David Lynch

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I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable.

David Keith Lynch (born 20 January 1946) is an American film director, writer and actor.

See also:
Eraserhead (1977)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Dune (1984)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Twin Peaks (1990–1991)
Lost Highway (1997)
Mulholland Drive (2001)

Quotes[edit]

I don't think about technique. The ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you're dead.
Life is very, very complicated and so films should be allowed to be too.
I don't understand the concept of two sides and I think that probably there's good on both sides, bad on both sides, and there's a middle ground, but it never seems to come to the middle ground and it's very frustrating watching it and seemingly we're not moving forward.
Being in darkness and confusion is interesting to me. But behind it you can rise out of that and see things the way the really are.
Right now, we gotta get peace back in the world. Peace is a real thing.
There's so many problems in our world, so much negativity. Don't worry about the darkness — turn on the light and the darkness automatically goes.
  • All the movies are about strange worlds that you can't go into unless you build them and film them. That's what's so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.
    • As quoted in The Making of Dune (1984) by Ed Naha, p. 213
  • The worst thing about this modern world is that people think you get killed on television with zero pain and zero blood. It must enter into kids' heads that it's not very messy to kill somebody, and it doesn't hurt that much. That's a real sickness to me. That's a real sick thing.
  • I don't think about technique. The ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you're dead.
    • As quoted in "Dark Lens on America" in The New York Times Magazine (14 January 1990)
  • When you're an artist, you pick up on certain things that are in the air. You just feel it. It's not like you're sitting down, thinking, "What can I do to really mess things up?" You're getting ideas, and then the ideas feed into a story, and the story takes shape. And if you're honest about it and you're thinking about characters and what they do, you now see that your ideas are about trouble. You're feeling more depth, and you're describing something that is going on in some way.
  • In film, life-and-death struggles make you sit up, lean forward a little bit. They amplify things happening, in smaller ways, in all of us. These things show up in relationships. They show up in struggles and bring them to a critical point.
    • As quoted in "Lost Highway" interview by Mikal Gilmore in Rolling Stone (6 March 1997)
  • The beginning dictates the direction and you never know where you're going to go ... the mood is what you're looking for, and somehow we always find it.
    • As quoted in in Pretty as a Picture : The Art of David Lynch (1997)
  • When I was little in Spokane, Washington I drew all the time... and my father would bring paper home ... and I mostly drew browning automatic water-cooled sub-machine guns... that was my favorite.
    • As quoted in in Pretty as a Picture : The Art of David Lynch (1997)
  • Every single thing in the world that was made by anyone started with an idea. So to catch one that is powerful enough to fall in love with, it is one of the most beautiful experiences. It's like being jolted with electricity and knowledge at the same time.
    • Interview with Chris Douridas (1997) quoted in David Lynch Interviews (2009) by Richard A. Barney
  • I found the world completely and totally fantastic as a child. Of course, I had the usual fears, like going to school ... For me, back then, school was a crime against young people. It destroyed the seeds of liberty. The teachers didn't encourage knowledge or a positive attitude.
    • As quoted in Lynch on Lynch (1997; 2005 revised edition) by Chris Rodley, based on personal interviews made from 1993 to 1996.
  • A film is its own thing and in an ideal world I think a film should be discovered knowing nothing and nothing should be added to it and nothing should be subtracted from it.
  • I'm not a political person. ... I don't understand politics, I don't understand the concept of two sides and I think that probably there's good on both sides, bad on both sides, and there's a middle ground, but it never seems to come to the middle ground and it's very frustrating watching it and seemingly we're not moving forward. Some change, simple, simple really, relatively speaking, and we're going forwards somewhere, you know? It could be a beautiful place. There's many little obstacles and there's many, many people that are just opposed and we're not going forward.
    • Scene by Scene interview BBC 2 (1999)
  • Life is very, very complicated and so films should be allowed to be too.
    • As quoted in The Los Angeles Times (20 April 2003)
  • There's this beautiful ocean of bliss and consciousness that is able to be reached by any human being by diving within, which is really peaceful and harmonious and can be enlivened by the group process. This group is a peace-creating group. It saturates the atmosphere. This is all about establishing peace. Right now, we gotta get peace back in the world. Peace is a real thing.
  • Being in darkness and confusion is interesting to me. But behind it you can rise out of that and see things the way the really are. That there is some sort of truth to the whole thing, if you could just get to that point where you could see it, and live it, and feel it ... I think it is a long, long, way off. In the meantime there's suffering and darkness and confusion and absurdities, and it's people kind of going in circles. It's fantastic. It's like a strange carnival: it's a lot of fun, but it's a lot of pain.
    • As quoted in Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2004) by Joseph Maddrey, p. 160
  • Speaking in front of a large crowd is not pleasant. Once it gets rolling, it's okay. But beforehand, it's murder. I'm getting a lot better. The first interview I ever did was in 1972, I believe, and I couldn't speak. I couldn't speak one word. I only said, "I painted it black." That was my one sentence. And so I have improved.
  • It makes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It is better not to know so much about what things mean. Because the meaning, it's a very personal thing and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for someone else.
    • As quoted in My Love Affair with David Lynch and Peachy Like Nietzsche: Dark Clown Porn Snuff for Terrorists and Gorefiends (2005) by Jason Rogers, p. 7
  • I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable. It seems like religion and myth were invented against that, trying to make sense out of it.
    • As quoted in My Love Affair with David Lynch and Peachy Like Nietzsche: Dark Clown Porn Snuff for Terrorists and Gorefiends (2005) by Jason Rogers, p. 7
  • There's so many problems in our world, so much negativity. Don't worry about the darkness — turn on the light and the darkness automatically goes. Ramp up the light of unity within — help do that for yourself, help do that for the world and then we're really doing something, we're doing something that brings that light of unity."
    • On the Alex Jones Radio show, as quoted in "David Lynch Questions 9/11 On National U.S. Radio" in Prison Planet (25 January 2007)
  • There is a plot. What would be the point of just a bunch of things? There's a story, but the story can hold abstractions. I believe in story. I believe in characters. But I believe in a story that holds abstractions, and a story that can be told based on ideas that come in an unconventional way."
  • Don't make a film if it can't be the film you want to make. It's a joke, and a sick joke, and it'll kill you.

