“For some time there was a widely held notion... that the 'thinking ocean' of Solaris was a gigantic brain, prodigiously well-developed and several million years in advance of our own civilization, a sort of 'cosmic yogi', a sage, a symbol of omniscience, which had long ago understood the vanity of all action and for this reason had retreated into an unbreakable silence.” Stanislaw Lem
My fascination with the theme of doppelgängers resurfaced
a year ago, after seeing this film. I’ll say two things on this subject,
mirroring the (non-)duality of the Black and White Lodges.
Without going into the folklore or the psychiatric and neurological underpinnings of the doubling (not something I could do anyway), there’s a lot to be said about someone’s
inability or unwilingness to see a phenomenon as a whole, to create meaning out of complexity. And that is frighteningly relatable.
This is what I wrote to a friend a year ago:
yeah, i'm just struck by the film. of course
to me it does seem to be an exploration of sexuality and of how female
sexuality--body, matter, nature itself--is traditionally construed as abject,
immoral, and ultimately terrifying. reason can't even "fit" two
aspects of the psyche together, so they are literally seen as belonging to two different
people, even though the body is still one and the same.
In Twin Peaks, the
series, we see Laura as an absence, a supposedly blank stand-in for the
anonymous multitude of the abused and the murdered. (I disagree with this
reductive interpretation entirely but it’s out there.) In Fire, Walk with Me, we get to see Laura as a living girl, in her
horrific, almost Antigone-like fatality and endurance. What’s missing here is
the other Laura, the not-Laura, the one Dale meets in his dream. In other words: what’s
missing is the force born out of her trans-dimensional pain and struggle, the
force forever filled with secrets. The secrets of a paradoxical kind, both gentle and savage, sheltering and burning.
Two points, two Lodges, two sides. Except that they coexist
and overlap. They shift back and forth, in fragile, hardly perceptible motions, littered with silver enigmas. And it takes genuine love and compassion to traverse the abyss of coexistence
and not get destroyed.
this eeriness does not simply come from something invisible
Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait des personnes dont la condition intérieure
soit semblable à la mienne, au du moins je peux m’imaginer ces personnes, mais que,
autour de leurs têtes, vole continuellement le corbeau secret comme autour de
la mienne, cela je n’arrive même pas à l’imaginer.
—Franz Kafka (Yes, I realize he
wasn’t French… That’s the only version I’ve got right now)
I never meant to see the small hills and the fire.
I cannot write about The Black Lodge. There’s no writing
about The Black Lodge. There’s walking around it, possibly in it, via writing, but it’s the traversal of space that really counts.
It’s your bodily motion, your fear of standing still, your refusal to stand still,
your footsteps, your minute halts, your hardly perceptible shifts, and carefully, even painfully sustained intensity, at the
needle-like point of convergence of the physical and the mental.
It’s the bodily motion of someone who knows that if they make the wrong step, or if they fail to make a
step, if they pause or hesitate at the wrong moment, they will die. Or they
will want to die. But they won’t be
It’s this inexpressible, intuition-driven tension that really counts.
Writing comes in the wake. Trivially, belatedly so. It means preciously little next to
the utmost bodily concentration in the impenetrable darkness.
I will share a personal detail because this is as personal
as it gets. In fact, I’ll share a few personal details. My first explicit
reference to The Black Lodge dates back to about fives years ago. There was
someone I cared about deeply and I told that person: “I have this feeling, I’ve
always had this feeling that my soul
is trapped in The Black Lodge. I can’t feel it most of the time, but I know
that it’s the place where it’s kept.” I don’t remember what they said back.
The photoshoot references a dream, through the deep blue
calm water covering the floor. Here’s the description of it that I shared with my
friends very recently:
“I actually don’t dream a lot. My sleep
has always been really messed up, ever since I was a teen, and I have
nightmares every so often, including one recently, but it was pure affect. I
did have this one dream once that I kept recalling a few days ago. The dream is
from a couple of years ago, possibly more. It’s about the future of Twin Peaks, of what happens after. Of
course it’s obviously related to lack of closure we see in the series, the way
it crumbled into nonsense. Again though, there was no plot or action: it was a strange
cave-like space, drowning in water (Pearl Lakes, I assume) or blue light. And I
was an observer, a witness, seeing ghostly images of the beautiful dead girls,
several of them, the girls who participated in the contest towards the end of
Season 2. And then there was some
action. I being shown how one of the girls was murdered, by way of a spectral flickering projection on the wall, and I kept turning away, it was something unspeakable
and horrific, I couldn’t watch. But what makes me recall this dream, after all
this time, is the affect and power it held: it was what happened after, it was
the future of Twin Peaks, the
unwritten, unseen part. And the affect, for the most part, was sorrow and
mourning. I’ve honestly never felt anything like that in a dream before or
after that. The intensity of sorrow and mourning was just utterly striking, I
still can’t get over it.”
