The Ring's significance in FWWM: What about Teresa and Annie

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The Ring's significance in FWWM: What about Teresa and Annie

Postby StealThisCorn » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:06 pm

(This topic began on another, unrelated thread but has been moved here for independent focus.)

LostInTheMovies wrote:I know most people see her as choosing death in the end. I did for a while too but I don't anymore. I think Bob chooses death (for her), because of a choice she makes for something else. I think the significance of the ring throughout the film is tied to acknowledgement/recognition of evil, resistance to the smothering power of Leland, and acceptance rather than avoidance of painful knowledge (usually trauma-related). Cooper (or his good side anyway), who has failed this test himself, tells her not to take it. Teresa is not wearing the ring when she is killed but she is wearing it when she realizes who Leland is. Mike/the Little Man wields it when exposing Bob or showing her the Red Room, a space beyond her suffering. I think death is, at best, a secondary result (if that) of taking the ring and that's because Bob can now ONLY win physically having lost spiritually.


I too have come to a more nuanced interpretation in this latest burst of my Peaks fandom. But it's also hard to wrap my mind around because it really digs deep beyond the shallow, genre "at face value" interpretation. What is the "something else" that you think she chooses, if you could put it into words. What do you mean when you say Cooper has failed that test (aside from the obvious series cliffhanger)? Do you have any theories on why Teresa was given/took the Ring in the first place?

I feel like Teresa's name should be added to this thread header title, since she is indeed one of the women who walked with fire and was connected to Laura right?
Last edited by StealThisCorn on Wed May 13, 2015 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby LostInTheMovies » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:49 pm

StealThisCorn wrote:I too have come to a more nuanced interpretation in this latest burst of my Peaks fandom. But it's also hard to wrap my mind around because it really digs deep beyond the shallow, genre "at face value" interpretation. What is the "something else" that you think she chooses, if you could put it into words.


I think within the world of the film, it's the realization that she is a person with agency, and not just a possession of her father/whatever demons prevail over her. She has learned very early in life that the pleasant surface of things is a facade, but in the final days of her life she learns that the trap of Bob is also an illusion, or at least there is much reality outside of/beyond it. In Between Two Worlds, she says her life was like a circus but then "I cried because I saw what it was and it was beautiful. I was awake."

I believe there is a more mystical/metaphysical significance to this as well - she is attaining a higher level of consciousness in her dreams, visions, and by taking the ring. Personally, I found reading the Upanishads very helpful in articulating or at least alluding to some of this (the passage I used at the end of the ch. 25 video seemed particularly pertinent, describing the four stages of consciousness which do seem to correspond to Laura's journey throughout the film). And my perspective on this was definitely also very strongly influenced by Martha Nochimson, whose Passion of David Lynch and David Lynch Swerves (or "David Lynch Swings" as James calls it ;) ) I highly recommend.

What do you mean when you say Cooper has failed that test (aside from the obvious series cliffhanger)?


I think it has to do with not realizing and fully integrating the good and bad within himself. Like everyone, he has a dark side and when confronted with it in the Lodge - taunted by his failures, intimidated by the unknown, and ultimately literally faced with his doppelganger - he can't deal with it. Martha Nochimson's take is that Lynch is essentially showing/critiquing how Cooper has fallen from his former visionary heights during the first half of the series (she really does not cotton to Frost's interpretation of Coop).

And again, I think it has something to do with higher stages of consciousness, which IS hard to articulate especially as I have very little experience with them. But Lynch essentially seems to be confronting his characters with the greater reality beyond the surface of physical appearances and gauging how they respond. Cooper enters into the Red Room in fear and anxiety (which may be why he enters the Black Lodge instead of the White), on a mission to rescue Annie whereas earlier he experiences it in a dream and takes it as it comes. Perhaps his negativity is "interfering" with the signal that is being broadcast into his psyche so rather than receive a pure transmission from "another place" he himself gets all tangled up on it and distorts/contaminates it? (Although Windom being in there too must also mess things up.) Not sure about that part...

Do you have any theories on why Teresa was given/took the Ring in the first place?


This is a very good question. Because Lynch often operates as if the screen is a canvas and what exists/is important is simply what he shows us. I don't think he is really into backstory so much - stuff like Diane Selwyn's past, or Dorothy Valens' family, is left sort of vague and archetypal. So in that sense, we see the ring when we need to see it to know that Teresa is now linked to a deeper understanding of Leland in particular.

But on the other hand, Lynch does work with narrative conventions which suggest an offscreen world/backstory etc. Teresa has the ring before he shows it to us (indeed, if we pause the DVD we can glimpse it before he probably meant us to see it, for a frame or two) - and anyway there's no reason to believe it just popped onto her finger that moment even if it is concealed beforehand. So what is the in-world/real-world explanation for its appearance?

