Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Black Lodge...White Lodge.. - The Twin Peaks connection

Well, sooner or later I guess I have to explain the blog name, and I suppose it might as well be now. For those that aren't familiar with Twin Peaks, eccentric director David Lynch's masterful foray into TV-land back in the early 1990's, this will probably be lost on you. (Might as well fast-forward to the next blog, or go watch a YouTube video.) One little corner of the Lynch-world oddity that was Twin Peaks was The Black Lodge. It is an extradimensional place that includes the "Red Room" (aka, 'The Waiting Room' as you can see in logo. The Black Lodge can only be accessed via certain "secret portals", and then in conjunction with the performance of certain "dark deeds", an emotional condition (fear), or a specific time of astrological significance ("....when Jupiter and Saturn meet..."). One of the show's characters with the strongest connection to The Black Lodge was Windom Earle, a renegade FBI agent who became evil and twisted through the study of black magick. Every good drama needs a great villain, and Windom Earle certainly fit the bill of an "evil genius".

As opposed to the Black Lodge, there is also a White Lodge, a place of pure goodness, the polar opposite of The Black Lodge. As Windom Earle relates in a past-tense story in the show's second season:
"Once upon a time, there was a place of great goodness, called the White Lodge. Gentle fawns gamboled there amidst happy, laughing spirits. The sounds of innocence and joy filled the air. And when it rained, it rained sweet nectar that infused one's heart with a desire to live life in truth and beauty. Generally speaking, a ghastly place, reeking of virtue's sour smell. Engorged with the whispered prayers of kneeling mothers, mewling newborns, and fools, young and old, compelled to do good without reason ... But, I am happy to point out that our story does not end in this wretched place of saccharine excess. For there's another place, its opposite..."

We're not much concerned with The White Lodge here. It's enough just to know that it exists. (Maybe somebody can start an 'Annie's White Lodge' blog, or something to that effect, and sell Snuggies and Smurfies.) Earle continues with a description of The Black Lodge:
" A place of almost unimaginable power, chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets. No prayers dare enter this frightful maw. The spirits there care not for good deeds or priestly invocations, they're as like to rip the flesh from your bone as greet you with a happy "good day." And if harnessed, these spirits in this hidden land of unmuffled screams and broken hearts would offer up a power so vast that its bearer might reorder the Earth itself to his liking."

Oooohhh...scary. And just what kind of denizens haunt The Black Lodge? Well, there's BOB, a demonic entity who possesses human beings and causes them to do vile and unspeakable acts. ("He is Bob, eager for fun. He wears a smile. Everybody run!") There is also Mike, the one-armed man. Then we have the dancing dwarf aka The Man From Another Place; a typical weird, enigmatic Lynchian character. Also the Giant...another Lynchian enigma. Others are "visitors"; (the Doppelgangers of) Laura Palmer, her father Leland Palmer, her cousin Maddy Ferguson, Annie Blackburn, Caroline (Windom Earle's wife, murdered by her husband) FBI Agent Dale Cooper and of course, Windom Earle. But the visitors may be shades, or alternate reality versions of the individuals from the "real world". Or are they?

There are many theories about what really goes on in The Black Lodge. Time seems to operate differently. Some see it as a metaphor for the afterlife, Hell, the "world between worlds" and so forth. The final episode's title, Beyond Life And Death, would indicate something more than just a place of evil. There is an unfathomable aspect to the Black Lodge that is not meant to be known. In fact, it may even be sentient, acting through those who pass through it. No one knows its true purpose, and those (like Windom Earle) who try to master it only find themselves a slave to its esoteric scheme. Nefarious? Perhaps...

In the shrouded, clouded world of Theosophy (of which so much has been written about elsewhere and will not be recounted here) there is said to have existed (and still exist) a Great White Brotherhood of supernatural beings of great power who spread their enlightened religious teachings through selected humans. This has sometimes been referred to as The White Lodge. Famous occultists like H.P. Blavatsky, Dion Fortune and Alice Bailey seem to have a connection with the early concepts of The White Lodge. It's ultimate purpose is to free Man spiritually. For every Yin there is a Yang, and to that end was created the concept of The Black Lodge. The Black Lodge stood against everything The White Lodge stood for; its purpose being to enslave man through the domination of its institution. Many 'wayward occultists' from Crowley to Haushofer, and even L. Ron Hubbard have been cited as having Black Lodge associations by White Lodge believers. The fact behind the accusations is dubious at best, more of an analysis of their writings and deeds than proof of any connection. If such a Black Lodge does exist, it would certainly be a mystery cloaked beyond the ability of occult witch hunters to penetrate. Of course, occultists steeped in their world of mysticism where good and evil, heaven and hell spill over into the spiritual are bound to disagree with me. (Yeah...and there are terrorists lurking in the shadows just waiting to strike too...)

As I see it, the concept of a Black Lodge is a metaphor for darkness, the absence of light. A place of secrets and mysteries, as opposed to openness and disclosure. A shadow world that exists alongside the world we know. A place not full of shiny happy people and things, but of strange, eldritch influences that can inspire genius or madness with fantastical or frightening imagination. So in Windhamearl's Black Lodge (purposeful misspelling of the name for obvious copyright reasons), the majority of what is to be found there is from the dark side. Dark music and dark literature. Oh, sure there are some foolish 'innocents' that have found their way into the BL by mistake...or was it by design... I encourage who seek to penetrate its mysteries to visit. One word of warning though, don't mess with THE EYES. The owls wouldn't like that.

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