Saturday, May 12, 2018

Part Six: The One Armed Man

Notes on Twin Peaks

~ a chronological examination of the tv series and film ~


I am progressing through this series so very, very slowly. In the span since the last post, both Mark Frost's the Secret History and The Final Dossier,  as well as the entire Twin Peaks: The Return have come and gone. (Not to mention, personally, two re-watches of S3 and the constant rotation of the soundtrack in my apartment.)

In the current flood of online writing and discussion about Twin Peaks (much of it really good and perceptive, in my eyes), I'm not sure how much interest a commentary on the fourth episode of season one could garner, but I think I'll continue with these anyways. I've got a lot of posts partially written, and in the end I don't think writing & reading about Twin Peaks is about decoding the enigmas of the show, I think it is a way to mentally remain in the atmosphere of this world, once the narrative has come to a close.

Reading through commentaries and forum threads in the past months, I can see that the one thing that is not needed is a complete recap of each episode, there are many podcasts that do just that. I've also noticed how sharp the attention is of so very many viewers, during the run of The Return, I felt like there was a hive-mind forming each Sunday evening, decoding the surface mysteries of the show quickly and with ease.

What I think might be more interesting is hearing individual reactions and idiosyncratic interpretations to all we have seen, so I will try to focus on writing about things that I hadn't necessarily heard before. S3 is so vast & complex, I might try to intersperse small posts on The Return between these posts on early episodes,

I notice in Twin Peaks a dynamic similar to other Lynch movies, similar to Kubrick's films as well: there are all sorts of incongruities and odd details woven into the story, they leave you vaguely baffled & confused on the first viewing, but as they sit with you, you start to make connections, and they morph into fascinating little puzzles. I think Kubrick hinted somewhere that one reason that his films were so puzzling & mysterious is that that all these incongruous elements force the viewer to engage and work with the material, and that is what gets these nebulous ideas to sink beneath the skin.

I noticed this with Mulholland Dr. especially, these puzzles put you into the role of detective & investigator, and it's interesting that the protagonists of these films are playing detective as well (Betty Elms, Jeffery Beaumont, Donna and Audrey, etc.) However, as you develop your own take on all these little puzzles, they never really seem to fit together and explain everything, eventually all these threads come loose again and you are left again with these deeper, un-graspable mysteries, as confused again as you were on that initial viewing, something like Cooper on the street in front of the Palmer house at the series' close.

I'll try if I can to burrow into some of those deeper mysteries.

71) Log Lady Introduction

Even the ones who laugh are sometimes caught without an answer: these creatures who introduce themselves but we swear we have met them somewhere before. Yes, look in the mirror. What do you see? Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Are we being introduced against our will? Are they mirrors? I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire. The battle is drawing nigh.
The introduction to this episode seems like it is the idea of the doppleganger: the being on the other side of the mirror, somehow both identical to you and your opposite, familiar to you and entirely strange, who forces you become aware of the parts of yourself of which you were unaware you were avoiding and repressing.

Mirrors can be terrifying. I've been told that meditating on your image in a mirror can bring about psychedelic effects, and have heard warnings that you shouldn't attempt it if you've had issues with mental health. I remember as a child, after seeing a movie of Alice Through The Looking Glass on tv, I couldn't bring myself to look at the bathroom mirror for some time, I would climb out of the bathtub on the far side, and crouch down below the mirror's height to exit the bathroom.

Also in this introduction is this fire and smoke that Margaret Lanterman warns about throughout Twin Peaks, and it is related to the confrontation with these beings on other side of the mirror. I think this develops as key theme of Twin Peaks, something related to the perils & danger of integration.

I can't remember the source of this idea, I think it was from a commentary on Dostoevsky's The Double, that the reason why stories about meeting a double of ourselves are so disturbing is that they describe, in a dreamlike narrative form, our actual situation in this world.

We think of ourselves as individual beings at large in the external world, and we are largely unaware that what we take to be the external world are representations created by our own minds. What we experience as 'outside' us, as the other, is an unconscious reflection of ourselves, and carrying aspects of ourselves that we don't want to admit or see.

72) Sarah's Had Two Visions


A new photo has been set out, the shattered picture-frame glass is gone. Or is this the same photo? There is a red-brown discoloration at the bottom, over the word "Queen" -  maybe a bloodstain from Leland's hand?

The One Armed Man begins with a debriefing scene, as the previous episode did, when Cooper related the contents of his dreams over breakfast. Here Sarah Palmer describes her vision of the grey-haired man and, at Leland's prompting, the necklace that's been unearthed.

Andy is sketching the iconic image of BOB - although if you compare it with the "Have You Seen This Man poster", it looks a little different, especially around the hair line. Also interesting, Cooper had said in the previous episode that it was Hawk that had sketched a picture of the man Sarah saw. I wonder what happened to that depiction of the figure in Sarah's vision?

Sarah begins her description: "It is night." Something unnerving about the plain phrasing of that. Jack, in the entrance to Hap's Diner speaking to Chet Desmond, has a very similar cadence. I reminds me of Frank Booth: "Now it's dark." Also of Dan's "half-night" in Mulholland Dr.  In all cases it seems like a descent is implied, down where things outside of normal waking reality can emerge.

Update: How to view Sarah now, in the original series, having seen S3 and having read The Final Dossier?

She doesn't seem possessed to me in this series - she seems like a woman who is stressed & troubled by the semi-conscious awareness of things she can't bear to face. Maybe the possession is, at this point, is more a way for Judy to observe the unfolding of events in the Palmer household, rather than affecting Sarah's behavior at this point.

