My reflection on 2017 is not complete without writing at least something about Twin Peaks: The Return. However, anyone who watches or has watched the show will immediately understand how hard it is to do so.
First, I can’t think of any show less able to squish into some category. Second, there are a thousand more qualified detail-maniacs writing about Twin Peaks right now. I mean, I joined a Facebook group during the time of the show’s airing, and continually marveled at the level of Beautiful Mind style dot-connecting that went on, but I couldn’t engage in much directly, because my way of watching seemed so different.
Still, maybe that different way of absorbing the material brings something of value to offer.
When Twin Peaks first aired back in the early nineties, it was hardly a blip on my radar. I was young and wild, and had just returned from my first away-from-home adventure in the mountains of Colorado – an environment not so different from Twin Peaks. This would make my discovering the show later in life somewhat precious, triggering deep nostalgia, but at the time I was simply indifferent.
Rather, the show came to my attention again in about 2010, through a meditation community, during a dream studies workshop, in a virtual world. We (as avatars from all over the world) were sharing moments, during waking life and dreaming, wherein there arose some feeling of uncanny. People cited all sorts of surreal matrix-y moments and odd encounters, in some cases things they had never shared with others before, and a particularly well-read person in the group mentioned experiencing this feeling strongly, while watching Twin Peaks. Others chimed in agreements.
This was noteworthy, because during years of ongoing discussions, television had rarely come up as a topic in this rather bookish group, much less as informative to contemplative exploration. So I rented the DVDs through Netflix, and watched them all over the course of just a week.
“Ah, I get it!” I thought. The show was immediately quirky and charming, but more than that, the process of watching itself, felt like a weird sort of spiritual practice, or at least many elements did. I’d never been drawn to gritty shows (so had little exposure to David Lynch or Mark Frost), and some seeming ridiculousness pushed beyond my tolerance levels, but the weaving in of the intuitive and sense of the spiritual into even the petty felt dare I say, more realistic, than a normal story.
I was also completely smitten with the sweet boy-scout character at the center of it all …just liked spending time with him. Nothing of what Dale Cooper was experiencing in his dreams seemed that unusual to me, and I felt that should we meet, we would understand one another.
Back in 2010 there were already a few rumors cropping up about a possible revamping of the show, and this built up lightly in the background of my attention until the exciting first teasings on Twitter.
Imagining what I wanted from a next season, there were just a few requests: Dale Cooper, and a sustaining of that uncanny feeling. Everything else I left open, but I also did more research, watching Lynch films, reading some of the more obscure theories. When the show began, I read The Secret History of Twin Peaks and The Tapes of Dale Cooper.
So I felt ready.
I wasn’t, Thank Goodness.
Twin Peaks gets its place on my accomplishments/worthy-of-reflection list for 2017 because it was A LOT OF WORK. It took far more than an hour of engagement each episode, not just to process the intensity of some of the scenes and try to connect or project what they might lead to, but also to suspend and eventually let go of judgement and further expectations.
Each part (sorry, not episode) absolutely had to be watched twice: once without subtitles and once with. Homages to films and artists had to be happily researched (see bottom of this post), and more and more obscure theories had to be, or seemed like they had to be, understood.
Then, all of that ‘information’ had to be thrown out: one had to go into each part, and each scene in each part, and each character in each scene in each part, as a new canvas. That’s trust, man. And what or whom was I trusting?
I think I was trusting the art itself. I wasn’t necessarily ‘a Lynchian’ like many, trusting the Artist, but there was some rareness of connection, and I was leaning into that, in spite of several scenes that were deeply disturbing without that context.
I stuck with it because Twin Peaks: The Return, is extra-dimensional, not in the way of telling ‘someone’ an extra-dimensional story, but in giving openings the viewers(?) walk into, or dream into, themselves.
A main question asked by the series, is one I ask myself all the time:
“Who is The Dreamer?”
“The only way you can talk about this great tide in which you’re a participant is as Schopenhauer did: the universe is a dream dreamed by a single dreamer where all the dream characters dream too.”
(some of the) Films:
Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
2001: A Space Odyssey
(some of the) Artists: