Posts
by nick splendorr
July 14, 2022

"Yes!!! No, I'm not ready!!!"

bill wurtz - meet me in september

"is this bus voluminous?" lol

July 11, 2022

twin peaks: unresolvable

Again, just fragments here. So I can "reflect" on "the page."

I'm about a third of the way through Martha P. Nochimson's The Passion of David Lynch, and just love the way she's found to look at and interpret these works. She doesn't seem to be concerned with... something. I'm not sure what to call it. Solidifying? Pinning down. Hang on.

I re-watched Twin Peaks: The Return a few weeks ago. I'd watched it as it aired in 2017, and mostly left it sitting off to one side since. 5 years. I felt lots of things about it, had conversations with friends, but in the end honestly couldn't tell if I "liked it." I mean, I liked it — I think it's one of my favorite things I've ever watched, and way better than the original series for my own personal taste. But what was it for? What was its heart? There was intense negativity portrayed, alongside a bizarre approach to the possibility of joy. What did David & Co think the story was for?

I've been really hung up on the artist's intent for many many years. I could only feel confident about my feelings on a work when I thought I understood what its makers were "really" going for, and how that aligned with the object. I'm trying to stop doing that. I do want to know, but I also think that most massive works exceed their makers. Not in a "death of the author" way. It's hard to say what I mean, and hard to say that it's "hard to say." I think intent matters a lot. But it's not the endpoint, it's an ingredient. I also don't think all interpretations of a work are valid. That might be unpleasant to hear. But I sort of think it's important that we be reminded that people can be and often are incorrect in the way we see things.

"Let the reader decide" about the ending of most media is weasel wording! It has risen to prominence as a capitalist excuse for making works that refuse to ultimately challenge the audience. If you tell the audience they're wrong, you don't make as much money. If you imply they might be wrong, but ultimately give them an opening to avoid that conflict, I think you de-fang a work while also making it more palatable and profitable. "There's no one answer" is literally killing us politically, as the people who are supposed to be broad-minded and open-hearted on our behalf instead refuse to resolve. Quantum morality that refuses to be observed.

So then what to do with David Lynch? His works aren't "open-ended" in that capital-driven way. They are maybe, instead, "unresolvable," and that has a very different effect and reception. It's deeply upsetting and off-putting to most people. It doesn't make a ton of money. DL obviously has plenty of money, but none of his movies have done well in the big picture of Big Pictures.

...

I just got distracted looking up how much money the movies made, and then thinking about buying them on Blue Vel— I mean, Blu-Ray. Ha, ha.

...

oops I got tired of thinking

...

"Let the audience decide" about climate catastrophe

July 11, 2022

disconnected by default

First, the only way I can approach anything right now is by not taking it seriously. Or not giving it personal weight. This is one of many contradictions I experience constantly. Until I was in my early 20s, I managed to believe, easily and intensely, that I need to do what mattered, to myself and by extension to the people and structures I had inherited my beliefs. It was essential and beautiful-feeling to follow that feeling. As I crossed from adolescence into adulthood (and I don't think I'm alone in this, though there are strong particulars in my story that basically nobody else I've ever met has endured), I was increasingly in conflict. What mattered to me didn't matter to the larger world; and what mattered to the world made no sense to me. I'm cursed to ask why things are a certain way, and to be unable to accept the answer if it isn't sensible.

Obviously this has made my life miserable, because "the world" doesn't make sense. Not in a way that applies to most people. Our actions and efforts are dictated as much as possible by extractive power. I don't know why it has to be like this. We can find happiness or at least quietude by finding a way to align our peculiarities with some larger power.

When have you ever had neighbors you talked with, let alone liked or felt close with? When have you ever been able to choose to live near enough to the people you do enjoy to feel neighborly? I've been thinking about how logistically impossible this is for most people. Houses built for just a few people, no ability to coordinate moving into nearby buildings to be closer to people you care about. Constant driving, and me carless now for... christ, over 4 years? Not even touching on the pandemic, but talking about a prior world, a fantasy world now where we can't live anymore, not a good fantasy but still unreal.

