Special Agent Dale Cooper: Original Tulpa and Dream Man

Dreams have a very powerful way for bringing you into reality. I have been thinking a lot about dreams lately since I wrote my last theory. For those of you who may not have read my last theory, it was about Reincarnation and The Return. In it, I discuss the possibility of Cooper being Bodhisattva to Laura, Cooper being reincarnated without dying, and even gauge the possibility that Cooper is dead.

I’ve reread those theories and had a sort of an epiphany.

Throughout Season 3, dreams held some very important information. We also were made aware that “Laura is the One” when Hawk speaks to The Log Lady. We also know Cooper’s thoughts on dreams and connection. The reason Laura and Dale are so connected is that they are connected. Laura is the One; but if Laura is, then so is Cooper. Laura manifested Cooper prior to her death in her dreams and upon her death, manifested him into the physical realm. A big coincidence for me came upon Cooper’s arrival in Twin Peaks. The music that is playing is one of my favorite Badalamenti pieces, “Dance of the Dream Man”. What is playing in The Red Room when Cooper ‘dreams’ of Laura and the Man From Another Place? “Dance of the Dream Man.” I never thought this referred to our little red-suited man; I always thought it was Cooper’s theme. What I am saying is: Special Agent Dale Cooper is the original Tulpa and Laura’s Dream Man.

Let me try and use a personal example to further illustrate this thought. When I was a little girl, I had vivid dreams. The kind of dreams you remember. The ones that stick with you upon waking, those so real you can feel them. In many of those dreams, I had a figure always with me. Most times they would not have a face, or gender, just a figure about the same size as me. I never was fearful of this presence. It felt part of me, like a protector. It was someone or something to help me in my dreams should I need the help, a guardian, a dream person, a part of the brave version of myself. As I got older, this figure changed just as I did in my dreams. Sometimes they would take on a male persona, sometimes a female, and again sometimes no persona at all. The whole time though we were connected I felt as if I could bring this other form to life and it could live outside of my head. That reminded me of something I read from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and another section in Magic and Mystery in Tibet:

“The Tibetans call the One Mind’s concretized visualization the Khorva (Hkhorva), equivalent to the Sanskrit Sangsara; that of an incarnate deity, like the Dalai or Tashi Lama, they call a Tul-ku (Sprul-sku), and that of a magician a Tul-pa (Sprul-pa), meaning a magically produced illusion or creation. A master of yoga can dissolve a Tul-pa as readily as he can create it; and his own illusory human body, or Tul-ku, he can likewise dissolve, and thus outwit Death. Sometimes, by means of this magic, one human form can be amalgamated with another, as in the instance of the wife of Marpa, guru of Milarepa, who ended her life by incorporating herself in the body of Marpa.” (Evans-Wentz, 2000).

Alexander David-Neel, was one of the first women to become a full-fledged and recognized Tibetan lama. She herself had conjured or a created a tulpa of a monk. In her own words from her book Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1929), “I shut myself in tsams (meditative seclusion) and proceeded to perform the prescribed concentration of thought and other rites. After a few months the phantom Monk was formed. His form grew gradually fixed and lifelike looking. He became a kind of guest, living in my apartment. I then broke my seclusion and started for a tour, with my servants and tents. The monk included himself in the party. Though I lived in the open, riding on horseback for miles each day, the illusion persisted. I saw the fat tulpa; now and then it was not necessary for me to think of him to make him appear. The phantom performed various actions of the kind that are natural to travellers and that I had not commanded. For instance, he walked, stopped, looked around him. The illusion was mostly visual, but sometimes I felt as if a robe was lightly rubbing against me, and once a hand seemed to touch my shoulder. The features which I had imagined, when building my phantom, gradually underwent a change. The fat, chubby-cheeked fellow grew leaner, his face assumed a vaguely mocking, sly, malignant look. He became more troublesome and bold. In brief, he escaped my control. Once, a herdsman who brought me a present of butter saw the tulpa in my tent and took it for a living lama.”

So Laura’s beloved FBI agent could’ve morphed into Mr. C and Dougie without her influence? Though still a part of the original incantation of the tulpa/dream figure of Cooper is there, especially in the form of memory, he would be none the wiser. I don’t believe this removes any of his agency, as he is manifested with thoughts by Laura, but still can change or adapt those thoughts past the dream realm. Could Laura be powerful enough to wield this kind of mystic power? Could her trauma and the power that was once taken from her before death; ‘return’ to her to be able to manifest Cooper and his various versions? Could she—by taking her power back upon her death—have helped her ascend to the next level of consciousness and mysticism? What if we were wrong all along? People have been speculating since the end of The Return that Cooper was the magician. Let’s turn the tables: what if Laura is the magician? What if everything we are seeing in Twin Peaks is from inside of Laura Palmer’s head? I mean, dreams can be expansive and wide, so why not think everything could be one vast dream? Everything we see may have been there before, but we are now witnessing from the perspective of the now deceased Laura Palmer; from inside her consciousness’s final resting place, The Red Room. I know this is a controversial thought, but bear with me.

