Catching the Big Fish

Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

David Lynch wants you to go diving – deep sea diving into the ocean of consciousness within.

How? Through meditation, specifically TM or Transcendental Meditation. TM was created in the 1950s and instead of focusing on your breath you silently repeat a mantra / sound to yourself two or more times a day. A teacher gives you the mantra which you repeat once to make sure you have it right and then never say out loud again. The daily practice can lead to bliss, enhanced creativity and reduced stress.

This is a memoir, a guide to creativity, and testament to the power of meditation. Lynch discusses his artistic process, tells little stories from his movies and gives example after example of how meditation has enhanced his life.

If you’ve never seen a David Lynch movie you’ve probably at least heard of one: I’m a fan and these are my favorites: The Elephant Man; Blue Velvet; Wild at Heart and the television phenomenon Twin Peaks. He apparently doesn’t like to do DVD commentary on his movies, believing that the film should speak for itself. His book is a good substitute, it has plenty of back stories and peeks behind the curtain to keep a fan satisfied.

Lynch is a wryly funny author and memoirist. His voice in this book is patient, deliberate, matter-of-fact. He published Catching the Big Fish in 2006 but I read the 10th anniversary 2016 edition. It is 84 short chapters of ruminations, ideas, opinions, and encouragement. 

Lynch always knew he wanted to live the “art life” and began his training and education in painting. One day he saw some plants in his painting start to move and he heard the wind (no, he was not on drugs). He began to wonder if he could use film as a way of making paintings move. Cool story.

Lynch has a chapter on therapy that made me laugh out loud. At his first session he asked the therapist Will this process damage my creativity? It could, the therapist admitted. Lynch thanked him, left, and never went back.

Another story that made me smile was about the music in his films. He only works with Angelo Badalamenti. Their process is to sit together on piano bench and while Lynch speaks Angelo plays. They do this for hours, with Lynch saying no, no, no, until finally Angelo gets it and Lynch starts saying yes. 

Lynch is a Creative with a capital C and his meditation practice is at the center of everything he does. Ideas are like fish, he says: the little ones swim at the surface but the bigger ones live further down, deep in the ocean. He hooks the big fish while meditating. He said he received his TM mantra in 1973 and hasn’t missed a day since. Intuition is sharpened through meditation, he says, and when you “transcend” you dive into the ocean of possibilities.

A chapter that resonated with me offered his thoughts on going to the movies. “I love going into another world and I love mysteries. So I don’t really like to know very much ahead of time, I like the feeling of discovery.” This is my philosophy exactly when it comes to movies as well as reading (and reviewing) books, I don’t want to know too much. And I don’t want to give too much away.

I also have a new catchphrase thanks to Lynch: beyond the beyond. He used it regarding actor James Mason in Lolita – “…Mason is phenomenal beyond the beyond in this film.”

Let your voice ring out and don’t let anyone fiddle with it…Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad one…

David Lynch

This is a nifty little book. Maybe it’s the time of year but I think it would be perfect as a graduation gift. Inspiring and irreverent, positive and encouraging, it’s as unique as he is.

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