In episode 27 of Twin Peaks, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) reveals a secret to the former FBI agent Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh): “There is a time . . . if Jupiter and Saturn meet . . . they will receive you.” And, indeed, during the time of the so called Great Conjunction, or celestial passing of these two planets, Twin Peaks’ Glastonbury Grove opened its gates to the mysterious Black and White Lodges, welcoming everyone with a sense of “love and fear,” as Major Briggs too professed, to the world of “they”—supernatural creatures whose lives are governed by different notions of time and space. “Historically, when Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct, large shifts occur in power and fortune,” FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) explains to policeman Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) in episode 28, after concluding that the symbols resembling 4 and H, engraved in an enigmatic cave map [page 175] that they found, are actually symbols of Jupiter and Saturn and are somehow connected to their search for the deranged Earle as well as for the demons responsible for the death of the town’s homecoming queen, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). In the season 2 finale, both Earle and Cooper manage to enter this powerful territory; the former by dragging along Cooper’s beloved girlfriend Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) and the latter by following them into the mapped spot. What follows is perhaps the most intense 30 minutes in television history: in order to save Annie from the ill wind of the Black Lodge, Dale’s Self is split, causing his evil doppelgänger to escape into the outside world, while Earle’s impure soul is annihilated, vanishing forever.
Apart from being the key to the Lodge’s entrance, motifs of Jupiter and Saturn can be found throughout the Twin Peaks universe. In the Waiting Room of the Black Lodge, introduced already in season 1, there is an art deco lamp in the shape of Saturn, and in Twin Peaks: The Return, the floor of the presumable White Lodge, home to The Fireman (Carel Struycken) and Señorita Dido (Joy Nash), consists of a pattern that resembles Jupiter’s atmosphere. It is likely that there is a certain correlation between these motifs and Briggs’ revelation: Saturn seems to be one of the symbols of the Black Lodge, and Jupiter of the White Lodge. However, the appearance of the two celestial giants is not exclusive to the otherworldly realm. In the latest installment of the series, Saturn is referred to in several other places: the brand of the car that Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) drove to his grandmother’s is clearly Saturn, and an illustrated ringed circle, resembling the shape of the planet, can be seen at Ben Horne’s (Richard Beymer) office. Meanwhile, Jupiter is referenced in the book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (Jennifer Lynch, 1992) where it states that Laura’s beloved cat Jupiter was hit by a car and killed when she was a child—an accident that parallels another incident that occurred when Laura was a teenager under the influence of drugs, suggesting some kind of “parallel universe” moment for the series’ heroine.
The use of astrological symbols doesn’t seem odd when it [page 176] comes to the work of the series’ creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. They have been keen to employ a rich array of occult, spiritual, and mythological symbols in their Twin Peaks universe: three seasons of the series, Lynch’s film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), and several other audio and literary works, out of which the aforementioned Diary of Laura Palmer and Frost’s books The Secret History of Twin Peaks (2016) and The Final Dossier (2017) particularly stand out. Their attraction to mystical phenomena can be closely linked to their personal interests—both are drawn to Eastern practices and philosophies (Lynch is a well-known advocate and practitioner of Transcendental Meditation) and demonstrate a general inclination towards the poetics of Surrealism. Namely, Surrealists, whether members of the artistic movement or authors following in the tradition, have always been fascinated by the irrational or mysterious realms of human existence—dreams, the unconscious, magic, spirituality. A central preoccupation is crossing the boundaries imposed by societal conventions or their own mind.1
According to Western astrology, Jupiter and Saturn can be loosely described as planets with opposing influences. The former works as the Great Benefactor, bringing optimism, growth and higher knowledge, while the latter is sometimes referred to as the Great Malefic, governing melancholy, restraint, and disciplined learning based on revisions of past, often unpleasant, experiences. That is to say, “Jupiter is expansive in its influence; Saturn contractive. Conjunction suggests a state of concentration, intensification. What we have indicated here is something potentially explosive,” as Cooper clarifies to Andy concerning their astrological relationship in episode 28.
