How Twin Peaks unveils our world
Pepe Escobar explores how David Lynch's dystopian wonderland – the original and latest incarnation – informs current geopolitical and metaphysical forces. Potential spoiler alert
When humanity, an evolving species, also became Destroyer of Worlds by splitting the atom, few were aware this was a point of no return.
MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) prevented the Cold War from going nuclear. MAD does not apply anymore. The US Congress is bent on annulling the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, agreed between the US and the former USSR to ban the production of short and mid-range missiles.
If Washington starts building new nuclear mid-range missiles and stationing them in Europe, we will be under a new MAD specter.
Couple it with the DPRK’s sixth nuclear test – which may have completed the process of miniaturization of a hydrogen bomb capable of being fitted to an ICBM. President Trump, in an official White House statement, has threatened to launch American “nuclear capabilities”. President Putin has warned “the situation is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict.”
Any attempt at denuclearizing (the Korean peninsula, or anywhere else) is a direct consequence of the original 1945 New Big Bang in White Sands, New Mexico, when Man, as Hinduism had anticipated it, played Creator and Destroyer.
And that brings us to Twin Peaks.
FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper – a shamanistic, post-modern Sam Spade – was last spotted on June 10, 1991 in the final episode of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks original run as a serial killer possessed by the spirit of Bob, a dugpa/demonic trickster.
Bob is the servant of a higher demon who used to be either The Man From Another Place – a.k.a. the dancing dwarf
– or something called The Arm, which ended up evolving into a silver electric tree with some sort of fleshy blob for a brain.
Those were the days: pre-Bill Clinton, still a long way towards the millennium, pre-9/11.
We had to wait 25 years to see how iconic damn good coffee/cherry pie agent Cooper escaped from the most elaborate of traps;
the Red Room at the Black Lodge – a harrowing, multidimensional, purgatory/dreamscape/netherworld.
Time flies. The floor erupts. Comes The Fall. “Good” Cooper, suited and booted, ends up in a glass box in Manhattan. As his brain-fried, post-Black Lodge version tries to re-adapt to reality, his doppelganger wreaks major havoc. And the marriage of heaven and hell breaks loose.
With its dense crossover of shamanism, apocalypsism, Native American mythology, biblical demonology, Tibetan Buddhism, Masonic philosophy, Crowleyanism, theosophy, surrealism, film noir, soundscaping (Lynch himself curated the sound design/editing), absurdist juxtapositions, classic Hollywood Americana and last but not least, alchemy, Twin Peaks – The Return can be decoded as the ultimate dystopian nightmare, written under LSD then redacted by the NSA.
There are appeasing pastures; here’s Lynch
talking about meditation, creativity and peace. But what these giants, ghosts, doppelgangers and hobo/woodsmen, the time-travel to other astral planes, the intimations of a giant black void, also tell is the geopolitical fable of The New Big Bang; how the US deep state tapped into occult, uncontrollable forces as it opened unknown time-space portals.
Surfing the Kali Yuga
A triad is essential to unlock the mystery of Twin Peaks; the original series;
Fire Walk with Me, the 1992 movie; and Mark Frost’s
The Secret History of Twin Peaks. One of the key Rosebuds is a poem recited by The One-Armed Man; “Through
the darkness of futures past / The magician longs to see; / One chants out between two worlds / ‘Fire walk with me.’”
“Futures past” denotes Twin Peaks time is not linear. And “between two worlds” reveals the magician’s abode – where we should learn how to dwell.
Along the journey, we see a Baphomet in a glass box – a shape-shifting, faceless, vaguely female entity (billed in the credits as “Mother”).
We see an eyeless Asian woman terrorized by the hammering on her metal door in a room floating in space.
We see black smoke trailing through a socket in the wall in a Las Vegas suburban home mutating into a suited Agent Cooper.
We see the murdered Laura Palmer removing her entire face with her hand to reveal a white light shining bright.
We even see Diane – the invisible secretary to whom Agent Cooper dictated his memos – playing what could be a dark, slippery double game.
We delve deeper into the clash between the White and Black Lodge following a clue dropped by Hawk to Agent Cooper in the original run;
”My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside. There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow self of the White Lodge. Legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold.”
