HowTranscendental Meditation is David Lynch’s gateway to divergent and creative thinking.
American Director David Lynch has been a prolific artist and filmmaker for over 40 years. Lynch’s entire body of work is a distinctive departure from the predictable in favor of the divergent and dreamlike. Lynch resists the linear strictures of formulaic filmmaking and draws instead on the symbolism and potency of Americana.
“Lynch has mined the collective consciousness for generations and now he has become a part of that consciousness. His dreams have become our dreams.” (Cohen (2016))
A portrait of a David Lynch. Image Source: Pinterest.
David Lynch’s exploration of artifacts related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of America has itself been incorporated into the popular imagination. While many praise Lynch for his singular and daring vision others mock his opacity, indecipherable plot lines, and ‘weirdness’. Lynch’s seminal works include such films as Eraser head (1980), Elephant Man (1981), Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1987), Wild at Heart (1990), Mulholland Drive (2002), Twin Peaks, as well as interdisciplinary projects, festivals, and exhibitions.
When experiencing the work of David Lynch, we are not given formal coherence, we are left in a post-dream state of intuition led interpretation. We cannot retell the story in a linear way, however, we can explain the way his work affects us. This evocative quality is palpable in Mulholland Drive. Throughout the film, we are presented with scenarios in a sequence that leads us only into deeper confusion. It is as if Lynch has presented us with a divergent plot in order for us to be mystified and feel rather than to leave us satisfied through typical Hollywood conflict resolution. (Hudson, J A (2004) P1)
Mulholland Drive artistic representation. Image Source: Pinterest.
Aside from his Film work, Lynch is a painter, a musician and in 2005 he established the David Lynch Foundation, with the goal of providing Transcendental Meditation training to children and war veterans. Lynch is a strong advocate for TM and states that it has given him insight and access to creative abundance.
“I started Transcendental Meditation in 1973 and have not missed a single meditation ever since. Twice a day, every day. It has given me effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity and happiness deep within. This level of life is sometimes called “pure consciousness”—it is a treasury. And this level of life is deep within us all.” (Lynch, D.)
Through the use of TM Lynch has cultivated a means of divergent thinking that lends his films a surrealist quality where one reality can make its way into another. Similarly, Lynch’s stylised dream worlds are a product of his TM practice, which provides him with an endless supply of ideation and inspiration.
Lynch’s creative approach has at times been met with restraints and conflicts. While working on the science fiction fantasy Dune, Lynch was pressured by studios, producers and broadcasters to tone down his distinctive style in favor of a more marketable approach. Dune was a large budget, special effects spectacle that became one of the biggest box office bombs of the 1980s and nearly cost Lynch his career. Following Dune, Lynch took a reduction in his salary to regain control of the final cut of Blue Velvet, marking a return to his own style, his own story, and his own dream aesthetic. Blue Velvet became one of the most talked about films of the 1980s and Lynch became one of the most iconic filmmakers of the era.
“ To work in a dream. If it is real, and you believe it, You can say almost anything.” (Bond, 2016)
By working within dreamscapes, Lynch grants himself creative freedom. Within these dream sequences, Lynch draws together elements and emotions presenting them to the audience in an ambivalent way. In doing so something can seem humorous and horrific at the same time. (Cohen (2016)) Lynch’s impact on cinema theory is so great it spawned the verb “Lynchian” meaning -producing unfamiliarity in that which was once familiar (Cafolla, A (2016)).
Lynch is able to imbue familiar objects with new meaning by placing them in new contexts. One of the main components of Lynch’s creativity is divergent thinking. The key mechanism of divergent thinking is the ability to make associations between traditionally separate ideas or categories. Divergent thinking provides many possible solutions to one problem or scenario, this leads to convergent thinking that analyses the possibilities gathered and selects a “single creative solution.”
“Divergent thinking involves a broad search of information and generation of novel alternative answers or solutions to a problem. “(Kharkhurin.(2012)
Rather than make the convergent choice, Lynch often presents us with divergent thought and allows the audience to create their own meaning to a situation.
