jcsbimp01: my user icon taken in 2014 (Default)
2017-09-17 05:15 pm
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But What About Twin Peaks Season 3's Story?

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I'm glad you asked.

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Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, to quote at least one familiar song. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and Twin Peaks Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer have figured out how to do them both at once. It's a lesson repeated by many Twin Peaks characters over three seasons.

Dale Cooper woke up after strange sex with Diane to find a note written to someone else, signed with someone else's name. He left the motel, but it was not the motel they had entered. Was it even Diane who had left him, really? This was, to me, partly about getting what you had always wanted - Cooper and Diane had wanted each other for a while, but their professional roles likely forbade realizing it until after his and her release from their strange captivities. Now that they had the opportunity to consummate their relationship, it was, of course, tainted - for Diane, by having been raped by the doppelganger; for Cooper, it was perhaps having had his doppelganger *be* Bob. There was some sort of shared experience between a person and someone created from his/her "seed." Ultimately, only the "genuine article" that was Cooper survived, but not without strange changes, which he solemnly presaged at the Sheriff's Station. The Curtain Call at Glastonbury Grove, where he and Diane reunited for their 430-mile vision quest to "cross over," turned the dream in which they, all the characters, lived into a different dream. Or was it?

In my dreams, whenever I examine whether something is one thing or another, the state of it seens to fluctuate between three, maybe four, states: It's the one thing/It's the other thing/It's both things ... and possibly It's neither thing. The "thing" in question can be a person's identity, a building's purpose, or a geographic location. By being one, the other, both, and neither, this creates a dramatic ambiguity. This is particularly scary when one entity, or location, or object, is very suitable for a certain purpose, and the other is entirely unsuited for it.

It would be as if we have, in waking life, a multivariate state space in which everything that exists corresponds to a single point in the state space. If it is a matter of probability curves, the multi-dimensional curve has a single peak: This is what it most likely is. This is how it will behave when you observe it. This is its identity.

But in dream life, there is that nagging other thing it could be, that it in fact is, but in a strange juxtaposition of states. The state vector is not just one probable high point on the graph. It is two, with indication of connection between them. It can be represented or thought of as Twin Peaks.

Dream life presents this strange dichotomy in, strangely, a literal fashion: One object is another is neither is both. In life, we see it more metaphorically - A statement is true from one viewpoint, false from another, true-and-false from a more holistic view, and neither true nor false and therefore meaningless when yet another microscope is applied.

Dreams turn metaphors like this into literal symbols, in a person or a place or an object, at least in my experience. And they use literal objects to be metaphors. The mirrored pair figures here, the yin-yang, the two halves of a heart necklace, the ring the Giant took from Cooper's finger during his first vision of him and the Owl Cave Ring associated with the Black Lodge. One and the same.

Oh, and look at this:

Season One: Multiple writers and directors, multiple levels of explanation/resolution, considered high quality.
Season Two: Multiple writers and directors, higher levels of explanation/resolution, lower quality.
Season Three: Two writers, one director, more obscure explanations/resolutions[*], possibly highest quality. [*] - when they weren't resolved in an almost trivial or Disney-fied fashion

Words have run out for now, I'll possibly type some more about it later.
jcsbimp01: my user icon taken in 2014 (Default)
2017-09-08 09:19 pm

Twin Peaks: Once Again Invading Pop Culture With Artistic Sensibilities

How dare they?

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"It is happening again."

BLUF, or TL;DR, or however you want to put it: I loved the Twin Peaks third season return, I don't care who knows it, and to the many, many diehard fans out there who were utterly turned off by how bewildering it was, especially the resolution at the end, I say what I said the night of the broadcast: You knew what kind of bull you were getting on, and so now you're gonna be pissed off that it threw you?

All right. That was sensationalistic and exaggerated, and both how I feel and how you feel about Twin Peaks: The Return is likely more nuanced, and the rest of this post will also be just that: more nuanced. But my basic feelings remain the same. I appreciate the Return for the wonderful Twin-ny thing it was: a return to what David Lynch does best, with an ending whose only true claim to naughtiness is that now, 25 years after the first series, with none of the network and TV-Guide hijinks to blame for it, pisses people off just as expertly and deliberately as the "How's Annie" cliffhanger did. Yeah, I know a lot of folks are angry at that.

