Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Department of English

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA 31061



Twin Peaks of Present:

Lynch and Deleuze on Music, Trauma, and Time


In Episode 2 of David Lynch’s 1990-1991 soapy, supernatural, and surreal television series Twin Peaks, grieving father Leland Palmer puts on a old record (Glenn Miller Orchestra’s 1940 jazz tune “Pennsylvania 6-5000”), picks up a picture of his recently murdered daughter Laura, and dances in a circle with it, screaming, until his wife Sarah wrestles the portrait from him, breaking its glass and cutting him, and he smears his blood on his daughter's face. Critics such as Todd McGowan have effectively used Lacanian psychoanalytic film theory to explain how Lynch's series and films disturb the spectator because they force her to encounter her traumatic, unconscious desire through a Real gaze that disrupts symbolic explication and imaginary identification. As theoretical alternative to Jacques Lacan, this analysis employs Gilles Deleuze's psychoanalytic philosophy of the time-image to explain how Lynch situates his media simultaneously in the past, present, and future. Music, as exemplified by Leland's dance, is the image-accompanying element that takes the viewer into what Deleuze calls sheets of the past; and voice, as exemplified by the Man from Another Place and Laura Palmer talking backward in Dale Cooper's dreams in the original series, disorients yet enthralls the viewer with peaks of the present. Laura Palmer's final, future scream in the series' 2017 return wholly, and traumatically, unsticks the viewer from linear time and demands that she weave together a network of time fragments. Both Lacanian and Deleuzian readings involve trauma; however, while Lacan's Real ends in subjective destitution, Deleuze's time-image ends in radical, paradoxical coexistence.


This abstract summarizes my presentation, "Twin Peaks of Present: Lynch and Deleuze on Music, Time, and Trauma." Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association. Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Pittsburgh, PA. 7-9 Nov. 2019.