Italian version here
The now-legendary scene of “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” set “above the convenience store”, just like the famous scene of the dream of Dale Cooper in the Red Room in “Twin Peaks”, is one of those Lynchian cryptic scenes full of clues to fans, and a veritable pool of ideas to be used in the future for the film-maker(s).
With the blu-ray of “Twin Peaks” release in 2014, we are now able to feel our way through the layers of mystery unfolding between the original script and the extended version of the ‘convenience store’ scene in the ‘Missing Pieces.’ Let us dive into old and new theories alike to try and prise open the secrets of the Black Lodge, the creamed corn, the Formica table, scorched engine oil and much more!
We were shooting Fire Walk With Me and … well, one of the scenes blew a generator, and Lynch replaced the generator. We tried it again and the generator blew again. So then he did not change at all the lights. He rearranged the dialogue. He said, “No, you say this instead of this, and you say this here.” He rearranged the dialogue. “Let’s try it again.” Plugged into the generator again, no changes in the power requirements, the scene played again, the generator did not blow that Time. And he goes, “I thought it might have been that!”
Static or faulty electric occurrences are prevalent in FWWM, noticeable to even the most casual viewer. Lynch is a director who uses electric happenings in a way which serves to enhance our feelings for the characters and creates a mood of anguish and wonder.Here is the script for the convenience store scene in FWWM, which also features electrical discharges, an ‘Electrician’ if you look at the full script and various lines of dialogue which seem cryptic and mysterious.
53. INT. ROOM ABOVE THE CONVENIENCE STORE - DAY SIX PEOPLE in a large, barren, filthy room. Cheap plastic storm windows flap in the cold wind. In the foreground the Man From Another Place (Mike) and BOB sit at a formica table. Behind them on plastic torn chairs huddle MRS. TREMOND and her GRANDSON. TWO BIG WOODSMEN with full beards sit quietly. FIRST WOODSMAN (subtitled) We have descended from pure air. MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE (subtitled) Going up and down. Intercourse between the two worlds. BOB (subtitled) Light of new discoveries. MRS. TREMOND (subtitled) Why not be composed of materials and combinations of atoms? MRS. TREMOND'S GRANDSON (subtitled) This is no accident. MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE (subtitled) This is a formica table. Green is its color. He touches the table. FIRST WOODSMAN (subtitled) Our world. MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE (subtitled) With chrome. Any everything will proceed cyclically. SECOND WOODSMAN (subtitled) Boneless. MIKE (subtitled) Yes, find the middle place. Bob begins to scream with anger. BOB (subtitled) I HAVE THE FURY OF MY OWN MOMENTUM. TREMOND'S GRANDSON (subtitled) Fell a victim. The Man From Another Place raises his hand. MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE (subtitled) Fire Walk With Me... Bob claps his hand and a circle of fire appears in the room. BOB (subtitled) Fire Walk With Me. THROUGH THE CIRCLE We see the RED ROOM. ON THE SCENE Bob crawls into the Red Room and Mike starts to yell and leaps in after him. SECOND WOODSMAN (subtitled) Thus time moves on.
Between script and the scene shot there are several differences and missing or different lines. The scene on the blu-ray begins with a close-up of what looks like the mouth of the Man From Another Place who says: “The chrome reflects our image” (a reference to the mirrors in which we see reflected when Bob possesses his human guests?). One of the woodsmen apparently has a close relation with fire and slams the back of his hand twice on one leg, as the man with the stick slams this almost imperceptibly in the ground twice. The man with the stick also says “Animal Life” after the line “Going up and down. Intercourse between the two worlds.” In the Red Room, in the end, we also see the ring with the symbol of the Cave of the Owls (and its color is green).
The Woodsmen? These figures in the scene are without names and appear as either symbolic or just mystery men. They are lumberjacks because the script tell us and the credits (and then everyone knows that the lumberjacks are dressed like this, no?) One of them, the one that has to do with the fire, next to electric machinery, is not played by an unknown actor, but by Jürgen Prochnow, who appeared in Dune as the Duke Leto Atreides, father of Paul Atreides ( that is, Kyle MacLachlan, our Dale Cooper). The Duke gave voice to Dune’s famous line “The sleeper must awaken” and we know that in the dream world of Lynch this can not be taken lightly.
