Welcome Back to Listening Post Alpha. Today’s topic is:
Remember Richard and Linda.
But when and why?
When can have many answers, but why…why is specific. It isn’t because of Richard Horne, or the unseen, wheelchair-bound veteran Linda who lives in Fat Trout Trailer Park, but rather, as we are all now well aware, because of Cooper and Diane. Whether you believe that Cooper and Diane literally become different people named Richard and Linda or not, the significance of those two names has been with us since the beginning of The Return and deserves a little extra attention.
Traditionally, names don’t have much meaning within the greater world of Twin Peaks. In fact, perhaps the only significant thing about names is that they are either extremely individualistic (Gersten and Darya are good examples) or often repeated twice, even three times. Variations on “Robert”(Bob and Bobby the Jacoby brother), Caroline (Mrs. Earle and Carrie Page), Phillip (Jeffries and Gerard), Douglas (Milford and Jones), Mike (Nelson and Bob’s friend) so on and so forth. This is realistic in the regard that, yes, there are many Roberts and Mikes floating around in the real world. But in literature, this is practically unprecedented. It’s too easy to confuse who is who, or at least, that’s what the authors of such works tell themselves.
Richard and Linda, however, have special significance. We were outright told to pay attention to them. Normally, I would have gone and automatically looked into the significance of the names, except that, per the history of there being little to no special importance to names chosen in what appears to be an ultimately arbitrary way, I didn’t think I would have to. I was wrong.
By the end of the finale, I knew I had to look back at the name Richard. There were several in-universe for Twin Peaks: the ultra-paranoid Richard Shaver, author of the Lemurian stories (as seen in TSHOTP) and the infamously paranoid Richard Nixon, apparent sometime possessor of the Owl Cave Ring. If we follow this paranoia thread through, the Richard of the diner sequence, who is a greater mix of Cooper personalities, could fit into that same vein.
After looking into the direct meaning of the name – from the Germanic meaning brave, power, hardy, ruler – I tried to think of any other famous Richards in the mix and one above all sticks out:
King Richard I, the Lionheart and the Crusader, spent his entire life at war, if not in the Holy Land, then elsewhere closer to home. He has been mythologized as a great King, just and fair, but whose quest to ‘win back’ the Holy Land (which was never his to begin with) was ultimately folly and caused more hurt to his own people, in addition to the forces against which he pitted himself, than it ever could have achieved for good.
Cooper has long been seen as a white knight. We’ve talked about his Arthurian Quest quite a bit. Pairing that information with the knowledge that the Blue Rose task force was really going after Jiao Dai, we are now set up explicitly with Cooper as a Knight of the Templar, as it were, hard and fast on his grail quest – to find Jiao Dai and additionally, to save Laura Palmer – which is also known to be folly. Richard, immortalized as a great king, really had very little ambition, was caught sneaking through Austria after being shipwrecked and was held for a hefty ransom, unable to return to England until several years later, his release paid for by “a quarter of every man’s [English citizens] income for a whole year”.
Dale, whom many revere for his intuition, general good-heartedness and unflinching bravery, has fallen short of that bar in the Return, and, like Richard I, was put on a pedestal where he didn’t necessarily belong. Cooper is a good person, but he is human and fallible. Like Richard I, we need to see Cooper as a force for good more for our own benefit than for the sake of truthfulness. He is the pillar around which we viewers rally, and if he cannot be seen as morally and ethically righteous, the Good versus Evil argument becomes a grey area that is difficult to transcend – thus, the more real to life mix of characteristics in Cooper (as Richard) when he makes it to Judy’s Cafe.
A second famous Richard is Sir Richard Burton, whom I mention here because of his particular association with entering into the unknown, specifically regions of the world which in his day were considered exotic and dangerous. He is famed for his interest in eastern cultures, religions, languages and practices. He also made a pilgrimage to Mecca in strange harmony with Richard I. Cooper as well makes a pilgrimage to his own spiritual center and Holy Land as manifested in the locale of Twin Peaks. Despite his learned ways, mostly as a side effect of his proclivity for travel into the vast unknown of the western consciousness, Burton was also a renowned fighter, having fought in the British army while in India. He ultimately gained a reputation for being an ‘against the grain’ fellow, much like Cooper, who doesn’t necessarily fit the confines of typical ‘law man’, or even typical ‘man’ to a tee.
Cooper, Burton and The King Lionheart are all Richards in the basic sense that they go someplace, with a goal, namely that which requires them to do battle, while also struggling to balance the many facets of their person, as well as facets of what it means, stereotypically, to be a man. Richard is the most realistic Cooper, a Cooper that could exist in our world, three dimensionally, whose character is more typically grey than that of the black aligned Doppelcooper or white aligned Agent Cooper.