McKenna interview (1992)[edit]

We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experienced is a narrowing of the imagination.
Interview with Kristine McKenna (3 August 1992)
  • I love child things because there's so much mystery when you're a child. When you're a child, something as simple as a tree doesn't make sense. You see it in the distance and it looks small, but as you go closer, it seems to grow — you haven't got a handle on the rules when you're a child. We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experienced is a narrowing of the imagination.
  • I guess I got whacked hard in the mystery department when I was little. I found the world completely and totally fascinating then — it was like a dream. They say that people who think they had a happy childhood are blocking something out, but I think I really had one. Of course I had the usual fears, like going to school — I knew there was some sort of problem there. But every other person sensed that problem too, so my fears were pretty normal.
One change of attitude would change everything. If everyone realized that it could be a beautiful world and said let's not do these things anymore — let's have fun.
  • There's always fear of the unknown where there's mystery. It's possible to achieve a state where you realize the truth of life and fear disappears, and a lot of people have reached that state, but next to none of them are on Earth. There's probably a few.
  • Dark things have always existed but they used to be in a proper balance with good when life was slower. People lived in towns and small farms where they knew everybody and people didn't move around so much so things were a little more peaceful. There were things that they were afraid of for sure, but now it's accelerated to where the anxiety level of the people is in the stratosphere. TV sped things up and caused people to hear way more bad news. Mass media overloaded people with more than they could handle, and drugs also had a lot to do with it. With drugs people can get so rich and whacked out and they've opened up a whole weird world. These things have created a modern kind of fear in America.
  • One change of attitude would change everything. If everyone realized that it could be a beautiful world and said let's not do these things anymore — let's have fun.
  • There are so many clues and feelings in the world that it makes a mystery and a mystery means there's a puzzle to be solved. Once you think like that you're hooked on probably finding a meaning, and there' many avenues in life where we're given little indications that the mystery can one day be solved. we get little proofs, — not the big proof — but the little proofs that keep us searching.
  • When you do something that works you have a happiness, but I don't know if it's a feeling of power. Power is a frightening thing and that's not what I'm interested in. I want to do certain things and make them right in my mind and that's it.

