GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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Though David Lynch is infamous for refusing to talk directly about his work, he is often very generous in his willingness to talk about the visioning process through which it comes into being and the source of the creativity that animates his vision, transcendental meditation. In this new interview recently posted on YouTube, Lynch is particularly engaging, in part due to the persistence and enthusiasm of his intrepid interviewer:
Thanks to an illuminating series of questions, we get a solid 25 minutes of David Lynch in his own voice expressing many of his signature epiphanies: that his films are not efforts to say this or that, but rather efforts to bring to cinematic expression ideas with which he has fallen in love; that "diving within" each day through transcendental meditation engenders a transformative happiness that serves as a "flak jacket" against the suffering, darkness, and death of our world; that the social and political relevance of his films grows out of his fidelity to the particular ideas and stories that have captured his imagination and not out of a personal ideological agenda; that attunement to a film's deeper possibilities for feeling and understanding the ideas in play arises in part from not needing to have things pinned down, so that the potency of the story stands higher than its actuality. For those who follow Lynch's interviews or have read his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, most of these themes will ring familiar.
One intriguing new development here is Lynch's response to a question about the state of Hollywood in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's exposure by the #MeToo movement (at 20:00 in the above video). In comments that are as oracular and meandering as most of what he has to say about "current events", Lynch gives us a window into his view of male aggression toward and sexual violence against women--which he clearly condemns, if not as forcefully as one might hope--as a phenomenon that can be dissipated by transcendental meditation. Lest anyone think that Lynch is just glibly asserting that meditation can ameliorate the world's problems without any basis for touting its potential social and political applications, it is important to remember his transformational work in schools and prisons with the The David Lynch Foundation.
Even so, one might wonder if there is a kind a quietism concerning gendered violence here that invites critical questions about Lynch's preferred stance of ideological neutrality for the sake of maintaining fidelity to the ideas and their stories. On the other hand, perhaps Lynch's personal silence on the matter is an effort to let his art speak for itself to those of us who see in these stories the possibility of a powerful critique of institutional sexism, male aggression, and toxic masculinity even though Lynch himself is not setting out to make it that way. Or perhaps we have something of a "both/and" situation here in which Lynch's personal quietism on the matter both merits critique and enables a certain fidelity to the ideas and their stories that allows the concrete realities of violence against women to present themselves in all their unvarnished horror.