Pod People: Diane Podcast

Podcasts made up a huge part of many fans’ experiences of Twin Peaks: The Return last summer. In our latest feature, Pod People, we talk to the people behind the microphones of our favourite podcasts to find out what they’ve been up to and where they’re going next.

As part of the Pod People series, I have happily been assigned two of my favorite podcasts for interviewing: Diane Podcast and Counter Esperanto Podcast. Each of these stand out for their unique approaches, one that comes to the series of Twin Peaks seeking its inner layers of magical and folkloric rapture and the other pondering with literary lucidity the conspiracy, the Weird, and the eerie within. This feature is all Diane Podcast. Unfortunately, Mark had to sit this one out, but Rosie, Bob, and Adam were gracious enough to take time out of their days to answer some questions for us. Enjoy.

Rob: Diane is its very own Twin Peaks resource, I think, and it’s a unique one. It believes in the magic woven into the narrative. It stops to appreciate its folkloric nature from varying educated backgrounds. I saw the list of Twin Peaks references you released a few days ago. How do you like to approach your episodes? Do you all pull from those sources, or are you mostly relying on your personal experiences?

Adam:  Hey Rob, thanks so much for asking us to contribute. It’s a treat to hear you describe us as unique. We try hard to have our own flavour.

While I rely on my own thoughts, I’m weirdly addicted to criticism. I’ve read almost everything on the list, and refer back as and when I need to before we record. Much of it has helped me get to grips with Lynch’s work from an artistic and formalist point of view. I’m also fascinated by writing that grapples with what Twin Peaks has to say about the human condition. Jonathan Foltz’s  piece for the L.A. Review of Books on Season 3 and “late Style” creeps into everything I have to say about Season 3.

The TP community also has been a great source of knowledge and inspiration. God, Joel Bocko’s video essays catalysed so many thoughts when we were first starting. John Thorne’s Essential Wrapped in Plastic accompanies me to every recording session. I could go on and on.

Rosie: I have absolutely zero expertise in film or media analysis and I should confess I’ve only read one of the sources in Adam’s list above!

When I’m preparing notes on a given episode of Diane, I often draw from my background in the anthropology of religion, just because this is a way of getting to the spiritual underpinnings of Twin Peaks that are the most interesting aspect of the show for me. So, I see BOB and it reminds me of work on demonic possession, or Andrew Packard’s cursed puzzle box reminds me of the anthropological observation that gifts contain the spirit of the giver. I don’t think this is massively different from what anyone else does watching Twin Peaks. The incredible strength of the show is that it leaves so much of itself unexplained or enigmatic, and so everyone has space to dream their way into it and the ideas it gives you are reflected through your own experience and interests. You can see this when you look at the range of really personal responses to the show hosted on this very site.

Bob: Hahaha research ahahhaah. Haha. Ha. Hum. Um…

I guess I knew in the process and planning of making Diane that Ad and Rosie would always have that covered and do it better than me. I just tried to justify my presence by letting myself feel my way into each episode and chase down the bits that caught my attention or interest, follow them wherever they went. Quite often that led to Wikipedia pages, which I don’t think technically counts as research at all, but are often helpful for pushing you even deeper into the woods, and occasionally helping you find golden half-hearts hiding under stones.

Rob: Has the Twin Peaks Season 3 experience created a closure for you all, or is it more of a living environment that you keep up with regularly or simply visit when the mood occurs? Why is that?

Rosie: It’s closed for me. The world feels shut down and empty without Laura in it, and Laura was taken out at the end of Season 3. It’s a hell of a thing for a storyteller to do, genuinely audacious, and I applaud Mark Frost and David Lynch for taking us to that place of emptiness. Clearly, we can’t go home again. Practically, this means the thought of revisiting Twin Peaks feels bittersweet and I’ve been avoiding embarking on a proper rewatch of the original series or Season 3.

