Let us begin with the tenth clue in Lynch's list - Where is Aunt Ruth? She is present throughout - from beginning to end. The genius that is David Lynch has given us the intimate portrait of Aunt Ruth's psyche - the memories symbolized in a romance/mystery narrative. There is no linear time because it is all occurring in the mind of Aunt Ruth. It is Ruth's life from her arrival in Hollywood as the young, naive, and innocent Betty through to her transformation into the worldly and manipulative Camilla. There are precedents for using two actresses to represent one person - most notably in Luis Bunuels' 1977 film "That Obscure Object of Desire".
Diane represents the loss of Betty's idealist desire to be "a great actress and not just a movie star". The persona of Diane can only survive if Camilla is extinguished. Rita is the nascent appearance of the pragmatic persona - that part of Aunt Ruth who will compromise all of her values and play the Hollywood game to achieve 'success'.
The character of Linny James is Aunt Ruth at mid-life. She has already succeeded as a 'star', married and divorced director Adam/producer Wally and has become a highly successful casting director. Rita Taggart (Rita/Camilla) plays Linny James. James Karen plays Wally, the producer & ex-husband. The actress who plays Aunt Ruth is actually Rita Taggart, but she is listed as Maya Bond in the credits. Maya Bond has no acting bio on-line other than 'Mulholland Drive'. Maya is Sanskrit for illusion and 'Maya bond' means to be trapped and bound in a world of illuson.(see derekfnord 05 Jun 2014). That world of illusion is not only to be found in the movies, but also in everyone's everyday life. We are bound to our desires and ambitions (the laughing old couple) and seldom recognize the deeper, eternal layers of our Being.
Lynch represents that layer through the constant parallels that occur. Not only do four actresses play Aunt Ruth (Melissa George plays Camilla Rhodes) but one actor plays two different roles. Gene Silva is 'Cookie' the hotel manager and the emcee at Club Silencio. Actors look eerily similar to each other - Detective McKnight and Woody Katz, Dan and Adam Kesher, lady in Apt.12 and Adam's secretary, etc. The names of actresses Lori Heuring (who plays Adam's wife) and Laura Harring. Actor Vincent Castellanos name merges with the character's name Vincenzo Castigliane. Actress Melissa George has a certain resemblance to Laura Harring - especially when the latter dons the blond wig. (see kmkmiller 28 Jun 2012). Coco (represents the conscience - always wanting to do the right thing and keep everything in order) repeats the same line twice - "Just call me CoCo - everyone does". Doubles, duality, and doplegangers abound. That is the reality that we all live in.
The Cowboy is the Conscious Ego and when he tells Diane "Time to wake up pretty girl" - he is telling her to wake up to the conscious reality of what has happened to her persona. A few minutes later when Diane stands alone in her barren kitchen and weeps at the sight of Camilla and then becomes horrified (see Siku 27 Sept 2012) it is because that marks the moment when Diane/Aunt Ruth consciously realizes the person that she has become - sly and devious Camilla.
David Lynch - a genius walks among us. How privileged we are to be in the presence of his films.