J.B. Minton Discusses his “A Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks”

Two years out and Twin Peaks fandom is far from done producing theories, analysis, and interpretations regarding the series with The Return and Frost’s books completely incorporated. With all of these elements intact, author J.B. Minton adds his A Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks. It is available completely free to those interested with a respectful request that a donation of any appropriate size be given to The David Lynch Foundation in the book’s name. He has interviewed about the book on two recent podcasts and has been generous enough to speak to me for 25YL on some topics that add to what he has stated on those podcasts. 

RK: At the start of the book, you talk about this as coming from an idea like Joseph Campbell’s A Skeleton’s Key to Finnegan’s Wake. That’s referencing James Joyce’s completely stream-of-conscious novel Finnegan’s Wake. A Joseph Campbell interpretation is apt in more ways than one, of course, when we think in terms of the hero’s journey. J.A. Fairhurst has also written a graphic novel approach to Eraserhead titled A Key to Eraserhead.

So to frame it, there is a wonderful essay by Mark Yates in the excellent special issue for Twin Peaks in Volume 5, issue 2 of Supernatural Studies titled “The Secret History of BOB: Transmedia Storytelling and Twin Peaks.” Andreas Halskov speaks to the transmedia nature of the series as well. What I’m getting at here is that many of us think of Twin Peaks as not just a television series but a very important American transmedia text, just as we might consider any literary, challenging tome out there. Is that what this is to you?

JBM: I think this is absolutely the correct way to see Twin Peaks at the highest intellectual and academic level of analysis, one that conveys a complex narrative over multiple channels of artistic expression.

But getting back to Professor Joseph Campbell, he taught that a mythology, when working properly, operates on multiple levels at the same time. Consider this quote from The Power Of Myth:

“Myth basically serves four functions. The first is the mystical function,… realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery….The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned – showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through…. The third function is the sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order…. It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world – and it is out of date…. But there is a fourth function of myth, and this is the one that I think everyone must try today to relate to – and that is the pedagogical function, of how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.”

Proper Mythology has to speak to the head and the heart, and so breaking down these different functions of myth as it relates to Twin Peaks, one starts to get the smell of the thing.

For the Mystical Function, I think it’s very clear by the end of Part 18 that Dale Cooper has taken the viewer through a sublime and wonderful mystery that ends in silence, which all mystical experiences should do.

For the Cosmological Function, there is a structure and governing set of principles by which the dream system works with electricity and the White and Black Lodge systems, but it is all deeply mysterious and serves to open the viewer up to the Mystical experience like the aperture of a camera lens.

The Sociological Function is an interesting one for Twin Peaks since we are dealing with an upset of the social order at its fundamental level, that of a parent caring for a child. Laura was raped by her father, and it was ignored by her mother, which is a betrayal of the primary core tenet of human society. This tenet is that parents bring children into the world to care for them, bring them to healthy maturity, and then release them so they may begin the cycle all over again. From that betrayal, the systems that govern the community of Twin Peaks the town also become corrupted. It’s the original sin of Twin Peaks and the driving factor of the narrative drama of this mythology.

And then we get to the most interesting aspect of a properly functioning mythology to me, the Pedagogical Function. This is where the myth actually has impact to the individual, in this case the person watching Twin Peaks, reading one of the books or articles (maybe even this one), and listening to those masterpieces of music (preferably on vinyl records). How has the myth made you a better (or sometimes a worse) person? How has it taught you to operate within each of the phases of your life?

There is a great lecture where Professor Campbell uses the phases of the Moon to highlight the psychological transformation of the individual as they move through the phases of their life from birth to maturation into old age and finally death. I think Twin Peaks works through all of these phases.

Consider what a baby Cooper is when we meet him in the pilot. He is cock sure of himself in all facets and he’s sure of his mission. There is a level of hubris operating through his attitude and actions, yet he sounds foolish as hell when he talks about his experience of Love. He references duty and commitment in the same manner he would his devotion to the FBI, but Love is far more than social duty. And so, when we get to the final scene of Part 18 of Season 3, Cooper is still stumbling around in the dark, unsure of what his commitment has been worth or for or where he’s going next.

