It doesn’t take long for the viewer to catch on that Twin Peaks: The Return is one long deconstruction of the more or less traditional murder mystery that originally catapulted the show into the public’s imagination. The distance of twenty-five years has a way of eroding a story, especially given the evolving perspective of the aging creators who constitute its collective memory, creators who are under no illusion of recapturing the mindset of their former selves. Laura’s life and murder are incidents fixed at specific points in time in our collective memories, and it was the tantalizing details of this terrible crime that drew us in and hooked us into the Twin Peaks universe. But time has a way, too, of separating such details from their prior circumstances. What if this murder that obsessed a nation so long ago was but a trivial detail in a greater cosmic saga? The more we obsess over these mundane details, or even expect its sequel season to shed light on its causes and tie up its loose ends, the more we are likely to miss this grander story. I’m telling you, man, this shit is deep – or at least as deep as the viewer is willing to descend and lose themselves in Lynch and Frost’s twisted storyline.
We don’t know exactly where Lynch and Frost intended to take the Twin Peaks story at the time of its cancellation, and it’s fairly safe to say that Twin Peaks: The Return is a far cry from the show they would have made 25 years ago. Okay, so yeah, they actually wrote the line in which Laura says to Cooper, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” but that’s a line in a script for an actress to deliver as a fictional character, not some coded pact the creators were making with their audience. How could these two men, let alone any of us, possibly know what they would be doing, or where their hearts and heads would be, in 25 years’ time? And yet without any effort on either of their parts, and no doubt to their great shock and surprise, Twin Peaks had somehow taken on a life of its own. Its original run was a veritable poke in the eye to traditional network television fare, and its reputation (nay, legend) over the years had hardly diluted its strangeness. Subsequent shows took to “borrowing” elements of Twin Peaks’ quirkiness, core mystery and mythology (X Files, Lost, Northern Exposure, Stranger Things, The Leftovers, etc.), but none of these were completely successful in capturing its quintessential oddness, mainly because they ended up sacrificing, unwittingly or not, Lynch’s unwavering commitment to his inscrutable vision for the usual adherence to narrative logic or audience expectation.
I’ve just recently returned from a trip to Twin Peaks, Washington. It’s a place that doesn’t actually exist but nevertheless enveloped me so completely in a world so mysterious, entrancing and even at times horrifying, that I never wanted to leave. Great art does this, it conjures a world so different from the hum-drum of our own that even the familiar takes on the vividness of a dream we carry with us after we’ve wakened. Twin Peak’s surrealism draws us in to such a degree that we hardly give it a second thought when we suddenly find ourselves in a room with red curtains where people walk and talk backwards. Nothing here is quite as it seems, but sadly, like a dream, it is not a world we can stay in. Still, it is impossible to leave from this place without seeing our own existence in a different light and, if perceiving is being, creating fundamental changes in us. Beneath the surface on which most of us pass our days is the dark forest home of our lives’ rawest and most irresolvable materials, and Twin Peaks, the creation of David Lynch and Mark Frost, is a deep, dark journey into this forest of our psyches.
Another day, another massacre in the USA. Now that we’re basking in America’s greatness again, I knew that if we tried hard enough we could top the death toll of the shooting at the Pulse dance club in Orlando, and lo and behold, in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, we hit the jackpot. A total of 58 dead (59 if you count the shooter who killed himself before he could be apprehended) and over 500 wounded. Not a bad haul for a volley that lasted around 10 minutes. Since we’re talking Vegas, we can lay odds that someone whom we least suspect is already plotting how to exceed that total. And sure enough, on Sunday, November 5, before I was even able to put the finishing touches on this post, that attempt was made when a dishonorably discharged member of the Air Force, in an apparent act of revenge against the family of his estranged wife, waited for the church service to begin at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas before he opened fire on the congregation, killing 26, over half of them children, one of them still in its mother’s womb.
What exists in the space of not-knowing? I ask because I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the faintest idea of what’s happening in our Unraveled States right now. Until we know, if we ever do, we make guesses, assumptions, rationalizations, form beliefs, do whatever we must to fill that void of uncertainty and doubt. But in so doing, we blind ourselves to vital truths that lie below the snake line of perpetual noise generated by this vaunted Information Age.