A vision in plastic

Laura Palmer is murdered.  She is murdered before the pilot episode of Twin Peaks first showed in April 1990.  She is found washed up on the river bank, wrapped in plastic.  Her death brings in investigators and drives the plot of the first series.  Nothing quite attracts television audiences so much as a young dead woman, her life unpicked publicly without her agency, seen through celluloid.

2016-01-29 Dr Sketchies (6)

At Dr Sketchy’s Twin Peaks drawing session in the upper room over a pub, Laura Palmer was played by the gloriously named Miss VJ Spankie.  She entered through the audience, moving and occupying the whole stage, playing the Twin Peaks theme on the violin.  She seemed in wedding weeds, until the eye adjusted and she was seen clothed in industrial plastic sheeting, bound round and round her middle with blue string.  She made no eye contact, seemed expressionless but dominated the room, posing for us to draw.

2016-01-29 Dr Sketchies (10)

Insomnia

In an attempt to get back to sleep in the early hours this morning, I plugged the radio into my ear and started by catching up on Friday evening’s satirical comedy. First item linked systematic tax avoidance arranged by high street bank HSBC (Hide Some Bent Cash) with a function for the very rich at which  access to government ministers was auctioned (including, strangely, the opportunity to go shoe shopping with the Home Secretary, holder of one of the three great offices of state).  Second item explored the effect of the release of the film Fifty Shades of Grey on hardware stores.  This was not, as you might think, an increase in sales of gaffer tape and rope, but increased general sales as men suddenly remember all those DIY jobs that just have to be done right away making them really really busy right now.

20150208 Marsh Lane Reserve evening light, ice

Marsh Lane Reserve evening light, ice – blue and black pen, indelible marker, conte crayon, chalk pastel, clean water, watercolour.

Comedy was followed by arts (skipping the agricultural soap opera).  The reviewer commented that Fifty Shades lacked a plot but the sex scenes were “pretty buff”.  She liked the many shots of the leading man’s chest muscles.  Still awake, I switched to Sunday morning scheduling, coming in on a sequence of diverse philosophical and literary readings connected by an incomprehensible theme: it is called “Something Understood”.  I actually drifted off in the next programme as they explained the ecological relationship between wood mice and field voles in an Oxfordshire woodland, awaking during the sermon of the Daily Service.  The preacher took as his theme Fifty Shades of Grey and reflected on his own forty years of marriage.  I fell asleep again during the hymn, the beautiful “My Song is Love Unknown“.  Were these connected in some way?  What was he trying to tell us?

Cormorants roosting in distant tree - charcoal, conte crayon, ink

Cormorants roosting in distant tree – charcoal, conte crayon, ink

Like many others, we celebrated Valentine’s day by going to watch Fifty Shades of Grey.  I enjoyed the sex and related scenes though it is an odd experience to watch these, sitting surrounded by strangers.  The reviewer was right, there are no narrative twists or surprises.  It is really very simple and highly moral: it describes, step by step, a process by which two people achieve or decline consent for sex.  This film comes from the viewpoint of the female gaze.  The leading male, the eponymous Grey, is not a character as such, more a cipher of a certain idealised manhood for women (stern, rich, powerful, young, potent, fit, flawed, curable by love) just as Lara Croft or any girl in a James Bond movie are cartoon versions of a certain male idea of femininity.  For me, that is what makes this film interesting, since most Western culture seems to be dominated by the male gaze.  Still, I could not warm to Grey.  I reflected that I have greater feelings of empathy with more human, rounded characterisations of masculinity, say, Gollum or R2D2.  I did wonder, also, who Christian Grey had fleeced to become so very rich so quickly, whether he banks in a secret offshore account to avoid tax and to which high ranking elected officials he has direct access.