Art and Cinema

Misunderstanding Totalitarianism, or: What Game of Thrones Actually Got Wrong

Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers. GTFO if you haven’t seen the whole thing through.

 Many people have made much ado about the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, which aired its final episode last Sunday, March 19th.  Nobody that I have spoken to or seen commenting online has said, “Golly gee, that was exactly the ending I was hoping for! I’m sure not pissed off about wasting a decade of my life getting emotionally involved in people who aren’t real!” Frankly, it seems like everyone thought it sucked. And it did.

Dead Poets Society

I am in my early thirties, and Dead Poets Society was a necessary coming of age film for me and so many others of my generation. It reminded me of so many things that I loved in my life and still others that I wanted. The nights of sneaking out to the cave reminded me of summer camp kitchen raids and nights spent on the docks, watching the stars. I also had a vocal desire to go to boarding school, mostly to escape my hometown. The more knowledgeable adult tells me that boarding school would likely have been worse, but I wanted out from a young age, in any case. Dead Poets Society was it for me, and when Todd Anderson stood up on his desk at the end of the movie, it sent a thrill skating up my spine.

Until tonight, I had not watched Dead Poets Society since I was a teenager. Many of my teenage loves have become constants in my life and stuck beside me through the changes that adulthood has brought, but Dead Poets Society was one that I would exclaim over if it came up in conversation, but I never went out of my way to watch it. Something about it occupied a space in my mind alongside other loved works and ideas that had slowly been left behind, like John Hughes films, Sweet Valley High books, and the idea that Republicans were the ones that were right.

As I listened to Robin Williams whisper “Carpe Diem” to the boys in front of the trophy cases and talk about how those alumni from years long past were now worm food and as I watched the character of Mr. Keating encourage these boys to embrace their inner hero and become men, it struck an emotional, resonant chord. This was not a new feeling, but thanks to maturity and probably Jordan Peterson, I understood the resonance with a far greater clarity, and suddenly the movie leapt out of the past and become living again. Indeed, it became vital in a way that it never had been before.

The eyes of my teenaged self had seen something that I wanted superficially. I wanted to get away. I wanted to be an adult. I wanted to have marvelous experiences with my friends. I wanted to be something like these young men, but I didn’t understand why, except that it all looked pretty fun until tragedy struck.

That same naïve teenager saw nothing deeper in Neil Perry’s untimely death than a cruel parent, unable and unwilling to understand that his son was not the person that he wanted the boy to be. Every teenager will identify with that because growing apart from one’s parents is part of growing up. The adult in me saw the same thing, but the adult in me was also able to carry it one step further and see the much larger picture.

Watch the movie. Most people will find themselves wanting and believing that Neil Perry is the hero. He should be. He defies his oppressive father. He breaks school rules with a cheerful, intelligent optimism common to most heroes in these sorts of movies. Every time Neil says something smart or finds a way around his father’s tyranny, we cheer aloud for him. The movie is supposed to end at the end of the play. Neil’s father is supposed to see him, realize the error of his ways, embrace his son, and encourage him to be his own person and forge his own path. Instead, he yanks his son out of this “midsummer night’s dream” and effectively damns him to hell for what to a teenager feels like an eternity – 10 years. Rather than accept his fate or continue striving against his father, Neil puts a gun to his head and suddenly, he is no longer the hero.

At this point, the movie is without its hero. Charlie Dalton is, in ways, the most likely second candidate and, in his own way, is a hero, but he fails to fulfill the archetypal role because he always leaves the viewer with the sense that he is only heroic because he is rebelling. There is an instinctual understanding that he has no real path in mind, or at least not in the way that Neil did. He has the essential bravery but without a true purpose in mind, and in the end, he is expelled and removed from our consideration as a true hero, although Charlie Dalton should certainly be given his due for his final moments onscreen.

Todd Anderson, while not the most unlikely candidate, is not the kid that you want to root for. He seems small and ineffectual. He doesn’t talk much, and he is scared even to write and read a poem in class. Neil has to point out to him the fact that, at points, he can’t even seem to be on the side of his friends. He simply wants to go along and get along. Only when he is pushed by Mr. Keating, the great font of truth and benevolent fatherhood, does he begin to show signs of strength and character.

As the chips fall against Mr. Keating (and truth) at the end of the movie, it is evident that Todd is deeply affected by this turn of events. He does not want to add his voice to a chorus that he knows to be dishonest to its core. In the quietly climactic final scene, he climbs to his desk and utters that famous phrase, “O Captain, my Captain,” and one by one, most of his classmates follow his brave example and express their solidarity with Mr. Keating. Todd emerges perhaps the most unlikely hero of all.

The story is moving because it expresses so many things that have touched us all, if we have attained a certain number of years. We must all find the bravery to break away and forge our own paths in life. However, it is never clear that those paths will bring us to the best place or even a good one. Sometimes those choices lead us to our own demise. The likeliest hero is sometimes cut down. And knowing this makes it all the more difficult to find that individual path. Todd is not the hero because he is as brave as Neil, but he is the hero because he expresses solidarity with the truth of the idea that we all have to be free to make our own choices in life, even if those choices lead us to a dark, bad place.

The impact of this realization was quite moving to me, as the bagpipe strains sounded and the credits rolled, and Dead Poets Society was made new for me. I have gone down the path of Neil Perry. I went my own way, and not all of the choices I made were good ones. I figuratively shot myself in the head on at least two occasions. I have been through quite a bit of hardship in my life, some of which was inevitable and some of which was largely avoidable. I have chosen to view the avoidable hardship as constructive, as something that perhaps needed to happen to bring me to maturity, knowing that there was no guarantee that I would get there otherwise.

Christmas is a hard time of year for me for the same reasons that it is hard for a lot of people. It magnifies our shortcomings with our family. It perhaps magnifies empty chairs at the table where a loved one no longer sits. It magnifies feelings that we have inside of us that perhaps we feel should not be there. Despite that, I am leaving this Christmas behind feeling that I have gained something genuinely great and inspiring through my experiences, and I feel a wonderful sense of gratitude knowing that I’ll live to fight another day. I like to think that I might even have the ability to accomplish more now than I would have otherwise had.

I doubt that I will watch Dead Poets Society again for a long time. Its place is genuinely in the past, but we would all do well to learn from our own pasts. Sometimes it takes a Christmas visit from an old friend to impress upon you the importance of what you have learned, that truth is a tangible thing in the world that is worth defending, and that the pursuit of happiness, however you define it, is the ultimate goal of all people in this world. The road may be long and hard, but that it be uniquely our own to pursue – that is something worth fighting for.

Merry Christmas.

The Fiery Freedom in the Church of Rammstein

When I heard that Rammstein was coming to Chicago this year on a limited US tour, I bought a ticket to go see them.  I have been a Rammstein fan since I was 14 years old and angsty as hell in the way that only Gen X'ers and early millenials coming of age in the nineties could be.  Rammstein turned me on to David Lynch thanks to a friend loaning me the Lost Highway soundtrack, which I mentioned in a previous post.  Rammstein was also the initial driver for me to learn German.  I loved them so much that I bought a German dictionary and started attempting to translate their songs without any knowledge of German grammar or syntax.  My subsequent love affair with the German language took me on a series of far-flung, wacky adventures.  To that end, I owe Rammstein a tremendous debt. 

I saw Rammstein tour with System of a Down and Slipknot back in 2001, when I was a senior in high school.  I went with a couple of guy friends down to St. Louis to the Kiel Center - I don't know what it's called now, but it was the Kiel Center then, and that's how I still think of it - and we sat up in the nosebleed and literally lost hearing from the sonic onslaught.  Back in those days, you could still mosh to your heart's desire and smoke inside, and although we weren't allowed down to the mosh pit, we definitely smoked a lot.

That has been over 15 years ago, and Rammstein and I have both grown up a little.  They're at the point now of having grown old.  Till Lindemann is 54, and he wears heavy flame-retardant suits, metal wings with flamethrowers attached, and climbs all over the set as part of the show.  I have to be honest: I have a lot of respect for someone that will go that hard when it is probably getting a lot harder for him to do.  He is still doing it to great effect though because the show that I saw last night was hands-down the best I've attended, in terms of entertainment value and fun.  For a group of dour Germans, a national group not particularly known for its emphasis on joy and delight ("Es gibt kein Happy End!"), Rammstein is fun, and their audience last night was happy.

As I drove home down the dark but decided un-lost highway last night, I began to contemplate metal and its place among the freedom movement.  My observations are based on 100% scientific evidence that many libertarian-leaning people also happen to be metal heads.  Okay, it's based completely off of the Anarcho-Capitalist Community group on Facebook, but I'm here to tell you that that group is chock-full of metal heads.  Ask them what music they listen to - because people have - and while the answers that you get will be varied to some degree, there is an overwhelming amount of answers that include metal bands of all sorts.  I listen to mostly indie music, but two of my favorite indie bands, Queenadreena (my actual favorite band) and Jucifer, are known for either being actually metal or have a lot of metal elements.  As an annoying hipster acquaintance of mine once surmised, upon learning my top five bands, "You like it hard, don't you?"  Apparently I'm not the only market anarchist that does.

What is it about metal that is so appealing to the sons and daughters of liberty?  Rammstein, for example, is not a band that a person would instantly associate with libertarianism.  In point of fact, all the members are, I believe, from former East Germany, and they have decidedly socialist leanings, if you understand their lyrics which, thanks to them, I can.  Rammstein sings about a lot of things, but liberty is not one of them.  In point of fact, they sing two songs, "Amerika" and "Moskau," which criticize the US and praise Russia, and that is coming from the classical position of a supposedly capitalist nation versus a communist one.  Rammstein also criticizes Germany quite a bit.  There is an alternating irreverence about them, serious and playful, and perhaps that explains some of it.  Could this perhaps be a key to explaining the libertarian love of metal?  Is it the hopeful despair that appeals?  I think that is part of it.  

People think of metal and they think of a bunch of leather-clad guys abusing their guitars and screaming about Satan, which isn't necessarily an inaccurate picture, but I think where a lot of people get it wrong is what it actually stands for.  Yes, I'm sure there are some metal heads that are actually Satan worshippers, but I don't think that's accurate of the average metal head.  I think the average metal head is looking for an experience based on their observations and a feeling of oppression in their daily life.  Metal music provides that outlet.  

In mulling it over, I actually came to the conclusion that metal may, for some, be the equivalent of a libertarian safe space.  Metal kids are weird.  There were people wearing costumes last night.  Girls - fat girls, yet - in booty shorts, corsets, too-short plaid schoolgirl skirts, lace, fishnets, and heavy boots.  Guys with gauged-out ears and various other piercings, distasteful black tattoos (no color to be seen), and bad facial hair.  There was a sixty-something lady with purple hair.  There were clean-cut guys in polo shirts completely devoid of any of those trappings that were head-banging with the goth kids next to them.  People were dancing, singing, head-banging, throwing their arms, and just plain having a good time.  It was fun and uplifting to see, actually.

Normally, I'm on the judgmental side about fat chicks that wear short skirts and people that wear flagrantly stupid-looking clothes on purpose because it feels like a cry for attention.  In the context of the metal concert though, it feels different.  It feels liberating, and I think the music allows for that.  The intensity of the music serves as a means to a release.  It allows people to come as they are, to have these insane thoughts and emotions, acknowledges them, and releases them.  Perhaps that is why there are so many religious themes in metal music.  It allows people to deal with their own rejection of the conventional and gives them a place where they can come to worship and have that sublimating effect that others seek in the church pews on Sunday morning.

In its recognition that not everything is all right and that the system frankly sucks, metal gives people that space to find their own meaning.  Metal is for the people that have looked around, observed the insanity, and decided to go their own direction.  Metal stands up in front of the crowd and says that it is okay to be different because it can't be any worse than the other stuff on offer.  It takes those emotions of rejection and discontent and gives them a place to go, and it gives people a place to go where there are others that have had the same experience.  Metal says that it's okay to be different, and not just a little bit different, but wildly different.  It is okay to think for yourself.  It is okay to go a little bit crazy.  

I think this is what the mainstream finds so generally distasteful about metal.  Metal does not give a fuck.  Metal is going to be what it is.  It is going to come as it is, and it is going to say unpalatable things.  It is going to be offensive.  It is going to be loud, and it is going to have fun while singing about scary, un-fun things.  It is going to sweep its fans away and take them somewhere else for a couple of hours, and in the case of Rammstein, it is going to take them to hell.  There is going to be fire, and it is going to be hot.  You are going to see strange things and hear about some strange stuff, and you are going to be able to shake hands with the shadow and walk away feeling elated at the end of that two hours.  Rammstein will literally bleed on stage to make sure that you have that experience.  

Isn't that what a lot of us anarcho-capitalists are looking for?  A lot of us aren't necessarily looking for a tribe, but we are looking for an arena where we can go to let loose.  The world outside does not allow for that.  Everywhere we go, we find that we are in chains.  But at the metal concert?  Ah, at the metal concert, you can scream, shout, bounce around, and let the power chords transport you somewhere else, and maybe it doesn't appear to be technically better, but it is a place where you are allowed to be crazy and to revel in it.  To those that don't think this is necessary, I hold that this truly is tantamount to a religious experience, and I think religious ceremony and release exists for a reason, even if you don't believe in God.  I think people need that acknowledgement, that they are okay and that there is a place they can come to where it will be, even if outside it is not.  And that, I think, is what appeals to the libertarian nature.

Rammstein does not sing about happiness.  They sing about unrequited love, hatred, loneliness, political discontent, rejection (personal and religious), and even incest.  "Wiener Blut" scared me the first time I heard it.  In spite of that essential ugliness of much of their lyrics, the fans last night were happy.  I didn't see one angry face there.  There were no fights, no drunken vomiting, and no discourteous remarks.  Everyone was there to have fun, and there was an air of acceptance and even a certain glee at the weirdness.

I want to contrast this to another concert I went to last year for OAR.  I love OAR, and I take shit off of my friends for it all the time.  When I was going through my godawful divorce, I needed upbeat, and they provided.  As a sort of thanks for that, I decided to go to a concert in St. Louis last year.  I was glad that I got to see them and give them ticket money because as I have said before, I believe that expressing gratitude is important, but Goddamn, I can't stand OAR fans.  I also just noticed my own inconsistency in the capitalization of G/god, and I think that is oddly fitting for my awkward relationship with the subject.

There is quite a bit of drinking that goes on at all concerts.  I'm totally fine with that.  I personally do not drink at shows because I came to hear the artist, not get wasted.  I respect the fact that some people prefer a buzz.  Not my circus, not my monkeys.  But man.  The level of drunk at OAR was unreal.  It was like a frat party with people ranging up to sixty, and while it was escapist for certain, it was directionless and seemingly pointless.  The only reason people were standing was to go to the bar.  It made me wonder what about saying that it should be fun made it so, well, kind of un-fun, at least for me.  By the way, I still love OAR, and I have a ton of respect for them. They tour hard, and their schedule has been punishing for a lot of years.  It takes a lot of willpower and sacrifice to maintain that.  I still like their music a lot, but man, their fans are not fun in a room together.

I was shocked by how fun the Rammstein fans were.  They were weird.  They were friendly.  They were polite.  They were well-behaved.  They definitely did some drinking, and many of them disobeyed the "Thank You For Not Smoking" signs, but nobody seemed to care.  I didn't hear anyone make any rude comments, and everyone was thrilled with the show.  There was an air of joviality throughout the evening, and it made the show that much more enjoyable.  It was, in fact, the best crowd I've ever waded into.  If all concerts had fans like Rammstein's, going to shows would be more enjoyable, on average.  

I hadn't seen Rammstein in a long time before last night, but seeing them reminded me of a lot of things in my own life that I had sort of forgotten over the course of the last several years.  I am making my way back to them, and the impact is much deeper than it was before.  They have been one more piece of the puzzle, it would seem, and I was pleased to find that that piece that I had misplaced or that had wandered off is an enjoyable piece, and it feels good to have it back in place.  Contained within is some of that natural contrariness, distrust for authority, and general disdain for surface and no substance.  I think those are essential to the true anarchist's nature and certainly to my own individual nature.  

I went to the show to have an experience, and I had one.  True freedom, it would seem, resides in our imaginations with so many other hopes, dreams, fears, and desires, and Rammstein dutifully provided the space to commune with those things.  They gave their sermon and the choir sang, and we all rejoiced in the chorus of "Halleluja."  And it was good.

Impressions of Twin Peaks, S3 Ep8

SPOILER WARNING!  If you have not seen Twin Peaks season three episode 8, "Gotta Light?" and do not want it spoiled, go read something else.  I'm going to spoil it for you, insofar as this episode can be summarized or spoiled.

I resolved quite some time ago that I was going to write a massive analysis of Twin Peaks from start to finish, and I may even turn it into a free eBook if I ever have the time to edit it together, but suffice to say that I decided when Twin Peaks came back for season three that I was going to remain quiet until the whole affair had reached its close.  Friends, I'm breaking my promise.  

Any fan or passing observer of the David Lynch universe knows that it is rife with WTF moments. For some, it is a feather in Lynch's hat and the main reason to view his work, and for others, the weirdness that spews from the screen is more than enough for one lifetime.  Lynch won me as a fan way back when I was a freshman in high school.  A friend let me borrow the Lost Highway soundtrack, which I adored, and when I saw the lone VHS copy of the movie in the old Family Video on the main drag, I knew what I was watching after Mad TV wrapped.  I had no idea what I had seen when it was over, but I knew that it wouldn't be my last journey into the weird world of David Lynch. I'll skip the rest of the personal backstory and get right to the meat, since I'm short on time, and I don't want to lose the feeling of the first impression.  

The first three minutes or so of the episode pick up where we left off with episode seven, which features Evil Coop getting out of jail with Ray coming to pick him up.  Evil Coop directs Ray to follow a truck on the highway, makes note of the license plate, and then tosses his cell phone out the window.  They turn down a dark road, and things take a turn for the dark side. 

Ray manages to outfox Evil Cooper.  Cooper intends to murder Ray, but before he can, Ray shoots him.  It harkens me back a bit to Bobby Briggs shooting the man in the woods outside Twin Peaks all those years ago, but something decidedly different happens tonight.  Eerily, we see blackish figures begin to shamble out of the woods.  They move almost like the undead in a zombie flick, and when they get close, we see that they resemble the homeless, charred man from the police station and the guy from behind Winkie's in Mulholland Drive.  

Lynch brings back in strobing light, one of his favorite effects, and we see them moving around Evil Coop as ghostly apparitions, and they encircle him, dancing strangely, as though in a Walpurgisnacht trance.  Several of them paw at Evil Coop, smearing blood all over his face and shirt.  You get the impression that they are tearing at him, but I'm not really sure that's exactly what happened.  Ray looks on in horror, and eventually flees in the tan Buick.  (I think it's a Buick.) I watched this part twice, and on the first look, I swear one of the faces down by Cooper's body looked like BOB's face, but I didn't catch it on the second viewing.  

Ray is seen in the car, talking on the phone to Philip Jefferies, who I'm assuming won't be appearing in-person, since David Bowie is sadly no longer here to give us the rendition.  He makes the comment that this "may be the key" to what it's all about, so I suppose we may revisit that in another episode.  But first:

"The" Nine Inch Nails at the roadhouse!  I hope some of you old TP fans noticed the nod to Jimmy Scott, who sang "Under the Sycamore Trees" in the Black Lodge for the original series.  The MC looked very much like him, and I thought that was a nice little throwback.  I wondered at the time if his presence didn't signal a sort of return to the Black Lodge, in some sense.  Then I remembered that I'm still hot for Trent Reznor and didn't care.  

I think I smiled stupidly through the entire Nine Inch Nails performance, and yes, Trent & Co. perform "She's Gone Away," off of the new EP Not the Actual Events from start to finish.  It fit rather well and harkened back to the song that played when we were first introduced to Evil Cooper.  I thought the lighting was on point, and, well, I just really enjoyed it.  Because I went to Goth Prom.  Fuck, I miss the nineties. 

Evil Cooper sits up.  And that's when shit gets weird.  And we all know what happens when David Lynch gets weird. 

We are transported to White Sands, New Mexico to see the detonation of the first atomic bomb in July 1945.  Everything is black and white, and the camera zooms slowly towards the mushroom cloud, which is expanding in slow motion.  We are taken inside the cloud, and the trip begins.  I have never been to Disney World, but what happens next is what I kind of imagine Splash Mountain probably looks like if you're on acid and Robotussin.  The camera pans through fiery explosions, what seem like stars blinking across the screen, orbs (lots of orbs in this episode), and finally a strange, white, alien-like creature not unlike the one that mutilated the ill-fated young lovers in episode one, and it is seen throwing up some manner of cosmic vomit, and inside one of the orbs in the vomit contains an image of BOB.  

