Chapter no 17

House of Leaves

Wer dii auch seist: Am abend tritt hinaus aus deiner Stube, drin dii alles we/3t;

als letzres vor der Ferne liegt dein Haus: Wer dii auch seist.

– Rilke


[357-Whoever you are, go out into the evening,! leaving your room, of which you know each bit;! your house is the last before the infinite,!

whoever you are.” As translated by C. F. Macintyre. Rilke: SelectecLpoems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1940), p. 21. – Ed.]



While Reston continued to remain curious about the properties of the house, he had absolutely no desire to return there. He was grateful to have survived and smart enough not to tempt fate twice. “Sure I was obsessed at first, we all were,” he says in The Reston Interview. “But I got over it pretty quick. My fascination was never the same as Navy’s. I enjoy my life at the University. My colleagues, my friends there, the woman I’ve started to see. I’ve no desire to court death. After we escaped, going back to the house just didn’t interest me.”

Navidson had a completely different reaction. He could not stop thinking about those corridors and rooms. The house had taken hold of him.

In the months following his departure from Ash Tree Lane, he stayed at Reston’ s apartment, alternately sleeping on the couch and the floor, continuously surrounded by books, proofs, and notebooks packed with sketches, maps, and theories. “I put Navy up because he needed help, but when the sample analysis brought back minimal results, I knew the time had come to have a heart to heart with him about the future.” (The Reston

Interview again.)

As we witness for ourselves, following their meeting with Dr. O’Geery, Navidson and Reston both return home. Reston breaks open a bottle of Jack, pours two three-finger glasses and hands one to his friend. A little time passes. They finish a second drink. Reston gives it his best shot.

“Navy” he says slowly. “We made a helluva try but now we’re at a dead end and you’re broke. Isn’t it time to contact National Geographic or The

Discovery Channel?” Navidson does not respond.

“We can’t do this thing alone. We don’t need to do it alone.”

Navidson puts his drink down and after a long uncomfortable silence nods.

“Okay, tomorrow morning we’ll call them, we’ll send them invitations, we’ll get the ball rolling.”

Reston sighs and refills their glasses for a third time.

“I’ll drink to that.”

“Here’s to opening things up,” Navidson says by way of a toast, then glancing at the photograph of Karen and the children he keeps by the sofa, adds: “And here’s to me going home.”

“After that we got pretty drunk.” (The Reston Interview.) “Something neither one of us had done in a long while. When I packed it in, Navy was still awake. Still drinking. Writing in some journal he had. Little did I know what he had planned.”

The next morning when Reston woke up, Navidson was gone. He had left behind a note of thanks and an envelope for Karen. Reston called New York but Karen had heard nothing. A day later he drove to the house. Navidson’s car sat in the driveway. Reston wheeled himself to the front door. It was unlocked. “I sat there for an hour and a half, at least, before I could get the guts to go in.”

But as Reston eventually found out the house was empty and most startling of all the hallway that had loomed for so long in the east wall was gone.




Why Did Navidson Go Back To The House?


A great deal of speculation has gone into determining the exact reason why Navidson chose to reenter the house. It is a question The Navidson Record never deals with specifically and which after several years of intense debate has produced no simple answer. Currently there are three schools of thought:


I. The Kellog-Antwerk Claim


II. The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria


III. The Haven-Slocum Theory


Though it would be impossible here to address all their respective nuances, at the veiy least some consideration needs to be given to their views. [358-While bits and pieces of these readings still circulate, they have yet to appear anywhere in their entirety. Purportedly Random House intends to publish a complete volume, though the scheduled release is not until the fall of 2001.]




On July 8, 1994 at The Symposium for the Betterment of International Cultural Advancement held in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jennifer Kellog and Isabelle Antwerk presented their paper on the meaning and authority of title in the 2Oth and 21St century. In their study, they cited Navidson as the perfect example of “one dictated by the logic born out of the need to possess.”

Kellog and Antwerk point out how even though Navidson and Karen own the house together (both their names appear on the mortgage), Navidson frequently implies that he is the sole proprietor. As he snaps at Reston during a heated argument on the subject of future explorations:

“Let’s not forget that’s my house.” Kellog and Antwerk regard this possessiveness as the main reason for Navidson’s mind-boggling decision




to enter the house alone. A month later Norman Paarlberg wryly offered up the following response to the Reykjavik duo: “The obsession just grew and grew until it was Navidson who was finally possessed by some selfdestructive notion to go back there and yet completely dispossessed of any rational mechanism to override such an incredibly stupid idea.” [359- Norman Paarlberg, “The Explorer’s Responsibility,” National Geographic, v. 187, January 1995, p. 120-138.]

Kellog and Antwerk argue that the act of returning was an attempt to territorialize and thus preside over that virtually unfathomable space. However, if their claim is correct that Navidson’s preoccupation with the house grew solely out of his need to own it, then other behavioral patterns should have followed suit, which was not the case. For instance, Navidson never sought to buy out Karen’s share of their home. He refused to lure television programs and other corporate sponsors to his doorstep which would have further enforced his titular position, at least in the eye of the media. Nor did he ever invest himself in any kind paper writing, lectures, or other acts of publicity.

And even if Navidson did mentally equate ownership with knowledge, as both Kellog and Antwerk assert he did, he should have more adamantly sought to name the aspects of his discoveries, which as others would later observe he most certainly did not.




A year later at The Conference on the Aesthetics of Mourning held in Nuremberg, Germany on August 18, 1995, an unnamed student read on behalf of his professors a paper which people everywhere almost instantly began hailing as The Bister-Fneden-Josephson Criteria. More than its content, its tone practically assured a contentious response.

Here for example is the opening salvo directed specifically at The Kellog-Antwerk Claim and their followers:

“Refutation One: We do not accept that filmmaking constitutes an act of naming. Image never has and never will posses proprietary powers. Though others may deny it, we believe that to this day the Adamic strengths of the word, and hence language, have never been or ever will be successfully challenged.”

The BFJ Criteria defined ownership as an act of verbal assertion necessarily carned out in public. By refusing to acknowledge The Navidson Record as such an act, The BFJ Criteria could make the question of personal necessity the salient point for rhetorical negotiation.

For the first half of its discourse, The BFJ Criteria chose to concentrate on guilt and grief. Careful consideration was given to Navidson’s excessive exposure to traumatic events throughout the world and how he was affected by witnessing scores of “life-snaps” (The language of The Criteria), ironically enough, however, it was not until he resigned from those assignments and moved to Ash Tree Lane that death crossed over the threshold and began to roam the halls of his own home. His twin brother died there along with two others whom he had personally welcomed into the house.

