Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch

"Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper."

By Edward Copeland
That's how David Lynch opens his charming and very quick read Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. Ostensibly, the book tells of Lynch's journey through creative life and how he's been helped by Transcendental Meditation, but it's hardly a how-to guide. As one might expect from one of the most idiosyncratic American filmmakers, it's more stream of consciousness, sharing anecdotes from his life and his work.

I have an admission to make: I'm a sucker for books with short chapters. For some reason, if the chapters are shorter, I'll end up flying through the book faster than I would if the chapters were longer. I like frequent stopping points and Lynch's book provides ample opportunities for those but its short bites create a pace that's so quick, it's easy to finish in one setting.

One of the worst (as in arduous) reading tasks I ever endured was Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet, which not only lacked chapters, it didn't even have little spaces of breaks in the narrative where one could easily put it down if they had to sleep, go to the bathroom, work for a living, etc.

However, I digress and I shouldn't be concentrating on negativity while writing about a book devoted to bliss. (Though the factual error freak in me has to ask how when he mentions actors he works with a lot such as Kyle MacLachlan, he manages to misspell his last name.)

The book in no way serves as a sales pamphlet for TM, just tells how meditation helps Lynch, both in terms of making his art and surviving rough patches (such as Dune). One thing I found particularly interesting is that for someone such as Lynch who is so closely associated with dreams and dream-like images, the director says he's seldom been inspired by a dream when it came to making one of his films.

There are plenty of interesting tidbits from his many works. For example, who knew that he came up with the idea of the Red Room from Twin Peaks simply by touching the warm metal of a car on a particularly hot day.

He also gives many examples of how accidents on the set often seem to happen for a reason and should be embraced, the most famous being seeing set dresser Frank Silva on the Peaks set and coming up with the idea of BOB.

Lynch also shows he's still a fan, singing the praises of filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock and sharing the glee he felt when he learned that Stanley Kubrick claimed that his favorite movie was Eraserhead and would often show it to people in his London home.

Lynch also declares that he's done with film now that he's discovered digital video and believes movie theaters are going away anyway as screens get smaller and require headphones, which he says is good in combat against the preponderance of talkers to be found at any public movie screening. I knew we were kindred spirits on some level, but when are you bringing INLAND EMPIRE where I can see it, Mr. Lynch?

He also vows never to do a commentary track for any of his movies because he feels that explaining anything would unfairly color the experience for the viewer. For any Lynch fan, Catching the Big Fish is well worth the read.

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If you like David and his work you shouldn't miss this event.

The second annual Lynch Weekend will be hosted on the Maharishi University of Management campus in Fairfield, Iowa on May 25-27. www.lynchweekend.org, www.mum.edu
Sounds interesting. Wish I could be there.
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