“The Past Dictates the Future” Finale Analysis – Part One

Coop

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.

The two-part finale for Twin Peaks: The Return left many fans reeling, whether thrilled or dismayed. It’s taken a long time to process it, but now that I think I have some solid theories to present to you, let’s not waste any more time, and jump right into my analysis of Part 17, with a separate article analyzing Part 18 to come.

The episode begins where we left off with Gordon, Tammy, and Albert after the disappearance of the Diane Tulpa. Gordon has a moment of exposition so that he can retcon the ending of Season 2. He talks about Judy, who’s actually Jowday, and Phillip Jeffries’ involvement with her, or it. This leads to some seeming inconsistencies with the way Judy is referenced in Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces, where we are strongly led to believe that Judy is a human woman. A way of explaining this away is that Jowday was an inhabiting spirit, which called itself “Judy” while it was possessing a female body.

Gordon also mentions that Phillip Jeffries “doesn’t really exist anymore, at least not in the normal sense.” Of course we know that Phillip Jeffries is inside some kind of machine now. I think this has something to do with the altered timeline, which has all but erased Jeffries from existence. That’s why Albert and Gordon barely remember him, and why Jeffries will later mention something about Gordon remembering “the unofficial version.” I believe this indicates that Gordon is, to an extent, aware of the altered timeline. The “official version” of the timeline is the one we see in the show: “The unofficial version” is the one we saw in Fire Walk With Me, which is being erased.

GordonThen comes a big reveal: The “two birds with one stone” line was actually said by Cooper 25 years ago to Gordon. He told Gordon that if he disappeared like Jeffries and Desmond, to do everything possible to find him. He said he was “trying to kill two birds with one stone.” This could mean Cooper was trying to take out both BOB and Jowday. This retcon calls into question just how much of the past events Agent Cooper has actually been in control of. It’s heavily implied that his entry into the Black Lodge was anticipated, and made part of his plan with Briggs and Cole. For unknown reasons, it was kept secret from Albert. However, Gordon says that he isn’t sure if the plan is unfolding properly, as he expected to hear from the real Cooper by now. I believe the setback to the plan was the unanticipated creation of Dougie by DoppelCoop, which hindered Cooper.

We return to the jail, where Naido and the drunk have finally fallen asleep, so Chad is able to execute his escape. Now, much has been made of the drunk and his potential connections to Chad, Billy, and Naido, and why he disappears later. I honestly don’t think we have enough information to go on with him. There’s a decent possibility that he’s Billy, but he may also just be a weird character put in by Lynch for his odd humor. Sort of like the sweeping scene, but a character instead. Admittedly, however, it is odd that, when the drunk wakes up, Chad is discouraged from his escape attempt, and, later, when the drunk passes out but everyone else is awake, Chad continues his escape attempt. Also, judging by his weird sores and injuries, he may be addicted to the Sparkle drug. It’s also very curious why he isn’t in a hospital…

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Meanwhile, Jerry turns up naked in Wyoming. This could just be for comedic effect, but the first thing it made me think was that he had been struck by lightning, which can sometimes knock the clothes off of people. Now, you may point out that, if it was lightning, there would have been obvious signs, and it would have been mentioned. I think there were no signs because it wasn’t literal lightning, but a spiritual lightning. In Native American lore, lightning represents a spiritual awakening, usually granted by a thunder bird. You can read more about the connection between the thunder birds and Twin Peaks here. Perhaps Jerry had an epiphany?

DoppelCoop’s coordinates take him to Jack Rabbit’s Palace. He approaches the pool of liquid gold next to the lone sycamore and time begins to skip as the portal opens. DoppelCoop makes it into the White Lodge, but Briggs has laid a trap for him. This is probably part of the plan he put together with Cooper 25 years ago. DoppelCoop is caught in a machine, and, instead of making it to the Palmer house like he planned, the Fireman sends DoppelCoop to the Sheriff’s Station, for the final confrontation. We see many of the dome-shaped machines working in a room, as DoppelCoop is transported away.

