I once spent an hour on LSD with hundreds of different-sized BOBs, from the house-sized to the almost microscopic. He's not too bad when you get to know him.
Hope that doesn't spoil his mystique any.
@ Mr Jackpots:
My view of the series was certainly altered by part 8. I’ve explained this in more detail below.
I don’t mind if I’m misunderstanding your inside-out characterisation idea and how it might explain at least some of The Return’s “shoddiness”. It’s been a long wait for a key to unlock this series and this is the nearest I’ve got.
“I really think "shoddy" is just the wrong word for this. It too strongly connotes indifference to effect.”
Look at the examples I’ve listed and you’ll see pretend indifference to effect is fundamental to many of them. That’s part of the real beauty of “shoddiness”.
A definition of “shoddiness”, again: ‘features that might appear involuntary, incompetent and retrogressive but that are in fact meant to achieve an affect otherwise unobtainable and that advances the artform in some way’). And just as “shoddiness” is being used as shorthand, we probably need the same for your proposal. IOC?
Sorry if you or others have already posted the following ideas elsewhere (they do seem to follow logically from your proposal). Once again, they’re just guesses, reaches. God knows what’s really happening with this series.
It’s preferable that the “shoddiness”/anti-narrative be explained by some inventive approach to characterisation than by more abstract stuff like the wasteland proposal discussed above, and especially even more conceptual stuff involving electricity, atomic particles, or whatever. In fact, those earlier mentions of Shakespeare and Joyce may have been more relevant than they appeared, as those two were also adopting techniques that at first appeared “shoddy”/retrogressive, such as garbled grammar in soliloquies or stream of consciousness, in order to give the audience a more direct and realistic portrayal of characters’ subjectivity. A similar kind of breakthrough may well make TP’s “shoddiness” worth risking.
To recap, Dougie’s relationship to Janey at present is that of an infant son to his mother. IOC may therefore account for us hearing an unlikely amount of scolding from her, in that this is how the ‘infant’ Dougie views her, as a scolding (although loving) mother. That Dougie’s relationship with his son seems to be that of a younger sibling may also be relevant.
So here are some elements of “shoddiness”/anti-narrative in the Dougie bits that IOC may explain.
1. Glacial pacing and dead air
An underexplored subject in fiction is the way that children’s experience of time is so radically different to that of adults. Researchers have found that those under the age of five experience time between three and five times more slowly than adults. It so happens that I asked the show’s admirers here and elsewhere if they felt the shovels scenes and Dougie’s scenes in the casino, limousine and office should actually be longer, which led to general chats about the editing of his scenes. My feeling was that they were between three and five times too long.
You can see where this is going. The three-to-five figure doesn’t necessarily matter, but it might be that IOC explains why the Dougie scenes seem much longer than necessary: to convey his subjective ‘infantile’ experience of them, which would be glacially slower than an adult’s. This would also account for the abundance of dead air and the quietness in general. Due to the slower experience of time and perhaps other factors too (see below) dead air is a more prominent feature of infancy than of adulthood.
This is how reality is experienced by infants, as a series of disparate impressions in the present moment. It’s only as we age and mature that we learn to connect each new impression to others from the past into some kind of pattern. Or put another way, only as we age do we unlearn how to appreciate each present-moment impression for its own sake without compulsively connecting it to past impressions and larger patterns. Dougie’s infantile state, then, is much closer than ours to that meditative state so valued by David Lynch. Anyone who’s ever tried to meditate, to return to Dougie-style infancy, knows that it can be boring and frustrating if we don’t approach it right.
3. The lack of suspension of disbelief
This may be largely irrelevant if all we have access to is Dougie’s infant outlook (another sentence I never thought I’d type). Janey appears
as a scold through Dougie’s infant eyes, but what she’s “actually doing in reality” is inaccessible to us and therefore irrelevant, and so audience suspension of disbelief in the world beyond Dougie’s subjectivity becomes irrelevant too. There is no belief or immersion in an ‘objective’ Twin Peaks world to be had here, according to IOC. (“It's the story of a psyche, being told through the language of dream and intuition”). This is pure subjectivity, and an infant’s at that. It’s also a feature of IOC that, if accurate, is a pretty Big Fish. Making suspension of disbelief obsolete: that sounds like a “shoddy” breakthrough.
This won’t be satisfactory, of course, if we can’t suspend disbelief that we’re actually seeing/experiencing the inner life of Dougie. But this may be easier if IOC helps overcome...
4. The lack of emotional connection to the central character
Understanding some of the above does make Dougie’s experience more emotionally affecting, if we can see how IOC helps/forces us to identify with it.
These instances of “shoddiness” are far less evident in part 8, in which Dougie is completely absent, further strengthening the case for IOC. I needed that one highly polished episode to prove, like the floorsweeping scene in reverse, that the “shoddiness” elsewhere was deliberate. Once this became clear the question could switch from “Is this shoddy or not?” to “Yes, deliberately so, so let’s try to find out why.” [Enter counterpaul in his cravat, pale and crosseyed from too much Finnegans Wake
But some “shoddiness” has still not been explained by IOC.
1. Some of the dialogue.
Infants do not perceive Oscar Wilde-style wit and sharpness, true, but that really feels a reach.
2. Some of the acting.
3. All the “shoddiness” when Dougie isn’t present. E.g. an infant’s slower experience of time seems immaterial to the glacial shovels and floorsweeping scenes if Dougie wasn’t there. And why are so many older women Dougie’s never met also patronising scolds?
Hard to see anything explaining all this beyond the entire show, the Dougie scenes and all the rest, really unfolding inside one person’s mind, presumably Dale Cooper’s. Are the non-Dougie scenes perhaps Coop’s memories-cum-hallucinations, a jumbling together of what’s “actually” happening to Dougie with Coop’s memories of Twin Peaks, his former job, and so on? So Sheriff Truman’s humiliations by his wife are really an imagined composite of Janey’s perceived scoldings and Coop’s memories of the Twin Peaks police dept. (or something)? This would help account for all those recurring chimes and echoes throughout the seemingly separate storythreads. It also brings us close to Lynch’s favourite film The Wizard of Oz and “We live inside a dream.”
Incidentally, before the premiere a Guardian poster kept insisting that the first two seasons had taken place entirely in Coop’s mind. That wasn’t you, was it, counterpaul?
If this is all too speculative, then thankfully we may have a straightforward way of testing IOC. If as the series progresses and Dougie hopefully ages fast, much of the “shoddiness” above starts to fall away – the pacing speeds up, things start to connect more, etc – then IOC will appear more and more persuasive.
The question would still remain, of course. Was it worth it?
Lynch on Trump, mid-2018: "He could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history."