Adam: I revisit when the mood occurs although so far I’ve only revisited Season 3 and largely the final two episodes, which still blow my head off. I wasn’t someone who struggled with the close of the season. It was electric. Felt like the right ending and reinvigorated my interest in the work as a whole.

Yes, there is closure. I still think a great deal about Twin Peaks, and yet the way I interpret it means that I don’t feel the need for more story or more explanation. Which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t do (bad) backflips if a fourth season were announced – I sobbed when they announced Season 3 – just that it feels complete.

Bob: An open and living environment, most definitely – but also absent (Or maybe sublimated, squeezed down into the background where my subconscious can digest at its preferred pace). I am jealous of people who’ve been able to go back into Season 3 already and enjoy it. I do not think it lends itself to the same mode of casual but intensive telly-watching that I am used to these days: when we tried to re-watch Season 3 recently my wife and I bounced off the edge of all that dark gravity and gave up after just two episodes. We didn’t have the psychic resources required to commit. I am coming to accept that the doorway between worlds opens only infrequently, and learning to better watch the skies to find out when that next will be. Another year or two yet I expect.   

Rob: I’m not recollecting at the moment, though I’ve heard every episode, how each of you came to the original material (S1, S2, FWWM & early books). Starting fresh with Season 3, though, how did being a participatory podcast inform each of your continued experiences with Twin Peaks?

Adam: It’s been a blessing and enormously fun. Pretty much every time someone on the team will make an observation or embark on a tangent that fascinates and delights me. Many of them have informed my approach to the show, and even when they haven’t they often provide a laugh or spark a new direction of travel. It’s true to say that I wouldn’t have thought anything like as hard about Twin Peaks if it wasn’t for my beloved Diane crew.   

Rosie’s thoughts about spirituality have affected me hugely. That kind of perspective is sadly missing from much of the wider conversation. Twin Peaks is clearly deeply concerned with matters of the spirit, however you understand that term. Bobsy has done essential work keeping the woods dark and deep with his contributions around forteana and general weirdness. Those aspects of the show are rooted deep in my soul. Mark frequently staggers me with his ability to articulate the poetry of the story-world, which is another central part of the Twin Peaks experience that goes undiscussed because it’s hard to talk about.

Of course there’s another contributor to the podcast that it would be a crime to pass over: the community. I’ve had so many conversations with wonderful, smart people. Special thanks must go to our listeners, our fellow podcasters, John Thorne, and the contributors to this site. Oh, and to Christian Hartleben, Joel Bocko and John Bernardy for believing in us in the early days.    

Bob: I’d been with Twin Peaks for 25 years, but only had about 24 hours of being with each new episode of Season 3 before offering reflections on it. This was… non-ideal, as much as it was enormous  fun and actually essential to help me get my head even part of the way round what I’d just seen. Having the podmates and their insights to rely upon was invaluable.

I think with the early episodes of Diane we came close to offering as good an exploration of the early phases of the show as anyone has managed. I think it may take at least 25 years before I’m able to do the same with Season 3. I’ll let you know…

Rosie: Season 3 was really challenging, as Bobsy has said above. The turnaround was extremely tight. The production of Diane is handled by me and my other half Dave, and between recording the show and getting it ready to go it was easy to feel like you were missing the series itself. We were so lucky to have such a wonderful set of listeners, it was their questions, comments, and good vibes that kept the wind in our sails the whole way through. Of course, it helped that Twin Peaks Season 3 was so surprising and vibrant, there was always something to jolt your imagination.

So, it was an uphill climb but revitalising! Huge thanks to everyone who listened and also to Dave, who remains shrouded in mystery but is there in every cue and cut all the way through every episode of Diane. We’ve been watching Twin Peaks together since we were teenagers so being able to work alongside him on our coverage of Season 3 was a gift.

Adam: Upvoting Dave, without whom none of this would’ve been possible.

Rob: I get a bit stuck on each of your abilities to communicate the narrative having these deeper inlaid and magical properties. What new magic did Season 3 introduce for you? This could be as broad as the creators’ techniques or the narrative’s suggestions.  

