How Twin Peaks Finds Balance in Opposition
Life, in all its beautiful complexity, reveals dualities everywhere at any given moment in time, whether it be through tangible nature, human interaction, or self-reflection. Twin Peaks does a remarkable job of pointing out the dualities of human existence in conversations and revelations dealing with interconnection between the cosmos, and the individual.
Part 4 of Twin Peaks: The Return reminds us of David Lynch's affinity for meditation and Eastern religion/philosophy, in Wally Brando's conversation with Sheriff Frank Truman. Wally says, "My shadow is always with me. Sometimes ahead. Sometimes behind. Sometimes to the left. Sometimes to the right. Except on cloudy days, or at night." Sheriff Truman offers his own, less esoteric wisdom to the young traveler: "May the road rise up to meet your wheels."
The shadow Wally refers to can be seen as his sense of self, similar to the old adage, "no matter where you go, there you are." We cannot escape ourselves, even though we may attempt to, by hopping on our motorcycle to "rocket blind into the dark," like James Hurley. James spends much of Season 2 running away, but he is constantly met with potholes that bring him back to his truth; a reality in which his loved ones die. He cannot accept, and therefore he cannot be freed from his inner turmoil.
Sheriff Truman's quote winks back at James and brings a sense of balance to the presumably unbalanced life of "the wanderer." There is duality within his words - the journey of self-discovery, and the physical journey that a traveler takes. In both journeys the road may not always be smooth, and that's OK. That is to be expected. Twin Peaks shows us how the path we travel down in life is determined by our perceptions, and ultimately, our actions. We can't make the Bobs of the world go away simply by willing them to disappear, but we can decide how we will handle them.
If we give in to the Bobs, and assign them power over our emotions, are we allowing them to grow stronger, and continue their wrath upon humanity?
Wally and Sheriff Truman's quotes perfectly mirror the two different kinds of characters found among the Twin Peaks universe - an absurd, surrealist figure, and a straightforward average Joe archetype. There are some characters who fit into both of these personas (Agent Cooper wavers between being matter-of-fact and surreal), but there are some who are completely on opposite ends of the spectrum, and as a result, their personalities are underscored even more. I love seeing these contrasts play out in the show, as demonstrated between Wally and Sheriff Truman's memorable exchange this season.
This balance also brings to the forefront Lynch's understanding of yin and yang. There must be both in order to maintain balance. The Sarah and Leland Palmers must be balanced by the Eileen and Doc Haywards, otherwise chaos will ensue.
At the end of Part 3 in The Return, a framed photo of existentialist figure, Franz Kafka, is seen on display in FBI Deputy Director, Gordon Cole's office. This gem points to the surreal that is woven throughout every season of Twin Peaks, and cleverly interlaced existentialist musings that Lynch presents to his audience.
An example of this is in Episode 11 of Season 2, when Agent Cooper temporarily loses his FBI badge while under investigation for possible involvement in crimes related to drug trafficking and a high-profile murder. He explains to FBI Agent Roger Hardy that he is attempting to "see beyond fear." Cooper marvels: "The sound the wind makes through the vines. The sentience of animals. What we fear in the dark and what lies beyond the darkness." This is one of my favorite quotes from Twin Peaks, because it highlights one of the great mysteries of the show, and truly, one of the great mysteries of human existence - what lies beyond the darkness.
The darkness applies to more than just physical space - it pertains to human psyche, and death. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, the dichotomy between light and dark is persistent throughout Twin Peaks, both in the show's mise en scène and narrative. The macabre Lynchian film aesthetic isn't dark simply for the sake of being dark. Even the maddest tea parties have a rhythm, and in that rhythm one can find purpose in the seemingly unsound.
In this scene, Agent Cooper goes on to further state that he is choosing to "look at the world with love." This choice is one that many people struggle to handle when faced with adversity, and ultimately the choice is ours, even if we feel it's out of our control. Our perception determines our reality - we can either choose to see the world through hopeful eyes like that of Season 1 and 2 Agent Cooper's, or let our inner Bob take hold and succumb to the darkest part of ourselves.
I will continue to explore duality and references to Eastern philosophies in future blog posts. Interested in discussing these concepts further? Comment below and let's continue teasing out these thought-provoking ideas!