If there is a sense, it can be found: one piece of Russian experience of Twin Peaks
This article is inspired by Twin Peaks UK Festival 2018, which I was lucky to attend. All of you probably know Pieter Dom, the owner of welcometotwinpeaks.com website. I own twinpeaksrussia.com website and it’s in Russian. I’m following the news & articles on Twin Peaks and translate it for Russian fans. Also I’m a subscriber of the Blue Rose Magazine since its first issue and I always make a review in Russian of every issue to let fans know what it is about. Of course, I’m not just a simple translator and now I would like to share some experience.
My name is Artem Tyurin (first name sounds like Artyom, but I usually use the Spanish-Italian version of my name – Artemio). I live in Moscow, Russia. This year I had an opportunity to attend the festival in London and it was my first Twin Peaks Fest ever. After the event I read Martin Hearn’s article on 25yearslatersite.com. He described his emotions and hard experiences before the festival. I can say I experienced almost the same. I’ve forbidden myself to think in the way like “I’m far away from the place I live, I arrived alone, I have to speak the language quite different from my native etc.”. All in all, if it wasn’t a problem to switch the language, why everything else should be? It made me feel more confident. At the same time, I frequently asked myself why I was going to attend it. None of my favorite actors were invited and I was a little bit (in fact, very much) disappointed by this fact. So why?
First of all, I wanted to meet the Blue Rose Magazine team. You know, it’s a very special kind of experience – when you translate the magazine into another language, it’s like tasting the stories in your mind, living through every phrase again and again. So I had a lot to ask, a lot to share and discuss. Another reason – it’s just weird to have a website about Twin Peaks and not to describe any Twin Peaks Festival. The UK Fest surpassed all my expectations – all invited actors were amazing, I can say many kind words about all the events of the Fest. I thought the Blue Rose Mag team would have a table in the line of the invited actors’ tables and I would have just a couple of minutes to sign the mag’s issues and have a little chat. So you can imagine my surprise when Scott Ryan suddenly came up to me in the Main Hall and said: “Hi! I’m Scott”. Our conversations with Scott and Courtenay Stallings are probably my personal highlights of that weekend. This article contains many things Scott and Courtenay inspired me to write about.
The history of TP in Russia is very special and I’m going to explain why. I remember the premiere of the original series of TP on Russian TV. It was in November of 1993, I was only 10 years old and it was only two years after the crash of USSR. The art and especially cinematography were probably the only things USSR could be proud of. If you have ever been in the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London, you could see the huge portraits of Holmes and Watson taken from Russian TV series filmed in early 80’s. These actors have the awards from the Government of England. At that time, in the beginning of 90’s, TP still had to be good enough to be broadcasted on Russian TV, and TP was. Of course, it was translated and voiced into Russian. The translators didn’t have any subtitles and they have to translate by ear. So they made some funny mistakes. As a result, for example, we had a voice from the phone handset: “Major Cooper! It’s Andy!” In Russian edition Black Lodge calls Black Wigwam. You can ask: why you guys don’t know lodge, but know wigwam? The word “wigwam” sounds similar to Russian “screw you”. That’s why everybody knows that. In 1994 a strange book series was published in Russia. They were entitled “Twin Peaks” and had a mysterious John Thompson as the author. In fact, it was just a retelling of the storyline of the series, with a very poor quality retelling. At the time almost all Russians who watched Twin Peaks actually believed that TV series are just a film version of J. Thompson’s novel (sorry, Mark Frost!).
TP seemed to me so modern, so stylish. I remember I liked Donna more than Audrey. When surrealism started I was completely confused, I never experienced this genre before and I definitely liked it. For me, TP became the beginning point of my new identity or new mentality. I was a child in a country whose people realized that everything that people believed was a lie. Everything that reminded of the past was considered bad, and everything that was previously forbidden was handed down in a huge flow. So I grew up on American movies and cartoons like almost all my generation. But TP was a first time when I experienced the world I didn’t want just to watch, I want to live in. Maybe it’s a common thing for all TP fans from Eastern Europe. When I watched TP for the second time (it was in 2002), I was already an activist for a Free Tibet. I didn’t remember Agent Cooper was one too. I doubt I could understand his pro-Tibetan speech in 1993, but I believe there was some kind of subconscious influence. I didn’t felt myself abroad in the UK, but I definitely don’t feel myself home in Russia. So the UK Fest brought to me the feeling of staying somewhere really close to home.