You know, I'm a bit stumped haha. Especially since Laura receives the ring so dramatically/supernaturally (both times - in her dream and the train car). I'm kind of inclined to think, especially the way it was written originally in the script (without the ring reappearing at the end) that it was just supposed to be Teresa's ring and it took on supernatural/mystical qualities after she realized Leland's identity. But then again, by putting the Owl Cave symbol on there and adding it into the end, it definitely takes on a grander, cosmic significance too.

Hmm. I wonder if it's something Lynch will/would ever want us to know or if he'd rather leave it vague/archetypal so that it COULD be anything. Does he himself have an idea about it, in a real-world sense or is it only significant as a visual metaphor?

This is why Lynch is so frustrating and fascinating. He makes experimental films that double as narrative films and seem to work on both levels even when we can't quite pinpoint HOW...

I feel like Teresa's name should be added to this thread header title, since she is indeed one of the women who walked with fire and was connected to Laura right?


Teresa would definitely make a good addition to this thread. I guess we've just kind of done that!
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby StealThisCorn » Fri May 01, 2015 2:24 pm

So then, in the final version of the film where Teresa's ring has been seemingly elevated to cosmic significance, what does the Ring have to do with representing Laura's recognition that she is a person with agency and her attainment of a higher level of consciousness? The significance of the ring is hard to parse out because of all it's various appearances and references. At some times it seems to represent knowledge or truth which, in Laura's mind, links Teresa's murder to Mike's warning about her father to the Little Man's offer in her dreams to Cooper's warning not to take it and, finally, to her acceptance of it in the train car, her decision to put it on.

But at other times it seems to be "the blue rose", or the supernatural element or some artifact that originates within the world of the Lodge entities and is somehow involved with their operations, which some people think has to do with marking someone or their garmonbozia as property (of Mike?) or that Mike is trying to marry Laura to himself or perhaps Cooper (very cool because in my head canon Cooper and Laura *are* soul mates) or that it marks those who Bob is supposed to kill (but I don't think so because as we've said, Teresa isn't shown with the ring on her hand when Leland kills her). Desmond bends down to pick it up beneath the Chalfont trailer and is never seen again. Philip Jeffries talks about something he found in Seattle at Judy's "and then there they were" and mutters about "The ring...the ring". As soon as Jeffries mentions the ring, Gordon wastes no time in getting Albert out of that room (Cooper probably can't tell him about the Blue Rose either--which implies some kind of established FBI knowledge and investigation about this lore). The Little Man tells Bob that "with this ring, I thee wed" and they laugh evilly. And then, finally, the Little Man tells Cooper that, "Someone else has it now" and we see it on Annie's finger (apparently having been offered/taken it from the pedestal when Windom forced her into the Lodge), before the nurse steals it.

The green Ring is way more difficult to figure out than Diane Selwyn's Blue Box and Key.

LostInTheMovies wrote:Because Lynch often operates as if the screen is a canvas and what exists/is important is simply what he shows us. I don't think he is really into backstory so much


This is so true that I notice it the more I watch his films. His characters have very little backstory given. They exist at singular moments in time consisting of their story arc from first appearance to last. So much so that characters can literally disappear when their importance to the story is over, like Chester Desmond, or Pete Dayton or Rita or even that shot in Blue Velvet where Frank is leaving Ben's place and says, "LET'S FUCK!" and suddenly literally disappears from the room with the sound of a roaring engine. You could almost look at it as cinematographic pragmatism in that he knows these characters aren't real people but characters in service to a "story" (sometimes without much emphasis on linear narrative though) and so the story/film (what we see) itself treats them like the characters they are rather than people. David Lynch is a master at creating some truly interesting and fascinating side characters, like half the cast of Wild At Heart or everybody from the first half of Mulholland Drive (especially the Hit Man) but then just has them do small bit parts or be in the frame or end up being dream/fugue characters who represent something else. That's why I think he is so good at crafting TV pilots like Twin Peaks and what could have been Mulholland Drive because they have really interesting casts of characters that I would watch. But maybe he does need a writer like Mark Frost to flesh those out and insert them into a larger narrative and make them more than just interesting to look at.
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby LostInTheMovies » Fri May 01, 2015 3:02 pm

StealThisCorn wrote:So then, in the final version of the film where Teresa's ring has been seemingly elevated to cosmic significance, what does the Ring have to do with representing Laura's recognition that she is a person with agency and her attainment of a higher level of consciousness? The significance of the ring is hard to parse out because of all it's various appearances and references. At some times it seems to represent knowledge or truth which, in Laura's mind, links Teresa's murder to Mike's warning about her father to the Little Man's offer in her dreams to Cooper's warning not to take it and, finally, to her acceptance of it in the train car, her decision to put it on.

