Sunday, May 25, 2014

Part Two: The Pilot Episode, 2nd Half

Notes on Twin Peaks

~ a chronological examination of the tv series and film ~

23) Cooper and the Intuitive Method 


At 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, 1989, FBI Agent Dale Cooper enters the town of Twin Peaks, driving through a heavily wooded area, speaking to a “Diane” through a portable dictaphone. His passion for trees and diners is evident, and his enthusiasm comes as welcome relief to the dark grief and melancholy that has befallen the town since the discovery of Laura Palmer's body.

From the first, Cooper is marked by a zeal for life and an attention to detail. He is methodical and disciplined, observing everything and keeping meticulous records. Unlike Albert, though, he is not arrogant or dismissive, and he seems entirely open to the mysterious aspects of consciousness and reality.

The Log Lady Introduction for the Pilot episode establishes Twin Peaks as a place filled with "stories", of many different kinds, and all of them occurring within a greater mystery, of life and death and the woods that surround their town. In the next introduction, she establishes the role of the detective:

"Behind all things are reasons. Reasons can even explain the absurd. Do we have the time to learn the reasons behind the human being's varied behavior? I think not. Some take the time. Are they called detectives? Watch - and see what life teaches."

Log Lady Introductions

It's been noted that the character of Agent Cooper can be seen as a new kind of detective, and Twin Peaks a variant within the genre of detective fiction (of which Mark Frost was apparently a huge fan). Dating back to Edgar Allan Poe's stories of the detective C. Auguste Dupin and Conan Arthur Doyle's Sherlock Holmes,  the detective genre came to be marked with certain key themes & motifs:

  • the faculty of reason and the technique of deduction in struggle with criminality, forces of evil, antisocial impulses, superstition and folly.  
    • In lighter and shorter pieces, the detective is often seen dissolving misunderstandings & misinterpretations, often involving very petty crimes, or of phenomena that are superstitiously regarded as supernatural, but are then explained by the detective to have natural causes. 
    • The detective often is working at odds with a inept & incompetent local constable, who is often contemptuous of the protagonist's scientific method.
    • In heavier pieces, the detective's faculty of reason is pitted against very dark, evil and irrational forces.  I think we can see in these stories a basic narrative that emerged from Enlightenment thinkers (Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.) of Reason being a hopeful & luminous force, a bulwark against superstition, irrational impulses, and the burden of tradition and history that had weighed down humanity for ages.
  •  an industrial setting: the modern detective story seems to me to very much tied into urban, industrial areas.  I imagine it had something to do with anxieties around modern sorts of crime, the anonymity of the perpetrator in the masses of people dislodged from traditional village existence
In contrast, in Twin Peaks:

  • Agent Cooper (and it seems, Agent Desmond) makes intensive use of intuition, through such methods as dream interpretation, synchronicity and coincidence, divinatory methods, and the consultation of oracles (such as the Log Lady).  Cooper and Desmond, like Albert and Sam Stanley, excel at deduction, but seem to view it as incomplete, knowing that they will have to harness irrational forces in addition to logic in order to solve the Blue Rose cases.
  • Cooper works closely with the local "constable", they develop a friendship and a deep sense of respect.  Cooper is continually learning from the culture of Twin Peaks, and in many ways seems almost like an emissary from modern, urban America, rediscovering aspects of tradition that have been left behind.
  • a rural setting: as opposed to the theme of examining society in the context of industrial setting, divorced and alienated from the natural world, I think one of the subtexts of Twin Peaks is examining human community living within a larger world, of nature and of supernatural forces.

The methods of Gordon Cole's FBI agents could be seen as analogues to the practice of meditation, which is of course a major component of David Lynch's life and work.

Cooper's modis operandi involves meeting the mysterious aspects of life with openness, equanimity, and a reliance on observation and method, in a way very similar to the attitude of the meditator, in the observation of the contents of mind with openness and a non-judgemental outlook, and in the reliance on method, whether it be the mantra recitation of TM, observing the breath, the visualization of a symbol or contemplation of a idea, etc.

