ERE and Golden Eggs
A couple of years ago, when it made sense to have an Amazon Prime membership, I stumbled upon the original television series Twin Peaks
(1990-91) and streamed it. Over the last few weeks, I've watched the new season on DVD from the library (2017; it's a "25 years later" type thing), and I've been working through my thoughts on it.
It's a polarizing show. People tend to think it's either: 1) refreshingly original (nay, brilliant!); or 2) absolutely terrible. Example: My SO watched the first season with me, then refused to continue. It's got a lot of over-the-top melodrama, a huge tangle of narrative threads (many of which don't go anywhere), and loooong stretches of dialogue-less surrealism (think 2001:A Space Odyssey
's "Star Child" sequence, if that rings a bell for you). The central narrative line—the thing that starts us down the rabbit hole, so to speak—is the investigation into the murder of a local high school girl named Laura Palmer.
Fans have become obsessed with theories of how the Twin Peaks
world works, and in particular, what really happened to Laura Palmer. But co-creator of the show David Lynch had this to say about the show's own central—and most coherent—plot line:
“What killed ‘Twin Peaks’ originally — who killed Laura Palmer? — was a question that we did not ever really want to answer,” Lynch said. “That Laura Palmer mystery was the goose that laid these little golden eggs. And then at a certain point, we were told we needed to wrap that up and after that, [the show] never really picked up.”
The Laura Palmer murder got the whole thing going, but the Twin Peaks
world, once set in motion, kept spitting out more new and different and bizarre and incomplete and provocative other
stories. It was self-seeding from then on out. An infinite story. At its peak, when the show was nearly unwatchable from a narrative standpoint, but still magnetic to a small, cult-ish fanbase from a "world building" standpoint (with a well-defined, much beloved tone
, sense of place
, and internal logic
), you might even be forgiven for calling it a systems-level
show. The show in total was more than the just resolution of its plot. It wasn't even about the goose. It was about the golden eggs. But alas, most interest in the show dropped off after the first season—precisely when the side narratives and surrealism took off and the narrative about solving the murder moved to the back burner. Water cooler buzz, which had led the show to enormous popularity after the first episodes, died off because no one could even explain what the show was about anymore
, even if
they still liked it.
Which brings us to ERE. I've started thinking of ERE as the goose, and about the opportunities/fringe benefits/emergent properties/quirks that result from ERE as the golden eggs.
It's not even about saving a ton of money.
It's not even about creating a low-expense lifestyle.
It's not even about multiple income sources.
It's not even about financial resilience in a changing world.
At least, not for me.
Those are goose things. Those are "central plots lines." They are important things, and I've been incredibly fortunate in stumbling across these ideas and this community so early in life. They need to be there to get the whole thing going. But in moving forward with my life, I'm much more interested in all the golden eggs the goose has been laying. Those are the things that make the show more than just a well-executed sit-com.
Over in the Yields and Flows thread
, I emphasized a particular viewpoint I've been mulling around recently—a progressive widening of focus when making choices:
black_son_of_gray wrote: ↑
Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:41 pm
[…]now it's all just mashed up together with "living your life". At this level, you're looking at the cost and value not simply of a single thing/behavior over the course of your interaction/participation with it, but across your whole lifestyle and all the other things you own and/or interact with. Does this one thing "lift up" or support numerous other goals/systems/routines that you have in your life? How do the other goals/systems/routines that you have in your life in turn impact this one thing that you are considering? Because the cost and value are spread across so many other aspects of the lifestyle, calculating it for any particularly element becomes perhaps ironically, extremely difficult. This is also why money itself starts to become almost irrelevant once a robust system is up and running smoothly.
But when vision is broadened, defocused—to the point where individual elements start to merge into the background...how do you know which direction to go?
On that point @7Wannabe5 said something to music-producer @Jin+Guice about managing this challenge that really resonated (sorry, had to) with me:
7Wannabe5 wrote: ↑
Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:07 pm
Do it like you adjust all the different levels in the recording studio until you optimize "good."
What's interesting to me about this idea of following your own ear towards what sounds "good", is that it implies that each journey into the highest ERE Wheaton Levels is idiosyncratic and has to be done alone
. While these levels can be described at some cold, sterile, 10000-foot level in abstract, structural/hierarchical terms, they can't define what "good" is—you have to do that for yourself. They can't tell you which or how many golden eggs you're going to want to have around you. ERE just provides you with a biological description of the goose—which is helpful—but not all there is to know about being a farmer. For better or worse, I myself am having a hard time understanding what ERE even means for me anymore. What I am doing is making some small measure of progress in figuring out what I think is the "good life." (Is that progress?)
This haze is distinctly different from the lower ERE Wheaton Levels which have no obvious philosophical tuning aspect to them. At the higher levels, the mathematical precision that defines the lower levels starts to dissolve into a gut-level balancing of a much more individualized "goodness" (e.g. Is something "worth it" from a YMOYL standpoint?). From the outside, or from lower levels, this can look ridiculous, bizarre, or incoherent. But those lower rungs are staring at the goose and blind to the eggs.
The creators of Twin Peaks
followed their aesthetic for "good" and ended up with a highly esoteric show that even most fans can't really understand or explain (at least, not fully). In this respect, I'll be very
interested in seeing what ERE Wheaton Level 7+ looks like as it populates (how many are already there??). Will it just be a bunch of people that maybe-kinda-sorta get each other, and understand each other in a certain abstract way, but ultimately are as varied as individual preferences for "goodness"?