There was a period in my early 20s when 3 different friends of mine all lived in the same apartment complex. That was nice. It didn't persist, for normal reasons. For a few years around 30, I had a group of friends who would make regular plans to gather to play games or have meals. That was great, too, and also went away for me. Right now the best I can do to feel close to people is gather in a group call to play a video game together, most of which cap out at 4 or 5 total people in a reasonable way.

I have always wanted a big house where I could throw parties, have guest rooms for lots of friends. Many friends share the impossible dream of getting a huge mansion together, large enough to have space but contiguous for community. Or houses on the same street, apartments in the same building, or at least connected by simple transit — each just as impossible as the next for all of us. We all want a village, but we can't even have a neighbor.

Why?

July 07, 2022

FEELS 111

July 06, 2022

the narrative hunger for evil

Okay so that’s a dramatic title. But as I’ve been reading about Twin Peaks, two things I’ve seen multiple people say are just driving me nuts (spoilers of course):

  1. In The Return, we see Cooper lead Laura away from her death, and then a repeat of the first episode’s opening scenes, except Laura’s body isn’t on the beach. I’ve seen more than one person assert that they DO NOT LIKE THIS because IF LAURA DIDN’T DIE, THEN THAT WOULD UNDERMINE THE ENTIRE SERIES???????

  2. One of my Favorite Things about The Return is that the willful, selfish, “evil” characters are all dispensed without fanfare. The two assassins in the van are undone by being assholes to one too many people. Richard seems to be leading up to importance, but he just gets zapped and exploded. Mr C does so much harm, and in the end is just shot by Lucy. There’s no “big conflict” between “good and evil.” And I’ve seen so many people say they were LET DOWN by this; that they were anticipating some kind of battle(?) between Cooper and his Double?????

Anyway I don’t have time to go all the way into this, but it’s twisted to confer respect upon villains in a story, when they are driven by greed and callous disregard for others. I think it’s a Huge Problem that villains always get a monologue in adventure stories. Fuck ‘em. Their justifications are always horseshit, and yet giving them air time allows someone the opportunity to engage and potentially agree.

It’s fantastic that Mr C gives his justification once: “I don’t need anything. I want.” Beyond that, his only priority is survival and propagation. It’s beautiful that he is accorded no respect by the camera; that Lucy shoots from the heart and just ends him.

Fuck a villainous monologue, Thanos-ass deluded bullshit

July 04, 2022

“jowday”

I may be sidling up closer to having something to say, if not something to conclude, about my recent foray into Twin Peaks.

I’m about 100 pages into “In Dreams” by H. Perry Horton, which is a wonderfully-long connective study of most of (I accidentally typed “lost of”) David Lynch’s work. And I don’t think I agree with much of it so far. But that’s okay! He says he may not either, but it’s one viewpoint in. I DO appreciate very much the observations and care he’s given to sources I hadn’t paid much attention to.

I’m not trying to find The Answer. I don’t want one, and I don’t think there is one. DL’s work is too associative, too improvised to have one conclusion. It’s collage, but carefully-edited and considered.

I like many aspects of Lou Ming’s “Find Laura” study, and I think there’s a great deal of emotional truth in it. One of his ideas I keep coming back to us the “Bad Transformer.” The flickering light in Laura’s autopsy, blamed on a “bad transformer.” The electricity and flashing lights throughout, which could be emblematic of so much, but so far work very well as indicators that something we’re seeing isn’t exactly what’s happening. Misinterpretation, mishearing, or deliberate obfuscation. Something’s wrong, emotionally and materially. Film itself is light, and when something’s wrong with the light, it means we aren’t seeing “the truth.”

Maybe! And so he looks for other Bad Transformers, and identifies Gordon Cole as a major one. He consistently hears “the wrong thing.” This might make him a source of hidden truth, but rarely verbal truth; “it cannot all be said now,” and we see at the beginning of Fire Walk With Me that Lil’s symbolic instruction is required to say something Gordon doesn’t trust words to convey.

David Lynch himself has made it clear that he doesn’t trust language, not for the big truths. I like that in an interview he says that unless you’re a poet, words usually just make a big idea smaller. He uses images, sounds, and their unity in movies to try to address the (to him) unspeakable. Horrors and truths.

SO ALL OF THIS TO SAY, almost everybody I’ve read who says anything about The Return… just buys what Gordon says about “Judy” really being “Jowday,” an ancient goddess, etc etc…

They just buy the line. Hook, sinker, and all.