Along the same lines, I take Leland's possession to be only partial, with BOB being one alien fragment that has gotten inside the house of his personality & being. There are moments when his normal, ordinary persona is in control, and he is likeable & kind, there are times when he is entirely possessed by the figure in the mirror and he is a monster. And there are other times when his ordinary persona seems to be vaguely aware of the reality of his situation and he seems to be on the edge of breaking down.

I think there is a progression to these possessions as well, and eventually the dark parasite hollows out host's personality, as BOB says in Arbitrary Law, there is nothing left but "holes" where the person once was. I wonder if this isn't what we see of Sarah in S3, the woman we know in the original seasons is almost entirely gone, though there is maybe a flicker of her presence in that grocery store scene, scared & confused.

73) Out and Around Town

The One-Armed Man shows us two new local exteriors, the Timber Falls Motel and the One Stop Convenience Store. We will see Horne's Department Store in the following episode. I love the feel of these imagined places. For instance, just this shot of maid wheeling her cart outdoors under this canopy of trees gives me that feeling of the local spirit of place, the genius loci, sort of reminiscent of road-trips taken in years gone by. (I hope somehow franchise businesses fade away, and every motel, diner, coffee shop & hardware store has to be created separate & anew.)

Hawk has located Philip Gerard down to Room 101 at the Timber Falls, we last saw Gerard disappear in a piercing blue light at the end of a hallway at the hospital, on the way to Oxygen Storage and the Morgue. Hawk always seems to be connected to the deepest aspects of this Blue Rose case, of which Philip Gerard is at the very center.

Gerard is remarkably congenial; despite the gunshot outside his door and the intrusion into his motel room, him shirtless and in a towel, he seems at ease, eager to supply the footwear for all Truman's "departmental needs," and entirely unperturbed when Andy ruffles through his sample case.

His friendship with the veterinarian Bob Lydecker is, to me, particularly heart-warming.  There something about the sincerity in way the line is delivered: "just about my best friend in the world." Bob, despite his skill & professional status as a veterinary doctor, has gotten himself into an altercation in Lowtown, and is currently in a coma. (The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer details Bobby having been in particularly bad drug transaction occurring in that area of the town of Twin Peaks.)

Details of memory seem to perplex Gerard: he's never seen the man in the police sketch, but "he kind of looks like someone, doesn't he?" He lost his left arm in an car accident, driving from Memphis to... somewhere. Asked about the tattoo on the right arm, he becomes agitated: it had read "Mom" (though his voice is quite nasal here, it almost sounds like "Bob".)

Something about the way Gerard combines both insistence and uncertainty in his answers to Cooper and Truman reminds me of an experiment commonly covered in Psych 101 courses: "split brain experiments", conducted on patients whose corpus callosum had been severed to reduce the frequency & severity of the epileptic seizures.

I'm not knowledgeable in the anatomy of the brain, but as I understand it, the corpus callosum is a group of nerves that allows communication between the right and left hemisphere, and in these patients it had been severed, basically to prevent electrical storms from passing from one half the brain to the other.

For the most part, these patients can function normally, but under specialized conditions, an odd phenomenon could be observed. I believe what researchers did (in one version of the experiment) was to isolate the field of vision from each eye, left and right, from the other. They would allow the eye that was connected to the half of the brain that dealt with language to see the word "SPOON", but allow the hand that was connected to opposite half of the brain to hold a fork. When asked what was the object the patient was handling, the patient would answer "spoon", as that was what the verbal faculties of the brain had experienced.

Regardless of the details of the actual experiment, the part that interested me was that, when the patient was shown the discrepancy to both eyes, that the object was a fork but they had said spoon, the patients always had excuse why they were mistaken: they heard the question wrong, they did in fact name the utensil correctly, etc. The discrepancy was never left as an unknown, the brain would patch together a story to explain it.

That phenomenon, of the brain's unwillingness to admit that it is not unified, that its various parts provide conflicting information about the world at large - I feel this has significance for all of us, not just those with severed corpus callosums. Neuroscientists have identified a mechanism, sometimes called "The Interpreter" or "The Dictator," which weaves the input we receive into manageable narratives, but not necessarily reliable & truthful ones, inventing details details or motives as necessary to allow the story to hold together.

I think of the corpus callosum experiements when Gerard answers "Mom!" and breaks out in tears.

Is he upset because his misses his mother, or is he engulfed in confusion because the Fire Walk With Me tattoo was never a part of his knowledge & awareness? Was the drive from "Memphis to... uh, somewhere" a subconscious invention, created because Philip has no memory of seeing the face of God and the amputation of the arm?

Once again, for me at least, it raises the issue in Twin Peaks of a divided psyche, fractured into parts that are not aware of each other, and of the pain that ensues, separated from being whole.

Andy remarks on Gerard's case of sample footwear: it's all for the right foot.
Always a concern for right/left limb control. Gerard is missing his left arm.
Much more on this to come.

Update (1): I had written this piece before reading The Secret History, and I was shocked to see that the corpus callosum made an appearance in the archives!

The Secret History of Twin Peaks, p. 213

Frost's backstory to Jacoby's red/blue glasses is that they were the finished result of his "optical integration system." Jacoby's theory was that the red lens over the right eye would "slightly suppress" activity in the left/logical hemisphere of the brain, and the blue lens would do the same for the right/intuitive hemisphere. Somehow, by decreasing activity in both halves, the activity of the callosum would increase, and the patient would "experience increased integration between the two spheres [...] encouraging the two sides to work together."

It's kind of a strange theory: why would suppressing the activity of both hemispheres cause them to integrate? Maybe callosum, the bridge & gateway between is overwhelmed by their over-activity? But if the halves are out of balance, wouldn't inhibiting one while activating the other tend towards harmony? One might think that red (like fire) would heat up & activate the left/logical brain, and blue (like water) would cool the activity of the right/intuitive brain.

