This is a silly regret, as they all mostly are, but I sometimes wish I kept some kind of archive of the media that held some significance for me in deep lockdown.
One video that would have definitely made the top ten list is one that came out in the middle of the summer of 2020.
It was created by the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park near Tokyo for its re-opening. The video was created to articulate a request for riders of its main attraction roller coaster.
"Please scream inside your heart," they asked the public, as a way to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
This is the promotional video to show how this could be done.
The video shows two stone-faced, suit-wearing, and completely silent executives ride the Fujiyama roller coaster.
I am transfixed because I had not seen anything else that mirrored my current emotional state so perfectly. I mean, admittedly, these two men are trying to make a point. Maybe (probably) they were being paid as well.
But it is almost impossible for me not to reframe this request to repress the desire to scream as a statement to the futility of the act, in the first place.
By that point in lockdown, I, like many of us, was resigned to this way of life, just kind of used to it.
The sheer pointlessness to scream and the total necessity simultaneously in the collective experience of this pandemic to want to so badly, as this perpetual weird plays itself out in a highly mediated form, day in and day out, negotiating every mode of self expression that is possible from the bad, good and the ugly was so pronounced.
The saddest irony being that even though we as a society are wholly justified in this desire to scream ; the moral duty to hold off reigns, yet again, as an offering and a statement that maybe we can care for each other in the way, I think, most of us would like to.
Admittedly, it is so hard to know this as we are also reminded how many people in this shared society we live in do not care and that realization every time a protest about masks or lockdowns is announced...…..well, it’s enough to make you want to scream.
So, I love watching these Japanese men on the roller coaster because they are living how I feel right now.
To squelch this screaming urge, many of us started projects because we could not scream. We had to be strong for others or simply for ourselves.
I had many projects and one was a search for a chair.
One comfortable enough to write in, think in or just be as I watched all the screens in my life reflect back to me a kind of living.
Something that could cradle the aches I harbor from a long ago car accident while also allowing me to be functional.
Dare I say even productive.
This is my dream for the chair.
The pain in my back comes in so many different ways now in this isolated moment.
Sometimes like a low tide at sea or in a series of tiny illegal firework pangs.
When it comes, it stops everything that connects my desire to be with what my body is capable of.
This is a lot of pressure to put on a chair. To make this pain go away.
I give this chair a great premise to resent me for my demand.
Sometimes I dream of having a daybed.
A “fainting chair” as they are sometimes called.
There is a myth that such objects were created to hold women who lost their bearings from having to wear corsets all day but there seems to be no truth to that.
Why perpetuate this myth by wanting one ?
Maybe I am just a bad feminist perpetuating the hysterical.
No, I mean probably.
My chair thinks so too but I just want to take a nap somewhere in-between to ignore the fact that my chair is already judging me before it knows me.
Perpetually adjusting, I long for a chair that encapsulates my existence except for maybe sleeping as I have a bed for that.
I manage my desire to spend all my time in bed writing.
This is not a good habit for my body or my focus.
I wonder if maybe this cocoon activity is another kind of molasses void space.
Whenever I write about something hard, I relive a memory.
I have to take a nap after, to settle all the upturned feelings from the banks of my being.
Maybe my experience of writing in bed is an attempt at having it all but eventually realizing I have been numbed into a coma.
This is kind of how capitalism works. How it wins. Like my body pain.
But I am not really talking about capitalism but more about its affective trace.
But maybe that is really to say that all we are ever talking about is capitalism and its effect.
I mean, spoiler alert. A purchase is on its way.
But I want to frame this more around the making of a home.
Another quest I have been on for several years and have only recently landed at a kind of end, or grand finale for now.
This chair represents the cherry on this particular sundae of capitalism.
For a time, I am in a book club over Zoom where we read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space together.
I love this text for how it embraces the project of putting together a home.
I think often of the line: For the house furnishes us dispersed images and a body of images at the same time.
When the pandemic struck, I found myself very isolated in an upstate NY town I had regrets about leaving the city for.
I felt deeply dispersed, a fragmented self trying to recalibrate but never really being able to hold onto the pieces.
That first summer, I had my astrological birth chart read and the reader told me that I moved to this place to find my heart again.
For some reason, I blamed this mental disconnect on the fact that I had so little furniture and basically lived like a squatter in an apartment I paid rent on but still sat on boxes in.
Now, here I was, staying put as we all have been and I became determined to make a home for the present while the memories of the past and the horrors in the world commingled around my faux domestic imagining that centered around a chair and this desire for peace made this quest all the more urgent.
