The City of Absurdity Papers & Essayes
The Detective in 'Twin Peaks'  by Andreas Blassmann

2. The Detective and the Supernatural

"Let's consider who it was that dreamed it all ...it must
have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my
dream, of course but then I was part of his dream, too!"

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass


Knox clearly states that "all supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course" and that "no accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition that proves to be right" (Knox, 200-201). This doctrine has been well established in the history of the detective story and is also introduced in Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", when C. Auguste Dupin observes that "neither of us believe in prenatural events ... The doers of the deed were material, and escaped materially" (Poe, 78). Stories of 'ratiocination' henceforth rely mainly on the assumption that the fictional world in which the murder takes place can be neatly controlled and manipulated through the workings of the detective's mind.

In TP dreams, visions and finally the liminal contact with supernatural forces will lead the detective to a successful solution of the murder case. With the introduction of Cooper's dream in episode three TP reverses all of the rules governing the formula of the classical detective story, but also the common behavioral patterns of the classical detective. From now on we are on a severely metaphysical plane. After methods inquiring chance and obliqueness we are introduced to a intuitive technique that relies exclusively on the subconscious. Hence, the detective becomes part of his own investigative world, i.e. Cooper participates in his own mind game. It is in his dream where Cooper starts to willingly lose rational control. It has been hinted at in Chapter one that Cooper is a specialist in crossing boundaries. We will see that this specialty does not merely refer to ordinary geographical borders, but also to the separation between the inner and the outer, time and space, the human and the non-human.

Cooper's contact with the 'other' in dreams and visions will be examined in this chapter. The dream scene not only violates the essential rule of avoiding supernatural forces, it also breaks the code of the classical detective story that the psyche and inside of the detective shall not be touched, an unwritten law that one already saw threatened in Cooper's oblique employment of intuition and emotion.

Psychoanalysis plays, of course, an important part in the process of decoding the dream. I will thus ponder the manifest and latent aspects of psychoanalysis, mainly under the perspective of the female vs. the male element. The classical detective regards the dead female as an object of his investigation. Agent Cooper seems to stick to this pattern initially. However, as we have seen in the formulaic and social analysis of TP in chapter one, the Cooper character tries to break out of given behavioral patterns and clichés. It is essential for Cooper's upcoming development (in the second season) to compare and contrast the classical and the postmodern detective's attitude towards the female element. I will briefly examine Cooper's initial role as a conventional murder case investigator in the tradition of the classical detective, using the example of C. Auguste Dupin in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" as a comparison once more.

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© Mike Hartmann
mhartman@mail.uni-freiburg.de