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Sunday Night Journal, May 21, 2017

The new Twin Peaks started tonight on the ShowTime network. I'm not sure when I'll get to see it, as I don't get ShowTime. I guess it will be available online somehow sometime. It's a little late for me to be making this recommendation, but if you're a fan of the show, you should read this book as soon as you can, because I feel pretty sure it will shed some interesting light on the new series:


It's a sort of novel, written by Mark Frost, the co-creator of the series. It provides a great deal of fascinating background for the story by means of a wonderfully entertaining mixture of truth and fantasy. You learn a lot about people and events from the series, but you also get some history and context that are not even suggested by the series. For instance, the book opens with some odd incidents in the life, and odd circumstances about the death, of Meriwether Lewis, and works forward in time until shortly after the time of the original story, with a link to the present day. I'm expecting that link to be present in the new series; we'll see.

Frost obviously had a good time doing this, connecting the strange events in the town of Twin Peaks with all manner of conspiracy theories and popular lore about unexplained phenomena--UFOs, occultism. It made me think of some  of the more interesting aspects of The X-Files, which in turn was (I hear) influenced by Twin Peaks. Frost weaves the secret history into real history very smoothly--the Lewis stories, for instance. Before I'd gotten very far into it I began checking references to any person or event presented as being known to real history, but unknown to me, and every one was genuine. (Shall I give you an instance? Would it be giving away too much? Well, here's one.) 

And I had a very good time reading it. The premise is that in the present day a cache of documents relating to the town of Twin Peaks, its inhabitants, and certain events that occurred in the late 1980s, has been "recovered on 7-20-2016 from a crime scene." Deputy Director Gordon Cole has given it to an agent identified only by the initials T.P. for "comprehensive analysis, cataloging and cross-referencing.... We need to learn and verify the person or persons responsible for compiling this dossier...."

The book then consists of "documents" assembled by that unknown person, who refers to him or herself as "the archivist," typewritten annotations by him/her, and marginal notes from TP. It's a very elaborate physical production, and you can easily pretend that it's all genuine history, or at least I could. I noticed the other day that an audio version is available. Don't. That would at best be like reading a script instead of watching a film.

Obviously I don't want to give away anything important, but I can't resist a few remarks:

  • I always did like Major Briggs a lot.
  • Doug Milford is full of surprises.
  • The Log Lady's attachment to her companion is eccentric but not crazy. 

My wife gave me the book for Christmas last year. I started reading it, but when it reached the point in time where characters from the series began to appear, I realized that my recollection of the series was pretty spotty. So I stopped reading and over a period of weeks we watched the series again, and then the "prequel," and then I went back to the book.

I ended up being very impressed all over again with the series. Even the latter part of the second season, generally thought of as a mess and a letdown, seemed better than I remembered.  I now feel fully prepared to watch the new series and hope it won't be a disappointment.

I deliberately refrained from reading any reviews or commentary on The Secret History because I didn't want to be prejudiced, or to learn anything that might have reduced the pleasure of reading it. And I still haven't read any. But I can imagine that some readers might be disappointed that it really does not answer a lot of questions that the series left open, questions about the specific events portrayed. I didn't feel that way, but others might. It's not about those events, and really only touches on them; it is, as the title says, about the history of the place, the forces at work there, and certain of the people; many characters from the series do not appear at all. And in what it does tell it not only leaves a lot of earlier questions unanswered, but raises new ones without answering them. It wouldn't really be true to Twin Peaks if it didn't. 

And in one important respect the book is not Twin Peaks: it's not really very Lynchian, which is to say it's not seriously weird. It doesn't have the depth or mystery of the series, even though it's about mysterious things. But then the whole premise is that it's a strictly factual dossier. 


In response to the related phenomena of Brexit and Donald Trump's rise, The New Criterion has been running a series of essays on populism (which naturally includes an effort to define the term, which is used pretty loosely). The seventh one, appearing in the March issue, is by Roger Scruton and is called "Representation and the People". The title refers to the tension between representative government and the direct, immediate wishes of the people. I won't try to summarize it, as it's long and fairly complex. But as part of his analysis Scruton illuminates an aspect of the Brexit and Trump movements which I think is very important. I'm going to excerpt it at length:

...democracies are held together by something stronger than politics. There is a “first person plural,” a pre-political loyalty, which causes neighbors who voted in opposing ways to treat each other as fellow citizens, for whom the government is not “mine” or “yours” but “ours,” whether or not we approve of it. Many are the flaws in this system of government, but one feature gives it an insuperable advantage over all others so far devised, which is that it makes those who exercise power accountable to those who did not vote for them. This kind of accountability is possible only if the electorate is bound together as a “we.” Only if this “we” is in place can the people trust the politicians to look after their interests....

But what happens when that trust disintegrates? In particular, what happens when the issues closest to people’s hearts are neither discussed nor mentioned by their representatives, and when these issues are precisely issues of identity—of “who we are” and “what unites us”? This, it seems to me, is where we have got to in Western democracies—in the United States just as much as in Europe. And recent events on both continents would be less surprising if the media and the politicians had woken up earlier to the fact that Western democracies—all of them without exception—are suffering from a crisis of identity. The “we” that is the foundation of trust and the sine qua non of representative government, has been jeopardized not only by the global economy and the rapid decline of indigenous ways of life, but also by the mass immigration of people with other languages, other customs, other religions, other ways of life, and other and competing loyalties. Worse than this is the fact that ordinary people have been forbidden to mention this, forbidden to complain about it publicly, forbidden even to begin the process of coming to terms with it by discussing what the costs and benefits might be.

Of course they have not been forbidden to discuss immigration in the way that Muslims are forbidden to discuss the origins of the Koran. Nor have they been forbidden by some express government decree. If they say the wrong things, they are not arrested and imprisoned—not yet, at least. They are silenced by labels—“racism,” “xenophobia,” “hate speech”—designed to associate them with the worst of recent crimes.... Hillary Clinton made the point in her election campaign, with her notorious reference to the “deplorables”—in other words, the people who bear the costs of liberal policies and respond to them with predictable resentments....

And when the pre-political “we” has, for whatever reason, been jeopardized, it is too late for the political process to deal with it. Emerging from behind the politics there then appears another and deeper question, the question who we are.

There's considerably more to the essay than this, and I think the whole thing is available online to non-subscribers, so I suggest you read it. But the deterioration of that 'pre-political "we"' is part of the reason that Trump was elected, and no doubt part of the reason for Brexit. And both those events have damaged it even further. Do committed Hillary voters feel that committed Trump voters have anything much in common with themselves? When left and right say "we" do they intend to include the other? Not that I can see. We're at a point in the U.S. where a presidential election is seen by one side as a sort of coup by the other, with dire consequences expected for the latter. I'm inclined to think the breach is irreparable, but maybe that's too pessimistic. Scruton himself proposes some attempts at repair.


We were discussing drinks last week. I seem to have invented one which I like very much. I more or less stumbled on it last summer one day when I wanted a martini.  I was out of gin, and I don't consider vodka martinis to be martinis. So I messed around and ended up with vodka, vermouth (dry), lime slice (squeezed), and club soda. I make it roughly half-and-half alcohol and soda, but obviously that would be a matter of taste. It's really good if you like non-sweet drinks. There is no trace of sweetness in it at all.

As far as I've been able to determine by asking people and searching the web, it's not a known species. So I think I get to give it a name. I immediately thought of something related to moonlight. I wanted Half Moon, because that's the phase of the moon I enjoy most, when the moon is over the bay at the time I'm typically there. But Half Moon is already in use, as is Full Moon.

Bay Moon? Silvery Moon? Silver Moon? Feel free to vote and/or make suggestions. And fix yourself one, if you think it sounds good.



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I like Silvery Moon.


I like Silvery Moon too. What's the vodka/vermouth proportion? I wonder how you'd get credit for creating this if it managed to become a "thing"?

Re: Scruton, I'm currently reading his The Face of God, after finishing On Human Nature last week. I plan to read The Soul of the Earth next. All three of these are books based on lectures, and thus not too terribly "academic." I've really enjoyed the first two -- they're a real breath of fresh air after some of the more contentious stuff related to the election that I've read over the past few months. Scruton's a prize, and it's too bad he's not better known on this side of the pond.

It would be fun if it became a thing, whether or not I got credit. I was at a wedding this weekend where there was an well-supplied bar, and someone was drinking something similar, but with cranberry juice rather than vermouth in the mix. I assume that was sweetened cranberry juice. That would change it considerably. As for proportions: martini-ish. That is, whatever you like, but more vodka than vermouth. It's probably about 4-to-1 for me, maybe even 3-to-1 as the vermouth supplies most of the flavor, vodka being more or less tasteless.

