The owls are what they seem. Sense and Interpretation in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, junto a Pedro Luís Pérez Díaz

Stories are meant to be narrated. In a sense, there is no story without its own narration. We normally say that stories are narrations. Anyway, we do not just narrate stories. To narrate is only one thing among others that we can do with a story. Stories are also meant to be created and to be understood. It is assumed that there are differences between creating, narrating and understanding a story, but we can ask if this actions share something, if they have something in common. We can ask this question because these three things are all done to a story or even done by a story.  So, what does a story and what is done to a story when it is narrated, created or understood? The narration, the creation and the understanding of a story always imply an interpretation, and the interpretation establishes an order, a distribution between elements. This distribution or order is what we call “sense”.

Twin Peaks is a story. Moreover, it set a mesmerizing blend of two kind of TV genres: a murder mystery and a supernatural soap opera. Since it premiered in 1990, this series enthralled worldwide audiences. They followed an intuitive and spiritual agent Cooper when he was seduced by the weird atmosphere of this town and its unique inhabitants. However, as the rational side of agent Cooper, thousands of fans have insistently attempted to provide certain kind of interpretations over the years: in conversations, newsgroups, fanzines or web forums. Normally, they have considered that what happens in Twin Peaks’ universe is like a riddle or a puzzle that have to be solved (interpreted) as if they would have any kind of planned solutions.

The promotional premise “Who killed Laura Palmer?” is a good example of an early solved puzzle, but many other elements of the show have been in the debate until today (the nature of Killer BOB, the lodges, the owls…). Because of that, viewers have socially constructed a new sense, particularly when order or distribution are not given by the story –viewers are re-creating, re-narrating, trying to understand its mythology. In the light of this, we propose an examination of some of the most shared and popular readings of the cult series that challenged, like no other, the traditional notions of sense and interpretation.


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