Losing Tom nearly destroyed Navidson. A fundamental part of himself and his past had suddenly vanished. Even worse, as The BFJ Criteria emphasizes, in the final moments of his life, Tom displayed characteristics entirely atypical of his day to day behavior. Navidson saw his brother in a completely different light. Not at all sluggish or even remotely afraid, Tom had acted with determination and above all else heroism, carrying Daisy out of harm’s way before falling to his death.

Navidson cannot forgive himself. As he repeatedly tells Karen over the phone: “I was my brother’s keeper. It was me, I was the one who should have been with Daisy. I was the one who should have died.”

The most controversial claim made by The Bister-Frieden-Josephson contingency is that Navidson began believing darkness could offer something other than itself. Quite cleverly The Criteria first lays the groundwork for its argument by recalling the now famous admonition voiced by Louis Merplat, the renowned speleologist who back in 1899 discovered the Blue Skia Cavern: “Darkness is impossible to remember. Consequently cavers desire to return to those unseen depths where they have just been. It is an addiction. No one is ever satisfied. Darkness never satisfies. Especially if it takes something away which it almost always invariably does.” [360-Quoted in Wilfred Bluffton’s article “Hollow Dark” in The New York Times, December 16, 1907, p. 515. Also consider Esther Harlan James’ “Crave The Cave: The Color of Obsession,” Diss.

Trinity College, 1996, P. 669, in which she describes her own addiction to The Navidson Record: “I never shook the feeling that the film, while visceral and involving, must pale in comparison to an actual, personal exploration of the house. Still, just as Navidson needed more and more of that endless dark, I too found myself feeling the same way about The Navidson Record. In fact as I write this now, I’ve already seen the film thirty-eight times and have no reason to believe I will stop going to see it.”] Not stopping there, The Criteria then turns to Lazlo Ferma who almost a hundred years later echoed Merplat’s views when he slyly observed: “Even the brightest magnesium flare can do little against such dark except blind the eyes of the one holding it. Thus one craves what by seeing one has in fact not seen.” [361-Lazlo Ferma’s “See No Evil” in Film Comment, v. 29, September! October 1993, p. 58.] Before finally quoting A. Ballard who famously quipped: “That house answers many yearnings remembered in sorrow.” [ 362-A. Ballard “The Apophatic Science Of Recollection

(Following Nuance)” Ancient Greek, v. cvii, April 1995, p. 85.]

The point of recounting these observations is simply to show how understandable it was that for Navidson the impenetrable sweep of that place soon acquired greater meaning simply because, to quote the Criteria directly, “it was full of unheimliche vorklanger [363- “Ghostly anticipation.” – Ed.] and thus represented a means to his own personal propitiation.” The sharp-bladed tactics of The BFJ Criteria, however, are not so naive as to suddenly embrace Navidson’s stated convictions about what he might find. Instead the Criteria quite adroitly acknowledges that when Tom died every “angry, rueful, self- indicting tangle” within Navidson suddenly “lit up,” producing projections powerful and painful enough to “occlude, deny, and cover” the only reason for their success in the first place: the blankness of that place, “the utter and perfect blankness.” It is nevertheless the underlying position of The Bister-FriedenJosephson Criteria that Navidson in fact relied on such projections in order to deny his increasingly more “powerful and motivating Thanatos.” In the end, he sought nothing less than to see the house exact its annihilating effects on his own being. Again quoting directly from The Criteria:

“Navidson has one deeply acquired organizing perception: there is no hope of survival there. Life is impossible. And therein lies the lesson of the house, spoken in syllables of absolute silence, resounding within him like a faint and uncertain echo… If we desire to live, we can only do so in the margin of that place.”

The second half of The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria focuses almost entirely on this question of “desire to live” by analyzing in great detail the contents of Navidson’s letter to Karen written the night before his departure. To emphasize the potential “desire” for self-destruction, The Criteria supplies for this section the following epigraph:


Noli me tan gere.

Noli me legere.

Noli me videre.* Noli me-


[364-In “Shout Not, Doubt Not” published in Ewig-Weibliche ed. P. V. N. Gable (Wichita, Kansas: Joyland Press, 1995) Talbot Darden translates these lines simply as “Do not touch me. Do not read me. Do not see me. Do Not Me.”]


*N enim videbit me homo ci vi vet. [365-Sorry. No clue.] [366-

Maurice Blanchot translates this as whoever sees God dies.” – Ed.]




Thus emphasizing the potentially mortal price for beholding what must lie forever lost in those inky folds. Here The Criteria also points out how Navidson’s previous trespasses, with one exception, were structured around extremely concrete objectives: (1) rescuing the Holloway team; and after sinking down the Staircase (2) returning home. The exception, of course, is the very first visit, where Navidson seeks nothing else but to explore the house, an act which nearly costs him his life.

Oddly enough, The Criteria does not acknowledge the risk inherent in (1) and (2)-objective or no objective. Nor does it explain why one trespass/journey should suddenly be treated as two.

Because The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria then goes on to treat Navidson’s letter in great detail and since its appearance in the film is limited to only a few seconds of screen time, it seems advisable, before further commentary, to reproduce a facsimile here:


[Page One]


March 31, 1991


My dearest Karen,

I miss you. I love you. I don’t deserve expect your forgiveness. I’m leaving morrow XXXXXXXX though I plan to return. But who knows, right?

You’ve seen that place.

Guess I’m writing a will too. By the way I’m drunk. Sell the house, the film, everything I have, take it all. Tell the kids daddy loves! loved them. I love them, I love you.

Why am I doing this? Because it’s there and I’m not. I know that’s a pretty shitty answer. I should burn the place down, forget about it. But going after something like this is who I am. You know that.

If i wasn’t like this, we never would hve met in the first place becasue I never would have stopped my car in the middle of traffic, ran to the sidewalk, and asked you out.

No excuse huh? Guess I’m just another bastard abandoning XXXX woman and kids for a big adventure. I should grow up, right?


[Page Two]


I accept that, I’d like to it, I’ve tried to do it, easier said/written than done.

I need to go back to that place one more time. I know something now and I just have to confirm it. Slowly the pieces have been coming together. I’m starting to see that place for what it is and it’s not for cable shows or National Geographic.

Do you believe in God? I don’t think I ever asked you that one. Well I do now. But my God isn’t your Catholic varietal or your Judaic or Mormon or Baptist or Seventh Day Adventist or whatever/ whoever. No burning bush, no angels, no cross. God’s a house. Which is not to say that our house is God’s house or even a house of God. What I mean to say is that our house is God.