Rosie: There are a couple of us on Diane who view Twin Peaks as explicitly magical, and I’m glad to hear that comes through to the audience!

My feeling is that Mark Frost and David Lynch are interested in matters of the spirit, and Twin Peaks is remarkably adept at engaging us on this level. So think of angels for example. Twin Peaks often represents Laura as angelic, but we also come into contact with angels through Julee Cruise at the roadhouse, and in Laura’s elevation at the end of Fire Walk With Me, and maybe just when people eat Norma’s cherry pie! All of these things aren’t just shown to be good, they’re forces for good; magic happens around them, and the experience of the viewer encountering these elements is like coming into contact with some wonderful benevolence. By presenting us with angels in all these different forms the show breathes life into the idea of angels as channels of other-worldly goodness and gives us an experience of what it might feel like to encounter one. The same is true for demons of course, and there are just as many different ways of representing evil in Twin Peaks.

The chief magic of Season 3 is the magic of resurrection. We all got to experience this magic when the show came back to us! In terms of the story this allows us a (slow) way back from the cliffhanger ending of Season 2 but also a way to think about our own relationship with a very old story. We can have something back but can we have the same thing? This experience of a simultaneous loss and recovery is a part of the entire fabric of Season 3 but perhaps comes through most poignantly in Rebekah Del Rio’s performance of “No Stars.”

Adam: Rosie has pointed to one of the principle magics of the show: how it involves us, the audience. Season 3 is particularly strong in this regard in that it’s built from broken stories, withheld information and fragmentation. As such it demands our active participation, not just as viewers but as storytellers, hence the prevalence, and necessity, of fan interpretations. It’s not just the characters who dream the world of Twin Peaks, we do too.

We’re used to describing Twin Peaks as surrealist, absurdist, sci-fi, horror, etc… All great terms that I use routinely but kinky category fetishist that I am, I prefer magical realist. Magical realist texts question the very idea of an objective reality and privilege subjective experience. Events recur, time doesn’t feel like a progression, emotions alter existence, dreams and reality converge to the extent that it becomes impossible to divorce the two. For me, that’s the essence of Twin Peaks, what with it being a story with trauma at its heart.  

I dunno, all this sounds terribly anal but these sorts of distinctions can seriously influence how you understand what Twin Peaks is doing. Course, our pals Karl and Jubel over on the Counter Esperanto Podcast make a great case for TP as Weird fiction, so…

Bob: Leaving aside dicta about the meaningful distinction between these terms, was what happened to Richard Horne a technological phenomenon, or a magical one? Where does what happened to Richard connect to our lived experience out here in reality-land?

Or to put this another way: Why won’t my mobile phone do what Mr C’s does?

Rob: Okay, let’s sell it. We all know a lot about it, but how are you selling Twin Peaks to newcomers in a paragraph or much less?

Adam:  God… ummm… It really depends who I’m talking to.  

As a side note, as much as it’s fair to describe it as capital A art, I find the term is sometimes used to exclude elements, like the soap-opera, that I adore. Lotta truth in soap opera.  

Rosie: Twin Peaks: the story of a girl who meets the Devil in the woods.  

Adam: Ding ding ding

Bob: I think you can get it on Netflix or something? Worth a look, check it out.

Rob:One of my favorite episodes, and it’s the moment of it, was when you all discussed the end of Fire Walk With Me’s ending. Where are you all with Laura’s angelic finale in the movie considering all of this new material?

Adam: So pleased that that episode connected with people in a big way. It was emotional.