However, this affiliation has not remained stable throughout history. This article will provide a brief overview of the planets’ symbolism, from Ancient and Medieval readings of the stars, linked with mythology, philosophy, astronomy and alchemy, to modern interpretations that don’t look at celestial bodies in an overly deterministic way. Years ago, because of Jupiter and Saturn’s [page 177] seemingly opposing characteristics, their conjunction commonly represented as something of which one should be afraid. Today, their meeting is usually read as an opportunity for personal and collective improvement within structured conditions. In other words, their nature is considered dual but not mutually exclusive, and can be worked with on an individual level.
Connections between the planets and personal growth have been thoroughly researched by alchemists. The growth-oriented side of this ancient art has been rehabilitated in the 20th century by psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his followers, and there is evidence that Lynch and Frost are aware of this, especially in the series’ The Return. Some scholars, like Franck Boulègue and Gisela Fleischer, have written on this subject, but I will delve more fully into the psychoanalytic interpretation of some of the Twin Peaks motifs, focusing on the correlation between Jupiter and Saturn’s significance in relation to some characters’ struggles with their evil doppelgängers, which are often described in Jungian archetypal terms (Shadow Self, Dweller on the Threshold) and present some sort of turning point in the evolution of one’s psyche.
Additionally, the symbolism of these planets can be traced in the show’s formal characteristics. The artists’ particular audiovisual exploration of time and space, in which long and repetitive takes (Saturn) oppose the immersive and dynamic sequences (Jupiter), emphasize the duration and affective quality of the piece, which will be explored later in this article.
Jupiter and Saturn’s Symbolism from Antiquity to Modern Times
Today’s view of the astrological meanings of Jupiter and Saturn’s stems from a long history of interpretations that combine astronomical knowledge with mythological elements. However, these interpretations have been shaped by different social contexts and don’t represent a consistent system of thought. Since Jupiter and Saturn are planets named after Roman gods whose conception was inspired by Greek deities, I will begin by identifying traces of the planets’ meanings arising in Ancient Greece. [page 178]
The earliest connections between Greek gods and certain celestial bodies likely resulted from Mesopotamian, especially Babylonian, astronomy, which ascribed godlike qualities to the stars and their positions in the night sky in order to read them as omens (Klibansky et al. 136). Following Eastern beliefs, Greeks named planets after Zeus, ruler of gods and god of sky and thunder, and Kronos (Cronos, Cronus), an agricultural deity and Titan who ruled the universe, consuming his children until his son Zeus escaped his clutches, overthrew him, and imprisoned him in Tartarus, the deep abyss and dungeon of the Titans (134-135).2 As the cultural influence of the ancient Greeks spread, stories of gods and goddesses, as well as their knowledge of the stars, found their way to the Roman Empire. Zeus became Jupiter and Kronos Saturn, and Latin names for constellations started entering common astronomical and astrological language. Combined versions of Greek and Roman myths have been ascribed to the stars in the sky.
Still, Greek research of planetary behavior had mostly been mathematical up until the Hellenistic period (323–31 BCE), established after Alexander the Great’s invasion of African and Asian territories (Klibansky et al. 137). Fusion between cultures intensified, enriching one another with new thought systems. African and Eastern arts and sciences advanced that of the Greeks and vice versa. Various mythological and mystic religious elements infiltrated certain ideas and beliefs on a larger scale, which ultimately changed the way that people looked at stars. Following the Babylonians, astrologers from Ptolemaic Egypt “mathematicized the concept of a correspondence between the macrocosm (‘larger order,’ or universe) and the microcosm (‘smaller order,’ or man) as interpreted in terms of Platonic or Aristotelian theories concerning the Earth as the centre of the planetary system. They conceived of the ecliptic (the apparent orbital circle of the Sun) as being divided into 12 equal parts, or zodiacal signs,” belonging to four different elements and ruled by different planets (Gilbert and Pingree). In other words, those astrologers conceived astrological charts similar to those used [page 179] today. Also, many Hellenistic religions and schools of thought contributed to the conceptual advancement of astrology. Of them, Stoic philosophy seems to have helped the development of astrology the most, by emphasizing the role of Moira, or universal reason or fate, in animal and human life, and by secularizing myths “so that [the gods’] characteristics and destinies were no longer contrasted with the properties which men attributed to the stars as natural phenomena” (Klibansky et al. 139).
