Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Twin Peaks, Mulholland Dr. and the 17 Enigma



David Lynch and Twin Peaks return this May so I thought I'd take this opportunity to re-post this analysis of the classic Lynch film Mulholland Dr., which started life as a follow-up TV series to Twin Peaks. It appears there will be 17 episodes in all, if the series clocks in at 18 hours and the first episode is two hours long. A cast list comprised of 217 actors has been announced.

PASADENA, Calif. - Showtime's revival of David Lynch and Mark Frost's groundbreaking 1990 TV series "Twin Peaks," first announced more than two years ago, finally has a premiere date: Sunday, May 21.

The series, which will clock in at 18 hours and was entirely directed by Lynch, will have a two-hour premiere, with weekly episodes following that. "We've seen the whole thing," Showtime CEO David Nevins told the Television Critics Association on Monday. "It's the pure heroin version of David Lynch."
Lynch's last released film was the brilliant yet pitch-black Inland Empire (2006), very much a companion piece to Mulholland Dr. Note that the period spanning from Twin Peaks to Inland Empire is 17 years and from Mulholland Dr to the new Twin Peaks is also 17 years. David Lynch will 71 on Friday, the inverse of 17. 

David Bowie appeared in a brief yet memorable cameo in the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.




Maybe the simplest description I can offer of Synchromysticism is "the bleed-over of dream logic into consensus reality." The keys to this process are myth, symbol and co-incidence.


If symbol and myth is indeed the lingua franca of some higher function of consciousness, it could well be that manipulating that consciousness could certainly re-structure our reality paradigm. I'm saying not only our perception of reality, but even the causal order of that paradigm.


However, by investing yourself in this process you often find yourself living in a world governed not by reductionism and determinism, but by a real-time variant of dream logic. Not always a pleasant place to be, believe me.


Dream logic is David Lynch's lifeblood. Although some reviewers have dismissed Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire as jumbled navel-gazing, there are very simple keys in these films that unlock the mysteries. Even before I discovered these clues I felt the films made perfect sense, even if I couldn't quite nail it down. Knowing now what these films are about (at least what many people interpret them as, Lynch never makes any definitive statements on the films' meaning) doesn't demystify them for me, it does the exact opposite. With a friggin' unholy vengeance.

The film (released 10/12/01, or one month and one day after 9/11) gets its name from the famous Los Angeles street, which in turn is named in honor of William Mulholland, the LA water baron. Mulholland inspired Roman Polanski's 1974 film Chinatown, which starred Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston (who played the Mulholland character) and was based on a Robert Towne (Parallax View, Firm, Mission Impossible) screenplay.

Mulholland's birthdate? 9/11/1855.


The film pretends to be a standard mystery: a would-be starlet named Betty (played by Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood to house-sit for her aunt, only to find a beautiful and mysterious brunette named Rita (played by Laura Harring) who is suffering from amnesia. Throughout the film there are disconnected subplots- a man who dreams of a demon living in a restaurant parking lot, a film director with the Kabbalist-sounding name Adam Kesher (meaning "connection," played by Justin Theroux) threatened by a crime boss, and an idiotic hitman who is looking for Rita. Sprinkled throughout are some old school Hollywood icons- Chad Everett, Lee Grant, Robert Forster, Ann Miller. Michael J Anderson (Twin Peaks, Carnivale, X-Files) also makes an enigmatic appearance.


Rita is looking for clues to her own identity, which leads her to an apartment of a woman who has committed suicide. Halfway through the film, Rita vanishes and a totally different story begins. Watts now plays a failed actress scorned by her glamorous but sadistic lover Camilla (played by Harring), who humiliates Diane by taking her to a party celebrating her engagement to Adam Kesher.


That's all I'll say for now. Let's run the number...


The apartment of the suicide is- yes, you guessed it - 17.



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Watts' characters are from Deep River, Ontario which lies smack dab on which route? You guessed it- 17.


"Rita" takes the name from a Rita Hayworth poster. Hayworth's birthdate? The 17th.


Now here's where it starts to get interesting- when we first meet Betty, she's wearing a bright red cardigan. When Camilla dumps Diane, she's wearing a flaming scarlet dress. This color identification repeats itself throughout the film.

"Scarlet" and "17" take us to back to Jack Parson's old obsession- the Scarlet Woman, the Whore of Babylon from Revelation 17...


Is Lynch, the maverick artist, condemning the bitch goddess of Hollywood (like Rome, a city of hills) as the Whore of Babylon? That would be the obvious answer, but we don't see any further connections, obvious ones at least.

That kind of mythologizing isn't really Lynch's style, and Camilla - the obvious whore stand-in - merrily runs off with her Adam while jilted Diane lies dead in number 17. A detail-obsessive like Lynch wouldn't leave those loose ends dangling. We have to consider that this is bleed-over from the powerful subconscious contents Lynch is playing with.



And then we have this weird conjunction- Watts pregnant with Liev Schreiber (my wife's second cousin, for those of you keeping track), who played the Gregory Peck character in The Omen remake (released 6/6/06, which is Hollywood's idea of clever symbolism). Interesting connection back to Mulholland Dr, since The Omen is essentially a take-off on Rosemary's Baby, directed by Chinatown director Polanski.


If Hollywood is Lynch's Babylon (more likely it's his saṃsāra), it's interesting to note that Parsons' Scarlet Woman, Marjorie Cameron, played the Whore of Babylon in Kenneth Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (which was re-released in 1966 with the subtitle, "The Sacred Mushroom Edition"). Anger later penned the Hollywood Babylon books.


In this light, the name "Diane" takes on added resonance connecting back to Parsons and his crowd.



What's a 17 without a 33? Laura Harring has a birthday on March 3. Watts would later play a Hollywood icon herself, the lover of the mighty Kong. Here she is atop 33rd Street in Masonic Manhattan in the King Kong movie poster. A strange reversal of scale takes place in the climax of Mulholland Dr., when Diane watches in horror as two tiny versions of the elderly couple she meets on her arrival in Hollywood crawl under the door at #17.


Remembering that William Mulholland's birthday was 9/11, we shouldn't forget the previous remake of King Kong, from 1976.


Minor details take on resonance- Robert Towne's adorable daughter, Ka-Hathor-Ein, plays Adam's assistant Cynthia (another moon goddess name). This actress' birthday is on the 17th, too.


Kesher's wife Lorraine dumps him for a pool cleaner, played by none other than Mr. Montana himself.  Cyrus stated in 2011 that he feared for his daughter Miley and that his family was "under attack by Satan."


And speaking of genes and mushrooms, the hitman is played by Mark Pellegrino, who guest-starred in the X-Files episode "Hungry," which immediately followed the FieldTrip/Biogenesis/Sixth Extinction blowout (and was actually filmed between them).

Pellegrino is best known for playing Lucifer on Supernatural.




Then there's this classic Lynch scene- Adam Kesher's confrontation with the enforcer known as the Cowboy, played with inhuman intensity by Monty Montgomery, a non-actor who's the founder of this organization....


When I first began looking seriously into symbol and Synchronicity, I took a very deterministic view towards it. But as the evidence and the connections multiplied, I realized that I was holding onto a comforting fantasy rather than surrender myself to a process I could not understand, and thereby never hope to control.


Which is all just another way of saying that I think David Lynch might have a tighter grip on the true nature of reality than the rest of us do.


I'll let the Cowboy have the last word...



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