David Lynch was in town last week promoting his national best seller, Catching the Big Fish, which recently came out in paperback. The book is an autobiographical account of the creative benefits the 62-year-old auteur claims to have reaped over the past three decades from practicing Transcendental Meditation, the trademarked meditation technique that rock stars like the Beatles and Donovan championed back in the late 1960s, and which has been making something of a pop culture comeback thanks to celebrity adherents like Mr. Lynch, Howard Stern and Moby. Indeed, it seems like over the past few years Mr. Lynch, whose most recent film was 2006’s epic Inland Empire, has been generating more press for his spiritual beliefs than his surreal and nightmarish brand of cinema.
But fans of creepy dancing midgets and lovers of cherry pie need not worry: Mr. Lynch, who spoke with the Culture Czar recently in his Upper West Side hotel room — he was wearing his trademark white shirt buttoned all the way to the top and well coiffed silver hair — still loves Twin Peaks and a good cup of coffee. (His own Signature Cup blend is on sale at the IFC Center.) He also has a new documentary in the works that he hopes will be in theaters by the fall. But before he gets around to making another of the bewildering films his fans have come to relish, he has a slightly loftier goal to check off his to-do list: world peace. Read on!
So I heard you were at a Moby concert last night. Are you a big fan?
Oh, yeah. Moby is a musical genius. Unbelievable.
What else have you been doing in New York over the past few days? Do you have a routine when you come here?
I like to eat egg salad sandwiches.
Anywhere in particular?
They’re pretty good everywhere. New York deli food is, you know … big. It’s a lot of food. Solid.
Do you like coming to New York?
Yeah, I like New York. I wouldn’t want to live here, but it’s very inspiring. For me, New York’s more of a painting town. I get fired up about painting. I like Soho. That’s my favorite area. And New York has changed a lot. I find people are more and more friendly here. It used to be frightening for me to walk down the street. Now I feel that New Yorkers kind of love one another and support one another. It’s a different feeling here and I just think it’s gotten so much better.
New York can still be a pretty stressful place to live, especially with the insanely high rents and the economy taking a plummet. Do you believe that Transcendental Meditation could be helpful in that regard?
Absolutely. Stress is hittin’ us, and it’s hittin’ us hard. And if that was the only reason you wanted to start Transcendental Meditation, you would definitely walk away from stress. You experience the deepest level of life. Pure, bliss-consciousness with every meditation. To experience bliss is so powerfully beautiful. It is infinite intelligence, infinite creativity, infinite love, infinite energy. Negativity begins to recede. Say goodbye to stress.
Do you have one favorite scene or moment from any of your films?
For a scene to be like that, there have to be many things that go before it. Like in a piece of music — for the most thrilling sections to soar, so many notes have to come before. It has to build in a certain way. I just like the whole process, and I like falling in love. Films are like little children. You have them all standing there, and someone says, ‘Now pick your favorite little child,’ and when you see their faces look at you, wondering if you’re gonna do that – well, you could never do that.
It’s coming up on 20 years since Twin Peaks was created, and there’s been something of a revival of the series this past year thanks to the second season and Gold Edition box sets coming out on DVD for the first time. Have you enjoyed that?
I love the world of Twin Peaks. So I’m happy that it’s finally all together in one set. The pilot is real special to me. Mark [Frost, Twin Peak’s co-creator] and I finished that pilot script pretty late one night, and when I got home I just started reading it, and I was surprised how much I liked it. But you know, we had zero thought that this thing would travel so well around the world. Somehow there was something that was caught and appreciated by all different kinds of people. It was a magical thing that no one could have foreseen.
Kenneth Anger’s films have also been released on DVD for the first time. Do you feel like there’s a renewed interest in experimental film?
I always felt that things go in waves, and I think that there will be a kind of art-house revival. The Internet’s where it’s probably gonna happen. I think people get burned out on Hollywood cinema, and they’re looking for some other thing. That’s always the way it goes.
Do you ever poke around YouTube and check out the weird things people post?
Not that much. But lots of people sure do, and when you discover something you like, it’s pretty thrilling, and news travels fast. It’s incredible. It’s a world theater.
I loved Inland Empire. But it was so long and bizarre and intense that I sort of left the theater with a looming sense of anxiety.
Well, when you go into a world, and have an experience … [pause] It’s the ideas. If they’re thrilling to me, I have that hope they’ll be thrilling to others. But because everybody’s different on the surface, you get people who don’t like an abstract experience. They like a concrete experience. But I like films that make me dream, and I like going into worlds that conjure things. The power of cinema is to conjure things that can’t be said so easily in words. It’s the language of cinema and it’s magic. So yeah, you hope people have an experience that’s deep and somewhat lasting.
What are you working on next, film-wise?
I’m working on a documentary of a tour that I took part in last fall. I went to Israel and 14 European countries talking about [Transcendental] Meditation and peace. It’s kind of like Catching the Big Fish, but in film. I would like to get it finished by the fall.
So there’s a larger goal in mind?
Yes, to establish these universities of peace in every country – 192 countries, and each country would have one university, a university of peace. A university that literally and truly creates peace. Not just talks about it or sings about it, but creates it. That’s what I would like to see happen.
Sounds good. Anything else to add?
Just tell people to get rid of the stress, and do their thing, and boogie!
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