Cooper's reliance on "yogic discipline" and his general approach to his work as a detective seems very much aligned with the meditative outlook.

Wikipedia on Detective Fiction

24) Diane

We never meet her, though there is some evidence that she was possibly going to be depicted in FBI headquarter sequence in FWWM (will we maybe hear her voice in the upcoming release of deleted scenes?)

Despite the fact that we never see her, and never really understand how the two communicate (does he mail the cassette tapes to her for transcription? Or is the transmission somehow instantaneous?), Cooper faithfully relates the minutest details of his investigations to her, to the point that she almost seems like a guiding spirit or a patron deity, watching over his foray into this Blue Rose case.

In another parallel with classical mythology, it is interesting to note that Diana was the goddess of the woodland, analogue to the Greek goddess Artemis. Diana was a virgin deity devoted to women  (appropriate for a story of a wronged female) and was likewise the goddess of the hunt, often depicted with deer, tying her into the deer iconography that is found throughout the series (a thread of symbolism that will become more apparent as we progress through the series).

A slight contradiction: if this connection to the goddess Diana holds up, and if deer in Twin Peaks are representative of young women, innocent and hunted, how can Diana also be goddess of the hunt?  I have no answer to this dilemma, but I do note this multivalent, two-faced aspect to many of the supernatural forces in Twin Peaks and the other works of David Lynch: are they forces of good or evil, or do they have more personal motives in their influence on worldly affairs?  Questions such as this will certainly arise around the Little Man From Another Planet (LMFAP) later on in the series.

Interesting parallel to Mulholland Dr.: the director Adam Kesher has also has a female secretary/adviser, whom he never meets face-to-face in the film (he only communicates with her by phone).  A picture of the Madonna is displayed prominently just before we see her. Her name is Cynthia.

The name Cynthia is of Greek origin, referring to the one born on Mount Cynthus of the Island of Delos, being the goddess Artemis, intimately connected to Selene, Greek goddess of the Moon, and analogue, in the Roman pantheon, to (of course) Diana, both who where referred to by the name, at times, of Cynthia.*

* credit for the Cynthia/Artemis/Diana connection goes to post from kmkmiller on

25) Dr. Jacoby


Obscene hand gesturing with the hula girl tie.
What kind of ear plugs are these? Where are his coloured glasses?
Dr. Jacoby seems much creepier & more sinister in the Pilot than he does in the series proper.

26) Rabbits


Do these chocolate bunnies have anything to do with these rabbits?

27) Left & Right Brains

When Cooper discovers a letter "R" beneath Laura's fingernail, he places it on a glass slide and tells Diane to give it to Albert and his team for analysis, and not to "go to Sam".  Interesting to see, so early in the series, a reference to Kiefer Sutherland's character in FWWM, Agent Sam Stanley, the forensic analyst who cracked the Whitman case and accompanies Agent Chet Desmond to investigate Teresa Banks' murder in Deer Meadow.

Note also how the FBI agents seem to be paired, Cooper and Albert, Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley, with one agent being extremely rational and analytic, the other much more intuitive and open and attuned to hidden currents and forces, which mystify the straight-laced half of the pair and us as the audience.

As a reoccurring right/left dichotomy develops within the series (especially around left and right arms/hands), it occured to me this pairing of Agents kind of mirrors the supposed structures of our own "bicameral" brains, the left half being focused on analysis, logic, sequence, and reason, the right half working by intuition, spontaneity, imagination and holistic view of the world.

Interesting too, with these paired agents, equal value doesn't seem to be given to the thought modalities of the two hemispheres. As mentioned above, Cooper and Desmond don't seem to be deficient at all in methodical, rational analysis, and while Albert and Sam may be somewhat more proficient in deduction and calculation due to the singularity of their focus, they both seem maybe a little unbalanced in their approach to life.  

Of the pairs, Cooper and Desmond seem the greater halves, almost like they are, under the aegis of FBI director Gordon Cole, moving beyond more regular methods of investigation; instead of seeing them as abandoning rationality in their methods, I see them more as moving towards integration of the various modes of being, where the rational and irrational aspects of the mind can work in harmony and concert.

