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Jane Chafin

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Short Takes: David Lynch's Big Fish; A Trip to the Moon

Posted: 11/09/11 03:10 PM ET

Have you ever wondered where the dark genius of filmmaker David Lynch comes from? Lynch's 2006 book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, gives rare insight into his creative process and how 35 years of Transcendental Meditation have helped him along the way. The book is comprised of 85 short chapters, some as short as a sentence, describing how Lynch captures ideas and turns them into reality through filmmaking, from Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks to Inland Empire. Catching the Big Fish is a charming, easy read and gives us a refresher course in where our own creativity comes from and how to stay connected to it. Here are some pearls of wisdom from Lynch:


"Ideas are like fish.

Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They're huge and abstract. And they're very beautiful.

I look for a certain kind of fish that is important to me, one that can translate to cinema. But there are all kinds of fish swimming down there. There are fish for business, fish for sports. There are fish for everything.

Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness -- your awareness -- is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch."

Lynch, who has meditated twice a day for over 35 years, describes how it has helped him overcome negativity:


"When I started meditating, I was filled with anxieties and fears. I felt a sense of depression and anger. . . . 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're like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They're 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."

Lynch gives the following sage advice for realizing our own creative visions:


"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. . . . 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!"

Sign me up!

Here's an ad for Parisienne cigarettes that Lynch directed in 1998:

* * * * *

Speaking of wonderfully bizarre films, I came across this article about the color restoration of Georges Melies' 16-minute 1902 silent film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), and a documentary that is being released about it.

The documentary, The Extraordinary Voyage by Serge Bromberg, which closes with the restored hand-colored version of A Trip to the Moon, will have its world premiere November 11 at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (the restored short itself debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year).

For those of us not in New York City, the black and white version will have to suffice until a distributor is found for the film or it is released on Blu-ray. Not to worry -- it's amazing in black and white!

Cross-posted from Jane Chafin's Offramp Gallery Blog