Absurd and brilliant auteur David Lynch has always been a man of ideas. In the past, he’s said that, “ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you’re dead.” And throughout his career, he has been completely unwavering to his own conception and theories of what a work of art should be. Whether it’s his paintings, music, wood-workings, etc. Lynch has stayed true to his precise aesthetic obsessions and artistic desires that have grown into a genre entirely his own.
You hear the term Lynchian and you know what you’re in for—a “deconstruction of this weird irony of the banal” filled with “expressions of certain anxious, obsessive, fetishistic, oedipally arrested, borderlinish parts of the director’s psyche.” Heavily influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, he focused on paintings and art forms outside of film until realizing that if he could put these ideas and creations in motion, just how much more powerful they could be.
Referring to David Lynch’s aesthetic and psychological affinities, as well as his cinematic inclinations, David Foster Wallace once spoke about the juxtaposition of absurd humor and chilling horror in Lynch’s work, digging into the subconscious worlds where Lynch resides. He amalgamates beauty and fright, luring you in with placid worlds and slowly exposing you to their dark underbelly and the salacious nature haunting inside. There’s always a sense of mystery in Lynch’s work, a tempting pull just behind the doorway of the stairs, teasing you with its presence.
And for all his wonderful cinematic gestures and for as fascinating has his films may be, the everyday things that happen to pour from Lynch’s mouth are pretty splendid in their own right. On everything from absurdity and dental hygiene to psychology and sex, take a look below and enjoy.
“Absurdity is what I like most in life, and there’s humor in struggling in ignorance. If you saw a man repeatedly running into a wall until he was a bloody pulp, after a while it would make you laugh because it becomes absurd. But I don’t just find humor in unhappiness – I find it extremely heroic the way people forge on despite the despair they often feel. Like the character in ‘Eraserhead’ -he’s totally confused, yet he struggles to figure things out and do what’s best. Isn’t that fantastic?”
“I don’t like the word ironic. I like the word absurdity, and I don’t really understand the word ‘irony’ too much. The irony comes when you try to verbalize the absurd. When irony happens without words, it’s much more exalted.”
“Human beings are like detectives. They love a mystery. They love going where the mystery pulls them. What we don’t like is a mystery that’s solved completely. It’s a letdown. It always seems less than what we imagined when the mystery was present. The last scene in `Blow Up’ is so perfect because you leave the theater still dreaming. Or the end of `Chinatown,’ where the guy says `Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.’ It explains so much but it only gives you a dream of a bigger mystery. Like life. For me, I want to solve certain things but leave some room to dream.”
“Secrets and mysteries provide a beautiful corridor where you can float out. The corridor expands and many, many wonderful things can happen… I love the process of going into mystery.”
ON HAVING GOOD HAIR:
“Well, I’ve been blessed with good hair, or at least some people think it is. It is the way it is, sort of does what it wants to. So, yeah, I guess it is [a metaphor for your views on art and life].”
ON BOB’S BIG BOY:
“I like things to be orderly. For seven years I ate at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee–with lots of sugar. And there’s lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It’s a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob’s.”
“Things got bleak at times [during Eraserhead], but they were bleak in a fun way. I think it was sugar that helped me a lot. I went to Bob’s Big Boy, which is a restaurant out here. Every afternoon, at 2:30, was Bob’s time. I’d have a chocolate shake and several cups of coffee. I got such a rush from the sugar that a lot of times I felt much happier than I really was.”
“The house I moved into was across the street from the morgue, next door to Pop’s Diner. The area had a great mood – factories, smoke, railroads, diners, the strangest characters, the darkest nights. The people had stories etched in their faces, and I saw vivid images-plastic curtains held together with Band-Aids, rags stuffed in broken windows, walking through the morgue en-route to a hamburger joint.”
“Yes, [Philadelphia is] horrible, but in a very interesting way. There were places there that had been allowed to decay, where there was so much fear and crime that just for a moment there was an opening to another world. It was fear, but it was so strong, and so magical, like a magnet, that your imagination was always sparking in Philadelphia…I just have to think of Philadelphia now, and I get ideas, I hear the wind, and I’m off into the darkness somewhere.”
“There’s some line I read about the longing for the euphoria of forgotten childhood dreams. And it was like a dream. Airplanes passed by slowly in the sky. Rubber toys floated on the water. Meals seemed to last five years and nap time seemed endless. And the world was so small. I can’t remember being able to see more than a couple of blocks. And those couple of blocks were huge. So all the details were blown out of proportion. Blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be.”
ON HIS LOVE OF JAZZ:
“To me, jazz is the closest thing to insanity that there is in music.”
“When you’re down, when you’ve been kicked down in the street and then kicked a few more times until you’re bleeding and your teeth are out, then you only have up to go. You get reborn again, and expectations aren’t so great because they’ve taken you away. It’s beautiful to be down there. It’s so beautiful!”
ON THE IMPORTANCE HYGIENE:
“Well, I was very interested in dental hygiene because as a kid,you know…soft, bad teeth and always visiting the dentist. I have a dentist now, Dr. Chin in Santa Monica, who I think is the world’s greatest dentist.”
“I don’t allow cooking in my house. The smell. The smell of cooking – when you have drawings, or even writings – that smell would go all over my work. So I eat things that you don’t have to light a fire for. Or else I order a pizza. The speed at which I eat it, it doesn’t smell up the place too bad. The smell doesn’t last too long.”
ON SEX AND LOVE:
“Sex is a doorway to something so powerful and mystical, but movies usually depict it in a completely flat way. Being explicit doesn’t tap into the mystical aspect of it either in fact, that usually kills it because people don’t want to see sex so much as they want to experience the emotions that go along with it. These things are hard to convey in film because sex is such a mystery.”
“To lose love is like light and it’s only a problem when there’s an absence of it. Pure love asks for nothing back and it’s more like a sensation or a vibration, but unfortunately most people don’t understand pure love. We tend to put the responsibility onto another person and that doesn’t work out too good.”
“Tenderness can be just as abstract as insanity.”
“While I was doing Eraserhead I had 40 coffees every day and I smoked 40 cigarettes. I quit smoking….I quit for 20 years… for one year and a half [I smoke again, that was in 1997].”
“I love two-lane highways. They say something about the way things used to be, and about areas that don’t have a lot of people. On those two-lanes at night you get the sense of moving into the unknown, and that’s as thrilling a sense as human beings can have.”
ON PSYCHOLOGY AND IDEAS:
“It’s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you’ll be too afraid to let things keep happening. Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it’s lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”
“I always say it’s like fishing. You sit quietly and not much is happening for maybe a long time. And then suddenly you get a bite and there’s an idea. And the deeper the line goes and the better the bait the bigger the fish you’re going to get. And you have to be not necessarily quiet but you have to be open for these things to happen you have to be paying attention.”
“I’m obsessed with textures. We’re surrounded by so much vinyl that I find myself constantly in pursuit of other textures. One time I removed all the hair from a mouse with Nair-Hair just to see what it looked like. And it looked beautiful.”
Quotes via CityofAbsurdity