Think I’ve lost my mind? Maybe, maybe, maybe Maybe just really drunk. Pretty crazy you have to admit. I just made God a street address. Forget all that last part. just forget


[Page Three]


it. I miss you. I miss you. I won’t reread this. If I do I’ll throw it away

and write something terse, clean and sober. And all locked up. You know me so so well. I know you’ll strip out the alcohol fumes, the fear, the mistakes, and see what matters-a code to decipher written by a guy who thought he was speaking clearly. I’m crying now. I don’t think I can stop. But if I try to stop I’ll stop writing and I know I won’t start again. I miss you so much. I miss Daisy. I miss Chad. I miss Wax and Jed. I even miss Holloway. And I miss Hansen and Latigo and PFC Miserette, Benton and

Carl and Regio and 1st. lieutenant Nacklebend and of course Zips and now I can’t get Delial out of my head. Delia!, Delial, Delial-the name I gave to the girl in the photo that won me all the fame and gory, that’s all she is Karen, just the photo. And now I can’t understand anymore why it meant so much to me to keep to keep her a secret-a penance or something.

Inadequate. Well there it’s said. But the photo, that’s not what I can’t get out of my head right now.


[Page Four]


Not the photo-that photo, that thing-but who she was before onesixtieth of a second sliced her out of thin air and won me the pulitzer though that didnt keep the vultures away i did that by swinging my tripodaround though that didnt keep her from dyding five years old daisy’s age except she was pciking at a bone you should have seen her not the but her a little girl squatting in a field of rock dangling a bone between her fingers I miss miss miss but i didn’t miss i got her along with the vulture in the background when the real vulture was the guy with the camera preying on her for his fuck pulitzer prize it doesnt matter if she was already ten minutes from dying i took threem minutes to snap a photo should have taken 10 minutes taking her somewhere so she wouldnt go away like that no family, no mother no day, no people just a vulture and a fucking photojournalist i wish i were dead right now i wish i were dead that poor little baby this god god awful


[Page Five]


world im sorry i cant stop thinking of her never have never will cant

forget how i ran with her like where was i going to really run i was twelve miles from nowhere i had no one to her to no window to pass her through out of harms way no torn there i was no torn there and then that tiny bag of bones just started to shake and it was over she died right in my hands the hands of the guy who took three minutes two minutes whatever a handful of seconds to photograph her and now she was gone that poor little girl in this god awful world i miss her i miss delial I miss the man i thought i was before i met her the man who would have saved her who would have done something who would have been torn maybe hes the one im looking for or maybe irn looking for all of them i miss u i love U there’s no second lye lived you can’t call your own




[367-Reminding me here, I mean that line about “a code to decipher”, how the greatest love letters are always encoded for the one and not the many.]




The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria pays a great deal of attention to the incoherence present in the letter, the dissatisfaction with the self, and most of all the pain Navidson still feels over the image he burned into the retina of America almost two decades ago.

As was already mentioned in Chapter II, before the release of The Navidson Record neither friends nor family nor colleagues knew that Delia] was the name Navidson had given to the starving Sudanese child. For reasons of his own, he never revealed Delial’s identity to anyone, not even to Karen. Billy Reston thought she was some mythological pin-up girl: “I didn’t know. I sure as hell never connected the name with that photo.”

[368-Billy Reston interviewed by Anthony Sitney on “Evening

Murmurs,” KTWL, Boulder, Colorado, January 4, 1996.]

The Navidson Record solved a great mystery when it included Karen’s shot of the name written on the back of the print as well as Navidson’s letter. For years photojournalists and friends had wondered who Delia] was and why she meant so much to Navidson. Those who had asked usually received one of several responses: “I forget,” “Someone close to me,” “Allow a man a little mystery” or just a smile. Quite a few colleagues accused Navidson of being enigmatic on purpose and so out of spite let the subject drop.

Few were disappointed when they learned that Delial referred to the subject of his Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. “It made perfect sense to me,” said Purdham Huckler of the New York Times. “That must have been a crushing thing to witness. And he paid the price too.” [369-Personal interview with Purdham Huckler, February 17, 1995.] Lindsay Gerknard commented, “Navidson ran straight into the brick wall all great photojournalists inevitably run into: why aren’t I doing something about this instead of just photographing it? And when you ask that question, you hurt.” [370-Personal interview with Lindsay Gerknard, February 24, 1995.] Psychologist Hector Liosa took Gerknard’s observation a little further when he pointed out at the L.A. Times Convention on Media Ethics last March: “Photojournalists especially must never underestimate the power and influence of their images. You may be thinking, I’ve done nothing in this moment except take a photo (true) but realize you have also done an enormous amount for society at large (also true!).” [371-Hector

Liosa speaking at the L.A. Times Convention on Media Ethics on March 14, 1996.]

Nor did evaluations of Navidson’s burden stop with comments made by his associates. Academia soon marched in to interrogate the literary consequences created by the Delial revelation. Tokiko Dudek commented on how “Delial is to Navidson what the albatross is to Coleridge’s mariner. In both cases, both men shot their mark only to be haunted by the accomplishment, even though Navidson did not actually kill Delial.” [372 -See Tokiko Dudek’s “Harbingers of Hell and/or Hope” in Authenres

Journal, Palomar College, September, 1995. p. 7. Also consider Larry Burrows who in the 1969 BBC film Beautiful Beautiful remarked:”. . . so often I wonder whether it is my right to capitalize, as I feel, so often, on the grief of others. But then I justify, in my own particular thoughts, by feeling that I can contribute a little to the understanding of what others are going through; then there is a reason for doing it.”] Caroline Fillopino recognized intrinsic elements of penance in Navidson’s return to the house but she preferred Dante to Coleridge: “Delial serves the same role as Beatrice. Her whispers lead Navidson back to the house. She is all he needs to find. After all locating (literally) the souls of the dead = safety in loss.” [373-Caroline

Fillopino’s “Sex Equations” Granta, fall 1995. p. 45.] However unlike Dante, Navidson never encountered his Beatrice again. [374-During

Exploration #5 Navidson had no illusion about what he would find there. While staring into those infernal halls, we can hear him mutter: “Lazarus is dead again.”]

In the most sardonic tones, Sandy Beale of The New Criticism once considered how contemporary cinema would have treated the subject of Navidson’s guilt:


If The Navidson Record had been a Hollywood creation, Delial would have appeared at the heart of the house. Like something out of Lost Horizon, dark fields

would have given way to Elysian fields, the perfect setting for a musical number with a brightly costumed Delial front and center, drinking Shirley Temples, swinging on the arms of Tom and Jed, backed by a chorus line which would have included Holloway and everyone else in Navidson’s life (and our life for that matter) who had ever died. Plenty of rootbeer and summer love [375-See Appendix F.] to go around.[376-Sandy Beale’s

“No Horizon” in The New Criticism, v. 13, November 3, 1993. p. 49.]


But The Navidson Record is not a Hollywood creation and through the course of the film Delial appears only once, in Karen’s piece, bordered in black, frozen in place without music or commentary, just Delial: a memory, a photograph, an artifact.

