Sunday, February 16, 2014

Watching The Detectives Part 2: Form and Void

Revisit Part 1 here.


"People out here, it's like they don't even know the outside world exists.  Might as well be living on the moon."
"Ask you something?  Are you Christian?"


"No."

"Well then what do you got that cross up there in your apartment?"
"That's a form of meditation."
"How's that."
"I contemplate the moment in the Garden, the idea of allowing your own crucifixion."
"But you're not a Christian.  So what do you believe?"
"I believe people shouldn't talk about this shit at work."




"I tell what I have seen and what I believe; and whoever shall say that I have not seen what I have seen, I now tear off his head.  For I am an unpardonable Brute, and it will be thus until Time is no longer Time.  Neither Heaven nor Hell, if they exist, can do anything against this brutality which they have imposed on me, perhaps so that I may serve them….Who knows?  
In any case, in order to lacerate me.

What exists, I see with certainty.  What does not exist, I shall create, if I must."

Antonin Artaud





HBO's True Detective premiered on January 12, 2014, 42 days before the 25th anniversary of Laura Palmer's death on February 24th, 1989.  This is appropriate because True Detective works like the magical child of David Lynch's strange and mystifying masterpiece.  And just like Twin Peaks, everything that happens in True Detective takes place within a dream.  A nightmare.

The mystery before us then is, whose dream is it?

history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake
James Joyce

why should I live in history, huh? Fuck, I don't want to know anything anymore.
This is a world where nothing is solved.  Someone once told me, "Time is a flat circle.
Everything we've ever done or will do we're gonna do over and over and over again."   
Rustin Cohle

in eternity, where there is no time, nothing can grow.  Nothing can become.
Nothing changes.
So death created time to grow the things that it would kill and you are reborn but into the same life that you've always been born into.  I mean, how many times have we had this conversation, detectives? Well, who knows? When you can't remember your lives, you can't change your lives, and that is the terrible and the secret fate of all life.  You're trapped by that nightmare you keep waking up into.    Rustin Cohle

In 1995, a young woman is found murdered, and two CID homicide detectives are called in to investigate a crime scene that suggests ritualistic intent.  The case of Dora Kelly Lange is officially opened.

Our first clue that we are in fact in the world of the dream is that the case of D. Kelly Lange is reopened 17 years later.  This not only mirrors the 17 years it took James Joyce to write his epic book of dreams Finnegans Wake, it also mirrors the structure of the book, as the final sentence on the last exhausting page of FW does not bring closure, it simply reopens.

Coincidence?  It doesn't matter right now, it's a clue, and at this point you take what you can get.

Our second clue is embedded in the title of the first episode,  "The Long Bright Dark".  This is a pretty decent description of a dream.  It also includes the last name of our victim, as "Lange" is German for "long".  "The Lange Bright Dark", maybe this is simply Lange's dream (maybe TP was Laura's dream?).  If I was murdered, I would hope that my life warranted a thorough investigation, and that brave individuals would risk their lives to bring my killer to justice.  Let's look a little closer before we close this case.

Our next clue is the spiral symbol painted on the body of the deceased.


Grand Guignol

Where else have we seen that symbol?





*Remember, we are investigating a dream here, and dreams follow a fucked up logic.  


The spiral symbol painted on the body is the same spiral symbol we find in front of another haunted detective (also hunting an underground chemist), and is utilized as a kind of logo for the 'Pataphysics of Alfred Jarry.

This term 'Pataphysics first appears within the text of Jarry's play Guignol, and the most direct definition is "that which is above metaphysics" (or shit you don't talk about at work).  The killer's use of the symbol is odd.  The murder scene suggests the use of sympathetic magic, a work that is "below metaphysics" (below not in a critical sense, but in a directional dense).  Something very bi-polar is going on here.



From Antonin Artaud's The Alfred Jarry Theater:

Our inability to believe, to accept illusion, is immense.  Dramatic ideas no longer have for us the brilliance, the bite, that quality of something unique, unprecedented, whole, that continue to characterize certain ideas in literature or painting.  The moment we introduce this idea of pure theater and try to give it concrete form, one of the first questions we must face is the question whether we will be able to find an audience capable of giving us the necessary minimum of confidence and trust, capable, in short, of joining forces with us.  For, unlike writers, or painters, we cannot do without an audience; indeed, the audience becomes an integral part of our undertaking.

To entertain someone pataphysically, to take an audience's thinking beyond metaphysics requires an absolute shit-ton of confidence and trust.  I consider David Lynch to be the consummate pataphysician of our time.  He bravely recognized that the American television audience was ready for the pataphysical mind-fuck of Twin Peaks (bi-polarity) in 1990.  If True Detective really is the magical child of Lynch, it makes sense then, at least for me, that the best way to approach True Detective is pataphysically.  Like a true detective (we have a title!).

In The Alfred Jarry Theater, Artaud insists that the audience plays an integral role in the success of the show.  He demands that for the theater to work, there must exist at least a "minimum of confidence and trust" within the audience.  The bare miminum of this confidence and trust is represented in the character of Detective Martin Hart.  His shallow, hypocritical defense of the sanctity of marriage and his eye-rolling disdain for anything beyond his ken will clearly not solve the case, but his participation is still essential.  As much as they would like to believe, pataphysician's do not exist within a void, even they require someone with heart, someone a little more grounded in "reality" to make sure that they don't go too far off the rails, and Woody fulfills his role admirably.