And I think this is a wonderful statement about the emptiness of the pursuit of a professional career that is void of real love. For me, when I watch any episode of Twin Peaks now, I view it through this framework of Cooper’s story, of a fall from hubris and being literally fragmented to the point of (almost) non-existence, where the only purity left in him is stripped and must be smuggled around his damaged mind until it is allowed to unlock his dream and wake him up. This is such a beautiful framework to me and I’m so in love with it, but it’s my frame and may not be yours. You may see something totally different from a completely different point of view and context, and so long as our experience makes us better people for it, then the mythology is firing on all levels as it should.

Twin Peaks is a modern-day Finnegan’s Wake in that you can watch it and not put a lot of thought into it and you’ll likely walk away disappointed, or you can leave your expectations at the door when you come into Season 3 and let the mythological Art change you as it slowly reveals its secrets and mysteries and starts to work on your soul. But many Twin Peaks fans were not willing to do that in 2017, and so they are still out there poor-mouthing the work on social media, almost like children who didn’t get the toy they were expecting in their Christmas stocking. Those people amuse me, and I hope they come around.

Narrative Key from A Skeleton Key of Twin Peaks
Screen capture image from Minton, J.B., A Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks: One Experience of Season 3 (Columbus, Ohio: J.B. Minton, 2019), 14.

RK: So in a Tweet—yes, I’m pulling from social media here—you set some personal criterion per Twin Peaks theories that 1) if it is incorporating other Lynch works from outside of Twin Peaks, you find yourself taken out of it. You’re disinterested. 2) You feel it must incorporate not just Lynch but Frost as well, and 3) for you, it requires a definite opinion on Part 18. Do you feel that criterion is accomplished in your Skeleton Key? We’ll come back to Part 18 later.

JBM: These criteria became the objective challenges I set for myself as I wrote and rewrote (about 60 revisions in total) of ASKTTP.

First, I detest the auteur concept that I have to dive deep into any artist’s work to truly appreciate any one facet of it. I think of Stephen King here, when it can be argued that everything he’s ever written, with few exceptions, can be loosely or directly tied into The Dark Tower series. That is just incredible on one level, but reading any of these great novels and short stories is a holistic experience, meaning one doesn’t have to understand the entirety of The Dark Tower in order to analyze each story for its deeper meaning.

I’m not rejecting the notion that David Lynch has common themes and subjects and character types in all of his work, but I do reject wholly the idea that I have to experience all of his films and read all of his interviews and view all of his painting and listen to all of his music and read all the Vedic literature of Hinduism in order to get meaning out of Twin Peaks. The very thought of it exhausts me. The old saying that the ocean is contained in a drop of water, but is also an ocean unto itself, is valid for me when I think of Twin Peaks. And I don’t begrudge any author who undertakes such a monumental task, but I’m not really interested in joining them on that journey. I have the experience I need from Twin Peaks and it comes directly from the work itself.

Second, I am actually more of a Mark Frost fan than I am a David Lynch fan when it comes to the story being told, because as a writer I am drawn to narrative drama and Mark’s instincts are cutting edge when it comes to telling a compelling story with twists and nuance. I don’t think David Lynch even comes close to Mark Frost in this ability and objectively comparing the dramatic narratives of Lynch’s films compared to Twin Peaks is a clear example of what Mark’s impacts are on the finished product. One could even extend this statement to be: David Lynch works better with other peoples’ stories. He is a master at creating a mystical experience within a narrative but getting the drama down is his weak spot in my opinion. This is why his best work is with other people’s characters and narratives (Frank Herbert, Barry Gifford, and what he created with Mark Frost). This is not a knock, it’s being objective about what a good story with good characters can become in the hands of an artistic master who brings it to life. It’s a good thing to know our limitations as artists and play to our strengths when we work together in mutual compact. Also, I suspect there’s a reason that David Lynch has never yet written a novel, because that channel of expression doesn’t play to his strengths.

That being said, I believe the analogy of John Lennon and Paul McCartney is valid when we think of the art that Lynch and Frost created together; they are mirrors of inspiration to one another. One creates the rhythm and the other the melody and sometimes they switch in this role and the result is just magical. Mark’s two Twin Peaks books (The Secret History of Twin Peaks and The Final Dossier) were polarizing and largely dismissed by many Twin Peaks fans because they were not what people expected, which is utterly ridiculous when one considers the disruptive nature of Twin Peaks as a work of art.