Catching the Big Fish (2006)[edit]

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.
Quotes from Catching the Big Fish : Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity (2006); some extracts are also online at "Deep Thoughts by David Lynch", Utne Reader (May/June 2007)
Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they are like poison to the filmmaker or artist.
I like the saying "The world is as you are."
Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is.
There are many, many dark things flowing around in this world right now, and most films reflect the world in which we live.
We all reflect the world we live in. Even if you make a period film, it will reflect your times.
  • 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.

    Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They're huge and abstract. And they're very beautiful.
    • Introduction, p. 1
  • When I first heard about meditation, I had zero interest in it. I wasn't even curious. It sounded like a waste of time.
    What got me interested, though, was the phrase "true happiness lies within." At first I thought it sounded kind of mean, because it doesn't tell you where the "within" is, or how to get there. But still it had a ring of truth. And I began to think that maybe meditation was a way to go within.
    • The First Dive, p. 3
  • When I started meditating, I was filled with anxieties and fears. I felt a sense of depression and anger.
    I often took out this anger on my first wife. After I had been meditating for about two weeks, she came to me and said, "What's going on?" I was quiet for a moment. But finally I said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "This anger, where did it go?" And I hadn't even realized that it had lifted.
    I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It's suffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.
    Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they are like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They are like a vise grip on creativity. If you're in that grip, you can hardly get out of bed, much less experience the flow of creativity and ideas. You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas.
    • Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit, p. 8
  • I started out just as a regular person, growing up in the Northwest. My father was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture, studying trees. So I was in the woods a lot. And the woods for a child are magical. I lived in what people call small towns. My world was what would be considered about a city block, maybe two blocks. Everything occurred in that space. All the dreaming, all my friends existed in that small world. But to me it seemed so huge and magical. There was plenty of time available to dream and be with friends.
    I liked to paint and I liked to draw. And I often thought, wrongly, that when you got to be an adult, you stopped painting and drawing and did something more serious.
    • Starting Out, p. 9
  • I'm not always good with words. Some people are poets and have a beautiful way of saying things with words. But cinema is its own language. And with it you can say so many things, because you've got time and sequences. You've got dialogue. You've got music. You've got sound effects. You have so many tools. And so you can express a feeling and a thought that can't be conveyed any other way. It's a magical medium.
    For me, it's so beautiful to think about these pictures and sounds flowing together in time and in sequence, making something that can be done only through cinema. It's not just words or music — it's a whole range of elements coming together and making something that didn't exist before. It's telling stories. It's devising a world, an experience, that people cannot have unless they see that film.
    • Cinema, p. 17
  • I like the saying "The world is as you are." And I think films are as you are. That's why, although the frames of a film are always the same — the same number, in the same sequence, with the same sounds — every screening is different. The difference is sometimes subtle but it's there. It depends on the audience. There is a circle that goes from the audience to the film and back. Each person is looking and thinking and feeling and coming up with his or her own sense of things. And it's probably different from what I fell in love with.
    So you don’t know how it's going to hit people. But if you thought about how it's going to hit people, or if it's going to hurt someone, or if it's going to do this or do that, then you would have to stop making films. You just do these things that you fall in love with, and you never know what's going to happen.
    • The Circle, p. 21
  • An idea is a thought. It's a thought that holds more than you think it does when you receive it. But in that first moment there is a spark. In a comic strip, if someone gets an idea, a lightbulb goes on. It happens in an instant, just as in life.
    It would be great if the entire film came all at once. But it comes, for me, in fragments. That first fragment is like the Rosetta stone. It's the piece of the puzzle that indicates the rest. It's a hopeful puzzle piece.
    In Blue Velvet, it was red lips, green lawns, and the song — Bobby Vinton's version of "Blue Velvet". The next thing was an ear lying in a field. And that was it.
    You fall in love with the first idea, that little tiny piece. And once you've got it, the rest will come in time.
    • Ideas, p. 23
  • Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is.
    Eraserhead was growing in a certain way, and I didn't know what it meant. I was looking for a key to unlock what these sequences were saying. Of course, I understood some of it; but I didn't know the thing that just pulled it all together. And it was a struggle. So I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent.
    I don't think I'll ever say what that sentence was.
    • Eraserhead, p. 33
  • On Blue Velvet, I worked with a casting director, Johanna Ray. And we had all brought up Dennis Hopper. But everybody said, 'No, no; you can't work with Dennis. He's really in bad shape, and you'll have nothing but trouble.' So we continued looking for people. But one day, Dennis' agent called and said that Dennis was clean and sober and had already done another picture, and I could talk to that director to verify it. Then Dennis called and said, 'I have to play Frank, because I am Frank.' That thrilled me, and scared me.
    • Casting, p. 69
  • People have asked me why — if meditation is so great and gives you so much bliss — are my films so dark, and there's so much violence?
    There are many, many dark things flowing around in this world right now, and most films reflect the world in which we live. They're stories. Stories are always going to have conflict. They're going to have highs and lows, and good and bad.
    I fall in love with certain ideas. And I am where I am. Now, if I told you I was enlightened, and this is enlightened filmmaking, that would be another story. But I'm just a guy from Missoula, Montana, doing my thing, going down the road like everybody else.
    We all reflect the world we live in. Even if you make a period film, it will reflect your times. You can see the way period films differ, depending on when they were made. It's a sensibility — how they talk, certain themes — and those things change as the world changes.
    And so, even though I'm from Missoula, Montana, which is not the surrealistic capital of the world, you could be anywhere and see a kind of strangeness in how the world is these days, or have a certain way of looking at things.
    • Darkness, p. 91
  • Stay true to yourself. Let your voice ring out, and don't let anybody fiddle with it. Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad idea. And meditate. It's very important to experience that Self, that pure consciousness. It's really helped me. I think it would help any filmmaker. So start diving within, enlivening that bliss consciousness. Grow in happiness and intuition. Experience the joy of doing. And you'll glow in this peaceful way. Your friends will be very, very happy with you. Everyone will want to sit next to you. And people will give you money!
    • Advice, p. 159