The idea reminds me of a tarot card, Temperance, where one interpretation has it that: the Angel pours water on a lion (cooling the passions?) and sprinkles flame on the eagle (animating the spirit?),  and thereby balances and tempers the psyche.

Another question: is role of the corpus callosum to integrate the hemispheres? There is a book on this subject of the divided brain, Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary, (which I have not finished reading) which I believe argues that the callosum also plays a large role in inhibiting communication between the two hemipsheres.

In McGilchrist's theory (I think) the two halves of the brain experience the world in radically different ways, which are synthesized by unconscious processes for our normal conscious awareness. These two ways of organizing the world are very alien to each other and this is a constant tension in our beings, and if we were to descend below this synthesis and experience the clash between these modes, it would be very disturbing & unsettling.

Again, I haven't finished McGilchrist's book, but I think it could shed a lot of light on the themes of Twin Peaks, the White and Black Lodges, and Cooper's experiences in the Red Room.

Jacoby also writes that wearing the red and blue lenses together "does tend to give "reality" a slightly purple tint." I can't help but be reminded of that beautiful shot in the Pilot, where we are introduced to Major Briggs, and the purple seas the Cooper descends to in S3.

Update (2): Regarding Gerard's bursting into tears about the 'Mom' tattoo: Juli Kearns, in her excellent analyses of the new season of TP makes the observation that, having seen the new episodes, the fact that there is some ambiguity of whether the tattoo on the lost arm was the incantation of "Fire Walk With Me" or "Mom!" has some fascinating & disturbing new implications.

You can read through her vast & complex analysis here:

74) Hank's Domino

Norma attends Hank's parole hearing to testify on his behalf. I like the contrast of her purple outfit to the wood paneling behind her. I always find this scene heartbreaking, it seems to cement the end of her relationship with Ed.

The episode ends with Josie receiving a very well-executed sketch of Hank's domino key-chain. Dominoes are an interesting object to focus on here. It connects neatly into the series' interest in symbol-sets, like playing cards and the Tarot, dominant themes at One Eyed Jack's and of Windom Earle's pursuit of "The Queens".

Domino tiles are an import from Asia to the West, and we know from later conversations between them that Hank has Josie's Chinese heritage front and centre in his mind. Many have theorized that the number of the domino, 3, may relate to the number of people Hank has killed: the vagrant, Andrew Packard, and an unknown third person (?)

The domino also seems to weave in the idea of mirrors, doubles, internal separation: visually the tile is a display two of the same thing on either side of a divide.

75) Audrey & Donna

Donna and Audrey have a conversation in a washroom at the high school -- despite their differences, it seems they will collaborate in their investigations of Laura's death, except that this narrative thread seems to have been abandoned here, never to be picked up again. Donna's investigation moves forward in collaboration with James & Maddy, while Audrey progresses as a hopeful understudy of Agent Cooper, leading her away from her high school peers towards her undercover placement at One-Eyed Jack's.

At the moment I can't even think of a conversation between Donna and Audrey occurring again until late in the series, when Windom Earle collects the various "queens" together at the Roadhouse, and connections between Donna & Audrey arise in questions surfacing regarding the relationship between Ben Horne and Donna's mother, Eileen Hayward.

On a fashion note, Audrey's hair, her moss green sweater and pencil skirt are absolutely on point in this scene. Also, those red stripes on the stalls behind her - originally they reminded me of an EKG screen readout (I pictured them in the Calhoun Memorial Hospital, where Jacques, Dr. Jacoby, Shelly and Pete will soon reside), but now they strike me as being, obviously, stylized depictions of the Twin Peaks mountains.

76) An Invitation to Love, Updated

The next scene finds Lucy rapt in an episode of Invitation to Love.

There is some amusing confusion regarding the relevant details for Truman's question, "What's going on?" Lucy relates the details from Invitation instead of real-life information pertaining to the sheriff's station.

In the soap opera, Emerald is seducing Chet, who is Jade's husband.

This installment of Invitation centers on Emerald (wearing a string of emeralds) who seems to be the dark side paired to her twin sister, Jade. Last we saw of Invitation, the patriarch Jared was contemplating suicide, but apparently the good sister Jade convinced him to carry on.

Emerald is trying to seduce Chet, Jade's Husband, in an effort to steal possession of the Towers away from Jade. Interesting that Emerald's boyfriend (a definite Hank look-a-like) is named Montana, which is also Maddy's home state. "Montana" is written onto the deer painting shown in Lonely Souls, before Maddy's death. The doubling theme is yet another connection, with Jade/Emerald in the soap and Maddy/Laura in Twin Peaks at large.

Most interesting to me though is the emphasis on the green colour of emerald, which will gain importance later in the series, and, I think, in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. 

And, of course, in the The Return as well: Jade returns the key.

77) Investigating Jacoby

Cooper's interview with Jacoby begins an adversarial tone, the camera alternating between shots of them at either end of the table, but the character of Jacoby is shifting, I think, away from the perverse & creepy psychologist we are introduced to in the pilot.

At this point in the series, Jacoby is still definitely on the list of suspect characters, especially as he fits in so well with all the "J" related red herrings from the beginning of the series: Jacoby, James Hurley, Jacques Renault, Leo Johnson.

When I first trying to puzzle out the fixation on the letter J early in the series, I couldn't make much of it: I wondered about its position in the alphabet, but since in Lynch's earlier works, the numbers 7 and (later) 9 seem to be the most significant,  "J" being the 10th letter of the alphabet didn't seem like much of a fit. After The Return, the number 10 has gained some significance, and, even if it most likely wasn't intended, all this searching around for "J" names at the beginning of the series gains some eerie & ominous overtones as the series ends focused on Judy.