To this day the treatment of Delial by The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria is still considered harsh and particularly insensate toward international tragedy. While Navidson’s empathy for the child is not entirely disregarded, The Criteria asserts that she soon exceeded the meaning of her own existence: “Memory, experience, and time turned her bones into a trope for everything Navidson had ever lost.”

The BFJ Criteria posits that Delial’s prominence in Navidson’s last letter is a repressive mechanism enabling him to at least on a symbolic level deal with his nearly inexpressible loss. After all in a very short amount of time Navidson had seen the rape of physics. He had watched one man murder another and then pull the trigger on himself. He had stood helplessly by as his own brother was crushed and consumed. And finally he had watched his lifelong companion flee to her mother and probably another lover, taking with her his children and bits of his sanity.

It is not by accident that all these elements appear like ghosts in his letter. A more permanent end to his relationship with Karen seems to be implied when he writes “I’m leaving tomorrow” and describes his missive as a “will.” His invocation of the memory of the members of the first team as well as others sounds almost like a protracted good-bye. Navidson is tying up loose ends and the reason, or so The BFJ Criteria claims, can be detected in the way he treats the Sudanese girl still haunting his past: “It is no coincidence that as Navidson begins to dwell on Delial he mentions his brother three times: ‘I had no one to pass her to. There was no window to pass her through out of harms way. There was no Tom there. I was no Tom there. Tom, maybe he’s the one I’m looking for,’ It is a harrowing admission full of sorrow and defeat- ‘I was no Tom there’ -seeing his brother as the life-saving (and line-saving) hero he himself was not.” [377 -Here then Jacob loses Esau and finds he is nothing without him. He is empty, lost and tumbling toward his own annihilation. But as Robert Hert poignantly asks in Esau and Jacob (BITTW Publications, 1969), p. 389: “What did God really know about brothers (or for that matter sisters)? He was after all an only child and before it all an equally lonely father.”]

Thus The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria staunchly refutes The Kellog-Antwerk Claim by reiterating its argument that Navidson’s return to the house was not at all motivated by the need to possess it but rather “to be obliterated by it.”




Then on January 6, 1997 at The Assemblage of Cultural Diagnosticians

Sponsored By The American Psychiatric Association held in Washington,

D.C., a husband and wife team brought before an audience of 1,200 The Haven-Slocum Theory which in the eyes of many successfully deflated the prominence of both The Kellog-Antwerk Claim and the infamously influential Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria.

Ducking the semantic conceits of prior hypotheses, The HavenSlocum Theory proposed to first focus primarily on “the house itself and its generation of physiological effects.” How this direction would resolve the question of “why Navidson returned to the house alone” they promised to show in due course.

Relying on an array of personal interviews, closely inspected secondary sources, and their own observations, the married couple began to carefully adumbrate their findings in what has since become known as The HavenSlocum Anxiety Scale or more simply as PEER. Rating the level of discomfort experienced following any exposure to the house, The HavenSlocum Theory assigned a number value “0” for no effect and “10” for extreme effects:




0-1: Alicia Rosenbaum: sudden migraines.

0-2: Audrie McCullogh: mild anxiety.

2-3: Teppet C. Brookes: insomnia.

3-4: Sheriff Axnard: nausea; suspected ulcer. [No previous history of stomach ailments.]

4-5: Billy Reston: enduring sensation of cold.

5-6: Daisy: excitement; intermittent fever; scratches; echolalia.

6-7: Kirby “Wax” Hook: stupor; enduring impotence. [Neither the bullet wound nor the surgery should have effected potency.]

7-8: Chad: tangentiality; rising aggression; persistent wandering. 9: Karen Green: prolonged insomnia; frequent unmotivated panic attacks; deep melancholia; persistent cough. [All of which

radically diminished when Karen began work on What Some Have Thought and A Brief History Of Who I Love. The Haven-Slocum Theory ™ – 1]

10: Will Navidson: obsessive behavior; weight loss; night terrors vivid dreaming accompanied by increased mutism.


The Haven-Slocum Theory does not lightly pass over Karen’s remarkable victory over the effects of the house: “With the eventual exception of Navidson, she was the only one who attempted to process the ramifications of that place. The labor she put into both film shorts resulted in more moderate mood swings, an increase in sleep, and an end to that nettlesome cough.”

Navidson, however, despite his scientific inquiries and early postulations, finds no relief. He grows quieter and quieter, often wakes up seized by terror, and through Christmas and the New Year starts eating less and less. Though he frequently tells Reston how much he longs for Karen and the company of his children, he is incapable of going to them. The house continues to fix his attention.

So much so that back in October when Navidson first came across the tape of Wax kissing Karen he hardly responded. He viewed the scene twice, once at regular speed, the second time on fast forward, and then moved on to the rest of the footage without saying a word. From a dramatic point of view we must realize it is a highly anticlimactic moment, but one which, as The Haven-Slocum Theory argues, only serves to further emphasize the level of damage the house had a]ready inflicted upon Navidson: “Normal emotional reactions no longer apply. The pain anyone else would have felt while viewing that screen kiss, in Navidson’s case has been blunted by the grossly disproportionate trauma already caused by the house. In this regard it is in fact a highly climactic, if irregular moment, only because it is so disturbing to watch something so typically meaningful rendered so utterly inconsequential. How tragic to find Navidson so bereft of energy, his usual snap and alacrity of thought replaced by such unyielding torpor. Nothing matters anymore to him, which as more than a handful of people have already observed, is precisely the point.”

Then at the beginning of March, “while tests on the wall samples progressed,” as The Haven-Slocum Theory observes, Navidson begins to eat again, work out, and though his general reticence continues, Reston still sees Navidson’s new behavior as a change for the better: “I was blind to his intentions. I thought he was starting to deal with Tom’s death, planning to end his separation with Karen. I figured he had put the Fowler letters behind him along with that kiss. He seemed like he was coming back to life. Hell, even his feet were on the mend. Little did I know he was stock-piling equipment, getting ready for another journey inside. What everyone knows now as Exploration #5.” [378-Inter,iiew with Billy Reston. KTWL,

Boulder, Colorado, January 4, 1996.]

Where The Bister-Frieden-Josephson Criteria made Navidson’s letter to Karen the keystone of its analysis, The Haven-Slocum Theory does away with the document in a footnote, describing it as “drunken babble chockfull of expected expressions of grief, re-identification with a lost object, and plenty of transference, having less to do with Navidson’s lost brother and more to do with the maternal absence he endured throughout his life. The desire to save Delial must partly be attributed to a projection of Navidson’s own desire to be cradled by his mother. Therefore his grief fuses his sense of self with his understanding of the other, causing him not only to mourn for the tiny child but for himself as well.” [379-See pages 22-23.]

