Friday Things: ‘Twin Peaks’ Just Gave Us The Most WTF Episode of Television Ever, And Listening to the 20-Something Melodramz of Lorde and SZA When You’re No Longer In Your 20s

How is everyone’s week going? Mine has been eventful and even adventurous! I found myself at an impromptu summer solstice celebration (I love pagans), rode on a boat and also drank cocktails with wonderful and good-looking people during a crazy tornado-y thunderstorm and couldn’t drive home until late because roads flooded. I’m set to take Budgie for a hike and his! first! movie! in! a! theater! this weekend, and I started a writing class that I love. I’m rolling into summer in earnest, and it feels very exciting but fun and relaxed.

My ‘Twin Peaks’ Mini-Blogging Continues

My deep desire to write reams about the new season of ‘Twin Peaks’ hasn’t at all abated since the show began. And why should it, especially when David Lynch proves himself the cinematic gift that keeps on giving?

There is simply no shortage of stuff you could write about when it comes to him and ‘Twin Peaks.’ And while I definitely want to write something a bit more considered and critical when it comes to the violence against women in his work, right now with limited time and headspace, all I really want to talk about is this latest episode, which went full-on avant-garde — but also proved surprisingly coherent when considered in the deeper mythology of the series. Your eyes had to be peeled, and so did your ears, but what resulted from an attentive viewing of part 8 is no less than the origin of evil, at least when it comes to ‘Twin Peaks’ and all things BOB.

A quick Google search will set you up with a solid recap, so I won’t go into it deeply here. (I’ll wait for you to get back while you read!) It began conventionally-ish enough, with a driving scene between Evil Cooper and his henchman Ray that evoked the unease of ‘Mulholland Drive’ with its noirish feel. But then something legitimately surprising happens (no spoilers!), and the episode soon veers into total supernatural weirdness, with a scurrying cabal of those oil-soaked hobo-ish creatures we saw in earlier episodes (as well as in the back of Winkies in ‘Mulholland Drive.’) They do some weird thing of smearing blood and opening up a wound and then pull out a slimy orb of that body with the face of BOB in it.

And then suddenly we’re watching “the” Nine Inch Nails play almost an entire song at the Roadhouse, introduced by an emcee with the most fabulous pinecone on his mic stand.

And that, my friends, was actually the most normal part of the episode, because what comes after was a flashback to the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico, and then an interlude of painterly image montage and dissonant sound that would make Stan Brakhage cream his pants. This, I guess, is what a lot of reviewers call the “student film” part of the episode, which seems very condescending to me. How is unbridled creativity the province of the young? To me, it was a symphonic free association of sensation and sights, all of which evoked annihilation on a level that the human mind can’t even comprehend. It takes you inside the metaphysical and metaphorical space of an atomic mushroom cloud, and because David Lynch is actually a moralist in surrealist’s clothing, all we can see in it is the evil and grossness that happens when humankind abuses the gifts they’re given to create something horrific and deeply, deeply wrong.

But! That’s not the end of it! Because then we shift into a weird ‘Eraserhead’ like riff on a 1950s horror movie, complete with deep contrast black and white cinematography that visually reminded me of Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara, who I don’t think often gets discussed as much as he should vis-a-vis David Lynch. Maybe it was the desert setting, but I kept thinking of Teshigahara’s ‘Woman in the Dunes’ especially when it comes to sand at night and the odd creatures it hides. But honestly, this part of the film was so indebted to David’s own ‘Eraserhead’ that it’s almost concrete evidence that this new season of ‘Twin Peaks’ is the ne plus ultra masterwork of his entire oeuvre, where he’s pulling out all the stops, tricks and fireworks. (The man is 71 years old, after all, and has said he’ll never make another feature film again.)

There’s more to say, but after I watched the episode and processed my thoughts and feelings on it — URGH THINGS CRAWLING INTO MOUTHS WHILE PEOPLE SLEEP EWWWW — I was left with a deep sense of appreciation to have watched something so adventurous and genuinely unexpected in the history of television. It may just be art or TV or entertainment, but the fact that a major network gave a truly adventurous film artist at the height of his powers carte blanche to make something — and he took full advantage of it — felt like a great privilege to watch, especially as someone who cares about art deeply. We are at the point in our history as a visual culture where we are oversaturated and bombarded with images and information, so to see something like this episode of ‘Twin Peaks’ just made me happy that the old-fashioned crafts of film, art and storytelling still have a resonant, even disturbing pull and power that some Facebook meme just can’t compare against.

Lorde, SZA and Damn, It’s Hard To Be A Young Woman At Times

I mentioned last week that my openness to new music was coming back to me — I’m still way into listening to the Uniform record. But I also have been listening to Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ and SZA’s ‘Ctrl,’ both of which make surprisingly good companions to one another.

Both are records that are about navigating love, relationships, power and selfhood as a young woman. Lorde is pretty well-known so I don’t need to describe her to you (right?) but SZA is a sonically adventurous R&B singer. Melodrama is sort of more conceptual, and despite the trap-lite and electro-ish beats, Lorde is very much a singer-songwriter in temperament; SZA was described to me as a kind of ‘millennial Mary J. Blige,’ which is a bit reductionist but a serviceably accurate sound bite. Both women radiate a sense of self-possession and a powerful vulnerability and openness. I think Melodrama is a more tightly crafted record, but Ctrl is just rawer and, honestly, more fun to drive with, so in a way I simply enjoy it more.

It’s funny, though, listening to these two ladies, who are very much young and roiling in the heat that is navigating dating, sex and love when you’re a young woman. The late teens and early 20s is such a unique time in many (straight cis-gender?) women’s lives, when you’re kind of coming into one phase of your sexual power (as an object, usually) but learning to find your voice in that realm as well. “Melodrama” is a pretty accurate tongue-in-cheek description of the emotional experiences — I would probably have titled my own record of this time as ‘Intensity’! Because it’s all especially vivid and harrowing and beautiful and heightened.

Of course, my twenties were ages ago, so I listen to these records with a kind of bemusement? Wistfulness? Relief? Probably all three. Because I do miss that inherently saturated Technicolor passion of emotions at that time, and I rather envy SZA and Lorde’s boldness and self-possession — I certainly was much more tentative at that age. (It might’ve helped to have oodles of critical acclaim, a record deal and some money of my own at that age!)

In a way, what I marvel at most is the way that their emotions ARE the main experiences of their lives, to be learned from, dissected, parsed for meaning and growth. I’ll be the first to admit that relationships, love and sex are still bedeviling when you get to your late 30s and 40s, but — and here’s the difference — you can’t stop and wallow and press pause on life to figure these out. Sadness, anger and betrayal aren’t the province of young love — in fact, I’d say they are more devastating and the stakes are higher as you get older — but there is no luxury of falling apart, of wallowing, or simply letting all those feelings just hang out. You just don’t often get that space when you get older, at least from my experience as a lady and a mother and a partner, and that’s interesting to contemplate.

Honestly, it’s been my experience that my emotional life’s ups and downs have been often treated as a fucking drag and inconvenience by my jobs, my partner, and many others, who rely on me to keep going and perform physical and emotional labor as a mother, friend, partner and more. You have to fight for that space to be vulnerable, open and honest — to feel like you are entitled to emotional space, to self-care, to put up the boundary that says ‘Leave me the fuck alone for a bit, I’m having a feeling.’ Maybe foregoing that is a supposed hallmark of being an adult — but honestly, is that really healthy? There’s a line between indulging emotions and neglecting life. But as I get older, all I see around me is evidence that NOT granting our emotional lives proper attention and care is toxic and ultimately harmful to us and people we love.

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