Quotes about Lynch[edit]

David doesn't translate his images logically, so they remain raw, emotional. Whenever I ask him where his ideas come from, he says it's like fishing. He never knows what he's going to catch. ~ Isabella Rossellini
It's great when somebody breaks rules and says, "You know what? There doesn't have to be an answer to this. You don't have to have a fourth wall, you don't have to have any boundaries." ~ Patricia Arquette
  • You feel David in his movies — its another universe he takes you to — its an alternate reality but its close enough to our own that its scary.
  • It's great when somebody breaks rules and says, "You know what? There doesn't have to be an answer to this. You don't have to have a fourth wall, you don't have to have any boundaries."
  • One day he was showing me a painting he made. It was thick with oil, and right as he showed it to me a moth flew into the painting and got stuck — it flew around and its wings created a little circle in his painting, sort of like the death of a moth ... I thought David would pull the moth out and repaint it, but he fell in love with it the way it was.
    • Jack Fisk, in Pretty as a Picture : The Art of David Lynch (1997)
  • I just tend to admire people who go for what they believe in, like David Lynch for example, and just say what goes through their heads, and are not afraid of people not accepting them. I have no respect for people who deliberately try to be weird to attract attention, but if that's who you honestly are, you shouldn't try to "normalize yourself". It's a fine line.

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