Let’s begin, figure eight, and then go back to starting positions.

The immediate first clue as I was re-watching was the introduction to The Return. We are given the fog, uncovering the beautiful trees then a superimposed picture of Laura comes forward through the screen, as we follow the falls down into the water it becomes the blood red curtains and chevron floor. If this is not telling us that what we’re about to see is somehow coming from Laura’s perspective, I don’t know what is.

Now for the poem:

Through the darkness of future past
The magician longs to see
One chants out between two worlds:
Fire walk with me

Laura was in such pain. She was constantly battling herself, the good versus the bad within her as seen in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. She had gone through massive trauma. More than one person should never have to go through in their whole life. Ever. It would not be out of the ordinary to make up full scenarios to escape the pain and abuse she was going through. She was crying out for help, but no one could help her. She longed to see a different life. She even chants this poem to Harold. It would also not seem out of the ordinary to dream scenarios in which somebody would come and protect her, help her, save her, from the horrid abuse she was going through.

If part of the Fire Walk With Me script was not removed as a deleted scene, we would have seen such a scene between Cooper and Laura. In the scene, Cooper appears in bed with Laura, kisses her, and Laura pleads with him, by whispering in his ear: “Why didn’t you help me sooner?”

Cooper and Laura FWWM.jpg

Could this be what she famously whispers to Cooper in The Red Room? Let me try to explain my thoughts on The Red Room. How do you explain Cooper in the Red Room? He was not going there to save Annie. He was going into The Red Room, to go back home. Annie was just an agent to get him there and Laura knew this would work, because she created Cooper. It is where all of Laura’s feelings, thoughts, trauma, and memories reside. Cooper, being a part of that consciousness, would reside here. The Red Room is Laura’s consciousness before and after her death.

From first watch, The Red Room for me seemed like a waiting room, with hallways and curtains all leading to different places, most looking the same, but maybe not. The Red Room was the glimpse inside the mind of Laura Palmer. The red curtains literally folds in her brain. The flashes of light and dark and the pattern of the chevron floor, electrical impulses of thought and memory, or in The Return as the Arm hisses, “Electricity”. I know Lynch says it is not, but even the Evolution of the Arm looks like a brain surrounded by neurotransmitters emitting electrical impulses. This also connects to the scene with Cooper and Harry in the morgue—although we know from Lynch that it was a ‘happy accident’, the flashing light in the morgue echoes the flashing lights of The Red Room. It is present in the first glimpse of The Red Room in Cooper’s dream. What if this is not a dream, but a memory? If The Red Room is Laura’s consciousness—or even unconsciousness—that would explain what we see and who we see in The Red Room.

I was told once, from a non-Twin Peaks fan no less, that we all have a ghostly double; this other version of ourselves we do not want to acknowledge, but which rears its ugly head at times of weakness and fear. That would explain the doppelgängers. BOB, The Giant, and the Man From Another Place were all being created in Laura’s mind. Even what we see in The Return as far as the Mauve Zone, the great expanse where we see Major Briggs Head, Mother’s door and The Fireman and Senorita Dido’s castle are all parts of the framework of Laura’s unconscious. Same with the MFAP and what evolves as the Arm: a conscience narrator of sorts, replaced by Mike/Gerard in The Return.

Now BOB is a bigger entity and something I don’t plan on delving too deeply into here, but I feel Laura created BOB as a way to deal with the trauma of being abused by her father. She never wanted to believe it was Leland, could never come to terms with the fact that it was Leland, so she made BOB as a way to give her father less agency. (Laura Stewart goes into more detail in her recent article about the Secret Diary.)  In creating BOB to shield her from the truth, it gave BOB the power over her because she allowed him to have that power. She herself was not strong enough to fight “him” on her own.

It is in this vein that I believe she created Cooper.

Who else to defeat and hunt down a killer than a very intelligent, very intuitive FBI agent, with the Boy Scout heart of gold and lust for life, doughnuts, and coffee? She gave Cooper the traits that were lost within her. The love of Twin Peaks, the excitement of living in the small town, the cherry pie at the Double R—these were things Laura loved when she could access that love. She also gave him demons, which makes sense because even though she fought so hard to be the good person she knew she had within her, her pain and anguish and darkness would still come through. Could this explain his being overtaken by BOB as well?