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As he arrives, Naido sits bolt upright. When Andy and Lucy see him, they assume he’s Agent Cooper and are excited, until Andy remembers his vision from his meeting with the Fireman, in which he’s leading Lucy down the hallway. However, he doesn’t seem to know what to make of this. But once Agent Cooper refuses coffee, I think that clues Andy in that something’s wrong. He runs to get Hawk and tell him. Meanwhile, Chad is executing his big escape in the jail. Naido wakes up the drunk, who begins tearing the tube out of his nose angrily. Andy enters the jail, looking for Hawk, and gets held up by Chad, only to be rescued by Freddy. Upstairs, Lucy gets a call from Agent Cooper, and figures out how cell phones work.

This ongoing gag about Lucy and cell phones, I think, is a joke about Twin Peaks, both the show and the town, being perpetually stuck in the 1950s. It’s also a little play on the existence of Doppelgangers, and a person being in two places at once.

Anyway, Lucy turns bad ass and guns down DoppelCoop, which is what Andy’s vision was foretelling. The real Cooper, via phone call, warns Frank Truman not to touch the body, while Andy brings the occupants of the jail cell, Naido, James, and Freddie, but notably not the drunk, into the Sheriff’s office. He was probably previously instructed to do so by the Fireman.  Then, three Woodsmen show up and begin trying to resurrect DoppelCoop. I believe that the blood they rub on his face is actually a representation of Garmonbozia (remember, it was represented as blood during the ending of Fire Walk With Me). This should revitalize him, but it doesn’t work. Instead, just as the real Cooper arrives, the BOB tumor erupts from DoppelCoop’s stomach and attacks Cooper. Freddy steps forward and challenges BOB, narrowly defeating him, fulfilling his destiny.

Freddie

One of the most commonly raised complaints about Part 17 is the showdown between Freddie and the BOB tumor. Fans complained that it was ridiculous and mindless — too easy for the big showdown with BOB himself. This uncharacteristic anticlimax led fans to wonder if Lynch was making a joke, perhaps about superhero franchises, where problems are often solved by punching things. An interesting theory says that, had the series continued in the 90’s, Nadine, who had super strength at the time, would have been to one to punch BOB out. Once her story arc was altered, Freddie was supposedly created to fill the void.

But why is Freddie, the chosen warrior of the White Lodge, from England? It’s so seemingly out of the blue. However, I think there’s a reasonable explanation.

In the past, the Black Lodge has made good work of removing the agents of the White Lodge. They took Agents Jeffries, Desmond, Stanley, and even Cooper. They killed Bill Hastings when he started to talk. They took the real Diane and replaced her with a Tulpa agent. They killed Laura Palmer. They even took Audrey, who was a close friend of Agent Cooper’s and may have had a larger role to play. They possessed Sarah Palmer. They killed Major Briggs. The White Lodge needed to find agents that the Black Lodge wouldn’t see coming. They used Andy and Lucy, two of the last people who might be perceived of as a threat to the Black Lodge. They may have brought Laura Palmer back from the dead. So someone far from Twin Peaks, who the Black Lodge couldn’t get to and corrupt, was an ideal candidate.

NaidoAndAndy

Cooper puts the ring on his Doppelganger’s finger, and its body disappears. Cooper asks Frank for his old room key, saying that Major Briggs told him that “Sheriff Truman would have it.” This strengthens the idea that Briggs had some ability to time travel through his dealings with the White Lodge. As the FBI arrive, Cooper notices Naido, and his face becomes interposed over the following events. This is because Cooper, has dreamed all of this before. In effect, he already watched himself do all these things, that’s how he knows what will happen. The interposed face is the dreaming Cooper watching all of this happen.

Next is a moment that almost seems like exposition, but it’s all very confusing exposition. Bobby arrives, as do Albert, Gordon, and Tammy, and Cooper launches into a speech. He explains that Garland Briggs “was well-aware of what is going on today.”  He then says, “Now, there are some things that will change. The past dictates the future.” This is a fairly clear indication that Cooper intends to alter the timeline, or knows that someone else will. Naido runs over to Cooper and touches hands with him, and the curse placed on her by the Black Lodge burns away, with much black smoke. The facade cracks, revealing Diane, who has candy-red hair. It would seem that, after attacking her and taking her to the Black Lodge, DoppelCoop trapped Diane in the form of Naido, who could not communicate, and was disguised so Cooper couldn’t recognize her, then made a Tulpa to take her place in the outside world.

CoopNDiane.jpg

People have drawn a connection between Diane and Jack Parsons’s second wife, Marjorie Cameron, who also had neon red hair. Parsons believed that Marjorie was an “elemental” created by a ritual he’d performed, who was destined to help him with his magic.