But despite seeming quite lucid in this scene, when has Gordon ever heard and repeated a word correctly? He gestures, he directs, and his intuition may be sound enough. But as the head of the Detectives in the dream of Twin Peaks, he gets an awful lot wrong. And words? Forget it. That may be important, especially in Lou Ming’s read, but what matters here is that almost every other scene featuring Gordon Cole shows us that he is almost incapable of hearing or repeating the truth directly.

So I think the “Jowday” thing is a misdirection! And yet it has the appearance of Revelation, so everybody latched on to it. And this book, “In Dreams,” uses the concept of Jowday as a great, metaphysical evil, in opposition to “the Dreamer who Dreams and then lives inside the Dream,” as a foundational concept.

And I just don’t buy the Jowday thing at all!

Who is Judy? I mean, hell if I know. I have a couple conceptual ideas. You’ve gotta acknowledge that the most important thing for DL isn’t encoding a secret message; it’s building a mystery McLachlan-style (Sarah, not Kyle), and choosing so carefully which parts to keep in so that there is no center, no solution. I watched people drive themselves nuts looking for the secret “grand staircase” theory of House of Leaves, when all the fun was happening elsewhere. Same principle applies here, I think. Anchoring “good and evil” in the “Dreamer” and “Jowday” is a too-simple mapping of binary onto art which repeatedly shows us that binaries… aren’t.

The question for us is, can we look out the window without our shadow getting in the way? And when it inevitably does, can we find unity with the shadow?

June 30, 2022

covid, according to craig mod

I'm just sharing these excerpts because I'm troubled by both the number of people I know who have gotten covid in the last month or so and have endured serious illness, alongside the number of people who have in some way shamed me for still trying to be as safe as possible. And the general unthinking dismissal of caution despite evidence that none of us are vaccinated against the current group of variants, and that catching them doesn't seem to add any natural immunity, either.

From Craig Mod's Roden newsletter, #69:

After twenty-eight months of hiding from the world, of mostly isolating, of not hopping on planes or going out to bars or attending sporting events, after twenty-eight months of hiking alone in the mountains and walking through towns so small they contained only a barber and a kissa, of masking up eighteen hours a day, of shaking no hands, hugging few people, of hosting small dinners, of being a Very Responsible Citizen, I flew to England, had two coffees, a couple fish and chips, and got Covid almost instantly.

Covid was like a kick to the throat. Then a kick to the chest and a hacksaw to the skull. Once exposed, it felt like important parts of my brain were nibbled at by pigeons as I curled up in a ball in a strange land far from home.

I suppose it’s no surprise that Covid itself — the live virus coursing through my sloppy veins — slapped me down. Slapped so hard that at one point I couldn’t stand because, when I did, the world spun. Spun as if I was a character in a cartoon hit with an anvil, spun wildly, drunkenly. Trapped in an overpriced London hotel, I had opened the window and went to close it, and simply couldn’t balance myself long enough to get the latch to catch. That was the one time I broke down in tears. I had to ring the front desk: I … I can’t close my window.

Which leaves me mystified by how heartily the rest of the world seems to have thrown their hands up and declared abject bankruptcy against the virus. Ideally, I guess, we would have snuffed this thing out in 2020 like we did other SARS-esque stuff of the early 2000s? A tall order, sure, but I believe we’re more capable than leadership choices might indicate. Anyway, no. We failed our global marshmallow test. England (Cotswolds and London at least) is fully back to 2019. No masks in sight. No preventative measures. I went to a dozen hotels and saw not a single staff taking precautions.

So it went, me and the virus. I was sick for a solid fourteen days. Around day ten an online GP, troubled by my dizziness, recommended I visit the A&E, which turned into a bit of medical tourism. I steadied myself long enough to cab it to a university hospital, check in, and be seen by a couple doctors and bevy of kind nurses. They were all so lovely, although confusing. One nurse was terrified that I had Covid. She put on something that looked like a garbage bag, a shield, and a mask, as if I were Ebola-positive and was gushing blood out my eyeballs. I asked if she wore a mask on the subway and she looked at me like I was nuts. No, she didn’t. She didn’t wear a mask anywhere. I love British folks, but man they can be puzzling.