The concept of divergent thinking draws parallels with Lynch’s practice of Transcendental meditation. Lynch likens consciousness to the depth of the sea and going fishing. To paraphrase Lynch, The deeper the sea the more likely the chance of catching a better fish or idea. He uses another metaphor of consciousness where he explains that if “you have a golf ball sized consciousness, when you read a book you will have a golfball sized understanding, when you wake up in the morning you will have a golfball sized wakefulness. But if you could expand that consciousness then you would read the book with more understanding and when you look out, with more awareness and when you wake up, more wakefulness – it’s consciousness.” (Tm.org (2009)).
The more expansive one’s consciousness the wider their ability to draw connects between these traditionally separate ideas and think divergently
“Lynch, believed films should never be explained. His fascination with transcendental meditation feeds into the idea that his films make the audience work to find and impose their own meaning. .. The red curtains in the lodge in Twin Peaks provide a physical gateway between subconscious realms, and the concept of Blue Velvet, came about only from the image of red lips, green lawns and a song, not because of any linear storyline.” (Cafolla, A (2016))
In his talk “ Consciousness, Creativity and The Brain” David Lynch explains that by using Transcendental meditation techniques it is possible to dive within and experience pure consciousness. When enlivening consciousness exists negativity starts to recede.
“Negative things, anger, depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but are a poison to creativity, poison to a film maker. It is money in the bank to get the consciousness flowing. You know how to solve solutions, the enjoyment of life grows, ideas flow more, creativity flows more. People look like friends and not like enemies.
We are all one. Diversity up here, unity down below. It’s a great thing for the film maker.” (TM.org, (2009)
In conversation with Patti Smith, David talks of his ideation process “I get ideas in fragments I always say, It’s as if in the other room there is a puzzle that is complete. But in my room I get fragments that come in one piece at a time. I fall in love with the first fragment, its holds a promise for more. It’s more bait on the hook, the more fragments that come in the faster they come in.” (Newsnight encounters, 2015)
A film still from the Film Blue Velvet, 1987. Image Source: Pinterest.
David Lynch is a man driven by fragmented ideas who uses his dreamscapes as the medium to tell diverging stories. His meditation allows him to gain a clear perspective on anxiety and fear to use these themes in his art rather than to allow them affect his productivity.
- Cohen, L. (Director). (2016). VICE GUIDE TO FILM: David Lynch. [Documentary]. USA: SBS VICELAND Retrieved from: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1080522819803/vice-guide-to-film-david-lynch
- Hudson, J. A. (2004). “No hay banda, and yet we hear a band”: David lynch’s reversal of coherence in “Mulholland drive”. Journal of Film and Video, 56(1), 17-24. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.saeaustralia.edu.au.saeezproxy.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.saeezproxy.idm.oclc.org/docview/2165917?accountid=145504
- David Lynch Foundation. Message from David Lynch. Retrieved from https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/message.html
- Bond, L. (Writer/Director). (2016, September 3). David Lynch – The Elusive Subconscious [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=230&v=2mhwQdV2iYQ
- Cafolla, A (2016). What does Lynchian actually mean? Retrieved from: http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/32708/1/what-does-lynchian-actually-mean
- Kharkhurin, A, V. (2012). Multilingualism and Creativity. [Channel View Publications]. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
- Trancendental Meditation. (2009, August 12). David Lynch on Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain (Transcendental Meditation) [Video file].Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=z2UHLMVr4vg
- Newsnight Encounters. (2016). Patti Smith and David Lynch talk Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and Pussy Riot.[Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilPRXtkfZXw
- Vice Inc. (6th April 2012). David Lynch on Twitter, Partying and Being Free. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwPprWxt9oo
- Nguyen, J. (Director), & Barnes, R. (Director), Neergaard-Holm, O (Director. (2017). David Lynch, The Art Life. [Documentary]. USA, Denmark: Absurda.