- Apr 12, 2022
This is a thread for any and all thoughts or theories about Naido/Diane.
I’ve been interested in theories, found here and elsewhere, that the character of Naido, who is Diane, was chosen to represent the Japanese victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. Other people have offered additional support for this idea, but here I’ll stick to my own observations.
The Return posits the 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico, the first detonation of the atomic bomb, as being the central event that summoned or enabled Judy to manifest and vomit offspring into our reality. The atomic test sequence in Part 8 of The Return is scored using Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.” BOB is prominent among the offspring to emerge from Judy in this sequence, and BOB is a part of the character that is Mr. C, and it is Mr. C who banishes Diane to the Mauve Zone, which is perhaps a representation of “nonexistence.” The dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were banished to material nonexistence, and furthermore, many survivors were disabled and/or disfigured, and found themselves living apart from society. A group of 25 young female survivors, who’d later become known as the Hiroshima Maidens, were left unable to find spouses or meaningfully participate in society. As described here:
“many of them were just school girls when the bomb was dropped and as young adults were now missing eyes and noses and had burns covering huge swaths of their bodies.”
“they existed as liminal beings, their bodies viewed as abject, unliveable and uninhabitable,” and “there was a sense of pity and hopelessness for their solitary future non-lives, perceived as dead maidens walking.”
Here it's described how the Hiroshima Maidens bonded over shared experiences:
“such as being hidden from view by parents, stared at when they ventured outside, unwanted by employers, and rejected as potential wives for fear they were genetically damaged.”
Championed by Japanese Methodist minister Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, news of the plight of the Hiroshima Maidens ultimately led them to receive privately funded humanitarian surgery in the United States in 1955, including, as described here:
“not only cosmetic surgery for their appearances but also reconstructive surgery to improve functionality in their hands on which the fingers had often been fused together by scar tissue.”
One woman died in surgery, but others indeed went on to find spouses and build families, or otherwise participate meaningfully in society. Their May 1955 arrival in the United States was highly publicized, and Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who had also made the trip, was the featured subject of an episode of the popular television program This Is Your Life. Mark Frost was only one year old at the time, but David Lynch was nine. Frost or Lynch could have easily learned about these events later, but it’s possible or even likely that a young David Lynch heard about the Hiroshima Maidens at the time of their visit, via mass media and/or word of mouth, which could have made quite an impression.
There is a photograph by photographer Christer Strömholm, from somewhere around 1961-1963, showing a girl from Hiroshima with milky eyes, and it became a popular notion that this girl had seen the atomic explosion at Hiroshima. She may be too young in the photograph for that to have been the case, but either way, this further reinforced the notion of damaged eyes resulting from exposure to an atomic blast.
Perhaps Diane, by virtue of being a victim in the causal chain stemming from the creation of the bomb, became metaphysically akin to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing victims, and Naido was perhaps even more specifically inspired by the famous Hiroshima Maidens. Nae Yuuki, the actress who portrays the Naido form of Diane, is indeed Japanese. Diane, like the Maidens, suffers from disfigurement and impairment, and exists in some kind of twilight realm. Diane likewise later undergoes a transformation, regaining her appearance, sight and speech, and is romantically paired with Cooper.
Diane’s transformation takes place in the United States, which is completely unsurprising based upon the setting of Twin Peaks, but, interestingly, the transformation takes place in the office of Harry S. Truman (occupied at the time by his brother, Frank). At the time of the 1945 Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico, Harry S. Truman had recently become president, and he noted in his diary that, “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.” Truman would later personally approve the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (It should be emphasized that the United States government did not assist in nor appreciate the project to help the Hiroshima Maidens, and is said to have later quashed similar efforts, uncomfortable with the moral light in which such activities placed certain of its wartime actions.) In any event, as this article on the Hiroshima Maidens puts it:
“Existing in the liminal space between life and death, they shed their death masks through intervention by the same nation that created their disfigurements.”
In the above instance, it might be reaching to suggest any authorial intent in Twin Peaks relating to the sheriffs Truman and president Truman, but the victimization, disfigurement, impairment, banishment, and subsequent transformation of Diane is somewhat more difficult to dismiss as coincidence.
During the Naido transformation, her face opens as if it's some kind of cocoon-like mask, and her surroundings become the red room. This cocoon-like husk hovers in the red room and Diane’s face appears. The surroundings fade back into the sheriff’s office where Diane’s true form is now revealed, still in bathrobe and slippers. Because Naido is a mask, and not an entity separate from Diane, we only see the cocoon-like husk in the lodge, rather than the human forms that we see in the case of doppelgängers and tulpas, and we likewise don’t see a golden seed as is left behind by tulpas. These transformations occur in the lodge, and Diane now appears in the sheriff’s station decked out like the lodge, with red hair, red lips, and b&w chevron nails. (I won’t linger on the nature of the connection between the lodge and the Mauve Zone.)
So Diane’s form of Naido is a prison and symbolic mask. She is metaphysically akin to the Hiroshima victims, but not literally one of them, though she is ultimately also a victim of what was unleashed by the creation of the bomb. Diane is not a different entity from Naido, but is locked in another form and deprived of much of her sensory perception and communicative abilities. If there’s any truth in the speculation about Naido being connected to Japanese victims of atomic bombings, then Lynch and Frost seem to have devised an ingenious way to provide representation to this demographic, despite the show being set almost entirely in the United States, and ultimately having nothing whatsoever to do with Japan, (unless we count Catherine Martell disguised as Mr. Tojamura, which was actually an identity chosen by Piper Laurie herself).
All of this is even more interesting given the well known popularity of Twin Peaks in Japan. Kyle MacLachlan even went to Japan in 1992 to promote Fire Walk With Me, and again in 2017 in order to promote The Return. David Lynch filmed this spot advertising The Return for the Japanese market. Japan enjoyed some unusual extra Peaks material, such this television advertisement for Fire Walk With Me, wherein Cooper records a message to Diane on his tape recorder from the Black Lodge. More famously, David Lynch returned to Twin Peaks in 1993 to personally direct this continuing story told over the course of four Georgia Coffee advertisements made for Japanese television.
The Twin Peaks Georgia Coffee story culminates in Cooper entering the lodge to rescue a young Japanese woman, Asami (actress name?), and emerging at night to reunite her with her partner, Ken (Taka Higuchi), in Glastonbury Grove, This is a rather like part 18 of The Return, when Cooper emerges from the lodge, at night, to reunite with his partner, Diane, in Glastonbury Grove. Hey, wait a minute . . .
Well! Here we have noticeably similar shots, in the same setting, with remarkable narrative overlap. (Note that I’ve cropped the widescreen shots from The Return, while the Georgia Coffee commercial is its original aspect ratio.) In the composition of these shots, Diane, whether by Lynch’s conscious design or not, is mirroring the position of Asami, a Japanese woman, from an earlier, noncanonical(?) narrative. It could be meaningless, but this represents an interesting correlation nonetheless. It can at least be reasonably suggested that Lynch likes the image of a couple reuniting under these very specific circumstances, staged in a very specific way, leading him to depict it twice. Make of this what you will.
Feel free to add any thoughts on the subject of Naido/Diane, whether or not they have anything to do with the above interpretation.