GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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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?