Although by 31 BCE, Hellenistic Greece had been overtaken by the Roman Empire, Greek and Eastern astronomers and astrologers of the time remained experts in their fields. When interpreting celestial symbolism, they started connecting “categories of men and substances deriving from the myth with others deriving from purely natural conceptions” (143). Astronomical and physical, as well as mythical, features of Jupiter and Saturn became analogous to “types of nature and destiny” (144). For example, since Jupiter was the Roman king of gods, as well as the largest planet and the second brightest in the sky, surpassed only by Venus, he was correlated with royalty (136-137). According to myth, “[h]e was a god of light, a protector during defeat, and the giver of victory. He was Jupiter Imperator, the supreme general; Jupiter Invictus, the unconquered; and lastly, Jupiter Triumphator” (Wasson, “Jupiter”), which led astrologers to believe that the planet had a fortunate and highly beneficial influence. On the other hand, since Saturn was the most distant planet known to ancient astronomers, it was perceived as distant, dark, and cold. Its journey in orbit is slow, and so persons born under its influence were seen as indolent; Saturn ended up being connected with heavy natural materials like lead as well (Klibansky et al. 142). All of this combined with notions of Saturn as a complex and rather dual god. In accordance with Greek Kronos, who was known as a despotic Titan, imprisoned in the deepest spheres of the universe, planet Saturn was perceived as the ruler of the lower depths of the sky, or immum coeli, from where he “saw the world from the opposite perspective” (141). Because he was father of the gods, astrologers [page 180] granted him domain over fatherhood, wisdom, and old men, but he was also associated with agriculture, harvest, and natural cycles, as well as with Chronos, the god of linear time. These traits were emphasized in the Roman Empire, where he was viewed as a more positive figure, one who rewards slow decision-making, patience, duration, and perseverance. Overall, though, Jupiter was regarded as mostly beneficial while Saturn was a potentially challenging planet, granting good fortune or problems depending on their aspects.
One of the most influential ancient schools of thoughts that defied overly simplistic views of the planets was Neoplatonism, which integrated celestial bodies in its conceptual system without approaching them in a deterministic manner. Although it is a complex philosophy, consisting of many different forms of thought, it predominantly presumed the existence of vertical layers of being, arranged in hierarchical descending order, from the highest level, or the One, to the lowest or atomic individuation of spatiotemporal world (Armstrong and Blumenthal). Layers of the material world were governed by different planets due to their positions between the transcendental and the lowest levels of material being (Klibansky et al. 151). According to Plotinus, Kronos/Saturn represents the highest form of intellect, which gives birth to soul, represented by Zeus/Jupiter (153). Both planets were regarded as positive, and as Macrobius noted, important points in the soul’s journey back to the sphere of Oneness (155). When the soul travels through the sphere of Saturn, it “develops the faculty of reasoned thought and understanding,” and when it travels through the sphere of Jupiter “it acquires the power to act” (156). This perspective gained influence, and in the modern age, versions infiltrate many alternative and occultist beliefs and practices.
