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

4.4. The Doppelganger

As Nickerson observes "the most significant Gothic convention at work ... in TP is that of the double" (Nickerson, 275).. In the town of Twin Peaks doubling seems to be a common structural pattern.33 In fact, the Soap Opera world consists of such an enormous abundance of doubles that it would require an extra study. At this point, it appears to be more significant to merely observe the 'metaphysical doubling' in the Black Lodge.

The actual entrance of a sphere that formerly existed solely in the detective's Red Room dream leads to a reversal of Cooper's positive merging with Laura. Now we encounter a dubious, or even evil, double of Laura, as well as of other TP characters. The common motif of doubling has an uncanny connotation in the Black Lodge. Here, the doubles appear before Cooper with vacant eyes, suggesting an existence as 'shadow selves'. Cooper's vision is blinded. One could think of Irwin's comments on the classical detective's concealed mind once more. Retreating into the self-absorbing experience of the secluded mastermind merely leads to a "victimizing" of the "masculine-coded rationality. It ends by reducing rationality to a narcissistic, selfdestructive game of no-difference" (Irwin, 70). In a way, Cooper, through entering the subconscious sphere of the Lodge in a wrong mental state, rationalizes in accordance with conventional detectional rules. Trying to find the ONE chance out between two worlds, Cooper employs the worst of all possible approaches: he isolates himself from the entities and emotional encounters in the other sphere of the Lodge, and thus retrieves to a regressive attitude comparable to the Gothic hero.

In this state, Cooper also experiences a return to the qualities of the rational traditional detective. However, where the classical detective entombs himself in his own mind, Cooper chooses the Black Lodge to seal himself of from the experience of the Other. In this fragile condition, Cooper is attacked by BOB, a force whose brutishness seems completely opposed to Cooper's goodness. Nochimson declares that "phallic energy is a continuum with BOB on one end and Cooper on the other"(154).34

I have described the relation between the detective and the murder victim above. Yet, it should be noted that since the beginning of the classical detective story there has also been a significant relationship between the detective and the killer. In fact, the detective and the murderer can be seen in a doubled relation:

The doubled relationship of the detective to the criminal is another commonplace ... Dupin does what ... Dorian Grey, Henry Jekyll ... cannot do: he confronts his double and survives`, indeed, for the moment at last, triumphs. The detective, unlike the Gothic protagonist, can confront his double without anxiety. He can live comfortably with the fact that he has within him the potential to become something monstrous that he belongs, in part, to the world that he opposes. this acceptance of his own doubled identity frees the detective's powers of understanding and analysis. Thus, he cannot be enthralled by the images of fear and desire he encounters because he accepts that he has both fear and desire when he looks over the edge of the abyss. (Day, 53f.)

Cooper, however, encounters the killer BOB in a state of mind that recalls the Gothic hero's anxious distinction between fear and desire. In addition to his emotional imbalance, Cooper also retreats from his new methods at the moment of truth. Cooper can neither accept his Bi-Part Soul, nor indulge into his mind-body connecting Tibetan method anymore. In the very moment of entering the testing ground of the Lodge, Cooper's mind is set on his fear of Earle and about Annie, but maybe also his desire for Laura (as displayed in the Red Room dream).

Cooper enters the Black Lodge, which can be regarded as BOB's power center, in a mental state that appears like a fusion of the traditional detective's logic and the Gothic hero's fear. The will to control and to take charge is applied to BOB who masters the rules in the Lodge. Instead of letting go, as he did in the Red Room dream, Cooper is trying to hard, in his attempt to become a questing hero during his visit in the Lodge. The quest, however, is not to find his inner self, but to rescue another subject, i.e. the conventional heroine Annie Blackburne. Thus, during the chaotic and confusing goings-on in the Black Lodge, BOB attacks Cooper with his own ugly double and "the fragmentation of the self destroys the identity it was meant to preserve"(Day, 26). Cooper appears to merge with the 'Killer BOB', yet not momentarily, as in the case of the classical detective, but for an infinite time:

In TP the abnormal wins out but it stakes its claim at the very heart of the normal, in the body and soul of Agent Cooper, so that in the end normal and abnormal are seen to merge indissolubly. (Stevenson, 74)

The distanced identification between classical detective and murderer becomes fatal for Cooper, the openminded player who enters his testing ground unprepared and meets his supernatural nemesis in a state of deep fear and emotional instability. As we will see, the possessing spirit BOB is able to turn his victim into an actual physical split self, i.e. a doppelganger:

The ending of TP appears as disastrous, as it is the merger of Cooper with his shadow self. He is, in the black lodge, overtaken by an alternate version of himself ... that merger of the morally superior Cooper with the depraved and chaotic BOB is a gesture of firm, if disturbing closure. (Nickerson, 275)

The end of TP suggests a rather negative outcome, indeed. Leaving the Black Lodge, after a close encounter with BOB, Cooper returns to the normal world of Twin Peaks. For a moment, it seems as though he had broken the code of the Black Lodge and returned to the safety of his apartment. Waking up in his hotel bed, he announces that he 'needs to brush his teeth' (Lavery, 30.14). The viewer is tricked into believing that Cooper is back to his old 'consumerist' self. Yet, looking into the bathroom mirror Cooper faces not himself, but the image of BOB.

Smashing his head into the mirror, Cooper bloodies his forehead, just like Leland did right before his death.35 Both Leland and Cooper seem to go mad over the realization that evil has taken control over their mind and their body. It appears as though this time there would be no one to guide Cooper 'into the light'. Instead, the latent double relation between detective and killer has turned into an almost perfect symbiosis. The sign BOB/Leland has been replaced by the sign BOB/Cooper. The initial question of 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' had been replaced by the question 'Where is BOB?' after the solution of the murder mystery. In the end the question of 'Who is BOB ?' can finally be answered: BOB is Agent Cooper.

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33 "It should not be surprising that a series called 'Twin Peaks' should be filled with doubles. In fact, there are several dozen examples of doubles in TP, typically serving as mirror images of good and evil, original and imitation, appearance and reality." (Ledwon, 262). Doubles can, for example, be found in a close observation of the relation Cooper-Gordon Cole (another fatherly shadow), Cooper-Albert (another detectional shadow of Cooper) or Cooper- Truman (an allusion the Dupin-I-Narrator doubling that I observed in the first chapter).

34 Here, we are once more confronted with Poe's very first detective story, where Dupin, the epitome of the superior intellectual Super Ego is confronted with the brutishness of an orangutan, a rather crude way of establishing a metaphor for the unconscious ID. As the ape is generally noticed as a narrational and metaphorical let down I will not follow the steps of Poe's first detective story any further. I will, however, stay with the analogy of detective vs.criminal (Super Ego vs. 'Id').

35 Carroll suggests that this action mimics "the most feared of the evil savage's practices - the scalping ritual." (Carroll, 291)

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