Bachelard describes the home as our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.
I like to interpret this to mean that this one bedroom I have found myself in during quarantine could be my first universe in contrast with the frenetic and combustible energy that circles around.
I liked to think of it as the embodiment of ‘starting over’.
A concept I have difficulty with, maybe I don’t even believe in the way I don’t “believe” in Santa Claus but I like thinking that my home is where I can draw a line between us (me and my dog) and these complex horrors.
Or at least be a place where I could try to rectify how the idea of a “home” has not often been present to me for many reasons and something I have spent most of my life striving for.
For most of my life, my home insecurity has left me feeling splintered and exhausted from the dwindling and non-existent results from the efforts to find and maintain one.
It is sad to me how the idea of ‘blessings’ (#blessed) has been drained of all meaning by so much overuse so it feels pointless to use this term to describe the grace I feel in having a place when the pandemic struck.
But this is what I felt and still feel despite everything.
This moment of pause offered me an opportunity to focus, not just on ‘making a home’ as a concept but as a very tactile thing. That yes, sometimes operates on the most superficial and consumptive aspects of feeling a kind of well being but that is also what has been the most grounding for me and gave me a little less reason to scream.
This came easily in most rooms. A wide gorgeous kitchen table with space to lay out pages or food and a small table for the bathroom gifted to me.
These were all simple game changers towards a feeling of home.
For a time, it seemed like plants were falling from the sky, too.
But in the case of the chair, things began to teeter close to the desperate. I couldn’t tell if it was me or my options.
My body had melded for several years into a Poang armchair from IKEA until it finally snapped after the last of many moves. It was perfect despite its inevitable short life span.
Now, here I was, in my home, a modern day Goldilocks, journeying from one corner of my apartment from morning till night as I negotiated the avalanche of emotions that COVID struck inside each of our hearts and often finding myself sitting on the floor with epic muscle ache.
Also, I should add, it is not like there were NO CHAIRS in my apartment.
The ergonomic office chair I have is great, actually, but I have a somewhat allergic resistance to sitting at desks for very long periods of time.
So I never sit in it at all.
The kitchen chairs I mention, which were lovingly given to me by a kind farmer I met through Facebook, do their job when I am eating and served as the base of my ambiguity in the early quarantine times.
That said, being in the kitchen at all times made me think about food.
And that was a whole other thing, observing within myself the evolution of living from one meal to the next.
At first, it was kind of cute, as if I was on a weekend trip that never ended.
Eventually, it got dark and I morphed into a kind of lab rat observing the process of my mastication.
The only other option for sitting in the house is in my bed which is fine until it is not.
I mean, how many of us slept fervently in those early days of lockdown ?
Relinquishing the need or ability to be anywhere. I mean, I SLEPT. Like it was my job. It was sometimes magnificent, sometimes luxuriating in a nightmare.
What was real ? What was not ?
I dreamt so much that eventually time evaporated completely.
There was no difference between night or day, sleep or wake. Which meant that when the fear came, post or mid doom scroll on my phone, all that felt true was that the nightmare was happening.
After years of lucid dream training by reminding myself that what was happening wasn’t really happening, I now used the same instinct to step in for myself at moments of panic and admit that yes, this fear is real, but I could still breathe my way out of this moment.
Awake or asleep, I save myself on a daily basis.
I scream inside my heart all the time.
As soon as stores were able to open again, my quest for the chair continued, deluding myself with the idea that somehow this meant I had some control over my life.
The Goodwill store closest to me happens to be in the same lot as my grocery store of choice and I spent months looking at its shuttered doors longingly.
Finally, it opened back up and I found it, my chair.
An armchair in bright salmon that weirdly is light enough for me to carry out of the store on my own.
It is as if it is made of styrofoam and it only costs $25.
The price tag allows me to rationalize its not total perfection.
It is definitely a step higher than the beanbag armchair that I have been living with for several months, but it is still not totally comfortable. It does not hold me and even as I try to lie to myself that it can be what I want, I know deep down it cannot.
It is the object form of so many of my past failed relationships.
I am sold on its visual stunningness. It will look good on Zoom, I tell myself.
(I hate thinking this but I do think this. )
My weakness for the aesthetic has always been a downfall, and this chair is another testament. But I have to give myself a break because in the long run, the chair serves no real harm.
It will not hurt my bank account or my feelings, so I will bring it home.
As I carry my conquest on my back, I see a gold box of DVDs in the glass encasement surrounding the register.
