Pod People: Counter Esperanto

We continue our Pod People series in a conversation with Jubel Brosseau and Karl Eckler of Counter Esperanto Podcast. Jubel made a guest appearance on the Sparkwood & 21 Podcast on February 6th, 2016, where he discussed his early notions on Twin Peaks as perhaps Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Building off that conversation, Counter Esperanto released their first podcast episode following the release of Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks in October of 2016. Since that airing, the podcast has featured discussions as varied as the genre of The Weird, David Lynch’s politics, and produced audio narrations of Weird fiction short stories pertinent to their ideas.

Knowing all of that, we can say that this particular feature in the series would not be complete without it being a little, well, a little “weird.” For this piece, I will be joining Jubel and Karl within an episode of Counter Esperanto, where they answered questions for 25 Years Later. You will find that link below. Then in this feature, Jubel and Karl have continued the conversation, answering three questions exclusive to 25YL. 


Link to Audio Podcast

For the full conversation, please listen as I interview Jubel and Karl or read the full conversation below.


Podcast Transcript Followed by Exclusive Q&A:

Jubel: Greetings everybody. This is Counter Esperanto: Tangents about Twin Peaks. I am Jubel Brosseau, and I am with my cohost, Karl Eckler. So, we’re doing something a little different this time. Rob King of 25 Years Later site approached us and wanted to feature an interview with us on the 25 Years Later site.

Karl: What we’re going to do is we’re going to answer ten of his questions in our podcast.

Jubel: We are basically being interviewed from within our own podcast.

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Rob: So, this is Rob King of 25 Years Later. Karl, Jubel, thank you for having me on your show. I guess we’ll get started. So, my first question is that I know this podcast found its origins in marrying your backgrounds in the genre of The Weird, à la the Lovecraftian, to Twin Peaks. Has that led to new discoveries in the material, either one, and if not discoveries, how might they potentially inform the other in your estimation … as a general summary for new audiences to your podcast.?

Jubel: You said you wanted to take the first crack at this one, didn’t you?

Karl: Yeah, I’ll take the first crack. My particular obsession is in connection and influence, taking Twin Peaks as a starting point by which one can mesh with the interconnected of all ideas. It might seem initially a random choice, and it was for us—but it was also a fortuitous one. Peaks has some very deep connective tissue linking it with some of the farthest-flung pieces of Weird and Eerie work.

Once we started looking at it, it became obvious that the rabbit hole was in fact an infinite warren of tunnels and passages, and no one knows how deep it goes. That gives us the freedom to explore the material we’re interested in, while at the very same time keeping the connection with something shared, something familiar—in this case, the shared sensorium of David Lynch and Mark Frost, which we call Twin Peaks.

Jubel: The thing that was exciting to me, of course, was to talk about David Lynch, which you and I had privately thought of as a Weird artist in the capital W sense. I mean, yes, he’s a strange man, but there is a definite thread that can be drawn, pretty effortlessly, between Twin Peaks, especially, and some of his post-Twin Peaks work in that we’re dealing with dream worlds or just general dreaminess. He is a filmmaker who is almost unmatched in his ability to evoke the feeling of a literal dream, as opposed to a dream sequence, which is like a bunch of random weird stuff kind of thrown in that’s supposed to represent the subconscious. So, there is some common ground here, a lot of common ground between Twin Peaks and other Weird works. Like we’ve said many times, Counter Esperanto was something that we had devised as a way to finally put our podcast out about Weird fiction, and we realized that the way into this for a lot of people would be to talk about something that’s familiar. And so on one level, what we’re interested in doing is opening up Twin Peaks fans to some material that they may not have experienced.

Everybody at this point has heard of H.P. Lovecraft, but Guy de Maupassant’s “The Horla” is a really good parallel to the kind of entity that we have in BOB, where you have an inhabiting spirit, a malevolent entity that’s like hell-bent on destroying your life. It has these inscrutable appetites.

Karl: And at the same time may or may not exist.

Jubel: Exactly. Time and the splitting of timelines and different dimensions and things like that is stuff that comes up a lot in Lovecraft. He was somebody that very effectively married science fiction to horror and came up with a brand of cosmic horror that instead of supernaturalism, we’re dealing with things that have a natural cause, but we just don’t understand what that is. You know, we’re unable to understand what that is and so we perceive it as supernatural, and that’s something that I posit is a very likely explanation, or a very likely situation, that we have with the Lodge Entities who are trying to communicate with us, but we’re only able to sort of grasp fragmentary snippets like a broken frequency, which is a metaphor that Lynch uses a lot with his electricity and radio waves.

Karl: Right. While I feel Lynch is more concerned about the breakdown in communication between human individuals. At the same time, his connections with the shamanic and the numinous, the Lodge Entities, betray his understanding that if it’s difficult for us to comprehend other human beings, our difficulty in comprehending entities that might exist in 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th dimensional space is even more tenuous. Any communication that results will be along the lines of chemists trying to communicate with ants.

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Jubel: And that’s exactly something that comes up sometimes when you hear about the ending of The Return, which is this worry that somehow Laura Palmer’s triumph has been undermined. You know, that she’s essentially just kind of shown to be a pawn in some larger game. I think what we’re encountering here is in Weird fiction, you know, because Twin Peaks is a work of Weird fiction. We’re dealing with the idea that there is an indifferent cosmos or at least that there is a whole pantheon or conglomeration of entities that, like you say—they’re like trying to communicate with ants, and if they’re able to see time on these levels where The Fireman is, there are these machinations at play where he’s giving Cooper warnings and he’s telling Freddy to be at this place at this time and wear your glove, and suddenly, everything just kind of comes to a head all at once. We’re seeing that he’s able to see time as a static state of affairs, which means that the notion of free will, at least in this world, is illusory. So in that sense, yes, Laura has had her agency removed. At least, we are now giving insight into what it means that Laura made those decisions. It’s that, quite possibly, they always would have been made. At some level, it is static.

Karl: Or this is merely one shot of the classic ending to “brainfuck movies.” At some point, you know, the camera will zoom out and you’ll see that everything that’s happening has actually been happening in a speck on a canvas in a museum that’s part of a larger world, and then it will zoom back out, and that larger world is a marble that’s being played by some six-dimensional octopus creatures on some alien planet, and it zooms back out again, and yeah, I just quoted the end of Men in Black. But the funny thing about the end of Men in Black was in fact the fact that it was kind of poking fun at these attempts to show how our world is a world of bounds. Or rather, our world is perceived as being boundless by us within it, but it’s actually incredibly small.

Jubel: Right.

Karl: That’s possibly truthful, if you want to read deeply into cosmology and Hawking and all that, but it’s also true figuratively. Our individual lives are very small. We interact with a few hundred people, generally speaking, and that’s about it. But we’re part of a civilization that encompasses over seven billion individuals. That’s the real world zoomed back, and in much the same way, our conversation has zoomed up to 100 million light years across. But to reconnect it back to the original question somewhat, we can explore this material by looking at a bunch of different ways. And one of the ways that we can look at it is both as bound and unbound as a static point in a story that incorporates all three seasons, or we can look at the original television show, the international pilot, the ghost-written Laura Palmer Diary, the Cooper Tapes, the more modern Secret History-type novels. We can look at those as being, each one, separate art forms. Each one is related in form and content, but it might not in fact have any actual sequential interaction.

