Thursday, January 4, 2024



I am watching a documentary that is about nothing more and nothing less than David Lynch's fascination with "The Wizard of Oz," and how that fascination is reflected in his own films.  Among the latter, the focus is mainly on "Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks," but many of his others also get their due.

Dorothy, of course, moves iconically between two worlds.  Which is real and which imagined?

Lynch's alternate worlds are often accessed via dreams, but the dreams are rarely of the "may all your dreams come true!" variety.  Even the superficially neutral ones tend to be deeply disturbing; witness the kewpie-doll miniature woman in "Eraserhead" who dances before the radiator to insipid and overly-loud calliope music.

In direct testimony, Lynch makes it clear that these alternate worlds have no lesser ontological standing for him than the one that we navigate every time we make a run to CVS.  The universe in all its depth and complexity resides within us, he believes.  All of it. But do we have any agency in these lesser-known worlds?  If we do evil in the here and now, in them will we be treated any differently than if we do good?  

One has to believe that when Lynch lies on his deathbed, he will face his fate with equal parts awe and trepidation.  For even the storied tunnel of white light may be only a trompe l'oeil deception, like the silvery flashing lure in response to which the speckled trout leaps into a world where awaits not a full stomach but the frying pan, the fire.

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