More on this later, but it is interesting to note a connection here to Jungian-style psychology, which differentiates various functions of the mind, investigates the relation of conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche, posits a dark, irrational "shadow aspect" within us (something like a Black Lodge doppelganger?), and also looks into a process of individuation, which various aspects of the psyche are brought into balance.



28) Traffic Lights & Lucy's Attire

After Cooper addresses the town meeting and a curfew is imposed, there is the first of a long series of transition shots focusing on traffic lights, swaying in the wind at night.  

It's an image that loops from the final scenes of FWWM back into it's mysterious placements the Pilot. It takes on significance in later episodes of TP and the film, I think tying into ideas of motivations and internal conflict ("stopping & going"), of fateful, consequential decisions, but here in the Pilot and early episodes, there is something very forlorn about these traffic lights, swaying in the night breeze over empty intersections. 

It doesn't always happen, but this seems like one of several points in the series where Lucy's sweaters and fashion accessories seem to match & mirror visual patterns occurring elsewhere in the show. In the Pilot (and some later episodes) Lucy wears a brooch with the traffic light colours of red-yellow-green, pinned to what looks like an inverted clover leaf.

Maybe it's a stretch, but to my eye, from some angles, the cloverleaf looks almost like an winged angel, hovering above the three lights, forming an emblem that resonates powerfully with symbols found in FWWM, of the idea of guardian angels, and their relation to the decision Laura comes to under the traffic lights at the intersection of Sparkwood and 21.

29) The Roots of Names and Cultures of Trees


And I'll see you
And you'll see me
And I'll see you in the branches that blow
In the breeze,
I'll see you in the trees
Under the sycamore trees

"Sycamore Trees", David Lynch

Along the lines of the idea of Dianne possibly being related to Diana, the Roman goddess of the forest and of the hunt, many of the names in Lynch's works seem to have connotations or etymologies that connect back into cultural traditions concerning a relation to nature, in particular trees and forests.

I started noticing these connections while looking into the name of Diane Selwyn in Mulholland Dr. First, of course, there is the relation to the Roman goddess Diana, but there was also the similarity of the surname "Selwyn" to the adjective sylvan, referring to an association to trees and/the woods, from the Latin for woodland, silva. This seemed a possible source for the last name of her sunny dream-self: Betty Elms.

Interesting that Ben Horne's wife is named Silvia, a name derived from another Roman goddess of the forest and of the moon. It suggests another connection between Ben and the woods, tying into his arc as developer/destroyer of Ghostwood Forest, through his roll in the mill fire to becoming a environmental activist/savior of the woodlands.  Likewise, there will be another connection between Silvia Horne and the moon before the series' end.

The name Palmer itself of course suggests connections to the palm tree, though it seems a little out of place for a story set in the Pacific Northwest.  One idea I had was that this might connect with the idea of Hollywood: Twin Peaks evolved out of a project Lynch and Frost had originally collaborated on regarding Marilyn Monroe, and it seems like there were plans for the third season of Twin Peaks to follow Audrey Horne to L.A. (That unfinished plot line seems to have been the genesis for the Mulholland Dr. pilot episode/film.).

By some thread of dream logic, this all seems to be tied up with Laura Palmer, a continuation of the life she was meant to lead, but that was cut short.  It feels like the lyric from Rockin' Back Inside My Heart alludes to this:

Shadow in my house
The man he has brown eyes
She'll never go to Hollywood
Love moves me

Interesting as well, the names Leland and Dale both have similar derivations, referring to the a dweller of a valley or a meadow.

Whether or not there was a conscious intention behind the inclusion of these tree-related names, they serve for me as another juxtaposition of aesthetics, between the modern milieu of rural American cultures and the deep cultural and historical roots regarding the relation of human culture to the natural world. As the series progresses, I get the sense that Ghostwood Forest is resonant with traces of past cultures, and their connections to the woods.