Cooper and Diane kiss passionately, and the interposed image of Coop’s face disappears, suggesting this is where his dream ended. However, the face reappears a moment later. Coop asks Diane if she remembers everything, and she says she does. To me, this implies that she is also part of Cooper’s plan. Time starts glitching, as if it is stuck in one moment. With much distortion, the Cooper face says, “We live inside a dream.” The “regular” Cooper says to everyone that he hopes he sees them again, then stresses, “every one of you.” This suggests that he knows some of these characters do not exist in other timelines.

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Then, everything fades to black. Coop and Gordon call out to each other, almost as if asking, “Are you ready?” because they next move is together, along with Diane. They walk through the darkness and enter what seems to be a basement, filled with machines, like James saw a few episodes ago. However, it’s all very dreamlike as this basement seems to be made up of various other environments. It’s reminiscent of the basement BOB appeared in in the original series, as well as the one James saw, and includes the door to Coop’s old room at the Great Northern. We also hear the hum that Ben and Beverly have been hearing, which apparently indicates the nearness of another dimension. Some have suggested that this is the basement of the Great Northern, and the old key was repurposed for a door down there once the switch was made to key cards.

Cooper’s face fades out, for good this time. We see many doors down here, which to me suggests different dimensions are accessible from here. Coop enters one door and tells Gordon and Diane not to follow him. He looks back and them and says, “I’ll see you at the curtain call,” a reference to his meeting with Diane at the portal of the Black Lodge, the “curtain call” obviously referring to the red curtains in the waiting room. It also has a more meta interpretation, as the curtain call can also indicate the part of a stage production, after the play when the curtains go down, and the actors come out to take a bow. I noticed also that the black paint near the door he enters is speckled with white and looks remarkably similar to the background when we see him falling through non-existence.

ImaLilTeapot

Cooper meets up with MIKE, who recites the Fire Walk With Me poem, which causes electricity to flash. They are transported to The Dutchman’s to visit Phillip Jeffries. We see the Jumping Man leave down the stairway, which may suggest some collusion between he and Jeffries.

Cooper gives Jeffries the date of Laura Palmer’s murder, and MIKE begins shaking his head. Perhaps he is sad, thinking of what happened, or perhaps he sees the folly of what Cooper is trying to do. Jeffries says he’ll find the date for them, and says, “It’s slippery in here.” The way he says it makes it clear that the two statements are connected, but what does the latter mean? I think it means that time is “slippery,” that it often glitches and is hard to keep hold of. He tells Cooper to say hi to Gordon, who will apparently “remember the unofficial version.” Read this as: “He will have residual memories of me from the erased timeline.”

Jeffries begins to spout some confusing dialog here.

This is where you’ll find Judy. There may be someone. Did you… ask me this?”

I’ll get back to that in the next article, though. Bear with me. He then shows them the Owl Cave insignia, which turns into an eight, then an infinity symbol, with a small dot traveling along it. This suggests an infinite loop, that Cooper has done this before. After the dot moves along the lemniscate for a moment, there’s a mechanical clank and it stops, as Jeffries finds the right time for Cooper. He says, “You can go in now,” mirroring when, in the Lodge, MIKE tells him, “You can go out now.” He then implores Cooper to remember, probably, to remember the alternate timeline, which holds some pertinent information. MIKE, who has been shaking his head all this time, says, “Electricity.” Right on queue, electricity crackles and time jumps as the energy is produced to transport Cooper back to the night Laura was murdered.

TakeMyHand

We see events replay. Laura leaving with James to the woods, then James leaving her. This time, Cooper is watching. He was all along. Laura even sees him, and screams. After James leaves and Laura is alone in the woods, Cooper appears to her. She recognizes him from her dreams, and takes his hand. Her body, wrapped in plastic, disappears from the shore. He tells her, “We’re going home,” suggesting that he plans on taking her back to her house.

We cut to the Palmer house in what seems to be the 25 years later time period, and Sarah Palmer, who’s been possessed by Jowday all along, grabs the iconic photo of Laura, and, wailing the whole time, attempts to destroy it with a broken liquor bottle. Time skips, and no matter how many times she tries to stab the photo, she can’t damage it. In short, Jowday wants Laura dead, but cannot harm her. Laura is protected.