Laura eventually made peace with her pain and sacrificed herself, welcoming death and not letting BOB get the last bit of goodness she had within her. But BOB still wanted to exist, BOB still wanted to possess. BOB became, just as Cooper had, a living thing, capable even after Laura’s death.

The Giant was Laura’s wisdom. I thought this during the initial run, and that continued into The Return. The Fireman puts out fires. He is a helper. He gives Cooper information that only would be known by Laura herself. He gives him direction and talks about being in their house now and him being “far away”. Could this be because Laura is trying to show Dale once and for all that he belongs in The Red Room? Is he “far away” because he does not have the knowledge or does not believe he is part of Laura? Is he far away from the truth? He also takes Cooper’s ring in “May the Giant Be with You”. Why do I bring this up? In The Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper, My Life, My Tapes, Cooper has a dream where he is given that ring:

Just awoke from a dream where I was visited by Mom. She was not the same as I remember her. She seemed to be younger, barely a woman. Her face was smooth and pale, her hair was long and fell onto her shoulders. She was trying to tell me something, but I was not able to hear her. She reached out, touched my hand, and then was gone. I woke to find myself clutching a small gold ring in my hand. I do not know where it came from, and am sure it was not there when I went to sleep.

I believe Laura was the one that gave him that ring. The book suggests that it is Cooper’s mother’s ring (and if you’re interested, Eileen Mykkels wrote a whole theory which dives in further about Cooper and his ‘mother’). That is not what I am saying here. I am saying this shows the connection between Laura and Cooper very early on.

There is also another section from MLMT that shows the connection and demonstrates quite the comparison between Laura’s death and an injured Dale reflected on the feeling of dying:

May 25, 4pm: Apparently I had a slow hemorrhage that was undetected. Yesterday it ruptured, causing a massive loss of blood. I remember the sensation that I was drifting down a stream as people began rushing about me. I wanted to tell them that it was all right, they could let me go into the current. Dad told me this afternoon that my heart stopped beating for two minutes. That I was dead. I do not remember seeing a light as people have spoken of. Just the feeling of floating in a current, and peace – I wish they had let me go.

The feeling of floating on a current…not unlike a body falling down a river wrapped in plastic, don’t you think? They also had the same thought on dying; they each just wanted to die and not fight their demons anymore.

I find the coincidence of Laura having her diary and Cooper having ‘Diane’ quite curious. They both use it as a tool for getting out what they are thinking and going through. Did Laura give Cooper this ‘trait’ because it is something that she uses as a coping mechanism? Before you come at me with, “But we saw Diane in The Return! She was a real person!”…listen, I know, I saw her too. Still, I was not convinced she was a real person. Beside the fact that her nail color matched Cooper’s handheld recorder (black, white, and red), she also flew away and disappeared upon being shot and was turned into a woman with scarred over eyes who was electrocuted off an alien bell tower. She then emerged from an egg shaped fire rock into a redhead in a fuzzy pink robe and knew Cooper not on sight but by his kiss. To me, Diane was never a real person. No matter how brilliant Laura Dern’s performance of her, to me she was never real. Diane was code for diary, but that is another theory for another time.

As far as how The Return continues to play into all this, I believe that Laura gave The Fireman the instructions to give to Cooper. She needed a way to help Cooper realize that he was not who he thought he was. He was ‘manufactured’ for a purpose and that purpose was to help Laura, not save her, in an endless cycle, with hundreds of possibilities. (John Bernardy does a much better job of explaining the endless possibilities and timelines.)

What sets this particular time in motion is Leland. He mentions ‘Find Laura’ twice. The first time is when Laura is still confined in the safety of The Red Room, before removing herself. I believe she removed herself for the purpose of putting what I will call “Operation 430” in motion. She knew Cooper did not believe what she was whispering to him. He also knew Laura Palmer was dead. She also knew he held guilt, so much guilt for not trying to save all the others before her. She knows this first hand because she gave him that guilt. But remember what Margaret said to Hawk as she was dying: “You know about death, that it’s just a change, not an end.” Laura had to show him what she had done. So she set in motion what was the entirety of The Return: the twists and turns, the journey as Dougie and Mr. C, and the face-off at the Sheriff’s station where we are lead to a speech by Cooper and the famous line: “We live inside a dream.” But who’s dream? I’m getting there.

