French traditionalist René Guénon wrote several books related to esotericism at the beginning of the 20th Century, strongly influenced by Hindu doctrines. Among these, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (1945), is notable in that it is a work that focuses on the cyclical conditions that led to the modern world in general and to the Second World War in particular.
Here’s what Charles Upton had to say about the book: “in the Reign of Quantity, Guénon sees history in terms of the Hindu concept of the manvatara, the cycle of manifestation composed of Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron ages; […] This cycle is an inevitable descent from the pole of Essence (or forma) toward the pole of Substance (or materia). […] Essence is qualitative while substance is quantitative; As the cycle progresses or descends, the very nature of time and space changes.[…] In earlier stages, time is relatively eternal, as the cycle moves on, however, time begins to take over and accelerate, but this constant acceleration of time can’t go on forever. Time, the “devourer” ends by devouring itself. At the end of time, Time will be changed into space again. […] This ultimate timeless point is simultaneously the end of the cycle of manifestation and the beginning of the next“.
Guénon writes: “The descending cyclic movement must therefore be considered as taking place between these two poles (essence and substance), starting from unity… and gradually tending toward multiplicity“.
I believe this description applies perfectly to what we witness in Twin Peaks, especially in the first two seasons. I now believe that The Return is less about “fission” (as with the atomic blast) than about “fusion” (as with Carrie’s “implosion”), back to the original unity, the last phase of the end of time devouring itself. In one of her introductions to the series, the Log Lady actually said the following: “Seven is difficult to balance, but not impossible – we are able to divide. There are, of course, the pros and cons of division“. The fission of the atom might very well have been one of these cons she was talking about, whereas the multiplicity resulting from the descending cycle could be understood as one of the pros (necessary for manifestation).
In The Ramayana, one actually finds the following quote: “The night which had come to claim the monkeys and rakshasas seemed determined to destroy everything, like the night at the end of time“. In the Reign of Quantity, Guénon agues that “there is also a symbolic geography… there is a significant correspondence between the domination of the West and the end of a cycle, for the West is the place where the sun sets, that is to say where it arrives at the end of its daily journey“. This is pretty much what Richard and Carrie’s road trip in episode 18 is all about, going to the place where the sun sets (Twin Peaks), proceeding to the final extinction of all fires.
In a sense, to quote Guénon further, “it is also a RETURN to the ‘center of the world’- at either end of the cycle, of the ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ and the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’ respectively, with the ‘axial’ tree growing in the middle of both the one and the other“. Note that the original opening credits of the series started atop a tree, which I described as a Cosmic (World) Tree in my book Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic. Interestingly, the ‘Terrestrial Paradise” is described as circular by Guénon, the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’ is supposed to be squarish. Could this be why The Return ends with a vision of an unreachable Palmer house?
Guénon also underlines the similarities between the Christ of the Apocalypse and Kalki, Vishnu’s 10th avatar in Hinduism – especially their common use of a white horse. This of course needs to be connected to Carrie’s association with the horse of Troy, discussed in my previous post. In both cases, it is about a siege of sorts, aimed at entering within the walls of an impregnable fortress.
Laura’s fate should perhaps be linked to an Ashvamedha, a horse sacrifice from the Vedic period. This sacrifice was used by ancient Indian kings to prove their imperial sovereignty. In this tradition, the horse is associated with the yearly course of the Sun and the primal waters are considered its stable and birthplace. Interestingly, before the sacrifice, the horse was sprinkled with water, and the priest used to whisper mantras into its ear. Though Laura is the one who whispers something into Dale’s ear, the similarity is striking. As soon as she’s done whispering in his ear, she’s ripped aways (she becomes “a” Page) from the Red Room and transported elsewhere.
The fact that we have arrived at the end of a cycle (TEOTWASKI: The End Of The World As We Know It) is exemplified by the clock in the Sheriff’s office, oscillating between 2:52 and 2:53. Cooper explains that “it is 2:53 in Las Vegas, and that adds up to a ten, the number of completion”. One should also note that in Hinduism, the four Yugas (eras) of the universe are composed of 4, 3, 2 and 1 charanas (periods), which also add up to a 10 when the world reaches the end of its final age. But since there are several ways to get a 10 with a clock, this precise choice should be linked to the Fireman’s clue from episode 1: “Remember 430”. If one splits the portions of the clock as indicated below, it becomes clear that 2:53 separates two sections worth 430 (4 hours and 3 minutes).
The clock is of course highly reminiscent of a doomsday clock, pointing at the small amount of minutes that separate us from the midnight of the end of the world – the middle of the night symbolised by Carrie’s shriek. On a more positive note, it is also possible to read the design on the clock as a peace sign, pointing towards the solution to end this dark age. In fact, David Lynch himself regularly advocates for world peace through his Transcendental Meditation foundation: The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.
