Foods of all sorts play a central role in the world of Twin Peaks, from delicious black coffee to sweet cherry pies, from donuts to tasty French baguettes. Only hospital food serves as a counter example to the endless culinary delights of Twin Peaks. The regressive joy of devouring constitutes one of the main pleasures to be found there – that is, until the devourers find out that they themselves are about to be devoured by someone or by something else. Where there is abundant food, there are also abundant predators. To quote Joseph Campbell: “Life lives on life”.
But no other food plays a more crucial role in this universe than (creamed) corn, otherwise known as Garmonbozia. One could even argue that it is what sets the whole story in motion. Without it, Laura Palmer would not have been killed in order to collect her “pain and sorrow”. This harvest is directly responsible for the FBI investigation that follows her murder and for the series itself.
What is so special about Garmonbozia, apart from the fact that it is apparently the only food eaten (sucked) by the Lodge entities? And why is it depicted as (creamed) corn?
In order to answer these questions, recall that “Maize, along with tobacco, pumpkins and succoquatash, was a native of the New World… the Indian grain” (all quotes from articles written by Helen Valbord for HERMES Magazine). I have described the Lodge entities in an earlier post as “the White Indians from Lemuria” and their strong links to Native American imagery on several levels, including that of corn’s symbolism: “To the Indians of the New World, spiritual life and the life of flesh were reflecting counterparts of one another in that midmost place. The breath of Spirit breathed in the corn like the Mayan wife who blows on her kernels before grinding them into meal. Wherever corn grew in the Americas it was held by the people to be the symbol of life and fertility… It was the spirit of the seed of eternal life, and frequently the umbilical cord of a newborn child was cut over an ear of corn“.
Once again, as in alchemy – with the rejuvenating powers of its philosopher’s stone – the concept of immortality comes forth. Besides its ability to produce the elixir of life, this stone is supposed to turn base metals into gold – the colour of corn. Yellow is the colour of gold and of corn, but if we believe the following extract from Zuni Cosmology: “Sky-father… set the semblance of shining yellow corn grains. In the dark of the early word-dawn they gleamed like sparks of fire“.
Garmonbozia’s connection to gold and fire through corn appears clear, as does its link to immortality. Garmonbozia seems to be a sort of Soma (a Vedic ritual drink of historic importance among East Indians). The following quote is taken from the Rigveda: “We have drunk soma and become immortal; we have attained the light the Gods discovered. Now what may foeman’s malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man’s deception?“. Perhaps even closer to Garmonbozia then Soma is Armita, referred to in texts as “nectar”, the equivalent of the greco-roman Ambrosia.
This food is what differentiates the Lodge entities from the rest of humanity. It makes them immortal, it keeps them “above the convenience store” (our reality), as the gods who used to dwell on Mount Olympus in classical Greece. Their ability to travel through the Fourth dimension via electrical fire, their capacity to “square the circle” (to create the Philosopher’s stone), makes them all powerful in our realm.
This vision of immortality contrasts somehow with the theme of sacrifice which also underlines Twin Peaks in general, and Laura Palmer’s story in particular (in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, she tells James: “I’m gone. Long gone. Like a turkey in the corn” – she knows that she is soon going to be served as the main dish, a sacrifice to the gods, another clear reference with Thanksgiving – blessing of the harvest – to the links with Native American symbolism).
A Native American deity known as Mondamin is interesting in this context. This god of maize “was dressed in brilliant green, with waving plumes adorning his raven hair… Ojibwa children were taught to dream and they knew the law of sacrifice that governs the manifest world through such legends and through their own strivings when they too would seek a vision. Like the Hindu Purusha, who archetypally sacrificed himself in a thousand pieces so that life in all its fragmented variety might unfold, so Mondanin in a more particularized way sacrificed himself so that men could sustain themselves and flourish“.
Closer to Europe, one can also find a link between deities symbolizing life, fertility and self-sacrifice: “Though personified as Demeter and given its cyclic characterization as her daughter Persephone, corn remained from archaic ages the impersonal yet concrete symbol of the force at the heart of the cosmic and terrestrial evolution. When cornmeal is offered in prayer it is an offering of the flesh. But being a divinely created food, it is also a sign of spiritual thanksgiving“.
