“I have employed Bureau guidelines, deductive technique, Tibetan method, instinct, and luck. But now I find myself in need of something new, which, for lack of a better word, we shall call…magic.”
-Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
Words by Cameron Higgins
Iron curtain? Negatron. Russia dropped the red curtains from Twin Peaks on America. See, for a minute, The Handmaiden’s Tale was the defining televisual metaphor for the Trump Presidency. But that falls short, considering how it deals in a recognizable religious dystopia, where twisted norms exist and reality has boundaries. Terrifying boundaries, but boundaries nonetheless.
And yes, though it seems like a writing intern for Homeland or House of Cards accidentally cc’d some unseen force in the universe with a bad script, those shows too, provide narratives guided by recognizable logic toward believability.
But believability is less readily identifiable in the American situation. Chaos and uncertainty, fundamental questions about reality, political and otherwise have been the flavor of the day for the last one-hundred and seventy four days. However, since Donald Jr.’s e-mail revelations earlier this week, we as a nation have, in the words of Agent Dale Cooper “gone off the chessboard.”
With evidence of collusion coupled with Republican-driven unwillingness to take action, we as a nation are left without any idea of what’s going to come. We don’t even know where we are. The full implosion of reality no longer seems so far fetched.
Thus, we find ourselves in an analogous if less aesthetically perfect situation as Agent Cooper at the end of Twin Peaks Season 2, when he’s running through the iconic, red-velour draped dark dimension known as The Black Lodge, running into strange versions of the show’s once familiar characters. The characters themselves are painfully ripe with metaphor: Laura Palmer as the haunted and duplicitous American dream, the evil in Twin Peaks rooted in America’s colonial sins, the demonic Bob as the selfishness and rage coursing through our body politic. The American people are with Dale Cooper, running through endless rooms with curtains opening into more curtains, getting chased by the shadow self of our national id, utterly disoriented in an alternate reality that not long ago would’ve exceeded our imaginative capacities.
We as a nation have left the realm of logical expectation and entered one of mystery and darkness, where spooky rooms open into even spookier rooms. Reason seems powerless against our current national predicament.
We need some of Coop’s magic.
The metaphor continues: like the new season of Twin Peaks, no one has any idea what’s going on. Characters and plots weave in and out of view, strange effects cover up deeper intentions, and no one has any fucking clue where this is going.
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