I was overjoyed at the active dismay other fans shared during the Summer of 2017, because to me that meant the Art was working as intended. I view both of these books as being components of “The Version Layer” of Cooper’s dream (what I refer to in ASKTTP as Bob/Mr C’s trap that Cooper spends most of Season 3 inside), they become vital and necessary elements of this maze of a dream, each book filled with truth and mysteries, and outright misinformation aimed to obfuscate and confuse Cooper as the dreamer and we as the viewers caught in his trap with him. Tammy Preston is the key narrative element of those books as well as the show, and she represents to me, along with all of the law enforcement characters and threads of investigation, Cooper’s subconscious mind working the problem from every angle.

And I love that at the end of The Final Dossier, we get inside the mind of Tammy Preston, a character within a dream who is dealing with the dream narrative unraveling and slipping away from her, as the dreamer (Cooper) ultimately awakens. It’s interesting to note that this is actually the ending of Twin Peaks as it stands right now, Tammy Preston, a character within a damaged and toxic dream layer, having served a noble purpose, now being sacrificed to the ether of Cooper’s imagination. It’s just beautiful and sad as it should be. It makes me humble and quiet to meditate on this.

Finally, I think litmus test for Part 18, where I require someone to state their belief of what happened in 18, is what separates the true Twin Peaks analysts from the general audience. If someone isn’t willing to plant a flag in the ground and risk being wrong, then what are we ultimately talking about? It’s just sewing more confusion and that’s not the point of thinking and writing about Twin Peaks. Ultimately, it comes down to: What Happened In Twin Peaks And What Does It Mean To You As A Human Being? This is the conversation that all analysts should be focused on, not on what Vedic literature impacted the Purple Power Station.

I feel that I put forth a comprehensive point of view that deals with (literally) every second of what we see on screen in Twin Peaks Season 3 and offers up a very specific and concrete point of view about Part 18 that, while anyone is welcome to disagree with and offer counterpoint, is a compelling mythology to step inside when experiencing all of Twin Peaks. I feel like I gave birth to a 13 pound baby out of one nostril and I’m glad to see it out in the world breathing now.

RK: I know that your first approach, which we published on 25YL, took very much to heart notions found in Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier. You’ve now spoken about this on the Red Room Podcast with Jeff Lemire and with Ben and Bryon of Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast. Do you mind talking about how that interpretation remained or evolved by the publication of this edition?

JBM: Yes, this is critical to understanding the evolution of what the art of Twin Peaks Season 3 did to me. So, in trying to synthesize Mark Frost’s books into the analysis of Season 3, it is painfully clear to me that those books (The Final Dossier in particular) is pointing towards Laura as being the Moon Child Anti-Christ spawn of Jowday and Beelzebub (Bob). This rocked my world for months and caused a bit of controversy when I went public discussing it, and I completely understand why.

It was like when The DaVinci Code rewrote the story of Jesus as saying he had a wife and children. Thinking of Laura as an evil entity instead of a victim who overcame her trauma to somehow defeat this walking demon is a hard sell. And ultimately it sucked all the joy out of thinking and writing about Twin Peaks for me. I took about a two month break in fact from doing anything. I didn’t listen to podcasts. I unsubscribed from the Twin Peaks Facebook groups I followed and started writing about the comedy series Red Oaks for 25YL, a show about as different from Twin Peaks as could be.

And I was playing a lot of Destiny (a video game that I’ve been playing seriously for years). Well, in that game, there is an interesting story line about this race of time traveling, reality-shifting robots called The Vex who terraform planets by altering reality until they achieve their desired results. This means they could impose millions of simulations until finding the right one which leads to their victory and they are a formidable enemy in the game, much like Mr. C in Season 3.

And like a hammer blow, the pieces came together for me in a way that clicked with what Candie called “The Version Layer” to Anthony Sinclair. Cooper was put into a trap where his reality was imposed in a manner meant to strip him of all that is good and cast his very concept of self into a void, where his mind and then his body could be possessed and commandeered by a vile and evil force. To me, this is what the Fireman means when he tells Cooper in Part 1 that something is in their house, an evil force has invaded his soul and will not stop until the last remaining golden seed of his goodness is eradicated and his past identity is completely stripped and razed. I love this concept because it made everything else fit for me, and it is so utterly fucking terrifying. Seriously, Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers don’t have anything compared to this level of threat. And so I started rewriting ASKTTP almost from scratch to produce where the current version of the book stands.

Graph from A Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks
Screen capture from Minton, 17.

RK: What are some of Frost’s major contributions, as far as your can discern them, that continue to remain important in this Skeleton Key?

JBM: Well, all we can really know is what is written in The Secret History of Twin Peaks and The Final Dossier. I think we have to assume that both artists had equal hand in the narrative story being told in Season 3, and I include Part 18 in this. Frost has been quoted as saying that he and David handed in a script to Showtime that was, “the size of a New York phone book,” and I think we can assume that script had an ending that ultimately stayed true to what they handed in.

Do I believe that the whole Carrie Page and What Year Is This? ending was conceived within that framework? Yes I do, because the story is ultimately a coming home story being told of a tortured man waking up after 25 years of being trapped inside a terrible dream. I do not believe that Lynch went rogue and invented his own ending. Sure he put his own interpretation and nuance on the ending, which seems to be what he and Mark agreed to, but the ending itself is mythologically valid at least within the framework that I lay out in ASKTTP and it would take a lot of scholarship to convince me otherwise.

The irony of Season 3 and Frost’s books are that the return to Twin Peaks that so many fans were desiring is actually contained inside Mark’s books, but not in the manner fans were expecting. I think the Ed and Norma story, in particular, is very important, as is the Doug Milford story, which informs the Major Briggs story, which in turn informs Cooper’s entire journey to waking up. Just consider how important Major Briggs’s floating head in Part 3 saying, “Blue Rose,” is to Cooper coming to a realization in Part 14 and sticking that fork in the socket, which sends him to parlay with The Fireman where he learns the details of his mission to drive 430 miles and become Richard by sacrificing his image of Diane to hack his own dream and complete the mission of taking the dead prom queen home to her mother. Season 3 is so narratively tight when one views it like this and I believe Mark and David intended for all of it to be in the final product.

RK: John Bernardy wrote a 5-part essay for us about Season 3 existing as a “between place.” He explains it as:

“… the between place he mentioned is Season 3 itself. It doesn’t belong to the Timeline or Lodgespace, but is made from both states … If you need a visual metaphor, imagine you’re in a movie theater. Season 1, Season 2, and Fire Walk With Me make up the screen itself. Lodgespace is the projector in the back, projecting a veil of images over the screen. Season 3 is in the seats with the audience as we constantly reinterpret what we see in front of us.”[1]

So in his interpretation, there is a timeline (where Laura Died) and a dream. The dream is what Dale is working within. And this sounds to me a lot like what John Thorne is getting at in his two-part dream theories, where he ultimately states that:

“I contend that the story is real — that Mr. C is truly an evil half-Cooper attempting to amass power, that Dougie Jones is a purely good Cooper deposited in Las Vegas to serve as a beacon of hope, that Sarah Palmer is possessed by an evil entity, that the FBI is in search of answers to the mysteries of Bill Hastings and Major Briggs, that the deputies of Twin Peaks are revisiting the Laura Palmer case to piece together the fate of Dale Cooper. All of this is real, but we are seeing it from a specific point-of-view, the story being encrypted by a potent, eccentric personality.”[2]

Given these two alone, your interpretations of the Cooper Loop, the Inversion Layer, Red Room Layer, The Missing Page Layer—How many layers are we working with altogether?

JBM: So, I think all of these are valid readings and are not exclusionary to ASKTTP thesis of Season 3 being the story of Dale Cooper waking from a multi-layered dream. It’s also important to point out that just because it’s a dream, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Think of Tony Sopranos’ dream from Season 2 where he reveals to himself, through the characters and narratives of those sequences, that Pussy Bompansero is a traitor working with the FBI. That was very real and so is Cooper’s dream throughout all of Twin Peaks. Reality as a concept is pretty flimsy when you start breaking it down and this is something that becomes apparent to the daily meditator or anyone who has tried a psychedelic drug like psilocybin or LSD – reality becomes a deconstructed experience more like a prism than a flat lens. So, if I’m laying out the layers of Twin Peaks, there are:

1) The Twin Peaks Layer of what we know as Seasons 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks: This is Laura Palmer’s murder, the town’s response and Cooper’s quest to solve the mystery of who did it and then move into understanding why it happened and what it means.

2) The Red Room Layer of Cooper’s Dream: This includes his dream in Episode 2, The Giant’s quest, and the weighing of his heart against a feather moment in Episode 29, where he fails to understand that Love is about letting go rather than holding on and that failure nearly kills him and leads us into Fire Walk With Me and Season 3. I view this layer as a shopping mall that contains these little sub-layers of dream like different stores within the mall that characters and viewers walk into and come out of (if they can find the exit of course).

3) The Fire Walk With Me Layer of Cooper’s Dream which occurs within the construct of The Red Room Layer – This is to me Laura controlling the narrative of how Cooper views her backstory, while he is trapped in the Red Room as her prisoner guest. I do not view FWWM as a prequel, but as a sequel to Twin Peaks Season 2, moving the narrative forward by going backwards.

4) The Version Layer which also occurs within the construct of The Red Room Layer and is the trap that Mr C/Bob is able to impose on Cooper’s dreaming mind when Laura is ripped from her dominion over The Red Room Layer after Cooper is coerced into changing the timeline of his memory of events. Fooling around with memory is one of the most interesting facets of Season 3 that not too many talk about. Phillip Jeffries is the memory machine and the fact that this machine has been housed in the Dark Motel means that it has been absconded by The Black Lodge in a coup against Cooper’s soul. But little does Mr C/Bob know, Jeffries is a double agent working with the White Lodge to launch one last desperate plan to save Cooper’s soul and awaken the dreamer, but that plan involves damaging the most important memory of Cooper’s mind, in relation to this dream he’s trapped inside, Laura’s murder. This is a support column of the dream and when it’s removed, all hell breaks loose but also opens up an avenue for escape that didn’t exist when she was in charge of “The Cooper Loop” narrative of The Red Room Layer.

5) The Carrie Page Layer which is also a construct of The Red Room Layer, and another trap that the Fireman and Phillip Jeffries imposes on Cooper, but one engineered to waking him up with his golden seed of goodness intact, while at the same time expelling this evil force that has invaded his soul.

6) The Viewer Layer of experience that we have as audience members engaged with each of these layers of narrative. I believe this is the layer from which our love is able to pour into The Version Layer of Cooper’s dream to provide him with the inspiration (in the form of the icons above the slot machines, the reflected light on Anthony Sinclair’s face and the case files, etc.) he needs to take corrective actions within the dream and ultimately wake up. We did that! Congratulations!

7) The Layer of Mythology where all of Twin Peaks affects us as thinking and feeling human beings. This is what we walk away from the art with inside our hearts and affects how we treat each other (kindness, cruelty, or apathy). Are we better people for our experience with this Art?

Skeleton Key: Dale Cooper's dream states
Screen capture image from Minton, 8.

RK: I like your interpretation that the detective work in the series, in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s station, with the Blue Rose Task Force, etc., are Cooper’s investigatory skills at work in his dream. Can you elaborate on that?

JBM: Many people have erroneously stated that Cooper doesn’t return until Part 15. I think Cooper is in the narrative all along; if you view what happens with all lines of investigation as Cooper’s agency working within The Version Layer of his dream to figure things out and escape. It becomes a beautiful meditation almost like Houdini working his way out of a locked box submerged under water, only instead of using his hands, Cooper is using his mind and splitting himself into multiple characters across multiple layers of his dream, working the handcuffs and then the lock from different angles with differing levels of force and skill. This means Andy, Lucy, Cole, Albert, and especially Tammy Preston all become agents of investigation for Cooper to understand his predicament and see his way out. Viewing the narrative arc of Season 3, this way works magic for me when I think of Cooper’s Return to Waking Consciousness (let us not forget the name of the show was originally “The Return”).

Part 18 Title card from A Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks
Screen capture image from Minton, 276.

