116. Catching the Big Fish (David Lynch)

A series of short meditations on film and artmaking and, unfortunately, meditation itself. Lynch might very well be the greatest living filmmaker, but he’s undoubtably lost his mind insofar as he’s joined the cult of transcendental meditationists, and his unfortunate zeal for transcendental meditation mars an otherwise fine book.

Lynch is plainspoken and direct, not at all like his films, which makes the book an easy and enjoyable but not particularly complex read. At its worst, he spouts idiotic gibberish about the “Unified Field,” which doesn’t exist but some moronic pseudo-physicist (also a TM’er) has convinced Lynch about.

At other times, Lynch has intelligent things to say about the creative process, and this is where the book shines, because Lynch’s work fascinates. His process, perhaps unsurprisingly, is quite normal and workmanlike. This is a valuable lesson, given all of the romantic illusions artists often suffer from, pointlessly. Unfortunately, after beginning an interesting discussion of the creative process and how it works, he’ll segue into trying to convince you to become a TM’er.

I approach artmaking from the perspective of a craftsman. If you are a good enough craftsman, you will produce art. You have to think of the art as work and do the work. Lynch agrees, writing of the importance of having a “setup” (a place or materials readily at hand that you can use to work):

It’s crucial to have a setup, so that, at any given moment, when you get an idea, you have the place and the tools to make it happen. If you don’t have a setup, there are many times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together. And the idea just sits there and festers. Over time, it will go away. You didn’t fulfill it — and that’s just a heartache. (125)

I don’t like the suggestion here that one wait for inspiration, but I do appreciate the importance of being ready (I would argue that working regularly, honing one’s skills, are also part of this necessary “setup”) in case inspiration should strike.

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