Jubel: Right.

Karl: Because each one of those could in fact be an artifact of another alternate universe, or to put it in more human terms, they are artifacts of individual artistic endeavor and so they are therefore connected and interconnected.

Jubel: Yeah. And then there’s another level, which is when you start getting out of the fictional world altogether and you start dealing with this continuum of podcasts and commentators and places like the 25 Years Later site and our podcast where there is this extra level of analysis that’s happening to all of that, that whole body of work.

Karl: It really is like I said before we started recording. It’s an ouroboros all the way down.

Jubel: Right. I’m going to move on to question two.

Karl: That’s probably for the best.

Jubel: Yeah, this is going to be a tangential interview but I’m sure that you would expect nothing less.

Rob: I mentioned backgrounds in that last question. So Karl, I know you have a background in library science. I’m a librarian myself. What I remember about your first episode was both your abilities to bring this—I don’t know—historical, educated knowledge to the Secret History of Twin Peaks. So, would you mind speaking to those backgrounds and how they have served you best in putting this unique podcast together?

Karl: Well, thanks for calling me educated and historical. (laughter) I sometimes think of myself that way but only when I’m fooling myself. My library science work really informs Counter Esperanto in two ways. The source-influenced cloud of scientific publishing and how that need to be published in a particular journal, so that one could be cited the maximum amount of times, so that one can hopefully advance one’s career—how all of that illustrates the importance of an idea’s genealogy and how interacting with that genealogy changes one’s outlook and in turn, how one will influence other scholars and other writers later on down the road.

Additionally, when I worked in an archive, or rather a special collection, as one calls it when one has a library rather than an archive, I was startled to realize the lack of investigation into the vast body of information that is being hopefully stored for later scholars. I’m not saying that people are slacking, but there’s just so much that it’s hard to get to all of it. That in turn made me think about the broad corpus of influential but largely forgotten works that have been invisible hands on the rudder of modern culture, and in turn, the desire to wind my way through those dark currents towards their source, sort of germinated there—especially when somebody else turns the lights off and I was stuck in the middle of the cold room and couldn’t find my way out. Yeah, but hey, at least the archives are always 68 degrees even when it’s 103 out. So, I was terrified, but at least I wasn’t sweating.

Jubel: (laughter) You mentioned broad corpus of influential but largely forgotten works. That’s something that definitely calls to mind Mark Frost’s particular interests. You know, the idea of a dossier full of possibly flawed or misremembered, otherwise compromised information, that no one may ever see.

Karl: Exactly. The way I approached The Secret History particularly was as, as what it was; it was an archive, and an archivist knows that the bits and pieces, the relics and papers that go into an archive, they tell a story, but more than that, they tell stories. And one can make the case that if one could understand all the stories that are coming out and the viewpoints, what shaped them, then that would point us towards something like objective reality. But when you read through each individual story, each tape of an anthropologist trying to save a dying language, each diary of a midshipman on the journey with—what’s his ass that opened up Japan to America? Perry—those tell individual stories that frequently don’t exactly mesh up with the official view of history or reality, or sometimes the culture and society that we want to think is true, it has a different truth.

Jubel: We’re trying to get down to the nitty gritty of what’s written down and how the history is fungible based on what information you get your hands on, which makes Frost the sort of daytime … Frost represents the sort of daytime concerns, and I think Lynch is the nighttime concerns, the subconscious, all of the things that slip between the cracks. There’s a structure to what Frost is doing, and David Lynch represents the sort of background to everything, at least as far as Twin Peaks is concerned. What you talk about there with largely forgotten works is that space between the two mentalities, between Frost and Lynch, the secrets and the mysteries and the politics of the former, you know.

Karl: It’s like they’re a two-person Roshoman.

Jubel: Yeah, if you haven’t seen that film by Akira Kurosawa, be sure to not miss it. It’s been a while.

Karl: (laughter) Yeah, it’s laying around here and there.

Jubel: Uh, question 3.

Rob: So what are your go to Twin Peaks resources? Do you like to depend on your own experiences, or has there been a particular publication or other podcast that has enhanced your engagement with the material? And to kind of follow up on that, how has your engagement with the community been?

Jubel: I say that prior to beginning our podcast both of us were listening to Diane Podcast, Twin Peaks Unwrapped, Sparkwood and 21. We’ve corresponded with Sparkwood & 21, you know, way back when. And most of the Twin Peaks podcasts that popped up in anticipation of The Return. This was a valuable resource for different ways of thinking about and approaching Twin Peaks as well as a primer on the craft of podcasting in general. You know, when we were starting to think about how to structure this, I think Diane [Podcast] was probably the one that was the most inspirational because of the fact that they were …

Karl: Academics, of a sort, anyways.

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See the Diane crew’s excellent Twin Peaks background story in Twin Petes’s feature: “Une Âme Solitaire: Fans in a Living Novel – The Diane Podcast Team.”

Jubel: They’re bringing in the techniques of inter-textual analysis. They’ll talk about comparative religion. They’ll talk about mythology, other films, different literature. When Mark Fisher’s Weird and The Eerie came out, it was them that recommended it to us, and we devoured that book. And it’s always there, in the back of our mind, whenever we think about any of this. On my personal shelf, I have TV Peaks by Andres Halskov. It’s real … it’s excellent. I’ve used it as a resource for academic papers, Twin Peaks FAQ by Bushman and Smith, John Thorn’s Essential Wrapped in Plastic, Brad Dukes Reflections, the collection of scholarly articles called Full of Secrets—that’s been out awhile, and it’s, it’s essential reading—Laura’s Secret Diary by Jennifer Lynch, The Lynch on Lynch book, Dennis Lim’s book David Lynch, and Lynch’s new book, Room to Dream, which we will definitely need to talk about. I ended up with an extra copy of it for reasons I won’t go into, and I’m going to send that on to Karl, and eventually, we’ll have a lot to say about it. What resources and particularly podcasts … you’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts than I have lately, so what are some good ones?

Karl: The sad state of affairs is that, for reasons I can’t get into, about four or five months ago, my life kind of got thrown into a blender and switched to puree. So most of my library is in storage or at a location I don’t have access to. I’m also no longer employed by an academic institution or at school, so I don’t have access to a lot of the more academic databases that I’d really love to have access to. Because I can’t go at it from that attack angle, except with the few papers that I can find that are freely available online, I’ve been mostly looking into … I kind of hesitate to call them primary sources, but instead, I’ve been taking a fairly deep dive into podcasts that explore the more liminal spaces of the human experience. In particular, I listen to about 20 hours a week of weird, conspiratorial, alien, and occultish podcasts. That’s occult in both meetings: the hidden and the mystical. Here’s a few gems: Wyrd Signal, The Shadow Trap, The Last Podcast on the Left, Hidden Experience, The Witch Wave, The Unexplained with Howard Hughes, Unexplained, the podcast by the always amazing Richard MacLean Smith, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, The Podcasters Guide to the Conspiracy, a fine show by two New Zealanders, one of which actually makes his living as an academic theorist, specializing in theorizing about conspiracy theories. Yes, he is a conspiracy theory theorist. It’s awesome. You have to check those guys out.

