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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #16

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Second #752, 12:52

1. Jeffrey has just left the Williams’s, when their daughter Sandy appears slowly out of the shadows, to the swelling of music and the sound of wind moving through the tree branches, in one of the most remarkable entrances in cinema history, asking him, “Are you the one that found the ear?”

2. “How did you know?” Jeffrey says. “I just know. That’s all,” Sandy replies, in her pink dress, with no bra. The frame is overheated with information about light, and Sandy’s face, the way it is turned to Jeffrey, it’s as if she wants him more than anything in the world, but knows she must wait until the awful journey they are about to embark on is finished. They are outside now, on their own and out of range from the listening ears of parents and detectives. Jeffrey stands tall and stiff with his arms to his side in an outfit and stance that foretells The Giant in Twin Peaks.

3. What does a severed ear mean? What does sound sound like if the outer ear is missing? In The Ear: Its Diseases and their Treatment (1885) C. E. Shoemaker wrote:

The author had, at one time, a man in his employ, who, through a railway accident, had the misfortune to have both ears closely severed from his head—not leaving a vestige (save the cicatrix) to indicate they ever existed—but whose hearing power, notwithstanding the loss, seemed unimpaired.

4. Openly hidden (like the document in Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”) in Sandy’s line “Are you the one that found the ear?” is the question “Are you the one?” It’s as if Sandy has known, all her life, that this moment would come, and that Jeffrey went walking at night with the sole purpose of finding her, without even knowing why. Jeffrey, detective that he is, answers her question with another question (“How did you know?”) which gets at the epistemological heart of the matter because, we wonder, is it Sandy he desires or her knowledge? Jeffrey is interested in Innocence, it seems, only as a gateway to Experience, which in the world of Blue Velvet is corrupt. And it is this very moment—when the rust of corruption sets in as Sandy and Jeffrey stand illuminated in the devouring dark–that this frame captures.

Over the period of one full year — three days per week — The Blue Velvet Project will seize a frame every 47 seconds of David Lynch’s classic to explore. These posts will run until second 7,200 in August 2012. For a complete archive of the project, click here. And here is the introduction to the project.

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