which she apologized for what she’d done. At first I thought she was talking again about the pan of oil she’d accidentally knocked to the floor when I was four but that wasn’t it at all, though in an awful way her confession did change the way I began to view my scars, their oceanic swirls now spelling out suspicion and much too much doubt for me to really address properly. Anyhow, she was referring to a completely different event when my father was finally forced to take her away to The Whale, when I was only seven, a day I cannot for the life of me remember.

As she explained it, her thoughts at that time had entirely deteriorated. The burden of life seemed too much for her to bear and

therefore, in her mind, an impossible and even horrible burden to impose upon a child, especially her own. Based on these wild ratiocinations, she gathered me up in her arms and tried to choke me. It was probably a very brief attempt. Maybe even comic. My father intervened almost immediately, and my mother was then taken away for my own safety. I guess I do remember that part. Someone saying “my own safety.” My father I imagine. I suppose I also remember him leading her away. At least the shape of him in the doorway. With her. All blurred and in silhouette.

Raymond knew a little about my mother’s history and he used to say it was a bad dream that got her.

“Nightmares you know,” he once told me with a grin. “Can mess you up permanently. I’ve seen it happen to buddies of mine. That’s why you’ll never catch me without a gun under my pillow. Phat’ll get any man through the night.”

A week ago I gave myself a Christmas present. I dug up my Visa, which I still try my best to avoid using, and not only picked up a second gun, this time a stainless steel Taurus 605 .357, but also went ahead and ordered a rifle. More specifically I ordered a Weatherby 300 magnum, along with twenty boxes of 180 grain core-locked rounds.

I guess I’m hoping the weapons will make me feel better, grant me some kind of fucking control, especially if I sense the dullness inside me get too heavy and thick, warning me that something is again approaching, creeping slowly towards my room, no figment of my imagination either but as tangible as you & I, never ceasing to scratch, fume and snort in awful rage, though still pausing outside my door, waiting, perhaps for a word or an order or some other kind of sign to at last initiate this violent and by now inevitable confrontation-always as full of wrath as I am full of fear. So far nothing, though I still take the Taurus and the Heckler & Koch out of the trunk, load them, and just hang on the trigger. Sometimes for a few minutes. Sometimes for hours. Aiming at the door or the window or a ceiling corner cast in shadow. I even lie with them in bed, hiding under my sky blue

sheets. Trying to sleep. Trying to dream if only so I can remember my dreams. At least I’m not defenseless now. At least I have that. A gun in each hand. Not afraid to shoot. Safety off.]


Noda Vennard believes the key to this sequence does not exist in any of the test results or geological hypotheses but in the margin of a magazine which, as we can see for ourselves, Navidson idly fills with doodles while waiting for Dr. O’Geery to retrieve some additional documentation:


Mr. Navidson has drawn a bomb going off. An Atom bomb. An inverted thermonuclear explosion which reveals in the black contours of its clouds, the far-reaching shock-wave, and of course the great pluming head, the internal dimensions of his own sorrow. [355-See Noda Vennard’s 4 Frame Detail” delivered for The Symposium on The Cultural Effects of Nuclear Weaponry in the Twenty-First Century held at The Tehnicul Universky of

Denmark on October 19, 1995. Also see Matthew Coolidge’s The Nevada Test Site: A Guide to America’s Nuclear Proving Ground (Culver City, CA: The Center for Land Use Interpretation, 1996) as well as Matthew Coolidge’s Nuclear Proving Grounds of the World, ed. Sarah Simons

(Culver City, CA: The Center for Land Use Interpretation, 1998).]


But even if that is indeed the best way to describe the shape of

Navidson’s emotional topology, it is still nothing compared to the vision the house ultimately prepares for him.

As professor Virgil Q. Tomlinson observes:


That place is so alien to the kingdom of the imagination let alone the eye – so perfectly unholy, hungry, and inviolable-it easily makes a fourth of July sparkler out of an A-bomb, and reduces the aliens of The X-Files and The Outer Limits to Sunday morning funnies. [356-See Virgil Q. Tomlinson’s “Nothing Learned, Nothing Saved: By Suggestion Of Science” in Geo v. 83, February 7, 1994, p. 68.]








Deuterium: A hydrogen isotope twice the mass of ordinary hydrogen. Needed for heavy water.


Diachronic: Relating to the historical developments and changes occurring in language.


D-Structure: Deep Structure. The tree providing a place for words as defined by phrase structure rules.


Igneous: Rocks formed from magma (molten material). Classified on the basis of texture and mineral composition. Examples: granite, basalt, pumice.


Interstellar: Originating or occurring among the stars.


Isotope: One of two or more forms of an element with the same atomic number and chemical behavior but different atomic mass.


Linguistics: Study of the structure, sounds, meaning, and history of language.


Metamorphic: Preexisting rocks reformed by heat and pressure. Examples: slate and marble.


Meteors: Nonterrestrial objects surviving passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. Often divided into three groups: siderites (iron meteorites), aerolites (meteorites primarily composed of silicates), and siderolites (stony iron meteorites).


Morpheme: Smallest meaningful part of a word.


Nucleosynthesis: Creation of nucleons (neutrons and protons). Typically discussed when formulating theories about the origins of the universe.


Sedimentary: Rocks created from hardened layers of sediment comprised of organic and inorganic material. Classified on the basis of chemical and particle shape and size. Examples: sandstone, shale, and coal.


Semantics: Study of the relationship between words and meaning.


Spectrometer: An instrument calibrated to measure transmitted energy whether radiant intensities at various wavelengths, the refractive indices of prism materials, or radiation.


S-Structure: Surface Structure. The phrase tree formed when applying movement transformations to the d-structure.


Synchronic: Concerning language as it exists at a single point in time.


Trace: A silent element in a sentence which still indicates the dstructure position of a moved phrase.

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