We are all connected, yet we can only ever really know ourselves. Versions of us are created in the minds of the people who know us, or even those who only see or speak to us just once. Presumptions are made about how we feel, what we are like depending on how we react to that person. Are we kind? Are we attractive? Are we rude? Are we sad? A whole persona is created for us in a split second. Yes, it is judgment; we all judge others whether we like to think we do or not. Catch me on a bad day and see me roll my eyes and swear under my breath, and you might decide I’m a bitch. See me playing and laughing with my son in the park, and you might assume I’m a wonderful mother. Maybe I’m neither, or perhaps I’m both—it doesn’t matter, in that split second, you’ve created a version of me.
It goes deeper still when you really get to know people. You begin to learn from their behaviours and can predict the outcome of your actions towards them. “This will piss her off,” “This should cheer her up”, and so on. But even if you are with someone 24/7, you still don’t really know what they are thinking. There’s always something held back. We are all full of secrets.
Thinking about this brought me back to the mystery that is Diane in Twin Peaks.
As soon as Season 3 of Twin Peaks was announced, speculation abounded that we’d finally meet the ‘real’ Diane, secretary to Agent Cooper, but only ever seen as a small black and red dictaphone during Seasons 1 and 2. I, for one, believed that she didn’t exist at all; that she was, in essence, a form of a diary for Cooper to store his musings and memos. And honestly, despite her very real role in S3 played by Laura Dern, I am still not convinced she ever did exist, at least not outside a dream. She may have been a real person, but Cooper may not have known her at all.
“I have been assigned a secretary. Her name is Diane. She seems an interesting cross between a saint and a cabaret singer.” — Agent Cooper, My Life, My Tapes
Coop was assigned Diane on the first day of his job at the FBI on December 19th, 1977, but he recorded his thoughts for many years prior to that. He first addressed his thoughts to Diane in his autobiography on January 11th, 1978. He described Diane as a cross between a Saint and a Cabaret singer and believed that her experience would be valuable to him on the job. Laura Dern played two versions of Diane in The Return. First, the platinum blonde, kimono wearing, chain-smoking, liquor hitting, “fuck you'” version, who was leaning towards the Cabaret singer description. This version of Diane, it turns out, was a Tulpa—a thoughtform, brought to life by someone wishfully thinking.
Another version of Diane was revealed in the penultimate episode. She had been trapped inside the form of a woman named Naido, who was unable to speak (though she made a sort of tweeting sound) or see as her eyes were covered over with skin and stitched. She was set free as soon as evil Cooper was sent back to the Black Lodge and Cooper saw her. In Naido’s place stood a pillar box red-haired Diane, dressed in black, with a sweet and loving smile. This version was perhaps more of what we expected Dale Cooper’s Diane to be.
Now, don’t forget what our dear David Lynch told us: “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole.” Focus on what you are seeing, not what you’re not. It’s all there right in front of our eyes.
The Object of My Affection
Diane the dictaphone
The way Dale Cooper spoke so tenderly, with such joy at times, with such sorrow at others, this is what I think brought Diane to life. She was just a tape recorder. But I bet you had a picture in your mind of what she might have looked like sitting in the office, right? Even if it was a vague outline of a woman, I bet you imagined what colour hair she had, what style of clothes she wore, and how she loved this back and forth with her Special Agent. And you know if we imagined her, Dale Cooper certainly did it too. This fantasy woman meant a lot to him. She was his partner on the road. He was never alone in this far away and unknown place with Diane by his side. He told Diane his innermost thoughts, his concerns about Tibet, his curiosities about Marilyn Monroe and JFK, but so much more than that. Diane was the only ‘person’ he could trust—and you can only trust yourself.
Diane was a part of him. Existing only in his mind; a figment of his imagination, a thought, a fantasy, his dream woman. She could be whatever he wanted her to be.
“But she sent him earplugs!” I hear you cry. Did she? Really? We definitely heard him record a message for Diane requesting the earplugs, and the next day, he received them. But how on Earth would she get the message so quickly? He would have to have sent the tape off to her; she would have to have received and listened to it, found the earplugs, packed and sent them to him in less than 24 hours? There was no internet or cellphones back in 1989, so that would have been a miraculous feat. Was Diane a prototype Siri or Alexa? No, she was not, but it does make you think. Why do we want our A.I. to have names, be helpful, organised and sound sexy?
If My Life, My Tapes is anything to go by, then the young Dale Cooper was a ‘bit of a lad’ growing up. His sexual encounters and thoughts about sex make up quite a high percentage of the entries. Not that there’s anything unusual about that, of course. He longed for love and for someone to love him despite his sometimes weird ways. When Dale got the job as an FBI Agent, he must have loved the thought of having his own private secretary. Someone who doted on him, impressed by his title, even found him funny. Maybe they had an office flirtation. Hell, that has to be one of the most common sexual fantasies, right? Diane: somewhere between a Saint and a Cabaret Singer—the woman who will take care of all your needs and is anything but vanilla in the bedroom.
That exquisite balance of naughty and nice Diane existed harmoniously alongside the equally naughty and nice Dale Cooper—until he became trapped in the Black Lodge, that is. From a purely psychological perspective, the Black Lodge is (in my opinion) the subconscious mind. It’s a place where dark thoughts hang out, the grim recesses of your mind—not a good place to spend too much time, especially if you can’t get out and these thoughts travel to the surface and begin to take over the conscious self. If thinking about the bad things, feeling hatred and anger, fantasising about hurting or killing someone, or nonconsensual sex becomes a regular thing, it will breed and become an obsession, a want, not a need.
Cooper became hateful and bitter towards Windom Earle for killing his first true love Caroline. It’s understandable, of course, but Caroline was Earle’s wife. No excuses for murder here though thank you very much! When Windom attempted to kill Annie, Dale’s second love, this was the final straw for him. The dark thoughts became the only thoughts, and out of hatred, anger and fear, Mr C was born. This split in personas didn’t just create a twin Cooper; it created a dark copy of all his thoughts and fantasies too. Diane split in two with the “fuck you” Cabaret singer at one end of the spectrum and the Saintly scarlet saviour at the other.
One and The Same
If Cooper’s dark side, the side of him inhabited by the demon BOB (the evil that men do), managed to bring a woman to life by pure thought and, well, fantasy, then the Good Dale did too. In my view, Cooper was only ever one man, but with several personalities. The good, the bad, and the Dougie. Diane existed though, at least in the mind of Good Dale way before he split into pieces, so to speak. Diane would, therefore, exist in each of these three minds of Cooper—and no doubt she would be slightly different in each of those minds.
Mr C’s Diane
This modern-day version of Diane is not at the end of a tape recorder. Today’s Diane has an iPhone with an Orla Kiely case. The colours of her nails mimic the leaves on the design, and her style of dress is bold block colours; yellows, oranges and greens, retro ’70s style also like the phone case. Occasionally she will wear an oriental style dress or gown, hinting at Eastern influences in her life.
Even with all her “fuck you’s,” this Diane has a soft middle. She is tied to her memories and remembers what Cooper used to be like. She remembers him raping her, and she often doesn’t want to do what he commands. However, she has no choice, for she is, after all, just a thought, controlled by the thinker– the inner voice of guilt and regret crying out.
Before she tried to pull the trigger on Preston, Rosenfield and Cole at Mr C’s request, she told them, “I’m not me” and, “I’m at the Sheriff’s station “– she is, of course, referring to Naido who is at the Sheriff’s station, and she is Naido, as was the original Diane too. Each Diane would share the same memories, for they are all made of the same person’s thoughts.
The Sleeping Cooper’s Diane: Naido
Saint Diane was stuck. She exists only within the Good Dale, and this may explain Naido. She is Diane at the furthest reaches of goodness in Dales mind. Trapped inside the body of what perhaps symbolises the purest part of Dale’s soul: His deep concern about the plight of the Tibetan people. Of course, I don’t know if Naido was meant to be Tibetan, but she was certainly of East Asian ethnicity, and there’s probably a reason for that.
Similarly hanging out in that far reach of Dale Cooper’s mind was ‘American Girl’ in the guise of Ronette Pulaski. American Girl: the symbol of something else that was extremely important to Cooper—his Country, his job at the FBI, and being the type of man that saves the girl and stops the kind of evil inflicted on American women daily. Ronette was one of the victims Dale became involved with before his ‘psychotic break.’ He had real and grave concerns for her wellbeing. It makes sense that her face would represent women in trouble across America, deep in his subconscious.