I look more closely to see that it is a full box set of David Lynch’s television masterpiece Twin Peaks.
My heart thrills like the way David Lynch’s character Gordon Cole falls in love with Shelly at first sight.
This find feels so kismetic as I have become quite addicted to watching David Lynch’s YouTube channel.
It has existed for a while but COVID has upped his production to three ongoing series over the past nine months.
One series is called the Weather Report.
On it, he reports back what is happening in the sky of Los Angeles (where he lives) from his bunker-like office/studio each morning.
Sometimes he sits in darkness and wears sunglasses which are appropriate. Other times the sun shines quite bright.
The glare splinters over him making only space for his sunglasses and voice.
Occasionally a palm tree fills the frame in the upper left-hand corner which is locationally apt. He announces the date and then will say something like, “Can you believe it ? It's Friday. Again !”
I feel the same way about seeing Friday again too.
Every week, still surprised it is here again and so are we.
He comments on the state of the sky, announcing the temperature like a train conductor.
65 degrees fahrenheit !
Sometimes he will refer to a song he is thinking about.
He remarks on its parallel to the tone of the day.
During the November week of the 2020 US election, the songs from his playlist include: George Harrison from The Beatles singing “Here Comes the Sun” ,“Instant Karma” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band (a particularly apt selection the day after Trump loses the election), Somewhere Over the Rainbow and It’s a Wonderful World all enter Lynch’s personal mental jukebox.
These last two selections strike me, the dance of hope and irony, a classic Lynchian juxtaposition in relation to such a gray time of nebulous existence and abstractions of doom.
In the face of that, he offers a soundtrack of hope in the same way that he always closes these segments by wishing everyone a wonderful day.
Another Lynch show on his YouTube channel is called, Today’s Number is……
In this one, he shakes up a jar full of bingo balls with numbers on them.
He pulls one out and announces it as the number for a lottery that will never happen. Or maybe the lottery is happening and we just refuse to see it without naming an obvious prize.
He always presents the jar full of white plastic balls to the camera. Always clearly stating there are exactly ten. He counts them off as if introducing them in an opening sequence. They are the stars of the show. Then he reaches his hand into the jar and states, “Swirl the numbers” for those who might not be able to see what he is doing but also as a declarative act.
Almost a metaphorical performance of the act we do each day as we step out of bed because this is all we are ever doing.
Swirling the numbers in our subconscious jar and hoping for the best.
Hoping that maybe today is going to be the day you/we/I hit the metaphorical jackpot.
He picks a number, announces it and then presents it to the camera.
So? Did you win ? Did you lose ?
The silence of the moment after the presentation begs the question.
A black slate soon follows with another question in white text:
WHAT WILL TOMORROW’S NUMBER BE ?
This is the impasse where this ritualistic act and document leaves us, the viewer, with each day uploaded as a reminder of the banks of a great void we may not even be aware we live on.
And here it is, staring back at you from the screen.
Maybe it is just David Lynch, or any cult of personality you shackle your revere.
Or maybe it is the tarot, the I Ching, your horoscope that is your spiritual kink, whatever. It doesn’t really matter who chooses the number for the day.
The important thing is the question, “What are you going to do with the result ?
This number. This day. Can you make something of this ?
This game, a reflective act, always returns us to this question: that only we can decide what winning and losing means and maybe the beauty in that is a reminder, which is also a silence to remember to wonder….Is the reaching for tomorrow more pressing than the now ?
The last series is my favorite and it is called What I am Working On.
It is exactly what it describes but also not.
Each episode is titled by the name of a project that Lynch is working on.
Because David has projects too.
There is the Wood sink whose drain confronts the fact that “water is weird” and then by the next video, the sink is installed. There is a built-in urinal underneath.
These endless Dad projects continue with their persistent reveals and I find it so comforting to just listen to him perform his productivity.
Another video. David makes an iPhone camera holder which gives me hope that making films is not off the table for him.
Then, another tiny sculpture that will eventually be rewired to be a lamp.
This sculpture with its mother mold made of “paper towel impregnated with wood glue”.
He announces this fact and then proclaims how much he loves paper towels.
He just LOVES all kinds of paper and reminds the viewer that paper is made from wood.
He is completely giddy by the cycle of it all and it is bizarrely intoxicating to witness how his joy culminates from the everyday.
David explains in his book of fragmented observation, Catching the Big Fish when he rhapsodizes : Wood is one of the greatest materials to work with. There are soft woods and hard woods and they all have their own beauty when you are working with them. When I saw through a piece of freshly cut pine, the smell of it just sends me right to heaven.
