I’m reading CATCHING THE BIG FISH, David Lynch’s book (just out in paperback) on “meditation, consciousness, and creativity” and finding much that resonates.
In addition to having experienced a “first dive” into meditation uncannily similar to that of Mr. Lynch, I loved his take on depression and anger – two states with which every creative has danced intimately. Take a listen…
“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 stars 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.”
For those of you not familiar with David Lynch, you really are. He’s the three-time Oscar-winning creative force behind The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. And if you’ve managed to miss any of those gems (or any of his many others) you really owe it to yourself to experience his sometimes quirky, occasionally weird, always challenging artistry.
Every writer knows about depression and anger. Probably more than he or she ever wanted to know. But the reality of it is, we need them, right? We hate them and we need them and we use them to feed our muse. Not exclusively, for that way lies madness, but there’s no denying their role in defining our experience. I’m not talking about suffering. I’m talking about writing suffering. Lynch addresses this…
“You can understand conflict, but you don’t have to live in it. In stories, in the worlds that we can go into there’s suffering, confusion, darkness tension and anger…But the filmmaker doesn’t have to be suffering to show suffering. You can show it, show the human condition, show conflicts and contrasts, but you don’t have to go through that yourself.”
Regarding that “suffering artist” persona that so many of us (myself included) gravitate toward, Lynch chooses to embrace the positive – the “bliss”…
“Some artists believe that anger, depression, or those negative things give them an edge. They think they need to hold on to that anger and fear so they can put it in their work. And they don’t like the idea of getting happy…If you’re an artist you’ve got to know about anger without being restricted by it. In order to create, you’ve got to have energy; you’ve got to have clarity. It’s a strange thing, but it’s true in my experience: Bliss is like a flak jacket…and when those negative things start lifting, you can catch more ideas and see them with greater understanding.”
From TM to behind-the-scenes anecdotes to artistic methods to states of consciousness to the Unified Field Theory of Physics to the virtues of Bob’s Big Boy and the simple, yet vital, nurturing of creativity, Lynch covers a lot of ground in this easy-to-absorb, easy-to-love accounting of his artistic journey.
Do yourself a favor. Buy it (or borrow it) and read it. Today. Then let me know what you think.