Twin Peaks and nostalgia

It is, the adverts tell me, happening again – and I couldn’t be more pleased. The return of Twin Peaks isn’t just the return of one of my favourite teevee shows, not just a major work by one of the major film artists, but also what the culture needs right now. Why so? As I explain in a feature for this week’s issue of The Spectator, there’s a lot of lazy nostalgia for the 1990s around at the moment:

‘Take Jurassic World. This wasn’t just a jacked-up repeat of Jurassic Park (1993); it also toyed with our memories of the earlier film. At one point, its obligatory nerd character explains why he’s wearing a T-shirt with the original park’s logo on the front. ‘I got it on eBay,’ he says. ‘That first park was legit.’ For viewers who were children when the first film was released, and who might have owned similar T-shirts back then, it was like being force-fed Proust’s madeleines until you were sick.’

But Twin Peaks, although it originated in the 1990s, is anything but lazy nostalgia. In fact, it was a full-blown study of nostalgia, its good and its bad sides:

Twin Peaks was more than just cherry pies and cherry-red lipstick. It realised that there was sadness in nostalgia itself — what Svetlana Boym describes, in her 2001 book The Future of Nostalgia, as ‘a sentiment of loss and displacement’.

That’s why the relationship between Catherine and Pete Martell, which plays like a subplot, is more important than it first appears. ‘Somewhere under all that scar tissue, there’s the faintest flicker of what we used to feel for each other,’ she tells him during the final episode of the first series. ‘I’m asking you to feel it now.’ But she’s only asking it to take advantage of the poor guy. Those good times you used to have? They’re lost.

You can read the whole article here.