The City of Absurdity Papers & Essayes
The Detective in 'Twin Peaks'  by Andreas Blassmann

4.3. 'Split Selves' in the Black Lodge

Cooper and Laura in the Lodge Cooper's responsive reactions in his Red Room dream are now opposed to his wooden stare and his misconceiving glances during his walk through the red curtains that leads him deeper into the maze of the Lodge. "A reaction shot reveals Cooper, wooden, eyes wide open but unseeing as glimmers of piercing light blink through a darkness of will that is the man's inner fog" (Nochimson, 'Passion', 96). Nochimson attests a "power failure" ('Desire', 156) in Cooper when he enters the Lodge. However, she is applying this term in association with Cooper's intuitive powers, i. e. the abilities that identify him as a new detective. In terms of male power, it appears that Cooper experiences a withdrawal of his initial knowledge and a drawback concerning the conservative detective's will to maintain rational power. The acceptance of the Lodge's entities as subjects cannot be maintained. In this altered state, Cooper cannot stand the inner division of his own self as it is presented to him in the Lodge.

As Deputy Hawk warned him a confrontation with the Black Lodge in a state of 'imperfect courage' would lead to a loss of the soul. The Faustian element of both selling one's soul and splitting one's soul reverberates in the Black Lodge. Hawk refers to the Black Lodge as the 'shadow self of the White Lodge, through which every spirit must pass on the way to perfection'(Lavery, 19.6).

The discovery of the existence of a white lodge and a black lodge only reinforces the sense that the narrative is shifting into uncanny oppositions and repetitions, patterns that seem to point to disastrous, but definitive endings. (Nickerson, 275)

Indeed, the show attempts to summarize all of TP's secrets in a nutshell during the final sequence in the Lodge. I observed how Cooper experiences an uncanny meeting with Laura Palmer. The failure to understand her messages has been blamed on Cooper's new love interest Annie Blackburne. It appears as though the female element would cause Cooper to lose control in the Lodge. He "encounters a succession of threatening women in the Black Lodge" (Desmet, 106). Not only Laura appears before Cooper as a threatening image, he also meets his long lost love Caroline in the form of an uncanny 'Annie split self'. The doubling of Annie/Caroline clearly alludes to the Gothic Soap Opera plot. The apparitions of the Gothic Soap Opera characters in the Black Lodge function as a reminder for Cooper's decreasing strength. Cooper's transformation from the open feminine seeker into a conventional hero becomes evident. The revengeful return of the past, as it has been initiated by Windom Earle, is continued in the Black Lodge. Earle wants to finish his revenge plot when he asks Cooper for his soul in exchange for Annie:

Like many questing heroes...Cooper is actually brought low by his own values rather than a seductive woman. Stoically offering his soul in return for Annie's safety, Cooper engages Windom Earle in manly psychomachia, so that he is finally undone by his chivalrous code of honor and by the patriarchy's drive to destroy rather than accommodate the feminine. (ibid.)

Falling back into conventional patterns, Cooper realizes the split between fear and desire. As a result of this conscious realization, Cooper will turn into a split self himself:

The self, which had been one, becomes two. Unable to resolve the paradox of the unity of fear and desire, the self seeks to escape its paralysis through division, attempting to obtain the capacity to act by reestablishing the division between fear and desire, self and Other, terror and pleasure. But this division only deepens the paralytic self-hypnosis, and the fragmentation of the self destroys the identity it was meant to preserve ... the enthrallment is unbreakable, trapping the protagonist forever in the Gothic world... The character who can achieve critical, analytical distance from the state of enthrallment, its revelation of the fragility of the self, can escape both the enchantment of its possibilities and enslavement of its horror. Out of the Gothic fantasy comes such a character, the detective. (Day, 26f.)

In the Lodge, Cooper falls back into a mental state in which he is trying to make sense, very much like the traditional male detective. In his helpless attempts to rationalize and thus take charge in the Lodges, Cooper fails and turn into a split self. In terms of genre, Day's statement goes hand in hand with my remarks on the formulaic transformation in TP. Where the traditional detective formula evolved from Gothic conventions, TP takes us from the detective's story back to the plain of the Gothic.32 The detective cannot 'achieve critical, analytical distance from the state of enthrallment' anymore. In the Lodge, Cooper rather experiences the opposite. Trying to gain critical and analytical distance within the Lodge prevents Cooper from understanding the Supernatural Gothic. Instead, Cooper will merge with the otherworldly realm in a way that will lead to a destruction of wholeness, 'trapping the protagonist forever in the Gothic world'. The new detective striving for unity ends up as a fragmented identity himself. Thus, he seems to join the entities in the Black Lodge who appear to Cooper as doubles, or, as The Man from Another Place calls them, 'Doppelganger' (Lavery, 30.12).

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32 Diane Stevenson mentions Poe's development from the Gothic to the detective story in reference to the motion picture "Twin Peaks - Fire walk with me", which I will briefly mention in my conclusion: " Like Poe's Gothic tales, the TP movie borders on psychological revelation. It similarly puts us inside the unreliable point of view of a disturbed consciousness [Laura Palmer]. Interestingly, however, the unreliable subjectivity affords for Lynch more of a natural explanation than does the detective's objectivity in the television series. For Poe, when he moved from the Gothic to the detective story, it was of course the other way around." (Stevenson, 79)

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