We then see Cooper go back into the Lodge, through the Great Northern basement no less; he meets Gerard and they go to meet Philip, where he is propelled back to February 23, 1989: the night that Laura is set to die. Cooper goes back to that night and we see it unfold just as we did in FWWM except for Cooper intervening. We also see Sarah devastated by the loss of Laura still. I do not believe that Sarah is Judy. I believe we are seeing a mother still overtaken with such grief over the death of her only daughter. (If I were to venture a guess, I would actually throw my hat in the ring that Laura is Judy, since the constant theme has been that Laura is the one. But I am not going down that rabbit hole in this theory; so many theories, so little time).

Cooper believes he is bringing Laura ‘home’ or so he says before she is removed from his grasp. Now I earlier said Laura removed herself from The Red Room. Here I believe she also removed herself; similar to how, when you are in the middle of a dream that you do not like, you change the dream. Where does Cooper end up? Oh, that’s right…back in The Red Room. Once again, Cooper is told to “Find Laura” one final time by Leland, leaves The Red Room to find Diane waiting, and they go on their pilgrimage to mile 430.

Once crossing 430 and the ‘electricity’, they become Richard and Linda. Here Cooper finds Carrie ‘Laura’ and her home by the same number 6 electricity pole from Twin Peaks. She goes with Cooper and then they drive from Texas to Twin Peaks—a trip which takes 31 hours and 48 minutes. We all know that scene was long, but in the scheme of things, even if they drove throughout the night…just no.

Here’s the moment that is most important. They arrive in Twin Peaks and head over to the Palmer House. As Cooper leads Carrie (Laura) up the stairs, they are surprised to see Sarah doesn’t answer but someone else does; a Mrs. Tremond. Now this is not a new name to us, but is it not ironic that whenever Laura in FWWM is around dreams or dreaming the names Tremond and Chalfont appear? Almost like dream guardians, or totems, to remind her she is dreaming. Feeling defeated, Cooper and Carrie walk down the stairs. He turns to face his failure. The stars turn and a time presents itself. Is it future or is it past?

Cooper asks the question, “What year is this?”

Here is my answer and hopefully the heart of where this whirlwind of a theory is going.

They are in fact in 1989. Carrie (Laura) turns toward her childhood home. She is home, again, unfortunately. She hears Sarah calling her for school on February 23, 1989, the day before she dies. She screams out as if the dream she was having suddenly turned into a nightmare, for it has. We are back at starting positions.

The final shot we see is of Cooper and Laura, once again back in The Red Room. It’s a position we know quite well: Laura leaning over and whispering into Cooper’s ear. This time, I think I know what she might be saying to our beloved Cooper:

“The reason the Arm called you non-exist-ent is because without me, you are nonexistent. Without me, you don’t exist. You aren’t real Dale Cooper. I dreamed you up to help me, to protect me, and now you are just part of me. All the parts you thought were you were parts of me. I’m sorry, but you are home and this is where we will remain now that I am dead.”

The way in which Dale takes the news makes me believe he might finally understand that he will never be able to control the outcome. Laura had already decided that for them.

Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer in the Red Room

Written by J.C. Hotchkiss

J.C. Hotchkiss is a Office Manager by day and Managing Twin Peaks Editor for 25YL Site the other 16 hours of the day. When she isn’t writing of her love of FBI Agents with a penchant for doughnuts, coffee and pie, she enjoys getting lost in a good book, sipping a damn fine glass of wine among friends, chatting with her "TB's" about Cevans and Fleabag's Hot Priest, and trying to keep up with the latest cartoon craze via her 6 year old. She lives smack in the middle of the Big Apple and Beantown, so for a girl with many different interests and tastes it's the perfect place to be.


Leave a Reply
  1. a good unified theory preserves original theories from seasons 1-2, that everything was Laura’s dream (the cabin was bleeding into other aspects of the story etc), Diane being not a real person. This preserves those original theories and expands them, which would be a clear goal of Lynch if he were to Return.

    I also like the notion that Cooper was helping Laura in her dreams in FWWM, and Laura is the one helping Cooper(s) in The Return (if ‘The One’ = Judy….I think of the Ace of Spades, where the low Ace is a 1, and the spade is the Frostian symbology for digging oneself out of the shit, the main theme)

  2. I once read a theory in Wrapped In Plastic (the Twin Peaks fanzine) that Laura and Sarah Palmer (and Maddy and her mother for that matter) were descended from witches or had magic in their blood. So it seems , does Cooper. If it weren’t for the current craze in witches this would have been a great idea to explore in series 3 or even 4. Once again, David Lynch brings an idea into to the mainstream that would have been left in children’s books and graphic novels years ahead of everyone else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Laura Palmers secret diary

The Legacy of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer

Agent Cooper takes Laura's hand

Dale Cooper: A White Knight in a World of Grey