If you have noticed long-bearded homeless people in the street before, the above woodsman may also look familiar – Lynch returned to a homeless character or ‘bum’ in Mulholland Drive and also in INLAND EMPIRE. Somehow, these people are portrayed as in the dirt but so beaten-down, they have arrived at a possible state of enlightenment.
His character in FWWM is clearly of importance in the eyes of Lynch, considering the actor chosen, although almost unrecognizable behind a false beard (and I immediately think about the tv series “Lost” here). The most popular theory (also reported in the excellent Italian book “Twin Peaks. David Lynch e la filosofia” by Roberto Manzocco) is that he is the husband of the Log Lady, about which we know three things: that he was a lumberjack, who died in a fire and that his spirit, apparently, is trapped in the log that she always carries with her (and I immediately think about Josie here, although the scene of the knob of wood I was always a little embarrassed more than disturbed to me).
“My husband was as logging. He met the devil. Fire is the devil, hiding like a coward in the smoke”.
Somehow, the Log Lady’s husband is above the” convenience store “in the same way in which” the Good Dale “is trapped in the Lodge in the final episode of the TV series ? But if so, what kind of spirit is trapped in the log? Or maybe the log is just a channel through which to communicate with her husband. I recall here that the forest surrounding Twin Peaks is called Ghostwood and that, according to Hawk, the wood is home to many spirits … The fact is that, if the hypothesis is correct, the Log Lady’s husband must have been in some way possessed by a spirit of the lodge. One of our readers, Sergio L. Duma, speculates that as there are two loggers, one is the husband of the Log Lady and the other one his doppelgänger.
But what is this place “above the convenience store”? According to the words of the man with one arm (or rather the spirit that possesses ):
“We lived among the people. I think you say, convenience store. We lived above it. I mean it like it is, like it sounds ..”
So let’s mean it like it is, like it sounds. Some spirits seem to live ‘between two worlds’, perhaps in a inter-dimensional space superimposed on ours. Our world can be reached by these beings in different ways: through dreams, like the famous Dale Cooper one; through real steps, such as those crossed by Windom Earle and Jeffries; and finally by people to own. Perhaps this refers to the line “Animal Life”, refers to man as animal body NOT pure air, indispensable way for the inhabitants of the Lodge through which actually interact with the material world (and casualties). Not to mention the fact that apparently Bob can also manifest in the form of an owl (another “animal life”).
In terms of consumption and sustenance, returning to the idea of the “convenience store” … The human world is seen by these beings, whoever they are, as a lower level (the Black Lodge is “above”) and is considered a real “convenience store” to find delicacies. The food that is the most popular (the only possible for them, beings of pure air?) seems to be human pain and sorrow, displayed as corn. The word associated with this food is Garmonbozia. We see several bowls of corn in the scene above the convenience store in Fire Walk With Me.
As above, so below. The human being finds himself, or herself, in the middle. There is as much space outside the human, proportionately, as inside. Stars, moons and planets remind us of protons, neutrons and electrons. Is there a bigger being walking with all the stars within? Does our thinking affect what goes on outside us and what goes on inside us? I think it does. Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe? What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?
As above, so below. This brings us to a fascinating theory that I found here. According to the author, “As above, so below” is very reminiscentof the opening words of The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Smaragdine Table, or Tabula Smaragdina, a compact and cryptic piece of Hermetica reputed to contain the secret of the prima materia and its transmutation. The layers of meaning in the Emerald Tablet are associated with the creation of the philosopher’s stone, the alchemical magnum opus, and the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm. And if you are thinking “This is a formica table. Green is its color” I’m doing well my job. And if you even thought to the Emerald City of The Wizard of Oz (constant reference in many works of Lynch) are just proud of you. It probably does not mean anything … or it means that Lynch, while doing research on The Wizard of Oz and the meaning of the Emerald City (the color of which is obviously green), came across the emerald table… But of course these are only speculations and maybe it’s just a Mark Frost or Bob Engel’s idea. But I like to think so! By te way, it is worth to remember that the author of “The Wizard of Oz” novel, Lyman Frank Baum, was a known member of the Theosophical Society … and yes, we’ll talk abouit it sooner or later.
