Enquiry Into Evil


“Black Lodge/White Lodge” is the 25 Years Later version of the popular point/counterpoint style of debating, wherein two sides take opposing views and hash it out on stage. Here, we’ll be debating the finer points of Twin Peaks lore, in writing, for your reading pleasure.

In an interesting twist of creative quantum physics, today’s debaters are: Zuzu Cooper and Zuzu Palmer!

The topic is: What really happened during the nuclear explosion?

Black Lodge: by Zuzu Cooper

The nuclear explosions tore a hole in the fabric between two worlds, allowing evil to enter.

As a case study, let us examine animals out in the wild. There is no evil in nature, there is merely survival of the fittest. Does the seal being chased by a shark imbue the shark with extra-personality qualities such as evil? Does the shark feel remorse or guilt over killing to survive? Does the seal feel anger at being targeted? Does the seal’s family harbor a grudge against the shark that killed their tribe member? No. The shark is doing what is in its nature to do — hunt, eat, swim, survive — and so is the seal.

But when was the first time a human in whatever sapien form committed a harmful act against another out of spite? Anger? Frustration? Opportunity? And what prompted him to do such a thing? He surely didn’t learn it from his peers, who had no language for evil acts nor for good ones. They existed to survive. But spite, anger, entitlement, and all those things that lead to evil acts suddenly appeared. And fellow humans would have known something was off. An evil act has no place in the basic survival repertoire of the human species, but is rather one that yields a personal benefit in its cruelty. It becomes a show of force, of dominance, shifting what was once balanced into a lopsided balance of power that becomes addictive and must be maintained through new acts of evil.

An example from more recent human history: Did you know that the Lakota didn’t have a word for rape until after colonization? The concept was outside their scope of understanding, the relationships between the sexes being symbiotic and life-affirming. Sexual violence was an unimaginable concept until the European colonizers started using it to dehumanize, humiliate, and attempt to breed the tribal out of America’s indigenous peoples. Evil is learned, that is for certain. But who first taught it?

The logical conclusion would then be that evil had to come to Earth from somewhere. Another planet? Another dimension? That we can’t know. But we can say with a great deal of certainty that evil is not indigenous to life on Earth. And did evil enter all at once? Probably not. The likely explanation is that it has been leaking in all the time. And the more it has spread and taken root in particular human hosts, its power has grown.

If we were able to orchestrate such a catastrophic and man-made event like the first atom bomb tests that rupture the very cellular makeup of humankind, it makes sense that this rupture would have the power to tear through the very fabrics of our universe. It is likely that the enormity of the nuclear explosion was so grand in the larger tapestry it even drew something of a map for evil to find us in our corner of space and time.

The development of the atom bomb was fueled by a particular strain of human evil, that which valued large-scale destruction over creation. And evil begets more evil.

The seal being hunted by a shark is nature and survival of the fittest, strongest. But man hunting a seal? Man hunting a shark? Here is where we can ask ourselves whether or not the man has evil intentions. Is he hunting for food or sport? If it’s the latter then we’re already one foot in evil territory — destruction for the sake of it.

Doctor Jacoby says: “We are creatures of darkness and light, capable of barbarism and limitless cruelty, and also love, and laughter and the creation of the most sublime beauty. We are both these things, clearly, but which are we more of? I don’t know the answer. Is ‘evil’ a thing — independent, outside of us — or is it an essential part of who we are? I don’t know the answer.”

I don’t know the answer for sure either — can anyone really know? — but from where I’m standing evil is an independent thing just as much as the silverware with which you eat your dinner or your dog who needs to go for a walk. Don’t feed the evil, and it won’t grow.

White Lodge: by Zuzu Palmer

The nuclear explosions birthed new evil into The Lodges, but evil has always been here.

First off, we don’t 100% know that the seal doesn’t think the shark hunting him is a monster or evil. We know seals form deep family ties. They recognize each other. They communicate. Just because we don’t know exactly what they are saying to each other when they speak doesn’t mean they don’t have the same levels of mental sophistication that humans do. Seals often show more compassion than your average human, think about that for a moment. Maybe to the seal the shark is the embodiment of evil. We simply don’t know.

But when it comes to the evil men do, that’s a sea horse of a different color. If you’re asking me if evil has always existed or if it’s new to humanity then I have something to ask in turn: Has good always existed? Because there is no good without evil. There is no evil without good. Just like there is no beauty without the qualification of ugly. There is no freedom without its dichotomy of oppression. There is no happy without the concept of sadness. There is no love without hatred. Remove one and the other ceases to exist as well. What we are left with is simply what is. Nature at its purest.

The more advanced human society has become, it seems its penchant for evil deeds has only gotten worse. And while I agree that evil spawns more evil, it comes straight from us as the source. We need not look any further than our own reflection in the mirror. And the reason it gets stronger is because so many evildoers get away with it. And the more they get away with it, the more they give license to others to follow in their evil path.

Did the nuclear bomb tests create evil in the world? No. Did the tests help evil thrive and dig in its roots deeper? Absolutely. We need only look at the devastation wrought when the American government dropped those first nuclear bombs in Japan. We can also look at how nuclear waste back at home in America were quietly dumped in minority communities, causing huge spikes in cancer and other illnesses as well as destroying the local environment. Evil in grand acts and small ones.

And let’s also not forgot who helped create the first atomic bombs: actual Nazi scientists who received asylum in the USA so that we could “benefit” from their research into large-scale destruction. The fact that Nazis played a hand in nuclear weapon development is proof enough that evil preceded the H-bomb’s detonation.

Sometimes the evil men do is a cold and calculated attack on another person or an entire group of people. At the same time, evil has been around for so long that in its modern iterations it can sometimes border on the banal.

Doctor Jacoby says: “We are creatures of darkness and light, capable of barbarism and limitless cruelty, and also love, and laughter and the creation of the most sublime beauty. We are both these things, clearly, but which are we more of? I don’t know the answer. Is ‘evil’ a thing — independent, outside of us — or is it an essential part of who we are? I don’t know the answer.”

I think I do: If evil wasn’t an essential part of who we are, it sure as hell is now. Can you imagine a world without it? And if you can, then can you also imagine a world without good? Without love? Because if evil isn’t innate, then none of those other human emotions are either. If we want to enjoy the positive binaries, then we need to accept the negative ones, too.

Do you have a topic for Black Lodge/White Lodge? Do you want to write it? We want YOU! Send an email to Lindsay and let us know your ideas and you could be featured in an upcoming Black Lodge/White Lodge debate!


Written by Sezín Koehler

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