But at other times it seems to be "the blue rose", or the supernatural element or some artifact that originates within the world of the Lodge entities and is somehow involved with their operations, which some people think has to do with marking someone or their garmonbozia as property (of Mike?) or that Mike is trying to marry Laura to himself or perhaps Cooper (very cool because in my head canon Cooper and Laura *are* soul mates) or that it marks those who Bob is supposed to kill (but I don't think so because as we've said, Teresa isn't shown with the ring on her hand when Leland kills her).


Yeah, the ring in FWWM is doing more than any other Lynch motif/icon I can think of. I guess the best and simplest way to put it is, "Teresa's green ring is linked to the discovery of Leland's crimes, and associated with the spirit world (specifically Mike)." Which leaves out so much stuff but those seems to be its core functions.

StealThisCorn wrote:Re: "Because Lynch often operates as if the screen is a canvas and what exists/is important is simply what he shows us. I don't think he is really into backstory so much" This is so true that I notice it the more I watch his films. His characters have very little backstory given. They exist at singular moments in time consisting of their story arc from first appearance to last. So much so that characters can literally disappear when their importance to the story is over, like Chester Desmond, or Pete Dayton or Rita or even that shot in Blue Velvet where Frank is leaving Ben's place and says, "LET'S FUCK!" and suddenly literally disappears from the room with the sound of a roaring engine. You could almost look at it as cinematographic pragmatism in that he knows these characters aren't real people but characters in service to a "story" (sometimes without much emphasis on linear narrative though) and so the story/film (what we see) itself treats them like the characters they are rather than people. David Lynch is a master at creating some truly interesting and fascinating side characters, like half the cast of Wild At Heart or everybody from the first half of Mulholland Drive (especially the Hit Man) but then just has them do small bit parts or be in the frame or end up being dream/fugue characters who represent something else.


This is a really great way of putting it. Perfectly described, in fact. It's not something I really noticed/thought about too much until recently. Even in true-life stories like The Elephant Man and The Straight Story there is something mysterous/unspoken about the characters' histories. It's an especially strong contrast with Mark Frost, who is ALL about backstory. Just in the few works I've seen/read by him - a few episodes of Hill Street Blues, The List of 7, Storyville - it's clear that his characters carry (and often discuss) a distinct personal history. The purpose of the narrative is often to unearth that very history. What we experience onscreen/on-the-page is very much tip of the iceberg, the dramatic focus point of a much larger story.

In that sense even the idea of Twin Peaks having these intricate, hidden webs of intrigue - which people often associate with Lynch - feels much more like a Frost contribution. The moody, fleeting suggestiveness of it feels like Lynch (your point about him being perfectly suited for pilots, which set up without delivering, is right-on) but the working-out of what actually does lie under the surface seems to be Frost's ken (note the title and subject of his upcoming book). The irony being, of course, that when Lynch is FORCED into revelation (episode 14, FWWM, Mulholland Drive's conversion into a feature) he's really, really good at it. But that's also something that has developed over time, and something that is tied to how psychological/personal the revelations of "what's going on" are.

By contrast, look at the crime syndicate in Blue Velvet. It's almost laughably vague/generic/archetypal: Um, hey there's drugs and a corrupt police detective and look someone's hanging out a window. Time for a machine gun fight with cops! It works perfectly in that film because a) the crime story is SO not the point that it could be anything, b) Lynch is working with so many archetypes in the film that it works for the crime stuff to be really half-baked, and c) it's so broadly drawn that it can be suggestive in a way a more specific, detailed noir plotline could not be, and obviously Lynch is all about suggestion.

Yet again this makes me wonder when/how Lynch & Frost charted out their ideas for season 1, and decided who Laura's killer would be. I just have trouble envisioning how Lynch went about it. Speaking of which...

That's why I think he is so good at crafting TV pilots like Twin Peaks and what could have been Mulholland Drive because they have really interesting casts of characters that I would watch. But maybe he does need a writer like Mark Frost to flesh those out and insert them into a larger narrative and make them more than just interesting to look at.


I always liked Mulholland Drive so much as a movie that I couldn't really shed tears over it not being a series, and with Twin Peaks it's always been clear that Lynch had Wild at Heart to distract him during the first season and then lost interest when Laura's story ended, so that seems to explain his extensive absences from that show.

Yet this latest brouhaha with Showtime has really focused my attention on something - perhaps David Lynch is just congentially NOT a showrunner. As you say, television requires precisely that sort of detailed plotting, weaving an ongoing story/planning ahead, and Lynch has never demonstrated this as something he is interested in doing.