In short, it seems not entirely random the combination of the tablet and the formica table. According to one interpretation, the formica table would be the world which these creatures come from (as a woodsman said, “Our World”). But according to an opposite interpretation, it represents the human material world, hence the ecstasy experienced by the Man from Another Place in touching the table. Moreover, there is another interesting note about the green table: it lacks a circular piece (a missing piece!) from the Formica. The hypothesis is that this missing piece served to forge the ring that we see at the end of the sequence, the one with the symbol of the Cave of the Owls. Green is its color.
It should be added this other particular, noted for example by our reader Claudia Pratici: the famous green plastic laminate produced by Formica Corporation in its first form was used as an electrical insulator, and we know that electricity is a leitmotiv of Fire Walk with Me, and is related to these beings (perhaps moving through electricity) … A partial explanation might be this: the ring is designed to prevent possession by Bob (it is an electrical insulator). Laura, by wearing it, resists to possession (and in fact his “soul” is saved, as suggested by the final). Yet Dale Cooper asks her not to wear it (“Do not take the ring!”) because, if she take the ring, Bob would kill her, as he could not possess her. This hypothesis undergoes some shortcomings: the ring belonged to Teresa, another victim by Bob, while Maddy had no ring. And why Desmond, touching the ring, simply disappears?
On the forum dugpa.com, the user Jasper has another very interesting insight: “Now, the Emerald Tablet was thought to be the key to alchemy, the most well-known goal of Which Was to turn junk (base metals) into gold. Based upon this, I would add my own observation, Which Is that on the table we have bowls of garmonbozia. What is garmonbozia? It’s a GOLDEN substance, Which is of the highest value to the lodge Inhabitants. From what is garmonbozia created? Pain and suffering. Through an alchemical-like process, the lodge Inhabitants transform into something shitty extremely valuable golden stuff, garmonbozia “.
In the episode directed by Lynch where the Log Lady speaks of corn in the introduction, there is the famous scene where Donna brings a meal home to Mrs Tremond and met the grandson who makes his magic trick: the creamed corn/Garmonbozia that Grandma didn’t order disappears from the plate and falls into the hands of the little wizard (at the time of the series starring the son of Lynch) …
My personal mythologist, Stefano Ventura, suggested me to deepen the meaning of Corn in different cultures, and I found a reference that made me jump on the chair.
Before to get there, thinking about Hawk, I began to research about the myths of the Native Americans. Native Americans believed that corn was both a god and a sacred plant. And even here I found something interesting. According to Creek traditions, corn was born from the body of a woman, the primordial goddess of the earth, who nicked the front of the thigh as a gift to men. But they refused to eat food produced in this way. Nevertheless, she kept to sacrifice herself just to feed humans. Finally the goddess sacrificed her whole being, inviting men thereafter to burn “her body” to have crops of corn in the future. So, according to Creek traditions, fire and corn are closely linked, and during pòskita, a major religious holiday, they lit the New Fire, which was the connection to the ancestors and the Upper World. They used the New Fire for the ritual “sacrifice of corn”. They chose the best first corn and burned it in the holy fire.
But getting back to the jump in the chair I’ve made. Of all the cultures that I have examined, it is that Maya that corn plays the biggest role. According to Mayan traditions, corn it was the food base of their diet, so it is not surprising that were invested with spiritual and mythological meanings. It was considered a magical plant, associated to the origins of man and of the world itself. Real sustenance of the universe according to the Chilam Balam, corn is the primordial element from which everything originated. Not only. Look here ‘this. In the very ‘beginning there was only the Green Jade. Yes, you read that right. Green Jade. This stone, for the Maya very valuable, would be nothing but corn not yet mature. The green table above the “convenience store” seems therefore catalyze upon itself many symbolic meanings. It should be added that, according to the Mayan creation myth told in the Popol Vuh, the creation of man was the case with subsequent attempts and fruitless: before gods tried with clay, then with wood, and only in the third round, that of “people of corn”, the gods were able to create a human being (made of corn). The man of clay and of wood would not correspond to different “races”, but at different stages of consciousness of human beings, who must aspire to be “men of corn”, illuminated.
