71 posts tagged america
Yesterday David Lynch and Mark Frost announced they are creating nine episodes of Twin Peaks in a limited series, a legitimate, canon, no-kidding, real third season, “25 Years Later.”
I’m still too stunned to even fully comprehend it. My lifetime favorite television series ever. Twin Peaks. TWIN PEAKS. There can only be one; there IS only one. Fans like me were shocked, even heartbroken, by the ending we got after only two seasons all those years ago. But even in our disappointment, we still loved the experience we’d been given, recognizing it as the rare and probably unreproducible thing it was. Over time I had assumed it was gone forever, a rare kind of thing that was only able to happen by a fluke in the first place, quickly snuffed out by the storms of network television business politics and not likely to happen again, ever.
In a stale landscape of safe, predictable, forgettable television, Twin Peaks was something different. Twin Peaks was a challenge, a mystery flavored by Mystery in the capital-M sense of the word: a sense of the Hidden and Unknown beyond the mundane world. In contrast to the dry, clinical detachment of today’s forensic crime procedurals, Twin Peaks was all about the emotional and interpersonal stakes of one death in a tightly-knit community. But underlying that charming, nostalgic small-town-America exterior, there lurked something else, a world of secrets, terrors, and demons… human and otherwise.
The idea of an “other world” - a shadow world, a Black Lodge - underlying the happy illusions we see every day resonated very deeply with my own experiences growing up in small town East Texas. And its influence is clear in another love of mine, the long-running survival horror gaming series Silent Hill, a work of genius in its own right. To this day the symbolism of hidden shadow worlds and the idea of the polar extremes of human potential are powerful recurring themes in my own dreams.
The Twin Peaks neo-mythology of the Black Lodge and the “dugpas” bears the David Lynch signature characteristic of ambiguity. Ask ten fans what the Black Lodge even is, or who the dugpas are, and you’ll get ten different answers. This is the way Lynch has always rolled; he never assumes his audience needs everything spelled out for them in big capital letters. He is a visual artist first and a storyteller second; he is happy to present image-as-image and allow the viewer to fill in the blanks. This engagement of the imagination makes the viewer more of a participant than a passive spectator, an experience that audiences - at least the kind that make up the Twin Peaks fan base - had been starved for when Twin Peaks first appeared, and remain starved for today.
This is especially true in America, where many viewers are actively hostile to ambiguity, and most popular culture caters to this prejudice. The absurdities of our national politics notwithstanding, we are a more or less rational culture. In other words, we expect everything to obey some kind of predefined order: defined by science, defined by conventional religion, or defined by some set of reliable rules that always make sense no matter what the circumstances.
Lynch’s visions, by contrast, reflect the core truth he sees in our world: You don’t get an easy out. Sometimes there are no easy answers, and all you have to go by is what’s right in front of you, even if it doesn’t make sense. No one’s going to hold your hand, and no one’s coming to save you.* Figure it out.
So now that this is really happening, and there really is going to be a legitimate Lynch/Frost third season of Twin Peaks - not a spinoff or a remake - some reflexive nay-saying has already begun. All I can think of to do is manage expectations and just be happy they care enough to give it a shot. The original series took me by surprise because I’d had no previous expectations at all. Over-speculating and building it up too much two years out will only set up a letdown. For now, I’ll just be happy the original creators give enough of a damn to pick up some of the open threads and maybe, give us fans the closure we never got the first time around.
It’s really ridiculous how happy this has made me.
*(I know, I know… I’ve seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and know there are sometimes rare exceptions!)