Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks


Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks is a collection of thirteen essays authored by various academics and one film critic about assorted facets of “Twin Peaks.” Full of Secrets has been on my bookshelf for several years. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have not had any desire to read this book. Every couple of years, “Twin Peaks” seems to find its way into my DVD player and the entire series is watched over the span of a month. Despite this and my love for this show, this book remained closed.

Most essays in Full of Secrets focused on mechanical elements of the show like the aesthetic balance between weirdness and normality, narrative & plot structures, and the dialogue about the show that appeared on the Usenet group alt.tv.twinpeaks, the electronic bulletin board that predated our present day Internet. These essays were dry academic analyses that I struggled to complete. The icing on this academic cake was the final essay, a dialogue between eight academics concerning how “Twin Peaks” fits into their framework of postmodernism.

There were three essays in Full of Secrets that stood above the dull academic dissection. Christy Desmet, Diana Hume George, and Alice Kuzniar each wrote about “Twin Peaks” from a feminist perspective. These three essays illuminated how women were portrayed in show. Desmet highlighted how the supposed “good women” (Donna Hayward's mother in a wheel chair, Nadine's eye patch, Sarah Palmer's fragility) were “physically or psychologically mutilated” (103). George believed no women were portrayed positively in “Twin Peaks.” Kuzniar's work brilliantly showed how the voices of women were taken away in many different ways, including murder (Laura Palmer), fear (Ronette Pulaski), and supernatural confinement (Josie Packard in a drawer knob). Kuzniar also reminds us that Catherine Martell was a strong woman in the show, although even she had to dress up as a man to swindle Ben Horne.

Editor David Lavery's introduction contained a synopsis of the show's quirky moments. For all of the “Twin Peaks” enthusiasts out there, take a look at this list.

Ben and Jerry Horne, ecstatically praising their baguettes, mouths full of bread and Brie (one of several scenes in which characters talk with their mouths full); a fish in a percolator; Lucy's extremely convoluted phone transfers; Josie Packard's malapropisms; the malfunctioning fluorescent light in the morgue as Cooper examines Laura Palmer's body; Nadine's quest for completely noiseless drape runners; Cooper's announcement (not surprising, given his coffee consumption): “I really have to urinate”; the dental plugs stuck in Dr. Jacoby's ears; Deputy Andy covered with post-it notes; the small figurine wearing an eye patch in Nadine Hurley's mantelpiece collection; Cooper's realization, immersed in a Double R dessert that “This must be where pies go when they die”; Albert's insults (“Look! It's trying to think!”); Cooper's face-to-face with a llama in a veterinarian's office; Ben Horne's adjournment to the bathroom (during a tryst with Catherine Martell) to “wash little Elvis”; Cooper's self-reflexive finger-snapping to Angelo Badalamenti's non-diegetic theme music as he sits on his bed after awakening from his dream; Gordon Cole's deaf incoherence; party-animal Icelanders; the Log Lady's “sticky pitch gum”; doughnuts splattered with Waldo the Bird's blood; Audrey's abilities with a cherry; Dr. Jacoby's collection of cocktail umbrellas; the Log Lady's recognition that Major Briggs has “shiny objects on his chest”; Agent Cooper's inquiry (while lying on the floor of his hotel room after having been shot) whether the bill he is asked to sign by the “world's oldest bellhop” “includes a gratuity”; a wood tick impaled on a bullet; Leland Palmer's singing (“Mares Eat Oats,” “Come On, Get Happy,” “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” etc.); blows to Deputy Andy's head (from a ricocheting rock thrown by Cooper and from a loose floor board at Leo's); difficult readjustment of hospital stools; telekinetic removal of cream corn; seething, repulsive hospital food; Major Briggs's version of Bobby's future; Ben and Jerry toasting marshmallows (instead of a smoked cheese pig); Albert and Sheriff Truman's collar-grabbing face off (“I love you Sheriff Truman); Dr. Jacoby's golf-inspired mantra; Cooper's cowlicks; Andy's sperm count; Leo's birthday party; the horse in Sarah Palmer's vision; Leland's living room golf; Ben and Jerry's jailhouse bunk bed memories; a transvestite DEA agent who “puts his panties on one leg at a time”; the Pine Weasel's attack on Dick Tremayne; Ben Horne's rewriting of the Civil War; Nadine's destruction of Hank Jennings? (11-12)

I would add the Bookhouse Boys' hand signal, Douglas Fir trees, and Leland jumping on Laura's coffin.

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