Twin Peaks and Tapping Into the Subconscious

twinpeaks-redroom

uncanny – strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.

I have been revisiting Twin Peaks lately in preparation for the return of the series next year.  It still amazes me, 24 years, on how well it holds up.  I also can’t believe it was on mainstream network television.  There are scenes of pure surrealism that often disturb due to their uncanny nature.  As I’ve grown older there are very few times when I find myself the least troubled by things that try to shock or scare.  However, there is some subconscious level that David Lynch taps into, especially in scenes in the red room, where I find myself still getting chills late at night.  This is, despite the fact, that I have seen this show many times and have read and watched countless interviews about it.

Because the show was on network television there is nothing explicitly sexual or violent about the series, although explicit sex and violence are always lurking in this show just off camera.  Lynch, without being able to show any nudity or extreme violence, is able to tap into some kind of primal dream state that unnerves in ways that so many other TV shows have never been able to.    Lynch has a strange ability to put images and sound design together in a way that is the closest to the unsettling nature of dreams as I have ever seen.  While surrealism can sometimes just appear to be random things thrown together, with Lynch there is always some perfect connection between the things he uses, even if it can’t be described in any intellectual way.  While most dreams on TV are nothing like real dreams, but are simply pieces used to move the story along in a different fashion, Lynch gets that dreams reflect life without adhering to the same logic or structure.

Lynch is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.  He talks about how he uses this for inspiration in the book Catching the Big Fish.  While having next tried it myself, I can neither confirm or deny its merits.  However, he does seem to be able to tap into the subconscious in ways that no other filmmaker can quite match.  I’m looking forward to what Lynch does with this show once it returns, especially now that it will be on Showtime, which does not have the restrictions of network TV.

Twin Peaks and the Uncanny

I’ve been looking up stuff on Twin Peaks ever since it was announced that it will be returning in 2016.  The scene above is interesting because Laura Palmer tells Agent Dale Cooper that she’ll be seeing him again in 25 years.  2016 will be 25 years since this episode aired.

But what also struck me was how unsettling the above imagery is.  I no longer find horror movies frightening for the most part, and for those of you that haven’t watched Twin Peaks is not a horror show in any traditional sense.  (It is a combination of genres that is really quite unique.)  There are some that are well done and suspenseful, but as an adult they don’t leave me with any lingering terror after I’m done watching them.  I used to be really scared of The Shining as a kid, but I watched it a couple years ago and found myself laughing at how insane and over the top it was.

However, David Lynch is a master of what is called the uncanny.  A definition of uncanny is:  strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.

The uncanny is a feeling and feelings are abstract.  It can be as surreal as the imagery above or it can be a normal everyday thing that doesn’t quite add up.  Often in dreams it is never quite day and never quite night, and there is something haunting about this.  Lynch as a filmmaker, and the above imagery is not the best example of this, is able to create images that are more like real dreams than any filmmaker that I can think of.  It’s the combination of things that don’t belong together in a way that is troubling.  I think one of the many reasons why this show has remained fascinating for so many people for so long is there is something about the way that it affects our subconscious that leaves a lasting impression.