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Diane / Diana

MGM / NBC
JoBeth Williams as "Diane Freeling" in "Poltergeist"; Shelley Long as "Diane Chambers" in "Cheers." Both aired in 1982.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – On Nov. 25, 1982, the wildly-popular NBC sitcom Cheers featured an episode “Coach Returns to Action,” where dim-but-friendly barman Ernie “Coach” Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto) “falls” for a woman who moves into his Boston apartment building, Nina (Murphy Cross), but he isn’t sure how to ask her out to dinner.

Meanwhile, Nina waits at the bar and Sam (Ted Danson) does his level best to woo Nina but she rebuffs him at every turn. Diane (Shelley Long), meanwhile, watches Sam’s efforts in disgust, knowing that Coach wants to ask Nina out.

While this is going on, Diane is shown at the bar reading a paperback copy of Carl Jung’s book Man and His Symbols, a book I have written about here at Dust Devil Dreams and featured in my December 3, 2018 post “Crashing symbols.”

Re-reading that post, I get chills. Primarily because, as a I wrote, the same book (with a different cover) is being read in the early scenes of the 1982 film Poltergeist! I wrote: “And what of the 1982 Steven Spielberg-penned Poltergeist film? As some may recall, the mother in the film, Diane Freeling (played by Houston, Texas native JoBeth Williams, who turns 70 on Thursday) is smoking pot in bed with her husband Steve (Craig T. Nelson) and reading Jung's Man and His Symbols. Curiously, two years earlier, in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, right before ghostly/weird activity begins in the Overlook Hotel, we see a copy of Jung's The Red Book on the desk of Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson). That book was not widely available until 2009.”

It is clear that Jung's ideas were coming to the forefront of the collective consciousness - via popular culture - in the late 1970's and early 1980's, as evidenced by the repeated appearance of his books in the world of art, music and media.

Note that both women shown reading Jung’s Man and His Symbols are both named “Diane” (as pointed out by my old RDR colleague Liz Burleson), and both take place in 1982. Synchromystically speaking, The Police album Synchronicity began being recorded at AIR Studios in Montserrat in December 1982, a few weeks after the Cheers episode was aired. That was also the same month and year my neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas was hit by a devastating tornado (larger "dust devil") and a pine tree (pineal) crashed onto my swing set, allowing me to later use the scrap metal to buy a foot locker featuring the Washington Redskins football team - which I would eventually cover in bumper stickers and political stickers leading up to the 1984 presidential election. 

I have felt that an event will be facing America's capital city sometime soon. It was where that pine tree stood - in front of it, anyway - where I confirmed with a parent, the UFO experience I had a decade earlier in a Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland - where I had the encounter with the "Indian" noted here and here. This involved the "Apple" (Apol?) Room. 

In Twin Peaks lore, Special Agent Dale Cooper is assigned a secretary on December 19, 1977 at the Pittsburgh, Pa. field office. Her name? Diane Evans. She was with Cooper, keeping his famed “tapes” and eventually appearing (played by Laura Dern) in the 2017 reboot Twin Peaks: The Return, throughout the 1980’s and beyond.

Recall that actor Craig T. Nelson, the dad in Poltergeist, (and a film that appears to have a “curse” connected with it) would later star in his own TV series on ABC called Coach, which would premier four days after (Feb. 28, 1989) the events that take place in Twin Peaks. In fact, our first introduction to Agent Cooper is in his FBI car talking to “Diane” on a microcassette recorder.

Coach, we should note, was canceled on May 14, 1997 -21 years ago. The same year that Princess Diana was killed in an auto accident in France.

The name “Diane” is derived from Latin (divus) or “divine” and is connected to the name of the Roman goddess Diana, the goddess of the hunt, forests and childbirth.

But what of the connection to Man and His Symbols? Note in the photo above, Cooper is talking to Diane via his tape recorder. He is remarking on the trees - the Douglas firs native to Washington state. He is also on a "hunt" of sorts, to find out who murdered Laura Palmer. The subject of childbirth - of sorts - would play a role in The Return, with the destruction of primordial matter at the Trinity Site in New Mexico when the first atomic bomb exploded there on July 16, 1945. 

In relation to Cheers, a comedy, the nuances aren't quite there. Although Diane's mischievous co-worker Carla claims her son's father is Sam Malone, which is not true. Carla is a trickster in the series and Diane falls for it, as she is, at heart, a seemingly decent person who tries to look for the good in people, when things are in her "wheelhouse," as it were. Cooper is an upstanding "Boy Scout" sort, the kind admired (and emulated) by director/filmmaker David Lynch.

CANDLE IN THE WIND

In the article "Deathwalking with Diana: Shamanic Dreams & Visions of a Resurrected Grail Myth," Dr. Maureen B. Roberts (who believes the Age of Aquarius began in 1997) writes about the death of Diana and how it intersects with the Grail myth and King Arthur. Recall that the Arthurian legend looms large in Twin Peaks, with Cooper finding the entrance to the Black Lodge in Glastonbury (Glastonberry) Grove in Ghostwood Forest. (Twelve candles. Twelve sycamore trees. Twelve knights).

But back to Roberts' observations: "“Diana started out as a fairytale Princess - the shy, rather naive Maiden who idealistically captures - or is, rather, captured by the Prince. But once this innocence and idealism was shattered, she became a tragically mythic figure, a human goddess, as was the Greek Psyche, and a mature woman. Her triumph is that she turned her vulnerability, as victim, into strength and compassion, as heroine. Marilyn Monroe, for whom Elton John's song "Candle in the Wind" was originally written, never got past this victim and "tragic Venus" stage.

Diana, on the other hand, rescued herself from her pain, aloneness, and imprisoning circumstances and transcended them through aspiring to help and comfort her fellow human beings; so can we. When through the "I-Thou" of Eros consciousness, the heart opens in a paradox of simultaneous strength and vulnerability, weakness takes the form of a mediatorial power of freely offered compassion. One is then neither merely helpless victim nor invulnerable hero, but is rather the ambivalent Self, the Wounded Healer as "heroic victim". The Grail has before now served the Wounded King; now it serves the wounded Queen of Hearts, inasmuch as she is potentially also each of us.”

It was Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) who was the "Queen of Hearts" in the final season of Twin Peaks (1991), leading to the final episode of the original run with the heroic "knight" Cooper chasing the villainous Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) into the Black Lodge. 

And so, here we are in 2019. At the moment I can say I see some similarities between 1982 and 2018, just as I see some between 1983 and 2019. And as I remember, the tensions - globally, particularly between the US and the USSR - were at an all-time high. Nuclear war seemed almost inevitable. I have written a lot about that time period and how out-of-control things seemed to be getting. I would say things are even more uncertain today. The echoes of the early 1980's seem to be getting louder. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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