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With the creation of one of the high achievements of mankind, Twin Peaks, David Lynch made a world so ecstatic it demanded its own reality. I’ve been really thinking about Julee Cruise and Twin Peaks SO MUCH lately. What makes it so good? Where did this music come from? Who is Julee Cruise *really*!? Why is this music so appropriate after dark?

Lynch obviously takes a lot of cues from Kenneth Anger, particularly Anger’s bike films Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos. With these, Kenneth Anger added simple bubble gum pop songs over ritual cruelty and raw sexuality, (not only inventing music videos,) but also exposing basic desires as a violent, cold thing.

David Lynch uses Julee Cruise in his work the same way, but also in a new way. Lynch and Badalamenti wrote the songs that she recorded for the soundtrack, which are pretty much 60’s pop songs with a lot of 80’s dream-synth-wash. They use this heavy dream-style kitsch to provide emotional information outside of the acting and dialogue. Isn’t that what every soundtrack does? Ok, yes.

BUT It’s no secret that Twin Peaks is a world that is not our own. Most TV shows succeed by mirroring reality enough that we look for our own lives in them. Twin Peaks is the opposite. From the music, to James Hurley’s face, the black and white zig zag floor, the Twin Peaks feeling is so deep and uncanny, that when something happens in our day-to-day world that resonates with David Lynch’s world, well…I guess you make of it what you have to. Here’s all of this really densely in Blue Velvet:

So what happens in a world, our world, when we’ve gone through the looking glass, and come out and still wanted to say something true to our human concerns, but, like, to actually get up a do something serious as an “artist” is kind of a joke, (this is, after all, 50 years after Scorpio Rising, 30 yearrs since Ian Curtis died, and 20 Nirvana got signed to a major) ?

Maybe the people who are getting it right are the ones who don’t seem timeless at all is what I’ve come to understand. Maybe to deliver the absolute truth (don’t quibble) you have to go around a million galaxies (or so it appears) to get at the “real talk” of it. Ryan Trecartin comes to mind. His work is poetry-times-a-million.

I recently saw on TV that one of the farthest flung objects in outer space is a satellite containing almost a hundred languages detailing the instructions of our world to extraterrestrials. It gave me a good visual image of what I was kind of feeling. I guess sometimes you have to go that incomprehensibly out of this world to get an explanation for what the hell is going on, and how the hell we are actually feeling in 2010:

I really love this book.

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Ben Fama is the author of the chapbook Aquarius Rising (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009) and New Waves (Minutes Books, 2011). He is the co-editor of Wonder, a publisher of art books, glossies, and pamphlets. His work has been featured in jubilat, notnostrums, LIT, Poor Claudia, Denver Quarterly, and on the Best American Poetry Blog.

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  • Stuart Krimko March 12, 2010, 7:15 am

    Fantastic post about a topic that deserves exponentially more attention. What is your take on the climactic Celine Dion-like song that busts the tears out of the audience towards the end of Inland Empire?

  • mrdude March 12, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Thanks for this great post; it really got my wheels spinning.
    In a ‘happy accident’ (as Mr. Lynch might say), just this Sunday, I happened upon and purchased a used copy of the Twin Peaks Original Soundtrack.
    A dabbler in ufology myself, that far-flung instructional-satellite fascinates me. In his (seriously seventies-out) ‘TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage*, Carl Sagan addresses this and other SETI projects with viewpoints that are (despite being water-down for the gen. viewing audience) oddly poetic and ‘timeless’. His writings go further along in this ‘otherworldly’ vein reminding me of most obviously of certain Romantic poets.
    In the (“Seasame-Street-esque”) video below, Sagan vainly attempts to simplify extra-dimensionality for ‘average Joes’.

    Perhaps it’s not a stunning example of getting to the “real talk” of it, however ‘experiencing’ C. Sagan- or D. Lynch for that matter- often feels like experiencing a cloudy transmission from a being galaxies away from (and light-years ahead of) earth and were I more ‘open’ or ‘part of the whole’, I might just know what the fuck it was on about.
    *The thirteen-part series is available on Netflix ‘instant-view’.

  • mrdude March 12, 2010, 2:29 pm

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