Jacoby's comments on the map behind him and on "the problems of our entire society" highlight for me a parallel between the characters of Jacoby and Cooper: they both use the culture of a society exotic to them to orient themselves in modern times, Hawaii and Tibet, respectively.

And, in the theme of thematically significant clothing, his sleeves have a print of seafaring maps on them. His sweater has a pattern of alternating black and white squares. In the scene proceeding this, as Truman enters the station on his way to meet with Cooper and Jacoby, Lucy is wearing again that piece of jewelry (a brooch I guess you'd call it) that she wore in the Pilot, which looks to me like an angel hovering above three lights, red, yellow and green.

The scene is dominated by the discussion of sexuality: Cooper wants to know if Laura's problems were of a sexual nature, who the third man is who had sex with Laura on the night of her death (How does he know there were three men? From the diaries? Was there DNA analysis at that time?) Jacoby's language is kind of disturbing: Laura had secrets he coudn't penetrate, when he is asked if he had sex with Laura, he exhales and takes a long pause before answering "no."

The three men in the room discussing Laura's sexuality raises the question: is there an element of lurid fascination woven into their interest in this case? On one hand, its somewhat matter-of-fact that they would focus on this, its definitely an element to finding the perpetrator of the crime. On the other hand, there is also this idea of collective guilt for Laura's death that Bobby raises at Laura's funeral. Laura was abused at home, but also used by many others, Ben Horne, One-Eyed Jacks, Jacques and Leo. (Laura's participation in all this adds a troubling undercurrent to the narrative, very similar to Dorothy Valens in Blue Velvet, probing the psychology of how guilt and desire are woven into victimization, and of how one could ever get free of the whole tangled mess.)

Woman in trouble.

The difference, maybe, between Jacoby and Cooper is that Jacoby seems willing to introspect regarding the darker aspects of himself, and he seems to acknowledge that he shares in some of the unwholesome attraction to Laura that led all these older men in Twin Peaks to treat Laura the way they did. That impulse towards honesty & self-inquiry might prefigure his message in The Return: "dig yourself out of the shit." I wonder if it is Cooper's failure to acknowledge to these elements in himself that has something to do with the fracture of himself in the season two finale, and all the shadow self of all his virtue is set loose within the world as Mr. C?

"My own personal investigation, I suspect, will be ongoing for the rest of my life." That line too gains poignancy after The Return, contemplating Cooper lost in an alternate timeline, still trying to rescue Laura.

78)  First Owl

The end of the episode has the first shot of an owl, perched above Donna and James, who are in the woods checking to see if the half-heart necklace is indeed gone, as in the vision of Sara Palmer.

"Laura used to say her mother was kind of spooky." - Donna

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Part Five: Rest In Pain

Notes on Twin Peaks

~ a chronological examination of the tv series and film ~

** As usual, spoilers abound, for Twin Peaks, FWWM, and perhaps for Mulholland Dr. as well **

63)  Log Lady Intro & the Nature of Suffering

For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face:
now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known.

- St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:12

Margaret Lanterman opens this episode, which centers on the burial of Laura Palmer, with some thoughts on sadness.
There is a sadness in this world, for we are ignorant of many things. Yes, we are ignorant of many beautiful things - things like the truth. So sadness, in our ignorance, is very real.

To me, she echoes Buddhist ideas on suffering: she emphasizes how intense and pervasive this sadness is, how real it is in our lives, but also that it arises out our ignorance of the truth, and possibly of other "beautiful things."

The idea is reminiscent of Agent Jefferies insistence that "we live inside a dream", that somehow our experiences are far more generated from within ourselves than they are perceived from the world outside. The idea seems like a revelation to him, and he issues it as a warning.

The feeling of being inside a dream pervades Twin Peaks, in both the positive and negative senses of that, and the character sometimes seem aware of it. In the standoff at Dead Dog Farms, Jean Renault says that Twin Peaks lived in a quiet dream before Laura's death and Cooper's arrival, which brought on the "nightmare": maybe a part of the process of waking up.
If the doors of perception were cleansed
every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.
For man has closed himself up,
till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.
- William Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell

64) Coffee with Audrey



The episode begins with slow fade from the waterfalls in front of the Great Northern Hotel, and we sort of peer through the waters to a stunning image of Audrey in a bright blouse, waiting for Agent Cooper to arrive in the dining room.

As is the pattern for introducing members of the Horne family, Audrey is standing before a fire. The early morning meeting (7:15 a.m.) recalls the opening scene of the first episode, which is the last interaction that Audrey and Cooper have had.  Her blouse there was equally interesting, a forest pattern of trees, while here it's a fiery red. Maybe a bit of foreshadowing; around the Horne family and within the Great Northern itself, the elemental forces of water, wood, and fire always seem to have a subtle guiding presence.

Audrey is asked to leave when Sheriff Truman and Lucy arrive to discuss Cooper's dream. Truman is eager to have the killer revealed, but Cooper instead begins with the dreams details. Right away, we notice discrepancies between how we saw the dream unfold in the last episode with how Cooper is describing it now.  He begins saying, Wizard of Oz-style, that Truman and Lucy were both "there" - when would this have been, and in what capacity were they present?

Cooper says that, in his dream, Sarah Palmer has a vision of her daughter's killer. This corresponds somewhat, as the dream as we saw it starts out with disjointed images of Sarah on the staircase, BOB crouched at the foot of the bed, a bloody rag in the train-car, and Laura's body in the morgue.

