From the Rose Garden of Venus to Rancho Rosa: transmutations, numbers, shoes and faces of stone

HomThis week’s episode of Twin Peaks slowly builds on themes that were initiated during the first four episodes, introducing new characters as well as clarifying some of the major paths followed by the new season so far. It appears that alchemical thinking is steadily getting closer to the foreground of the narrative (I discussed the importance of the Great Art aka alchemy in my book Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic, 2016) and so is the underlying neo-Platonic structure of Twin Peaks’ mythology, inherited from Theosophy and the Vedas.

Concerning alchemy,  first, Doctor Jacoby with his golden shovels and the mysterious device in Buenos Aires suddenly turned into gold after Mr. C’s phone call are obvious references to the transmutation of lesser metals into pure gold. This process, both physical and spiritual, lies at the core of the series, centered around the process of individuation at play in its characters (Laura, Cooper, etc.), set on a path to purify their very souls.

Closely associated with the image of the Phoenix seen on the hood of Steven Burnett’s car (with such an emblem, it’s not surprising that his surname includes a reference to fire), the mythological reborn bird associated with cyclical regeneration, alchemy is also alluded to through references to silver one finds in the show – silver being the metal directly under gold in term of purity. For instance, the action with the good Dale takes place in Nevada, the Silver State. Moreover, when the mysterious Lorraine– a reference to Laura? or is it the “Lor” in her name, which reads as gold in French  (l’or)  that one should notice?– sends a text message to “Argent” (Argentina), the French word for silver (and money) appears on her Blackberry screen. Finally, she sends the number “2” of duality.

As far as numbers are concerned, they certainly play a central role in this new version of the series. They are everywhere and their meaning is revealed to us little by little. For instance, I have argued in a former post (link) that the mysterious clue given by the Giant at the very beginning of this season (430) is actually a reference to the Yankton State Prison, which happens to be built exactly at 43.0° North of the equator. The number given by the Arm (253) has also been explained as the time when the exchange between the two Coopers was to take place, the process being disrupted by Mr. C’s car crash and Dougie’s creation as a vessel for the good Dale (his license plate associates Dougie with the number 3 and when the good dale travels to Nevada via the electric device in episode 3, he waits for the same number to replace the foreboding 15 that precedes it).

Various associations with other numbers are omnipresent during the first five episodes. These numbers likely have  a symbolic meaning that should become more apparent the deeper we dive into the season. All of this is connected to the Pythagorean and Platonic ideas at the root of the mythological structure of the show. They are linked to the monistic ideas which I have described in detail in my book. The Platonic assertion at play here is that: reason is number and both exist prior to the visible world. “Listen, ye sons of the earth, to your instructors – the sons of the fire. Learn, there is neither first nor last, for all is one: number issued from no number” (Stanzas of Dzyan).

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According to this vision, numbers constitute the primary substratum of the universe. Plato actually asserted that the origin of all things and the underlying harmony of the cosmos are numbers. Here’s what Helen Valborg, writing about Theosophy, had to say on the subject of numbers (from HERMES magazine): “For Pythagoras and Plato, numbers expressed not merely quantities but also idea-forces, each having a particular character of its own… The farther a number is from unity the greater its involvement with matter. Thus, the first ten numbers in the Greek system were treated as entities, archetypes and symbols of moving energy… Numbers lying beyond ten are basically products of combinations of these forces“. The meaning of the phenomenal world is therefore to be found in the noumenal world of numbers and ideas. Our world is just a shadow of the real world and it’s faster and more secure to look for answers in the latter than in the former. Empiricism is not the right way to proceed, neither is the inductive method.

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Agent Cooper, when he throws rocks at bottles to find a culprit or when he uses intuition to solve a murder, can be considered as a sort of anti Sherlock Holmes. He applies the deductive approach at least as much as the inductive method, contrary to the British detective who only functioned according to material evidence: “With the acceptance of irrational and negative numbers, the path to the development of modern ‘man-made’ mathematics was cleared. The immeasurable ‘sacred’, as it was understood, was considered measurable, and by the seventeenth century the deductive approach was no longer considered capable of standing alone. It had to be checked and revised against observation and experiment“. Theosophists and other esoterists wonder if this brought man closer to an understanding of his true nature. Twin Peaks seems to claim that that was not the case and that the true path to self understanding lies in the abstract world of ideas and numbers.

Valborg continues: “Meditating upon the fundamental character of these numbers, the Pythagoreans and followers of Plato perceived in them abstract qualities such as truth, beauty, goodness an justice. Thus the quaternary of justice added to the ternary of truth yielded beauty and goodness in the world, a manifestation of the fully formed human potential which combines eternity and time in a self-conscious transcendence of both“. In the new season of Twin Peaks, the good Dale is definitely associated with number 7 (Lucky 7 Insurance, the 777 of the slot machines at the casino, and he was also given the clue 430 which, when one adds the number’s figures, also gives a 7). It appears that his quest for his true identity should lead to a happy conclusion thanks to the positive omen signified by the number. It is also interesting to note that various numerology sites label the person associated with the number 7 as “the Seeker, the searcher of Truth”. This of course corresponds perfectly to the good Dale in his “quest” for home (he actually lives on Lancelot Court).

Dougie, before his transmutation into a pearl (which makes sense because it took place in the Red Room, the secret garden of Venus; she was depicted by Botticelli in his 1486 painting The Birth of Venus as a pearl emerging from a giant seashell), was associated with the number 3. This is the number that appears on his license plate. He was indeed the third Cooper, the unexpected one. Valborg: “It is a liberation to move on to the ternary formula for the creation of worlds and the solution of conflict posed by dualism“. The way out of the Manichean fight between the good Dale and his doppelgänger had to go through this liberating number which constitutes a way around the stalemate between opposing forces.