At the end, let us make a last round of tournament in the myths and rituals of the peoples of the Earth wondering who is “The Jumping Man,” the character (not present on the script but only in the shot) that over the “convenience store” as a jumping monkey, wearing a red dress and a white mask from the pointed nose. Eden H. Roquelaire, in an interesting article that weaves mythology of Twin Peaks with the Native American imagery, speaks of the Heyoka, or Sacred Clowns of Native American culture, which has a role in preserving the cosmic order through conduct contrary to the rules and logic. Heyokas are thought of as being backwards-forwards, upside-down, or contrary to nature. It was manifest by doing things backwards or unconventionally – riding a horse backwards, wearing clothes inside-out, or speaking in a language backwards. The Heyoka never tell you something straight out; they make you use your own mental power to learn the meaning behind the words. They use a lack of logic to mock the conventions of our world, and challenge the minds of Their disciples. A person who becomes a Heyoka is one who is inspired by a visit from a Wakinyan or Thunderbird, a powerful spiritual being who is always cloaked in storm clouds. The Thunderbird usually appears to them in a dream. So they are also connected to electricity… The points of contact between the Heyoka and some beings in the Black Lodge are many. What’s more, here’s Stanley “Good Voice” Elk, a Heyoka our contemporary, in a photo from National Geographic.
Separated at birth, is not it? Add to this the predilection/awe of David Lynch to the figure of the clown in his works: the song Blue Velvet that speaks of a “Candy Colored Clown”, the many drawings of clowns scattered here and there (in INLAND EMPIRE, for example), the album of songs by Lynch named “Crazy Clown Time”… I’d say there are a lot of things to think about. Not least the fact that, looking at the cover of the last album of Lynch, “The Big Dream”, we see a man (who is probably making a “big dream”) struck by lightning … Thanks to Eden H. Roquelaire for these wonderful suggestion!
Demons, angels, alchemy, Native American myths, the Popol Vuh … So many irons in the fire, right? However, in my opinion, after so many theories and enticing curiosities, the final word on this suggestive and mysterious scene is: boh.
The Dream of the Red Room made by Dale Cooper in the series is fully explained. Remember? The dwarf dancing was a clue that pointed the finger at Leland Palmer, who did nothing but dance, and so on, almost every detail was “rationalized”. Maybe even in the case of the scene on the “convenience store” there would be an explanation, if the next two films that Lynch was going to turn after FWWM to continue the history of Twin Peaks had never gone into production. Probably would have been “a posteriori” explanations: Lynch believes that if shoots of things that feels “right”, true to the original idea of the film, these will bear fruit even if at first he does not understand at all: he is confident that will match the perfection with everything else, or find a way to make them fit.
I personally do not see anything “magical” to me: is the way it works intuition of this great director. And this method works for him: we have seen it at work in a clear manner in Mulholland Drive. This confidence that everything will fit perfectly if you remain faithful to the original idea stems from the belief that there is a “unified field”, a field at the foundation of everything, from which every single thing exists. In Vedic science, this ocean of pure consciousness is called Atma, the Self. You can get in touch with this ocean (while not understanding it rationally) experiencing the deepest levels of the mind. How? Through transcendental meditation, of course…
As we well know, it is happening again. What that exactly means at this stage is for us to discuss in the next article. What about Between Two Worlds? Who is Laura Palmer meeting in her Lodge travels? People with no names? Who does she mean? What will the new volume of Twin Peaks really be about? We have only our own imaginations, dreams and deductions to go on. But a path is formed by laying one stone at a time. Time for some damn fine coffee, until next time!