What The Haven-Slocum Theory treats with greater regard are the three dreams [380-As such a great variety of written material outside of The Haven-Slocum Theory has been produced on the subject of Navidson’s dreams, it seems imprudent not to at least mention here a few of the more popular ones: Calvin Yudofsky’s “D-Sleep/S-Sleep Trauma: Differentiating Between Sleep Terror Disorder and Nightmare Disorder” in (N) REM

(Bethel, Ohio: Besinnung Books, 1995); Ernest Y. Hartniann’s Terrible Thoughts: The Psychology and Biology of Navidson ‘s Nightmares (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1996); Susan Beck’s “Imposition On The Hollow” published in the T.S. Eliot Journal v. 32, November 1994; chapter four in

Oona Fanihdjarte’s The Constancy of Carl Jung (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Gordon Kearns, L. Kajita, and M.K. Totsuka’s Ultrapure Water, the Super Kamiokande Detector and Cherenkov Light (W.H. Freeman and Company, 1997); also see wwwsk.icrr; and of course Tom Curie’s essay “Thou Talk’st of nothing. True, I talk of dreams” (Mab Weekly, Celtic Publications, September 1993).] Navidson described for us in the Hi 8 journal entries he made that March. Again quoting directly from the Theory: “Far better than words influenced by the depressive effects of alcohol, these intimate glimpses of Navidson’s psyche reveal more about why he decided to go back and what may account for the profound physiological consequences that followed once he was inside.”




Mia Haven entitles her analysis of Dream #1: “Wishing Well: A Penny For Your Thoughts.. . A Quarter For Your Dreams … You For The Eons.” Unfortunately, as her treatment is difficult to find and purportedly exceeds 180 pages, it is only possible to summarize the contents here.

As Haven recounts, Navidson’s first dream places him within an enormous concrete chamber. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all veined with mineral deposits and covered in a thin ever-present film of moisture.

There are no windows or exits. The air reeks of rot, mildew, and despair.

Everywhere people wander aimlessly around, dressed in soiled togas. Toward the centre of this room there lies what appears to be a large well. A dozen people sit on the edge, dangling their feet inside. As Navidson approaches this aperture, he realizes two things: 1) he has died and this is some kind of half-way station, and 2) the only way out is down through the well.

As he sits on the edge, he beholds a strange and very disconcerting sight. No more than twenty feet below is the surface of an incredibly clear liquid. Navidson presumes it is water though he senses it is somewhat more viscous. By some peculiar quality intrinsic to itself, this liquid does not impede but actually clarifies the impossible vision of what lies beneath: a long shaft descending for miles ultimately opening up into a black bottomless pit which instantly fills Navidson with an almost crippling sense of dread.

Suddenly next to him, someone leaps into the well. There is a slight splash and the figure begins to sink slowly but steadily toward the darkness below, Fortunately after a few seconds, a violent blue light envelops the figure and transports it somewhere else. Navidson realizes, however, that there are other figures down there who have not been visited by that blue light and are instead writhing in fear as they continue their descent into oblivion.

Without anyone telling him, Navidson somehow understands the logic of the place: 1) he can remain in that awful room for as long as he likes, even forever if he chooses-looking around, he can tell that some people have been there for thousands of years – or he can jump into the well. 2) If he has lived a good life, a blue light will carry him to some ethereal and gentle place. If, however, he has lived an “inappropriate life,” (Navidson’s words) no light will visit him and he will sink into the horrible blackness below where he will fall forever.

The dream ends with Navidson attempting to assess the life he has led, unable to decide whether he should or should not leap.




Haven goes to great lengths to examine the multiple layers presented by this dream, whether the classical inferences in the togas or the sexless “figure” Navidson observes immolated by the blue light. She even digresses for a playful romp through Sartre’s Huis Cbs, hinting how that formidable work helped shape Navidson’s imagination.

In the end though, her most important insight concerns Navidson’s relationship to the house. The concrete chamber resembles the ashen walls, while the bottomless pit recalls both the Spiral Staircase and the abyss that appeared in his living room the night Tom died. Still what matters most is not some discovery made within those walls but rather within himself. In Haven’s words: “The dream seems to suggest that in order for Navidson to properly escape the house he must first reach an understanding about his own life, one he still quite obviously lacks.”




For Dream #2, Lance Slocum provides the widely revered analysis entitled “At A Snail’s Place.” Since his piece, like Haven’s, is also impossible to locate and reportedly well over two hundred pages long, summary will again have to suffice.

Slocum retells how in the second dream Navidson finds himself in the centre of a strange town where some sort of feast is in progress. The smell of garlic and beer haunts the air. Everyone is eating and drinking and Navidson understands that for some undisclosed reason they will now have enough food to last many decades.

When the feast finally comes to an end, everyone grabs a candle and begins to march out of the town. Navidson follows and soon discovers that they are heading for a the hill on which lies the shell of an immense snail. This sight brings with it a new understanding: the town has slain the creature, eaten some of it and preserved the rest.

As they enter the enormous wind (as in “to wind something up”), their candlelight illuminates walls that are white as pearl and as opalescent as sea shells. Laughter and joy echoes up the twisting path and Navidson recognizes that everyone has come there to honor and thank the snail. Navidson, however, keeps climbing up through the shell. Soon he is alone and as the passageway continues to get tighter and tighter, the candle he holds grows smaller and smaller. Finally as the wick begins to sputter, he stops to contemplate whether he should turn around or continue on. He understands if the candle goes out he will be thrust into pitch darkness, though he also knows finding his way back will not be difficult. He gives serious thought to staying. He wonders if the approaching dawn will fill the shell with light.




Slocum begins with an amusing reference to Doctor Dolittle before turning to consider the homes which ancient ammonites [381-See Edouard

Monod-Herzen’s Principes de morphologie gënerale, vol. I (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1927), p. 119.] constructed around an almost logarithmic axis, a legacy they would eons later bestow upon the imagination of countless poets and even entire cultures. [382-For example, even today the Kitawans of the South Pacific view the spiral of the Nautilus Pompilius as the ultimate symbol of perfection.] Primarily Slocum concentrates on chapter 5 of Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space as translated by Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), choosing to allow Navidson’s dream the same consideration literature of its kind receives.

