Gone Fishin’

David Lynch Casts a Line Into the City of Dreams

There's a heartbroken tenderness in the way Mulholland Drive spins a cautionary tale around an actor's romantic and professional disillusionment. "The actor's life is one of the hardest lives," says Lynch. "They only have themselves and they are mostly waiting and hoping, and you see how fate plays such a role in who rises and who falls."

Asked about feature plans, Lynch says, "I have no ideas right now," but he's keeping busy with his usual Renaissance-man activities (painting and furniture design) and is especially excited about his Web site, Davidlynch.com, which will soon showcase original content. (Planned series include the Flash-animated Dumbland and the live-action Rabbits.) He's keen to incorporate the technical glitches of Internet streaming as a formal element. "I love some of the bad quality. You work with what you see and feel, and the ideas come to marry with that feel and that quality."

The precise appeal of those beloved "ideas" remains elusive. "A lot of the ideas that I fall in love with . . . they're sort of like contrasts that come up, and so it cannot be just one thing. There has to be the opposite somewhere in the story, so there's innocence and naïveté, and a bunch of things swimming together, and there's strangeness and there's, you know, normal things. But why do I fall in love with certain things? I don't know."

"Endings are terrible things. They can have a great beauty, but only if they leave room to dream."
Photograph by Robin Holland
"Endings are terrible things. They can have a great beauty, but only if they leave room to dream."

Your work has inspired many psychoanalytic and academic readings. Do you pay much attention to them? No, I don't read them, but I feel like if you're true to the ideas . . . Say the idea is a seed, and it's an acorn, and it wants to be an oak. You're only seeing it in the beginning, in a seed form, but if you're really true to the seed, it will surprise you. There may be things you're doing that you don't even see for a couple years. If you alter it, say because of some strange whim, it won't have that depth or harmonics—the truthful harmonics. You just are translating as truthfully as you could and so it could hold more than you even know.

Are you familiar with psychoanalytic theory? Not really. The study of the mind is a beautiful study. The mind is deep. It's huge, it goes from here to there. I know that there's a psychoanalyst in Texas, part of this group. They analyzed Blue Velvet, and I read some of those and, like, even names, colors, they were finding many, many, many things, and relating it to their theories, and it was pretty . . . interesting. If you get the wrong theory and you try to rationalize that theory it could get absurd.

Your name is used as an adjective more than just about any other director's. Does the word "Lynchian" mean anything to you? It means different things to different people. You know, there's an expression that I heard from my friend Charlie: "Keep your eye on the doughnut, and not on the hole." Wanting to stay inside the house is a protection. There's a story—The Man Who Knew Too Much, right? Hitchcock? So you wanna know a lot, but you wanna know a lot of the right things, and not a lot of the wrong things, for protection. We pretty much should focus on the positives, and the work, and not mess with that process, or else it's dead. So you just like to stay in your house and try to catch ideas.

So how would you define "Lynchian"? Oh, you're back to that. I don't want to think about that because that's more like the hole. If I start thinking about that, it's so dangerous. The next idea I fall in love with is kind of where I want to think.

How's that dangerous? You start second-guessing yourself. It's like you're trying to catch fish and someone's talking to you about McDonald's, and that's about beef and another place over here where you just pay money and you get this food. You're out there trying to catch fish, and maybe even thinking about cooking that fish.

Related Articles:

"Twin Peaks: The Yin-Yang Glamour Girls of Mulholland Drive" by Jessica Winter

J. Hoberman's review of Mulholland Drive

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