TV & Radio

Oct 13, 2017

Keane: the doomed quest for meaning in Twin Peaks

If there's meaning in Twin Peaks: The Return, it lies in the meaninglessness of existence, and how we can best cope with it.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

"I'm not gonna talk about Judy; in fact, we're not gonna talk about Judy at all, we're gonna keep her out of it.

-- Phillip Jeffries, Fire Walk With Me (1992)

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5 thoughts on “Keane: the doomed quest for meaning in Twin Peaks

  1. Xoanon

    It was an astonishingly good series, though often not easy to watch. As you say, there’s a dreamlike quality woven through it that ends up inhabiting the viewers’ dreams. For the two weeks after episode 8 with its atomic bomb back story, in particular, I found my thoughts returning to it over and over.

  2. andyg

    Not only heroic but a completely enlightening essay, Bernard! (Particularly love your summing up of the wonderful Episode 8–I didn’t think it was possible to describe this weirdness in words but I think you’ve gone as close as anybody could–and is–ever going to get .) Thanks for helping to deepen my already very deep appreciation of this amazing season.

  3. Brushtail Possum

    Yes, it was a great series, one that would have taken a long time to develop. I was vaguely aware there might be a cogent plot but thought it would be too difficult to figure out. In fact your explanation would take a few readings before I really understood that, let alone the series.

    “The most avant-garde hour of television ever broadcast” sounds appropriate. In comparison there is nothing much worth watching.

    Nice review!

  4. matt harris

    Great artile, thank you. Entirely appropriate that you left this with the tag “cinema” and not TV, Bernard, because Lynch has made another leap forward with his episodic but very filmic presentation of The Return. I felt Inland Empire was him breathing into the long form, enabled by his eventual embrace of digital film and the freedom of creativity it enabled.
    Agreed about the almost obsessive need for uncovering mystery that Cooper and the FBI have, and my pet theory is around Judy, or Cao-dai: an eastern spiritual tradition who happens to hold Shakespeare, the one to coin the word dream, as a prophet. Also, jiāodāi: Chinese, meaning “to explain.” These tie together both the dream nature of the show, even of life in general, with Lynch’s reluctance to provide explanation of mysteries, the engine of wonder and exploration. Secrets, sure, they can be kept or uncovered, but mystery is always more than that.

  5. Merrie Trixie

    It’s incongrous, I realise, but in the days before he was a commie apostate and still a media theory “cogitator”, Keith Windschuttle said he believed in the notion of polyvocality, where, crudely, if enough peeps/ pissants said the same thing it must mean something. Well, I reckon Bernie’s latched onto this, but with a twist: he thinks cos he’s congenitally unable to keep schtumm he has something interesting to say always, about anything, solo voce, whether it’s on his barren little patch of Canberra and its southern ‘burbs or on, for this while anyways, the generally blameless and anodyne Lynch. But as the sinister dwarf said, pour quoi?

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