“An Invitation to Love”: A Smidgen on Twin Peaks




It is that time again, that time of the year when I rewatch *Twin Peaks*, that time of the year when the owls are not what they seem.

I have been thinking a little about the role of the internal soap opera, “An Invitation to Love” in *Twin Peaks*.  It’s a structure Lynch likes, an embedded object of comparison for the embedding object.  What is “Invitation” doing embedded there?

Certainly the embedding show, *Twin Peaks*, has the superficial structure of a soap opera:  lots of beautiful characters, presented in kaleidoscope, constantly at work but never working, with little to do in their afternoons; melodramatic dialogue; romantic and monetary entanglements of extraordinary historical and momentary complication; etc.  “Invitation” ironizes this structure, and in so doing, asks the audience:  What is the difference between *Twin Peaks* and “Invitation”–and, more pointedly–what are the differences between aiming at art and aiming at entertainment?

That question gets its point from the risks *Twin Peaks* runs.  It aims at art.  “Invitation”, at best, aims at entertainment.  Lynch invites us feel the differences in those aims, the differences in the risks run.  For example, the risks run in aiming at entertainment are fewer and less severe in part because entertainment can be formulaic, and often is.  That there is a formula does not mean that everyone can succeed at it, do it, but it helps.  Put it this way:  the rules of entertainment are external to the making of the object that is to entertain.  It is possible to consult the rules.  But the risks run aiming at art are more numerous and more severe.  Art is not formulaic:  the rules of art are internal to the making of the object that is to be appreciated.  There are rules; but they cannot be consulted.  They come to be as the art object comes to be.  (This is one reason medium matters in art as it does not (in a way that it does not) in entertainment.  Entertainment shows a possibility of a medium, but art shows the conditions of a possibility of the medium:  entertainment ‘empirically idealizes’, art ‘transcendentally idealizes’.)  Lynch also wants us to feel the differences in the demands made on us by *Twin Peaks* and by “Invitation”.  Entertainment requires an audience but it does almost all the work for that audience–there is no need for the audience to do work in order to be entertained (in fact, doing work and being entertained typically exclude one another).  But art requires appreciators who are, in a limited way, collaborators, who are working in order to appreciate–who are bringing knowledge and experience and understanding and sensory refinement to bear on the art object.  Lynch wants us to recognize that watching *Twin Peaks* makes that sort of demand on us.  “Invitation” does not.

(I mean this to apply to the first season and part of the second.  It is a shame that the second season of *Twin Peaks* sinks into “Invitation”.  I wonder if that is why “Invitation” seems to disappear in the second season–it disappears into ubiquity, swelling from object of comparison to form?)

While of course Lynch cannot withstand comparison to Shakespeare (but, then again, who can?), it is worth considering how the relationship between *Twin Peaks* and “Invitation” shares features of the relationships between Shakespeare’s source materials and his plays, and the alchemical, metabasis eis allo genos changes that the source materials undergo as they reappear in the plays.  Often enough, Shakespeare made art out of entertainment, body and blood out of bread and wine.







Happy Birthday to Kierkegaard!

I smoked a cigar in his honor today.

Here’s something from Johannes Climacus:

So there I sat and smoked my cigar until I drifted into thought. Among other thoughts, I recall these. You are getting on in years, I said to myself, and are becoming an old man without being anything and without actually undertaking anything. On the other hand, wherever you look in literature or in life, you see the names and figures of celebrities, the prized and highly acclaimed people, prominent or much discussed, the many benefactors of the age who know how to benefit humankind by making life easier and easier, some by railroads, others by omnibuses and steamships, others by telegraph, others by easily understood surveys and brief publications about everything worth knowing, and finally the true benefactors of the age who by virtue of thought systematically make spiritual existence easier and easier and yet more and more meaningful—and what are you doing?

Anything I Can Do For A Better Grade?


Worth a look.

Originally posted on Daily Nous:

It is that time of the year when the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the semester is ending, and the students are asking, “I know I missed a lot of classes and didn’t complete some of my assignments but I was wondering if there is, you know, anything I can do now to get a better grade.” It is tempting to recommend “invent and use time machine.” But perhaps these words from George M. Felis (UNC Wilmington) are more edifying:

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this as a professor, but a significant part of what you demonstrate by earning a college degree has nothing to do with what you actually learn in college: completing college is partly about showing that you have the discipline to show up and do the work—whether you want to or not, whether you’re interested in it or not, and regardless of the distractions life presents—

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Lurching Restart

I’m back.  Sorta.  Anyway, I do expect to begin posting here again over the next few weeks.  I’ve missed working on the blog and interacting with those of you who follow it.  But I want to restart by shouldering Heidegger’s reminder:

There is a significant darkness in every philosophical endeavor, and even the most radical of these endeavors remains finite.

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