It's along these lines that I place the inclusion of the Norwegians in the Pilot (and the Icelanders later in the series): in typical Lynchian style, at first it works as absurdist comedy ("The Norwegians are leaving! The Norwegians are leaving!"), but on a deeper level, perhaps it ties the narrative to a culture that was deeply interwoven with the primeval forest, sort of hearkening back to a time when European ancestors of the residents of Twin Peaks had deep connections with the woodlands that surrounded them, their folklore was populated with the spirits of nature.

Of course, the land Twin Peaks occupies is the ancestral land of the Native Americans, and the influence of their history in the area is felt throughout the series, from the decor of the Great Northern, to the character & stories of Deputy Hawk, to the legends surrounding the Owl Cave painting. I also wonder if this is connected to Johnny Horne and his interest in "Indian" culture: his silence within his family perhaps relates to the disturbance of the once healthy balance between humans and the wild. In the early episodes, everything about the Horne family seems to relate back to a mysterious connection with Ghostwood Forest.

30) Two Sides of Fire

  "When I see a fire, I feel my anger rising. This was not a friendly fire. This was not a forest fire. It was a fire in the woods. This is all I am permitted to say."
- Log Lady Introduction, Episode 20

After the first establishing shots of the Great Northern Hotel, and Audrey leaves for school with her chauffeur, Ben Horne and Leland Palmer are introduced together, following a close-up on a some flames roaring in a fireplace. When Ben and Leland make their presentation to the Norwegians, there's again a fire crackling behind them. 

Throughout the series, Ben Horne's scenes are often introduced with a transitional shot of a fireplace. As a character who spends the much of the first half of the series engaging in crimes and various forms of evil, involving plans to destroy Ghostwood Forest, and culminating in the mill fire, the fireplace introductions tie in well with the symbolism of Twin Peaks, where fire takes on connotations of a blind, instinctual, energetic, devouring, destructive force.  Leland is even more closely tied to fire, with his connection to BOB and the verse: Fire Walk With Me.

The threads of symbolism surrounding the theme of fire take on some nuance with the introduction of Donna's family, as her parents, Dr. Hayward and Eileen, are also introduced with fire. The connotations here seem much more benign, more to do with the feeling of a hearth fire, the warmth at the centre of the home, of the sustaining and supporting fire at the heart of domestic life.  The contrast between the Horne and the Hayward households continues into the series; in "Zen, or the Art to Catch a Killer" Lynch has back-to-back scenes of Ben and Dr. Hayward, both introduced by shots of a fire.

In some ways, Ben becomes a sort of doppelganger figure to Dr. Hayward: Hayward is kindly, wise and patient, while Horne is manipulative, lecherous and destructive.  In The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, in some unused portions of the original script for FWWM, and in the series itself, Dr. Hayward is emphasized as a kind uncle figure to Laura, and the Hayward household a place of refuge to her, while Horne uses Laura, sleeping with her and supplying her with cocaine.  In a way, Leland seems to contain both of the dual aspects of fire within himself, torn between its destructive, ravenous expression, and its manifestion as warmth and compassion, as exemplified in the Hayward's peaceful home.

Fire, like many things in Twin Peaks, seems marked with duality, neither good or bad of itself, but manifesting in polarities, which, as we come to see with Ben and Dr. Hayward at a fireplace in the finale, can undergo sudden reversals and changes.  The dynamics between good and bad, between the waking self and the doppelganger, are ambiguous and undercertain.

31) The Elements of Twin Peaks 

Re-watching Twin Peaks, I started to notice a number of recurring transitional shots, used to move from one scene to another; asides from shots of the waxing & waning moon (which we can get to later in the series), the transition shots seemed to be of various natural phenomena, primarily water, air, trees, and fire.  

Together with the continual references to these in the shows dialogue, in the Log Lady intros and in Lynch's lyrics, these aspects of nature seem almost to form the elemental forces at work in the world of Twin Peaks, somehow influencing the action through background channels, similar to/connected with the totemic animals mentioned in the previous post.  As the series develops, a fifth force, electricity, could be added to this list, with references beginning in the second season, prominent in FWWM.