I haven't read any of Scruton except his short journalistic things like the one here. There is a guy I'm Facebook "friends" with "quotes definitely in order because I don't know him personally). He's a Catholic theologian (or at least educated to be one), and I think not over 40 or so. He seems orthodox but very academic and keen on post-modern this and that. He absolutely despises Scruton, and I can't see why. I wonder if it's the British concreteness--for lack of a better word--the sort of common-sense-ical quality. That of course is part of what I like about him.

Have you tried it with gin? Might be good.

I've heard some Catholics complain about Scruton's being a "Kantian" but not to the level of animus you describe. I went to hear him speak at Franciscan University a couple years ago and he got a very warm reception there.

Now that the Sewanee Review has, alas, become just another typical modernist literary quarterly, I'm going to have to subscribe to the New Criterion.

TNC is much more general than Sewanee (I think) and often more conventionally conservative than I would consider ideal. But still worth reading.

I don't get the impression that this guy's dislike is particularly Catholicism-based. I think he's the same one who hates C.S. Lewis. Maybe he just doesn't like the English. :-)

I haven't tried it with gin but yes that could be good.

I'm quite partial to Bay Moon.


I really liked Twin Peaks, but the ending really freaked me out, so I'm not sure I want to watch the new one. Part of me would really like to.

" I'm inclined to think the breach is irreparable, but maybe that's too pessimistic."

I don't consider myself to be a pessimist, but even I think it's beyond repair.

It's certainly hard to see how it can be repaired. I keep saying that the consitution provides a way of coping, by keeping some of the more heated questions out of the hands of the federal government. But that itself is a heated question. To progressives allowing states to go their own way if it differs from theirs is the same thing as allowing slavery and segregation--wicked and totally unacceptable.

I read something about the end of Twin Peaks recently that made me feel slightly better. To try to say it without it being a spoiler: that's not really him.

Thanks. :-)

Bay Moon makes me think of Bay Rum aftershave.


I thought of that, too, and couldn't decide whether it was a good or a bad thing.

"Silvery Moon" makes me think of Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. But that's probably something only those of us who are really old would remember. ;-)

Well, of course. ;-) I was wondering if when you drank it you would have to croon love's tune.


I don't know that I actually remember any particular version of "Silvery Moon", but I definitely know the song, and the phrase necessarily alludes to it. I'm not all that fond of the song so that's a minus for me.

I wonder if Bay Rum is still around. Maybe not that many people would make that association.

It is. I know because I googled it.

It wasn't the song that made me like the name. I liked it because that's how the drink looked.


No, I didn't think so. But the phrase inevitably calls up the song if you know it, just like Bay Moon calls up Bay Rum.

Right, and Silver Moon, just doesn't seem to fit it as well because it isn't silver, it's silvery.



A couple of years ago (?), when I first heard that Lynch was set to make a new Twin Peaks series, I watched the first season of the old show. I liked it, but then I read that the second season was a let-down, so I didn't continue. A mistake?

It reminded me of X-Files, of course (though I know the reminding should be the other way around), but also that quirky show Northern Exposure.

Is the new series a re-make, or a continuation?

In his book on liberalism, James Kalb criticizes Scruton for being (in effect) an unprincipled conservative: conservative by temperament, but gradually drifting with the culture all the same, because not anchored in anything.

There may be something to this, but personally I find Scruton to be quite thoughtful and almost invariably worth a hearing. He is a philosopher who considers philosophy to be important to life, and that appeals to me.


Regarding the second season of TP: yes, you should watch it. Part way through there's a big climax. It's what comes after that's generally considered a letdown, kind of a falling apart.

Regarding Scruton: I think it's a legitimate criticism that he's the sort of conservative who (as I recall) values religion for its traditions and wisdom etc but not in itself. But I don't think that vitiates what's good in his work.

"Part way through there's a big climax. It's what comes after that's generally considered a letdown, kind of a falling apart."

True. And a lot of that was because the network had largely taken the series out of Lynch's and Frost's hands. I think Lynch directed two or three of the episodes in the first half of season two and those are excellent.