There is the ever excellent Gralien Report that keeps me up to date on […?], while maintaining at least one or three toes in the skeptical pool. I’d like to nominate the Astonishing Legends Podcast as a well-researched deep dive into a number of seminal oddities that stretch from Robert Bigelow’s involvement with Skinwalker Ranch all the way back to the beginning of human civilization at the Gobekli Tepe archaeological site, and they have stops for bell witches, mothmen, and the Nazi Bell along the way back to present day. It’s entertaining and very well researched. They have a lot of great guests that come on that show. And while they might be bigger believers than I am, they are not the sort of believers that insult one’s intelligence by going “Dude, what was that?! Is that a ghost?!” on Ghost Hunters for 27 straight seasons. Astonishing Legends cuts to the meat. They don’t have any fat, and they’re not boneheads, so they’re great. Sensory Style’s a little bit more freewheeling and less scripted. What I mostly do is just cram my brain with a million bits from those and other sources, bits and pieces, short links with thread and rope, and Finley’s fine twine, and then Jubal pulls on them until something interesting pops loose. It’s not the most academic sort of process, but it seems to usually work, so far.

Jubel: That’s quite a list, and most of those I haven’t actually heard, so I will definitely be sampling those in the next few weeks, and I should put those in the show notes when we post this. 

Karl: Yeah, I’ll definitely be doing that. I’d like to point out that The Shadow Trap is a project by two members of Diane.

Jubel: Oh, right.

Karl: I’d also like to point out—I didn’t say so much about it—but Wyrd Signal, I describe them as an academic podcast about “brainfuck cinema.”

Jubel: Right. Let me move on to number four.

Rob: I just recently asked the Diane Podcast to answer this question, so I’m curious about your response. Has the Twin Peaks Season 3 experience had a closure for you all, or is it more of a living environment that you keep up with kind of regularly or just simply visit when the mood occurs, and then, why is that for you?

Jubel: For me, both. The ending of Season 3 renews the delicious sense of suspended horror that we had at the end of Season 2, which let’s face it, was essential for the enduring appeal of the show, if even at a cult classic status. And rewatches, for me, are often scattershot affairs, where I will watch a random stretch of three or four episodes and then maybe stop for a week or two and then go back and watch the end of a season or the beginning. Or in the case of our podcast, I will watch pertinent episodes or scenes to refresh my memory for a specific talking point, but as far as like Season 3 goes, I couldn’t have been happier by the way that it ended. You know, once the sort of like shock and horror wore off, I thought it was brilliant. And if they do continue it, there will be a kind of sadness of losing that terrifying ending.

But I’m sure we can live with it, because they did it once and maybe they’ll do it again. But I’m happy with the way it ended, and there’s so much there to unpack that it never really will end.

Karl: It is an infinite rabbit hole; that’s for sure. I just realized that one of the ways that I think about Twin Peaks is that especially Season 3—it’s been described as a road movie—the plot’s been kind of a vehicle that has always pulled out of a particular parking spot and drifting through a long Sunday drive into the shared world that Frost and Lynch have created, have shown us all the different aspects that we can view that world from, and twice now, it’s parked itself more or less back in the same parking spot. It’s the same lot. Given how it was shot and edited, like a handful of puzzle pieces that are trapped in a roadside bush, the rest of the box kind of forever lost in the abyss of time. I have to assume this is a continuing process, and I know that Lynch and Frost intended this as a swan song for the show, it’s mythos, possibly even their film careers. But just like any good systems engineers, they’ve left enough back doors into the narrative that another return remains possible, no matter how unlikely we might individually judge it. And yet working against the argument for a continuity is the idea that the entire aspect of the narrative is consumed in an ouroboros of circular time. Again, that could be just as much an illusion as anything and everything else can be in life, art, and most especially, Twin Peaks. Yeah, I’m very wishy-washy on this point.

It’s a statement that I like Season 3. I like where it is left off. I like where it began. I like the pilot, “Northwest Passage.” There’s not a whole lot of Twin Peaks I don’t like, and I look at each individual piece differently after different experiences or different readings or different arguments I get from other people who have seen it and point out something I didn’t know before.

Jubel: Question 5.

Rob: So, your podcast has taken episodes to share some narrated and well-produced readings. What does that process look like, meaning how do you choose a best story for your production? What is the workflow on those? And what would you hope your audience takes from that experience?

Jubel: The stories that we choose often come up in phone conversations, generally, not the ones we record but the ones where we brainstorm ideas. We’ll talk about some particular aspect, like say the concept of an invisible, malevolent entity who threatens to take over the protagonist and wreak havoc and corporeal form, as seen with BOB, and it jogged our memory on a specific story in The Weird fiction canon such as “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant. We mentioned that earlier. Often times, a theme will pop out of Twin Peaks, and then I will be able to immediately relate it to something that we’ve read. That will be a thread that we can pull on. As far as the process goes, Karl will have a lot more to say about that because oftentimes it’s his father that reads the stories.

Karl: Basically, Jubel and I will have that conversation, and I come up with a short list of readings we want to do, and then, I go find a DRM free, publically-available copy, print it out, get it up to dad on one of the days that I can drive the 40 miles out to where his place is, halfway up Mount Spokane. He really enjoys doing the work, doing the reading, but I have to admit that I am less enamored with doing the ten to twenty hours worth of editing that each one of the readings takes in order to get it into shape that I don’t feel bad about Jubel wasting his time on, because just the nature of doing readings is that there is a lot of false starts and vocal artifacts that need to be taken out so that it can sound … say, we could claim semi-professional?

Jubel: Yeah, I’d say it’s semi-professional. Yeah, there’s the sheer amount of editing that you do, which it sounds beautiful by the time I get it. Then, what I usually do is put a little bit of compression on it. Compression, for those who don’t know, is a way to make, to reduce the difference between the loudest and softer sounds. So you raise the quietest sounds to be a little bit higher level, and you might kind of squash the loudest sounds a little bit so that things sound even in volume. That’s one of the surefire tricks to having more of a professional sound. Another thing, too, is I have kind of like a bed of some atmospheres. I like to create 30-second loops or so that are mild enough and ambient enough that they can be looped for 10, 20 minutes, half an hour, and that doesn’t take away from the reading it just kind of creates a mood.

Sometimes I’ll have things kind of change slowly over that time so it will ramp up a little bit of attention, but I try not to get in the way too much of the reading. That’s really important.