Cooper then says he got a "phone call" from MIKE, which we didn't see in any literal way in the dream, but, I wonder about the electric flashes that initiated the dream that we saw depicted: in Lynch's work, strobing electrical pulses seem to suggest communication between two worlds, like the flickering bulb preceding The Cowboy in Mulholland Dr.  (Phone calls themselves seem to take on mystical connotations, bridging wide gaps.)

The rantings of MIKE and BOB which we witnessed in the last episode are related here with some narrative clarity:
- in the dream that we saw, MIKE opens with the full FWWM verse, Cooper relates that FWWM was the text of the tattoo that both MIKE and BOB have/had on their arms (Cooper gestures to his left arm) - Mike didn't say that in the dream we saw, only that he'd been "touched by the devilish one... tattoo on the left shoulder"
- Cooper states that MIKE and BOB, living above a convenience store, were partners in a number of killings, that MIKE grew tired of the killing, and cut his arm off - he presents this change of heart much less dramatically than MIKE, who says he "saw the face of God" - Cooper says that MIKE shot BOB when BOB vowed he was going to kill again

Cooper pauses abruptly for a scientific digression:
Do you know where dreams come from? Acetylcholine neurons fire high-voltage impulses into the fore-brain. These impulses become pictures, the pictures become dreams, but no one know why we choose these particular pictures.

I enjoy how Truman seems a little perplexed by the inclusion of this detail, while Lucy is quite interested, and makes a careful note on Cooper's explanation of the origin of dreams.

I'm not well-read in the physiology of dreams, but from what I have taken in from documentaries and popular science books, Cooper's explanation is pretty accurate: some sort of electrical storm lies at the base of dreaming, and other parts of brain have to make sense of the stream of images making their way into the sleeping consciousness. Some have argued that electrical impulses are random, and that the cortex weaves stories & meanings out of these meaningless inputs.

At a few points in my life, I've paid closer attention to my own dreams, keeping a dream journal, attempting practices of lucid dreaming/dream yoga, and analyzing the results with various concepts from Freud and Jung. From those exercises, it seemed clear that part of the mind is definitely working out its concerns and worries, using these strange elements that arise from deeper in the brain. Tensions that arose in the waking hours, particularly if they were sharply suppressed or unacknowledged in the moment, will be the themes lying hidden behind a lot what goes on in one's dreams.

I wouldn't be surprised if these high-voltage electrical impulses were in fact random. My own sense is (unfounded by any science) that the brain might need an element of the chaotic and the unformed in its processes to stay organized and to create meaning. Hard for me to quite figure out what it is, but maybe it's like how most games begin: first you shake the Scrabble tiles, then you find the words, first you scramble the dominoes, then you arrange them by the numbers of spots they display. I wonder if this process has some role in the age-old occupation of divination, where some element of chance, like tea leaves at the bottom of a cup or a shuffled deck of Tarot cards provides the random elements needed for intuition to make some sense of the flow of our daily lives, much like waking dreams.

Cooper's idea of impulses becoming pictures, and pictures becoming dreams, rings true for me. The more I watched carefully, in real time, it definitely seemed to me that they weren't actually like movies (though I remembered them like that). They were more like distinct images, or maybe even visual ideas, that would then give rise to sort of a verbal storytelling (which would then be played out with moving images like a movie.) In real time, I have seen myself changing things and altering timelines as I went (the basis for a lot of "he was Ryan, but also kind of Peter at the same time" type-moments) - but those "pictures" were kind of the bedrock below the changeable narratives & imagery running above.

Re-watching Twin Peaks several times, Cooper's emphasis on how "no one knows why we choose these particular pictures" seems to me to connect into something fundamental in Twin Peaks. A lot of the symbols and imagery in the series seem to combine an aspect of being bizarre & absurd at the same time as they suggest or express something profound & nebulous from beyond. The dancing midget in a red suit, the pale horse in a spotlight, an angel in a train-car: I think part of what makes these images so numinous is that they somehow suggest the process of the brain struggling to come up with images to express realities & atmospheres that are beyond what our basic senses can normally contain.  (I think that's part of the series humour as well, how these forces are being manifested in such incongruous & mundane fashions; the spirits meet not in the ruins of a castle or some such place, but above a convenience store, and their messages channeled through the likes of a senile bellhop...)

Cooper can't remember the whispered name of killer (damn!), which rings true for dream recall & other sorts of visions: how ever significant & profound these things seem as they are experienced, they are a fine web that will be swept away quickly in waking reality, making journals and notebooks so important.  He begins and ends the meeting with a dictum, "Break the code, solve the crime" (which again seems to perplex Harry and make an impression on Lucy.)

Cooper seems unconcerned with the loss of the killer's identity, and enthused by the prospect of unpacking the import of the strange dream. The process of the investigation is as important as result, and Cooper's displays a respect for the events to proceed with their own momentum, raising the idea of timing and cycles of time that will continue.

65) A Few Continuity Errors 

The griddle cakes and ham (and the maple syrup!) appears on the table instantaneously, as the conversation is interrupted by a radio dispatch from Andy from the morgue at the hospital. 

Following that, in the morgue scene, when Sheriff Truman has had enough and sends Albert flying, there's something strange in the way he lands. I never noticed it until it was pointed out to me in a discussion forum,* but the punch sends Albert spinning backwards, knocking him over onto Laura's body on the autopsy table.  

There is no clear shot of it, but from the series of images, it seems like Albert ended up at a perpendicular angle to Laura's body, his feet still on the floor. Yet, in the next shot, as the camera is further away, Albert is now completely off the floor, totally on the table and on top of Laura's body, lying more or less face-to-face with Laura.

