House of Leaves and Technology

Floppy disk 2009 G1

In the book House of Leaves technology is featured greatly and makes many appearances. While not always the center of attention within the story it is mentioned many times. Sometimes it is mentioned by name and sometimes it is mentioned indirectly. Though sometimes when mentioned indirectly you get enough information to know what they are talking about. Also technology has a great deal of variety in this book. You have things like dim light bulbs, cameras, and doors. Funny enough but a door is considered a type of technology. Though most doors that I think of don’t have much to do with the digital world. I am certain however somewhere out there a smart door is in the making. Anyhow there are two very specific technologies which are brought up in the section regarding Echo. Not surprising at all is the fact that both of these technologies have to do with sound. They have to do with the interpretation of sound, the reading of sound, the viewing of sound, and perhaps even the recording of sound. No I am not talking about a Phonautograph, Phonograph, Gramophone records, Compact Cassettes, or a Floppy disk but I am talking about a little none device called a CD. It’s funny, the CD is only mentioned in passing in regards to sound recording but it is such a massive technology. However with digital storage and the cloud it seems almost as if it is going the way of the VHS tape. Something that we act surprised about seeing, something that one can imagine dust on, and something that feels like a fossil.
“It is not by accident that choirs singing Psalms are most always recorded with ample reverb. Divinity seems defined by echo. Whether the Vienna Bous Choir or monks chanting away on some chart climbing CD, the hallowed always seems to abide in the province of the hallow.” – Page 46 of House of Leaves.

Weather radar

After the brief bit in regards to the technology that is the amazing CD we get treated to some of the more complex sound technologies. Technologies that have inspiration in nature and are almost used everywhere. It is an old technology that is almost always being updated. Though it also has to do with simply bouncing signals sending them and receiving them back. I am of course talking about radars, sonars, and ultrasounds. These are technologies that make modern life possible. You don’t think about them much but without them life would certainly be a lot more difficult.
“As most people know who are versed in this century’s technological effects, exact distances can be determined by timing the duration of a sound’s round trip between the deflecting object and its point of origin. This principle serves as the basis for all radar, sonar, and ultrasonics used every day around the world by air traffic controllers, fishermen, and obstetricians. By using sound or electromagnetic waves, visible blips may be produced on a screen. Indications either a 747, a school of salmon, or the barely pumping heart of a fetus.” – Page 47 House of Leaves.
As you can tell from these passages and what I have covered the book uses some really real technology. Though perhaps it does simplify its use when it comes to bouncing signals. Now as for what I think about the mentioned technologies, well that is rather simple. With the CD I believe it is a harmless technology that was beneficial to humans as it provided a very real stepping stone like cassette tapes did. It allowed for information to be stored on a whole new level. With things like radar, sonar, and ultrasonics that is a tad bit of a mixed bad but I feel mostly good. Sonars make it easier to fish and make it easier for people to make a living that way, but if a sonar is too powerful it can hurt and disrupt creatures of the deep. With radar it helps ensure safe skies with minimal air collisions but a radar can also be used to power an anti air missile. So all in all there is some good and there is some bad but it is still all worth keeping around.


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