Arab astrologers, led by the influential Abū Maʿshar (Albumasar), adopted some Neoplatonic ideas about the journey of the soul combined with the Greek theory of the four humors: for the first time, planets were clearly linked to the Greek theory of [page 181] four temperaments, or personality types, and also served as some sort of force that ignites the journey of the soul. Jupiter was linked with a sanguine, or active and lighthearted, disposition and Saturn to melancholic, or deep and heavy, tendencies (130-133). Upon the onset of the Middle Ages, Arabic texts became the only remnants of astrological and astronomical wisdom accessible to intellectuals, and only after the 12th and 13th centuries, due to the fact that most ancient texts on the subject were written in Greek and disappeared from practical use after the dawn of Latin as the dominant language for scholarly writing. However, the most common astrological readings, if not discarded by Christians as heresy, were overly deterministic and oftentimes read in an extremely oppositional way. The planets were mostly perceived as the harbingers of good or bad (Greene 3), mirroring Christian dualism between God and Satan, heaven and hell, etc. Among celestial events, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 1345 was especially ominous, as it occurred three years before the bubonic plague killed an estimated one-third of the European population. More complex views of planets came about after the translation of the Hellenistic originals in the 15th and 16th centuries, and “[t]hese two centuries . . . witnessed the fullest flowering of astrology in western Europe, frequently in conjunction with Neoplatonism and Hermetism” (Gilbert and Pingree). However, “[b]y the 17th century . . . with the displacement of the Earth from the centre of the universe in the new astronomy of Copernicus (1473–1543), Galileo (1564–1642), and Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) and with the rise of the new mechanistic physics of Descartes (1596–1650) and Newton (1643–1727)—astrology lost its intellectual viability and became increasingly recognized as scientifically untenable” (Gilbert and Pingree).
Jupiter and Saturn Today
In the 20th century, attitudes toward astrology began to change, despite its rejection by the scientific community. “[T]raditional forms of astrology” held that there were ‘good’ and [page 182] ‘bad’ planets,” according to astrologer and psychologist Liz Greene, but modern astrology is moving away from that notion to embrace its Neoplatonist and esoteric roots (3). Instead of viewing the stars as bringers of destiny, astrology today has mostly become a “tool for self-realization and self-actualization” (3). As Greene says, “astrology is not a map of one’s fixed destiny, but a potential map of the unfolding of the authentic, higher self” (8).
Especially important changes occurred in the perception of Saturn, which was traditionally perceived as malefic, despite the dual nature highlighted in Greek astro-mythology. Greene argues that the Christianization of astrology made these dualities especially radical: “[b]efore Christianity, evil was not quite so evil, and it might be said that in Christianizing astrology, we have lost many of the subtle paradoxes which this rich symbolic system contains” (9–10). According to Greene, “Saturn symbolizes a psychic process as well as a quality or kind of experience. He is not merely representative of pain, restriction and discipline; he is also a symbol of the psychic process, natural to all human beings, by which an individual may utilize the experience of pain, restriction and discipline as a means for greater consciousness and fulfillment” (10). Much of modern astrology has been influenced by modern psychology, especially Jungian psychoanalysis, which puts great emphasis on the concept of Self. According to Greene,
Psychology has demonstrated that there is within the individual psyche a motive of impulsion towards completeness. The state of wholeness is symbolized by what is called the archetype of the Self. The symbol does not suggest perfection where only the “good” aspects of human nature are incorporated but instead implies completeness, where every human quality has its place and is contained in harmonious way within the whole. (10)
In other words, Saturn is not the Lord of Karma, he is rather “Dweller of the Threshold, the keeper of the keys to the gate,” and…through him alone” a person “may achieve eventual freedom [page 183] through self-understanding” (11). The term “Dweller on the Threshold” is familiar to Twin Peaks aficionados as, in episode 19, while explaining the native meaning of the Lodges, Deputy Hawk associates this term with the “shadow-self” encountered there: “There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’…But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.” Given the aforementioned readings of Saturn, one can easily imagine why this planet has been associated with the forces of the Black Lodge.3 However, according to Deputy Hawk’s understanding of Nez Perce mythology, Black and White Lodges aren’t necessary separate places, with the oppositional nature of their “bad” or “good” influences.