In The Mystery of Electricity, Manly Palmer Hall argues the following: “As the first world was destroyed by the earth, the second consumed by fire (Lemuria), the third swallowed up by the waters (Atlantis), so the fourth shall be swept away by the spirits which dwell in the air“. In The Secret Doctrine, Helena P. Blavatsky writes: “They descended from the pure air to be chained to bodies… The air is full of Souls… they descend to be tied to mortal bodies, being desirous to live in them“. All of this should of course be connected to what The Arm says in Fire Walk With Me: “From pure air we have descended“.
According to these quotes, the spirits that dwell in the air (i.e. the Lodge Entities) might very well be the reason why the world of Twin Peaks is coming to a close in The Return.
Magicians and clairvoyants are people who claim to be able to escape above the linear flow of Time. “If with electricity as our ally, it is possible to see the events of yesterday, why should we deny the possibility of predicting the events of tomorrow… Is it safe, then, for us to deny the realities of these well attested miracles or ignore these so-called magicians and sorcerers as the first scientists and masters of electrical phenomena?“.
The link between electricity and time travel he operates makes a lot of sense in the context of Twin Peaks. It is thanks to its power that the Lodge Entities are able to travel and watch over the world “through the darkness of future past”. Are they magicians or scientists? Perhaps a bit of both. As Arthur C. Clarke used to say, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“.
While discussing the link between science and magic, it might be interesting to come back once more to the giant black metallic cones seen in the Fireman’s palace. Reminiscent of bells and of thimbles (“thimbells”?), they are also very similar to Lingams. Lingams are column-like or oval symbols of Shiva, the Formless All-pervasive Reality. They are made of stone, metal, or clay, and they symbolise the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar of fire, the cause of all causes. In a sense, they hold the universe together, making sure that no reap appears in its texture – which brings us, once more, to the art of sewing.
Besides the Fireman, there is a character who is constantly sewing things back together, who is doing her best to extinguish all the wild fires she meets. The Log Lady, thanks to her direct link to the Cosmic Tree (her log), had this ability to see beyond the veil of reality into the hidden layers of the cosmos. She was an earthly messenger for the positive influences coming from the supernatural world, “the voice of her master” (to quote a famous ad by Marconi).
The close-up of the phonograph’s horn in episode 1 reveals a strange inscription on its inner top surface. I wondered at first if this was not some kind of writing, a cryptic message left for us to decipher by Lynch and Frost. The way the light highlights it does not seem to be random.
I now believe these are not letters which are scratched in the horn, but a very primitive rendering of the image of the Log Lady’s house in the forest, connected to the Fireman’s phonograph via the tall tree seen right in front of it.
One should note that Thomas Edison, the man who developed the phonograph technology, also wanted to create a sort of “spirit phone” that recorded the utterances of departed souls: “there’s ample proof that Edison was interested in speaking to the dead using technology. In 1920, the inventor shocked the public when he told American Magazine: ‘I have been at work for some time, building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us.'”.
This was a time when spiritualism was still very strong and when people still believed in the existence of an ether in which spirits floated around us.
Is there a link with the phonograph from The Return? Are the famous “sounds” transmissions from “the great beyond”, phone calls of sorts from spirits? Could the sounds themselves have been made using a rotary dial telephone? Also: is there a link with the notion of Akasha, the basis and essence of all things in the material world according to the Vedas? Akasha is supposed to be the fifth element, this aether in which spirits dwell – the substratum of the quality of sound, the One, Eternal, and All Pervading physical substance, which is imperceptible. In Sant Mat (a group of spiritual leaders from India), the raison d’être for the human form is to meditate on the sound current, and in so doing merge with it until one’s own divinity is ultimately realised.
Many open questions yet to find an answer.
Finally, before closing this post, I’d like to say a word about Laura’s orb from episode 8. Conjured up by the Fireman (who represents a mix of Indra and Vishnu), it appears to be his 10th Avatar Kalki (Carrie), the one designed to fight demon Kali (i.e. Joudy) at the end of the Kali Yuga. Here is what René Guénon had to say about the sphere: “it is intrinsically the primordial form, the least ‘specified’ of all… the Egg of the world.. the cube is opposed to the sphere… the most ‘arrested’ form of all, end of the cycle of manifestation, ‘stopping-point’ of the cyclical movement“. I have already discussed the squarish form of the Heavenly Jerusalem above – it therefore makes sense that the spheric Laura/Carrie ends up fighting the squarish Palmer house in episode 18.
The fact that Laura’s orb appears to be made of amber is no accident. The classical names for amber (Latin electrum and Ancient Greek ēlektron) are indeed connected to a term meaning ‘beaming Sun'”. It is also worth noting that yellow amber entered Arabic as kahraba = electricity. Laura’s orb is an electrical orb made from fossilised tree resin coming from the world tree supporting the heavens, and connecting them to the terrestrial world, and, through its roots, to the underworld.
The orb actually appears again in episode 18 when Dale/Richard leaves his motel. Positioned in front of an electric line, it has turned into a spheric light bulb, waiting to be lit. Next to it, a tree with branches reminiscent of antlers – the fight between evil and light is on.
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