Naido, the Saintly Diane, did everything she could to help the Good Dale escape. Despite not being able to speak or see, she directed him to the correct portal (No. 3) to escape non-existence and return to America. Las Vegas, to be precise. To help Dale, she switched a lever that jolted her into the starry sky out of non-existence and down to Earth. She risked everything for him, which sounds pretty Saintly to me.
What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas
In my mind, the entirety of Coop’s awakening in Las Vegas was just that—an awakening. None of it happened in reality; it was a lucid dream. The Good Dale’s recovery if you like. This was his version of The Wizard of Oz. His journey to return ‘Home’ and Twin Peaks is the Emerald City. The red balloons scattered throughout the Vegas scenes; at Dougie’s workplace, the Mitchum’s House, Janey-E’s House, and Drugged up Mother’s house, may all indicate that we are viewing inside Cooper’s dream.
If BOB is the evil voice in your head encouraging you to do bad things, and he who brings out the animal in you, then MIKE, it seems, was his opposite (formerly his familiar). MIKE delivered positive messages to Cooper, steered him towards fortune at the casino. Coffee and cherry pie was given to remind him of the pleasurable things in life. He found friendship in the form of lovable rogues, the Mitchum Brothers, and he even had the perfect family: an adoring son and a hot, no-nonsense wife who found him incredibly attractive and was amazing in bed. Surely you want this life Coop? But it would be hearing the name Gordon Cole in Sunset Boulevard that would finally pull him back into the light—for what did Cooper love the most? His job and his friends at the Bureau.
Why Vegas? Well, among its many nicknames are ‘The City of Second Chances’ and, of course, ‘ Sin City.’ In the ’50s, it was known as the Atomic City, as people could visit and watch atomic bombs being tested in the Nevada Desert. Make of that what you will. The Coop that we knew once upon a time would probably hate Vegas. It’s a far cry from what mesmerised him about the Northwest. All brand new, with big shiny lights. No sleep, party all night. A place that is all about the money, people in limbo, trying to win a better life. The landscape is arid, flat and dry and not a mountain or Douglas fir in sight. Dougie Jones’ life would have been his worst nightmare, in a rotting relationship, hooking up with sex workers behind his wife’s back. An indebted gambler, hovering in dark circles and doing a deeply mundane job selling insurance day in day out, Dougie was the opposite of the man Dale Cooper strived to be. But of course it would be; the path to redemption isn’t an easy one. Like the Yellow Brick Road, there will be plenty of obstacles on the way.
Diane did not exist in Vegas—she couldn’t because Dale hadn’t remembered her yet. Things are foggy when you are coming around, especially after 25 years. Yet her sister, Janey-E, lives here. Dougie is married to her and has a child with her. If all this is just happening in Coop’s mind, then he’s got a bit of explaining to do. He even dreams up another version of himself so he can stay with her. This version is, let’s face it, the most like the Good Dale we once knew. I’d perhaps even go as far as to say this is the Dale Cooper we once knew and that he chose a happy home life and sent another version of himself to Twin Peaks.
There’s No Place Like Home
The entirety of Season 3 paid homage not only to David Lynch’s earlier films but to some of his favourites by other filmmakers. The Wizard of Oz famously being amongst those. The ending of Oz feels distinctly familiar to the final moments of Part 17. The one and only Dale Cooper is back after all these years missing. He drives to Twin Peaks with the Mitchums and Candie, Mandie, and Sandie in tow and finds all his old friends (except Harry) and some new ones were there waiting for him. The Cowardly Lion Lucy found the courage to shoot Mr C. She just needed to know she had it in her all along—like working out cellphones. The Scarecrow Andy used his brain and worked out that he needed to bring the Very Important Naido/Diane to the room at the right time. The Tin Man Albert had finally learned how to open his heart and found love. The Deus Ex Machina character of Freddie Sykes takes on the now flying orb of BOB and eventually smashes him into pieces. A letdown for many fans, but only if you believe this was really happening. I don’t. I think this was all part of Cooper waking up and unscrambling his thoughts.
When Cooper touches Diane in the form of Naido, her face begins to crack open. And for a few seconds, the Black Lodge is superimposed over her face. Out steps the red-haired Diane, who we can now assume is the OG Diane. Still a thoughtform, but his original imagining of her.