The person closest to our Tall Man, our true detective, is the one with the tall boy, a Lone Star trekking across the desert abyss with his trusty Camel.



"I don't sleep.  I just dream."

Detective Rustin Cohle can't sleep.  He can't sleep because he already knows he is in a dream ("a jury rig of presumption and dumb will . . . it was all . . . a dream you had inside a locked room.  A dream about being a person").   He continues to search for clues because he isn't quite sure the dream is his or the killer's, or someone else entirely.  If he was sure it was his dream, he would just put a bullet in his head and end it.  But if it is indeed the killer's dream, a bullet in his head won't solve a thing.  The nightmare won't end until he puts a bullet in the killer's head.

As Cohle searches for the killer, we realize what he is really searching for is salvation.  Not the kind that is promised by ordinary metaphysics, and not the kind delivered by sympathetic magic, but the kind that promises the total annihilation of doubt.  The answer not to "what?" but to "why?".

We are told that you're supposed to fit your experience into the model which science gives you, which is probabilistic, statistical, predictable, and yet it's…..The felt datum of experience is much more literary than that.  I mean we fall in love, make and lose fortunes, we inherit houses in Scotland, we lose everything, we get terrible diseases, we're cured of them, or we die of them, but it all has this sturm und drang aspect to it that physics is not supposed to have but which literature always has and I think, I don't know if it's true, but what I think Joyce believed and what I'm willing to entertain at some depth is the idea that salvation is somehow an act of encompassing comprehension.  That salvation is an actual act of apprehension of understanding.  And that this act of apprehension involves everything.

Terence McKenna

Dale Cooper played the role of our true detective in TP.  He spent two seasons searching for the killer of a young woman, searching for salvation.


Salvation?

There was also a physician in TP, Dr. Lawrence Jacobi, played by Russ Tamblyn.  


RussT.

It is no coincidence that Dr. Jacobi looks like Terence Mckenna, because the character was based on Terence McKenna.  McKenna is most widely known for his views on psychedelic drugs, but for those who really spend time with his work, you will find him to be one of the more astute pataphysicians around.  His examinations of Joyce, coincidence, and the plain old weird happenings of life in the twentieth century led him to a pretty bold conclusion:

I think that the whole of the twentieth century is informed by this hyper-dimensional understanding, and that, you know, Jung tapping into it in the twenties, the Dadaists in 1919 in Zurich, the surrealists, even earlier the Ecole de Pataphysique, Lautréamont, Jarry, all of these people…it’s what it’s about.  


Terence McKenna

We are asleep in a nightmare called history.  We will never achieve salvation (wake up) until we solve the mystery before us, until we catch the killer whose crimes keep happening over and over and over again.  Joyce, Lynch, McKenna, and now Nic Pizzolatto, are compelling us to join forces with them, because even they can't do it all by themselves.

School is in session.  Go get a copy of Finnegans Wake and start studying.



A.A.:  Lone Star In Sight

For a long time I have felt the Void, but I have refused to throw myself into the Void.  I have been as cowardly as all that I see.  When I believed that I was denying this world, I know now that I was denying the Void.  For I know that this world does not exist and I know how it does not exist.  What I have suffered from until now is having denied the Void.  The Void which was already within me.

Antonin Artaud


"You ever heard of something called membrane theory, detectives?" 


 "It's like, in this universe, we process time linearly.  Forward. But outside of our space-time, from what would be a fourth-dimensional perspective, time wouldn't exist. And from that vantage, could we attain it, we'd see our space-time look flattened, like a seamless sculpture. Matter in a super-position—every place it ever occupied. Our sentience just cycling through our lives like carts on a track. See, everything outside our dimension—that's eternity. Eternity looking down on us. Now, to us, it's a sphere. But to them, it's a circle."



5 comments:

  1. A way a lone a last a loved a long the. - juan motime. All together now 2,3,4.... good Bill Posters. I enjoyed that.

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    1. I hadn't watched episode five when I made the comment above. But the Juan Motime reference proved to be prescient. At about 23:00 minutes in episode 5 woodys character says to his wife "one more time. one more time juan motime..

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  2. Joyce really was and is the bearer of the good news for the modern man. He demonstrates the technique for separating your woof from your weft; bringing your good self undone, so to speak. "Too much Fandango, Tequila and Tango. Well that old Demon, made a fool out of me."

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  3. Episode Five. I’ve just read a couple pieces where the critic tries to dismiss Cohle’s monologues as “the sort of half-baked loopiness you’d get in freshman year philosophy,” and that’s not true at all. If you pay attention to Cohle’s philosophies they’re actually much deeper and more nuanced and grounded in legitimate scientific and philosophical thought than some asshole getting stoned and talking about the meaning of life.

    So in episode five—not to spoil anything—Cohle gives one of his metaphysical addresses. And you can see it as Job crying out to an uncaring God—or you could see it as a character trapped in a TV show yelling at the audience. I think that much, at least, is safe to print. -- Nic Pizzolatto

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  4. http://www.maybelogic.org/maybequarterly/10/images/rawgidouille.jpg

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