David Lynch, Hiding in Plain Sight

Dan Piepenbring in Paris Review:

David_lynch_-microphone_-10aug2007As David Foster Wallace wrote in 1995, “Lynch’s movies are about images and stories in his head that he wants to see made external and complexly real.” Lynch has expanded the grammar of film as much as any director of his era; he has as singular and penetrating a vision of American life as any living artist—and he had almost nothing to say about his work, especially not about his movies. He wasn’t going to talk shop. He wasn’t, with the exception of a bit about Eraserhead’s Lady in the Radiator, going to talk about the stories in his head. Sometimes it seemed he wasn’t going to talk, period. “One time I heard it,” he said of Bobby Vinton’s cover of “Blue Velvet”—“and images started coming from this song…”

Aha! What images?

David Lynch didn’t say what images.

Holdengräber tried to draw him out. It was just the two of them onstage, under the hot lights—two chairs, a small table, an area rug, and an awed hush. In his gentle Continental croon, Holdengräber read aloud a few florid quotations and asked Lynch to react. Lynch didn’t care much for reaction. The quotations were beautiful, he acknowledged. Many things last night would be described as beautiful. On a big screen behind the men, an iconic image from Blue Velvet appeared: a detached, decaying ear half buried in a suburban lawn. And Holdengräber ventured, coyly—he might ask, why this ear … “You’d have to see the film,” Lynch said. This got a big laugh. Silly Holdengräber, the audience seemed to say, with his insistence on interpretation, his outmoded desire to know more! Still, maybe he could goad Lynch into saying something about his thoughts, his inspirations—the intro to Eraserhead crept onto the big screen, and Holdengräber recited another beautiful quotation about the dreamlike nature of the cinema…“It’s done,” Lynch said conclusively of Eraserhead. “Then it goes out into the world, and it is what it is.” Now the people broke into boisterous applause. Absolutely! It is what it is! What a genius! Who could deign to take issue with such self-evident, tautological truth?

More here.