"I think it's a legitimate criticism that [Scruton's] the sort of conservative who (as I recall) values religion for its traditions and wisdom etc but not in itself."

He's less like that now that he's abandoned agnosticism and returned to the Anglicanism of his youth. His last several books have been fairly "religious."

Didn't realize he'd returned. That's good. Even if it's Anglicanism. :-)

Lynch reportedly did not want to reveal the identity of the murderer.

Did anybody see the first episode of the new series?

Speaking of philosophers I just heard that Peter Augustine Lawler has died.

Yes, I saw that earlier. I don't really know much about him, just have read a few pieces here and there.

I'm sorry to hear about Peter Augustine Lawler. What a great name. I haven't read his books, but I know he was well-regarded by people whom I respect.

I see that the new Twin Peaks consists of 18 1-hour episodes, which is a pretty daunting time investment. I think I'll hold off on watching season 2 of the old show until this new series has its run and the reviews come in. If it seems to be worth the time, I'll start the marathon.

Clearly you are not a fan-as-in-fanatic. :-) I can't imagine having stopped at the end of season 1, actually.

Yes, it is fair to say that I am not a fanatic. For me, the Lynchian flavour of the thing is more important than the story, and I was satisfied at the end of season 1.

I've read only one of Lawler's books but quite a few of his articles. Didn't always agree with him but he was certainly a thought-provoking writer, and one of the good guys. He had recently taken over the editorship of Modern Age -- his inaugural issue appeared at the end of April.

As I don't have either cable or streaming, I'm going to have to wait on Twin Peaks too. Which is fine. Haven't had either one for quite a few years now and have learned to live with such delays.

I had hoped it might be available on Amazon as pay-per-episode, but it seems there's no way to get it without a Showtime subscription. So I'm going to have to wait, too. I don't really mind except that I find it difficult to resist reading about it but don't want to encounter spoilers.

I had read something recently about Lawler becoming editor of MA and had thought I might take a look at it. I'd read something he said about his plans for it and thought it sounded interesting.

This is why I would like to see the new TP sooner rather than later. In a story about the University of Missouri's troubles, including its losing football team, I get this:

"At times the offense was the single most painful sight on television until the absurd Twin Peaks reboot."

Mostly good reviews so far -- score of 74 on Metacritic with 26 reviews counted. It does sound like it's a good bit more violent than the original, however, which doesn't surprise me.

You've not seen Nocturnal Animals yet, right? It's somewhat Lynchian, but not a clone or pastiche, and very well acted, to boot.

I'm struggling to remember it right now, but I did watch and enjoy Nocturnal Animals!

I haven't seen it.

"a good bit more violent" is not encouraging. There wasn't really that much explicit violence in the original, but what there was was fairly bad. Not so much in what it showed as in the effectiveness with which it was done.

I hope it's not at the level of Fire Walk With Me. Some of that was pretty graphic, as well as intense.

Peter Lawler invited me to write for MA and I was really looking forward to collaborating with him. I sent in my first book review last Tuesday. I'm really dismayed. He was the real Catholic voice, the real thing. I remember him talking to me about how automation will affect the working class

This is quite good:


A real loss, it seems. I had forgotten that he was the Postmodern Conservative blogger. I never read it much because I tend not to find things labeled "postmodern" very interesting.

It takes a bold man to wear a seersucker suit.

I've actually been to Berry College, where he taught. Visited it some fifteen or so years ago to get a look at the administrative software they were using, which we were considering. I think we ended up picking it but I may be getting schools and systems mixed up. Anyway, I remember that it was an attractive place, and the IT people we talked to were very friendly and helpful.

"I hope it's not at the level of Fire Walk With Me"

Now that you mention it, I think the scenes I was thinking of were in it, not in the series itself.

I've been watching the original Twin Peaks. More to say when I have a keyboard and a few minutes.


Also finished Wives and Lovers.


I was wondering how you liked it.

I did put Wives and Lovers on my Nook, so will hopefully get to it some time soon.

"Now that you mention it, I think the scenes I was thinking of were in it, not in the series itself."

Yes, FWWM has some very powerful moments but the violence is far more graphic than it needs to be.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - wow!

Shocking, but not as shocking as it might have been, since my high school class had its 50th reunion last year.

I remember thinking around 1986 or so that in 1987 I would write something about the album so I could start off with "It was twenty years ago today..." But I didn't.

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