The Real Diane
The ‘real’ Diane has the brightest red hair. She paints her nails in black and white. She is the physical embodiment of the tape recorder we formerly knew her as. (Alternatively, you could consider her to be a living version of the Red Room with its scarlet curtains and monochrome chevron floors, does that hint that she’s just part of his subconscious?). Like Coop himself, she could only return to the world/dream once the dark side of herself and Cooper were packed away and sent back to the Black Lodge and once the Good Dale had woken up. Naido was the locked in version, existing in the unwoken Cooper, which may explain the sealed eyes and inability to speak. As soon as he remembered her existence, she was revealed.
Coop and Diane kiss, which could be another indication to show that this is not happening (in addition to the fact that his superimposed face tells us, the audience, that “we live inside a dream,” right there and then). Here’s my logic: Coop never mentioned Diane as a person to anyone. Not Harry, not Annie, not Audrey or Hawk—no one he became close to. If the Cooper we knew loved his secretary (and she loved him), we’d know about it. He wouldn’t be flirting or falling in love with anyone else; he just wasn’t that type of guy at that time. He spoke of Caroline to all his pals, but Diane never. Coop says his goodbyes to his friends at the Sheriff’s station and tells them he hopes to see them all again. In a dream or reality?
A Dream Inside a Dream
But I know what you’re thinking: If Diane didn’t exist, how could all those people see and interact with her? Why did Cole and Rosenfield seek her out? Well, because they weren’t real either. I don’t mean that they didn’t exist ‘in real life’, but these versions we see in S3 are also part of Coop’s subconscious. Pieces of the puzzle he’s putting back together to restore himself. He needed them to team up with Diane as she had all his memories stored on her tapes.
So Coop woke up. But did he really? False awakenings are dreams in which you think you have woken up, but in reality, you haven’t. I have had many of these, and they aren’t all that pleasant. When you properly wake up, you feel confused and misplaced and a little bit ‘Dougie.’ I believe that he’s still sleeping when he meets everyone at the Sheriff’s station and visits Phillip Jeffries. He’s still dreaming when he goes back to 1989 and saves Laura Palmer.
In a reverse fashion to how it plays in the Wizard of Oz, when Coop takes Laura’s hand, he pulls her into the Technicolor dream world. Oz showed us that life in black and white was real life; the dream was in colour. Laura is whisked away screaming by an unknown force—pulled out of his dream like a page ripped from a book. Coop returns to the Black Lodge, then Diane meets him at ‘the curtain call.’ The way Cooper leaves the Lodge that last time, it looks to me like he is becoming whole again. He’s all three Cooper’s merged; he takes a few Dougie like steps, then finds his feet. His persona and attitude towards Diane becomes quite abrupt. He barely speaks to her on the drive to the electricity pylon 430 miles from Twin Peaks, and she is clearly uncomfortable with him. He’s more Mr C than the Cooper we know.
They do appear to travel through a time portal and are placed on a deserted highway at night. They find a room at a motel and, while Coop collects the keys, Diane creepily sees another version of herself, dwelling on the motel threshold. This felt to me that this wasn’t a doppelganger, but this was really her, but time was becoming wobbly—she saw herself in the future (or is it past?), and she knew that she had to carry out this ritual. Diane joins Cooper, and they have sex, which is awkward and clearly distressing for her. She covers his face and looks up at the ceiling to escape the necessity of her task, but she can’t forget the past and what this man did to her. Saint Diane still does what she feels she has to help prevent evil from taking place. The next morning Cooper awakens to find himself in a different motel, with a different car and Diane, now going by the name of Linda, has gone. She left a note saying her goodbyes as she didn’t know Cooper anymore. She’d forgotten not only who he was but who she was.
Cooper is without Diane for the first time since 1977. His attitude towards her from the moment of recognition and her release from the shell of Naido was one of pure joy and happiness to see her again. But that quickly changed to nonchalance. They barely spoke on the ride to Odessa, and he took no notice of her concerns about crossing over. The sex they had was mechanical and one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the whole of S3. Why did he change so suddenly? I feel that he forgot about Diane, and because she only existed in his mind, she would just disappear. She didn’t go anywhere; she was just gone. The Fireman had told Cooper to “Remember 430, Richard and Linda, two birds, one stone.” In forgetting Diane, he may have set one bird free.