The idea of our world being somehow composed of several basic "elements" has ancient roots. In the West, the notion can be traced back to a number of Greek philosphers: the basic grouping of water, earth, air, and fire was credited to Empedocles, and formed a basis of Plato's and Aristotle's understanding of reality, becoming fundamental to Western thought through to the medieval and Renaissance eras.  

The idea of the classical four Elements as being the basic constituent of matter was abandoned during the course of the Scientific Revolution, replaced by the chemical understanding of the elements categorized in the Periodic Table.  The four element ideal survived, however, in Western esotericism, where these elements have been understood in a more figurative/metaphysical sense, as basic categories of energetic formations that lie behind physical reality as we experience it.

This energetic understanding aligns, possibly, more closely to the ideas of elements as it has existed in Eastern cultures: for instance, in the Chinese five element system, fire, earth, water, metal, and wood,
were understood as different types of energy in a state of constant interaction and flux with one another, rather than the Western notion of different kinds of material. Although it is usually translated as "element", the Chinese word xing literally means something like "changing states of being", "permutations" or "metamorphoses of being".

The Buddhists adopted the same four elements as the Greeks, and it has formed a basis in traditional meditations: to this day, Buddhist monks in traditional orders are trained to analyze all impressions/sensations along the lines of the four elements, becoming aware of the qualities of solidity, fluidity/cohesion, heat, and space that are supposed to be the constituent elements of all arising phenomena.

In Western cultures, as chemistry subsumed alchemy, the idea basic elemental forces was relegated to the marginal world of esotericism and magic: e.g. Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy begin with a discussion of the elements, and they are likely the origin the four suits of the Tarot. More related to Twin Peaks however is the idea that the forces of the elements can be invoked by way of ritual, to aid the magician in his or her intended pursuits.  

What else is Fire Walk With Me but an incantation to invoke the power of fire and (possibly) the presence of BOB?  Leland and Laura both seem to be instantly affected when they recite the line, and likewise the screen bursts into flames when the LMFAP repeats it in the Black Lodge.

(I should note that in the tradition of magic, fire is not necessarily thought of as an evil force: all the elements, as all aspects of nature, are amoral, and it is only their use and application by humans that involve questions of ethics.)

Like so many themes of Twin Peaks, this "invocation of fire" seems to connect back into Blue Velvet: in the scene where Jeffery is brought to point where he strikes Dorothy in bed, the screen erupts into flames, followed by slowed & distorted animalistic growling sounds.  The moment seems to initiate the following scene, of the "joyride" with Frank Booth, a sort of descent into hell, into the darkness and the night.

Here are the transitional shots I noticed, and some possible connections:

Fire: BOB, the verse Fire Walk With Me, Margaret Lanterman talking about the fire in the woods, Ben Horne’s fireplace, Leland's "You want to play with fire, little boy?", the Mill destroyed in fire, maybe connected with the barking dogs and and opening to Hell and the night.

Water: opening shot of waterfall & floating down the river, Laura & Theresa Banks found in the water, fishing, Pearl Lakes, to fish and ideas swimming in the depths of consciousness

Wind blowing in the pines in the transition shot to Laura's funeral.

Air/Wind: main image seems to be wind blowing in the pine trees (usually blowing in from the left, it seems), references in the Floating Into Night lyrics, connections to birds, sometimes to love, sometimes to sadness.

Love is the name in the wind.
The wind blows through
the trees and stars.

We make a wish
to be together.

This night when we dream together,
we'll remember, when we dream together,
the Big Dream.
- The Big Dream, David Lynch

Wood: the forests, The Great Northern hotel, Log Lady, Josie Packard’s drawer pull, Harold Smith’s house, Laura’s redwood tree from the Secret Diary, a lot of the names (Palmer, Dale, Leland, Sylvia etc.); Ghostwood Estates, wood as a place for spirits to lodge, to deer and woodland animals.

Electricity:  a possible fifth element (interesting that many classical systems add a mysterious fifth element, such as aether in the West or akasha in some Eastern systems); references to electricity seem to develop in the second season and become very important in FWWM; connected to the entities of the Black Lodge and their connections with the material world; connections to flashing lights and tv screen static. Much more on this later.

33) Briggs' At the Station

I always found the colour of that purple sky in this brief scene to be very striking, it stands out from the colour palate of the rest of the episode. This screencap doesn't quite do it justice. Very reminiscent of a certain time of day, I can almost smell the air outside. Always some magic in the air when Major Briggs is involved.

34) Log Truck 

A distinctive background image throughout the series, logging trucks show up several times in the Pilot. I imagine they are set pieces to establish Twin Peaks as a lumber town, but they almost seem to take on a greater significance by the time we get to FWWM, when a truck like this blocks Leland's car as he is berated by Mike at the traffic lights, and the truth of her situation begins to dawn on Laura.
Something to keep an eye out for.

35) The Road House Curtains


As the night comes on in the Pilot, we move to The Road House/Bang Bang Bar, with tables of bikers sitting oddly entranced by the ethereal music of Cruise & Badalamenti.

The Road House is one in a line of dreamlike nightspots in Lynch's works, from the "Slow Club" of Blue Velvet to "Club Silencio" in Mulholland Drive.

In all these, as in other places Lost Highway and INLAND EMPIRE, we see the same red curtains that drape the walls in the Red Room/Black Lodge, and that materialize, under certain conditions at Glastonbury Grove.  (They also drape the walls of Jacques Renault's cabin in the TP series, a decision Lynch was apparently unhappy with, and which are not present in the cabin in FWWM.)

The curtains, particularly as they occur at Glastonbury Grove, suggest a veil between two worlds, and serve as a meeting point and portal between the ordinary reality of our physical plane and a spirit realm that lies beyond. Twice in the series, Cooper receives a message from the Giant on the Road House stage.

An interesting parallel to the "Road House" is the idea of the "Crossroads" in Voodoo and Southern/South American folk magic, as being:
a location "between the worlds" and, as such, a site where supernatural spirits can be contacted and paranormal events can take place. Symbolically, it can mean a locality where two realms touch and therefore represents liminality, a place literally "neither here nor there", "betwixt and between".

Nikki/Sue passing by red curtains on her way into the psychedelic theatre at the movie's end.  Similar curtains are shown in Lost Highway before the bedroom scene between Fred and Renee.

Overall, though, the Road House in Twin Peaks, like the other Lynchian nightclubs serves almost a pathway for transcendent, otherworldy moods, either joyful or of sadness, to emanate out into minds of people at a sort of communal level: that seems to be what is happening in the combination of Rockin' Back Inside My Heart and The World Spins during the killing of Maddie in Lonely Souls, very much like the scene in Mulholland Dr. where Betty and Rita listen to Rebeckah Del Rio's Llorando.

I wonder if this theme of curtains & gateways between worlds isn't a way to gain insight into the character of Nadine Hurley. I think there are a number of characters in Twin Peaks who are sort of traumatized by their openness to psychic visions/otherworldly spirits, the main one being Sarah Palmer, who begins the series haunted by visions of BOB, ends it channeling a voice from the Black Lodge, and is visited at critical moments by a ghostly Pale Horse.  Phillip Gerard seems to me to be another, an ordinary, decent man who has great difficulty keeping possession of the spirit Mike at bay.

Perhaps Nadine is in this category as well - she has that same air of exasperated tension about her - and her obsession with drapes and finding silent runners is a metaphor for her finding this psychic opening between worlds being uncontrolled and intrusive, as "noisy" or oppressively loud.  There isn't a lot of evidence for this theory to be sure, but I find this idea of drapes/curtains to be an interesting connection.

36) Bobby Barking & The Generations of Twin Peaks

One of the last few scenes of the Pilot has Bobby and Mike in a holding cell, barking like dogs to intimidate James Hurley.