However, as Cooper is leading Laura by the hand through the woods, periodically checking to make sure she’s still there, we hear the sounds that the Fireman played for Cooper at the beginning of Part 1, and Laura vanishes. We hear Laura’s death scream, and Cooper looks despondent. Jowday couldn’t kill Laura, so she took her.

But, where is Laura now? Will Coop see Gordon and Diane again? What was Phillip Jeffries talking about? Find out in the thrilling conclusion, when I analyze Part 18 of Twin Peaks: The Return!

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The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

THE GIANT: I will tell you three things. If I tell them to you and they come true, then will you believe me?

COOPER: Who’s that?

THE GIANT: Think of me as a friend.

COOPER: Where do you come from?

THE GIANT: The question is, where have you gone? The first thing I will tell you is: There’s a man in a smiling bag.

COOPER: A man in a smiling bag…

THE GIANT: The second thing is: The owls are not what they seem. The third thing is: Without chemicals, he points.

COOPER: What do these things mean?

THE GIANT: This is all I am permitted to say.

owls

The phrase, “The owls are not what they seem,” is one of the most notorious and highly debated taglines of the Twin Peaks series. While most theorists are able to come to some general consensus about the meaning behind it, not everyone is able to agree on a deeper meaning. So, the owls are not what they seem… but what exactly are they? Dugpas? Demons? Angels? Aliens? Spies? Or something else? In this article, I will delve into the various theories and examine the evidence for each one.

After the Giant relays the ominous message to Cooper, it turns up again when Major Briggs arrives at Coop’s hotel room, bearing a piece of paper containing code. The code was read by “deep space monitors,” which we later learn are actually pointed at the woods in Twin Peaks. Most of the code is “radio waves and gibberish,” except for the phrase, “The owls are not what they seem,” and Cooper’s name repeated. This message was received at roughly the same time Cooper was shot, perhaps right as he was being visited by the Giant, who also relays the message. At first, we are sort of tricked into thinking this message came from aliens in outer space. We only later on learn that these monitors were actually pointed towards Ghostwood, which some branch of the government has apparently been researching as part of Project Blue Book. This last bit of information, of course, is revealed to us during the most hectic days for the Twin Peaks writing staff, about midway through season 2, when both David Lynch and Mark Frost were interested in other projects and the remaining writers were left to patch together the rest of the path based on rough drafts, guesswork, and their own ideas. This has caused certain fans to write it off, though it remains, in fact, canonical.

Communion

Owl-like aliens seen on the cover of Whitley Strieber’s Communion

One popular theory, and the one that fits the best with the Project Blue Book storyline, is that the owls are aliens, as is written by Whitley Strieber in his novel Communion. In this novel, the author says he struggled with suppressed memories of alien abduction, and that, before he unlocked these memories clearly, all he could remember was the image of owls staring at him through his window. He later finds that the owls are a disguise used by the aliens, ergo, they are not what they seem.

If the owls are aliens (of some sort), then the involvement of Major Briggs and Project Blue Book amidst Native American mythology and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality seems a little less inexplicable.

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Another theory is that the owls are possessed by BOB and/or other Dugpas. This theory fits the infamous image of BOB, crouched behind Laura’s bed, with an overlay of an owl face. It also nicely explains how BOB is able to learn some secrets of the townsfolk, as he would be able to spy on them in disguise. Some further supporting points can be discovered by delving into mythology and folklore, which may have been drawn upon by Mark Frost, who would commonly weave such symbols into the mythos of Twin Peaks.

At one point, MIKE refers to BOB as his “familiar.” In black magic lore, a familiar is a demon that takes the form of an animal. In this case, the demon is BOB, and the animal is an owl. Owls have commonly been associated with witches and demons, especially through the entity Lilith, who is a patroness of witches and often said to take the form of an owl, or as being a woman with legs and wings of and owl. This would make the animal a natural choice for a familiar. They seem to be BOB’s personal favorite animal to take the form of, or perhaps the only animal he can take the form of, since owls, and no other animal, are repeatedly warned against by multiple knowing sources.