It's subtle, and impossible to say if it's intentional, but the second image in this series of four is a much more physically realistic landing than the third image. It leaves one with an unsettled feeling: the dim lighting, the group of men and the air of violence surround the lifeless, undressed body of Laura Palmer, and finally the image of lying Albert on top of her, maybe suggests an element of sexual excitement hidden in the background of the male mind's interest in cases such as these.

I've come across some feminist critiques of Twin Peaks**, and though I haven't read through them carefully, they seem to criticize the series for encouraging this same sort of prurient interest in sexual violence in the minds of the audience.

Moments such as this scene (assuming this was intentional) show me that the series is aware of this dynamic within the interest in the mystery of "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" While they don't do it with a heavy hand, moment like when Audrey confronts Ben about having slept with Laura, or just the general feeling in the town that everyone was responsible for Laura's death, hints at the commonness of sexual violence. FWWM is, in my view, among other things, an exploration of the dark realities of sexual violence, in all its social & spiritual ramifications, but Lynch is such a strange storyteller, I'm not sure how many people picked up on that, and/or would agree with me.

The same person who alerted me to this continuity error also pointed out one I'd missed in the Pilot.* Between visiting the incoherent Ronette before heading to the morgue for the first time, Cooper and Truman are chased down by Dr. Jacoby. His vibe is definitely creepy in the scene, and I was aware of him reaching under the skirt on hula-girl tie as he talked about Laura, sort of an unconscious tell.

What I didn't notice was that the scene alternates between two shots, one from over the left shoulder of Jacoby, the other Cooper's and Truman's POV.  In both shots, Jacoby takes an earplug out of his right ear as Cooper is introduced, and holds it in his right hand.

But the two takes diverge: in the shot from Cooper and Truman's side, Jacoby switches the earplug to his left hand, and then puts his fingers underneath the skirt. But in the over-the-shoulder shot, the earplug never leaves his right hand, and he never touches the tie.


What exactly this could be signifying is unclear: could it be a way of depicting Cooper's initial suspicions of Jacoby's involvement in the murder? Or maybe the in-continuity is a way of suggesting Cooper is projecting his own subconscious uneasiness regarding the dark sexuality of this case onto Jacoby, away from himself. 

Interesting that the continuity error again has subtly disturbing sexual connotations, and is connected the Laura in the morgue. Continuity errors, like Freudian slips, are impossible to say for sure if they imply anything, but then again its hard to deny that subconscious impulses sometimes find their way through these cracks.

* nikkiweir from the IMDB forums, whose notes must contain one of the most careful & idiosyncratic viewings of Twin Peaks that I've ever come across!

** examples include and

66) Leland & cousin Madeleine

In the following scene, we see Leland at home, midday, and a nurse has administered some sort of medication intravenously into Leland's arm (what was she giving him? maybe a bit of foreshadowing of the importance of haloperidol in Twin Peaks).

Something strikes me as odd about about Leland's hand in this scene. Maybe it's due to Leland holding still the cotton the nurse has pressed, possibly it's the angle the shot was taken from, but his arm seems slightly too large for his body, and the hand seems strangely immobile as Leland pulls his head back in surprise at Maddy Ferguson's arrival. Re-watching the scene, it almost looks to me like it is someone else's arm rising up to Leland's face.

A small point, but possibly the beginning of a theme, as the nervous control of arms and the right/left-handed dichotomy becomes important later in the series and within FWWM.

The afternoon soap, Invitation to Love, is playing, and of course it is mirroring the plot of the the show itself.  The patriarch of the soap. Jared Lancaster, is writing a letter to his daughters (twins?), informing them of the suicide he is planning to attempt that night. The look on Leland's face makes it clear that the idea resonates with him.

As Madeline Ferguson is trying to catch Leland's attention, in Invitation, Jade is pounding on the door, calling to her father: "Daddy, please, I know you're in there!"

The scene works on a lot of levels.  Selena Swift playing both Emerald and Jade is a quick parody of having Sheryl Lee take on a second role in the series. Below that humour, the theme of "doubles" - of Madeline being a double of Laura, of Emerald and Jade being the same actress, of Invitation doubling Twin Peaks all foreshadow the idea of doppelgängers, which won't resurface in the series until the very end of the second season.

Emerald and Jade seems to be split along the good girl/bad girl, madonna/whore duality, the same fault line that ran through split life of Laura Palmer, Meals-on-Wheels volunteer and coke addict. In Twin Peaks, that idea of a split personality runs, I think, deeper than someone having a secret life, or someone having contradictory social roles within a community.

The idea of a fractured psyche, where different aspects of a personality have dis-integrated, a volitional ignorance has been established between the fragments, and communication falls away between the fractious aspects of the mind: to me this a key exploration of Twin Peaks, in the psychology of both Leland and Laura Palmer, an undercurrent to the series and a focus of FWWM.

Like Gordon Cole, the name Madeleine Ferguson the name hearkens back to a classic Hollywood film, seeming to be a mash-up from Hitchcock's Vertigo, of Kim Novak's character, Madeleine Elster, and that of Jimmy Stewart, Scottie Ferguson

Hard to say what this could signify: Madeleine Elster in Vertigo is sort of a beautiful phantom, similar to what the memory of Laura Palmer has become in Twin Peaks. The desperation of Scottie Ferguson to find Madeleine Elster within her doppelgänger, Judy Barton, may not be far off what Leland sees in Maddy.

Another point of interest: naming the daughter characters in Invitation after colours or precious stones, emerald and jade.

Again, I think this is something that comes to surface far later in the series and in FWWM, but I can't help but think there is a strange significance to those particular shades of green (certain tables and rings, for instance?)