Bobby's barking ends very oddl; at a certain point, his voice undergoes some sort of shift, and then slows to a halt with a lot of distortion.  It connects to the sound distortion in the final scene, where Sarah Palmer's blood-curdling scream seems to twist into high-pitched peals of terror.

A similar distortion occurs during Laura's funeral, Bobby's voice is similarly slowed and distorted, as he lunges and James screaming, "You're dead!" Both these scenes sound very similar to the animalistic sounds made by Jeffery in Blue Velvet, after he hits Dorothy and the screen bursts into flames.

Bobby is also connected to barking again in the finale (both directed by Lynch),  in a scene which closely replays the diner scene in the Pilot. Greg Olson in Beautiful Dark links that barking to the canine/underworld connection, as, soon after, Sarah is ushered into the diner by Dr. Jacoby, channeling a dweller of the Black Lodge through, again, a heavily distorted voice.

I wonder if the holding-cell barking isn't also presaging a connection between Bobby and dark influences
emanating from the Black Lodge.  As the series established the characters of BOB and Mike/Phillip Gerard, we have the strange parallel between Mike and BOB and Mike and Bobby.  The parallel is only acknowledged once in the series, briefly, when Cooper relates his dream to Sheriff Truman and Lucy over breakfast at the Great Northern, and never seems to be resolved.

One of the implied possibilities seems to be that there might be some cyclical pattern at work in this town, that Bobby and Mike are somehow fated to follow in paths set by Mike and BOB, whatever the backstory of their broken partnership might be. To me, Bobby and Mike almost look physically like a much younger version of BOB and Phillip Gerard.

The idea seems to be part of a wider theme in Twin Peaks, regarding the idea of generations, and the cycles of behavior that exist in families and communities. Storylines of youth & innocence regarding characters like Donna, James, & Maddy, Audrey, and Bobby & Shelley, are contrasted with the storylines of the older generation of Ed, Nadine, Norma, & Hank, or Ben, Catherine, Josie and the Haywards.  Nearly all of these stories seem to revolve around people who've been morally compromised as they've aged (like Ben and Catherine) or who've become enmeshed in the consequences of their choices and in the chance happenings of life, and who are trying to get free again, like Ed and Norma. Pete Martel seems like the exception, being a free soul, for the most part unburdened by the past.

I think much of this leads back to centre of the Twin Peaks, the relationship between Leland and Laura. It is an unresolved mystery, but there's an implication that something happened to Leland, so many years ago at the summer house on Pearl Lakes, beginning (or continuing) a cycle of abuse.  I think a major aspect of the dramatic tension in FWWM is Laura coming to point in that cycle where she is close to being irrevocably lost in that dark pattern that has subsumed Leland.

Throughout FWWM, there are moments when Laura seems shocked and appalled at the effect her darkness is having on others, particularly on Donna and Harold; in the book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer we see a lot more of Laura's history with Bobby, involving him in drug deals, violence, and a complicated relationship, with confusing emotional and sexual exchanges.

I think part of what we see of Bobby in the first season, from these odd moments of demonic barking, to him holding his arms up before a crucifix and breaking down in a session with Jacoby, is Bobby struggling with his Laura's influence and what happened to her, and to having killed Deputy Cliff, and I think there's an open question whether or not he will become like BOB. In the second season, both Bobby and Mike's trajectories seem to alter, in unusual ways, their karmic paths seeming to lighten.

37) Headlights

One of my favorite screencaps of the Pilot episode is of Donna & James in the headlights of Sheriff Truman's police cruiser, James raising his arms above his head, Donna in vociferous protest.

There seems to be a line of "flashlight in the darkness" imagery throughout Twin Peaks, during Bobby's various drug exchanges in the woods, or when Windom Earle and Annie, and later Cooper and Truman, approach Glastonbury Grove: there is a recurring shot of a the beam of a flashlight bobbing around in the branches of the trees.

This thread of imagery branches off into other works of Lynch, especially the iconic opening shot of Lost Highway, of headlights illumining a dark road, the yellow lane markings being swallowed up by the speeding vehicle.  A very similar shot occurs in FWWM, during James & Laura's motorcycle ride on Laura's last night. Or another face lit up by a flashlight, that nightmarish scene in INLAND EMPIRE where Nikki runs towards the camera with a bizarre look on her face.