Greene’s further interpretation of Saturnian influence also seems applicable to Hawk’s notions about the Lodges:
The nature of this conflict between conscious and unconscious, dark and light, is neither good nor evil: it is necessary for growth because out of it comes eventual integration and greater consciousness. The duality which a man finds in himself below the threshold of consciousness is usually very disturbing for we are likely to forget that everything standing in the light casts a dark shadow. (13-14)
Shadows are a major motif in the world of Twin Peaks. Doppelgängers are one’s Shadow Self. The closing song of part 2 of The Return, performed by the Chromatics, is called “Shadow.” And through shadow, one reaches new levels of self-understanding, like Laura Palmer at the end of the Fire Walk with Me and Cooper at the end of the third season. In other words, by integrating their Shadow Selves, both expanded their consciousness and reached new levels of freedom.
According to Greene, Saturn assists in acknowledging the [page 184] many sides to the self, which ultimately helps the individual on the path of self-fulfillment:
If the individual makes no effort to expand his consciousness so that he understands the nature of his total unfoldment and can begin to cooperate with it, then it will seem that he is the pawn of fate. . . . He can only earn his freedom by learning about himself. . . . And nothing stimulates a man into this kind of exploration faster than frustration, which is the gift of Saturn. (12)
Among Saturnian “gifts” Greene mentions “repeated delays, disappointments, and some fears” but ultimately considers them as “opportunities” for psychological growth (11). However, when it comes to growth, the planet that rules over it is surely Jupiter. If Jupiter joins forces with Saturn, a tremendous amount of personal progress can be made: “Jupiter’s function in a psychological sense seems to be connected with intuition and the faculty of the creative imagination or visualization,” argues Greene (122).
When Jupiter forms an aspect with Saturn, especially if it forms a conjunction or opposition, there is a choice to be made “between the faith which stems from an intuitive recognition of purpose in life, and the fear which stems from identification with and consequent control by the forces of one’s environment” (121). Likewise, in Twin Peaks, love and fear are the keys for opening the Lodges’ gates. The main plot of The Return can be viewed as Cooper’s struggle between moving forward and integrating with his Self or completely succumbing to the destructive forces symbolized by his doppelgänger, Mr. C. When Jupiter and Saturn are combined in one’s birth chart or activated by transit, the individual is given the “opportunity to integrate” opposing “viewpoints and understand them as one so that he can live with his good and his evil and comprehend the necessity and function of them both” (Greene 125). Gisela Fleischer argues that Mr. C’s enigmatic code, “The cow jumped over the moon,” somehow correlates to the celestial coordinates related to the time when one of the Lodge portals opens—namely that something significant will happen [page 185] when the Moon is going to be in the zodiac sign of Taurus. In other words, what viewers witness in The Return is Cooper passing through the Black and White Lodge in order to reach new level of self-betterment. And it is not a coincidence that Saturn, as a painful starting point, and Jupiter, as a divine catalyst, are associated with those realms.
Alchemy and Saturn
Saturn had particular significance to medieval alchemists in their quest to transmute base materials to gold, as Saturn is the planet associated with lead, the first stage of transmutation; Jupiter and its correlating matter, tin, were usually associated with the second stage of the seven- or twelve-stage process. Carl Jung wrote about alchemy as “a way of coming closer to the spirit of his approach to the unconscious,” as Nathan Schwartz-Salant explains: “the psyche, as Jung would be the first to insist, cannot ever be adequately described in a scientific way” (14). “Alchemical symbolism provided Jung with his basic ideas of the individuation process and the associated awareness that here was a process in the unconscious, indeed one that had a goal . . . [of creating] new structures from old ones, with the self, the alchemical lapis [“‘the metal which had certain affinities with both the lower and higher substances’” (9)], being the ultimate creation” (14). Jung’s coniunctio is a “union between conscious and unconscious, between people, between animus and anima, or the contra sexual components of the psyche” (15) and his “concept of the shadow . . . the repressed, inferior side of the ego, and . . . the dark side of the self and collective evil . . . corresponds to the nigredo [the first step of transmutation, wherein the base materials are cleansed by being cooked down to a black substance], which includes not only the imagery of the shadow and the chthonic side of life, but also the shadow’s mysterious purpose in dissolving old structures so that the new ones can be created” (Schwartz-Salant 15). For Jung, transmuting Saturn’s base metal to gold through exposure to fire represented a “unitary process” (13) on a path to enlightenment [page 186] and the Self.