A few weeks ago a long-time friend told me about a book called
We Monks and Soldiersby Lutz
Bassmann. He thought I’d like it. My friends have uncanny instincts like that. And
he sent it to me in the mail. I found the following words in it: “The black
space is the space after fire.” And then: “The black space is the space after
pain.” I read the words and I just sat there for a long time, alone in my room.
Very, very still. At that moment I knew that some things could still be said, even about this space. I was holding it in my hands, the testimony to sayability, however partial and fragmented it may be.
Like someone damaged by inadequately extensive and most
likely dramatically unnecessary philosophical training, I can’t ignore the
question: “Does The Black Lodge exist?” I’d love to, but I can’t. The colloquial
form of this question is: “So what’s up with your Twin Peaks fetish?”
And yes, it does. It exists as that which makes visible the terrifying
intensity of someone in the dark, someone in mortal danger. When the tiniest
movement means the difference between life and death. When someone turns their
fragile, scared, feminine body into a primal, visceral receptacle, the
receptacle fatally fractured by the slowly descending delirium, to sense the
echoes from the future in order not to die. In order not to want to die.
Furthermore, I’ve come to think of the obsessively liminal
imagery of Twin Peaks (the threshold
dwellers, the doppelgangers, the intermediaries, the innocence devoured by and
returning as fire, the owls flying through the dimensions of darkness, the Black Lodge witches) as a sublime synesthetic instrument of differentiation and
a way of talking about many incommensurable things. Or, more precisely, about the very fact of incommensurability. An instrument that allows
one to articulate, finally, the
perfectly nuanced witchcraft, the arcana, of trauma itself. The witchcraft of
trauma is what it comes down to. A kind of Book
of the Dead written by the intermediaries who “remain ethically bound to those who wander in vagabondage after death,” with the pages torn out. Pages with poems, pages of writing, private pages.
(Interestingly, since we’re talking about non-coincidences, the opener to We Monks and Soldiers is “Constant
drumming. Silence during the text.” A line from another book I’ve been reading:
“They march to the beat of a different drum, whose rhythmical percussive
cadence was born of trauma.” I think it’s cool. Don’t you?)
Thus, a new means to talk about stuff. To invoke and draw
crucial lines. To differentiate, to experience the multiple abysses of separation. Because. Let’s face it. We really can’t talk about mourning,
pain, sorrow, love, purity, courage, forgiveness, intent to kill, cruelty, and
torture in one and the same language. There’s a radical split between those who
suffer and those who feast on and take pleasure in the suffering of the other. An extra-worldly instrument of
differentiation comes into existence and creates whispering, echoing, crying (if Maddy’s crying and screaming
the name “Laura,” during her own savage murder, is not chilling to the bone, I
don’t know what is) resonances in the necessary, archaically enigmatic tension between light and fire,
between truth and hallucination, between the supernatural and the incurable.
The black space is the
space after pain.
And here’s my one insignificant certainty, after my sensory contacts
with The Black Lodge. Whatever you make of it. You need an almost-untenable shamanistic precision to
ward off that which may come after.
P.S. At the crossroads of the above-mentioned dream and my
realization that, in my mind, Twin Peaks is
a different kind of language, I’ve come up with the
endearingly crazy idea of re-imagining it in the symbols of the Tarot cards.
Let this be the beginning. The Black Lodge is The Tower. This card follows The
Devil and we note that, in the Major Arcana, there’s a narrative cohesion
between the cards that follow each other. The Tower symbolizes the fire, the
lightning, the thunderbolt, the arrow, the House of God. Curiously, Paul Huson
points out that the word Dieu might
have been a corruption, since it’s the word Diefel
that appears in early decks. Which means it’s “the Devil’s house.” Other
interpretations include ruin, downfall, change, catastrophic deaths, loss,
reversal, vision, hallucination. So much for that. For now.
As I’ve told Dammi: “This will literally be a visualization
of dreams.” And thank you for that. Also many thanks to the lovely Kanjena for
joining me in the space where mysteries are formed.
Makeup: Madrid Solo
Body Tattoo: Endless Pain Tattoos
Top: Eshi Otawara