For me the final scene is always and forever. I’ve got all sorts of explanations for that, having to do with the way I see Season 3 as Cooper’s spiritual journey and Twin Peaks as a whole as a plastic (dream) text where various things can be true simultaneously. Laura is saved for herself, but lost for Dale. Cooper has at least three different stories in Season 3 last time I checked! So yeah, there are as many dreams of Twin Peaks as there are characters. Some lead to salvation, some to hell. On a less highfalutin’ note, Fire Walk With Me is a complete story that can stand by itself. We lose sight of that when we fixate on the world-building aspects of Twin Peaks. Your very own John Bernardy once described the various texts as planets in a solar system, compete in themselves but gravitationally connected. Love that metaphor.  

Rosie: Our episode on Fire Walk With Me was difficult to record and it’s been really gratifying to hear it resonated with the audience. It’s tricky to unite the end of Fire Walk With Me with the end of Season 3 in a totally coherent ‘in-world’ sense. Laura is saved and she’s also wandering around with Cooper. Maybe we’re coming back to Twin Peaks habit of embodying spiritual forces or events in various different ways. Sometimes “being saved” looks like crying and laughing in the presence of angels, sometimes “being saved” looks like being dragged out of your own death by a well meaning FBI agent and getting lost forever.

Bob: Twin Peaks Season 3 was ferocious and unrelenting in its efforts to eat the viewer’s every understanding of what had gone before. While I would love to say that an inviolate piece of Laura’s core still sits in the lodge, reassured by Cooper and bathed in angelic light, and I can imagine a shard of space where that outcome is still preserved – I can’t honestly be sure.

It seems very possible, sadly, that peace was taken from her by Agent Cooper’s intervention. The fact that he risked undoing that state of grace was an act of terrible, cosmic hubris, and likely not something he will be able to atone for in one lifetime.

Luckily, he seems to have several lifetimes at his disposal simultaneously.

Rob:Do you find fans are still very much engaging with you a year out from the premiere of Season 3?

Adam: The conversations with our listeners and friends in the fan community haven’t stopped, far from it. So, yeah, feeling good about that. Mainly just feeling good that people want to talk about Twin Peaks though. That urge will never leave me

Bob: Twin Peaks was always big, but now it is gigantic. The field of discourse around it has had to grow exponentially and in unexpected directions to be able to encircle it. The eloquence and enthusiasm of the people engaged in this endeavour is expanding to accommodate these strange new demands quite admirably. They make me proud to be among them.

Rob: The Shadow Trap, how’s the experiment coming along? Are you enjoying the transition? It is now separate of Diane, but are you getting good feedback? Was it a natural or difficult transition from Twin Peaks?

Rosie: As you’ve noted Diane is a show with weird and magical underpinnings, I think it’s true to say that me and Bob are the members of the team who are most inclined to believe in weird stuff. I was making a show for our Patreon supporters about deals with the Devil and me and Bob got into a debate about whether the Devil likes all the Black Metal that is dedicated to him. I think definitely no, Bob thinks yes and also thinks I am playing with fire by presuming his infernal taste. It occurred to me that it might be fun to do a show where we take monsters quite seriously and try to determine their characteristics. That was the basic idea and Bob was up for it! We kind of refined the whole approach together.  

Adam: I’m not involved but big up The Shadow Trap. I feel like our listeners like our approach as much as they like that we talk about Twin Peaks, so having a show which allows members of the team to delve into the world of monsters is something that hopefully people will respond to. Going great guns so far.

Bob: One of the demands of recording Diane that I found so exciting was deliberately grounding my speculation on the basis of what was in the text:

Was there anything embedded in Twin Peaks itself which gave me an excuse to think about the identity of Laura’s killer through the lens of Vedic culture? No, not really.

Through Tibetan though? Yes.

The Shadow Trap is the same. Monsters are endless, so to have a frame to begin to understand them, we have to go back to the text. If the text tells us that Dracula looks like Gary Oldman – a short, alcoholic cockney with a crinkly mouth and weak chin – what does that tell us about the Lord of Darkness’ apparent ability to so effortlessly charm the ladies? The Shadow Trap is about restricting the way we think about these recurrent deformities of culture and seeing what new insights get squeezed out.