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Wood cut by Hans Wechtlin

Almost every ancient culture has seen the owl as heralding misfortune and even death. They are associated with witches, graveyards and demons that lurk in the night. In Chinese folklore, owls are seen as an omen of death (as their “hoo” call sounds like the Chinese word “hu,” which means “dig,” i.e., “dig a grave”), and associated with ghosts. The Chinese also linked owls with thunder and lightning. This is significant to Twin Peaks‘s owls, due to the symbolism of electricity, heyoka, and thunderbirds of Native American folklore.

This supports the idea that the owls of Twin Peaks are spirits that spy on the townsfolk, either inhabited by BOB, other Dugpas, or being separate entities of their own. Evidence indicates that BOB utilizes the owls, or is taking the form of the owls, which also ties into the idea of him being MIKE’s familiar. One area of confusion for this theory, however, is when the Log Lady brings Cooper to the Roadhouse, telling him “we [my Log and I] don’t know what will happen or when, but there are owls in the Roadhouse.” However, BOB is not present: He is at the Palmer residence, murdering Maddy Ferguson. It should be noted that the Elderly Bellhop (one and the same with the Giant) is present, which lends credence to the idea that the owls are commonly used vessels for all Lodge spirits; not just BOB.

 

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If the owls are aliens, or if the owls are spirits, or vessels for the Dugpas, it is necessary at some point to question the distinction between each of these. According to writer Bob Engels, there were some rough ideas for Season 3 that involved the Dugpas being from a planet of creamed corn, which would make them aliens, and reinforce the Project Blue Book storyline. However, this would seem like some odd back-tracking, after the revelation that the message received from the deep space monitors came not from space, but from the woods. If this storyline is to be taken into consideration, though, it blurs the distinction between spirit and alien.

There is yet another theory that the owls are agents separate from the beings that we know, perhaps spirits of nature simply observing these events that pass through their woods. I would argue that this does little if anything for the story, and is contradicted by evidence that BOB is connected to the owls. Besides, most signs support the notion that the Dugpas are nature spirits of a kind, even if it is a darker side of nature.

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It’s most likely that no definitive answer will ever be given on the nature of Twin Peaks‘s owls, as final answers are so rarely given in Lynch’s surrealist world. There are so many theories to consider, each with their own set of compelling evidence. Which do you find to be the most convincing theory? Or do you have your own interpretation? What other mysteries from Twin Peaks still have you stumped? Let me know in the comments section below!

Sacred Clown Time

Written by Eden H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for Twin Peaks within the article.

"Trickster Parade" by Kelly Moore

“Trickster Parade” by Kelly Moore

The words of the Heyoka are like a lightning bolt which can pierce the heart, for the Heyoka’s words can have a “sharp edge.”

– Wambli Sina Win

Every Twin Peaks fan is familiar with the Native American imagery that appears throughout the series, but it turns out that the tribal influence may go deeper than just inspiring the look of the show: In fact, it may be the source for the central story-line.

The Black Lodge and the Dugpas.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white, like the carpet on the floor of the Black Lodge.

There are many correlations between the Dugpas and the beings known as the Heyoka, or Sacred Clowns of Native American culture, that suggest they may have been the source of inspiration for the Black Lodge’s denizens. Some connections include their backwards-speak and use of cryptic words:

Heyókȟa are thought of as being backwards-forwards, upside-down, or contrary in nature. It was manifest by doing things backwards or unconventionally — riding a horse backwards, wearing clothes inside-out, or speaking in a backwards language. For example, if food were scarce, a heyókȟa would sit around and complain about how full he was; during a baking hot heat wave a heyókȟa would shiver with cold and put on gloves and cover himself with a thick blanket.

(Source: Wikipedia – Heyoka)

The Heyoka never tell you something straight out; they make you use your own mental power to learn the meaning behind the words. They use a lack of logic to mock the conventions of our world, and challenge the minds of their disciples. It is interesting to note that the main source of our information on the Dugpas and the Black Lodge is Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, a Native American of an unspecified tribe (it is implied that he may be Blackfoot). This again suggests that they have an origin in Native American lore. Plus, we have seen the Man From Another Place make what is referred to as an “Indian whooping call.” Also take a look at this image of a Heyoka Medicine Man:

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

Does it look familiar?

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

That is the so-called “Jumping Man,” who appears in Fire Walk With Me, most notably dancing at the meeting above the convenience store. He carries a stick, perhaps a dowsing rod, and hops around. He is speculated to be a magician or priest. Perhaps he is a Heyoka?

