Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Earthquake Theory - The Secret History of Twin Peaks

The BBC Science Hour played a segment within weeks of Secret History’s release with Geologist Ross Stein, who was explaining the system of fault lines that were creating the large number of earthquakes suddenly wreaking havoc across towns in Italy.

In the specific situation Stein spoke of, he said the tectonic plate Italy called home was being compressed until about a million years ago. Now it’s being stretched so its faults are trying to figure out how to do something different than it was born to do and they’re reorganizing.

He said the lines were “little broken shards of faults that haven’t been organized by repeated earthquakes into a long continuous smooth fault, so that means if you jostle one faultline, you tend to move the others around it, and no one fault is able to rupture for a very long distance and produce a very large earthquake, so we get these little groups or families of moderate sized events.”

He also explained that aftershocks happen randomly over time, but the magnitude of release does not strengthen or weaken over time. It’s more likely to have earthquakes hours apart than years apart but there’s still that possibility. All these earthquakes are part of a conversation between faults.

The continued danger after an earthquake are aftershocks, and there will be aftershocks.  They are generally smaller than the first shock but sometimes aftershocks are bigger. When this happens, the semantical trick the scientists use for their terminology is that the largest shock is considered a Main Shock, while smaller quakes that contribute to the main shock are now called foreshocks. Faultlines that have been loaded by any shock at all are closer to fail than they were before these events began.


Looking specifically at Secret History, reread everything Stein just said but instead of “faultline”, substitute with the name of someone who’s had an interaction with the lodge. And every time you hear “earthquake” substitute with “timequake.”

Every time one of us meets a lodge denizen, or we reach into one another’s worlds, our realities scrape against each other at a proverbial faultline and it becomes charged. Enough meetings like that, and the line between our realities will slip and a reality quake shakes up time.

I’d have to say the original main shock in Twin Peaks, and the reason I’m so keen on this earthquake metaphor in the first place, occurred when (fire-based) volcanic activity in the Twin Peaks area formed Blue Pine and White Tail mountains. Deer Meadow Radio’s Mark Givens is fond of mentioning the Michner-style book Frost wanted to write as early as 1990 that would begin with the formation of the mountains and focus on the weird electrical energy that settled between them, so I feel good saying this was on Frost’s mind the entire time he was writing Secret History.

So what do the shocks do? They cause ripples through time that, if you could see them, would look like a lake after a rock skips across it. It would look like the rings of a tree in a cross-cut.
The points of time captured on the crests of the shockwaves, on the rings of the trees, would be Ed and Norma’s distance from each other when Laura died. The points between the ripples, or between the tree rings, are the less solid details of Norma’s family and how Ed actually met Nadine. The most important details (the details closest to the moment of the shocks) rise to the top, are indelible, while the less important details can be re-remembered. Just like our own memories.
This matches up with Joel Bocko’s observation on Twin Peaks Unwrapped: character cores are the same in Secret History. Alternate universe stories usually change characters entirely, but here different beginnings come to the same outcomes rather than the same beginnings coming to different outcomes in usual parallel universe situations. Which is why I think it’s more about metaphysical geologic events rather than parallel universes.
If you make it about timequakes and shocks to our reality, that can credibly explain how one dossier can contain blatantly inconsistent documents from seeming parallel universes. If we were dealing with multiple realities, the dossier would be internally consistent within one alternate reality only, and there’d be at least fifteen similar-but-inexact dossiers in play. In this model time is overwritten, but not before documents are written and immortalized. Think how there are copies of rough drafts out and about, earlier moments than the “final” products (the Star Wars Trilogy and then the Special Editions let’s say) and you can put them both in a dossier next to each other if you want to. They all exist, but one is the more official version according to history.

Reality timequakes allow for canon changes to fit within the same canon. It doesn’t require multiple worlds, but it does make multiple realities exist within one world without needing to find a way to travel between the realities. This allows for a certain kind of dream logic, allows it to work intuitively rather than explicitly, which should be right in Lynch’s wheelhouse. It doesn’t require time travel but it sure allows for it. It’s science-leaning and magick-leaning, and finally allows for the different versions of Twin Peaks to coexist peacefully in their solar system. And even if I’m somehow exactly right about this, it’s just a framework: there’s plenty of room for so many more possibilities and surprises to come.

Over the course of this blog, I'll dig into more instances of lodge/earth interactions and label them as main shocks (Jack Parsons and Laura Palmer for example), foreshocks, and aftershocks, all the while digging into the time discrepancies, but for right now feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. I'm endlessly fascinated by this stuff and would love to turn this monologue into a conversation.

If you're having trouble with The Secret History of Twin Peaks:

If you've been having trouble with The Secret History of Twin Peaks, if you think it diverges so far from the Twin Peaks you know that you don't know how to analyze the book, or even call it Twin Peaks, what I have to say to you is this: This is exactly how I reacted to Fire Walk With Me. You can get through this.

And even better, I think Secret History has actually created a framework where the TV show, movie, and books can coexist. Seriously.

As Joel Bocko said in the Sparkwood & 21 Podcast's Fire Walk With Me Feedback Episode (and I'm paraphrasing him here rather than direct quoting), it's easier to embrace Fire Walk With Me if you weren't a fan of the TV show because there was too much new/contradictory Twin Peaks mythology for us TV show fans to accept easily. Secret History's intentional branching from (and "disregard" of) what has come before seems like quite the familiar echo. In so many ways, Fire Walk With Me finally found its missing sock and completes a much desired pairing.

