Chasing Infinity

The characters of House of Leaves do not live extraordinary lives. Zampanò, as described by Johnny, lives a very austere life. Johnny works as a tattoo shop assistant and the Navidsons are more concerned with living in an idyllic household than pursuing a fabled lifestyle. It is only when Will Navidson, along with several others, realizes the spatial disparity of the house that they devote their time in investigating its seemingly unending hallways. The idea of pursuing infinity or describing something that has no end is interspersed throughout the novel. In earlier parts of the Navidson Record, Zampanò makes statements regarding reality as being “infinitely more patient” and that “physics depends on a universe infinitely centered on an equal sign.” There are even direct symbols of infinity as seen in the formula for resonance frequencies and explicitly used by Douglas Hofstadter. Despite knowing that the house may never have enough answers for its questions, the characters willingly attempt to deal with the infinite in the belief that nothing was completely immeasurable. Part of the attractiveness of infinity is because of its challenge. Navidson and Holloway both expect a “great deal of fame and fortune” for surveying a staircase that could have no end. For Holloway, his life devoted as an explorer, the house is the ultimate challenge and could finally give him the “recognition the house seemed to promise.” Another part is the unfamiliarity. Although infinity appears throughout the novel, the idea of infinity is better represented through time and space. Looking at the index, there is only one reference to the Infinite Corridor, but if one looks at the page numbers with time and space, it is sometimes paired with “finite” and “infinitely”. It is interesting to note that despite Will Navidson’s interest in recording familiar slice-of-life moments and Holloway’s lack of humor and penchant for conciseness, they are the ones who look the most forward in exploring the house. However, it is neither the challenge nor unfamiliarity that truly makes these characters commit to the unending task. Although critics have noted how the house shapes to the person’s perspective, the characters embark on exploring the infinite nature of the house because they know that it will change them. Given their ordinary lives and the possible lack of fulfillment they may have developed, dealing and pursuing goals that are possibly unceasing forces them to reevaluate themselves despite the consequences.

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