No wonder even FBI Director Gordon Cole is puzzled:
What the hell? And it’s exactly in Cole’s office where we find the ultimate giveaway: a huge photo of the nuclear mushroom cloud coexisting with a portrait of Kafka.
Prometheus meets Shiva
Lynch and Frost’s piece de resistance/High Art spectacular in Twin Peaks – The Return is the mesmerizing episode 8, a UFO never seen on TV, heavily indebted to Stanley Kubrick (2001 is one of Lynch’s favorite films), original 8mm atom bomb photographs, stop-gap cinematography, and using Penderecki’s harrowing Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima as the soundtrack.
It’s essential to remember a “Bob” – Robert Oppenheimer – was instrumental in creating the nuclear bomb via the Manhattan Project. He could not but be haunted by it, stating
“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”, a direct quote from Vishnu in the Bhagavad Gita.
A simple narrative arc would have good Coop on a mythical journey back to Twin Peaks to defeat evil Coop. Lynch/Frost all but spell it out, via The Arm, in a crucial scene in the first episode – your classic, epic good vs. evil battle for the fate of humankind. Yet Episode 8 takes it to a whole new level – with evil unleashed by humanity itself.
Aristotle would be very much at home with the alchemical concept of destruction of prima materia in White Sands, New Mexico, at the Trinity Site, which happened to be located at the start of a road called Jornada del Muerto (The Journey of the Dead).
Enter the critical connection between ritual magic and modern science – especially personified by Jack Parsons, the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab.
Immense torrents of dark energy had to be released, alchemically, for the New Big Bang. That’s where Prometheus meets Shiva – when humankind aimed at divine powers as Creators and Destroyers.
Lynch/Frost’s daring thesis is that the cryptic, autocratic US deep state/industrial-military complex, via the first
atomic bomb explosion in July 1945, opened a “crack”, a vacuum, a chasm (“between two worlds”) that allowed infernal/metaphysical forces to enter our sphere of existence; Bob himself is vomited by a figure credited as The Experiment.
Add to it the references to the pale horse (in the Apocalypse: “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him.”)
The antidote to such death and destruction is a golden orb created by
The Fireman, the enlightened being who lives in the White Lodge; the orb is the essence of the benevolent spirit of the murdered Laura Palmer.
Episode 8 rides St. John’s Apocalypse to the hilt as it also introduces a demonic egg hatching, from which emerges a frog-locust-beetle creature (“The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.”)
Lodge spirits proliferate, spawned by the atomic bomb tearing apart the fabric of reality. These burnt hobo/woodsmen are “fire demons”; among them excels the “Gotta Light?” fellow uttering his hypnotic mantra
seducing humans to become host of dark entities; “This is the water and this is the well. | Drink full and descend. | The horse is the white of the eyes | and dark within.”
The owls are not what they seem
In all the sumptuous day-glo glory of its blurred Blake-meets Crowley mix of dream, hallucination and premonition, Twin Peaks – The Return essentially depicts America as the darkest of soap operas.
Agent Cooper can be interpreted as a post-modern Aeneas, a wanderer on a mythical journey (in the Aeneid, Virgil depicts the hero as the epitome of Roman virtue; devotion to duty and reverence to the Gods, much like Cooper.)
The whole of Twin Peaks – The Return can also be interpreted as an extended essay on The Second Coming by Yeats – one of the great poems of the 20th century (in the late 1970s Lynch wrote a study called Yeats: The Poetics of Self).
On the superposed mythological layers, Mark Frost himself has stated how the Black Lodge concept came to him via theosophy and the Order of the Golden Dawn, which included, of course, Yeats.
And then, we are rewarded with instances of pure pleasure. A love story resolution to the sound of Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long – which exploded 50 years ago. A line from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (“Talk to Gordon Cole”) as a catalyst Rosebud in Cooper’s journey.
And last but not least, there’s Cole’s definitive “Monica Belucci dream”
where Monica, in the flesh, utters “We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream”. That’s a direct quote from the Upanishads. “But who is the dreamer?” The mystical, immemorial East meets the West’s Angel of History ceaselessly weaving its ever-changing shadow play.
The current nuclear stand off may take place in the East, in the Korean peninsula. But the concept of Destroyer of Worlds was invented in the West. Those dark uncontrollable forces released in 1945 are still at large. Twin Peaks offers myriad metaphors of their madness.
Oh yes: the owls are not what they seem.