In this paper, I examine Frederic Jameson’s theories of Cultural Capitalism and the Waning of Affect through Mark Z. Danielewski’s 2000 novel, “House of Leaves.” By exploring the novel’s implicit use of mythological archetypes (specifically those found in “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” The Labyrinth and the Minotaur myth , and John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”), and its explicit discussion of postmodern theories( from Deconstruction and Différance to Simulacra), I argue that “House of Leaves” not only appropriates the idea of Cultural Capitalism and the Waning of Affect, but employs a mythological cycle to reincarnate subjectivity, humanism, and interpretation in the so-called “post-hermeneutical information age.” Through a close examination of how “House of Leaves” plays with structure, narrative, character, and (mis)interpretation, this argument will show how experimental storytelling resurrects and reifies the definition of “knowledge,” “Being,” and “identity” in the modern digital episteme. The purpose of this argument is to illuminate how structurally experimental novels like “House of Leaves” mimic modern technology-based research practices through “hyperlinked” key words in the text, cross-referenced information in the main body of the text, the footnotes, and in the appendix, and through non-linear structure. In this way, “House of Leaves” asks the same ontological and epistemological inquiries as modern “post-hermeneutical” critics of today’s increasingly digitally mediated culture. While I use “House of Leaves” as the focus of my argument, I will attempt to show how novels that play with ontological and epistemological philosophy through variegated structure, mediated plot, and deliberate misinterpretations not only reinvent “the novel,” but entice the greater digi-techno-media culture back to the roots of civilization: the story.
|Keywords:||Archetypes, Postmodernism, Novel, Technology, Nightmare, Ontology, Hermeneutics, Epistemology, Storytelling, Digital Episteme|
Graduate Student, English, Concentration in Literature, The University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA