What is Twin Peaks: The Return all about? Is there a way to synthesise the whole season in a few words – not so much the narrative, but its underlying aims?
It seems to me that season 3 is fundamentally concerned with the return of the soul to the One (“from multiplicity, to duality, to unity“, to quote the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). Contrary to what was at stake in the original opening credits of Twin Peaks in the 1990s – which described the process of division, from the original unity of the Cosmic Tree (the axis mundi) to the various elements that constitute our universe (earth, fire, air, water) – season 3 appears concerned with an idea not unlike that of the Big Crunch in cosmology, the final contraction of all things into one point – lights out!
So Twin Peaks: The Return is a return of and to Twin Peaks, but it is also a closing of the book of life, as symbolised by the appearance of its last Page (Carrie) in episode 18, whose trip to the bottom of the dark night alongside Richard/Cooper leads to the extinction of all fires. Everything starts and ends with Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks – she is truly “the One”. “The Alchemist postulates as his first principle the existence of a certain Universal Solvent in the homogeneous substance from which the elements were evolved… there is but one element in the universe” (Helena Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy).
Here is another quote from the same book which tells us more about the aims of Theosophy, of central importance in gaining a clear understanding of Twin Peaks: “Theosophy considers humanity as an emanation from divinity on its return path thereto”. Blavatsky goes on in the following statement: “Every thought, desire, or action affects in some measure the equilibrium of the universe. Once its harmony has been disturbed, the universe seeks to return to balance; the process of seeking to restore equilibrium is what we call karma“. The balance of the universe has been disrupted by the atomic blast of episode 8 and by Cooper’s actions in episode 17, which changed the flow of Time. As a result, a new balance needs to be found that necessitates a “reset” and “reboot” of the whole cosmos.
As always with Twin Peaks, it is possible to read the same facts from several angles. It is never “either/or” in this universe on which preside two creators (Lynch and Frost), it is rather “and/and”. The Theosophical interpretation can easily be doubled by one inherited from Hinduism and the Vedas. The idea that the universe evolved/emanated from the One in Theosophy (in synch with the teachings of the neoplatonists – “For Plotinus, the first principle of reality is “the One”, an utterly simple, ineffable, unknowable subsistence which is both the creative source and the teleological end of all existing things“) resonates well with the creation myths of Hinduism.
Shesha, for instance, the king of all nagas (deities taking the form of very great snakes), is a cosmic serpent that floats coiled in space or on the ocean of bliss, a symbol of time, and one of the primal beings of creation. White like the moon, it holds the cosmic egg in its grasp. Such a description fits rather well with the entity seen in episode 8, the one that gives birth to a multitude of eggs while floating in space.
In the book Mystic Universe, we learn that “The water at the bottom of the universe is a primordial state of the material universe (undifferentiated) which denotes all the things that can occur in the past, present, and future“. Once again, we have this notion of the original chaos leading towards differentiation (division) and order. This is probably the water which the fallen angel/woodsman from episode 8 is talking about, the one to be found at the bottom of the well.
The cycle of water – which, as just noted, does not necessary mean H2O in this context, but rather primordial matter – plays an important role in this world view. Here is what Helena Blavatsky had to say about the subject: “The ‘Waters’ is another name of the ‘Great Deep’, the primordial Waters of space or Chaos, and also means ‘Mother’, Amba, meaning Aditi and Akâsa, the Celestial Virgin-Mother of the visible universe“. One also finds the following quote in Mystic Universe : “transmigration of the soul depends on the cycle of water… the water of the Karana Ocean flows in through a hole at the top of the universe… then rains on top of the Sumeru Mountain… eventually reaching the bhuloka (Earth’s sphere)“. This circuit is highly reminiscent of the one followed by Dale Cooper during his reincarnation process from the Red Room to Las Vegas: his fall through the ocean floor of the Lodges to New York, then to the purple peak (mount Meru), and finally to Las Vegas via an electrical device.
Such a fall can also be linked to the concept of the Fourth Dimension, about which one can learn more in the following book: Theosophy and the Fourth Dimension. This spatiotemporal notion – which I already discussed at great length in my pre-Twin Peaks: The Return book (here) – definitely came to the fore during season 3. Here, for example, is a quote from the book mentioned above that should help one understand what is meant by Fourth Dimension in relationship with the opening credits of the first two seasons of Twin Peaks: “A 2-dimensional being can have no conception of birds and bird-men, except when they alight upon his 2-dimensional space – they would appear as a ‘vision’ coming out of nowhere… the 4th Dimension is at right angles to all 3 physical dimensions“. Just like a two-dimensional being can not really understand what a three-dimensional bird is, the inhabitants of Twin Peaks have difficulties grasping who or what the four-dimensional entities of the Lodges truly are.
The same is true in the following example: “The surface of a table would appear a ‘real’ thing to (a two-dimensional caterpillar), yet we know the table to be an infinitely more complete thing than our caterpillar can ever know it“. One only needs to convert this example from 2D/3D to 3D/4D in order to understand our relationship to four-dimensional entities such as The Arm or BOB. These parasites/vampires from a higher dimensional realm escape our limited senses: “Do you understand the parasite? It attaches itself to a life form and feeds” (MIKE). Dion Fortune also wrote about this subject in Psychic Self-Defense, a book regularly mentioned by Mark Frost as one of the main sources of inspiration for Twin Peaks: “There was an outbreak among us of exceedingly bad ‘mosquito’ bites… He expressed the opinion that it was vampire’s work… usually mistaken for insect bites“.
“Kronos (Saturn) stands for endless, and hence immovable Duration“, and “to a Being outside of the plane of Time“, as one would be in the Fourth Dimension, “the past, present, and future would be simultaneously visible as the ever-existing present – the One Reality“. From this, it follows that the passing of reality through a plane of consciousness would be akin to “a passing panorama across the plane of time of something which, beyond Time, is ever one and the same“. This is the viewpoint form the Red Room, otherwise known as “the waiting room”, a place one probably needs to link to the notion of Devachan in Theosophy, the “dwelling of the gods”, a temporary, intermediate state of being before the soul’s eventual rebirth into the physical world.
It is worth noting here that “because of the translucency of astral (4D) objects, everything is transparent… and a person who has not yet had much experience in its use, is apt to receive topsy-turvy impressions… frequent reversal of any number… 139 as 931, and so on“. This example should be connected to the 119 mother from Rancho Rosa, who might have access to this fourth dimensional realm because of the altered state of consciousness (Aldous Huxley’s Antipodes of the Mind) she has achieved thanks to the many drugs she takes.
In relationship with the idea of motherhood, let us mention here the following element, taken from the book The Masters and their Retreats (linked to Theosophy): “After Atlantis the Mother of the World veiled Her Face… She was often depicted with her eyes covered or veiled by a blue veil, signifying certain mysteries of the universe not yet to be revealed to man“. Nicolas Roerich, an adept of Theosophy, painted the image below in 1924.
Now, in reference to Rancho Rosa (a nod towards the “Rancho Rosa” housing project in the 1981 movie True Confessions by Ulu Grosbard), several things are worth mentioning.
First, the poster for the housing development is definitely “full of secrets”. I have already pointed out, in a former blog post (here), its connection with the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” poster from the opening credits. It now appears that another layer of mystery can be found beneath its design, as it seems that the various groups of people on the poster have been positioned according to occult möbius signs masked by the faces present in that advertisement.
Beyond this reference to infinity in relationship to the closed circle of Rancho Rosa – a nest of sorts, open to the great beyond – this place can also be understood as an egg (circle), a seed that only needs electrical fire in order to create a Tulpa such as Dougie. If one studies the Rancho Rose Production logo that opens up every episode of The Return, one notices a dot in the centre of the circle. This central point is “the spirit of Fire, which stirs up, fructifies, and develops into concrete form everything… the Universe evolving from the central Sun, the POINT, the ever-concealed germ. The navel of Vishnu in the Mundane Egg” (Blavatsky).
Still in relationship to the Rancho Rosa logo, it seems that there might be a connection between the various Rancho Rosa Intros for Twin Peaks: The Return and the colour chart designed by Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant for their book Thought-Forms. Each colour choice sets the tone for the episode – for instance, the grey of black and white episode 8 – the one with the atomic blast and the creature that contaminates Sarah – reflects the feelings of fear and depression with which it is associated in the following colour chart; and the black of episode 18, which follows Dale/Richard and Laura/Carrie till the end of the night of the Kali Yuga, definitely resonates with the idea of malice (Joudy) associated to this colour in the chart. A systematic rewatch of all the episodes will be necessary to assess the emotion or feeling chosen to depict each segment.
But let us now go back to the idea of “return” with which this blog post started. The end of episode 18 makes it clear that the two characters who are the most closely associated to this concept are Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer. The Return closes with their drive back to Twin Peaks, after a trip that took them beyond death, dimensional tears and spacetime rips.
The last episode plays a lot with the notion of personality. The reason for this concern is to be found in the many births/deaths endured by the various characters: “The personality is ever changing with every new birth. It is only the part played by the actor (the true Ego) for one night. This is why we preserve no memory on the physical plane of our past lives, though the real ‘Ego’ knows them all… Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego… we say that this ‘Ego’ plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life… he finally retires form the stage as ‘Prospero’, the magician” (Blavatsky). The magician longs to see the continuity of individuality beyond the variation of personalities linked to each new birth. This is perhaps one of the possible readings of the chevron motif in the Lodges: “The one line of life along which (each birth) is strung runs unbroken… an individual vital undulation… the life-undulation = individuality, ; each of its series of natal manifestations = a separate personality“.
Who are Dale and Laura really, beyond their many incarnations during the course of the three seasons (Dale/Mr. C/Dougie/Richard & Laura/Madeleine/Carrie)? What is the true individuality that lies behind their many personalities? As often in Twin Peaks, the answer can be found in Hinduism and the Vedas.
One of the two major epics in India, besides the Mahabhrata, is the story of the Ramayana. It is an epic poem which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from Ravana, the Rakshasa (demon) king of Lanka, overlord of all Asuras (demons), who wished to overpower the Devas (gods). The Ramayana follows Rama’s fourteen-year exile to the forest from the kingdom, and his eventual return to Ayodhya. Rama is Vishnu’s seventh avatar. According to the teachings of Hinduism, whenever the forces of darkness get the upper hand on earth, Vishnu comes to the aid of humanity by taking incarnation as avatar. It is important to remember that in the Vedas (the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism), Vishnu was not yet the major deity he now is in Hinduism (part of the Trimurti, the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism, alongside Brahma and Shiva) – back then, Indra was the king of the gods, and his role was equivalent to the Fireman’s in this third season.
Dale Cooper too had to go through a prolonged exile in the Lodges, a forest of sorts (with an entrance in the Glastonbury Grove). His “wife” Diane was taken from him and he only gets her back in episode 17, after she has been raped by his main opponent, Mr. C/BOB, Twin Peaks‘ equivalent of Ravana. Just like Ravana (which means roaring, and Mr. C/BOB is kept in a cage like an animal when he goes to the Fireman’s Palace) who ruled over Swarnalanka (Golden Lanka), Mr.C/BOB appears to control New York (where he runs the experiment), depicted in The Return as a City of Gold.
Ravana is depicted as having ten heads and he is said to have possessed the nectar of immortality (Garmonbozia?), which was stored inside his belly. BOB’s flying head in The Return is highly reminiscent of the extra heads of Ravana as is his relationship to Garmonbozia (which he stole from the Devas).
Ravana’s brother is Kubera, the Lord of Wealth (Garmonbozia?) in Hindu mythology, and his equivalent in Twin Peaks might very well be The Arm. Regent of the North (the Northwest Passage?), he is generally depicted as a dwarf. He once ruled Lanka, but was overthrown by Ravana. His city is usually called Alaka and has a grove called Caitraratha – the Lodges and Glastonbury Grove?
There might actually be (at least) two versions of Dale Cooper (interesting fact: COOPER Industries is an American worldwide electrical products manufacturer headquartered in Houston, Texas): Cooper/Vishnu who dreams up universes on the ocean of being (the chevron motif in the Lodges transforms the floor into an ocean of waves, and Venus is the Western equivalent of Lakshmi, Vishnu’s wife); and Cooper/Rama, his avatar on Earth, who fights Ravana/BOB.
Concerning Laura Palmer’s true individuality, now, dead but alive, similar references to Hinduism should be made, as well as to Greek mythology. It is possible that the two explanations for who she truly is overlap, according to the and/and principle discussed above.
First, it is possible to read Carrie Page as Kalki (their names – Carrie/Kalki – are actually very similar), the tenth avatar of Vishnu. This avatar is supposed to end the Kali Yuga, the age of Demon Kali (who should not be mistaken for goddess Kali) which we are currently experiencing (David Lynch regularly talks about the Kali Yuga in his interviews). It is very likely that the Kali Yuga results from the atomic blast in episode 8 and that Demon Kali can be identified as Joudy.
Kalki is the harbinger of the end time in Hindu eschatology and is supposed to fight Kali atop a white horse. The white horse imagery is of course a recurring one in Twin Peaks, and Carrie is clearly associated to it in episode 18 with the little white horse on her chimney in Odessa and the horse shoe pendant around her neck.
She travels all the way to the fort of her archenemy in the closing episode, right to the house where Kali/Joudy/Sarah lives, and blows out the electrical flame that symbolises its power with her scream.
But besides Kalki riding his white horse, it might very well be that Carrie is herself the horse in question. Indeed, it is important to remember that Laura’s horse, when she was young, was named Troy. It has already been noted elsewhere that The Return follows Dale Cooper’s odyssey (to Odessa?) back home, from his exile in the Red Room to Twin Peaks. This journey mimics the one undergone by Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey, after he has been exiled on his way back from Troy. Ulysses was the one who had the idea of the Trojan Horse at the end of the siege of the city, a subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the independent city of and win the war (see The Iliad).
Though it is not Cooper who had the idea to replicate this move in order to defeat Joudy , after having eliminated BOB (two birds with one stone?), he is nevertheless the one who drives Carrie right to the heart of the enemy’s territory – Twin Peaks, and more specifically, the Palmer house. Though she does not manage to actually enter the house/fortress, the trap functions: when she hears Sarah pronounce her name, she suddenly wakes up/opens up, and the hidden forces inside her spurt with her shriek, which powerful vibrations blow out the electrical flame inside the house and win the war. Indeed, it had already been made clear in the Lodges that she was nothing but a shell, similar to a mannequin, replete with light, ready to illuminate the Dark Age with her hidden powers.
Of course, one may wonder if the price for this victory was worth paying. It is very likely that by ending the Kali Yuga, the very reality of Twin Peaks as we know it might have also disappeared. Vishnu will have to dream a new world, out of the dust of what is left behind.
So, is this a happy ending?
Please define “happy”.
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