For example, Slocum views the question of Navidson’s personal growth in terms of the enigma posed by the snail before it was eventually solved. Here he quotes from the translated Bachelard text:


How can a little snail grow in its stone prison? This is a natural question, which can be asked quite naturally. (I should prefer not to ask it, however, because

it takes me back to the questions of my childhood.) But for the Abbé de Vallemont it is a

question that remains unanswered, and he adds: “When it is a matter of nature, we rarely find ourselves on familiar ground. At every step, there is something that humiliates and mortifies proud minds.” In other words, a snail’s shell, this house that grows with its inmate, is one of the marvels of the universe. And the Abbé de Vallemont concludes that, in general shells are “sublime subjects of contemplation for the mind.” [383-The original text:

Comment le petit escargot dans sa prison de pierre peut-il grandir? Voilà tine question naturelle, tine question qul se pose naturellement, Nous n’aimons pas a Ia faire, car elle nous renvoie a nos questions d’enfant. Cette question reste sans réponse pour l’abbé de Vallemont qui ajoute: “Dans Ia Nature on est rarement en pays de connaissance. Ii y a a chaque pas de quoi humilier et mortifier les Esprits superbes.” Autrement dit, Ia coquille de l’escargot, Ia maison qui grandit a Ia mesure de son hôte est une merveille de l’Univers, Et d’une manière genérale, conclut I ‘abbé de Vallemont ([Abbé de Vallemont’s Curiosités de Ia nature et de I ‘art sur Ia végétation ou I ‘agriculture et le jardinage dans leur perfection, Paris, 1709, 1re Partie], p. 255), les coquillages sont “de sublimes sujets de contemplation pour l’esprit.”

For a more modem treatment of shell growth see Geerat J. Vermeij’s A

Natural History of Shells (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993). Chapter 3 “The Economics of Construction and Maintenance” deals directly with matters of calcification and the problems of dissolution, while chapter 1 “Shells and the Questions of Biology” considers the sense of the shell in a way that differs slightly fmrn Vallemont’s: “We can think of shells as houses. Construction, repair, and maintenance by the builder require energy and time, the same cunencies used for such other life functions as feeding, locomotion, and reproduction. The energy and time invested in shells depend on the supply of raw materials, the labor costs of transforming these resources into a serviceable structure, and the functional demands placed on the shell… The words ‘economics” and “ecology” are especially apt in this context, for both are derived from the Greek oikos, meaning house. In short, the questions of biology can be phrased in terms of supply and demand, benefits and costs, and innovation and regulation, all set against a backdrop of environment and history.”]


(Page 118)



In particular, Slocum’s attention is held by Bachelard’s parentethical [384-I haven’t corrected this typo because it seems to me less like an error of transcription and more like a revealing slip on Zampanô’s part, where a “parenthetical” mention of youth suddenly becomes a “parent- ethical” question about how to relate to youth.] reference to his own childhood and presumably the rite of growing up:

“How extraordinary to find in those ever expandable brackets such a telling correlation between the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle and

Navidson’s crisis.”

Indeed, by continuing to build on Bachelard, Slocum treats the snail in Navidson’s dream as a “remarkable inversion” of the house’s Spiral Staircase: “Robinet believed that it was by roiling over and over that the snail built its ‘staircase.’ Thus, the snail’s entire house would be a stairwell. With each contortion, this limp animal adds a step to its spiral staircase. It contorts itself in order to advance and grow” (Page 122; The Poetics of Space). [385-Original text:


Robinet a pensé que c’est en roularn sur lui-même que Ic limacon a fabriqué son “esca.Lier.” Ainsi, toute la maison de l’escargot serait une cage d’escalier. A chaque contorsion, l’animal mou fait une marche de son escalier en colimacon. II se contorsionne pour avancer et grandfr.


And of course who can forget Derrida’s remarks on this subject in footnote 5 in “Tympan” in Marges de Ia philosophie (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1972), p. xi-xii:


Tympanon. dionysie, labyrinthe, fils d’Ariane. Nous parcourons rnaintenant (debout, marchant, dansant), compris et enveloppés pour n’en jamais sortir, Ia forme d’une oreille construite autour d’un barrage, tournant autour de sa paroi interne, une yule, donc (labyrinthe, canaux semi-.circulaires-on vous prévient que les rampes ne tiennent pas) enroulée comme un limacon autour d’une vanne, d’une digue (dam) et tendue vers Ia mer; fennée sur elle-même et ouverte sur Ia voie de Ia mer. Pleine et vide de son eau, l’anainnèse de Ia conque résonne seule sur une plage. Comment une fIure pourrait-elle s’y produire, entre terre et mer? [386-Tympanum, Dionyslanism, labyrinth, Ariadne’s thread. We are now traveling through (upright, walking, dancing), included and enveloped within it, never to emerge, the form of an ear constructed around a barrier, going round its inner walls, a city, therefore (labyrinth, semicircular canals -warning: the spiral walkways do not hold) circling around like a stairway winding around a lock, a dike (dam) stretched out toward the sea; closed In on itself and open to the sea’s path. Full and empty of its water, the anamnesis of the choncha resonates alone on the beach.” As translated by Alan Bass. – Ed.]


In his own note buried within the already existing footnote, in this case nor 5 but enlarged now to 9, Alan Bass (-Trans for Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981)) further illuminates the above by making the following comments here below:


“There is an elaborate play on the words Iimaçon and conque here. Limo con (aside from meaning snail) means spiral staircase and the spiral canal that is part of the inner ear. Conque means both conch and concha, the largest cavity of the external ear.”]


Still more remarkable than even this marvelous coincidence is the poem Bachelard chooses to quote by René Rouquier:


C’est un escargot énorme

Qui descend de Ia montagne

Et le ruisseau l’accompagne

De sa bave blanche

Très vieu, ii n ‘a plus qu ‘une come C’est son court clocher carré. [387-René Rouquier’s L boule de verre (Paris: Seghers), p. 12.] [388 – “A giant snail comes down from the mountain followed by a stream of its white slime. So very old, it has only one horn left, short and square like a church tower.” – Ed.]


Navidson is not the first to envision a snail as large as a village, but what fascinates Slocum more than anything else is the lack of threat in the dream.

“Unlike the dread lying in wait at the bottom of the wishing well,” Slocum comments. “The snail provides nourishment. Its shell offers the redemption of beauty, and despite Navidson’s dying candle, its curves still hold out the promise of even greater illumination. All of which is in stark contrast to the house. There the walls are black, in the dream of the snail they are white; there you starve, in the dream the town is fed for a lifetime; there the maze is threatening, in the dream the spiral is pleasing; there you descend, in the dream you ascend and so on.”

Slocum argues that what makes the dream so particularly resonant is its inherent balance: “Town, country. Inside, outside. Society, individual. Light, dark. Night, day. Etc., etc. Pleasure is derived from the detection of these elements. They create harmonies and out of harmonies comes a balm for the soul. Of course the more extensive the symmetry, the greater and more lasting the pleasure.”