So far we are having a lot of fun with it. We have amassed a small but devastatingly sexy and intelligent core of fellow Shadow Trappists who are having fun with it too, and are confident we can engorge their membership as we continue to stuff strange spirits into our adumbrated shoebox.

Rob:Are we going to talk about Judy? Why or why not?

Rosie: Happy to go with Agent Jeffries on this one.

Adam: I’ll go there. If Bob is in part a way of expressing the sexual violence inflicted on a daughter by a father, then we need to ask what Judy says about Sarah’s role in those events.  The go-to answer is becoming: Judy embodies her failure to intervene. While I think there’s force to that reading, it risks ignoring the realities of living in a household where an abusive man dominates. Mothers in those situations are sidelined, made to feel utterly powerless, which is precisely how the Palmer household looks in Fire Walk With Me. That’s a horrific way to live – beyond comprehension, really – and certainly not something I’m inclined to straightforwardly judge Sarah for. Of course she drank her drugged milk and chugs Bloody Marys.

Contrary to Season 3 happy endings, which featured people letting go of their hurt, I view Judy as a monstrous pain that cannot be surrendered. It’s all that Sarah has left of Laura. Of anything. Parents of murdered and abused children report finding the daily torture of their loss and the associated guilt both unbearable and impossible to live without. We see that onscreen when Sarah/Judy smashes/cannot smash the picture and drags Laura away from Cooper.  

Bob: This may be something we are all quite deliberately ill-equipped to do. It seems likely that Jao-De (Jowday) is a demonic presence who dwells-in and manifests-through the gaps and deficiencies in our ability to describe reality. If we want to find a trace for this phenomenon in the text, if we want to understand how interaction with the demon feels, we should consider Sarah’s inability to talk about what Leland was doing to Laura, the impossibility of putting the taint of that crime into words, the pain of acknowledging that flaw in her world, the awful willingness with which she drank her medicine. We aren’t going to talk about Judy – because we can’t.

Rob:What can the readers of 25 Years Later expect from Diane podcast in the future, and how can we help?

Adam: Wow, between Diane, The Shadow Trap and other plans there’s so much going on. I guess the big news is that the core show is going quarterly, which feels right this far out from the third season. Every episode will be a bumper edition that focuses on a subject that people are excited to hear us discuss. We’re diving deep in our first episode – which will be published around midsummer – and taking a close look at the question of who killed Laura Palmer.     

We’ll also be producing content for our Patreon subscribers. I’m currently doing a series on Twin Peaks and tarot, which is proving to be a fun and enlightening experience. It involves meditating on Benjamin Mackey’s extraordinary Twin Peaks deck in an effort to find new pathways through the woods. So far it’s getting a thumbs up from our patrons. I’m also working on a series of occasional minisodes called “Linda”, which will focus on stories I love outside of the Twin Peaks universe.

Rosie: I am about half way through the first season of my own side show The Moral of the Story, which is being released on Patreon first. These are audio essays where I look at particular themes that appear and reappear in our storytelling and consider the cultural logics they convey. Themes covered so far are Dead Girls, Deals with the Devil, and The Makeover. It’s been a lot of fun to research, write, and record. The next episode on dying and rising kings will be out soon and the entire first season will be released for everyone in the Autumn.

I’ll also plug The Shadow Trap again, Bob and I are having a whale of a time hunting monsters in different films each week, please do come and join us we need a lot of help!

Bob: The experience of recording Diane has been immensely positive from a personal point of view, easing my transition into middle age and enabling me to better understand the young person I was when I first watched Twin Peaks. There is a small number of other texts which left a similar mark upon my soul, and a strong chance I will sit down one day soon and record my thoughts on them too.  

Furthermore, the world is full of Shadows and – with Rosie, Soundwave Dave and the listeners’ help – I aim to Trap them all.

Written by Rob E. King

I am a librarian, writer, and proud member of Twin Peaks and Robert E. Howard fandom. I've also somehow become the go-to writer for MTV's 90s animation series.

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