GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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In traditions as diverse as Hinduism, Neoplatonism, and Christianity, truth, goodness, and beauty have been taken to represent the deepest desires of humankind--desires so deep that their objects are said to transcend--to rise above or swing beyond-- everything else that exists and to hold all existing things in their places. To pursue truth, humankind has logic. To pursue goodness, humankind has ethics. And to pursue beauty, humankind has aesthetics--the arts. In a serendipitous twist of fate for those of us beauty addicts who struggle with logic and ethics, these traditions have also maintained that truth, goodness, and beauty are "ontologically one," as the philosophers say--that is, these "transcendentals" have their being in and through one another such that when even one is present, so are they all.
In this spirit, I've always thought of beauty as a trapdoor into truth and goodness. And for me, the artistic work of David Lynch has been a place to dwell in deep beauty and so to receive strong doses of truth and goodness by osmosis, without the exertions associated with the hard thinking of logic and hard striving of ethics (not that these aren't also directly accessible in his work, but that's another post). My aim in this post is to observe, appreciate, and share with all of you the deep beauty on offer in the first fifteen minutes of Part Three of Twin Peaks: The Return.
Lynch has always been a painterly film-maker. In fact, he describes his very first film--Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)--as a "moving painting" and discusses the process by which the work came to him as one of imagining paintings coming to life. In reviewing Part Three of the new Twin Peaks in preparation to write an entry for my Episode Guide, I was near to overwhelmed by how much beauty Lynch managed to pack into just fifteen minutes of television. As the filmic flux rushed past and I paused it so as to mark the time-indices, I began to feel as if I had entered an exhibition of paintings--an effect amplified by the fact that my 4K HDTV does not show atomizing pixels, but rather blurs, smears, and layers lines and colors that cannot be sharply rendered.
All progress on the episode guide ceased as I tunneled into these astonishingly beautiful still images, realizing that each and every one of them--and many, many more I couldn't capture--is a world of beauty unto itself. As you peruse these nineteen images, which collectively tell the story of the first 15 minutes of Part Three in order of the their appearance in the show, consider the composition, the color palate, the saturation of each still, as well as the astonishing juxtapositions that they create between and among one another. Consider, too, that they were taken from a paused cable feed on a pitiable iPhone camera in the otherwise pitch dark of my basement--in other words, they are poor copies of a poor copy reproduced in aesthetically deplorable conditions on crap equipment. When a simulacrum of a simulacrum can still be the conduit of a beauty that makes one weep, that is really, really something. These fifteen minutes are by far the most beautiful television I have ever seen, and thus some of the most truthful and good television, too.