Interestingly, “Europeans gave the maize to cows, pigs and chicken who thrived on it, and aligned their own appetites with the more refined products of Old World grains“. I have already mentioned in several previous posts how the Lodge entities are associated with birds of all sorts (if only due to Max Ernst’s influence on the visual look of the Lodges) and the fact that their food of predilection is corn makes perfect sense.
Why is it “creamed” corn, though? Probably because everything in Twin Peaks is sugary, producing a regression to a childish state of development in synch with the fairy tale aspects of the show. As in Hansel and Gretel, houses are made of candy in Twin Peaks. Perhaps this is so as to make its inhabitants forget that some of them are going to be eaten by cannibalistic witches/big bad wolves/Lodge entities…
The fact that BOB stole their supply of Garmonbozia from the other Lodge entities is also interesting. Once more, this might very well be linked to Hindu mythology and to the competition for power between the demonic Asuras and the more benevolent Devas. This is what we find about them on Wikipedia: “Each Asura and Deva emerges from the same father (Prajapati), share the same residence (Loka), eat together the same food and drinks (Soma), and have innate potential, knowledge and special powers in Hindu mythology; the only thing that distinguishes “Asura who become Deva” from “Asura who remain Asura” is intent, action and choices they make in their mythic lives“.
Before continuing, it is important to note here that it is not as far fetched as it may seem that David Lynch could have had Devas and Asuras in mind when he created the Lodge entities. In her book David Lynch Swerves (2013), Martha Nochimson notes that Lynch told her about his interest in the Hindu demons called Raksashas (also called Maneaters).
This common living space and shared food between the Devas and Asuras is highly reminiscent of the Lodge entities. It does seem that some of the entities are more benevolent than others (MIKE, the Giant, the waiter), while others obviously have a much darker side (BOB). But not everything is black and white (though Devas symbolize light and Asuras darkness in Hindu mythology). Or if it is, it is similar in a way to the chevron motif on the Lodges’ floor: winding and far from straightforward (at least from a three dimensional perspective).
The definition found on Wikipedia continues: “Asuras who remain Asuras” share the character of powerful beings obsessed with their craving for ill gotten Soma and wealth, ego, anger, unprincipled nature, force and violence. Further, when they lose, miss or don’t get what they want because they were distracted by their cravings, the “Asuras who remain Asuras” question, challenge and attack the “”Asuras who become Devas” to loot and get a share from what Devas have and they don’t, in Hindu mythology. The hostility between the two is the source of extensive legends, tales and literature in Hinduism; however, many texts discuss their hostility in neutral terms and without explicit moral connotations or condemnation“.
One can assume that this is what happened between BOB and the rest of the Lodge entities. Being an “Asura who remained an Asura”, he looted the others so as to get their Garmonbozia. Being ordered to get Laura’s Garmonbozia is probably a way to restore the balance between the two types of deities, “without explicit moral condemnation”. Actually, when the decision is made, neither MIKE nor the Giant or the waiter (the true Devas) are present above the convenience store.
“According to Coomaraswamy’s interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, the tyrant and the angel is within each being, the best and the worst within each person struggles before choices and one’s own nature, and the Hindu formulation of Devas and Asuras is an eternal dance between these within each person“. In Twin Peaks, Laura and Dale both took that dance – and while Laura succeeded in freeing herself from her dark partner, Dale waltzed directly to the Black Lodge, leaving the dance floor to his doppelgänger.
Finally, to return to corn, mirroring the symbolic fight between Asuras and Devas, “corn served as the first staff of life for all the races that made the New World their home. It thus provided a symbolic and biological keynote for the spiritual and physical evolution that has subsequently taken place and that can take place in the future… Let us see within the coarse and overgrown commonness of ourselves or our fellow man the pure breath of sacrifice that nourishes and strengthens and reveals the divine Purusha who is, was and shall ever be“.
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