Karl: Kind of like that Enterprise ocean of space sound that is in all of the silence in the show. If anybody has ever watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and have wondered why, say “why is the show so comforting?” Oftentimes, it might be the fact that during the whole show, there is this sort of engine thrum underneath all the dialogue you’ll hear that’s just there. It’s never actually silent. When I was in college and taking my first algebra class since I was in high school, like 20 years earlier, I would listen to the 24-hour loop of the engine sound from the Enterprise on YouTube and just have that in the background, and it made it so that I could actually get through my homework without feeling, you know, despair. (laughter)

Karl: Yeah, exactly. I actually listen to the same video quite a lot or my new favorite, especially when I’m trying to either concentrate or get to sleep. They have a twelve hour loop of an arctic ice breaker ship idling.

Jubel: Really?

Karl: Yeah, baby!

Jubel: Sexy. Question 6.

Rob: I wrote a paper last year that I presented at the Popular Culture/ American Culture Annual Conference—this was in April, I want to say, of 2017, just before Season 3 premiered—and I’m still looking to get that piece published. And it clearly needs updates since Season 3, but what it is actually looking at are the elements of The Weird and Twin Peaks, much like you to do. And it’s brought up some points. You two seemed to be the experts, in my opinion. I would love your take on some of this. I used the quote from Mark Fisher’s The Weird and The Eerie:”The weird brings to the familiar something which ordinarily lies beyond the form that is perhaps most appropriate to the weird as a montage. The conjoining of two or more things which do not belong together.”[1] So I take that quote and transition it into David Lynch’s use of psychogenic fugue, with the blurred overlays in his films, like Laura’s face over a faded background in the red room. Do you see a connection or utility in fugue states and The Weird, I guess is what I’m wondering?

Jubel: I’d say that Weird fiction is full of fugue states, One of the most harrowing of which is the “Shadow Out of Time” by Lovecraft. This one would bear reading from us if it wasn’t so long, but it involves a person who loses years of his life to a trans-dimensional entity who takes over his body in order to study life: earth, life, and culture. Montage may certainly fit the concept of The Weird well but it doesn’t have to. Every 80’s movie that features, say a restaurant renovation montage set to the tune of “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” could hardly be called capital W weird, but Salvador Dali and Luis Bunueal’s Un Chien Andalou is full of montages that might fit the bill or some stirring sequences in Ingmar Bergman’s films.

Karl: “Dreams of the Witch House” I think is the other great fugue state in Lovecraft. Fugue states, shamanic experiences, and traveling to other worlds that don’t make a whole lot of sense, that operate according to rules other than that which we know on earth, is a staple of both horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

Jubel: Yeah, I can’t recommend enough the short novel by William Hope Hodgson, The House on the Border Land. That was published in 1908, and that might be the ultimate fugue state Weird fiction story.

Karl: That one at least is very definitely influenced by a great deal of theosophical underpinnings. My choice for what would probably be the ultimate fugue state writing C.L. Moore’s short story “Black Gods Kiss,” which is a story of—and I’m going to mispronounce this, I’m absolutely certain—Jirel of Joiry, which is in fact the very first bad-ass female character in a fantasy story because she predates Red Sonja by a good number of years. Anyway, fugue states are very common. How fugue states are represented is something a little bit more in the visual artistic realm then I’m really comfortable with talking about. Jubel’s the artist. I myself can’t really claim to be anything but kind of a fan of psychological or schismatic experience. From what all I’ve gathered, a lot of interpretations of The Weird issue from the vision quest traditions either via entheogens or psychological practices like meditation, sensory deprivation, contemplated prayer. The way to think of those particular actions, medications, and practices are as technologies that are like a radio. You can tune your mind into contacting something, what that something is I’m not even going to speculate, but other people have, and each experience, or see, something different. People might see UFOs from Beta Reticuli, machine elves dancing at the end of time, devils coming to tear your soul apart, or angels trying to lead you to heaven, or just possibly, a one-armed man in a red room.

My point, if I had one, is that at some point, I think The Weird issued from that experience, the touch of the numinous. That’s the essence of The Weird in my opinion. That experience is very difficult to describe. One of our two favorite authors, Philip K. Dick, had that experience, and he described it as getting to talk to God over a pink laser beam. As difficult as it is to describe, when one does describe it, it doesn’t make any logical sense, and incorporating everything that comes with that experience, the synesthesia, the twisted and illogical nature of the visions, the feelings, the emotions, the experience in general—yeah, I can definitely see how montage would be a very tempting method for depicting that experience in film. A super prime example of that is the forgotten, until J.J. Abrams did Fringe, was a movie called Altered States. Altered States is just pure Weird, distilled and high proof.

Jubel: The use of montage but also, as Rob mentions, the use of overlays where it’s like Lynch. He knows that providing one image isn’t going to get his idea or his feeling across. A perfect example of that is Part 17, when Cooper recognizes Diane emerging from Naido. That moment, we have his face superimposed on everything, on the reunion with Gordon Cole; Bobby comes in. It’s this reunion that we’ve been waiting for, but superimposed over this whole thing is this moment of recognition on Cooper’s face. Later, almost at the point we’re forgetting that he’s there or not even seeing that it’s moving but slowly, he says “we live inside a dream,” and it’s slowed down.

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When Lynch manipulates the duration of things and stretches things, it’s playing with time as well as space, and so, when you’re doing that in addition to layering, that is exactly The Weird experience being manifest in film. He’s creating several things that are clashing and in that place where they clash is the ineffable. And he’s a master at that.

Karl: I couldn’t say it better. I can say nothing else.

Jubel: Question 7.

Rob: One of my main sources for my paper is David Cal Clements 1998 dissertation “Cosmic Psychoanalysis: Lovecraft, Lacan, and Limits.” In that, he claims a limit between the daylight world and the weird. A fuller quote: “It is as if the batteries of the flashlight store the routine world of sun and the everyday ego such that they can be carried below into the unconscious the narrator thereby becomes conscious of what everyday ego would refuse to see.”[2] End quote. I use this to get the Stygian imagery of Twin Peaks, but you know, I couldn’t do that as well with The Return. Where are we in The Return? We’re out of the woods and in the desert. What are you to make of this?

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Jubel: This is a pretty complicated question I’ve had to read it a few times, to be honest.

Karl: Me, too. It seems like he’s talking about Persephone, voyages into the underworld, and that iconic portion of the myth of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, when they enter into the realm of death in order to return with a boon. What confuses me is that he doesn’t see that in The Return? I mean, I see that in The Return more than in the originals. So, I don’t know if I’m getting him correctly.

Jubel: What comes to my mind there is the issue of time-slippage, out of sequence scenes jumping between locations and The Return. This is something that manifests itself as time goes on. At first, you just kind of don’t realize that sometimes you’re seeing scenes that will come after something happens, and you realize that it’s actually taking place before something that happened one or two episodes earlier. And it’s not done in any ostentatious way, it just happens to be where he put it in the edit. Whether or not it’s written that way, I don’t know. But I have a feeling that what Lynch did was he started messing with not only duration but also the sequences of events.