In Twin Peaks, MIKE draws a parallel between mystical fire, shadows, and different states of consciousness and invokes the importance of “dream worlds” when he chants: “Through the darkness of future’s past, the magician longs to see. / One chants out between two worlds / Fire Walk with Me.” It can also be argued that many doppelgängers and tulpas in The Return represent forms of Jungian archetypal shadows, which upon their transformation or destruction contribute to the creation of new forms of being. The best example of this change is the unification of Dale Cooper, who transforms into a new and more balanced personality after integrating himself with his doppelgänger, his “shadow self,” suggesting that some sort of coniunctio took place during their final encounter. Many fans have also argued that a ritualistic union takes place in The Return when the unified entity of Cooper/Richard has intercourse with Diane/Linda while searching for the missing Laura Palmer; furthermore, gold itself, the object of alchemy, is a recurring motif in The Return: Dr. Amp’s gold shovel, Señorita Dido’s golden orb, even the promotional posters for the series depict Laura and Cooper over a golden background.
Cooper can be viewed as a character on a journey to self-discovery, repeatedly transforming himself, just like the alchemical lapis. When one is “experiencing the conjunction and resulting nigredo over and over again,” more stable states can be reached (Schwartz-Salant 35). In Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Jack Parsons, a well-known scientist and occultist whose research involved the “exploration of alchemical elixirs,” explains that “[a]lchemy isn’t only about ‘chemistry’ or turning base metals to gold. . . . You see, alchemy actually speaks to internal processes, and a radical revolution in our spiritual development; transforming the ‘base metal’ of primitive man into the ‘gold’ of an enlightened soul” (245).
“The stars turn and a time presents itself”
In part 2 of The Return, one sentence particularly stands out, especially because Lynch and Frost decided to make it the title of [page 187] the episode—”The stars turn and a time presents itself,” says the Log Lady to Hawk while clairvoyantly trying to warn him about future events. To put it simply, she has pinpointed the significant correlation between star alignment and time. And one already knows that when Jupiter and Saturn meet, Lodges open their gates. However, the very notion of a time—presented in this context—seems quite intriguing.
Time is a central aspect of The Return, Mark Frost asserts; Twin Peaks is
not just an exercise in nostalgia, certainly not for us; it’s an exercise in engaging with one of the most powerful themes in all of art, which is the ruthless passage of time. To engage with a set of characters after this much time has passed is a great opportunity to work with that whole set of concerns and circumstances. . . . We’re all trapped in time and we’re all going to die. . . . We’re all traveling along this conveyor belt that is relentlessly moving us toward this very certain outcome. (qtd. in Idato)
But if time presents itself when the stars turn, why do the Lodges function mostly as timeless worlds? In them, characters age or don’t age, speak in reverse and “evolve” in manners physically inexplicable to human race.
To Jung, lapis or self operates within “a ‘third realm’ between space-time and atemporal worlds” (Schwartz-Salant 36). In other words, alchemical transmutation and the reaching of goals take place in the “inland empire” of one’s psyche, where notions of time distort and differ in their variety. The Ancient Greeks discerned between the aforementioned Kronos and Chronos—the first being the god of cyclic time, the god of seasons and harvest, and the latter representing measurable, linear time, the one that is constantly moving forward, from the beginning of life until death. Both merged together at some point, and the Roman Saturn embodied the two sets of traits: the planet of Saturn symbolically denotes some passage of time. Along with Jupiter, which expands everything it touches, it forms an astrological basis for one’s [page 188] temporal experience of the world.