I’ve since recovered and the rest of Europe was amazing (or as amazing as it could have been in my ~50% energy post-Covid state). I attended two weddings and, with my copious antibodies, inhaled the breath of hundreds of people without once pondering disease. That felt nice, but also stupid. You can’t help but think we should have and could have “beaten” this thing without slamming our collective faces into a wall.

Now, back in Japan, it’s a bit of a trip, a time machine. 95% of folks are still masking up outside, this despite the surging heat. The past week has been a “Real Feel” of 40°C. That’s mid-August weather, not end of June weather. June heat records have been broken. And while it feels a bit nuts, a bit neurotic or pathological to strap on a mask outside (I don’t FWIW; and official government guidance is you don’t have to), what it means is almost everyone masks up inside. Since, I mean, it’s already on your face.

Per-capita Covid deaths in Japan are some of the lowest in the world. Life is almost “entirely normal” and has been normal for a while. People are out and about living. Maybe 10% of my friends have had Covid here. (Compared to 90%? in the U.S. / Europe). My intro graph at the top may make it sound like we had significantly compromised our lives in Japan, but Japan never “locked down.” No cops checked documents if you strayed from home (like in Australia, for example). I traveled extensively in-country by rail. I saw people I love. I just didn’t go see Paul McCartney at Tokyo Dome with 30,000 others. Personally, it feels like very little was “sacrificed” to achieve a literal healthy response to the pandemic.

I’ve gone out into the world and witnessed the total embrace of Covid, the abject dismissal of it as “a little cold.” I got Covid. It kicked my healthy butt. (And I share that butt kicking above to help folks for whom it’s tough feel a little less nuts.) For more people than you may think, it’s not “a little cold.” And the thought of having Covid be seasonal leaves little joy in this heart, and portends a pattern of continuous pain for many around the world.

My reaction to having gotten and gotten over Covid isn’t, Great! Everyone should just get it done with. But rather: Wow, how do we do better to keep fewer people from having to be exposed? And: I’d prefer to not get that again, thanks.

June 30, 2022

"only thing I’m good for now"

Wishing Tree (Stolen Spoons Remix) — Michael Flynn

cool-sounding remix of a good song

Threw my money in the wishing pool
Just like every other desperate fool
Trying to tempt the gods and change my fate
Just a little too little too late

June 28, 2022

"heaven ain't a place"

michael flynn - church clothes

i never thought the phrase "boiling the water in the fellowship hall" could carry so much romantic tension, but I have listened to this album 500 times and can confirm it does

god, i love to see you
god damn, i love to see yooooou

June 28, 2022

judgment

I realize I am terribly constrained by fear of judgment. I am ashamed of myself, in everything I do, not because what I do is shameful. But because I have been too many times hurt by others’ judgment that had little to do with who and what I really am.

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about Twin Peaks and David Lynch’s other works. Even now I fear you — the abstract “you” — rolling your eyes. The baggage around a name. The takeaways. My demographics intersecting with stereotypes intersecting with partial experience.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about a lot of topics as I’ve pored over texts, commentaries, and ephemera. And yet it’s been almost impossible for me to share any of it, here or otherwise, because I’m
ashamed of finding it interesting in the first place. I have become afraid of being interested in the “wrong” things, and unconsciously come to believe that most of what I find interesting is going to be dismissed by others.

It’s a strange feeling! What’s it based on? Definitely parental judgment, the specter of which I still can’t escape. Definitely the ambient and observed reactionary tone of so much public, social discourse. The utter lack of patience with something that has been filed as Bad. It’s exhausting.

I make too many of my decisions, or short-circuit the deciding, because I just can’t bear to have someone tell me I’m wrong when they aren’t actually listening to me. I can be wrong! I’m wrong a lot. I learn constantly. But at a certain point, the weight of being dismissed without being heard or interpreted accurately, no matter how clearly I tried to speak — which connects to so many pains and setbacks —

It was too much. It affects my ability to simply converse and correspond. A feeling that I have to produce a Good statement, when I have a decreasing sense that it’s even possible, due to my own internal jumble.

Just describing a problem and thinking of how to do otherwise.