RK: In Part 18, you see some definite closure, and that closure is occurring in Cooper’s head space. I want to talk about some of this. As I read it, now that it has been out a while, you believe Cooper has found closure from his own delusions and impulses?

JBM: Yes, I think the Fireman protected the last remaining golden seed of Cooper’s goodness by placing it inside the image of Laura Palmer in Cooper’s mind and then smuggled that image away from The Red Room Layer into The Carrie Page Layer and that she essentially is a suicide bomb at that point, built to explode at the right place at the right time, which is the point of the coordinates that Mr C was seeking as well — Laura Palmer’s home.

In all Layers of The Dream, The Palmer house is the final exit to Cooper’s dream, only activated when Cooper takes a murdered girl home to her mother, like a key into a lock. I think that’s what he believes, that taking Laura home to her mother will fix everything, and it does, only not in the way he thinks it will. By fixing things, Laura’s rage, exemplified by her explosive scream, turns the tumblers of The Palmer House lock to his Dream and the fade to black is Cooper waking from the Dream back to the narrative reality of the Twin Peaks Season 1 and 2. But he had to give up his images and beliefs (unwillingly) in order to move past to the redemption necessary to awaken from this awful trap of a dream.

I like to think of The Fireman, Major Briggs and Phillip Jeffries as metaphoric shepherds within Cooper’s mind dedicated to protecting what is good inside him. Realizing that Cooper is fundamentally flawed with this Lancelot complex of always saving the Princess, they manipulate him through what they know his response will be when presented with the mission of saving the girl. It’s his own nature realizing his faults and working to use them as a mitigating force in an act of subconscious will ultimately save his soul.

There is a great quote from the Gnostic Gospel Of Thomas, where Jesus says, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” That’s Cooper’s predicament and it’s also the predicament of every man, woman, and child who draws breath on this earth right now. And this leads us back to the four functions of a properly working mythology.

RK: What is the narrative about Transcendental Mediation in this for you, as a practitioner?

JBM: Being sensitive to the rules I laid out for myself about not reaching out to other source material to derive meaning from Twin Peaks, I did allow myself to break this rule for Transcendental Meditation, mostly because of the effect the practice has had on my ability to analyze the work and even compose this book at all. I truly believe that I would have abandoned this project over a year ago were it not for the insights that have come as a result of the creative space created in my mind from the daily practice of TM, something which clearly has been infused into all of David Lynch’s art. And after doing TM for nearly two years, I understand why.

TM has affected every relationship I have and every part of my creativity in the most positive way. It’s astounding what one is capable of emotionally when that reset button gets hit every day and all the anxiety and fear and anger leak out of those nooks and crannies of our psyche, like a drain cleaner for the soul. TM is not a religion and it’s not a cult. You learn it once and do it every day like brushing your teeth and it will change your life overnight. I have had a few people invest in learning TM and reach out to me thanking me for giving them that final push to do it (it’s not cheap but nothing that will improve your life is – welcome to America), and I feel more a sense of pride in helping inspire others to change their lives through TM than any of the work I’ve done explaining what Twin Peaks means to me.

I want to encourage everyone to add the practice of TM into their life, which is why I chose to give the book away and ask for donations to the David Lynch Foundation, which has a mission of teaching TM for free or greatly discounted to our most at-risk populations (school children in economically underserved communities, soldiers returning to life from active duty who suffer from PTSD, human beings suffering from addiction and the aftershocks of violence, etc.).

It’s incredible when you start looking at both the scientific studies being done at the individual level and the correlative studies being done at the sociological level on the effects of TM on the human being and the human population. Here is a technique that, when practiced daily, not only eradicates anxiety and stress, leading to better biological functioning (blood pressure, etc.) but also dramatically decreases crime in areas where people clustered together are practicing TM. Look these studies up. They will will blow your mind. Bringing it back to Twin Peaks, Part 8, in particular I think, has serious connections to TM, which I lay out in my essay, “This Is The Water” essay in ASKTTP.

RK: I know you consider this a living document, are there any specific threads that are still pulling at you with a little distance from the publication?