These astrological notions share certain parallels with Lynch and Frost’s cinematic language. For example, Saturn is a planet of recurrences; under his rule, certain events may happen again and again until some lesson is learned. The world of Twin Peaks is all about returns and repetitions: for example, Maddy (Sheryl Lee) is killed in a way similar to her cousin Laura while the Giant (Carel Struycken), a Lodge entity, tells Cooper, “It is happening again.” Also memorable are moments such as Cooper’s doppelgänger asking the enigmatic question “How’s Annie?” and Waldo the Bird imitating Laura’s last words. Various duplications are embedded in the very fabric of the episodes of Twin Peaks that Lynch directed. Leland dances with Maddy in episode 3 and kills her in episode 15 by smashing her into the wall and smearing her blood over her face, just like he danced with Laura’s framed photograph, accidentally broke it, and smeared his blood over her image. In episode 9, Maddy sees blood on the carpet, which we later find out is a premonition of her own death. In The Return, many scenes have been conceived in a similar manner: the interplay between Cooper and Laura/Carrie, in which we see her whispering something to him, recreates the dream sequence from episode 3 of the original series. There are scenes like the ones in which we see the drugged mother reciting “1-1-9” with no meaning suggested. In part 9, Johnny Horne aimlessly runs through the house and hits the wall in a way that resembles the scene in which Cooper’s doppelgänger suddenly hits his head on the mirror. There is a clear link between Lynch’s Fire Walk with Me and The Return through reuse of specific shots, like the ones in which we can see an electrical pole from the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Twin Peaks, the sequence in which Philipp Jeffries (David Bowie) reappears at the FBI Philadelphia office, or the scene of the accident where the little boy (Hunter Sanchez) is run over by Richard Horne, which takes place at the same crossroads where MIKE (Al Strobel) tries to warn Laura that BOB is her father.
Saturn is also a planet that symbolizes the time and patience [page 189] that a person requires to overcome certain difficulties. Lynch certainly toys with viewers’ patience, using several extremely long takes that do not serve conventional narrative purposes; one such scene is in part 7, when a Roadhouse employee sweeps the floor for much longer than expected. However, scenes like this serve as a rhythmic counterpart to the fast-paced sequences—more suitable to the domain of Jupiter, which accelerates what it touches—like those in part 8 of the aftermath of the atomic explosion. “Silence and dynamism” is the name of the latest Polish exhibition of Lynch’s paintings, which corresponds with the astrological natures of the celestial giants and the narratives unfolding throughout The Return. There are changes in dynamic elements of its fabric, and in this unfolding, viewers must wait, in a very Saturnian manner, for the course of action to proceed while their minds are inspired to expand with Jupiterian images and sounds.
Inspired by Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze associates such contraction and expansion with notions of the actual and virtual, respectively. To Deleuze, humans experience the world by registering the actual, or an objective action, on top of which they create “seeds” and “crystals” of different virtual images in their minds. In the Deleuzian world, the past, present, and future coexist at the same time, and time is not a straightforward concept. Transposed into film theory, these ideas are especially poignant in films that challenge realistic conventions. He emphasizes the importance of the so-called crystal image, in which one can sense time’s duration as such:
What constitutes the crystal-image is the most fundamental operation of time: since the past is constituted not after the present that it was but at the same time, time has to split itself in two at each moment as present and past, which differ from each other in nature, or, what amounts to the same thing, it has to split the present in two heterogenous directions, one of which is launched towards the future while the other falls into the past. . . . The crystal-image was not time, but we see [page 190] time in crystal. (Deleuze 81)
Deleuze highlights another related notion: “We see in the crystal the perpetual foundation of time, non-chronological time, Cronos not Chronos. . . . The visionary, the seer, is the one who sees in the crystal, and what he sees is the gushing of time as dividing in two, as splitting” (81). If cinema can illustrate the nature of duration and of time in which a person or persons constantly experiences the split between future and past, then Lynch and Frost have found the way to perfect that in their work, a split suggested by motifs of Jupiter and Saturn. “Is it future or is it past?” asks Philip Gerard/MIKE in The Return’s part 1, a question further complicated in the series finale when Cooper/Richard asks “What year is this?”.
