At an EIFF event two decades ago, I asked David Lynch a question via an early form of video conferencing:
“William Burroughs once said there is more energy in a violent death than in a hundred cancer wards. I wondered if you feel some kind of ‘portal’ opens in those extreme moments?”
Recalling this now makes me feel like I was an early YouTube troll asking what does Eraserhead’s woman in the radiator mean? But over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lynch is genuinely honest in saying his films are articulations of impulses gained in his meditation sessions and free-thinking.
I mention this because Room to Dream was rumoured to be the most authoritative and insightful Lynch biography and it works very well as a Lynch-corroborated / collaborative timeline. But a certain type of reader will still hope to find Lynch’s abstractions ‘explained’ from the gaps between the notes of over a hundred interviewees in multiple fonts, alongside richly illustrated candid black and white photos and Lynch’s own primarily factually emphatic memoir.
Other readers may crave less dates and times and more analysis, but it’s a book that prides itself on ‘correctness’, if it’s a little polite in doing so. However, Kristine McKenna has cast the widest net yet on Lynch’s movements and it seems to have been a mammoth undertaking unlikely to be surpassed.
Some will find the form frustrating and episodic (and sometimes this is tiring) and although the foreword emphasises the unique protocol of this book (testimony augmented by Lynch’s recollections and edits) the result isn’t quite an autobiography, more of a biog-auto, or even ‘auto-corrected’ biography (pun intended) because on another level, it can be seen that Lynch ‘screens’ the book.
The book portrays an artist very rooted in himself, well-balanced, without the need to correct childhood trauma through catharsis and someone who trusts in art, including film as art, to be enough articulation in and of itself.
There’s little deconstruction of the films here, however, this is still an essential Lynch bible and like the actual bible, both are spiritual quests with eclectic testimony and awkward forms. But in writing about the unknowable, perhaps all there is, is testimony.
As for my EIFF question? He misheard me and before I had the chance to reply, Mark Cousins had wrestled the mic away from me.
Photo courtesy of Emily and Sunny Lynch.
Room to Dream was published by Canongate Books on 19th June 2018.