I'm wondering whether anyone more perceptive than me can tell me what the novel revealed about the marks Truant found on the floor around Zampano's body. I loved the book but looking back realised some things were not explained ... was this? Thanks
A physical manifestation of a psychological haunting. The monster in the house that has no form that you can *see*, if you will, but which can affect physical reality all the same, clawing, clawing away.
Among any number of other things, the marks serve as a reminder of the human need to categorize and explain. Yes, they're never explained. No, there's no way of knowing what they were caused by. The very fact that people puzzle over what the marks are is a manifestation of the same need that almost led Navidson to his death.
It's "evidence" of the Minotaur, mention of which is consistently scratched out wherever it appears (or doesn't) in the book. Scratches--an absence. I think the Minotaur is what holds the levels of the book together. It's "observed" by Navidson (who hears it in the house), Johnny (who sees the scratches, and has demons of his own), Zampano (who writes about it then erases it)(and maybe it killed him?), and the editors, who use strikethrough text to show that it is both absent and present.
This is one of the book's unsolved mysteries that I have also been thinking a lot about. So:
A. There were no marks. Unsettled by the creepy atmosphere, and poked at by his past, storyteller Johnny, looking back on that moment, confused what Zampano wrote with what he himself saw in that apartment that night, and passed the error on to us.
B. Obsessed Zampano, wanting to create a kind of mythology around his great work in his last days, and so enhance its chances of success after his death, killed all those cats and made those creepy marks himself, as though to imply to whoever found him that the thing he investigated in his trunk came to life in the end and killed him. And in Truant, he found the perfect vehicle.
C. The claws were made by the same thing that snatched Holloway away. If you remember from one of the appendices, the labyrinth was implied to represent history, or in the case of an individual, the past. Holloway was completely unable to reconcile his past, unlike Navidson, who survived because he chose in his last moments to relinquish all past obsessions in favor of Karen, so that Holloway was effectively "snatched away" by his past. Zampano may have suffered a similar fate because he was unable to reconcile his present with his past. Truant, for example, though threatened by the creature, was not killed by it because he visited Whalestoe, where his mother died, and made peace with it.
D. The marks were made by Zampano's minotaur, which he tried to remove from his manuscript when he realized it was somehow manifesting itself in his life. But this interpretation makes the least amount of sense to me, as hoof-marks would probably not be described by Danielewski as claw-marks.
C. makes the most sense to me, especially considering how consumed Zampano was with the Jacob Esau parable, and the many hints about his wartime experiences. I think he was never able to reconcile who he was with his past -- and it eventually ate him up.
Scratches -- an absence, is probably a worthwhile take. But the minotaur being real negates many things: the dating of the wall samples, for example, and the clues in the appendices, which imply that the "labyrinth" is really some physical manifestation of history (which is how it can be older than the earth and even the solar system, and spatially larger as well). I think Zampano may have made those corrections because doing so makes the book better (because it keeps the monster undefined, thus heightening the psychological fear factor). Also, going back to one of my previous comments, those marks are described as being made by "claws." Like the ones that snatched Holloway's corpse away.
That is a semi-popular theory mostly based on Truant's self-professed storytelling abilities. After all, the reader has no proof that there ever was a Zampano. But he/she does have letters in one of the appendices indicating that Truant possesses a brilliant mind in addition to a manic, obsessive personality. In addition, his name is a fake, and he has already represented himself as Pelican, so why should he not be Zampano as well?
There are no satisfying explanations here. That was part of the point. Why nothing substantial was ever found in the HOUSE. Why we don't know if there was a monster or not. Why we have only more questions when trying to define what the house is -- but never a satisfactory answer. All of which of course mirrors the form of a labyrinth -- always more twists and turns, leading to more of the same. But in this case an endless labyrinth -- one that extends off the edge of the page and into limitless space if drawn.