What is going on with David Lynch?
December 7, 2005 7:13 PM   Subscribe

What is going on with David Lynch?

The filmmaker I most revere seems to spend a lot of time promoting Transcendental Meditation. Now I'm a fan of meditation, but TM looks a lot like a cult to me. I saw Lynch on British TV the other day, and he looked like a man on the verge of a breakdown: agitated, hands shaking, muttering about transcendence and world peace. Moreover, he answered questions about his movies in an uncharacteristically unguarded, open manner, going so far as to suggest OJ was the direct inspiration for the fractured psyche of Lost Highway protagonist Fred Madison. So what's up? Is he cracking up or reaching a new level of consciousness? Or both maybe?
posted by MetaMonkey to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"There is a fine line between genius and insanity." Oscar Levant.

Seriously, visionaries are/go crazy, and vice versa.
posted by muddgirl at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2005

Maybe he's just on edge because the first season of Twin Peaks came out on DVD like a zillion years ago, and season two is nowhere to be found. He'll attain peace when I can watch Cooper go to the Black Lodge.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2005

He does daily weather reports on his website. Link here
posted by sharksandwich at 7:29 PM on December 7, 2005

Seriously, visionaries are/go crazy, and vice versa."

What? Crazy people go visionary?
posted by Evstar at 7:36 PM on December 7, 2005

"TM = cult" is a popular conception. I happen to agree.

Then again, I also happen to think David Lynch sucks. I'm not sure what answers this AskMe is supposed to provoke, unless you're hoping Lynch has a close friend or confidant who reads MetaFilter.
posted by cribcage at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2005

"Crazy people go visionary?"

Oh definitely!
posted by mischief at 7:48 PM on December 7, 2005

I just read this WaPo article the other day and wondered the same thing.

He's putting a ton of money into TM and TM centers. I don't doubt that a lot of folks could gain a lot by slowing down and meditating, but I do wonder about the TM cultishness.
posted by shoepal at 7:50 PM on December 7, 2005

Response by poster: I'm not sure what answers this AskMe is supposed to provoke, unless you're hoping Lynch has a close friend or confidant who reads MetaFilter.

I didn't have any particular expectations, but I know the MeFi net is cast far and wide so who knows what could come up?

Having thought about it a bit, it would be interesting if any MeFites had experience of or friends who practice TM, or who had heard David Lynch speaking on the subject recently, or who perhaps are bigger fanboys than myself and have been following news about the man. And so on.

If this AskMe is too chatty and unfocused, I apologize and will expect deletion.

FWIW, I think Lynch has been walking the genius/madman line beautifully for a long long time, while now hes starting to look a bit wobbly. I am in no position to judge, but it worries me when an influential artist I esteem highly is vocally promoting a cult-like organization, to schools, no less.

Here is a link I found Falling Down the TM Rabbit Hole
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:05 PM on December 7, 2005

Best answer: Here's a good thread on TM.

David Lynch came to my campus to speak, and I've heard that his college trips have been thinly veiled TM recruiting sessions. I didn't see him, and frankly I don't think I missed much.
posted by apple scruff at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2005

Best answer: David Lynch came to my campus to speak (we're NYU; the price we pay for all this good stuff is the Olsen twins).

The ads for the sessions implied the lecture would be about his filmmaking experience. NYU's film school is a huge, famous program, so apparently students turned out in droves. Lynch's advice to them was along the lines of "TM will help you make films."

Links from our newspaper (disclaimer: I work there, but don't write articles for it). News: David Lynch is coming tomorrow! News: Well, that sucked. Op-ed: It sucked, and it was misleading. News: Lynch is doing this at other schools, too.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:09 PM on December 7, 2005

Yeah, that was about how it was when we saw him. Along with some bullshit "demostration" of TM, a long and rambling "Christian" attack on TM from an audience member, some glad-handing by university officials who seemed more interested in photo ops than TM, and a lot of question dodging/infomercialism...
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 PM on December 7, 2005

Is this the same thing that the one of the Beatles was in? The ones that opened a school in Iowa?
posted by delmoi at 11:22 PM on December 7, 2005

I saw Lynch a little over a year ago, and he didn't mention TM at all. Has he only recently started discussing it?