At the end of this strange trip, we find ourselves back at the purple ocean, at the foot of a mountain, and we are taken inside to see the Giant, or ??????, as he's referred to now, and a lady dressed like Bette Davis or Marlene Dietrich, vampy and ready for a night of cabaret.  They appear in black and white, which gives the atmosphere a wonderful feeling of being a silent film.  

The Giant goes into another room, built like a theater, where he watches the scenes that the viewers have just seen.  He floats up towards the ceiling, and the lady comes walking in behind him.  She watches him and seems to be at once scared, relieved, happy - an interesting mix of emotions that I'll come back to below.  An orb floats from the Giant's head, and the lady peers into it and sees Laura Palmer's face.  She seems incredibly satisfied by this, kisses it, and lets it float to the ceiling, where it goes into this elongated trumpet device and spits out into the film, landing somewhere in North America. 

I'll take time here to interject with the run-down and tell you that I have no explanation for this episode generally but for this sequence in particular.  I have the sensation that we will understand it at least a little bit better later, but I have felt that way about Lynch before and come back empty-handed.  What I can tell you, having read some of the commentary about this episode already, is that it is polarizing.  People seem either to regard it as absolute tripe and a betrayal of people that paid hard-earned dollars to see an acid trip on TV, or they regard it as perhaps the most artistic, incredible 41 minutes of TV that perhaps has ever existed.  Guess which camp I fall into.

I will not even attempt to rationally evaluate what I saw at this point because I think I need at least two more viewings to have a full cognitive handle on what I saw.  Secondly, I have this belief that Lynch is often more interested in eliciting emotional reactions from his audience than anything else, and this certainly succeeded, at least with this viewer.  I am not sure that we should necessarily approach this episode as something to be dissected but rather as a commentary that we can know from our feelings about it.  With Lynch, there is more truth in emotion than there is in fact, and that seems to be something that most people, including me, struggle with when they view his work.  

Starting with NIN's performance, I had a general sense of gladness going into the sequence.  That is not because the song is calming or happy or anything of that sort; rather, it is strictly me feeling happy at some callback to my teenage years, and also to Lost Highway in a sense, since that was my first Lynch experience, and I was just starting to get into NIN at that point.  Due to a long series of personal events, I have had the sense of looping back around to my earlier years quite a bit lately, and this is not an unwelcome thing. 

I think the bomb sequence succeeded for me because my reactions were wholly feeling-based. I was very much awed by the visual onslaught Lynch created for us, and I was truly left with the feeling of being on a primordial, drug-induced trip that showed me the ultimate expression of evil and annihilation in the world.  Whether or not you want to relate this symbology to BOB being "the evil that men do" personified is another matter.  The point I'm trying to get across here is that I was left with that sense of rage, despair, awe, and hopelessness as the camera weaved through the fire, clouds, webs, and stars.  

The scene staring at the gas station, with all of the woodsmen (the vagrant, homeless-looking demon guys) coming and going in disjointed motion, in combination with smoke and the usual explosive lights, was unsettling.  It was like waiting for another murder at the Bates Motel that we never actually witnessed - or not at that juncture, leastways.  They move a lot like the blind woman seen previously, giving that sense of being somehow out of sequence with time as we know it.  

The part with the giant, where the orange energy and the orb flow from his head, brought me to tears, and I still have no idea why.  There was something deeply sad about it and yet oddly uplifting.  I think I felt as though perhaps he had died, and that was a loss somehow, even though it is unclear what the Giant's function truly is, beyond giving cryptic messages to Coop.

I always watch Twin Peaks alone because, frankly, I haven't anyone else to watch it with me, and this generally never bothers me, but it did tonight.  I wasn't bothered in the sense that I was frightened, but I was bothered because I found this episode to be deeply profound and wonderfully artistic in a way that nothing else I have ever witnessed on TV has been.  I feel as though I have had the privilege of seeing and experiencing something fantastic, even in its potential awfulness, and not having someone to share that experience with saddened me a little bit.  I find great truth and beauty in Lynch's work, and I enjoy and appreciate art of all kinds, although it is rare that it moves me to that extent.  I like to be able to share that experience when it does.

The episode ended with a frog-roach thing coming out of the desert and a bunch of woodsmen appearing to terrorize a small town in New Mexico.  The head woodsman, who was credited as "woodsman" and apparently plays Abraham Lincoln on the side - no, for real, he does - walked around asking people, "Gotta light?" for his cigarette.  The couple in the car escaped, but the DJ and secretary at the local radio station weren't quite so lucky.  Reznor's lyric, "You dig in places till your fingers bleed" suddenly makes more sense.  