Karl: One other thing I think we can know for certain about The Return, as far as anything can be known for certain, ever, is that time is out of joint. There is something very, very wrong, and it has to do with time. People are falling out of time, are being abducted and brought from one time to another. The scenes that we view are as you say, they are very subtly mixed up in their temporal order. We don’t know if one scene is occurring before another or how far before another. It is cosmic in how muddled the time stream is here in the same way that to reach back to my familiar ground, Lovecraft. The land in the water in the “Horror at Redhook” is cosmically interpenetrated. There are tunnels that reach into the water in ways that one cannot see from the land, and the land extends underneath the water in ways that one would not expect normally. There is something cosmically wrong about that liminal zone between two states. I think in The Return one of the things that it presents us with is a cosmic interpenetration of future and past. That, I think, is one of the underlying reasons why characters are always asking “is it future or is it past.”.

Jubel: The fact that there are obviously ways into this world all over the place. You know, there was … Freddy finds one in England; there’s one on the, I don’t know, 12th floor of this building in New York City. There’s one in an abandoned, newly-built housing complex in Las Vegas, and there’s one out in the woods in Twin Peaks, actually a couple, because where Naido appears in the woods is not Glastonbury Grove.

Karl: Because of its special properties, I think electricity has a way of both destroying time and space in Lynch. Therefore, one can step through the gate of electricity almost anywhere electricity is. But that’s not the only kind of gate that exists. There is, for the sake of being simple, there are just others.

Jubel: You wanted to talk about, here, the ninety-nine steps to the gate of deeper sleep in Lovecraft’s work.

Karl: Yeah, I think that applies to the limits portion of the dissertation “Cosmic Psychoanalysis: Lovecraft, Lacan & Limits” in the state that there is a liminal space between waking and sleeping. In one of the Lovecraft’s stories, which I cannot recall, which officer Randolph Carter is able to dream himself to a location where there is a stairway which has ninety nine steps. If you descend those ninety nine steps, it takes you to another gateway, and that gateway opens up into the dream lands.

The important part is there is almost a mystical ceremonial method by which dreamers can access that particular location, just as there is a particular ceremonial method by which in Twin Peaks characters can access the red room, the Mauve Zone, or its own or some of the other more outré locations that we see throughout the series.

Jubel: The Randolph Carter stories are fascinating because that is a whole cycle. I think it’s the dream cycle. Lovecraft is obviously known for his big monsters and stuff, but he was somebody who had very vivid dreams and was just fascinated by them to the point that he set a lot of his stories and a lot of his work in dreams, but also and as an indication that just like Cooper’s slipping into the Red Room in Episode 3 of the original series. Sleep and dream is just a gateway to a deeper kind of sleep, and in this case, is trans-dimensional location.

Karl: Exactly. And that trans-dimensional location is the place where the ordinary everyday ego cannot be carried. In my view, the Stygian imagery of Twin Peaks is even more front-loaded in The Return because our view is expanded, because we are not only in the mysterious woods of Twin Peaks, we’re also in places where there are additional possibilities than what we can see it to be possible in our reality. That just leads us more towards the same sort of imagery that Lynch’s giving us when time has slipped up and confused. It seems that space and matter and location are also bridged in ways that ordinarily don’t seem possible. The Dutchman’s hotel, the convenience store, the hotel in South America, they’re connected in ways that just don’t make any ordinary sense.

They operate on what we call dream logic, because that’s the closest thing we have to actually explain it. In my mind, if we really want to understand Lynch, it really requires a trip down those ninety-nine steps through the gate of deeper dreams.

Jubel: Number eight.

Rob: The Weird found some popular playground in the Pulps. Mark Frost gets us there a bit in the Secret History of Twin Peaks. Can you speak to us a little bit about the pulps, pulp fiction that is, like the old ‘zines and their role in the material of your podcast, key players in that world, and if Twin Peaks might have had a little of that pulp tradition in it?

Jubel: Twin Peaks is definitely part of pulp tradition but in a different way than maybe the original Weird fiction would be. It certainly mimics and mirrors and lampoons somewhat the detective genre, romance, soaps, and horror. As most fans know, the original was sort of a send up to the television that was popular at the time, and it was definitely a pulpy television. It was, there was usually a closure at the end of each episode but there would be still an overarching story, whether we’re looking at Dallas or Falcon Crest or something like that. It was more or less cheap throwaway television, relatively speaking. What Twin Peaks became with the film and with the books and with the show is something that sort of transcended a lot of that, but it definitely had a start kind of in that tradition. What would you say some of the big names in Pulp Fiction would be, Karl?

Well, background, just a little bit: pulp fiction was originally conceived of as a low quality, easily disposable source of entertainment that one wouldn’t think about too much, sounds a lot like television in the late 80’s early 90’s, doesn’t it?

Jubel: Right.

Karl: That’s where I’d say the big connection is. There’s also the disreputable pulp magazine called Flesh World that runs throughout Twin Peaks as well, but I think that’s more of a nod and a giggle than any major sort of epistemological through-line.

Jubel: Right.

Karl: Big names in the pulp magazines?

Jubel: Yes.

Karl: Probably the most famous name in the Weird Tales pulps is an author that it’s unlikely anybody has actually heard of. His name was Seabury Quinn, and his famous creation, which is sadly no longer as famous, was the character of Jules de Grandin, who was kind of a psychic detective, a pulp investigator version of Hercule Poirot, only granted it was French instead of Belgian, and that was close enough to not get sued by Agatha Christie. So, along with his assistant Dr. Trowbridge, de Grandin did a lot of journeymen work, investigating sickness, werewolves, and men who turned into monsters, or monkeys who turn into men from 1925 all the way to 1951. I really have to say that I’m a big fan of Jules de Grandin. I think that people could do worse than check him out. There’s a couple of volumes in the complete tales of Jules de Grandin coming out. I hardily suggest people check him out.

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That said, oddly enough, de Grandin has been forgotten, but our holy trinity of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Two-Gun Bob, Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, are the ones that really stand out from the Weird Tales pages, but Weird Tales is only one of hundreds of pulp magazines that were produced in the 20’s 30’s, up through the 50’s. A name that people might recognize more often, actually, would be Dashiell Hammett, who wrote a series of stories about his character the Continental Op, which mostly got published in Black Mask magazine, if I’m not mistaken. Those eventually culminated in a novel called Red Harvest, which is slightly influential in that it came to be the dramatic core of such movies as Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, and then there was that gangster movie with Bruce Willis whose name I cannot remember [Last Man Standing], because it’s very forgettable. But any time when a lonely stranger wanders into a corrupt town with two equally-matched, evil organizations and then proceeds to play one against the other, they’re retelling Red Harvest, and Red Harvest is a deeply, deeply pulp kind of novel.

Jubel: Another famous novel by Hammett is The Maltese Falcon, which was made into what is largely considered to be the first film noir with Humphrey Bogart. Noir is as much in the DNA of Twin Peaks as Weird fiction is. These are not necessarily things that Lynch and Frost were consciously putting in, but that’s the funny thing about The Weird, is that it has a way to manifest itself to certain people of a certain disposition, whether or not they actually consciously choose to use it.