JBM: I have been enjoying stepping away from Twin Peaks these last few months since ASKTTP was published. I feel a sense of pride that the book is there for anyone to pick up and start to engage with Season 3 on a deeper level. One of my hopes with the book was that people who outright dismissed Season 3 might consider taking a fresh new look at it from a different perspective. That being said, I would like to eventually go back to Season 1 and 2 and reconsider them from this overall point of view. I have no immediate plans to undertake that as the prospect seems exhausting right now. I’m actually thinking of other shows like Mad Men, Deadwood and Six Feet Under as candidates for the next project. Modern myths are all around us for those with the fortitude and passion to dig in.

RK: Have you been getting feedback from the fandom? What has the overall experience been?

JBM: The experience has largely been positive from those who have directly contacted me and I welcome any reader to do so. I truly do view this book as starting a conversation. That being said, I’m sure some people will not be happy with someone trying to explain everything in Twin Peaks in a book. There are elements of The Old Guard of Twin Peaks who are deeply unsatisfied with Season 3, and it’s become nearly a religious war whenever you try discussing the merits of Season 3 with them. I have zero interest in engaging myopic people with only negative things to say about Season 3. In fact, I would refer them to my book and tell them to come back to the table when they are serious about discussing it with an open mind.

RK: Can we revisit your initial impression printed on 25YL? Are there portions of that that still ring true? I love Laura and her story line of success against the intentions of the Lodge and Bob, but I am also one of the readers that still feels somewhat intrigued by that, shall we call it “skeleton closet” suggested by Frost.

JBM: “Skeleton Closet,” I like that! And what a skeleton closet Laura had, right? I think that the view of Laura as the victor over Bob, who did not weakly submit to being the victim, and who willingly went to her death is comparable to how Professor Campbell views The Last Supper, where Jesus basically announces to the entire table that the person who hands him the sop will betray him and that’s Judas. His reading is that Jesus basically gave Judas the assignment to betray him because it’s what had to happen in order for him to fulfill his mission of dying for the sins of the world. Now, I am not a religious person, but I know a good story and that is a phenomenally disruptive reading of The Last Supper that excites me to this day, the concept that someone willingly gives their life to a higher purpose as an act of will in the line of duty.

I love this reading of Laura’s actions in Fire Walk With Me. It’s empowering, but there is a downside as well, one which Cooper ultimately suffers from and provides the mode of his redemption in Season 3. The concept that Laura is evil within The Final Dossier (which I believe primarily exists within The Version Layer of Cooper’s Dream) is the literary equivalent of ripping Laura from The Red Room Layer in Part 2. They work in tandem to put a wedge in Cooper’s mind between his addiction to the prospect of saving Laura within the Cooper Loop of his dream and the actuality that this addiction is going to kill him or at the very least render him inert as an agency of good in the world. So both viewings of Laura are actively correct at the same time, she is both savior and demon, a particle and wave, and this duality is the core component of the mystery of Twin Peaks and the greater mystery of our lives when we wrestle with the evil that human beings do every day and ask ourselves questions like why are human beings born innocent to suffer and ultimately die. This is heavy stuff and we need heavy stories and serious people discussing them in order to deal with these hard truths.

RK: The Secret History. Have you integrated any of that material, or do you think it frames a secret history of the United States that was simply available for Cooper to draw from, because when we all evoke the sex magic between characters, I think our connection goes back to Frost guiding us back to Parsons and Hubbard’s Babylon Working? Any Secret History in your thoughts?

JBM: I think this feels right to me. I love the idea of Cooper actually knowing some of this Blue Book information and synthesizing it together with what he knows of the history of Twin Peaks the town and then applying that to defining the parameters of his predicament. I would love to go back and dig into both of Mark’s books and bring them into the larger exploration that ASKTTP has started (it will never truly be finished), but right now the prospect feels exhausting to me and I would rather sit in silence and mediate on the marvel that is Season 3 of Twin Peaks within the framework that ASKTTP has established as my lens of experience for this great work of Art in our time.

[1] Bernardy, John, “Twin Peaks: Navigating Between Two Worlds (Part 1 of 5),” 25YL, January 2019, Accessed 06/01/2019,

[2] Thorne, John, “A Strong Sender: The Resonant Presence of Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks,” Blue Rose Magazine 1, no. 9 (March 2019), par 4.


Written by Rob E. King

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

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