As with much of Lynch's imagery, these images of a small light floating around in the darkness suggest themes of consciousness. In a way, the conscious aspects of our minds have a "spotlight" way of knowing, illuminating a small sliver of reality, identifying these fractions or pieces as "objects", moving from object to object sequentially, in a linear mode.  In contrast to this we also have a less focused, subconscious mode of awareness that spotlight, a peripheral vision that doesn't observe any one thing too clearly, but takes in a broad gestalt impression of a field of many occurrences, all at once.

I think a similar analogy of consciousness working like a spotlight, and our subconscious processes a floodlight, may have been made by Carl Jung; I couldn't find the reference, but for anyone interested, I found a thread discussing a similar analogy attributed to the 60's philospher Alan Watts, which also make a comparison between these aspects of awareness to the bright, direct light of the Sun, and the diffuse night-time light of the Moon.

Again, for me, this connects with the idea left and right brain functions, discussed above, and of the pronounced dichotomy in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks between a sunny, folksy, friendly daytime reality and the mysterious and surrealistic world of the night.

A parallel thread of lighting theme, of flickering lights, might relate to this left/right dualism: if you watch the strobe lighting in the Black Lodge in the finale, they alternate from left and right flashes, illuminating the two sides of Cooper's face in quick succession, to very odd effect.  More clues to come regarding this mystery as the series progresses, but my theory is that part of what is happening there is some sort of conjunction between two separated aspects of the mind.

A major theme of Twin Peaks, and many of Lynch's subsequent works, is questioning whether or not the various conflicting aspects of our consciousnesses can be reconciled and brought into harmony, as I believe occurs with Nikki Grace/Sue Blue in INLAND EMPIRE and possibly Laura Palmer in FWWM, or whether we will be torn apart an unaware, split and fractured psyche, as is Leland Palmer, or Fred Madison in Lost Highway.

An interesting connection to the imagery of Alchemy, which often depicts an interest in bringing together the Sun and the Moon, a "conjunction" or "marriage" of Sol and Luna, the Sun and the Moon.  I won't pretend to understand in full the complicated and obscure meanings of alchemical symbolism, but there is a definite suggestion of the reconciliation of polarities in the psyche.

More on the role of the moon in Twin Peaks to come.

Kubrick Connection:  

As I mentioned in the initial post, I'm not claiming that the films of Stanley Kubrick are in any way a key to understanding Twin Peaks; I merely find it interesting and illuminating to draw some lines of connection between the works of the two directors.
However, Kubrick (along with directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and Ingmar Bergman) was certainly influential: in Lynch On Lynch, Lynch cites Kubrick's Lolita as being a "perfect film", as well as making reference to The Shining.  Likewise Kubrick (for a time at least) cited Eraserhead as being his favorite film, apparently holding viewings of it at his private residence for George Lucas and crew of Star Wars, as well as for his own crew on The Shining, as a model for its haunted Overlook Hotel.

My obsession with Twin Peaks began before my obsession with The Shining, and I couldn't help notice some similarities between the Pilot and The Shining's opening sequence, though I'm pretty sure these are unintentional on Lynch's part. In particular, the drive of Jack Torrence to the Overlook Hotel seemed to mirror Cooper's arrival in Twin Peaks, and his arrival in the Great Northern: and outsider, leaving the civilization that they know, passing through the woods to arrive at a haunted, surreal locale.

The hypnotic synthetic sounds of Badalementi's "Falling" seem to parallel Wendy Carlos' bizarre & chilling synthetic version of "Dies Irae".  Both opening sequences are overlaid by neon title credits, blue in The Shining, green in Twin Peaks.

Of course, on Kubrick's side, any shared themes/possible connections seem much more sinister, cold and impersonal.

We'll leave any Red Room/Redrum connections 'till later.


Next Up: Traces To Nowhere

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