Likewise, when Dale saves Laura, he negates any reason he had for even travelling to Twin Peaks in the first place. He likely wouldn’t attend just to hunt for a runaway teen. Did this, in turn, create such a ripple effect that the lives of everyone he touched changed? Audrey woke up somewhere unknown, perhaps free now. Cooper would not have raped her; she would not have had his child. Twin Peaks could be a totally different town without the event of Laura’s death and Coop’s arrival.
“It’s a Living Thing.”
I totally get it if this theory doesn’t sit right with you. I just can’t shake from my head what David Lynch told Carlton Lee Russell (The Jumping Man) about playing his character; he was like a Talisman brought to life. So if the Jumping Man was a symbolic representation of an object,—I must admit I don’t know what object that could be—could other characters/objects be not what they seem?
A lot of people have mentioned that Laura’s new identity in Odessa seems a little suspicious. For years the missing pages of Laura’s diary held the vital clue that Laura wrote down after dreaming of Annie, who told her that the Good Dale was in the Lodge and couldn’t leave. In this new life of Laura’s, she was not murdered, but she did leave home. Mark Frost wrote in the Final Dossier that she disappeared. Leland/BOB did not kill her, but Leland took his own life one year after her disappearance. Her mother, Sarah, would never learn what happened to her only child. She continued to suffer the loss of a child without ever even knowing what happened to her. Perhaps a fate worse than death?
Laura would still have been through all the abuse at her father’s hands. It seems that Cooper didn’t travel back quite far enough in Laura’s story to truly save her.
The Living Map
When it comes to living objects, Hawk was pretty clear about this one. The map updates as time goes by. Who? How? I have no answers to those questions, but if Hawk says it’s true, then that’s good enough for me. If Cooper goes around rewriting history, then, of course, the map will change. Yet, I reckon Hawk would remember the ‘official version’.
The Black Box in Argentina
Another strange object full of mystery was the black box. This one is more compelling than the last as Mr C controlled it, similarly to how Cabaret (Tulpa) Diane was. It appears to have been a transmitter or perhaps a recording device. Whatever its purpose was originally, Mr C found that it was no longer needed and with the press of a few buttons on his cellphone, it was reduced to the state of a silver nugget, much like the Tulpa Dougie Jones. Did the Black Box ever exist in human form? And why was it in Argentina? The only other person we know for sure who visited Argentina on the search for Judy was Phillip Jeffries.
The Phillip Jeffries Steam Bell
Less kettle, more telephone? Phillip Jeffries does seem to like his phone calls. The ‘bell’ in which Jeffries now resides or is, was remarkably similar to the one that rang and alerted The Fireman and Señorita Dido and led to the creation of Laura Palmer. A whole room of them existed at The White Lodge (The Fireman’s Theatre, I’m not totally convinced it’s the White Lodge that we’ve seen).
We are ALL : – ) Connected
So what’s the connection? Well, the connection is the connection. These are all items that record or transmit information. Landlines carry calls along electrical cables. Cut out all the satellites, fibre-optic cables, switching offices, and other razzmatazz, and landlines are not that much different to the toy phones you might have made out of a piece of string and a couple of baked bean cans. The words you speak ultimately travel down a direct, wired connection between two handsets. What’s different about a cellphone is that it can send and receive calls without wire connections of any kind by using electromagnetic radio waves to send and receive the sounds that would typically travel down wires.
Even The Fireman uses a swipe screen these days. We have relationships with the objects that connect us. Our cell phones and computers are our prized possessions; losing them is like losing a limb. Our entire lives are stored within them: photographs, personal information, our finances, our thoughts, our memories. We make friends, find lovers, keep in touch with family on these devices. I’m certainly guilty of having more meaningful relationships with virtual people than I do people in real life.
That brings me full circle, and to the versions of people we create in our minds. The people we fantasise about, the people we admire from afar. All of our worlds are entirely different because we each have our own thoughts. Approximately 7.53 billion people are living on Earth. That’s 7.53 billion -1 alternate realities to yours, yet we are all connected by electricity, radiowaves, thoughts and dreams.
There are things you can’t get anywhere… but we dream they can be found in other people. — Harold Smith