Here's my advice:

Don’t try to make Fire Walk With Me and Secret History meet at some mythical ever-shifting middle point so they can be part of one thing. All that leads to is aggravation. Instead, put TV Twin Peaks, FWWM and Secret History near each other and triangulate.

I spent years unsuccessfully trying to make a super-planet out of TV Twin Peaks and Movie Twin Peaks, but it took Secret History to make me realize I’ve been using the wrong metaphor.

We’re not working with a super-planet. We have a Solar System.

Secret History is its own thing.

FWWM is its own thing.

TV Twin Peaks is its own thing.

Their gravities influence each other but all three are equally their own thing with their own related-but-individual orbits. And Showtime Twin Peaks will be as well.

The thing that makes them all Twin Peaks is found in the feelings they have in common.

I think.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why ARE Twin Peaks Fans so darn nice?

I used to look at Twin Peaks like ‘break the code solve the crime’ was the way to go. I’d dutifully have my fine-toothed comb at my side while I pulled Twin Peaks apart like an old watch. This has been a highly fulfilling pursuit for well over 26 years now, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Even though I know full well the code isn’t here to be broken.
I’ve now mainlined the show, the four TP books, Fire Walk With Me (but a little less so than the others with that one), deep-dive analysis books such as Brad Dukes’ Reflections, and any Twin Peaks-related podcast I can get in my ears, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that 'break the code, solve the crime' is sort of true, but (especially with Lynch) there’s a different kind of understanding that’s more important. It’s not the kind of knowledge you can put concrete words to…it’s more about how mood and instinct are understood truths, and the truth Lynch gave us is something you’re supposed to feel somewhere between dream logic and waking brain. And I think that’s where he wants it to stay.

And then we have Frost, who has a clarity and workmanship with his storytelling, but that doesn’t mean he lays out clear answers, either. Frost is just as interested in misdirection, subterfuge, and multiple meanings of the scene in front of us as Lynch is. No matter how precisely constructed his phrases appear, Frost seems to make each word mean as many of its different dictionary definitions as he can at once.


Twin Peaks presents us with just enough facts that we CAN:

- mix and match the facts for any myriad of competing theories

- create perfectly valid theories using inference and pattern recognition

- support any fan theory

- refute any fan theory

- support multiple contradictory theories at the same time 

- refute multiple contradictory theories at the same time


But not so many facts that we can:

- prove anything once and for all

- disprove anything once and for all


Therefore, the only Wrong way to interpret Twin Peaks is to say: “I have the ONLY answer”.

I'm pleased to say almost Everyone in the fandom seems to fundamentally understand this, which is why I think we all get along so smashingly. We support each other because no one is any more or less valid than anyone else, and that means we get to have fun building our theories together.

This is worth keeping in mind as I continue to post my thoughts here. Even if you read my words like I somehow have supreme confidence in them, try to remember I’m just playing in the same sandbox you are. I'm always happy to share the landscape. And I'd love to talk about this with anyone.  Don't be shy with comments (unless of course you want to be).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The only Andrew Packard joke you'll ever need

My goofball idea for how that fish showed up in the percolator in Season One:
It was Andrew Packard, sneaking around behind the scenes like Leslie Linka Glatter's hunchback seamstress character. As he puts the fish in the percolator he mutters quietly and gleefully to no one "I'm aliiiiiiive".

When the two ledgers turn into one ledger and the other goes missing, it was Andrew in the middle of the night.

Mink oil on Catherine’s bed?  After that argument we see between Pete and Catherine, every time since it’s been Andrew doing it. He dips his fingers in Pete’s bottle and flicks it gleefully all over her bed every time Catherine is on a rendezvous with Ben.

Oh—and that mysterious man in the woods who Leo tells Mike and Bobby not to worry about?  That was Andrew, too.  Listen closely and you can hear it muffled by the ski mask: "I'm aliiiiiive"

Could have been a missing page from The Secret History of Twin Peaks

“In October, he wrote the clarinet concerto in A, then a cantata for the freemason lodge which he directed himself, November the 18th. Finally, he put all his energy toward the requiem, but just after the performance of the Cantata he became extremely ill.  He had a fever, his whole body was swollen, he continued writing the requiem right up until he died, which was only two weeks after he became sick. And he died on December the 5th, 1791, was buried in a mass unmarked grave, which was a common practice for the middle class of Vienna. Nobody knows what his illness was, there are many theories about it--rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, syphilis, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, poisoning-- but today is his birthday, 1756. Mozart, who said music in even the most terrible situations must never offend the ear but always remain a source of pleasure.”
–Garrison Keillor, Writer’s Almanac 1/27/2017

A recently recovered letter of Mozart’s may just shed some light on these final days of his life, and the cause of its early and sudden conclusion. In it, he explains to an old childhood friend how he’d recently heard an owl hooting nearby. “I believed it to be singing a melody, and the cantata tumbled from my head, reminding me of a rather vivid dream from years earlier. I knew then what I would do for my next commission, even that I would direct it. And they loved it.”