The annotated bib I just had to write got me thinking about my influences. The ones I included on the bib are largely my influences, but not wholly. Some of these I put on there because I knew I could bullshit about them (sorry) & some books, I left off because either I already had too many included by that particular poet or I wasn’t confident enough in my ability to talk about them. I found myself immersed, the other day, in a conversation about non-literary influences. Besides theory & psychology, which are usually givens, I’ve always considered my biggest non-literary influence to be Twin Peaks. (Yes, that–
–Twin Peaks.) I think, upon reading my work, the first thing people might notice is the speaker. By this, I mean the fact that my speaker is a total Freudian mess. Some of this is concerted. Some of this is because I’m a total Freudian mess, & that shows up in my poetry. And then there’s Twin Peaks’, resident Freudian mess… Audrey Horne:
I mean, there’s the fact that the entire show revolves around a high school girl trying to fuck a mid-30s man in a position of authority… & then there’s that whole “almost incest” scene with good ol’ Daddy Ben at One Eyed Jack’s. But beyond that, Audrey is simultaneously deeply wise & deeply stunted. Especially in Season One, Audrey is the quintessential temptress. Her relationship with the viewer exists almost solely via her relationships with off-limits men (primarily Agent Cooper & her father, but also with bad boy Bobby Briggs [o, David Lynch, that alliteration!] & her father’s business associate, Wheeler). Plus, she’s super seductive–I dare you to watch this without getting a little turned on–
In Season Two, Lynch introduces us to an Audrey Horne that’s perhaps a little more mature–she’s calmer, she’s wiser (after her run-ins with, o, you know…heroin, kidnapping, near-death… it makes sense), she’s ultimately a little less impulsive. She’s working for her father’s company, playing an important role in saving Cooper’s ass, all-in-all growing up… right? Well, maybe. Then millionaire playboy Wheeler comes along & Audrey is all-too-ready to be swept up into obsession. The sexy, impulsive, Freudian Audrey has been there all along. Slapping a blazer & chignon on her doesn’t make her any less prone to fucking on airplanes… chaining herself to bank vaults… et cetera. She’s still the Audrey Horne we know & love–the one who does things like become a prostitute more or less to get Agent Cooper’s attention. Exhibit A:
But what am I getting at here? These fascinating tangential storylines about murder, drugs, kidnapping, money–they remain largely tangential. We know Audrey only through her relationship to sex. Repeatedly, she is defined by her desire–& the lengths to which she’ll go to fulfill it. Sure, we get snippets of her personality, but what Lynch really tries to convey throughout the series is that her identity is indeed this deeply entwined with her sexuality. Her storylines are about her desire for older men, about becoming a sex worker, about near-incest/near-rape, about how much of a tease she is to Coop. Yet we learn in the “airplane” episode that Audrey’s been a virgin this whole time. So she’s not what some might call a “slut.”
Is Audrey a textbook example of the Electra complex not being adequately displaced? For Freud, the female must accept her failure to resolve the complex rather than work to resolve it as a male child must with the Oedipal complex, but here, Audrey hasn’t accepted that failure. Is it her driven, perfectionistic personality–her notion that she can’t allow herself to fail at anything, even subconsciously–that propels her into these situations? In her book Imagining Incest, Gale Swiontkowski notes that “it is really repressed sexual desire for the father […] that leads to neurosis, or rather an incompletely repressed desire for the father’s power to actualize himself” (33). Is this why–once Audrey is finally “deflowered,” she is then killed only three episodes later? Is it because she’s given herself to a man who doesn’t represent the father? Or is it because Lynch wanted her to function as a staunch representation of the Electra complex & once a man had been able to access her (in ways her father couldn’t because of blood & Cooper couldn’t because of age), the mystery of her was over?
Regardless, I realized somewhere along the line that my extremely Audrey-Horne-esque speaker is grappling with a lot of the same things the character does throughout the series. That makes me ask myself why Lynch had her make the moves she did. Why the one-dimensionality wherein we only know Audrey through sex? But perhaps more importantly, what makes it so that Audrey Horne has become a cult character? What makes her so beloved? Audiences clearly respond to her character–but is it just because she’s lascivious and flirtatious? It can’t be that simple, right? Right??
Here’s where I struggle. How does my speaker explore potentially lascivious subject matter without being lascivious? How does she exhibit (& sometimes even glamorize) the Electra complex without being just a walking, talking representation of it with no other characteristics? Sure, her sexuality is integral to her sense of self, but how does she become more than a sexuality? (Also, when did I start writing about myself instead of my speaker? Whoops…)
These sexual things Audrey does are each central to the viewer’s understanding of her complexity. Are each of my poems central to the reader’s understanding of my speaker’s complexity? I’m not 100% sure… (And if anyone on my thesis committee is reading this, please please please take mercy on me & don’t ask me that question in my defense next week.)