Below is something that I know has fallen somewhat out of fashion. As David Lynch’s popularity is again on the upswing, Lynch "scholarship" is now equally .. ahem... frowned upon. This was not always the case, I remember in Wrapped in Plastic, the fan magazine that was put out after TWIN PEAKS first aired, lots of articles were put together discussing theories, interpretations, ideas about what the show meant. Though I understand why -- interpretations make appreciating Lynch's movies more exclusive and implies an intellectual response to a movie is as important as a visceral response -- I decided to proceed with this write up regardless because, quite simply, all movies should be talked about and discussed, most especially David Lynch’s. And the intent here is not to displace any other ideas.
Please be advised if you have not seen MULHOLLAND DRIVE, then do not read this. Watch MULHOLLAND DRIVE and watch it with a fresh perspective.
Likewise, if the reader has not seen TWIN PEAKS, then a lot of this will not make sense. While I tried to keep this fairly spoiler free with respect to TWIN PEAKS, I refer to TWIN PEAKS so often that seeing TWIN PEAKS for the first time after reading this could be a tainted experience.
Because Lynch's body of work is as self-referential as a body of work can be, LOST HIGHWAY and INLAND EMPIRE are also referenced, as they are what is mostly considered to be the first part and third part of Lynch's Los Angeles trilogy.
And, again likewise, if you, dear reader, are attracted to Lynch movies to enjoy the rapture of descending into a rabbit hole and finding yourself in a never-ending maze of unanswered questions, then again, please do not read this. I will, to the best of my ability, with a mixture of my own instinct and research into a very influential text, be answering questions.
The main purpose here is not to provide a solution to a puzzle, but to see the movie as a text, and then provide explication notes to the text, in an informal conversational tone.
And The Magician in MULHOLLAND DRIVE can make a sound of a trumpet with just a gesture because he knows it’s all a tape, and knows that tape by heart.
Besides 7, another important number in MULHOLLAND DRIVE is 108. Buddhists use a mala for chanting a mantra during meditation, and there are 108 beads on a mala. There are also 108 defilements of Buddha. Brain Entrainment enthusiasts will know that a binaural beat oscillating at 108hz relates to “Total Knowing,” a state of consciousness wherein all the life energy trapped in our corporeal bodies returns to the universe, and in that moment the true nature of the universe is revealed to us. At precisely 108 minutes into the movie, The Magician crosses his arms, locks eyes with Betty and she starts shaking. This is her system failure. If the dreamplace was a holodeck on The Enterprise, it has reached system failure and is about to go offline. Another movie where something important happens in connection with the number 108 is PULP FICTION. Butch wakes up at the 1:08 mark in the movie.
One of the things Lynch likes to do is accompany a major shift in consciousness with a song. Pete turns back into Fred during This Mortal Coil’s version of “Song of the Siren.” “Polish Poem” accompanies the final scenes of INLAND EMPIRE. The Giant visits Cooper in the Road House during “The World Spins” by Julee Cruise. Etc. In MULHOLLAND DRIVE there is, of course, “Cryin’” sung by The Crying Lady of Los Angeles, Rebekah Del Rio. A stunning earth shattering moment.
And then, just like that, Betty and Rita go back to Havenhurst, Betty is effectively already disappearing as they walk through the courtyard you can only hear one set of steps. There’s nothing else now that can happen in the dreamplace, so I want to sum up where we are with respect to three characters passing through various stages of Bardo Thodol.
According to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, there really are only two outcomes. It’s very simple. Nirvana (The White Lodge) or re-incarnation. The text can give good advice on how to avoid re-incarnation and navigate your way to Nirvana, but at the end of the day, that’s the only two outcomes.