Linda was a different beast. There were no other Lindas apparent in the greater Twin Peaks mythos, aside from the one not seen on screen, so there was nowhere to run with that concept. Approaching this name, I outsourced for ideas from my coworkers. Linda, in this precise form, doesn’t go back as far in history, but it does have its roots in older forms of the name, such as Sieglinde. There are several directions to take from this starting point, but the post apt that I find is the Sieglinde sonar decoy of German U-boats, used to direct attention away from a sub while it was escaping. With a different vowel ending such as -i or -a, the base form lind is a proto-germanic referential to a serpent, which, as we are all well aware, is generally a symbol for secrecy, backstabbing and untrustworthiness.
Knowing this, I can’t help but think back to the concept of the two Dianes when Cooper checks into the original hotel. That means we have the Original Diane, Tulpa Diane, Naido, Red Headed Diane (who may or may not be Original Diane. In my personal opinion, the Original Diane has been dead a long time), and the copy of Red Headed Diane. There are almost as many Dianes as there are Coopers.
We know that the Tulpa was a decoy, and Naido was also potentially a decoy. And then we have the two Red Headed Dianes. I’m not sure that anyone has figured out what was up with that yet, but, considering that I don’t believe that Original Diane and the Red Headed one are the same, that leaves us with another Copy, who also has a decoy. A decoy for what is yet to be determined, but the intent doesn’t appear be wholly good natured. The two Red Headed Dianes made for the first stepping stone in some of the more disturbing sequences of the two part finale. There is no way, in my mind, of making that scene anything less than ominous.
Additionally, Linda traditionally has the equal opposite meaning to Richard – soft, tender – which allows her to continue to serve as a counterpoint figure to Richard, especially as the two seem to embody the sacred feminine and masculine, as I once proposed about the Fireman and Senorita Dido. In the Albanian tradition, the name Linda relates back to birth and fertility, which could connect with the Secret History (which will be elaborated on by others). This is in relation to the fact that Jack Parsons’ wife, Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel, had distinctive red hair, and double wife? Are Richard and Linda practicing sex magick to enact the working of Babalon? I don’t have that answer for you now, but the name itself lends credence to the concept.
The other angle, or lens through which we can view the name Diane is in the Völsunga saga which contains a character called Sieglinde, or Signy for short. The Linda of this story marries a man whom she has warned her family against trusting. He then contrived and succeeded in murdering her whole family, save one brother, who she managed to rescue using only her wit. Then, after attempting to achieve revenge against him by using her sons – her brother deemed that they lacked the necessary courage and told her to murder them. She did – she sleeps with her remaining brother (while in a different guise, so that he is unaware) and has a child who assists his father/uncle in murdering the tyrannical king. His death is by fire, and willingly, claiming that the events of her life have been too much, Sieglinde walks into the fire and is also destroyed.
To parallel the Sieglinde of the Völsunga, Diane is unwittingly pitted by Doppelcooper against her former co-workers and friends ( = – ) ALL) with what appears to be the intent to mislead and eventually murder them. She attempts to save them as she tells her story and comes into the knowledge of her tulpahood. Then, the next iteration of Diane, in Naido, also attempts to alert the persons of the Twin Peaks sheriff’s Department to DoppelCooper’s deceit. As Linda, she sleeps with ‘Richard’/Cooper, (see the sex magick angle again). In the Red Room, Diane’s tulpa is not content, but at least fully aware of who and what she is. Knowing that another of herself is out there, she burns up into nothing and Red Headed Diane crosses the mile marker 430 into the other world, both essentially walking headlong into the fires of their destruction, fully aware of what they were doing.
The Serpent/Decoy, the sacred feminine and the tragic mythological figure make up Lindas which follow a variety of traditional role stereotypes for women. She’s the hardest one to pin because we can’t be truly sure if we’ve met her. The only words we have of hers are in the letter she writes to Richard. Perhaps, rather than representing Diane as a whole, she represents the women of the Twin Peaks world as a whole: placed into stereotypical roles, but transcending them at the same time.
Can I verify any of this? The answer is no. Perhaps, as my co-worker John so aptly joked, Lynch and Frost just liked the names together, a la music duo Richard and Linda Thompson. When we finally meet Richard and Linda, it’s unclear. Are they already becoming Richard and Linda when they cross the mile marker? Does it occur mid-coitus? Does Cooper ever really become Richard, or is that just the identity he retains in the world he’s entered, real or imagined? Is Diane Linda already when she places her hands over his face, as if erasing him from the context of their relationship, or only after she awakes, sometime before him, has she transitioned into that other person who ‘no longer recognizes’ the person Richard has become. Is it because Richard is still Cooper, while Diane is fully Linda? Is there a greater, insidious level to Diane from the moment we see her with her cherry-red hair, or when she appears, waiting, for Cooper on the other side of the curtain? Is her decoy at the hotel Linda?
The details of their personage are murky and only lead to more questions, and the information about their names, and the people who have also laid claim to those names, makes for an interesting understanding of perhaps the two people we know the least about in the world of Twin Peaks.