In David Lynch’s Words: The Idea Tells You Everything

“The idea tells you everything. Lots of times I get ideas, I fall in love with them. Those ones you fall in love with are really special ideas. And, in some ways, I always say, when something’s abstract, the abstractions are hard to put into words unless you’re a poet. These ideas you somehow know. And cinema is a language that can say abstractions. I love stories, but I love stories that hold abstractions–that can hold abstractions. And cinema can say these difficult-to-say-in-words things. A lot of times, I don’t know the meaning of the idea, and it drives me crazy. I think we should know the meaning of the idea. I think about them, and I tell this story about my first feature Eraserhead. I did not know what these things meant to me–really meant. And on that particular film, I started reading the Bible. And I’m reading the Bible, going along, and suddenly–there was a sentence. And I said, forget it! That’s it. That’s this thing. And so, I should know the meaning for me, but when things get abstract, it does me no good to say what it is. All viewers on the surface are all different. And we see something, and that’s another place where intuition kicks in: an inner-knowingness. And so, you see a thing, you think about it, and you feel it, and you go and you sort of know something inside. And you can rely on that.”

David Lynch


For Lynch, an important idea holds a key to the path into the unknown territory, at least previously unknown. If we can decipher the meaning behind a certain phenomenon, grasp it, we must find an appropriate language to present it to other people, otherwise, we are its sole possessors. Lynch singles out poetry as a medium which can present abstractions in words, but cinema as well, since it can present abstractions visually, along with words and music. The synthetic nature of cinema (language, visuals and music) makes it a particularly suitable medium to convey abstract ideas. Let’s take eroticism for instance. In his Inland Empire Lynch conveyed eroticism by means of an image of a skull which can be seen in frozen, black broken glass.

This is a particular understanding of eroticism propagated by Georges Bataille who associated it with death. Later in the film, he conveyed amour fou, mad love, which was an important theme for the surrealists, in Laura Dern’s emotional outburst – she was portraying a character on the verge of sanity, its nature depending on interpretations, whose identity was fractured and shattered. The loss of identity was thus portrayed through her erratic laughter, in a particularly eerie scene. This enumeration of surrealist themes portrayed in this particular Lynch’s film is only a starting point. He conveyed ideas which were a part of the surrealist movement, but also conveyed the ideas which are his constant personal preoccupation.

For example, the nature of evil. In the TV show Twin Peaks, the original one, we find out that Laura was raped and murdered by her father possessed by a demon. Lynch’s understanding of an abstract idea of evil was thus shown in the manic behaviour of a possessed father who is a murderer, but Lynch’s own understanding of this abstract idea – evil – is also shown in this portrayal. For Lynch, evil is something metaphysical, coming from the outside, which overtakes an individual and drives him to commit horrible acts. The mysterious and ominous woods which surround the little town of Twin Peaks are a place where evil resides and then possesses individuals. Human beings are not inherently evil, but this metaphysical, ever-existing evil takes hold of individuals, transforms them into unrecognizable murderous beings.

In the 2017 Twin Peaks evil is associated with electricity, in other words, evil is an energy and particular places, objects and even human beings are “charged” with this energy. Good and evil, are ideas Lynch is obsessed with and it can be argued that Laura Palmer embodies the idea of good, since Laura becomes an angel and ascends into the otherworld. She is an innocent victim, who has passed the test and resisted the daemonic influence, as it is told in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This is further emphasized in the 2017 show and its Part 8 which deals with good and evil in the most stunning way. To conclude, Lynch connects with a great number of people since ideas he presents are universal and every human being is in one way or another affected by their manifestations.




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