The way he talks about wood sounds like falling in love and I watch David Lynch varnish his paint drawer as he talks about the sun coming out.
And I vaguely remember how that feels: tenderness.
How blissfully silent he is as the birds sing and his rag brushes over his paint drawer.
This is the only feeling I want to know in life.
It is how I want to enter a painting or film or piece of music.
Also, it is not lost on me that David is not entirely a solitary figure in this scene.
His baby daughter waddles around the studio as well.
Often, the camera cuts to her face as he speaks to wonder.
And I have to hold the reality that this vision of wonder is an elastic one dictated by an access that transcends what it means to be an artist or even a human sometimes.
And I could write a whole other essay about this narrative and its nuance but this is not that essay and I am not sad.
I am just looking at this fact as it happens and I only bring this up to say that, as a woman who occasionally finds influence through male artists, I am often reminded in my reverence that sometimes they are not speaking to me no matter how hard I want to listen.
Their realities can never fully be mine for a cavalcade of reasons and that reality lives there for me in the baby’s face while I also watch him paint and also in the episode that features the mystery jar he so lovingly polishes.
The same jar that is the center of the almighty lottery to nowhere.
A moment for the container of the bingo balls that we, the audience, potentially weigh so much meaning into.
A meta act that reminds us of the objectological narrative.
He always closes these segments with a wave and the acknowledgement,“ Have a great day and let me know what you are working on !”
Sometimes he just says, “Keep on working !”.
I don’t see a price tag on the DVD box set at the Goodwill which gives me some pause but I ask the clerk how much it is.
She unlocks the glass case in which it is held and flips it over to tell me it is 75 cents. There is no way for me to contain my excitement. This woman looks at me. Confused and I understand.
Joy is a rare commodity these days and seemingly strange to waste on such an arcane object like a box of DVDS.
I want to tell her what this TV show represents. To me, to many.
She doesn’t care, but my teenage self is alive again. She is LIVING, re-awakened by the beacon of this ghostly light through the television.
On Thursday and then Saturday nights at 9pm, I remember how I shut off all the other lights in the room to take in this narrative while sitting in total and utter darkness.
Illuminating in various refractions all that remains unsaid and unseen.
Even though I witnessed it first hand, it is still hard for me to believe that this show actually aired on regular television, not cable, before midnight.
For all the world to see.
That a television show could become such a ritual of practice and resurrection to my teenage self, one who is not so different from the self who remains and simply knows more.
Still then, I projected my attraction for danger into Laura Palmer, the murdered prom queen with secrets revealed to me.
She became a kind of avatar.
A candle of possibility determined to burn and also a victim acting against a will she doesn’t seem to know she ever had.
Throughout the years, I have re-watched the series at least a hundred times.
This time in pandemic, a new understanding came into play that extended beyond the myopia of youth.
With some understanding of the tenets of Buddhism at my disposal, the musings of Agent Cooper started to open up worlds of meaning beyond what was initially written off as a quirk as he speaks so directly to the Buddha’s path as a type of journey, confronting the dark to find the light.
Now as I watch, I am isolated in a seemingly perfect yet creepy and disassociated from reality upstate NY town during a global pandemic.
Another version of Twin Peaks.
Lynch’s world sinks in and wraps its mouth around me.
I am not just watching the journey, I am in it as I spend months re-introducing myself over and over to empty eyed locals.
Lynch likens his attraction to the small town as being interested in what it means to live in one place and have absolutely everything.
I vacillate on this idea of having.
What is everything ? Or having ?
The tarot reader told me I came here to fix my heart and I would argue that what she really meant to say was to grow a new heart as I feel like by the time I arrived here and did not turn around, I was simply a body with a open chest cavity that no one bothered to comment on.
Where my heart once was, there was now a hole where I had inverted earlier repressions.
When it was not safe to scream, I ate my heart away and now this is what was left.
As I meet more people, I sense more and more that everyone around me in this new place seems to be escaping some dark pastness of one kind or another.
More open cavities than I expected. This is why no one says anything.
So, this time Twin Peaks is not quirky. But relatable.
I see reality in this show.
The myopic blurriness of the American consciousness, or lack thereof, clarified into crystalline Pandora’s Box proportions.
Deeper than binaries of good and evil or the complexity in between.
The sex and the drugs, how ecstasy and destruction can be one and the same.
Bob (the dark spirit) feeds on the fear and the pleasures. Much like the government. He feeds on us like a parasite.
Yesterday, white supremacists stormed the Capitol and the police let it happen.
