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Concerning the Disappearance of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper: A Review of “My Life My Tapes”

In the grand tradition of epistolary writing in and about the world of Twin Peaks, and in the name of doing something a little bit different for 25YL, I have taken it upon myself to write about one of the canon-adjacent novels as if it were being investigated for clues about Agent Cooper’s disappearance.

And it seemed only fitting that the guide I should choose to lead us all through would be FBI Special Agent Tamara Preston.

This is the result: a half-fictional dive into the fictional world created in the real book, The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes“, by Scott Frost.


The following dossier was compiled by FBI Special Agent Tamara Preston just prior to her investigation in and around Twin Peaks, Washington in September, 2017. 


INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM

DATE: August 10th, 2017
FROM: TAMARA PRESTON, Special Agent
TO: GORDON COLE, Deputy Director

Dear Director Cole,

Enclosed is the result of my investigation into the mysterious transcribed tapes recently re-discovered in Philadelphia. Why they were transcribed in the first place, I can’t tell you; I’m even more baffled as to how they came to be filed away in mislabeled boxes so as to escape investigation earlier in Agent Cooper’s disappearance—though I now have my suspicions. 

Be that as it may, here are my preliminary findings. I hope it helps.

Sincerely,

Tamara Preston, Field Agent
Blue Rose Task Force


FBI

Case #008-119-0120
Bureau File TP-91/18
CONFIDENTIAL
Field Office Criminal Investigations and Administrative Files

In all my research into this case, I have a hard time believing that nobody—not once—has completed a proper accounting of what essentially amounts to Special Agent Dale Cooper’s daily journal, containing all of his case notes from the entirety of his career as well as those that predate his involvement with the FBI. These might, on the surface, appear to be of little value—many of the earliest tapes were made when Agent Cooper was a teenager—but at some point, someone had to have gone through the trouble of transcribing them and it can’t be denied that that fact in itself is noteworthy: someone thought these valuable enough at one point to undertake this project.

I discovered the box containing the transcribed tapes in a back room on the fourth floor of the Philadelphia FBI Field Office. Buried under outdated memoranda and a bag containing four checkered tablecloths (I’m told they were in use only during the yearly office summer barbecue), I was surprised to find them in good nick, as if they’d been transcribed, typed, bound, and put away immediately; not a single crease in any of the pages.

The tapes, however, are no longer in FBI possession. I’ve traced them to early 1990s, when the book was first put together and the tapes transcribed; mysteriously, it seems they have either been lost or destroyed entirely. I have to admit that this troubles me greatly, but for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on…

Still, I have perused these pages and I am intrigued, to say the least. In light of recent events, I feel the need to detail my findings. I don’t know if these will be pertinent later on or not, but I cannot help but feel cutting corners at this stage would be myopic.

Agent Cooper’s adherence to a Micro-27 voice-activated micro-cassette recorder as a means to record his daily thoughts has proved to be more than a peculiarity; seeing that it extends as far back as his 13th Christmas is not at all surprising. His voice—uniquely suited to this task—had remained virtually unchanged for the entirety of this volume. That, in itself, is something worth noting; his tapes suggest that Agent Cooper appears to have emerged as a fully-formed FBI Agent from the age of puberty onward.

I’m kidding, of course…

Well…sort of…

I was a good student in school—analytical mind and all that—and one of my favourite subjects was literature. Having this collection of writing [scratch that; transcribed tape recordings] stoked a fire in me that has lain dormant for decades. It was as if I were a curious twelve-year-old myself discovering the diary of Anne Frank for the first time. Only this time it’s a book written by a suspiciously missing FBI Agent, a potential colleague of mine. I have to say that I was pulled in by the narrative thrust of this young, inquisitive mind seeking answers to questions he wasn’t even sure how to ask, all set against a backdrop of real-world issues—the Vietnam War, the entire ’60s anti-establishment/free love movement, Apollo 11, Nixon and Watergate—the whole nine. I don’t know Agent Cooper from Adam but I couldn’t imagine these issues doing anything aside from rubbing against the grain of his rather law-and-orderly worldview.

I suppose summarizing the details of the “plot”–such as it is–would be the best way to get to the heart of what it is we’re dealing with. The tapes chronicle the life of our young Dale Cooper from the receipt of his first tape recorder on Christmas Day 1967, when he is just 13 years old, right up until he gets the assignment to head to Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer in 1989. Say what you will about the man, he was diligent—but for a few periods in time in those intervening twenty-odd years, the tape was almost constantly running. In the beginning, things are benign and amusing; Dale writes letters to Efrem Zimbalist and meets J. Edgar Hoover, has awkward pubescent experiences with girls (making me oh-so-glad that my own teenaged diaries will never see the light of day), and chases neighbourhood street toughs.

It was highly amusing to read about what must be his earliest recorded attempts at solving a mystery. Eighth-grade Dale Cooper spies on the girls health class by climbing into the air ducts above their classroom, John Bender-style, and whispering into the mic about what he’s seeing through the grates. Aside from the obvious violation of privacy concerns, it’s mostly harmless stuff; he is not doing this out of malice or criminally misapplied teenaged affection, but out of genuine curiosity. Such is the manner with which Dale approaches everything in his life; it colours him in ways that make his later exploits entirely understandable.

Of course life cannot always progress smoothly; early in the book, Dale has his first experience of death when his Grandmother Cooper dies in front of him (she’s baking pie at the time; I’ve long heard tell of Agent Cooper’s affinity for baked goods of this variety, so I suspect that, if nothing else, a strictly Freudian analysis of his tapes would make for a highly entertaining read!) It’s not long after that Dale’s own mother dies, along with his first girlfriend, and we get the first hints of the darkness that seems to haunt Cooper for the rest of his life.

Set adrift by these early losses and the confounding experiences of adolescence and the changing world around him, Dale spends the early 1970s on walkabout before attending Haverford College. The temptation of the all-girls Bryn Mawr college-next-door leads to more encounters with the opposite sex, but nothing lasts. Nothing, that is, except for Dale’s unwavering devotion to the rule of law. It is easy to see how he was drawn to the world of the FBI, that’s for sure; the man was a born sleuth, and a fairly good one at that. But it’s a cautionary tale. His amateur skills lead him to a traumatic event that causes something of a mental breakdown; the book never makes it clear what he saw, but it certainly must have galvanised him for his eventual leap into the world of FBI, which is where he lands by 1977.

He is recruited by none other than Windom Earle. I refer you to the case files on that particular individual for more information, but suffice it to say this is a fateful meeting with long-reaching effects.

Dale’s early career with the FBI is peppered with names that we are all familiar with—Gordon Cole, Diane, Albert Rosenfield (incorrectly spelled “Rosenfelt”; it’s not clear if this is a misspelling in the transcript or if Dale was misled about his co-workers surname, and as I now know Albert fairly well myself, I cannot say which option amuses me more), Denise Bryson (before she became Denise–she is referred to by her previous name in these tapes, though not out of any sort of disrespect for her). As these characters have their first meetings with the man they’ll all come to know as “Coop”, we ride along with him as he solves grueling cases and flits from department to department within the FBI. By this point in the narrative, the FBI Special Agent that I have come to know from conversations with his co-workers and friends is soundly established, but little else can be gleaned. Dale does not always treat his tapes as strict diary entries, though occasionally he does let details about the inner workings of his psychology slip through the carefully-constructed veneer. Somewhat tellingly, he’s a man who has started to believe that women he loves are doomed to meet untimely ends; this is something that certainly has repercussions, perhaps leading to some of the decisions we know he made during his final case in Twin Peaks, especially as it concerns the love affair he had with Windom Earle’s wife, Caroline.

I have to admit that I was shocked to discover that the proper, law and order Dale Cooper would commit such a moral lapse in judgmen. But I suppose you can’t help who you love, and Dale and Caroline clearly loved each other. When their illicit romance was discovered by Earle, death stepped in to take yet another young woman from Dale’s life; this time Dale nearly lost his own life as well. It’s a tragic set of events, and it certainly colours my perspective of this man whom I’ve never met, whom I hope to meet someday.

The final pages of this diary/unintentional evidentiary case file deals with the process Agent Cooper undertook to recover from this loss. As the years go by, he is drawn into the world I only now recognise as that of the Blue Rose. He investigates Teresa Banks, and as we leave him on the last pages of this text, he’s flying out to Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a young woman found in Washington State, her body wrapped in plastic…

We all know how that ended.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA

Young Dale Cooper’s life was marked by tragedy, and none seems to have affected him as much as the death of his mother, which really seems to have set the tone for both his interactions with women and with the mysterious world that we in the Blue Rose Division know all too well. It is here that I feel we must start if we are to begin to understand what drove Agent Cooper to the decisions he made and perhaps uncover where he is now.

wide angle view of tree-lined street with stately homes
Agent Cooper’s earliest address: Hillcrest Avenue, Philadelphia

Dale first mentions his mother in the early morning hours of December 27, 1967, two days after Christmas, during an apparent asthma attack which confined him to his bed for a period of time. Agent Cooper’s FBI file did not mention anything about asthma as a preexisting condition, so I can only assume that he outgrew this affliction, or perhaps he didn’t have asthma at all.

There is a third option, I suppose, which is that the illness was not truly an illness, as it were, but rather a vehicle for something otherworldly…but more on that in a moment.

Dale’s mother makes her first appearance here, doing what mothers are so often wont to do when their children are sick: slathering Vicks VapoRub on their chests. As Dale wonders what it’s like to be dead, his mother tells him about a recurring dream she’s had, and here is where things get interesting. For starters, she’s talking of dreams, and Agent Cooper’s penchant for dream interpretation in later life is well-documented both in his own file and in interviews conducted with friends and colleagues. Here, she remarks that dreams can often show us things we can’t see when we’re awake. This is the first mention of dreams in his diary; a portent for the future, perhaps.

Secondly, his mother’s dream is of a sky filling with birds until they gradually block out all the light. It’s frightening imagery; one needn’t break out the dream dictionary to figure out what blackness and loss of light means. Agent Cooper’s well-known aversion to birds may have been planted in here, through learned behaviour from his mother, or perhaps from this very moment. It is a striking conversation, so striking in fact that two weeks later Dale brings it up again when remarking upon his mother’s relative quiet at the breakfast table; he wonders if it is perhaps because she’s had another dream about the birds.

That both Dale and his mother experienced dreams as some kind of foretelling of future events is a coincidence that must be noted. The question of nature vs. nurture comes to mind, but I’m tempted to believe that it’s not as cut-and-dried as that.

Young Dale’s second profound mention of dreams occurs later in the year 1968, also during a moment in time when Dale becomes quite ill. Immediately before the illness began, Dale had a dream about a man trying to come into his room at night; a man who claims he “wants him.” Dale tells his mother about this dream and she admits that she knows the man he’s talking about, and warns him that he must never allow him to enter his room. In the following days, Dale becomes very sick and the recordings cease for a period of weeks; he dreams of this man several times over his convalescence.

I can’t help but be reminded of Laura Palmer and her dreams about the man she called “BOB”; was it the same man tormenting all three of them? What did Dale’s mother know of this entity?

wanted poster of a gaunt man with stringy hair named Bob
Is this the man both Agent Cooper and his mother and Laura Palmer all saw in their dreams?

Dale’s mother makes a return on Mother’s Day, at which point Dale remarks that she thinks he is acting strangely, and is worried for him. He takes it upon himself to remedy this in one of four bizarre ways all involving the unrequited crush he has on a young woman he knows. It’s not until the Fall of 1969 that we hear from Mother Cooper again, when she tells Dale that she’s had the dream again and that the man almost made it into her room. Two weeks after this, she suffers a brain aneurysm and dies.

Once again, the visits by this unidentified man coincide with illness. I’m left wondering if perhaps whatever afflicted Dale’s lungs and the aneurysm that killed his mother are somehow related to the dreams and the nightly visitations. Perhaps illness thins the veil between worlds and allows parts of that other place—the place Agent Cooper disappeared to, the place Director Cole and Agent Rosenfield spent so long searching for—to come through to our world. I know it sounds strange, but after everything that I have seen and experienced in the last few months, I can honestly say that very little would surprise me anymore.

DREAM ANALYSIS

Dale’s mother’s death left him profoundly affected; I would expect nothing less. Her corporeal death, however, was not the end of her influence on her son. In the Spring of 1970, Dale had a dream in which he is visited by her, though—curiously—he says she does not look like her at all; he describes her as younger looking and “barely a woman”, which is a strange way of talking about one’s mother.

She gives him a ring, which he wakes up to find clutched in his hand. This ring, he discovers, belonged to her during the early period of her courtship with his father; he finds photographic evidence to this effect in an old album. His father confirms that she used to wear it but that she stopped sometime after they got married. It had belonged to her father before her.

How a ring could be transferred through dreams is not something I am prepared to answer at this point. The rational side of me says that this was the result of sleepwalking and chance; Dale somehow found his mother’s long-forgotten ring during a somnambular stroll through his childhood home.

And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s so much more to this story…

hand holding a small ring in its open palm
The ring Agent Cooper’s mother gave to him

One final note about the ring: on the morning that Dale is set to embark on a post-graduation walkabout, he mentions that he awoke from a dream to find the ring on his finger. He vows not to take it off.

It is not uncommon to imbue significant items belonging to loved ones (especially ones who are deceased) with talismanic properties. For Dale and his mother’s ring, knowing what I know about the circumstances surrounding this case in general and his disappearance in particular, I can only say that in this instance I believe the ring provided more than just emotional protection.

Dale’s dreams continue to occur, over and over again, throughout his adolescence and into his adult life. In the Fall of 1973, when he is at college, Dale once again succumbs to violent illness (following a particularly harrowing event, in which he followed a suspicious man and discovered what appeared to be the man’s victim—a young woman, brutally murdered). This time, a 103-degree fever confines him to the school infirmary, where he experiences more dreams, of the young love of his who died tragically some years before and of the evil that he now believes has been surrounding him and which he must learn to fight. These dreams and his intuition about them both lend credence to my theory about the relationship between them.

In his words:

Does this evil exist in as tangible a form as, say, a germ? Does it float as a feather would on the currents of air that bring life to this world; moving in and out of all our lives, and occasionally taking root on unfortunate souls? If that is true, then the battle that took place within my body was not viral in origin, but a struggle for my very soul. This time I trust I won. (emphasis mine)

Chilling, wouldn’t you say?

Agent Cooper has two more dreams of note, the first of which cements his belief that his dreams are foreshadowing his waking life and the second of which reminds me of another dream familiar to those who are studying this case.

The first dream occurs in the midst of a 1978 investigation that the newly minted FBI Agent believed was related to organized crime. The victims of these crimes had their hands cut off and teeth smashed, rendering identification difficult. His dream involves a man with no legs who tells him he cannot run from the thing that is about to kill him. He links the missing limbs in his dream to the missing limbs in the case. Clever detective.

But the final dream mentioned in his tapes, this time from 1988, occurs a year before his work takes him to Twin Peaks for the first time. In this vision, he sees himself dancing with a little man and a beautiful woman. Agent Cooper’s own notes from the 1989 case refer to this dream recurring during his stay in that town, and his astonishment upon learning that Laura Palmer shared the same dream. Was she the woman in this dream, a full year before she died?

RELATIONSHIPS

Dale Cooper records so much of the detail in his life with such candor, and yet I am surprised to read so much about the relationships he fostered and sustained, especially those of a sexual nature. I admit that what I know of Agent Cooper has been gleaned from second hand accounts and one very brief and strange meeting in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, but I have a hard time imagining him as having either the time or the inclination towards relationships at all. Nevertheless, here we are.

Young Dale Cooper, like teenagers everywhere, had deep curiosity about sex from an early age. It seems as though his first sexual awakening was for the older sister of a neighbourhood friend. Her name was Marie Schlurman, and the events of their very brief but intense courtship seemed to set a pattern for the rest of Agent Cooper’s life.

A brief sidenote: I normally wouldn’t think it proper to mention the goings on of a colleague’s relationship in an official investigation such as this, but given the facts of Agent Cooper’s tragic relationship with Caroline Earle, the particulars of his relationship with Annie Blackburn, and the strangeness surrounding both, I believe it is appropriate to establish the pattern of behaviours and consequences—as I see it; as I’m sure anyone could see it—when it comes to members of the opposite sex.

In the spirit of investigation, Dale Cooper, aged 13, approaches the more womanly Marie with curiosity. She seems to be a bit of an exhibitionist, dancing provocatively at her window when she knew that he would be watching from his. Dale’s infatuation with Marie blossoms and seems to be teasingly reciprocated—there is an incident involving merit badges and the art of tying knots (to bedposts) that I’m not sure I know how to describe—but it all ends when Marie begins dating another boy, which arouses Dale’s jealousy. She does, however, give him his first kiss before disappearing for the entire summer, something which must have confused him greatly.

The assassination of Robert Kennedy in August, 1968 seems to have affected Marie greatly, and Dale notices a pattern of changes to her behaviour (it is clear that she is part of the countercultural hippie movement, though this is mostly lost on Dale). After a suicide attempt, Marie propositions Dale with sexual favours in return for his helping her to escape the hospital, which he refuses, citing Scout codes of honour and morality. Marie recovers, becomes a born again Christian, and Dale falls for a girl from Minnesota named Anne Sweeny.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Anne is not interested in boys but rather fancies the goaltender of the field hockey team, a girl named Nancy. Dale’s jealousy—piqued with Marie, now in full-blossom—leads him to blow up Nancy’s mailbox in retaliation for “stealing” Anne from him. This is part of that remarkable pattern which I will be coming back to as we go along: one of fire or flames occurring at or around almost every scene of heightened passion between Dale Cooper and the women in his life.

Returning home from a summer Scout jamboree just following the Moon landing in 1969, Dale meets another pair of hippies and develops feelings for the young woman, named April. His desperation to lose his virginity causes him to drink himself into unconsciousness on the first night he spends with April and her partner, Star, in the wild open country. He is unsuccessful. (Note: April returns as a student teacher in Dale’s English class later that year. I can only imagine how awkward that must have been.)

“Few forces in nature are as frightening as fire. Particularly when one is naked.”

That summer, at a Fourth of July cookout with the Schlurman family, Dale and Marie do, in fact, consummate their relationship, in a sense, before being bombarded by fireworks that set off a small fire in their vicinity.

Heightened emotion—check. Fire—check.

Ten days later, Marie died while swimming in the lake.

Dale graduates from school and disappears for three years—there is literally nothing except a note stating here that he was not heard from for that period of time. I suppose this should not be all that surprising. The death of his mother and then, months later, the death of Marie obviously hit him quite hard. When he returns, he begins attending Haverford College, and meets a woman named Andy at neighbouring Bryn Mawr, with whom he has another brief and intense sexual encounter in the woods next to a faculty bonfire.

Heightened emotion—check. Fire—check.

“Want very much to make love to Lena. Convinced I am a ticking bomb that could detonate at any moment.”

Dale’s next girlfriend is a woman named Lena, whose mother has apparently done something so horrendous that Lena has taken a vow of celibacy. Upon meeting mother Joan, Dale deduces what it is when Joan solicits him for sex; Dale apparently captured the moment on tape, for it is transcribed in the text. At that moment, a fire broke out in the family’s garage. Dale strongly suspected that Lena set the fire; their sexual encounter in the car the next day seemed to prove to him that she was the arsonist (she admits to wanting to make love next to a fireplace, which Dale finds both exciting and dangerous, in his words.)

In any case: Heightened emotion—check. Fire—check.

aerial photo of buildings on a campus in autumn
Aerial photo of FBI Academy, Quantico

There’s a healthy fear of fire present in him all along, something he references before his meeting with Andy back in 1973; he is aware of the fact that his sexual encounters have all ended up being quite dangerous. What he also comes to recognize is that his attraction to women can cloud his judgment and lead to further danger. When in training at the FBI Academy, his partner—an Agent by the name of Robin Masters, for whom he has intense attraction—is lost during a simulated raid. He blames his attraction to her for the lapse in attention that got her “killed” in the simulation.

“Never again can I allow my guard to be lowered because of personal weakness on my part,” he says.

Unfortunately, that is not how the rest of the story pans out.

WINDOM EARLE, TERESA BANKS, AND INCONSISTENCIES

Dale Cooper met Windom Earle for the first time, according to him and these transcripts, at a job fair in 1975; his second meeting is as a newly minted Special Agent in April, 1978, when Agent Earle arrived to head the Philadelphia office.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about Agent Earle—his breakdown has become a thing of legend at the Academy—but Agent Cooper’s tapes have revealed new insights. Prior to the later breakdown, Agent Earle went missing; he had been investigating a mysterious crime involving organized crime alongside Agent Cooper (this is the case that led to Agent Cooper’s dream about the legless man, referenced earlier in this report). When Earle returned, he was not himself. He told Agent Cooper that he believed that he had seen the abyss. To what he is referring, I do not know, and neither did Agent Cooper, but he was certain that there was some kind of darkness following him.

On a vacation to the Caribbean in 1979, Cooper encounters a strange man who tells him he has death in his face before committing suicide; a note by the man’s body asked for forgiveness. At the same time this was happening, Caroline Earle—Windom Earle’s wife—was kidnapped. She was missing for two months before being arrested in New York City, apparently under the influence of an unknown drug and suffering from a kind of psychosis. Her recovery was aided greatly by Agent Cooper, who believed this to be some kind of retaliation for the case he and Agent Earle were working on together.

It is during this recovery period that he and Caroline fall in love. He had been staying in the safe house with Caroline, as Agent Earle elected to stay away from his wife, fearing his presence was hindering her recovery. The lessons Agent Cooper learned from Marie, from Andy, from Lena, and from Robin apparently did not stick, for he allowed himself to feel strong attraction for his protectee—against Bureau policies; strange, that, since Agent Cooper was always such a stickler for the rules—and, on the very night that they consummated their feelings for one another, they were attacked. Caroline was killed and Agent Cooper was badly injured. It was later discovered that Agent Earle was the perpetrator.

It’s not fire, but it’s still disastrous. This would be far from the last woman to fall victim to misfortune in Agent Cooper’s presence, as I’m told not only did his love affair with Annie Blackburn directly lead to her targeting by Windom Earle in 1989 but local stories about events involving a young Audrey Horne, an infatuation, and an abduction had been intimated to me during my recent visit to Twin Peaks; I intend to investigate further upon my return to town in the coming weeks.

There is something exceedingly strange about reading the transcribed tapes at this juncture. Caroline Earle’s abduction and death occur in the winter and spring of 1979 in this book; in all other notes about the case, Caroline’s murder and Windom Earle’s institutionalization occurred in 1985. Why is there a six-year discrepancy between this text and the official FBI documentation?

That’s not the only thing. As I reached the end of the transcribed tapes, more discrepancies appeared. Specifically, I’m referring here to the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks. That investigation was carried out by Special Agents Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley in 1988; I’ve read their case notes, pored over their photos and the details of that case, looking for clues about the disappearance of Agent Cooper in the mysterious disappearance of Agent Desmond. Agent Cooper wasn’t there. So why are there detailed references to the case in his transcribed tapes? And why are they wrong? Agent Cooper finds that Teresa Banks worked at the Cross River Café; Agent Desmond discovered she worked at Hap’s Diner. Agent Cooper says here that their peach-apple pie was “the stuff of legend”; nothing about Agent Desmond’s or Agent Stanley’s reports reference anything at Hap’s being legendary except the sourness of the disposition of their wait staff.

How can these be explained?

CONCLUSIONS

It’s my considered opinion that Agent Cooper was a victim of incredible misfortune for the whole of his life. The death of his mother and his early love, numerous tragic and traumatic events in his early career, the murder of Caroline Earle and the attempt on his life—it all points to a man who could very much use the benefit of Lady Luck. I am astonished that he managed to keep such a positive attitude in the face of all of what befell him.

In fact, the man I met briefly in Twin Peaks before his spectacular re-disappearance seems far more aligned with the person I would expect to be the author of such tragic events: someone with measured optimism, a healthy dose of heaviness behind his eyes. The man I’ve heard described by others—the man with the chipper attitude, thumbs-up at the ready, and a strong affinity for black coffee and cherry pie—does not seem to jibe with the character drawn in these pages. This, along with the inconsistencies I have come to find in the later pages has left me with a strange feeling.

I can only hope that further investigation in Twin Peaks will illuminate more of the dark corners of this story.


To: Gordon.Cole@fbi.gov
From: Tamara.Preston@fbi.gov
Date: August 11, 2017, 13:05:02

Subject: Inconsistencies

Dear Chief,

I know how much you dislike email correspondence but I’m staring down the barrel of a six-hour flight to Seattle and unfortunately have the pleasure of being sandwiched between an overly anxious first-time flier and a traveller with a small but very vocal cat in a carry-on kennel beneath the seat in front of him. So I purchased an hour of WiFi in the hopes that I can get some of my thoughts in order, or—if not—that I can at least entertain myself on Instagram. (These are the blessings and curses of modern day air travel.)

Something is still bothering me about Agent Cooper’s transcribed tapes.

I didn’t want to submit this as part of my findings because I’m not sure what it is that I’m worried about. But I keep circling back to the fact that the original tapes are missing. Without them, it’s impossible to know how accurate the transcription has been. And with so many strange, unexplained, inconsistencies between this text and the events as I have come to understand them, I don’t know exactly how to reconcile this chapter of what is slowly becoming a sprawling epic novel with the rest of the very strange plot.

I suppose it could be as simple as simple as errors in transcription by the person doing the transcribing. This is the most palatable option, absolutely. Perhaps the tapes were bad quality or had deteriorated, and whoever was listening did their best but couldn’t make out everything that was recorded with 100% accuracy. But then again, without the tapes to check against the text, it is impossible to know for sure.

A far more nefarious thought has occurred me to me, and I’m loathe to admit it but here goes: could the discrepancies could be a result of a kind of “creative accounting” on the part of the transcriber, a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the truth from those of us who would seek to find it; but then what is the truth they were so desperate to hide? And do we really want to simply explain this all away?

I mean, certainly we can rule out some things. It’s not like the pages I’m reading are coming from an alternate timeline version of history, right? We’ve seen some strange things, Chief, but that would top them all. 

But the fact remains that these inconsistencies do exist and it’s really not possible to just ignore them. So I keep coming back to this central question: Has anything been missed? What level of editorializing has occurred on the part of the transcriber? Has anything been deliberately misstated or misrepresented? And if so, for what purpose?

Finally, and most importantly: who did the transcribing? I have my suspicions, as I’m sure you do as well. But if Diane Evans is behind this—knowing what we know about her—can we rely on these transcripts at all?

I’m hopeful that in the coming weeks my investigation in Twin Peaks leads to more fruitful avenues of inquiry, and that we can start to uncover the truth about what happened to FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. 

They’re coming around with the drink cart. The anxious lady has taken her tranquilizers; I wish she’d shared them with the cat but alas my luck is not that good. I’ll be having a bourbon—I’m not technically on the clock now, am I Chief?—and tucking into an episode of Big Bang Theory or something else equally mindless. Five hours and seven minutes until we land. Lord have mercy.

Tammy


If you are like the nearly half of the respondents to my poll back in September who haven’t read this semi-canonical text, what are you waiting for?! The book may be out of print and hard to find, but you can check it out online in PDF and iBook form!


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Written by Lindsay Stamhuis

Lindsay Stamhuis is a writer and English teacher who also moonlights as 25YL Site's Executive Editor and Style Manager. In addition to editing and writing about TV and Film, she is the co-host of Bickering Peaks, a Twin Peaks podcast. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband Aidan, their three cats, and a potted pothos that refuses to grow more than one vine.

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