January 17-23, 2007

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David Lynch

Photograph by David Lynch
Java Junkie: David Lynch turns a 'damn fine cup of coffee' from 'Twin Peaks' into a gourmet caffeine line.

Empire Builder

David Lynch talks about his new movie, his new book and his meditation methods

By Richard von Busack

HAVING traded "the suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity" for "the flak jacket of bliss," David Lynch is back with a new movie, a new book and—to wash them both down—David Lynch Signature Cup coffee line: "It's good for you! An idea in every bean!" Lynch's latest motion picture, Inland Empire, opens locally Feb. 9. To tell the world about it, Lynch encamped in a grassy knoll at Hollywood and La Brea with a live cow as a one-man Oscar campaign for star Laura Dern.

I chatted with Lynch via car phone as he drove through Delaware. (Click here to read the full version of the interview.) He was easy to talk to, provided I stayed away from the cause-and-effect in his cinematic dreams. Today, when even the most inane film comes with a director's track on DVD, Lynch's cinema represents one of the last realms of unknown territory. Refusing to explain himself, Lynch tells his audiences that they know more than they think they do. "I have to stay true to my abstract ideas, but I think it's beautiful that there are so many interpretations."

I unloaded part of my theory about the connection between the Little Man in Twin Peaks and the demons (if that's what they were) in Mulholland Dr. "That's good!," he said, encouragingly and, I feel, honestly.

Silence. Time to try another hunch. Was he influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne? "Is he the one who wrote Day of the Locust?" Lynch asked, jumping to Nathanael West.

I mentioned the author of Twice-Told Tales because he wrote about haunted forests, devils in the woods and towns that turn their back on the wilderness. "The forest is a place of mystery and the unknown," Lynch commented. "Many people turn their backs on that; ... going into a forest and going into a movie theater are both like entering these realms. There's a little more safety in a theater, maybe."

How Lynch gets his ideas is explained in Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity (Tarcher/Penguin; $19.95). In some 10,000 words, he describes his enlightenment through years of Transcendental Meditation. He also discusses other favorite filmmakers. But meditation is the subject he seems to consider most exciting: "Meditation is the door to the stuff that's down underneath. I dive in twice a day. It's constant creativity unblocking, and there's so much power and intuition in it."

Followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once offered to crime-proof San Jose through meditation instruction, all for the modest sum of $55.8 million. One might consider the warning of the anti-Maharishi website, which tells us that through TM "you may reach a stage where you never get out of the 'spacey' state, i.e., you may experience chronic dissociation." Lynch's films might carry a similar warning. What's hard to imagine is why Lynch, whose work is so full of turbulence and decay, would be interested in inner peace?

Lynch replied, "An artist doesn't have to suffer to show suffering. A lot of people fear meditation. They think they'll get so peaceful, they'll drop out. They mistake anger for an edge, but anger cramps you up. And when you're depressed, you can't work. Meditation is an evolutionary force. The world is changing fast, Richard—more people are ready for it now."

Finally, what did he think of Jean Cocteau's comment, "If there's another world, it's inside this one?"

"They say there are worlds within worlds, dimensions within dimensions," Lynch responded. "We can all feel them and we can all sense them. It's so beautiful when you can dive in, and experience these subtle levels of intellect, the big reality which the scientist calls 'the Unified Field Theory' ... that something that Is, It Will Be, Forever—that totality."

Movie Times David Lynch appears at a booksigning Saturday (Jan. 20) at 2pm at Barnes & Noble, 2200 Eastridge Loop, San Jose.

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