Sunday, January 14, 2007

who killed laura palmer?

Last night, we were out in the hall, passing around a can of duster, inhaling it. I went with Gabriel into his apartment to pee in his bathroom. While we were there, we started to hear screaming, loud screaming from the hallway we had just left. I couldn't understand what some girl could possibly be screaming so loud about, and was concerned that the other people that lived in that hall were going to be annoyed by the screaming. I went out into the hall to see that this girl, pretty and blonde, was screaming, really pissed, screaming because some other girl in the hallway had a bit sadistically told her who killed Laura Palmer. Apparently the blonde girl had the tapes in her bag and was excited about watching the show, and she was upset, really unreasonably upset and screaming her head off. The mean girl told her that she, the screaming girl, even looked like Laura Palmer. And it was true, this screaming girl was Laura Palmer. Just as Laura Palmer was too innocent looking and so had to brutalize herself and be brutalized by others, so too did this other girl have to tell the blonde girl the killer.

What made this thing even weirder for me, it already being a very weird scene, messed up as I was on whiskey and inhalants, was that I am reading a very detailed, very amazingly written chapter in The Shape of Things to Come about Laura Palmer and Twin Peaks. I had just read this passage earlier in the day:

Twin Peaks made Laura Palmer famous as a corpse; Fire Walk With Me, which is about her discovery that the demon who has been raping her since she was twelve is her father, is the greatest teen-jeopardy movie ever made, and even as she dies at her father's hands Sheryl Lee is more alive than anyone else in the picture. The movie is driven by as heedless a performance as any in the history of film, but in its most desperate moment all that's in question is the expression on the face of a high-school girl sitting down to dinner in her family's nice house, on their quiet, groomed street, as her father asks if she's washed her hands. But like a window blown off its hinges in a storm, her face opens onto a national landscape, where promises are made for the pleasure to be found in their betrayal, where it is only the betrayal of a promise that proves the promise was worth making, where innocence is killed because it is an affront to the rhythms of the nation's story and cannot be tolerated. (149-150)

I kept on wondering what life I was living today as I read more of this chapter about Laura Palmer today on the subway, the symmetries between some of the passages in the book, some of the scenes discussed, some of these scenes of last night, and my own self-destructive behavior as of late too close for comfort. Laura Palmer "knows that it's her innocence that attracts her father, and so she tries to kill it. Donna walks into Laura's house to find her friend very dressed up, drinking and smoking. 'Where are you going? 'Nowhere fast, and you're not coming.'"(171)

And what it is I am trying to kill by partying so hard so often, I don't know. I am not even sure that I am trying to kill something, but Greil Marcus's analysis of this series and Laura Palmer's behavior struck me as really spot on, and I looked for parallels in my own life. If I am Laura Palmer, leading a respectable life to my co-workers, and getting totally obliterated every single night, what is the purpose? And the purpose for me is clear: it is the distinction between the two, that one is slightly boring, and so the fun that needs to be had needs to be that much more fun to compensate for those hours of boringness lived - that really I am just trying to live and get as much out of it as possible.

And all of this was in my mind last night, layers upon layers of meanings and past associations, all of it blurry because of the whiskey and duster, but layers which probably would not have even been glimpsed at all otherwise. I get these hints of things in these moments that I wish I could grasp and sometimes feel like I am close to being able to. And this girl in the hall, innocent seeming, screaming her head off, was recalled today, was relived as I read about Laura Palmer screaming.

Laura Palmer's "scream is so big, so all-consuming, that it's less that the scream is part of the girl you're watching than that she is part of the scream. It exists whether she does or not. It's a force that finds its host," (178). Perhaps my discomfort, my shock, at the screaming last night lied in this reason, that the scream seemed part of something else, some other scene, some other body.

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