Moreover, this split in the sense of time allows us to experience many alternate timelines and “incompossible presents.” The nature of time is always actual and virtual, real and imaginary, objective and subjective, and its structure is similar to circuits, returns, and cycles. Deleuze compares these cycles to two animals that are, as it happens, especially important to the universe of Twin Peaks — the horse (a white horse like one can find in the Black Lodge or Laura’s pony Troy) and the bird (“The owls are not what they seem”):
The crystal-image is as much a matter of sound as it is optical, and Félix Guattari was right to define the crystal of time as being a ‘ritornello’ par excellence. Or, perhaps, the melodic ritornello is only a musical component which contrasts and is mixed with another, rhythmic component: the gallop. The horse and the bird would be two great figures, one of which carries away and speeds up the other, but the other which is reborn from itself up to the final destruction of extinction (in many dances, an accelerated gallop comes at the conclusion of figures of rounds. (92)
In Deleuze’s vision of time, there is a simultaneity and coexistence of different temporal dimensions. And it’s not something [page 191] psychologically perceived, but more of a cosmic rule. In other words, even if Twin Peaks presents the psychological trajectories of several main characters (Cooper in The Return, Laura in Fire Walk with Me), what this fictional universe is able to illustrate, in Deleuzian terms, is the very idea of time as some sort of ever-spinning collective world-memory that doesn’t necessarily have to be true or false.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn presented itself as an important plot device during the original series run: a meeting of these planets opened a portal to the Black and White Lodges, and the art deco lampshade in the shape of Saturn provided some clues about association of the Black Lodge with Saturnian forces, while in The Return, there is an indication that the White Lodge is connected to Jupiterian forces. One can find many references to planets scattered throughout the body of Twin Peaks; the superficial “reason” behind these references may be Lynch and Frost’s love for occultism, mysticism, and mystery, but if one looks for underlying formal and content devices in the show, deeper connections between the planets as symbols and Twin Peaks become clear. According to their sometimes conflicting astro-mythological meaning, predating the Hellenistic period, Jupiter has been viewed as a planet that brings luck, expansion, and enlightenment, while Saturn continuously forces one to look at one’s Shadow Self; this process has been compared by psychoanalysts, most notably Carl Jung, to stages of alchemical transformation, and indeed, significant plotlines in Fire Walk with Me and The Return can be read as Jungian psychological journeys of transmutation of the self. Deleuze’s theory considers time as duration, and as philosophical and cosmic principle. Time contracts and expands, just like astrological meanings of Saturn and Jupiter suggest, and is experienced as a multiverse of past, present, and future outcomes, returns, and possibilities. One can see these celestial motifs as a reflection of the dual natures present in Lynch and Frost’s work: interplay between light and dark, good and evil, but as dual forces that govern characters’ lives rather than the [page 192] Judeo-Christian binary. And the ones who struggle to overcome their shadows by facing them when Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction are the ones who move the narration forward, until time is up and the show is over.
The author wishes to thank Thomas Dennis, whose proofreading skills aided in the completion of this article.
1. For more on connections between Lynch and Frost’s work and Surrealism, see Karla Lončar, “Surrealism and Twin Peaks: The Origin of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Great Work.” Desistfilm, desistfilm.com.
2. During Antiquity, Kronos was also equated with Chronos, god of linear time, though it is not certain whether this developed on purpose or because of the similarities of their names (Klibansky et al. 133).
3. For further reading, see Franck Boulègue, “Saturn, that Old Devil.” Unwrapping the Plastic, 13 Apr. 2017.
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