The woodsman commandeers the airwaves and begins repeating, over and over again, "This is the water, and this is the well.  Drink full, and descend.  The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within."  The whole town falls into a sleepy trance, and the frog-roach thing that crawls out of the desert crawls into the mouth of the young previously seen kissing her boyfriend.  

I don't know what purpose the little lyric serves, although I suspect that the white eye reference refers to the woodsmen not having much visible aside from the whites of their eyes.  I will say his voice creeped me out quite a bit, and I find the woodsmen to be one of the scariest elements in the Twin Peaks universe.  Who are they?  Demons?  "Dead" doppelgängers?  I can see why perhaps Lynch calls them "woodsmen," if he is harkening back to the old English superstition about the woodhouse.  

The credits roll to the sounds of a horse running and the angelic vision of the girl that now plays host to a frog-roach creature.  Birth of BOB?  Birth of Laura?  I thought maybe this girl could be Sarah Palmer, since the age would be about right, but who knows.  I think some elements of the episode will be explained, but I have no doubt that we'll be left wondering about others.  Lynch is notorious for playing it cagey with the meanings of his work.  

A lot of people seem to find this really irritating about David Lynch, but it's actually one of the things I like best about him.  He respects his audience enough to give them two journeys: the artistic, emotional journey and the search for meaning.  I have gone so far, searching for meaning in Twin Peaks, that I ended up on a major soul quest and came out on the other side with my perspective and beliefs utterly altered and for the better.  

I actually sent David Lynch a thank you letter for being the instigator of said quest, not because I care about flattering someone that no doubt gets plenty of it or because I'm actually a psycho fangirl but because I genuinely felt gratitude and wanted to express it.  I think there is a dire need for gratitude in this world, and I think it is a worthwhile endeavor to express it when you feel it.  I also think people enjoy getting snail mail, and I try to send out cards and letters once in a while. 

In any case, I know there are already people out on the internet saying that tonight's Twin Peaks was a total wash - a betrayal of the fans, an exercise in self-indulgence of the worst sort, a cockamamie mishmash of visual images that don't mean anything, and a useless meandering through a world without meaning.  There is the other half that says it was like tripping the light fantastic, and I am in the latter group, quite clearly.  

If you don't understand or like David Lynch, that's fine.  I get it.  That said, I feel the same way about loving David Lynch as I do about loving indie bands, which is to say that I generally have more respect for people that listen to artistic music because I can usually infer that I have more in common with them and that they are probably more intelligent than average.  I make no commentary on my own IQ by the way, but I definitely prefer to hang around people that are smarter than me because I like the challenge.  My honest opinion is that if you didn't like this episode, you probably aren't that creative or intelligent, and we probably wouldn't be friends.  And that's fine.  There are plenty of seasons of Big Bang Theory for you to watch.  

Edit #1, 6/26/17: I just went back and re-watched for the first time.  I think I was wrong about the credit sound being the hoofbeats of a horse.  I turned up the volume, and I think it's just radio static.  I have terrible hearing, frankly, and this may not be correct.

The orange light and the orb pouring forth from the Giant's head made me teary again.  The look on the face of the cabaret lady is arresting, and I love it.  I am coming under the impression that this iteration of the Giant is perhaps symbolic of God - does "??????" stand for "YAHWEH"? - sending forth a Jesus-like figure into the world to redeem man for the original sin of creating his own annihilation?  I like this theory and suspect I will explore it further in my own mind in the days to come.  Lynch is superlatively good at working religious themes into his work without too many people noticing, or at least that is my opinion.  

I have also confirmed in my mind that the "starry" portion of the atomic bomb sequence is more buggy than anything else.  It looks like a swarm of flying insects - bees, perhaps - in a container.  I think it more likely that they are flies, as flies are a fairly well known symbol of evil.  There is another, shorter clip featuring what appears like small white things with black eyes moving around, and I wonder if they aren't supposed to be maggots.  

I like all of these assessments thus far, but I try not to get too attached to my own theories with anything David Lynch does.  I could be completely and utterly off-base and attaching meaning where none exists.  

And Trent Reznor is still hot.