I love David Lynch. I have probably talked about that before. He is one of my favorite filmmakers, and Twin Peaks quite literally changed my life. I went so far as to write Lynch a fan letter because of the effect that Twin Peaks and my research into its potential meaning had for me.
Over the weekend, I rewatched Fire Walk with Me, the movie prequel to the original Twin Peaks. With the exception of Sheryl Lee’s atomic performance as Laura Palmer, the movie was roundly condemned at the time of its original release. I personally think it’s quite a good film, and it fits much more snugly into the TP universe with the addition of season 3. In other words, it was a movie before its time.
Fans of Twin Peaks may recall Mrs. Chalfont and her grandson, an odd and eerie pair who appear in the original series as recipients of the Meals on Wheels dinners that Laura Palmer helped deliver. In the movie, they appear and give Laura a creepy painting which she hangs on her wall, and the boy materializes and then disappears when Leland Palmer goes to romp with Theresa Banks and then realizes that Laura is with her. (“The black dog runs at night.”)
The name Chalfont reappears multiple times in the story. There is a disappearing trailer at the Fat Trout Trailer Park owned by Chalfonts, and in the alternate timeline at the end of season 3, the Palmer house is owned by a family whose last name is Chalfont. Based on their strange behavior and coincidental appearances, viewers are left to assume that Mrs. Chalfont and her grandson are denizens of the Black Lodge or spirits of some sort, at the very least. Their intentions are never made exactly clear.
Chalfont is an unusual name. In point of fact, it is not one that I have ever heard elsewhere. I watched the movie twice over the weekend, and then I got back to my workweek and didn’t think anything more of it until this morning, when by a bit of coincidence, a policyholder whose name was Chalfont came across my desk.
This is not the first time I have had a strange name from the Lynch world surface at work. When I was researching a still-unfinished work that I was writing about the mythology of Twin Peaks, I was lead to read Zanoni, a book which either Lynch or Frost must have read and whose elements, specifically the Dweller on the Threshold, they incorporated into the storyline. Not two days after I read that book, I was reading a publication for work and happened across a contact person whose name was Zanoni, a name I had never heard before I read the book. I have never seen it since, and indeed, that person was only mentioned in that one email, despite the fact that we receive a similar, weekly publication at work.
These sorts of coincidences used to happen to me but rarely. Now, they are the norm. When they happen, I pay attention because they always wind up being of some significance in my life.
I never listened to Kanye West before about two weeks ago. It wasn’t that I avoided him. I just assumed I wouldn’t like his music. Like a lot of people, I’d read the headlines and disliked the Kardashian association, so I paid him little mind. I figured he was just a delusional head case because, well, that was what the headlines said.
But then I listened to a track that he happened to guest on, and I didn’t hate it. In fact, I liked it. So I turned on my Spotify and started listening to some more Yeezy. And I didn’t hate him. In fact, I was sort of struggling to see what people found so damned objectionable about him.
I understand that a lot of people say that Kanye is nuts because he’s says that he’s a god and all that. I do think he means it, but perhaps not in the way that people think he means it. A lot of the things that Kanye explicitly states in his music are like Napleon Hill quotes that have been repackaged for rap music. In fact, I would go so far as to say Kanye more or less lays down what it takes to become and stay famous, as well as the pitfalls along the way. There is nothing insane or delusional about that. The truth of the matter is, in order to get as famous as Kanye, you have to do and say things that the average person is simply unwilling to do. You also have to have a mindset that vastly differentiates you from the average person. That does not necessarily mean Kanye is crazy, although I will admit that some of the techniques that people like Napoleon Hill and Tony Robbins use probably seem crazy to people that have never used them. Where I deviate from most people is that I assume that rich, famous people know something about becoming rich and famous, so I listen to them when they talk about that subject.
I am a little bit like Special Agent Dale Cooper in that I get hunches and feelings about things. I like to pay attention to them because sometimes they turn out to have some significance. Whether or not they are significant because they are independently such or because I have made them that way in my own mind is up for debate in many cases, but in this particular case, it will be interesting to see whether or not my hunch proves out.
I actually have no predictions to make about Kanye West. I don’t know if he will run for president or drop three more albums and then move to Chile to run an ayahuasca retreat. I would say, frankly, that one is as likely as the other. What I am interested in is Kanye’s sentiment and the conversation that it is stirring, and I have some questions about it.
First of all, Kanye has obviously cleared a space for two things: historically liberal minorities migrating to conservatism and a revitalized, matured political conversation. Both of these things have long been overdue. Of course, there have been minorities of all stripes on the conservative side of the aisle at all points, but it is admittedly less common among many of them in the US, and particularly among the black community, they are often roundly dismissed as Uncle Toms and race traitors. There is no “rock star” black conservative. Kanye might be that rock star, and that gives conservatism a new megaphone, one that might be more appealing to the masses than, say, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, or even Condoleeza Rice.
I feel as though this may be the opportunity to take some of the venom out of the conversation. What if a visual and some good Twitter lines really are what we need? What if the image of a black rapper sitting down with Silicon Valley billionaires and hanging out with The Donald actually provides a new image in the national consciousness? I can’t help but think that sometimes we underestimate the power of visuals. One great photo of Kanye shaking Trump’s hand could be a game changer.
Ignoring what Kanye’s politics may or may not be and ignoring whether you love Trump, hate him, or think he’s just another statist, would this not be a good thing? Would it not be a net good to be able to return to the table and talk like humans? Would it not be a good thing to have a door – or at least a window – open to dial back the extremism in the political dialogue? And, for those of you like Michael Malice who love the spectacle of the whole thing and adore that it makes a mockery of democracy, well, Kanye and Trump will probably deliver on that front, too. What if a theater of the absurd is exactly what we need?
I will preface my second major point by admitting that I haven’t totally decided what my opinion is on this. Mr. Malice has pointed out on more than one occasion that culture comes from the left. Nearly all artists are on the left, and conservatism by definition does not push the envelope. Yet I listened to a video of Paul Joseph Watson today – not my usual repertoire, but yeah, I’ll go there from time to time – and he made the point that being a conservative is almost edgy now, and populism is the new punk rock. And to some degree, I think that he’s right. It used to be edgy to call yourself a socialist, but now it’s quite the other way around. Being outed as a conservative is downright dangerous in some places.
Is conservatism creating a new culture, or is it really conservatism that we are witnessing? Is it the mainstream appearing conservative because the media and the dialogue have been dominated by leftist rhetoric for so long? I am not certain. I think there is a Renaissance upon us, but I am not sure exactly how it is going to play out. Will Jordan Peterson’s conservative, religiously grounded ideals prevail, or will it fall more to Sam Harris and the Weinstein brothers, who favor a more secular flavor of intellectualism?
I am hesitantly saying that we may be seeing something different here. Although there is certainly a wonderful intellectual tradition in the conservative world, conservatives are not generally regarded as intellectuals, even if they are. “Intellectual” carries within its code the understanding that the person baring the moniker is likely liberal. But what if, at this moment in time, libertarianism is winning a battle that it began long ago? What if we were so far ahead of the game that we actually ran off the trail, and we are only now seeing everyone else catch up as we make our way out of the woods?
Mainstream libertarianism, for the longest time, meant that you were economically conservative and socially liberal. (If we are using the Libertarian Party as the metric, I actually don't know what it currently means, beyond shitty PR decisions.) Despite what the media would have us believe, I think we are reaching that point socially. How often do you meet people now who openly and vehemently dislike gays, blacks, Jews, etc.? I’ll tell you truthfully, I live in a highly conservative area, and you just don’t hear it. Yes, the stereotypes still exist, but everyone gets his shot, and there is acceptance. People may not know what to do with a trans person in Bumfuck, Illinois, but the vast majority probably also don’t care if someone is trans. That really just leaves economic policy, and most conservatives can be coaxed slowly towards some brand of Austrian economics, especially if they are younger and haven’t hitched their wagon to Social Security.
The point I am making by saying this is that I think people are more libertarian than they realize. I think conservatives have assimilated enough of liberal culture to have a shot at taking back the baton. I see a lot of creativity coming from the classical liberal culture and from libertarians, as well. There is music, comedy, and written work. Maybe at some point, we will even begin to see independent film and TV projects. Heck, Roseanne isn’t doing too badly, and by Hollywood standards, it’s like the Reagan administration resurrected from 1985.
Is it all sunshine and roses? No. Classical liberalism is not minarchy or anarcho-capitalism, but it is a start. I once sat in a space and said, “If they aren’t offering exactly what I want, I won’t negotiate. Fuck’em.” It’s fine if you are still in that space. My feeling today is that I would rather have a dialogue with someone, providing that we are both coming with good intentions and willing to listen to each other.
The truth of the matter is that I have a liberal streak in me, and it is because of my love of culture. I like music, theater, drag shows, and art galleries. I will always be happier in the city than the country. That’s just me. For that reason, I like to be able to have honest, meaningful discussions with liberals, and I look forward to a time when that is possible again.
So I am hopeful. I am hopeful that this out-of-the-blue thinking coming from Kanye will be a potential window of opportunity to move forward. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re dead already. I hope, after I have wrapped and posted this, that when I have settled into bed and closed my eyes, I will dream of a giant who stands at the foot of my bed and proclaims, “That gum you like is going to come back in style.”