Various Native American tribes have versions of these beings: the Cherokee have the Boogers, the Zuni have the Ne’wekwe, and the Lakota call them the Heyoka.

“The Spirit of perversity and chaos, considered both as a divine entity in its own right, and the effects of that spirit upon humans. The entity is double-faced, showing joy on one side and grief on the other. He is said to be the source of meteors, and in other ways exhibits most of the characteristic heyoka attributes. Mortals who dream of Wakinyan often become heyokas.”

(Source: Obsidian’s Lair “A Lakota Pantheon“)

A person who becomes a Heyoka is one who is inspired by a visit from a Wakinyan or Thunderbird, a powerful spiritual being who is always cloaked in storm clouds. The Thunderbird usually appears to them in a dream, which is considered to be a communication from the Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit (or Great Mystery) of the Lakota.

The Sacred Clowns are known to do bizarre things that are contrary to our logic, including speak and walking backwards, saying the opposite of what they mean, wearing cold weather clothes in hot climates, laughing when sad, and crying when happy. They are said to be able to interpret dreams. They also have a connection to celestial bodies and electricity, as they are associated with lightning, and the legendary Thunderbird.

“The heyoka were different in three primary ways from the other sorts of clowns. They were truly unpredictable, and could do the unexpected or tasteless even during the most solemn of occasions. Moreso than other clowns, they really seemed to be insane. Also, they were thought to be more inspired by trans-human supernatural forces (as individuals driven by spirits rather than group conventions), and to have a closer link to wakan or power than other clowns. Not surprisingly, these unique differences were seen as the result of their having visions of Thunderbird, a unique and transforming experience.”

Steve Mizrach, Thunderbird and Trickster

The rites of sacred clowning are also practiced in Tibetan Buddhism, which, as we know, has a powerful influence on Coop. A clown in Tibetan Buddhism would be to do absurd things – wear shoes on one’s head, call a stone soft, wear rags to meet a prince and expensive clothes to meet a pauper. The method behind this is to teach disciples of Buddhism to think outside the bonds of the reality we are familiar with, to consider less orthodox explanations, and encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity. When one assumes they know everything there is to know, then the mind is not open to learn.

The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha

“The clown does not fit in, indeed refuses to fit into, the patterns and constructions of the conventional world, representing some other order of being. The clown gets everything wrong: dress, decorum, logic, speech, gestures, and movements; yet in this wrongness is a rightness of another sort. Out of this foolishness rises another level of wisdom.”

(Source: The Laughing Buddha: Zen and the Comic Spirit by Conrad Hyers

In its own way, David Lynch’s work itself does this, by way of his absurdist humor, which sometimes occurs at the most inappropriate of times. It makes us laugh amidst the horror and tragedy going on around us. This act of unsettling our minds and giving rise to doubt causes us to reconsider what we believe is happening, and what it means. In a sense, it forces us to search for new meaning in the familiar.

Let us consider also some of David Lynch’s music. Here’s the cover for his album The Big Dream:

David Lynch's "The Big Dream"

David Lynch’s “The Big Dream”

It’s a man being struck by a lightning bolt, and of course, the title of the album is “The Big Dream.” This implies it is a dream of some importance, perhaps a “divine revelation” of sorts. Could this cover be a representation of a revelation from the Thunderbird, in the form of a dream?

Now you might be saying, “But the Dugpas aren’t good beings; they aren’t teachers or benefactors to humanity.” I would argue that the Dugpas are neither good nor bad; some go rogue, as BOB did, but the Man From Another Place has been shown helping Cooper, as has the Giant. I would say that this is because they had a common interest, and therefore could be compelled to help Cooper. BOB is the only one, I would venture to say, who evokes evil. The others who dwell in the Lodge are amoral, and only act in their own self-interest. This in and of itself ties in with the sporadic nature of the Sacred Clown teachers, who work with opposites and contrast. Both the Dugpas and Sacred Clowns fit into the Trickster category of deities and spirits, along with characters such as Loki, Anansi, Crow, and Prometheus. Often these beings are shown as acting dangerously and amorally, but sometimes these actions also benefit humans, as shown in the tale of Prometheus stealing fire. Other times, the character may start out doing more harmless fun, but eventually graduate to all-out chaos and evil, such as Loki and his plot to murder the light god Balder. Trickster spirits are never easy to pin down; as soon as you think you have them figured out, they change their nature.