Enabling the childish impetuses that blame lockdown as the slow relinquishment of some idea of control that is more the problem than it can ever admit.
Accepting we never had control teeters between truth and a great improbability that anything like this insurrection could ever happen in our lifetime until it does.
Until it appears on our screens.
This virus is what is out of control and there are things that could have been done to manage that.
The tidal wave of legislation and the inevitable results of that mishandling is what we find ourselves immersed in.
I relate more and more to the agoraphobic orchid boy in the second season of Twin Peaks as I acquire more plants and sign on to IG less.
“Sometimes we don’t want to be us.” he says to Donna as he tries to explain to her why he can’t go outside.
Our planet is setting itself on fire in literally every way possible as the evil of men ravages us into an abyss of isolation.
As the spectacle rages on, I feel more like the orchid boy.
I think about how billionaires have gotten richer in this pandemic.
It is all too gross to think about so eventually you just refuse until you realize you simply can’t refuse because we are equally investors in one way or another in these people.
This double bind is the interiority of the alienation.
Another aspect of the void.
I have also been thinking a lot about another film that I was obsessed with as a teenager called Natural Born Killers by Oliver Stone.
The film tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.
In high school, one of my boyfriends worked in the town movie theater and we skipped school endlessly to watch this movie over and over.
I remember the country was in a rage about this film and its glorification of violence and all I can think as I rewatch the opening scene where Juliette Lewis beats a man to death in a diner to L7’s “Shitlist” is that this felt like justice to teenaged me.
There was so much to be angry about that I didn’t even know where to begin.
Admittedly, I have to re-watch the whole film to really confirm that I believe that still, and truth be told, I really can’t bring myself to because after the past five years of the televised nightmare of the last presidency, I am a raw nerve.
I also wonder if potentially this film was a practice run for the media assault that was to come.
I remember how daytime talk shows used to relish in the spectacle of white supremacy.
It was something too extreme for our country to believe existed but somehow appropriate enough to broadcast at 3pm on weekday afternoons on regular television.
I am thinking in particular about how talk show hosts would give a stage to KKK families and their tiny Aryan children.
Sometimes I think about how these children are potentially the ones who grew up to be rioters on the internet. On the Capitol.
I think about the collective disassociation, or the so called “‘avant garde” affront that rejecting the medium of television could somehow erase the truths of our world no matter how hard one theorized.
I think about how that makes those who watch and those who don’t equally accountable.
So, now when I re-watch Twin Peaks in this moment of chaos, I bring all this past into the current and and feel amazed how blatantly it illuminates the struggle of the United States to maintain its soul back onto us.
Asking us, the town of Twin Peaks and Agent Cooper repetitively, what are you going to do about it ?
And that made people mad, I guess. Maybe it was just weird or maybe it was just true ?
All in all, too much for us, unable to disbelieve the lies we have been told about what this country represents.
So Twin Peaks as a portrait of America, the perpetual apology by Agent Cooper and Truman towards the Native American Hawk for the injustices towards his people balanced with the blatant condescension pointed towards him by others they meet.
Despite it all, Hawk‘s insight is always crucial in strategizing plans of action.
The whole phase of hotel/brothel owner Ben Horne’s nervous breakdown where he immerses himself in Civil War re-enactments as a form of escapism reminding us of another dark part of our country’s history.
The angelic Major Briggs who saw too much in his investigation into UFOS and the government’s involvement.
All these narratives wind back to one and the same.
Everyone (the men) goes crazy and anything female will probably have to die as a result.
Anything female brushing up against death as a way of life.
As a way of living this, this is who we are.
This take on gender even gets troubled somewhat by the arrival of Cooper’s former partner Dennis who arrives on the case in her new life as Denise, played by pre-X Files David Duchovney, who vacillates across gender to serve as both prey and pawn to the serial killer they are trying to get.
They all exist in one reality to compensate for these subtexts of an existence that is mostly unknown. Some more ashamed to admit or too disassociated to even know the dislocation of their reality but all asking the same question in different ways.
People talk but no one really listens.
Yet the people of Twin Peaks give their hearts away on the regular. Mostly to Laura Palmer. Despite the inevitability of her betrayal.
Agent Cooper reminds his crew at one point that the Hindis believe that love is a ladder to heaven and floats past their incredulous looks as he proselytizes on seeing beyond fear, seeing the world with love while packing for a fly fishing afternoon.
The writer Margaret Atwood once said, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” and I think about this often as I rewatch Twin Peaks this time.