Another thing is how Russian society accepted TP. I don’t remember any critic’s essays on TOS in 90’s. Regarding “The Return”, I can say the critics were waiting for it. In general, they like TOS and never say any words of negative about it. Before the world premiere of The Return, members of the press asked the most known Russian movie critic Anton Dolin about his expectations of the new season. He answered that David Lynch never created anything bad, so there is no reasons to expect the failure. The most important thing he said when the season finished, in my opinion, was about two approaches to TP he considered wrong. The first one, he calls it the ‘fan’s approach’, is to invent any logic, which allows you to explain all the puzzles, to exclude all this logic can’t explain, and to feel happy because David Lynch created a puzzle and you solved it. The second wrong approach is to consider TP a pure abstraction, which shouldn’t have any sense, you shouldn’t seek for it, just enjoy it. The correct approach, according to Anton Dolin, is the middle way. (Honestly, I don’t think so. I’ve heard Anton’s interpretations of The Return and I think they all lead to the second approach.) Another significant assertion, as I consider, belongs to Dmitry Bykov, a famous Russian lit-crit. He talked about the difference between TOS and The Return. He said TOS had the narrative, the storyline. The Return doesn’t have it at all like all the modern life – it doesn’t have the storyline, there is only something similar to the signs, mostly numbers, which alternate obeying to some strange whim. (I have nothing to say about it, I just like meditating on it.)
In my opinion, the most important thing about TP is its future and the future of the fan movement. Third season’s release gave a new life to many communities of TP fans. It brought new awesome actors and actresses to TP family. What’s next? I can imagine two possible ways. First one is to convert the movement into the new direction of art. Not the art of David Lynch, but the art of Twin Peaks. Maybe the first steps already happened, I mean The Double R Club and some other art initiatives. The second way is the situation with Season Four. What if David Lynch and Mark Frost have no plans to continue Twin Peaks? I can understand the viewpoint declaring there is no Twin Peaks without Mark Frost and David Lynch. It also means the fan movement will stop sooner or later. Another way is to allow fans to create a continuation. Fan fictions exist, but they usually contain a lot of imagination, which means a lack of reflections on TOS and The Return. I see only one possible way to find the future of the main characters. We have to answer the question: what inspired Mark Frost or David Lynch to create such a turn of events. For example, why Laura Palmer is alive in the end of The Return? Laura was a victim in a sense of sacrifice. Carrie Page lost all Laura’s brightness, she’s nobody. This reminds me a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis called “The Last Temptation of Christ”. Jesus was saved from crucifixion by Satan and lived to old age being nobody. When he realized what happened, he prayed God by asking to allow him to die on the cross. So I think Carrie/Laura will finally choose this destiny – to be killed by Bob. It doesn’t mean bad Cooper saved her; he’s probably the wrong man to save her from The Black Lodge and to meet in a physical world. In a world of kindness and fun, Laura represented by Candie (she prepares many food like Laura, she cries like Laura, she waves her hand, she beats her “father”) was saved by brothers, which represent business partnership of Leland Palmer and Ben Horne. Silent Mandie and Sandie are Teresa and Ronette in that case. If Leland is in The Black Lodge, he can save Laura.
You can consider it another stupid fan’s logic following to Anton Dolin. I keep standing my ground – if there is a sense placed by the author, it can be found and there shouldn’t be only one kind of logic. Also don’t forget: the goal is not to solve the puzzle, it’s to find the character’s future. This is what allows us to keep Twin Peaks alive.
Don’t you believe? Ok, in this sort of epilogue, let’s talk a bit about “This is the water” case. In the Intro to episode 20 Log Lady said her husband died in fire. Fireman? Log’s message in the first episode of The Return is very similar to Giant’s message to Cooper. So the young couple from 50’s in Episode 8 is probably Log Lady and The Giant. Water is Love, Log Lady is The Well. Drink full and descend – was that a message to cancer represented by the strange creature? The Giant is like Osiris – he died to become a kind of king of the other world. In that case he and Log Lady are about to reunite.
Second part is about the horse. The horse appeared before the killing of Maddie Ferguson. It’s like an eternal symbol of sacrifice. Sacrifice of the world is the explosion we saw in Episode 8. Darkness within the eyes, the coals… all that reminds a sacred texts of Hinduism:
BRIHAD-ARANYAKA UPANISHAD (FIRST ADHYAYA, FIRST BRAHMANA)
Om! Verily, the dawn is the head of the sacrificial horse; the sun, his eye; the wind, his breath; universal fire, his open mouth. The year is the body of the sacrificial horse; the sky, his back; the atmosphere, his belly; the earth, the under part of his belly; the quarters, his flanks; the intermediate quarters, his ribs; the seasons, his limbs; the months and half-months, his joints; days and nights, his feet; the stars, his bones; the clouds, his flesh.
CHANDOGYA UPANISHAD (FIFTH PRAPATHAKA, KHANDA 7-10)
Man, verily, O Gautama, is the sacrificial fire, of this speech is the fuel, breath — the smoke, the tongue — the flame, the eyes — the coals, and the ears — the sparks. In this fire the gods offer the food, from this offering arises semen.
Woman, verily, O Gautama, is the sacrificial fire, of this the sexual organ is the fuel. What invites is the smoke, the vulva is the flame, what is done inside is the coals, the pleasures — the sparks. In this fire the gods offer the semen, from this offering arises the foetus.
When born, he lives whatever the length of his life may be. When he has departed, his friends carry him to the appointed place for the fire, from which indeed he came, from which he arose.
So those who know this, and those who in the forest meditate with faith and austerity go to flame (or, in various translations, to light)…
Maybe I got everything wrong, but if there is a sense, it can be found!