That brings us to another David Lynch album, “Crazy Clown Time”:

David Lynch's "Crazy Clown Time"

David Lynch’s “Crazy Clown Time”

The lyrics to this song portray an animalistic party, full of drinking, spitting and stripping. This ties into our second definition of clowns in Lynchian symbolism. It is important to note that David Lynch has connected his Clown symbolism with base and degrading behavior, rather than the “Sacred Clown” archetype, which is about spiritual evolution. Lynch talks about how negative behavior, such as irresponsible drinking, drugs and partying, throws the soul off-balance and causes spiritual disintegration: Deep down, you become depressed and angry, though you continue to suppress these feelings with the negative actions that are causing them in the first place. It is a vicious cycle, or, as Lynch calls it, a “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit.”

“I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’ssuffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.”

(Source: The Utne Reader, “Deep Thoughts by David Lynch“)

A good example of Lynch’s use of this negative clown archetype would be its association with Jacques Renault and Leo Johnson, two of the most notorious party people in Twin Peaks:

Leo isn't clowning around... well, maybe a little, actually.

Leo isn’t clowning around… well, maybe a little, actually.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault's apartment.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault’s apartment.

And this symbolism isn’t limited to Twin Peaks. Remember Ben singing about the Candy Colored Clown in Frank Booth’s favorite song?

Dean Stockwell ("Ben") sings Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

Dean Stockwell (“Ben”) sings Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

And the way Frank paints his lips when he listens to the same song later?

Frank Booth

Frank Booth smears his lips with red lipstick while listening to a song about a “candy colored clown”

These characters are both associated with drugs, violence, and all-around debased behavior, just as Jacques and Leo are. This is their “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity” that they bury themselves in rather than facing their demons and evolving as people.

Both Frank and Killer BOB are used in their respective stories as representations of “the evil that men do,” as Jeffrey asks Sandy in a philosophical moment, “Why are there people like Frank in the world?” Sandy tells him that love and light is the only thing that can and will destroy the darkness in the hearts of humanity. In this way, we can associate the characters of Frank and BOB with each other, and thus connect the clown imagery this way. BOB is also always depicted as smiling and laughing, and is described as “eager for fun” in this poem:

He is BOB, eager for fun. He wears a smile, everybody run!”

-MIKE the One-Armed Man

Of course, BOB’s idea of fun is one of evil and debauchery, spreading the suffocating negativity everywhere he goes.

So it’s inarguable that Lynch has used this negative clown symbol before, but does that invalidate the possibility that he has also used the Sacred Clown symbol? I will leave conclusions up to you, but I personally think that the evidence points to uses of both meanings. After all, Lynch has a well-known infatuation with duality and double-edged meanings, and the connections between the Dugpas and the Sacred Clowns are notable enough not to be ignored. Take another look at the scene “Above the Convenience Store”:

The meeting "Above the Convenience Store"

The meeting “Above the Convenience Store”

Definitely looks like it could be the Black Lodge’s idea of a party, where they gather to feed on the Garmonbozia that BOB has collected. There is the Jumping Man in the corner, who, as we discussed, may be a Heyoka. Perhaps he is leading the feeding ceremony. BOB is sitting at the table, throwing his head back in uproarious laughter.

As a final point, let us discuss the Greek God Dionysus. He is the God of wine, revelry, feasting, ecstasy, and is the all-around life of the party. He and his parties are dual-natured: They can bring about both horrible violence and beautiful knowledge. Many of the parties end with his followers, the Bacchantes, ripping apart uninitiated passersby, as was the case with Orpheus. However, this was also a cult of the secrets of the Earth, where one could learn Nature Magick and arcane wisdom. There was obvious risk in being involved in this cult, but there were benefits that could make those risks justifiable. Similarly, Cooper is taking a sizable risk in entering the Black Lodge; however, if he succeeds, the benefits could be worth it. If he loses, he will be ripped apart, spiritually.

Trickster Spirits are beings of both chaos and wisdom: There are some things that you can only learn from these beings, and yet to learn from them takes tremendous risk. However, it is often in our times of darkness, strife, and chaos that we have our revelations, and realize important things about ourselves. It is through trial that we evolve, and through constant questioning that we learn. The Sacred Clowns and Tricksters of various cultures embody that chaotic path to wisdom.