GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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Though David Lynch is infamous for refusing to talk directly about his work, he is often very generous in his willingness to talk about the visioning process through which it comes into being and the source of the creativity that animates his vision, transcendental meditation. In this new interview recently posted on YouTube, Lynch is particularly engaging, in part due to the persistence and enthusiasm of his intrepid interviewer:
Thanks to an illuminating series of questions, we get a solid 25 minutes of David Lynch in his own voice expressing many of his signature epiphanies: that his films are not efforts to say this or that, but rather efforts to bring to cinematic expression ideas with which he has fallen in love; that "diving within" each day through transcendental meditation engenders a transformative happiness that serves as a "flak jacket" against the suffering, darkness, and death of our world; that the social and political relevance of his films grows out of his fidelity to the particular ideas and stories that have captured his imagination and not out of a personal ideological agenda; that attunement to a film's deeper possibilities for feeling and understanding the ideas in play arises in part from not needing to have things pinned down, so that the potency of the story stands higher than its actuality. For those who follow Lynch's interviews or have read his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, most of these themes will ring familiar.
One intriguing new development here is Lynch's response to a question about the state of Hollywood in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's exposure by the #MeToo movement (at 20:00 in the above video). In comments that are as oracular and meandering as most of what he has to say about "current events", Lynch gives us a window into his view of male aggression toward and sexual violence against women--which he clearly condemns, if not as forcefully as one might hope--as a phenomenon that can be dissipated by transcendental meditation. Lest anyone think that Lynch is just glibly asserting that meditation can ameliorate the world's problems without any basis for touting its potential social and political applications, it is important to remember his transformational work in schools and prisons with the The David Lynch Foundation.
Even so, one might wonder if there is a kind a quietism concerning gendered violence here that invites critical questions about Lynch's preferred stance of ideological neutrality for the sake of maintaining fidelity to the ideas and their stories. On the other hand, perhaps Lynch's personal silence on the matter is an effort to let his art speak for itself to those of us who see in these stories the possibility of a powerful critique of institutional sexism, male aggression, and toxic masculinity even though Lynch himself is not setting out to make it that way. Or perhaps we have something of a "both/and" situation here in which Lynch's personal quietism on the matter both merits critique and enables a certain fidelity to the ideas and their stories that allows the concrete realities of violence against women to present themselves in all their unvarnished horror.
I've written about "The World Spins" before, but I can't get it out of my mind. So it's happening again. This time, though, I'm tempted to change the slant on the title of one of my favorite songs of all time to "The Worlds Spin," because this newest way of seeing through the song has opened a window onto an inkling I've had throughout The Return that the narrative disturbances we've witnessed are less about time travel than about world travel--and possible world travel, to put a finer point on things.
The Return, I think, is not so much about actual changes to the space-time continuum of this world as it is about possible ways that things have been, could be, and are in other places and spaces. Let me explain how this window opened up for me in this particular instance. As usual, it was by being attentive in a certain way to pure happenstance that the possibility revealed itself. One of the most beautiful things about Twin Peaks, in my experience, anyway, is that the possible always, always stands above the actual, whether what is at stake is what we see (or do not see) on screen or what those revelations or concealments mean or do not mean for the series as a whole or for ourselves as its interpreters.
In seeking to compare Julee Cruise's Roadhouse performance of "The World Spins" in Part 17 of Season 3 with her Roadhouse performance of the same song in Part 14 of the original run (episode 7 of Season 2), I came across two unrelated YouTube videos that were serendipitously cut to roughly the same length, each lasting the full duration of Cruise's performance of the song--about 2 minutes and 46 seconds. The fact that the videos were basically the same length hit me right in the ol' Twin Peaks synchronicity bone, and so I opened two browsers and cued up the two videos side by side, starting the Season 2 video (top) about a second or two ahead of the Season 3 video. Here they are, one atop the other:
As I repeatedly watched and listened to them side by side, some things came together for me. It was moving to imagine, for instance, that the old waiter--the Giant/Fireman's this-worldly avatar to whom Albert Rosenfield lovingly referred as Señor Droolcup--was expressing his sympathy to Cooper not just for what happens to Maddy in Season 2, but for Cooper's losing the Laura he delivers from death in the woods near Sparkwood and 21 in part 17 of Season 3 twenty five years later, and for losing the Laura who is Carrie in Part 18, and for losing what feels like infinitely many other Lauras in as many possible worlds.
Throughout the Season 2 video, Cooper has this stupefied, other-worldly, time-out-of-joint look on his face that just seems so much richer and more heartbreaking in light of what we learn in Parts 17 and 18 of Season 3. Watching these clips side by side made it feel to me like "The World Spins" marks a sort of collision or converging nexus of all the possible worlds in which "It is happening again" in different and irreconcilable ways, inexorably, simultaneously, and without ceasing, eternally recurring as the little ball rolls around in Philip Jeffries's figure eight, each new stop on the track yet another aching near miss, another instance of love's refusal to come back and stay forever and ever.
The terrible beauty of this juxtaposition of worlds--different and yet the same--just overwhelmed me. I wonder what you think? Do you see what I see?