At this point, perhaps it could be another Wizard of Oz reference, to the promised land of the Emerald City?

67) Before the Funeral

Exterior of the Brigg's residence.

Another scene in the Brigg's house, before the family leaves for the funeral, opens with Bobby outstretching his arms before a crucifix.

The scene gains depth after having read The Diary of Laura Palmer and coming back into the early part of the series after FWWM, with Bobby shooting and killing the Deputy Sheriff of Dear Meadow. An image relating to suffering and being redeemed would resonate. I think part of the deeper backstory of Twin Peaks is Laura, falling further into the influence of BOB and/or the trauma of abuse, having begun to move that darkness into the lives of people around her, first to Bobby, increasingly to Donna, and from there perhaps to worse corruptions.

Bobby plays with his lighter, a little entranced. The image recalls Leland's memories of Robertson, flicking matches at him, years ago at Pearl Lakes: "You want to play with fire, little boy?" Early in the episode, a connection had been drawn between Bobby and his friend Mike, to the spirits BOB and MIKE.

The funeral scene ends with Bobby and Mike lunging towards James, with Bobby's voice subjected to the same strange slow-motion distortion jail cell barking in the pilot. To me it suggests animalistic rage & a sense of possession, like Sarah Palmer's voice at the diner in the finale, or the strange sounds BOB makes while assaulting  Maddie in Lonely Souls.

Something in these early scenes suggests a darkness having grown in Bobby, and begins to suggestion of time repeating in cycles, as patterns passing through through the generations and through history, and of time looping back in on itself, a theme that the moebius-like structures of Lynch's later films seem to continue.

Major Garland enters the room, aligned again, as he was in Traces to Nowhere, with the golden plate hanging on the wall. It reminds me, as mentioned before, of the alchemical concept of gold being the ideal of purified metal, the goal of a progression of lead to tin, to copper and silver, through which metals can rise. Mark frost mentions the idea of Garland being the "most enlightened man" living in Twin Peaks (Cooper, being an outsider, would be not be a part of that ranking) mentioned in his Twin Peaks Podcast interview.

"In ceremony begins understanding." Originally, Garland Briggs seemed to me a ridiculous, authoritarian blowhard, playing a role in a pretty obvious trope of teenaged-rebellion the Bobby storyline seemed to be. Throughout Twin Peaks, and Lynch's works in general, bald & brain-dead absurdities are the surface of the depths, and now I see strange wisdom in all of Garland's remarks.

Somehow, the straight-laced military man has gained some insight into the irrational. His U.S. Air Force Project Blue Book investigations into the paranormal seem to have given him an anthropologist's interest in human culture & society, like a Jesuit in a foreign land.  His remark that "in ceremonies begin understanding" evinces an awareness that the unconscious depths of the mind require ritual + ceremony to undergird the rational mind's processing of an event. The primal brain-stem needs a map before the logical neocortex can make sense.

In relation to Laura's funeral, the statement forebodes that a reckoning of the full implications of Laura's death is about to commence.

Below the palm leaves, what is pineapple on top of the three-tiered fountain?

I swear I remember seeing a pineapple just like that in an alchemical/rosicrucian woodcut, but try as I might, I couldn't find the image.

Searching pineapple imagery online, one resonant idea was that pineapples & pinecones, due to their similar structure, are used throughout history to represent the pineal gland, seat of the "third eye", offering vision beyond regular perception. A inner doorway into other worlds. Ancient moments like the the Angkor Wat temples of Cambodia could be examples of the motif.

This woodcut of an owl gives some idea of the style I remember the pineapple emblem engraving. Would be very appreciative of any reader who might be able to track that down.

68) A String of Lights

A lovely shot of a string of traffic lights, swinging in the night.

69) Bookhouse Boys

The funeral scene transitions immediately to an odd moment, of Shelly mocking Leland's grief for the amusement of two elderly men. Seems a little out of character. Their laughter & all this malicious grinning reminds me of another menacing elderly couple.

Just behind them in the corner of the diner, Truman, Ed and Hawk are preparing to reveal their secret society to Agent Cooper.

Ed's bolo tie - what is the ornament depicting? It resembles an eclipse, like in the opening shot of 2001.
More lunar imagery. Must return to Sheriff Truman's golden spiral/shell necklace when it shows up in an episode more clearly.


Truman gently leads Cooper towards some understandings about the town of Twin Peaks. Behind the 1950s/Eisenhower American ideal, the white picket fences of Blue Velvet, there is a "back-end to that... a sort of evil out there... a darkness, a presence," a counter-balancing weight.

Truman refers to this presence lurking in "these old woods... as long as anyone can remember..." Could the sawmill of Twin Peaks, maybe like that of Lumberton in Blue Velvet, have loosed a destructive natural force on the inhabitants of the town? The way that the pilot episode moves back and forth from Laura's murder to scenes at the sawmill and of Horne trying to sell Ghostwood Forest for development suggests an underlying connection. The way that the series ends, with Horne's environmental awakening and the speeches at the pageant, makes me wonder if there isn't some comment here about the ramifications of ecological destruction for economic ends.

From an interesting book dealing with the age old phenomena of demons and exorcisms, interesting to see how the descriptions line up with the dark forces in the narrative of Twin Peaks.
...what I think the natural demonic being is: to assist in the end of something that is corrupt [...] For us in today's world I would say that the demonic beings in our world have been pulled, coaxed, and invited out of their world by a variety of human acts and that activity is accelerating. It might also be that there is a natural order in place and we are in a time of decay which is facilitating more beings to 'leak' through into our world.   
- The Exorcist's Handbook

Their secret hand sign, a tear drawn below the left eye: A memorial of some sad event? They give the symbol right after the bookhouse is mentioned, seems to imply a connection.

