A David Lynch Retrospective – Preface

the beginning of an incredibly wonderful and strange journey.based on the title, one could easily deduce what this series will consist of. now, patience, my nullibiquitous reader, for the structure of this series will be slightly abstracted. of course,

based on the title, one could easily deduce what this series will consist of. now, patience, my nullibiquitous reader, for the structure of this series will be slightly abstracted. of course, i will go through all of Lynch’s feature length films in chronological order, until I eventually reach the beloved Twin Peaks. throughout the entirety of may, i will do an episode-by-episode recap of the series in anticipation for the highly anticipated third season of Twin Peaks, which will be released on May 21st, 2017. naturally, i’ll make a post about the first episode of the latest season, then the two subsequent episodes, then continue on from there with Fire: Walk With Me. with that, onto the post.

before i could effectively dive into the rabbit hole that is the Lynch universe, i think a certain degree of context is required. now, i understand that the contemptibility that one must’ve developed for the cliche of “before i get into the most important information, let me provide you with useless narrative pretexts”, but in this particular circumstance i think that it’s important. these won’t be academically rigorous essays or laconic procacious reviews. the truth is that i really don’t know what this series will consist of. may there will be a thoroughly researched essay or a gonzo-style meditation on a certain film’s themes. what has become ineluctably lucent to me, however, is the indubitable fact that Lynch’s work has touched me in ways that any works of art ever did. Lynch’s influence upon my own work/creative endeavours is not to be understated. in the same manner of a thoroughly disturbing nightmare, the images, concepts, themes, and motifs of Lynch’s work have burrowed themselves into the depths of my psyche in ways that i never experienced before. it is this intimacy and unyielding deliberation that has prompted me to re-experience all of it.

i first watched Twin Peaks, which immediately became my favourite television show of all time after i completed it. in retrospect, this is humorous to think about considering the fact that Twin Peaks effectively breaks all the conventions (i use that term loosely) of what typically appears in Lynch’s work. in a general sense, this isn’t that surprising considering the fact that the majority of Peaks isn’t directed by Lynch anyway, but it’d still consider it his (and Mark Frost’s) work. the reason why i’d recommend Blue Velvet as an apt starting point as opposed to Peaks is the fact that Blue Velvet limns together the most coherent picture of what to expect when watching one of Lynch’s films. it is the first few shots of Blue Velvet that most adequately demonstrate what i mean; the white picket fences, the vicambulating assembly line of children, and the laboring father–all of which are abruptly curtated by a shot of formicating ants burrowing incessantly subjacent to the surface, and a lone severed ear, comfortably tucked amidst the boscage. it’s this creepy dualism that percolates throughout all of Lynch’s work. the good, the bad, the subrident American family dight in 1950s/60s esque vestiary, the gas masks, the convivial bavardage, the toxic virility. a picturesque, jovial town accompanied with dark secrets, many of which kept out of sight. the hero of Blue Velvet is forced to manically career to and from these worlds as a consequence of his nosy marauding and expiscation. the “good” of Blue Velvet’s world is fancifully adorned in equivocation and false promises. the “bad” is unadulterated, wholly pure in its morbidity. this same concept of an underlying world is present in Twin Peaks. Lynch, instead of merely bringing the darkness to Middle/Upper class America, insists that it’s been there the whole time, unexhumed, uncharted, marinating.

Twin Peaks, however, is different in that there is a deep mythology at work here. the core of Lynch’s films, however, is different in that there is a deep mythology at work here. the core of Lynch’s films are often not coiffed in some sort of insane conspiracy. there are very real, palpable emotions here, many of which are merely delivered in an ostensibly cryptic way. but in Twin Peaks, you’ve got your dugpas and Tibets and dwarves and Angels and things. it’s inscrutable that there are also some very achingly familiar themes at play in Peaks, however, there’s also a lot more going on. do not get it misconstrued. the way in which Lynch explores these themes are not born out of some sort of intellectual pomposity or compulsive need to stand out. there is something unflinchingly real to these films. as David Foster Wallace stated in his essay about Lynch, Lynch is seemingly disinterested in forcing any kind of moral agenda or manipulating his audience. contrary to popular belief, while these films are very cathartic and spiritual, everything is completely intentional. there is nothing there that Lynch didn’t intend for. observe any interview he’s in and take note of how forthwith he is–the impigrity with which he responds whenever he’s asked about his own work and it’s inherent abstractions. everything is answered with a rigid “yes” or “no”, which is followed up by an emphatically clear elaboration (or sometimes no elaboration at all). he is not merely making this shit up. and yet, in all of Lynch’s volitionality, there’s a childlike quality to his irrefutable genius. and much like that of a child’s brush strokes, there’s little inhibition in the way in which Lynch presents his ideas. a large part of the creepiness that comes with Lynch’s work is the fact that it’s all so intensely personal. much like Jeffrey in Blue Velvet, you feel like you’re watching something that you’re not supposed to be watching, but you don’t get to feel that visceral rush of energy with that omnipresence and cryptodynamism that other films typically confer. Lynch is showing you something that you don’t want to see. while Lynch does indulge himself in experimental styles more often than not, he also recognizes the inherent value in narrative and three-dimensionality, as evinced by Twin Peaks’s Laura Palmer (Frost did do a lot of the writing for Peaks, Lynch did write what I consider to be its superior counterpart–Fire: Walk With Me) and Blue Velvet’s Jeffrey Star (to a lesser extent). and yet in these moments of narrative lucidity, there’s still an undeniable abstractness/strangeness to it all. while someone like Tarantino wraps his avant-garde influence in a veneer of palpable suavity and palatability and commercialism, Lynch’s strangeness is incredibly lucent even when it’s glued together by narrative concinnity.

and with that, why would i try to even sum up my thoughts on Lynch as a filmmaker when DFW already has in a manner that’s far more eloquent that i’ll ever be capable of being?:

IF YOU THINK about the outrageous kinds of moral manipulation we suffer at the hands of most contemporary directors, (Wholly random examples: Think of the way Mississippi Burning fumbled at our consciences like a freshman at a coed’s brassiere, or of Dances With Wolves’ crude smug reversal of old westerns’ ‘White equals good and Indian equals bad’ equation. Or just think of movies like Fatal Attraction and Unlawful Entry and Die Hards I through III and Copycat, etc., in which we’re so relentlessly set up to approve the villains’ bloody punishment in the climax that we might as well be wearing togas….) it will be easier to convince you that something in Lynch’s own clinically detached filmmaking is not only refreshing but redemptive. It’s not that Lynch is somehow “above” being manipulative; it’s more like he’s just not interested. Lynch’s movies are about images and stories that are in his head and that he wants to see made external and complexly “real.” His loyalties are fierce and passionate and entirely to himself.

I don’t mean to make it sound like this kind of thing is wholly good or that Lynch is some kind of paragon of health or integrity. His passionate inwardness is refreshingly childlike, but I notice that very few of US (Michael Jackson notwithstanding. (Actually the one definite Lynch project on my own private wishlist is a Crumb-type documentary by Lynch on Jackson-I have the feeling that one or both of them might just spontaneously combust in the middle of doing it) choose to make small children our friends. And as for Lynch’s serene detachment from people’s response, I’ve noticed that, while I can’t help but respect and sort of envy the moral nerve of people who truly do not care what others think of them, people like this also make me nervous, and I tend to do my admiring from a safe distance.

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