on david lynch

May 6th, 2014

When I was a teenager, I loved Twin Peaks. I found it very funny, and enjoyed its peculiarity. (I was better able to appreciate its layered, intuitive complexity having watched it again as an adult.) When I watched David Lynch films in college, I was frustrated by what I felt to be an incoherent narrative. I changed my mind one day when a switch was flipped in my mind–you don’t watch a Lynchian film with your conscious brain. You watch it with your subconscious brain. You don’t so much watch (read: analyze) his films as much as you feel them, absorb them, let the waves of images crash upon your senses one after the other. Experiencing his films in this way results in a coherent experience–one that may be difficult to articulate, as it is composed of intricate layers of imagery and symbolism–but a sort of non-linear, illogical coherence nonetheless. I think of it as dream logic. If you watch his films as though they were dreams, they make perfect, remarkable, beautiful sense. And therein lies their meaning. Forcing David Lynch to discuss the “meaning” of his films before an audience is absurd. If the meaning could be articulated in simple language, why bother making the film? In fact, the meaning lies in the experience of watching the film. It’s the interaction between the viewer’s consciousness and the film itself. It’s showing, not telling. So, snarky writer for the Paris Review–stop getting your panties in a twist because David Lynch won’t tell you what his films are about. That’s not his job. Just watch the damn movies yourself.

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