I do think he is very underrated as a writer. He's written almost all of his films, half of which are credited only to him (although apparently he had help with early drafts of Dune & Mulholland Drive). Even putting aside adaptations of books and the largely improvised Inland Empire you still have Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive which - albeit in unconventional fashion - tell lucid narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, feature psychologically-compelling character arcs, and move with a sense of dramatic cohesion and flow. But films are complete units in design and execution.

Managing a TV show is something else. Had Twin Peaks gone on, if it had not revealed Laura's killer so soon, if On the Air had continued, if Mulholland Drive had been picked up, I suspect we still would have seen Lynch drift away. I also can't imagine him playing the overseer role (while Frost was really well-suited for) if he isn't actually in the director's chair. Lynch being the producer onset, letting the director call the shots but making sure it's all "up to code"...that just doesn't seem to be how he works. I think for him to actually put his stamp on a series and keep it under control, he would have to be directing it himself.

And if Lynch were ever to direct an entire series I'd think the best scenario would be for it to be like a movie, written/character ahead of time with a starting point and ending point, but with room to experiment (and even change the ending point if necessary). Which is exactly what 2016 is intended to be. So if everything works out with Showtime and Lynch comes back what we are going to see is frankly unlike ANYTHING Lynch has ever done before. A serialized, sprawling multipart story guided by him every step of the way. I'm really curious to see what that will be like/feel like.

Incidentally, if these episodes are each an hour long we can expect it will amount to a little less than half his feature film output over the past nearly 40 years (about a third if we throw in TV episodes and maybe a quarter if we include short films?). That's a pretty remarkable expansion of his filmography. We all knew this effort would be significant no matter what but placed in this light, it's going to be REALLY significant.
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby StealThisCorn » Wed May 06, 2015 1:30 pm

LostInTheMovies wrote:I think within the world of the film, it's the realization that she is a person with agency, and not just a possession of her father/whatever demons prevail over her. She has learned very early in life that the pleasant surface of things is a facade, but in the final days of her life she learns that the trap of Bob is also an illusion, or at least there is much reality outside of/beyond it. In Between Two Worlds, she says her life was like a circus but then "I cried because I saw what it was and it was beautiful. I was awake."

I believe there is a more mystical/metaphysical significance to this as well - she is attaining a higher level of consciousness in her dreams, visions, and by taking the ring.


I can't believe I completely forgot to ask about Annie! Specifically, how do you take that interpretation of the Ring, which for Laura I agree feels very poignant and powerful, and apply it to these other characters who interact with it? Specifically, I had asked about Teresa, which we are probably all stumped by so don't feel bad, but what do you think it means that Annie now has the ring at the end? I mean what does it have to do with *her* realizations or higher consciousness?
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby LostInTheMovies » Wed May 06, 2015 2:01 pm

StealThisCorn wrote:
LostInTheMovies wrote:I think within the world of the film, it's the realization that she is a person with agency, and not just a possession of her father/whatever demons prevail over her. She has learned very early in life that the pleasant surface of things is a facade, but in the final days of her life she learns that the trap of Bob is also an illusion, or at least there is much reality outside of/beyond it. In Between Two Worlds, she says her life was like a circus but then "I cried because I saw what it was and it was beautiful. I was awake."

I believe there is a more mystical/metaphysical significance to this as well - she is attaining a higher level of consciousness in her dreams, visions, and by taking the ring.


I can't believe I completely forgot to ask about Annie! Specifically, how do you take that interpretation of the Ring, which for Laura I agree feels very poignant and powerful, and apply it to these other characters who interact with it? Specifically, I had asked about Teresa, which we are probably all stumped by so don't feel bad, but what do you think it means that Annie now has the ring at the end? I mean what does it have to do with *her* realizations or higher consciousness?


Well, her mind is definitely in "Red Room mode" so I think it's fair to say her consciousness is in "another place" (higher or not is debatable, I guess). More problematic is the nurse, who takes the ring and seems to be thinking "this looks pretty cool on my finger" rather than "holy cow, the cosmos are opening up before me!" haha. But it does correspond to knowledge of Cooper's whereabouts, even if that information doesn't mean anything to her yet. (I'll be surprised if the nurse is just completely dropped in 2016, especially if the ring reappears.)

I think the key thing with Laura is that the ring "seals the deal" so to speak. It's a sign that she is committing herself with Mike, against Bob. In her particular case that entails understanding the limits of Bob's control. And because she's the heroine and Lynch cares about this stuff, that also seems to involve the appearance of the angel and a realization of a glimpse of a deeper truth (which floods her consciousness finally in the Red Room with Cooper). But I'm not sure how/if that function plays out with Teresa, Annie etc. Maybe it's better to say the ring accompanies and facilitates Laura's passage into this state, but it isn't actually the trigger itself?

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