David Lynch and Mark Frost once again defied television's conventions, and I think they also defied the conventions of larger genres of mystery fiction and action adventure stories. Twin Peaks was a TV show in the way the earliest TV shows were TV shows: by being a show that's on TV. There were no expectations in the early days, and Peaks shocked us into letting our huge episodic TV expectations go, both in the early 1990s when it first became a hit, and now when it has returned to favorable literary reviews, a happy fandom, and the - very, very much to have been expected - collective audience "AAAUGH" along with Carrie Page when the story ended as it did.

By the way, isn't it marvelous that the person who answers the door at what Agent Cooper thinks is the Palmer house is the actual owner of the real property used as that iconic house all these years? If you didn't know that before, I saw it in the Peaks Wiki today, and the fact just adds to the perfection of the work as a whole. You can thank me or not.

We don't expect complete narrative sense and a neat sense of closure from our country songs. We don't expect them from more literary poetic forms. We don't expect TV shows, especially ones who raise so many specific, well-articulated questions early in their run, to be poetic in these ways in how and whether they answer those questions later in the run. There's not as much invested if you're just here to dance to it. I get that. Still, it's the artist's job to turn expectation on its ear, and as much of a pop-culture phenomenon the Lynch-Frost writing and directing team is, they're still artists.

And therefore, so much for expectations. Those and a couple of bucks will still get you a cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie at Norma's (though not by name) Double R Diner.

Poetry deals in hints and inscrutable symbols. Secrets are what you learn, or what reveal themselves to you, after long study, some of it internal. Mysteries are what you missed figuring out because you weren't paying attention to the right details, or you were being too damned literal. Or maybe their answers were made on the spur of the moment and changed at the last minute by one or more brilliantly creative minds that - oh, I forgot to tell you - are not shackled to your own.

It's slippery in here.

As I've said in other posts, my second wife who died in a fire edited, before and during our marriage, a fairly large amount of unauthorized media (pop culture) fiction. I drew cartoons and wrote stories. My cartoons centered on the Twin Peaks world, as did Kimberly's fiction. But her fiction seemed to want to turn Twin Peaks into an episodic crime drama, with reasonable explanations of the mysterious elements and neat resolutions to the questions they, or in some cases the TV series itself, left unsolved.

And then I came along and messed it all up. I also wanted to write a piece of Twin Peaks fan fiction, one that dealt with lingering questions about Laura Palmer's death and about her family in general, as well as Major Briggs. I wrote a piece of fiction called "MEANWHILE . . ." that did just that. I gave it much more of a David Lynchian tone than Kim's stories, writing scenes that took place in (what would later turn out to be) Listening Post Alpha, the Black Lodge, and even a strange inversion of the latter, with black velvet curtains waving and fluttering over red-and-white tiles. You see, Major Briggs had gone in the wrong way - on purpose. "We're waiting for you" became fulfilled in my story, and Sarah Palmer, back at the house, freed herself from some of her inner demons. But I did not put easy answers in, not unless you count the easy stylistic conventions of how Twin Peaks itself flowed.

Kimberly did not like it.

Well, to be honest, she liked it fine, but she COULD NOT INCLUDE IT IN HER ZINE WITHOUT SOME SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES. I had given a nod to her own creative choices - Dale and Diane were twins, both Special Agents for the FBI; Audrey and Cooper eventually decided to get married, and bought the house Coop had initially investigated at the property known as Dead Dog Farm; Audrey had, in fact, survived the bank vault blast with her sanity intact - but had also framed my scenes in the deliberately disconcerting and dream-like storytelling style I saw as evocative of Lynch's direction. Kimberly wanted to give it an overhaul. To her credit, she kept most of my original text, and simply added some of her explanation and her own style of descriptive embellishing to make it fit more snugly with the fan-fictional universe she had created to keep the story going. We co-authored the story; I graciously accepted her edits because I so wanted the Power Star readership to get this important story of Major Briggs' and Sarah Palmer's better resolution, a la David Lynch's style. TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME was not yet out. Who knows what kind of "MEANWHILE . . ." I would have written had I waited.

Yeah, I know. Fanfic. Off the radar, out of consideration. It wasn't something, still isn't something, any of us are actually *supposed* to be doing. I had a friend tell me around the same time that J. Michael Straczynski absolutely despised and, in this friend's view anyway, discouraged fan fiction, didn't want to hear about it for fear of polluting the creative process. Yes. Okay. I get that. And I've not written fan fiction since my divorce from Kim and her later death. It's just that kind of weird world, and it does have taboos, and yes, we broke them. Not the first taboo for me, and not the last, either.

I told you that to tell you this: I tuned in to the poetry of Twin Peaks. Poetry is hard to get, by its very nature. It's individual revelation, which may have its full, clear meaning only to its creator - if indeed there! Sometimes we put down on paper what is beautiful even when it's not sensible. Raising concrete questions in our fan base and then, seemingly steadfastly and purposefully, refusing to answer those questions: Yes, poets get away with that far more often than TV showrunners do. But maybe they should all do it more. Doing that does not destroy the artistic quality of what you've done, and I'll argue it does not necessarily destroy the popular culture appeal of what you've done.

Twin Peaks: The Return exceeded my expectations and, more importantly, did Audrey's dance atop them, grinding them into the ground with its unexpected pirhouettes. One feature I loved was the incredulous and bewildered reactions of characters, Lynch's Gordon Cole among them, to what was going on.

That was truly funny, but also a truly significant key to the fact that Lynch and Frost knew what they were doing, and it's what they were always doing, what pissed off TV Guide and Cannes in turns, and what helps keep Twin Peaks such an eternally- and exquisitely-renewable classic.

Expectations. So-called Christian nation. Might as well be, Thou shalt kill.
jcsbimp01: my user icon taken in 2014 (Default)
2017-06-19 11:38 pm
Entry tags:

An Open Letter (Long Form): Fire and the Magician

I always do the long form first. Any real object I will send out will, of course, need a good bit of trimming. But something occurred to me tonight, something I want to do, and I'm recording how it manifest in writing here as the first fairly-obviously-too-long form of an open letter. I'll attach my heart's desire to an actual address later. I do plan to act on this. I'm saving and sharing this in my Google Drive, as well as on Dreamwidth and my Facebook account, for perusal and commentary.

Dear Sirs:

This is a moment where I feel I need to strike while the iron is hot. Or, rather, I should say while the fire is lit. My name is J. Calvin Smith, and I am an actor who has done mostly unpaid stage work, but also a little professional work and a tiny bit of film.

I am 60 years old, retired from a professional Department of Defense career (computers, analysis, secrets) where I struggled to keep the fire lit, but was able to maintain it for 33 ½ years and am able to keep my family and pets fed and happy. During my professional time, other fires burned brightly. I discovered the joy and the energy that comes from acting. I pursued a few professional jobs in that field, in the Baltimore/Washington area, after being inspired - nay, compelled - by a co-worker and friend who said, “I can’t understand how you could have missed your calling so badly.” I am not yet affiliated with any acting agency. I have worked with The American Century Theater and the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and have been in a short independent DC/MD/VA film in a credited, speaking role.

During those years of Federal professional life I also became very fond of Twin Peaks, of David Lynch’s singular talent for capturing the mystery and secrets, along with Mark Frost’s brilliant writing and Johanna Ray’s inspired casting, that belong to the intersecting worlds of dreams and magic(k). The story that captivated me so then has once again captured my full delighted attention now in its return. Mr. Lynch, Mr. Frost, all the wonderful performers, and the amazing production crew have brought that world to life again, and it is the most exquisite present that I and so many others have the honor of giving ourselves every week, once a week. “A present. Like Christmas.”

And tonight, after some months of soul-searching about what to do with my talents and gifts this late in my life, I have decided I want (and, unlike Bad Coop, I also need) to go out on a limb and try to be part of that, or some similar world.

Before I married my second wife, she and I avidly followed that world. She was a fan-fiction-zine publisher, and I was a writer, editor, and sometimes cartoonist for that publication. Quite often that world was centered on our love for the characters, situations, and magic of Twin Peaks. We married, it was far from perfect - I found that our artistic interest, however great and inspired - still left our personal lives, or at least mine, with gaps. She tragically died in a fire a decade or two after we divorced, and it saddens me greatly, not least of all because I know she would have delighted in Twin Peaks’ return. That in itself is not wholly central here, but it gives a red-curtained backdrop to the journey I have taken, am taking, that has led me to write this. “There is no such thing as coincidence.”

I do not pretend for one moment that my extensive stage experience is any substitute for professional on-camera experience. However, I am a quick study, a fast learner, and I have learned that when a director sees something in me and sees fit to cast me in a role, I will not disappoint him or her. Between two worlds, my chanting out does not miraculously become a validation of what I want, nor is it a guarantee of validity of the path I would love to take. I also know that with time and circumstance and the creative life of making and sustaining entertainments for film and television and the creative visions of true masters of the craft, any achieved path may not itself be what I expected. I have had many fulfilling and unexpected turns in my own path as an actor. The surprises have been the best, for me and for those who have honored me with the ability to work with them.

I would love to be a part of some future world that David Lynch, Mark Frost, Johanna Ray, and/or whoever else will be involved has the vision and desire to get going, or continue, with my help as a performer. We live, my wonderful forever wife and I, not in the deep dark woods of the Pacific Northwest, with the wonderful fictionalized mythology created with names of real and unreal entities such as the Nez Perce, Owl Cave, Douglas Firs, Lewis and Clark, and good, hot, black coffee, but in the pine-filled mountains of land in Northwest Georgia that was likely trod by both Cherokee natives and American settlers. Bird and Bun’s Mountain River Chalet may have no perceptible connection to Lodges Black or White, except perhaps for weirdly unpredictable phone and internet service, but when I thought about these wonderful things tonight, it was as if I could feel something calling me to write what I am writing now, to do with it what I plan to do once I’ve saved this document to my Google Drive.

I am linking here to my acting resume (below) in the hope that what I am searching for, a way to push forward a meaning in joint creative effort, my acting and the writing, direction and production of people I admire, trust, and experience to an immersive, obsessive level, can find its outlet in a form that would be mutually beneficial and, I hope, equally satisfying for me and whoever chose to hire me in such an endeavor.

I think of those luminaries who are no longer with the splendid Twin Peaks team - Catherine Coulson, Jack Nance, Miguel Ferrer, David Bowie, Warren Frost, Frank Silva, and others - such a firmament, such strong and talented hearts! What will this or future Lynch/Frost worlds become in the absence of such greats? I know that I will love finding out at least part of the answer to that in the years I have left as a member of an immense and adoring audience, and I would love even more to be an active, acting part of it.

So I’m leaving this here, as much personal diary as public request, and I thank very much in advance anybody who sees fit to take it further than what it is now, the personal dream of a magician who yearns to see.


Sincerely, J. Calvin Smith

[resume and IMDb profile information appended to the Google Drive version]
jcsbimp01: my user icon taken in 2014 (Default)
2017-05-16 07:50 pm

memories

In elementary school, which we also sometimes called primary school, I became aware of my uniqueness in many ways. I tended to see myself as unpopular, and felt others saw me as unusual. I do not know whether this came before I gained a reputation, and marks on my early report cards, for being too talkative. Social interaction was fascinating to me, especially in the classroom setting.

I do have memories of friendships I had before I turned six and entered first grade in the tiny Northwest Georgia town I called home. Mom and Dad taught at the school there, which was first through twelfth grades back then. It is now an elementary school only. But the friendships I had during my early years in that town, Fairmount, were the first friendships I can remember outside of my family.

I remember living next door to a family with a little girl the same age I was. She, in fact, was in my home room at school all twelve years I attended. We went from being playmates to graduating together. I remember another girl being related to the school principal at the time, and also being someone I thought was exceptionally pretty. I was four or five years old, and quite possibly already a little infatuated by the thought of being infatuated with a pretty girl.

I do not know why I got such an early start at that, or why it was so intense, but at the same time so much a spectator sport: I needed immense courage to even come up with plans to flirt with someone. I also seemed to prefer hanging around with the girls at recess. As people I wanted to know, they were, very much moreso than the boys. There were the two guys who were kind of special in my class, the very smart one and the funny one. Later, I was to meet the even funnier one and the very skinny, geeky one. They both came out as gay, to my surprise. I think they thought I might have been, too, but I don't think it was a deal-breaker for them that I didn't discover homosexuality in my nature.

But anyway, my girl-craziness was profound, and it started pretty early. There was a black-haired girl in my class who just struck me as ravishing. As early as the second grade, and maybe even a little bit the year before that, I had a bad crush on her. I think back to that now, and there is not much I remember about that crush, or about any of my classmates' reactions to it. S_____ knew about it, but it never went anywhere, not even a second grader's version of "anywhere", that I can remember. In later years, middle school and onward, I crushed on J_____, she knew it, it was also not to be. And R_____. All of them were pretty brunettes, all of them seemed inaccessible. And some of them teased me about it, J_____ especially.
jcsbimp01: my user icon taken in 2014 (Default)
2017-04-09 11:53 am
Entry tags:

Have I Been Here Before?

I've decided to start blogging on Dreamwidth, although my username registry process suggests to me I might have made this decision before. Anyhow, I'm "jcsbimp01" now, not "jcsbimp", and if ze was me before, ze's dead to me now.