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Friday, April 15, 2011

Twin Peaks S01E03: Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer

A couple of days ago Godsauce gave us a great primer on how David Lynch depicts society and his characters: on the surface we see an exaggerated depiction of “normal” life, superficial at the surface level. Beneath the veneer, though, his protagonists discover a depth – and darkness – that seems bottomless. Likewise, Godsauce pointed out, his lead characters discover the same complexity and breadth can be found within themselves.

This third episode is a perfect place to look at one of the more obvious factors in Lynch's life that informs this vision. Perhaps even more than film, Lynch is an outspoken advocate for Transcendental Meditation. Since the early 70's he has been deeply involved in the movement, and currently heads the David Lynch Foundation For Conciousness-Based Education. A quick perusal of YouTube will find dozens of talks by Lynch on the subject. Even if you share my skepticism of such things, he is a very warm and enjoyable speaker to watch.

As it pertains to our plot, the Tibet scene from this week's episode, while played for oddball humor, is clearly based on principles Lynch takes very seriously. Deepest level of intuition. Dreams. Mind-body coordination. And, sure enough, the rock and the milk jug provide answers that line up with what we as the audience have learned.

In the Q&A linked below this paragraph, Lynch discusses a couple benefits he has found in Transcendental Meditation. Fittingly, they match closely to what we see at work in this episode. First, the idea of experiential knowledge trumping intellectual knowledge. While only a couple episodes in, basic investigative procedure has yet bring a real breakthrough in this case. When Cooper lets go of his intellect, as in the rock scene, and opens himself to a different “awareness”, answers begin to present themselves.

This is most dramatically fulfilled in the final sequence of this episode. In his restless and surreal dream, amongst a dancing dwarf and an aged version of himself, the face and name of Laura's killer are revealed to Agent Cooper. As Lynch puts it in the Q&A, this next level of consciousness helps you find solutions. It would seem that only on this other plain of thought can Cooper hope to untangle the thread of Laura's story.

Log Lady Intros!

I found out that on the original broadcast of Twin Peaks (and perhaps also on the DVDs?) every episode had an introductory monologue by the Log Lady herself. And they're great! I have posted the first three below and will try to include the corresponding one in each post.




Next week: E04: Rest in Pain and E05: The One-Armed Man


  1. Love it love it love it.

    FYI- I reinstated my Netflix on a whim and discovered that Twin Peaks is available on PlayNow, which, granted, was stated in the initial Twin Peaks post. But I did not read through it when I left my last comment! So now I'm going to blast through these and probably suspend my Netflix account again once I finish up Twin Peaks (and Season 5 of Friday night Lights).

    Bring it on, David Lynch. (anyone want to come over, watch 'Rabbits' and scream uncontrollably with me? Anyone?)

  2. Well done! This was a wonderful post! Let me know if you'd like me to do any more of these. I'll try to edit myself a bit and be more concise.

    This post really touches on one of the things that I was trying to elucidate about Lynch, but I don't think that I did a good job: the depths and darkness and complexity that exists beneath the surface only seems "evil" to the unenlightened. A character like Cooper is able to take great joy in simple pleasures because he has investigated the deeper world and has returned the greater for it.

    Considering Lynch's embrace of transcendental meditation, it makes sense that a meditative path would be an effective one in navigating Lynch's fictional worlds. His emphasis on the banality of the superficial also makes more sense in this context.