Karl: Exactly, and one of the more interesting, tangential influences that I found poking around some of these things is the character of Mike Hammer, a large pulp character that came out of the short stories that Mickey Spillane was writing originally for the pulps, or for comic strips, which were even more pulpy than pulps.

Mike Hammer has had the cultural resonance that has come back into The Weird in the vehicle of an A-list current Weird author by the name of Laird Baron in his collection of stories called The Imago Sequence, wherein basically, what we have is Micky Spillane’s Mike Hammer-type characters confronting horrible things that lurk in the background of a Lovecraftian world.

Jubel: People who want to take a look at Mike Hammer should see one of the greatest film noir ever made which is Kiss Me Deadly in 1955. Mickey Spillane was considered really trashy writing. He was sort of like a guilty pleasure for a lot of people. He was wildly popular for a while. And Mike Hammer is the ultimate lantern-jawed, manly man, womanizer. He’s somewhat sadistic. He is, like Karl said, he is an arch pulp figure. The film was made by Robert Aldridge and A. I. Bezzerides , who were pretty liberal. I don’t know if they actually were blacklisted during the witch hunt days, but they were definitely on the left, and they hated the character. What they managed to do was make a film that wasn’t necessarily making fun of him, but they sort of subverted him in really clever ways, And so, you know, if anybody’s interested in seeing classic film noir that was huge influence on David Lynch—I don’t know that he’s ever name-dropped it—but there are scenes you will recognize from Lost Highway and a number of his films and also Pulp Fiction. There’s a MacGuffin in there, a Hitchcockian MacGuffin that’s one of the best in film history.

Karl: Exactly. And the opening scene of Kiss Me Deadly is pretty much every Lynch driving down a dark road at night with woods on the side that he’s ever done. It’s one of those touchstones in his work that he returns to again and again, and it’s beautiful.

Jubel: And again, I don’t know how conscious it is. I’ve never heard Lynch talk about Kiss Me Deadly, but it’s in there somewhere.

Karl: It has to. I love my Mike Hammer novels. I’ve got the collected first six sitting on my bookshelf right now. They are just a lot of fun. If you’re okay with realizing that they’re a product of their time for a particular audience, and that time and audience are gone, yeah. Then, we can look back on it with different eyes now.

Jubel: Let’s move on to number 9.

Rob: These last two questions I’m asking everyone. Are we going to talk about Judy? Why or why not?

Jubel: I’m aware that Judy has been a bit of a bone of contention, especially with those who have problems with some of the retconning that happened in The Return and The Missing Pieces. As some will recall, Jeffries goes to Buenos Aires and asks for a Miss Judy at the hotel desk. Clearly, he’s looking for a person. However, names are doubled and even tripled all over Twin Peaks, and so this isn’t necessarily a continuity error or a retcon. Judy pops up in a number of ways. We know that Gordon Cole just kind of comes right out and says “yes, there’s this entity named Jowday that got changed to Judy.” The name pops up in the restaurant that Richard goes to and then Part 18 as Judy’s Diner, and it somehow compels him to stop there.

And we’re seeing that that was the way that he could find out the location of Carrie Paige. Some people said that Sarah Palmer is a vessel for Judy, but I don’t think that it, just as Mr. C is not possessed by BOB, I don’t think that Sarah Palmer is possessed by Judy. This is one of the most inscrutable elements of the whole series, really, delightfully so, as far as I’m concerned.

Karl: To me, Judy in Return, it’s like a MacGuffin that one doesn’t actually need. It’s something that drives the plot, and people are actually seeking it, seeking to control it or destroy it. And that supposedly determines their actions, but it is so tertiary so far away from the main point of the rest of the 18 hours. If we were to really look at it, there’s, what, maybe if we scrape, ten minutes about Judy in The Return?

Jubel: Right.

Karl: And I say that, because frankly, the whole frog-moth and girl thing, I honestly didn’t think it had anything to do with Sarah Palmer until Lynch said that it did, or was that Lynch or Frost or …

Jubel: Mark Frost in The Final Dossier.

Karl: And we do know that Sarah Palmer is associated in some way with Judy. At the same time, I don’t know what Judy is. I don’t know if the experiment is Judy. It’s fairly obvious that the frog-moth came from The Experiment’s vomitous act of creation, but that doesn’t mean that they are the same thing.

It seems more likely that the thing that isn’t Sarah Palmer is an extension of Judy into the world of Twin Peaks, and possibly our world, possibly another world that exists between the deeper dreaming of Twin Peaks and the waking world of where we’re actually enjoying this is an entertainment. The world that was filmed in the last part of the 18 that Cooper or Richard drove into the actual Twin Peaks, that could be another place entirely with other people in it that might not be Judy related. It’s all very confusing. I think it’s purposely confusing because people are trying to grapple with evil but we never really can as a entity outside of actual human action. Evil doesn’t seem to me to exist. We’re just people doing people things to each other, and sometimes people-things are so terrible that we cannot see the people doing them as anything but monsters. As much as it would be better for us to have them be monsters, have them be inhuman things that we could not possibly be, because we are not monsters; we are humans. There’s a difference between us and a mass murderer. Frankly, there isn’t. We share 99.9% of the same DNA. We are the same species. We are the same class of thing as a Pol Pot or Genghis Khan or a Hitler. All those things are within us. That’s why I think the concept of Judy or Jowday as the combination of all evil is left so difficult to grapple with. That might be intended as an actual entity within the course of the narrative, or maybe not. Maybe it’s symbolic. Maybe it isn’t. And it makes my head hurt, and I don’t want to have to deal with it. (laughter) So, generally speaking, I don’t speak about Judy.

Jubel: Yeah, exactly. I think on Reddit somebody posted an account of their watching The Return on LSD.

Karl: That person is braver than I could ever be.

Jubel: (laughter) And that ended up creating a much more cogent interpretation than one might have imagined. And the fact that they basically wrote saying that what it seems to me is that we’re watching 18 hours of reasonably well-meaning people doing everything they can to not talk about rape.

Karl: Oh, yeah. That’s a good point.

Jubel: Yeah, you have the scene where Diane’s doppelganger, who is supposedly an embodiment of all of her trauma, saying that she was raped and then “I’m not me. I’m not me,” pulls out a gun; they have to shoot her, and then, it just kind of goes on. She gets shot, and then she’s sucked away, and then, it’s just like “oh, she’s a tulpa,” and then this monumental thing she said might as well not have been uttered. That’s just one example. But the central story of this girl who’s a victim of rape and incest has all of this mythology that just blooms out of it and was only expanded to a ridiculous degree in The Return. It’s a very complicated story that ultimately is around a very simple and very tragic and very sad thing that nobody wants to talk about. And so all of this stuff gets piled on.

Karl: That’s a good point.

Jubel: And Judy could be a manifestation of that. Judy is the ultimate thing that can’t be spoken of. We’re not going to talk about Judy. We’re not going to talk about Judy at all.

Karl: Because we can’t face speaking about her.

