The City of Absurdity Papers & Essayes
An essay comparing Twin Peaks & One Hundred Years of Solitude

An essay comparing Twin Peaks & One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wayne Ray

     At the end of one's life there is death. On this planet we call Earth, one dies through natural causes, at birth, or unexpectedly somewhere along the way. There has always been life. Life permeates this world. It is an intrinsic and ancient fibre engulfing everyone and everything animate and inanimate. Life and death have coexisted forever. One thinks of life as before and after the present time. However, one thinks of death only as something that is in the future. The purpose of this essay is the show that not only is death all around us but death itself is alive and this 'living death' is the underlying theme in both One Hundred Years Of Solitude and Twin Peaks. 

     One Hundred Years Of Solitude by the South American author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a surreal tale set in Eighteenth Century Colombia, South America. The story begins with the impending death of Colonel Aureliano Buendio as he stands before a firing squad and in the next moment it flings the reader back in time to the Colonel's childhood. It was a childhood with a sense of discovery: of ice and magnets and magnifying glasses. The story traces the history of the Buendio family and the town of Macondo, from its beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century to its obliteration in the mid-twentieth century. The family is burdened by a curse if incest and the founders of the town come to a land that no one has promised them because one of them has killed a man.

     Twin Peaks, a television series directed by David Lynch and Mark Frost, is a surreal tale set in the Oregon mountains of late Twentieth Century Oregon, U.S.A. The series begins with the discovery of the death of a teenage girl, Laura Palmer, whose naked body was found wrapped in plastic and washed up on the shore of a lake. The story revolves around an FBI Agent who is sent to discover the identity of the murderer because clues left on the body are related to other interstate murders. As the story unfolds, the lives of its characters became more exposed and entangled in a town that is also burdened by a curse of incest.

      Very few surreal things occur only once in Macondo; if it has been predicted for one character to be buried sitting in a rocking chair, another one is and if a priest and cups of hot chocolate can levitate thin a beautiful woman will rise into the air holding on to bed sheets. Single surreal occurrences drift in and out of the novel; The chance is missed to photograph God playing the piano; The learned man reads a manuscript that destroys him; Colonel Buendio has sixteen sons with the same name and each is born marked with a cross in his forehead; a man is born with the tail of a pig and he decides at the age of thirty to have it surgically removed and bleeds to death; a young girl has the exclusive diet of earth; a trail of blood leads from the ear of Jose Arcadio to his mother and among other numerous happenings, Malquiades, who dies in the beginning of the novel, comes back for one hundred years to record the history of the town. The literary surrealism of Marquez is incorporated into the story so well that each event seems real. It is as if each should happen naturally.

     The surreal elements in Twin Peaks are more subtle than in One Hundred Years Of Solitude but they are presented in a realistic fashion. FBI Agent, Dale Cooper, is the pivotal character of the story and relies on his experiences in Tibetan meditation to find the murderer. Most of the surrealism in his dreams occurs when dwarfs and a giant and towns people give him clues to the identity of Laura's killer. Later in the story the giant appears and the clues, one by one, become real. One surreal theme that permeates the characters is the vision of the murderer. At first, one person has the vision, but as the story progresses several people have visions of the same man who, towards the end, appears and then disappears.

     Among the more pleasant and seemingly plausible surrealism is a high school girlfriend of Laura Palmer's who ties a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue and a message from deep space, picked up on a military radio-telescope. There is a subliminal surrealism that pervades the story and connects nature and man; the wind blows fiercely through the giant fir trees at dusk and as night falls all that is seen is the swaying street light, red against the night sky. In one final scene, it is dawn, the street light turns green and the wind recedes.

     The language of Marquez is alive. Marquez looks at literature much more open-mindedly than most writers. When he looks at a river he doesn't just see the banks and the water, he sees ."The band of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.". Life goes on and can be no more appreciated than in the house of Rebecca, the dirt eater, where the insomnia plague had taken hold and anyone who entered could not sleep."If we don't ever sleep again, so much the better." Jose Arcadio Buendio said, "That way we can get more out of life." Garcia Marquez goes on to say, "..the candy animals made in the house (of Rebecca) were being sold in the town. Children and adults sucked with delight on the delicious little roosters of insomnia ...and the yellow ponies of insomnia so that by dawn on Monday the whole town was awake...they wanted to sleep, not from fatigue but from the nostalgia of dreams.

     In, Twin Peaks, while the plot to discover the identity of the murderer of Laura Palmer slowly unfolds from episode to episode, many subplots connect all the characters. There are love affairs abounding; the sheriff is in love with the mill owner; the hotelier owns a brothel in Canada; his daughter is in love with the FBI agent; the wife beater is a drug smuggler and the woman with one eye doesn't know her husband is having an affair with the restaurant owner whose husband just got out of jail and had an affair with the mill owner.

     When Garcia's town of Macondo was founded, its discoverer, Jose Arcadio Buendio wanted to take his family and leave because of the isolated location of the town. Over the few years that they had lived in Macondo, he had searched in vain for an exit to the real world, His wife, Ursula, said they couldn't leave because they had a son born in the town. Jose Arcadio said that a person does not belong to a place until someone has died and is buried underground. Soon after he said this, the gypsy, Malquiades, dies, between this death and the last death, generations of people lived and died in Macondo. Melquiades, however, was the only one to come back from the dead. He appears throughout the story writing the manuscripts that would save the memory of Macondo. When the twelve year-old grandson of Jose Arcadio asks Malquiades to translate the manuscripts, he refuses saying "no one must know their meaning until they (the manuscripts) have reached one hundred years of age . . . no one must know their meaning until they have finished (reading) One Hundred Years Of Solitude. Everything written (in the manuscripts) is unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more."

     Twin Peaks' sheriff, Harry S. Truman, welcomes FBI Agent Cooper into a secret organization he has called 'The bunkhouse Boys'. He describes the policeman's organization as "...having been around before my time and there will be others after, me because out there in the forest there is something as old as man, something evil." This 'evil' is seen as a vision to more than one person. It is embedded in the minds and memories of many characters as the same entity of person.

     In a dream, Agent Cooper sees a one-armed man who describes this 'evil' by saying, "through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see one chance out between two worlds: fire walk with me: I too have been touched by the devilish one but when I saw the face of God I was changed and took my entire arm off. My name is Mike. His name is Bob and he promises that he will kill again." He does in the last scene of the story. The giant appears before Agent Cooper and tells him that 'it' is happening again. He repeats this twice and disappears. Then 'evil' (Bob) takes over the body and soul of a meek and gentle man and slams a young girls face into a mirror and rapes her.

     Death in One Hundred Years Of Solitude and Twin Peaks is the underlying theme in these two works as shown in the above essay. Death in One Hundred Years Of Solitude is the death by God, the good death. Death is in the form of Malquiades. He does translate the manuscripts finally and they are found within one page ahead of the reader who can never reach the ending, as in life, for then he would know how and when he would die. Death in Twin Peaks is a death by Satan, the evil death. Throughout the series the viewer sees no churches or mention of the clergy or other religious things because the 'good group' (FBI, sheriff etc.) represent the church, of good. The visions of Bob are not visions but actual images of Satan incarnate on Earth. While death in One Hundred Years Of Solitude is in a much milder form than it is in Twin Peaks, both deaths, are living, perpetual deaths.

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