The meeting place is (presumably) a used book store, where the coffee is free. Seems like a decent place to develop the wisdom & judgement needed for such a society. Truman says that  they've been meeting here for "going on twenty years now..." This episode occurring in 1989, the bookhouse has then hosted this society since the very late 1960s.  

The society itself goes back much further: "we've always been out here to fight it... Men before us [glances at Hawk], men before them, more after we're gone..." An allusion again to generations and cycles of time, intimating that the dynamic they're engaged in somehow has its roots in the land & the natural world, existing far before the area was colonized, echoes from the deep past. Interesting too that this "darkness in the woods" is brought up in connection not to Laura's murder, but rather to drug-running from Canada and the Renault brothers. 

69) Moon Transition Shot


"Falling" plays as the episode moves from a rendezvous scene between Hank & Josie and the final scene of the episode, and accompanies the first time the moon is used as a transitional shot.

So far, there have been transitional shots of natural elements, such as the surfaces of a lake, wind blowing in the pines, mountain ranges, etc., but this marks the beginning of a series of transitions that use an image of the moon to connect scenes.

Some moon-related themes have been raised in previous installments of this blog, possible connections between the name Diane/Sylvia/Cynthia and the moon and forest goddess Diana/Artemis, and the timing of the moon cycles, the moon dial in the Hayward's grandfather clock.

I think there may be more to this thread, relating to the timing of the killings and the candles circling the mound of dirt.

Artemis/Diana and Crescent Moon


70) Dancing in the Great Northern

The image of the moon transitions to a scene of Agent Cooper and Deputy Hawk unwinding over a couple of beers, four days after Laura's death. Cooper asks Hawk about the existence of the soul.
- Do you believe in the soul?
- Several.
- More than one?
- Blackfoot legend. Waking souls that give life to the mind and the body, a dream soul  that wanders.
- Dream souls.
Where do they wander?
- Far away places. The land of the dead.

Their conversation, with Falling still playing in the background, is laid over an image Leland, entranced in some sort of reverie on the dance floor at the Great Northern. His own soul seems to be off in a distant place. Kind of a strange shot: the camera seems like it's handheld, holding on Leland's face while loosely floating through the bobbing heads of the dancers, moving to music that neither we nor, likely, Leland is able to hear. Cooper and Hawk clink their bottles in cheers, and the soundscape switches to a diagetic track of Big Band jazz. Leland grins and begins to dance.

This closing scene, in its otherworldly feel, with jazz music and dancing, seems to echo the previous episode's ending, the Red Room sequence. Interesting how Twin Peaks uses jazz to provide connotations of other-worldliness. To me, jazz has associations of being a gritty, urban, cerebral, grounded form of music, entwined with history and popular culture (though, as I write that, musicians come to mind to break all of those assumptions).

I might think something like a Gregorian chant or Tibetan throat singing would be the way to score a scene brimming with mystery from the beyond. (Actually, the album of medieval music, Lux Vivens, that Lynch would later produce would be about the sound I might expect.) Yet somehow Lynch and Badalamenti have managed to weave several layers of jazz into the metaphysical backdrop of Twin Peaks, while the ethereal vocals of Julee Cruise become entwined with the lumber mill and the local dive bar.

Early on, the character of Audrey seems connected with jazz music. Sometimes it accentuates her role as a bombshell, at other time she seems transported to another place in its dreamlike nature. A separate style of jazz seems to belong to the Red Room, from the MFAP dancing to Jimmy Scott's performance in the finale. Leland is paired with an older, Big Band style, maybe calling back to the type of music that was popular at the time of his childhood summers at Pearl Lakes. He always seems to fall out of sync with the music, as he did spinning in the living room with Laura's photograph, on dance floor here, and also with the Icelanders and his performance at the Hayward Supper Club.

It's interesting that Hawk's dialogue - about a dream soul that wanders separate from the waking soul, about the Land of the Dead - is played over the image of Leland on the dance floor. The juxtaposition reminded me of the Jitterbug scene at the opening of Mulholland Dr., also accompanied by Big Band jazz.

Some have found allusions here to the idea of an afterlife "bardo" experience, that MD represents not so much a dream but rather the post-suicide experiences of Diane Selwyn. Interesting too the the jitterbug sequence emerges out of the black screen of the opening credits; you can hear the sound of the wind blowing, and something that sounds to me like the deep notes of Tibetan chanting or the horns that often accompany them.

Dreams are classified by the Tibetans as a form of bardo, and both I think involve the psyche dealing with imagery generated to represent realities beyond what we encounter in our waking experience. Both also involve the unfurling of karmic energies, the released momentum created by the actions we have taken and the experiences we have had in the previous day, in the previous life.

Themes alluding to the Tibetan Bardol Thodol, the flashes of nebulous, dream-like imagery arising in the transitional states, the clear light of consciousness, accounts of spirits moving between two worlds, all seem very relevant to the narrative of Twin Peaks.

The episode ends with Hawk asserting that all he's sure of is that Laura's body is in the ground. I can't help but feel that this final sequence intimates that Laura's spirit has not passed yet out from Twin Peaks, and that somehow a resolution to the bizarre energies of Leland on dance-floor must occur in order for her to move on to the next world.

The Log Lady's introduction seems to allude to this: the suffering is entirely real, its roots lying in illusion and misperception, it must be dealt with and encountered, until we can see again clearly.


Kubrick Connections

Visual incongruities.

Symbolic dances.

Next Up: The One-Armed Man