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

2.3. The Giant Vision / Freedom from Fear

An "instability of Cooper's physicality" (Nochimson, 149) becomes crucial at the beginning of TP's second pilot (episode nine). Cooper lies bleeding on the floor, after a gunshot had hit him before the summer break (episode eight). Being shot, Cooper experiences another form of border crossing; this time it takes the form of a vision20. The wounding of the body leads to contact with the spiritual world. This implies danger, of course, as it is proceeded by pain. However, the physical endangering of the detective, as we are familiar with from various detective narratives, becomes peripheral and leads instead to another violation of the detective story's convention. The physical penetration leads to a spiritual opening of the detective and

although male detectives have been physically battered before if not in the 'cozy' detective stories of Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes then in such stories as Raymond Chandler's still, rarely has this opening of the body's barrier led to contact with the spirit world. (Wilcox, WIP 22)

The detective's logical thinking has to be put on hiatus, as if someone would press the 'pause' button of conventional television detection. The opening sequence of TP's second pilot seems to stretch into an infinity of narrational dead air. However, the Cooper character needs this temporal space in order to gain knowledge and to physically experience the liminal contact. The inner quietude and meditative silence of his Tibetan method finds its corollary in the appearance of the Giant, whose enigmatic language links him to Cooper's Red Room dream. The Giant's messages will help the serial detective to keep the investigation going and to strengthen and confirm his belief in the importance of psychic transmittance.

This is definitely a disruption, not only of the classical detective story's rules, but also of a conventional Film and TV detective's character:

Television's asexual, cerebral Holmesian is even more drastically disembodied...the detective postures as a detached, virtually fleshless site of cleansing. (Nochimson, 145)

After his subconscious merging with the dead female victim, Cooper commits one more transgression of detectional rules. Not only does he seek help from another dimension, he also experiences this encounter in a state of physical pain. However, with the statement that 'being shot is not that bad, as long as you can keep the fear from your mind' (Lavery, 9.3), Cooper alludes to another element of his mind-body concept: the 'Freedom from Fear'. As Cooper manages to be free from fear he is rewarded by an encounter with the friendly Giant who will eventually help Cooper to solve the murder mystery:

The vulnerability of the body is here portrayed as an advantage for Coop not one that we would care to see pressed beyond the point of no return, but an opportunity to look at reality from an altered perspective (153)21.

Just like the Red Room dream, the Giant vision equips Cooper with all the knowledge he needs, yet he takes narrative time to get to the solution. The series rarely gives Cooper a chance to indulge into a narrative vacuum, like in his Giant vision, although such moments would be essential for Cooper's methods to unfold and ripen. Cooper's joys, as well as his pain, seem to ask for much more time than there is available in the medium of the television series.

Cooper's reaction to his bodily pain is unconventional, and his meditative encounter with the Giant can be read as a comforting outcome of positive male and female energies merging.22 However, apparently Cooper denies his vision at first. He reacts, like a more conventional detective figure would, suspicious and he doubts the reality of this encounter. As in his dreams, Cooper experiences the otherworldly stratum merely for few instances, unconventional moments that appear to be interesting, but also perplexing. Cooper's own bewilderment points to the more conventional development that the character will take. Instead of following the direction that has been outset for the new detective, Cooper more and more refrains from the path of the uncommon ZEN detective hero and is forced back into more conventional genre patterns.

The question that TP poses at the beginning of season two (with the Giant's appearance) is, whether Cooper can completely trust the other side of the supernatural, or whether there should still be a maintenance of rationality, as we are presented in characters like Truman or Albert Rosenfield. Following Nochimson's distinction between the male and the female we are, again, faced with the dualistic competition between the irrational, 'feminine' realm of the supernatural and the rational, patriarchal world of the male detective. Cooper himself does not seem to be sure about a finite decision for one of the competing spheres of rational order and supernatural chaos.

Scott Pollard reads Cooper's reaction to his visions as telling for his general behavioral pattern, as "Cooper is never part of the terrain he navigates, for his allegiance is to a discourse which would remake that terrain into its own image" (Pollard, 301). In his complete confidence and believe in middle class existence, Pollard argues, Cooper constantly has to maintain a distance to the supernatural plane, "always returning unquestioningly to the real (that is, normal) world and abandoning all that exists beyond its borders"(ibid.). It seems that Cooper is only able to completely use his gift as a mind-body detective in certain magic moments, as in episode three (the Red Room dream), episode nine (the Giant vision), or in episode seventeen, where he will finally be enabled to solve the murder mystery with the help of his psychic methods, but furthermore with the supernatural element. It appears as though Cooper still has a general tendency towards the male detective, despite that fact that he willingly and openly tries to embrace the 'other' side.

Having read Cooper's supernatural and subconscious experience mainly with a psychoanalytical approach, I will put greater emphasis on formulaic comparison and narrative development in the following. A return to the formulaic and narrative approach will help to understand Cooper's decreasing role as a detective, a process which begins with the solution of the murder mystery. I will pick up the psychological approach again in chapter four.

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20 "Not all dreams are created equal, as Major Briggs reveals, when he distinguishes the dream state ('a mere sorting and cataloging of the day's events by the subconscious') from true vision ('the mind revealing itself to itself'). (Lavery, 9.18)

21 According to Nochimson the vulnerability which causes a vision can be acclaimed to Cooper's feminine side, which is contrasted with the cliché of the TP sheriff department busting into his hotel room far too late and in a highly stereotypical manner that suggests parody of conventional male behavior in TV's cop & crime shows: "In comparison with the subconscious phallic power of the Giant there is something diminished, foolish and lovable in this conventional rescue" (Nochimson, 153 ). The parodied male power can be read as a response to conventional, patriarchal patterns.

22 Nochimson argues that the positive phallic energy of the Giant combined with the labial element of Laura in the Red Room help Cooper to find the murderer in the physical, literal sphere of TP.

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