Oh, and Admiral Haddock, last I heard Lynch was ready to do a 5.1 mix for the second season, but the studio wouldn't let him.
posted by HSWilson at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2005

Is this the same thing that the one of the Beatles was in?

Yes, this is what the Beatles got into, and why they did their "pilgrimage" to India (where Ringo had a suitcase full of baked beans because he was allergic to just about all of the food there).

Based partly on that fact I was briefly interested in TM, but even to a 19-year-old looking for spirituality the material just had too much of a BS vibe around it.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:37 AM on December 8, 2005

Vonnegut wrote an essay about TM in Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons.
He titled it "Yes, We Have No Nirvanas Today."
S'too bad about Lynch, though.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:46 AM on December 8, 2005

delmoi, Lynch actually visited the Maharishi school in Iowa, if I remember correctly. I remember competing against some of the kids from the middle/high school in at least a couple academic competition events and they did very well.

I've known a few people from Fairfield, Iowa who live near the community who kind of roll their eyes about it, but I've never heard anyone be particularly critical. They'll kind of laugh about how there's a much larger (and more expensive) selection of local stores than you'd expect from such a small town due to the TM people, though.

From what I've seen and heard from Lynch in the past few years, he's started to get into TM a lot more than he was previously. And yeah, it's a cult. If anything I would guess the current state of the world and some of his own personal issues have left him open to dive into it more deeply.
posted by mikeh at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2005

Well, he said he's been doing it daily since the early '70s, but recently he's begun to open centers. The reason why it often sets off the SCAM alarms is because, like scientology, there are a lot of institutional ways to separate the fools from their money.
And yeah, that's the school in Iowa. They're also the folks behind the movie "What the F*ck?" or something similar. I had a couple of friends who saw it and found it interesting, if a bit recruit-y.
It does always amaze me when I see scientists with serious contributions shilling for it; one of the guys with Lynch is one of the top guys in String Theory, and the neuroscientist they had was widely respected before he went off to Iowa (and still manages to publish in places like Science and Nature)...
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on December 8, 2005

klangklangston: Just for record, the people behind TM are not the people behind "What The F*#ck Do We Know?"
posted by xmutex at 11:16 AM on December 8, 2005

Lynch spoke at Brown recently and it was completely crazy cult-style recruting stuff. Check out the EEG they did on-stage to show the wonders of transcendental meditation.

Oh well.
posted by rafter at 11:59 AM on December 8, 2005

Best answer: I saw him in Ann Arbor a few months back; it was quite creepy and strange. Some physicist guy that was featured in "What the F*#ck" or whatever who is also a big TM dude did a lot of talking, about, you know, science and stuff. Lynch did use a lot of homey sayings, which was almost worth the (free) price of admission. The whole event was basically asking for lots of money so the TM group can hire a group of people to meditate all the time, which will bring about world peace (DUH). Lynch answered some questions about his movies, but they all turned into answers involving TM.

One guy spoke up and challenged him towards the end of his talk - he was a catholic, and made some interesting points (and definitely had conviction), questioning both the somewhat misleading advertising on campus and the really generalized crap that Lynch et al were spewing. I was rooting for the guy, but the ann arbor audience heard "Christian" and stopped paying attention. These jerks actually were hissing at the guy - hissing - which pissed me off more than anything else about that night. Some poor woman, who was obviously in need of some kind of compassion and help, asked how she could get TM to work better for her, because her life was really awful. Answer? She needed to pay for a personalized mantra - that would straighten things out. Ugh.

for a bigger & better description of these events, check out this right here.
posted by sluggo at 1:58 PM on December 8, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the info all. I find this rather distressing - the consensus being he's been sucked in big time. I'm really curious why TM has suddenly become a big deal for him, when it has otherwise been strictly in the background for his 30-or-so years of TM practice.

I cannot begin to imagine the impact of this on his new film

Perhaps if any mefites catch him on his TM evangelizing tour they could give him a head's up on the cult thing. Though I doubt it would help much.
posted by MetaMonkey at 10:01 PM on December 8, 2005

He's got a book coming out about it, and I think it's terrific.
posted by muckster at 1:01 PM on December 3, 2006

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