Cooper’s doppelgänger, Mr. C, has already been associated several times with number 6 (it’s the number that appears on his motel room, for instance). This number is associated with earthly matters, which makes perfect sense for a fallen angel like his character. Everyone knows that the false prophet, the Antichrist of the Apocalypse, is supposed to be marked with the number of the Beast: 666. In fairy tales, it is linked to the physical side of man, devoid of his spiritual part, and was connected in Antiquity to the goddess of physical love, Venus (remember the Red Room). Interestingly, the number at the top of the Blackberry device of Lorraine is 159, which also gives us a 6 (1+5+9 = 15 = 1+5 = 6).

The sum of money earned by the good Dale in the casino (435.000 $) gives us a 12, when one adds all the figures. Twelve is the number of space-time divisions (hours, Zodiac, months) and it’s also the number of knights around Arthur’s round table (remember that Dale/Dougie lives on Lancelot Court). It is considered to be the end of a cycle as the twelfth Tarot card, The Hanged Man, that symbolizes the end of the involutive cycle to be followed by the thirteenth’s card of Death, to be understood as a resurrection (Dale is indeed resurrected as Dougie). A numerology site on the Internet goes a bit further (The numbers and their meanings, on blogspot): “Number 12 represents the completed cycle of experience and when an individual reincarnates as the number 12, they have completed a full cycle of experience and learned of the possibility of regeneration toward a higher-consciousness. They belong to a group of developed souls who have accumulated an unusual inner-strength through many and varied lifetimes. They may still, however, be hindered by old habits that need to be changed“. Dale has reincarnated as Dougie and is moving toward a higher-consciousness. His prize earnings will help him on that path.

Concerning number 15: the one that appeared on the electrical device in the electromagnetic tower in episode 3, associated with death by the blind woman there, warning the good Dale to stay away from it . Encyclopedia Britannica explains that it was connected to the goddess Ishtar, of significance in Mark Frost’s latest book. This might be the reason why it was considered dangerous. One can also guess that the sum of its digits (1+5 = 6) would have directly led the good Dale to reincarnate as his doppelgänger, possibly killing them both in the process.

This relationship between numbers and the real world is one of dissimulation (or revelation, it depends). In order to understand what lies below the surface of reality, one needs to know the scaffolding of unchanging numbers and ideas which shape the world of appearances, always mutable. This is the reason why Gordon Cole, when he examines the picture of Mount Rushmore, is proud to claim: “Here they are, Albert: faces of stone!“. The various faces of presidents carved in the rocks there (Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln) have achieved in Plato’s Sensible World the incorruptibility of ideas and numbers. The surface and the depth are in perfect synchronicity, there is no lie, no mask. This is to be understood in contrast to the various characters in the show whose faces become modified due to underlying tensions they inhabit. Dale and Laura both see their faces deformed by the influence of BOB, who lies beneath their respective masks. It appears impossible to read what truly lies behind these masks, to have access to the thoughts they hide away from us – except in the case, of course, of the granite faces of Mount Rushmore.

Before I close this post, I’d like to comment on two important motifs that I have noticed in the past several episodes. First, the good Dale continually longs after his own shoes (link). Returning to them appears to have become the symbol of his quest for self-discovery. Some heroes are on a quest to find something away from home while others are trapped in a distant land and need to find their way back. That is  Cooper’s current plight, being exiled as he is in a housing development (Rancho Rosa) in the middle of a desert. Though he lives in Las Vegas, he needs to find the exit from Rancho Rosa.

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Home

Etymologically, a ranch comes from the Proto-Germanic and means “circle, ring” – Rancho Rosa fundamentally means a pink ring / a ring of roses. In my book, I argued that the Red Room was a secret rose garden, so it seems that Cooper really has not gone far  from where he was originally trapped. Rancho Rosa is a desert, an empty place where thieves and hit men roam the streets, not unlike Hades from classical Greek mythology, where people are only the shadows of themselves. Contrary to the Temenos of the Red Room and all its Jungian symbolism, the housing development of Rancho Rosa feels like a dry dead end, a fake place for lost souls only.

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Sahara desert

On the other hand, the logo for Rancho Rosa production is that of a light bulb – perhaps after all this, it is also a place of self discovery, a place where ideas come to light thanks to electricity (as they do in comic books). Its only fully conscious inhabitant, the junkie mother’s little boy with a red “1” on his tee-shirt, might be understood as a Jungian unifying symbol (similar to a mandala, or the squaring of the circle), able to bring contraries together, to realize a synthesis of the opposed. Let’s also remember that beyond the figure of the young boy, Laura Palmer “is the One”. What’s for sure, though, is that we are through the looking glass, as the call for help from the junkie mother in episode 3 is there to prove (she calls “119” instead of “911”).

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The second recurring motif is that of food (link). There is apparently something about craving for the good food one finds in the town of Twin Peaks, a regressive fairy tale-like place where everything is so tasty. The good Dale wants to go back to his own pair of shoes, abandoned while escaping from the electromagnetic tower and the overbearing presence of the guardian mother’s knock on the door. But he also misses the sweet treats from Twin Peaks, a warm and cosy childhood of sorts he longs for amid the harsh reality of his present adult life in Nevada, in someone else’s shoes. Both this relationship to shoes and to food have been subliminally depicted in the Yankton Federal Prison scene when Dale’s doppelgänger manipulated the staff’s screens in order to call Argentina without being heard by surveillance: two of the screens briefly displayed images from a shoemaker workshop and from a cooking television program (where the food was bright yellow and red).

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Shoes and Food

Let’s wait for next week’s episode to learn more about the various elements listed in this post and follow the good Dale’s quest for his own pair of shoes.

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