David Lynch
By: Erik Davis | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Most Visited, Movies


Film and the unconscious were born at basically the same historical moment, and that intimate link has been milked — unconsciously or not — by a myriad of psycho-cineastes over the decades: Buñuel, Sirk, Hitchcock, Polanski, Kubrick. In essence, DAVID LYNCH’s (born 1946) peculiar genius has been his sustained ability to recharge and reframe that uncanny intimacy. Rather than traffic with phallic symbols or surreal juxtaposition, Lynch’s best films (and, more accurately, the best sections within those films) manage to melt narrative into enigmatic atmospheres and then recongeal them into the meaningfully opaque. Lynch’s flat sub-ironic tone, which is at once his method and “message”, allows for all manner of suggestions to leak into the frame: the secret link between innocence and brutality, the phantasmagoric banality of repetition, the sentimental shock of the aesthetically bad. The man himself is equally enigmatic. How crafted is that persona, we ask, those endless cups of coffee, the electric shock of hair, the bemused, hangdog eyes? How tightly is he holding his cards to his chest, whether those cards be ironic manipulation, or painterly intuition, or a willful naïveté more perverse even than Dennis Hopper’s nitrous-fueled rape of Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet? The artist and director’s relentless and earnest promotion of Transcendental Meditation, one of the more paint-by-numbers protocols of modern spiritual fitness, only deepens the puzzle. It is as if Lynch, his creativity manifesting at once as drive and drift, has come to impersonate the unconscious itself.


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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: A. Merritt, Juan García Esquivel, Federico Fellini.

READ MORE about members of the Blank Generation (1944-53).



Erik Davis is the author, most recently, of The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica. Davis also wrote the cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Information Age, and a critical volume on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. A frequent speaker and teacher at universities and festivals alike, Davis hosts a weekly net radio show called Expanding Mind (davis.progressiveradionetwork.org), and posts regularly at www.techgnosis.com.