Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: Global Warming and Twin Peaks
From: (Kip G. Moore)
Date: 1991-04-15, 16:46

The following text is a transcription, copied without permission, of an
article found in CMU's 'alternative' news source, "The Student Union". 
I thought it might be of interest.....
The article is entitled "War and a 'Green' Criticism".

"(Andrew Ross, professor of cultural studies at Princeton University,
delivered the following paper, titled 'An Ecology of Images', on the
aftermath of the Gulf War and its implications for an
ecologically-inspired form of political criticism, last week at U. of

"My second and concluding brief example is drawn from the more
sublimated end of the images of ecology spectrum, not the best example. 
I'd like to close with a few comments about 'Twin Peaks", a TV show that
has monopolized much of the conversation of film-literate audiences in
the U.S. since its first airing in the spring of last year.  Almost from
the first time I saw the opening credits of 'Twin Peaks' I have been
inclined to watch this show about a Northwestern logging town as a
commentary about ecological and environmental questions.  If 'Twin
Peaks' is one of our first examples of ecological camp, as I think it
is, then it surely will not be the last.  One of the enduring effects of
'Twin Peaks' is surely its influential reshaping and re-imagining of the
Pacific Northwest at a time when urgent ecological questions are being
asked about the timber economy of that region.  Recent Congressional
debate about these issues has centered on the protection of the northern
spotted owl (even though it is only one of the many animal and fish
species threatened by the clearcutting of oldgrowth forests).  It is
this owl which has increasingly gotten bad press in 'Twin Peaks' since
Bob, the mystery killer entity, was involved with owls in some way, and
since, according to Laura Palmer's diary (the commercial version),
Laura's own psycho-sexual history was haunted by attacks by owls,
imaginary or otherwise.  In the light of the current ecological
challenge to the timber industry, it is hardly surprising that 'Twin
Peaks' taks place in a lumber town where the surrounding environment is
depicted as harboring threatening, evil forces, likely aliens, for whom
the owls may indeed be serving as telepathic communicants, perhaps even
the Log Lady's log as well.  The owls, we are repeatedly told, "are not
what they seem," and may in fact turn out to be benign agents in the
narrative.  Nonetheless, the environment is one in which Nature, in
Lynch's work generally, is seen as Darwinian, hostile, and complicit
with the threat to human life in a small town.

"In the light of this demonizing of the environment no sequence is more
crucial in the show than the scene in the pilot in which the sawmill is
shut down for the day by its female owner, Josie, against protests by
its female manager, Catherine.  Here, we see the spectacle of a conflict
over labor, a conflict between two women who, it is significant, are the
two people who were in charge of primary economic production in this
town.  Both commit transgressive acts.  Josie shuts down the mill, and
Catherine gratuitously fires a worker--the first and only mill worker,
as far as I am aware, to appear in the entire series.  (You wonder where
all these workers are--it's a big mill in a small town after al.) 
Neither Josie, nor Catherine, will be forgiven for committing such
transgressive acts.  Alongside the firing of the worker--the first
intimation that all of these workers, eventually, will lose their jobs,
after the mill is arsonized--the halt in production at the mill is the
first public sign that ther will be a crisis in the community.  The
crisis is generated by the death of a woman, Laura Palmer, and
publicized here by the transgressive acts if these two women.  You did
not need to be a feminist film theorist to know that these were very bad
signs indeed, and that they did not augur well for the future of women
in the series.

"In the light of the ecology movement's 'threat' to the male workforce
of the Northwestern logging industry, it is perhaps no surprise to come
across this story about a small town whose lumber economy is thrown into
crisis by actions involving women, both alive and dead, and by
mysterious environmental forces that involve owls and aliens.  Perhapps
it is also fitting that it is Josie, an Asian woman, who has power over
theeconomy, and who halts the mill, since the Northwestern timber
industry has been dependent on the Asian market for its highly
profitable export business over the last decade.  It is Josie's face,
staring into a mirror as she applies her lipstick, that composes the
first shot in the pilot--a completely gratuitous shot, but one which
suggests an origin for many of the resulting crises in the show:
femininity, foreign-ness, and dreamy narcicissm.  With a figure like
Josie in charge of so many of the determinants of the show, it is no
wonder that the masculine revenge of the show will be slow but sure
(including Josie's death), and only fully apparent after the fact,
rather like Hegel's Owl of Minerva who only spreads its wings at dusk."

Whew.  The opinions expressed here are NOT (necessarily) my own, so
please don't flame me....Typos are my own.