Jubel: You can’t face it, and you can’t handle it, to look at it fully, which you know it doesn’t get any weirder with a capital W than that. We have one more question.

Rob: And this is my last question for this recorded interview. What can the readers of 25 Years Later expect from Counter Esperanto Podcast in the future? And in what way can we help?

Jubel: Well, probably we’re still going to be relatively infrequent. Hopefully, we’re not going to have gaps like we have had recently.

Karl: We’re shooting for a once-a-month sort of schedule, honestly. And not a particular day or time. Approximately, every 30 days you’ll get a present in your RSS download.

Jubel: That’s a good way to look at it. And as far as like how they can help, you could send us caffeine. We have a mailing address that we like to put at the end of every episode. But seriously, we’re really glad that 25 Years Later reached out to us about this interview. We hope that it made for good listening. There are going to be three more questions that we’re going to answer in writing. That’s going to accompany the post on 25 Years Later Site, and they’ll probably be putting a link to this episode there. So, go check that out. Check out 25 Years Later, they always have some really good stuff. They’ve obviously branched out to stuff well beyond Twin Peaks. They’re looking at a lot of current TV shows. There’s been stuff about Black Mirror and all kinds of things so check that out. Check out the podcast we mentioned. We’ll have a lot of stuff in our show notes to look at.

Karl: I will be a linkin’ fool, once we put the sucker up. Aside from caffeinated products, which are always welcome at P.O. Box 1 2 1 Spangle, Washington 99031-01211. What I’d actually like more than anything else to show up in that box are questions, questions that you have about the serious, questions you have for us. The door is as open to those questions as our tangents are wide-reaching, which pretty much means there’s nothing that isn’t on the table. If you want our opinion about the impact of 18th century German Weird stories, I could possibly say one, maybe two almost intelligent things about that. And if I can’t, then I would love the opportunity to do some research and answer to them on the air. So, send me weird postcards with hard questions, I guess, is how you can help me make the podcast better.

Jubel: Most episodes I forget to actually mention this, but we do appreciate rating and review on iTunes. We’ve had some great responses, and I really appreciate that. And that will probably help the algorithm link us a little bit more, especially since we have been kind of dormant since we’re sort of reactivating everything. We really appreciate ratings and reviews.

Karl: You don’t have to like vote early and often, but if you don’t mind giving us your honest opinion of what you think about us, that would be very helpful. Yes.

Jubel: And on that note, we’re going to call this wrap, and we’ll be back soon with what are some of the things that we have in the pipeline. Karl?

Karl: I think I’ve got a half-edited reading of an Algernon Blackwood story how to look forward to.

Jubel: Algernon Blackwood is definitely somebody to read if you haven’t encountered him. He’s another one that was hugely influential on Lovecraft and a lot of the modern Weird. Read his story, “The Willows.” I think we’ve mentioned it a number of times, but Weird fiction doesn’t get any better. It’s a little bit antiquated language, I suppose, at this point, but the atmosphere that he builds is unmatched. So anyway, thank you everybody for listening, and we will have something else out hopefully real soon. Take care.


Exclusive Extended Q&A for 25YL:

Rob: In his dissertation “Cosmic Psychoanalysis: Lovecraft, Lacan, and Limits,” David Cal Clements claims that Lovecraft presents us with three options for the protagonist in a weird tale. This is once they have been confronted with a horrific truth, an essential of cosmic horror: 1) they must die, 2) return to the everyday world but be somewhat delirious with their knowledge, 3) become a monster. Does this play for you? What do these rules mean for your connections?

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Jubel: Those three options are certainly present in many examples of Weird fiction, but I would add a fourth: 4) Become un-moored from reality as we know it. This is, after all, the fate of Cooper/Richard, Laura/Carrie at the end of Twin Peaks Season 3. Author Laird Barron is a master of this fourth option as well. See the title story in his collection The Imago Sequence for a prime example.

This is also the realm of the work of Robert Aickman, the writer of what he called “strange tales,” and who has rapidly become one of my top five all-time authors. I feel that Aickman’s work is far closer to David Lynch than Lovecraft’s writing (we use Lovecraft as a perennial example in our podcast because we love his stories of course, but also because he’s the one Weird author that most people know).

In an Aickman tale, identities are slippery, protagonists encounter bizarre characters with inscrutable motivations, and lonely paths into the proverbial woods become a snarl of dead-ends, switchbacks and loops. Like Lynch he also has a tendency to leave the story hanging at the perfect moment to allow it to twist through your subconscious and invade your dreams.  My favorite Aickman tales in this mode are “Le  Miroir,” “Ravissante,” “The Inner Room,” and “Your Tiny Hand is Frozen.” He is finally in print and widely available, so for god’s sake check him out.

Karl: I find it interesting that, if looked on from a certain point of view, Agent Cooper in fact experienced all three of the above options following his RED ROOM experience, and that is also true for a number of Lovecraft’s creations as well.  The narrator of  “The Call of Cthulhu” has passed into a literary half-life from the first words of the story: “Found Among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston”.  Thurston returned from his trip to Oslo as a broken and delirious man, and becomes the ultimate of literary monsters: a carrier of death and madness that infects the reader as well as other characters.

Other examples exist, but that is a topic for another column, or perhaps another podcast, for I agree with J’s [Jubel’s] assertion that there is a fourth option.  In my own opinion that is the more interesting option for the protagonist to follow.  It is, after all, the entire story of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, who becomes literally “unstuck in time” and as J mentions, the strange fate befalling the Narrator of Laird Barron’s “The Imago Sequence”.  In fact, I would argue that the inevitable outcome of any encounter with the cosmic weird is transformation.

The original three options are each a variation of transformation.  The realities and attitudes towards transformation are an interesting study.  It is almost as feared as it is needed, and as inevitable as the tides.  It is no accident, I think, that so many occult figures and practitioners over the years have incorporated Lovecraft’s mythos and ideas into their own work.  Transformation is central to both, and it is how our human consciousness grapples with the truth and necessity of transformative experience that determines whether we, “see demons come to drag you to hell or angels waiting to take you to heaven.”  (Liberally quoted from the movie Jacob’s Ladder)

Rob:  I’m about to go to the Howard Days in Cross Plains, TX. That’s in reference to the sword and sorcery author Robert E. Howard who wrote extensive letters back and forth with H.P. Lovecraft. In one of those letters—I’ll paraphrase—Howard was completely taken with Cthulhu and this Necronomicon that he kept reading about in Lovecraft’s and other authors’ stories. He became self-conscious, thinking he was missing a reference everyone else had access to. He asks Lovecraft about this, and H.P. explains that he made it all up but to give it life, that he encouraged other authors to find ways to include these fictional gods and texts into their works. This created one of the earliest examples of fictional shared universes. I think I just wanted to chat that story with you two, but I have a point in that it was coordinated citation. Mark Frost was able to take elements of Lynch’s Fire Walk With Me, a story mostly managed by Robert Engels and David Lynch (i.e. the ring), and use them to bring his cult history of the United States to life. How are Mark Frost’s novels working for you and your overall Twin Peaks experience?