Slocum contends that the dream planted the seed in Navidson’s mind to try a different path, which was exactly what he did do in Exploration #5. Or more accurately:” The dream was the flowering of a seed previously planted by the house in his unconsciousness.” When bringing to a conclusion “At A Snail’s Place,” Slocum further opens up his analysis to the notion that both dreams, “The Wishing Well” and “The Snail,” suggested to Navidson the possibility that he could locate either within himself or” within that vast missing” some emancipatory sense to put to rest his confusions and troubles, even put to rest the confusions and troubles of others, a curative symmetry to last the ages.




For the more troubling and by far most terrifying Dream #3, Mia Haven and Lance Slocum team up together to ply the curvatures of that strange stretch of imaginings. Unlike #1 and #2, this dream is particularly difficult to recount and requires that careful attention be paid to the various temporal and even tonal shifts.






· ·.· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

[2 pages missing]

· ·.· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·


[389- ____________________________] [390 – 3:19 AM I woke

up, slick with sweat. And I’m not talking wet in the pits or wet on the brow. I’m talking scalp wet, sheet wet, and at that hour, an hour already lost in a new year-shivering wet. I’m so cold my temples hurt but before I can really focus on the question of temperature I realize I’ve remembered my first dream.

Only later after I find some candles, stomp around my room, splash water on the old face, micturate, light a Sterno can and put the kettle on, only then can I respond to my cold head and my general physical misery, which I do, relishing every bit of it in fact. Anything is better than that unexpected and awful dream, made all the more unsettling because now for some reason I can recall it. Nor do I have an inkling why. I cannot imagine what has changed in my life to bring this thing to the surface.

The guns sure as hell were useless, instantly confiscated at sleep’s border, even if I did manage to pick up the Weatherby before my credit ran out.

An hour passes. I’m blinking in the light, boiling more water for more coffee, ramming my head into another wool hat, sneezing again though all I can see is the fucking dream, torn straight out of the old raphé nuclei care of the very brainstem I thought had been soundly severed.

This is how it starts:

I’m deep in the hull of some enormous vessel, wandering its narrow passages of black steel and rust. Something tells me I’ve been here a long time, endlessly descending into dead ends, turning around to find other ways which in the end lead only to still more ends. This, however, does not bother me. Memories seem to suggest I’ve at one point lingered in the engine room, the container holds, scrambled up a ladder to find myself alone in a deserted kitchen, the only place still shimmering in the mirror magic of stainless steel. But those visits took place many years ago, and even though I could go back there at any time, I choose instead to wander these cramped routes which in spite of their ability to lose me still retain in every turn an almost indiscreet sense of familiarity. It’s as if I know the way perfectly but I walk them to forget.

And then something changes. Suddenly I sense for the first time ever, the presence of another. I quicken my pace, not quite running but close. I am either glad, startled or terrified, but before I can figure out which I complete two quick turns and there he is, this drunken frat boy wearing a plum-colored Topha Beta sweatshirt, carrying the lid of a garbage can in his right hand and a large fireman’s ax in his left. He burps, sways, and then with a lurch starts to approach me, raising his weapon. I’m scared alright but I’m also confused. “Excuse me, mind explaining why you’re coming after mg?” which I actually try to say except the words don’t come out right. More like grunts and clouds, big clouds of steam.

That’s when I notice my hands. They look melted, as if they were made of plastic and had been dipped in boiling oil, only they’re not plastic, they’re the thin effects of skin which have in fact been dipped in boiling oil. I know this and I even know the story. I’m just unable to resurrect it there in my dream Stiff hair sprouts up all over the fingers and around the long, yellow fingernails. Even worse, this awful scarring does not end at my wrists, but continues down my arms, making the scars I know I have when I’m not dreaming seem childish in comparison. These ones reach over my shoulders, down my back, extend even across my chest, where I know ribs still protrude like violet bows.

When I touch my face, I can instantly tell there’s something wrong there too. I feel plenty of hair covering strange lumps of flesh on my chin, my nose and along the ridge of my cheeks. On my forehead there’s an enormous bulge harder than stone. And even though I have no idea how I got to be so deformed, I do know. And this knowledge comes suddenly. I’m here because I am deformed, because when I speak my words come out in cracks and groans, and what’s more I’ve been put here by an old man, a dead man, by one who called me son though he was not my father.

Which is when this frat boy, swaying back and forth before me like an idiot, raises his ax even higher above his head. His plan I see is not too complicated: he intends to drive that heavy blade into my skull, across the bridge of my nose, cleave the roof of my mouth, the core of my brain, split apart the very vertebrae in my neck, and he won’t stop there either. He’ll hack my hands from my wrists, my thighs from my knees, pry out my sternum and hammer it into tiny fragments. He’ll do the same to my toes and my fingers and he’ll even pop my eyes with the butt of the handle and then with the heal of the blade attempt to crush my teeth, despite the fact that they’re long, serrated and unusually strong. At least in this effort, he will fail; give up finally; collect a few. Where my internal organs are concerned, these too he’ll treat with the same respect, hewing, smashing and slicing until he’s too tired and too covered with blood to finish, even though of course he really finished awhile ago, and then he’ll slouch exhausted, panting like some stupid dog, drunk on his beer, this killing, this victory, while I lie strewn about that bleak place, der absoluten

Zerrissenheit (as it turned out I ran into Kyrie at the supermarket this last November. She was buying a 14.75 ounce can of Alaskan salmon. I tried to slip away but she spotted me and said hello, collecting me then in the gentle coils of her voice. We talked for a while. She knew I was no longer working at the Shop. She’d been by to get a tattoo. Apparently a stripper had gotten a little catty with her. Probably Thumper. In fact maybe that’s why Thumper had called me, because this exquisite looking woman had out of the blue spoken my name. Anyway Kyrie had gotten the BMW logo tattooed between her shoulder blades, encircled by the phrase “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” This apparently had been Gdansk Man’s idea. The $85,000 car it turns out is his. Kyrie didn’t mention any ire on his part or history on our part, so I just nodded my approval and then right there in the canned food aisle, asked her for the translation of that German phrase which I should have amended, could even do it now, but, well, Fuck ’em Hoss. [391-See footnote 310 and corresponding reference. – Ed.] And so voil it appears here instead:

“utter dismemberment” the same as “dejected member” which I thought she said though she wrote it down a little differently, explaining while she did that she had decided to marry Gdansk Man and would soon actually be living, instead of just driving, up on that windy edge known to some as Mullholland. As I conjure this particular memory I can see more clearly her expression, how appalled she was by the way I looked: so pale and weak, clothes hanging on me like curtains on a curtain rod, sunglasses teetering on bone, my slender hands frequently shaking beyond my control and of course the stench I continued to emanate. What was happening to me, she probably wanted to know, but didn’t ask. Then again maybe I’m wrong, maybe she didn’t notice. Or if she did, maybe she didn’t care. When I started to say goodbye, things took an abrupt turn for the weird. She asked me if I wanted to go for another drive. “Aren’t you getting married?” I asked her, trying, but probably failing, to conceal my exasperation. She just waited for my answer. I declined, attempting to be as polite as possible, though something hard still closed over her. She crossed her arms, a surge of anger suddenly igniting the tissue beneath her lips and finger tips. Then as I walked back down the aisle, I heard a crash off to my left. Bottles of ketchup toppled from the shelf, a few even shattered as they hit the floor. The thrown can of salmon rolled near my feet. I twisted around but Kyrie was already gone.) Anyway back to the dream, me chopped up into tiny pieces, spread and splattered in the bowels of that ship, and all at the hands of a drunken f rat boy who upon beholding his heroic deed pukes all over what’s left of me. Except before he achieves any of this, I realize that now, for some reason, for the first time, I have a choice: I don’t have to die, I can kill him instead. Not only are my teeth and nails long, sharp and strong, I too am strong, remarkably strong and remarkably fast. I can rip that fucking ax out of his hands before he even swings it once, shatter it with one jerk of my wrist, and then I can watch the terror seep into his eyes as I grab him by the throat, carve out his insides and tear to pieces.

But as I take a step forward, everything changes. The f rat boy I realize is not the f rat boy anymore but someone else. At first I think it’s Kyrie, until I realize it’s not Kyrie but Ashley, which is when I realize it’s neither Kyrie nor Ashley but Thumper, though something tells me that even that’s not exactly right. Either way, her face glows with adoration and warmth and her eyes communicate in a blink an understanding of all the gestures I’ve ever made, all the thoughts I’ve ever had. So extraordinary is this gaze, in fact, that I suddenly realize I’m unable to move. I just stand there, every sinew and nerve easing me into a world of relief, my breath slowing, arms dangling at my sides, my jaw slack, legs melting me into ancient waters, until suddenly my eyes on their own accord, commanded by instincts darker and older than empathy or anything resembling emotional need, dart from her beautiful and strangely familiar face to the ax she still holds, the ax she is now lifting, the smile she is still making even as she starts to shake, suddenly swinging the ax down on me, at my head, though she will miss my head, barely, the ax floating down instead towards my shoulder, finally cutting into the bone and lodging there, producing shrieks of blood, so much blood, and pain, so much pain, and instantly I understand I’m dying, though I’m not dead yet, even if I am beyond repair, and she has started to cry, even as she dislodges the ax and raises it again, to swing again, again at my head, though she is crying harder and she is much weaker than I thought, and she needs more time than I thought, to get ready, to swing again, while I’m bleeding and dying, which now doesn’t compare at all to the feeling inside, also so familiar, as the atriums of my heart on their own accord suddenly rupture, like my father’s ruptured. So this, I suddenly muse in a peculiarly detached way, was this how he felt?

I’ve made a terrible mistake, but it’s too late and I’m now too full of fury & hate to do anything but look up as the blade slices down with appalling force, this time the right arc, not too far left, not too far right, but right center, descending forever it seems, though it’s not forever, not even close, and I realize with a shade of citric joy, that at least, at last, it will put an end to the far more terrible ache inside me, born decades ago, long before I finally beheld in a dream the face and meaning of my horror.]


As they start to sum up The Haven-Slocum Theory, the couple quotes from Johanne Scefing’s posthumously published journal:


At this late hour I’m unable to put aside thoughts of God’s great sleeper whose history filled my imagination and dreams when I was a boy. I cannot recall how many times I read and re-read the story of Jonah, and now as I dwell on Navidson’s decision to return to the house alone I turn to my Bible and find among those thin pages these lines:


So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

(Jonah 1: 15)


[392-Johanne Scefing’s The Navidson Record, trans. Gertrude Rebsamen (Oslo Press, May 1996), p. 52.]


It seems a somewhat bizarre reference, until Haven and Slocum produce a second PEER table documenting what happened once Navidson entered the house on Ash Tree Lane:




0: Alicia Rosenbaum: headaches stopped. 0: Audrie McCullogh: no more anxiety.

1: Teppet C. Brookes: improved sleeping.

1: Sheriff Axnard: end of nausea.

2: Billy Reston: decreased sensation of cold.

3: Daisy: end of fever; arms healing; occasional echolalia.

1: Kirby “Wax” Hook: return of energy and potency.

4: Chad: better goal-directed flow of ideas and logical sequences; decreased aggression and wandering.

1: Karen Green: improved sleeping; no more unmotivated panic attacks [Dark enclosed places will still initiate a response.]; decreased melancholia; cessation of cough.

1: Will Navidson: no more night terrors; cessation of mutism.

[Evidenced by Navidson’s use of the Hi 8 to record his thoughts.]


The Haven-Slocum Theory ™ – 2


Even more peculiar, the house became a house again.

As Reston discovered, the space between the master bedroom and the children’s bedroom had vanished. Karen’s bookshelves were once again flush with the walls. And the hallway in the living room now resembled a shallow closet. Its walls were even white.

The sea, it seemed, had quieted.

“Was Navidson like Jonah?” The Haven-Slocum Theory asks. “Did he understand the house would calm if he entered it, just as Jonah understood the waters would calm if he were thrown into them?”

Perhaps strangest of all, the consequences of Navidson’s journey are still being felt today. In what remains the most controversial aspect of The Haven-Slocum Theory, the concluding paragraphs claim that people not even directly associated with the events on Ash Tree Lane have been affected. The Theory, however, is careful to distinguish between those who have merely seen The Navidson Record and those who have read and written, in some cases extensively, about the film.

Apparently, the former group shows very little evidence of any sort of emotional or mental change:” At most, temporary.” While the latter group seems to have been more radically influenced: “As evidence continues to come in, it appears that a portion of those who have not only meditated on the house’s perfectly dark and empty corridors but articulated how its pathways have murmured within them have discovered a decrease in their own anxieties. People suffering anything from sleep disturbances to sexual dysfunction to poor rapport with others seem to have enjoyed some improvement.” [393-Of course as Patricia B. Nesseiroade, M.D. noted in her widely regarded self-help book Tamper With This (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1994), P. 687: “If one invests some interest in, for example, a tree and begins to form some thoughts about this tree and then writes these thoughts down, further examining the meanings that surface, allowing for unconscious associations to take place, writing all this down as well, until the subject of the tree branches off into the subject of the self, that person will enjoy immense psychological benefits.”]

However, The Haven-Slocum Theory also points out that this course is not without risk. An even greater number of people dwelling on The Navidson Record have shown an increase in obsessiveness, insomnia, and incoherence: “Most of those who chose to abandon their interest soon recovered. A few, however, required counseling and in some instances medication and hospitalization. Three cases resulted in suicide.”

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