Echo and other myths

The myth of Echo is fully narrated and explained in the text of House of Leaves so i will skip that part and instead just give a brief synopsis. Echo was a wood nymph who loved the sound of her own voice. She angers Zeus’s wife Hera by being deceitful and so she takes away her voice, with the exception of the repetition of the last few syllables that someone else says to her. She falls in love with Narcissus ( more on him later) who breaks her heart, so she hides in a hidden glen and cries until all that is left of her is her voice.

This tale is important to the story for many reasons, including the obvious physics-y explanation of how sound bounces off of walls and the explanation of how echoes really work, that you have to be 56.5 feet away from a surface in order to detect your echo, unlike bats whales and dolphins which have much finer tuned equipment in their heads. Besides this physical element, the tale contains many facets that parallel the story, including characters and their traits.

Narcissus is a minor character in this tale, but his role is important. Narcissus was born a beautiful baby boy. His mother was concerned about his welfare, him being exceptionally attractive, and so she consulted Tiresias the blind prophet (more on him later, too) about his future. Tiresias said that he will live a long life, if he does not come to know himself. As he grows up, it is evident that many women fall in love with him, including Echo, but he spurns them all. Nemesis, touched by Echo’s cries, then enacted a devious plan to bring Narcissus to his downfall. As Narcissus was walking through the woods one day he stopped to take a drink from a pond. In doing so he saw his own reflection and was so in love with it, that he beat himself to death because he realized that he could never be with that image. He died in the forest from exhaustion and the narcissus flower grew in his place, gazing down at its reflection just like him.

In these stories, we find parallel characters. Thumper is uncommonly beautiful and enchants Truant. She is obsessed with her body, which she uses to make her living, and the pleasures associated with it. Truant loves her, so much that he can hardly speak to her, saying only hello and goodbye to her and little else.  Truant spends his days pouring over Zampano’s texts. He neglects every other facet of his life until he can compile the texts into something meaningful, hoping that the end result will give his life a purpose, a direction, an identity. Zampano is blind yet is still able to construct a movie, and a visually stunning one at that. He is blind, yet sees better than most. He is the wise master of the Navidson Record.



~ by scootielou on March 14, 2010.

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