Karl:  You (and your readers, of course) might be interested in a book by Dan Harms bearing the name The Necronomicon Files: The Truth behind the Legend… there is also a talk that Harms gave at Treadwell’s occult bookstore some few years back.  Harms goes into far deeper and more scholastic territory than I could hope to explicate about the genesis and current status of the Necronomicon.  The basics though are that while the Necronomicon was originally a non-existent, completely fictional book that played a number of roles in the fiction of Lovecraft and his heirs, the “Book of Dead Names” has now stepped out of the veil of dream-reality into the harder and more physical reality of an ever-climbing number of actually-no-foolin’ printed books that you can actually buy in bookstores (if you can locate one of those vanishing species) or discover in Libraries.  Again, that primal theme of transformation finds ways to leak out of the fiction and into the world that (most of us) see as “really real”.

Long before the third season strode across our shared sensorium, Mark Frost wrote two novels in the general outline of Sherlock Holmes pastiche, but now read—to me anyway—as prequels to those two Twin Peaks Casebooks that bookend the Return.  The two books in question are The List of Seven and The Six Messiahs, and given their themes, they form a “key” to unlocking a more nuanced understanding of Frost’s sometimes marginalized impact on the themes and symbols that make The Return the supreme work of Modern (Postmodern, even) art that it is. A big part of this “why” is due to how inspiration works in the production of cultural artifacts.

While there is a certain romantic idea that the author toils away apart from the rest of society, communing with their innermost muse in order to produce works of startling beauty and originality.  Speaking as a minor—very minor—writer, I can say it works much more like the Lovecraft circle did—sharing ideas, settings, and occult books between them.  The ability to write about anything at all threatens to freeze us into a crystal cave of choice paralysis.  One handy way around that: writing stories inside of someone else’s setting, putting one’s own stamp on that world, or to continue the abandoned writing of someone else. For example, there is a small cottage industry in people finishing Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Previously, the thing was to add more episodes of the Sultan Vathek (as invented by the gothic novelist William Thomas Beckford).  As an aside, I heartily recommend Clark Aston Smith’s “Third Episode of Vathek” and Drood: a Novel as the cream of the crop described above.

The very restriction that comes from working within the bounds of another’s world-vision is, counter-intuitively, a huge boon to one’s own creativity.  I think that fact is half of the reason that I find the Frostian Twin Peaks material so fascinating.  The other is that Mark Frost is an incredibly talented writer, and also—perhaps—that Frost and I have somewhat similar sets of interests: the unknown (aka the occult) facts behind world history and politics, the secret drivers behind the mass movers of culture, and other assorted goodies that form some of the more thought-provoking plot-points and ideas appearing in Twin Peaks.

Congrats on getting to go to Howard Days!  I’ve been wanting to go for some years, do tell us that there will be a forthcoming column on the subject?


Rob: I did actually write-up my experiences there shortly after attending, separate of 25YL. For those interested, there is some exciting exclusive news about upcoming media work with Howard properties. I’ll include the link below.

https://lessonplan622013662.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-journey-begins/


Jubel: In our podcast interview with you, I posit that Mark Frost represents the sort of daylight concerns of human experience.  This is the realm of conspiracy, hidden agendas, and secrets.  Lynch represents the nighttime concerns, a world of dream logic and mystery, where even a steady and reliable sense of one’s own identity is on shaky ground.  Taken together, as ‘Peaks fans know, this is an intoxicating peanut-butter-and-chocolate blend, a complete and holistic universe to sit within and dream.

With The Secret History and The Final Dossier, Frost interpenetrates his own side of the Twin Peaks mythos and the Lynch/Engels vision of Fire Walk With Me with an understanding of deep history and more recent societal concerns. Rather than being a wholesale reinvention, Frost’s books produce deeper context for the shows and film, and everything dovetails together quite nicely.

There is a huge caveat here: as most of us know, the books are filled with inconsistencies and misinformation, which Frost has since admitted were an intentional technique to illustrate the fallible nature of both human memory and history as a public record laid down by human hands. I see this as deeply compatible to Lynch’s sometimes maddening tendency to subvert any conventional and conscious understanding of objective reality in his films, and especially in Season 3. In this way, Frost’s Secrets and Lynch’s Mystery are maintained until the mind-shattering conclusion.

Rob: Do you find fans are still very much engaging with you a year out from the premiere of The Return? And what is your favorite observation about the Twin Peaks fan community?

Jubel: Some may be aware that we have been on an extended hiatus, which was not entirely intentional (at least in its protracted duration). Some may not be aware of the hiatus at all, since we are not on anything that resembles a reliable schedule to begin with.  We’ve flirted with the idea of starting a Patreon where we would produce perks like additional readings and an album of music and atmospheres, and other goodies, but we would need to be much more consistent in our production to make that enticing and fair for our listeners. We’ll see how it goes.

At any rate, we have remained fairly active on social media, and the engagement of Twin Peaks fans and our listeners has remained strong, in spite of our reduced output.  In fact, the slow but steady uptick of Twitter followers was encouraging as we were making the decision whether or not to continue. I think we’ve made the right decision to keep on keepin’ on.

My favorite aspect of the Twin Peaks community is now what it has always been: it’s such an inclusive, enthusiastic and insightful bunch. Sure there has been some toxicity here and there (this is the reality we live in with so many popular social network platforms), but by now that has largely dropped away, and I am happy that a year later so many of us are still here and engaging each other daily. I feel very lucky to have so many new friends, even if I am unlikely to ever meet any of them in person!

Karl: A listener once sent us a postcard suggesting that we look at the German Romantics for the genesis of “The Weird” as a genre.  Through that suggestion (borne through the post on the back of a very fine jackalope card) I stumbled over E.T.A. Hoffman, a writer that we will have a great deal more to say about later on.  That is the sort of deep knowledge and insightful analysis that is the baseline of Twin Peaks fan thought.  More than that, I have never been the target of so much as a discouraging word from the rest of the community.  A more open, accepting and friendly group of people, well, I cannot imagine meeting any better.

Our long—and largely unplanned—hiatus has been a constant sadness for the last several months, so I am very excited to “get back into the saddle again” and be working in the Twin Peaks milieu.  It’s not just that we are once again making a podcast, its more than that, it’s the opportunity to interact with a group of friends that we might never meet, but hope to…  Our podcast, it feels less like a thing done alone in a garret room late at night (although it is that too) and more like a dish baked specially for a much anticipated potluck gathering.  It is the thing that connects us to a community.

Like exceptional pie à la mode.

Like coffee, black as Mississippi mud at midnight.

Like a policeman’s dream of donuts laid out on a conference room table.


[1] Fisher, Mark, The Weird and the Eerie. (London: Repeater, 2016), 8.

[2] Clements, David Cal, “Cosmic Psychoanalysis: Lovecraft, Lacan, and Limits.” Ph.D. diss., University of New York at Buffalo, 1999. ProQuest, 1.


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