lynch’s uncanny irony, 8A rusty metal wallpaper, habits – comfort and personal prisons

I have been there and passed a peak of fandom with my Ingmar Bergman phase and my David Lynch phase. Though I still like them both. I saw Kyle MacLachlan recently and thought of Twin Peaks – best pie orderer in cinematic history. Lynch’s The Elephant Man – frequently over looked in trying to sum up his body of work – is one of the best depictions in movie history of the plight of modern man’s quest for empathy. As open and accessible as Lynch is – he’s on Twitter and frequently does short films and interviews – his art is still something of an enigma – The Ironic Uncanny, Uncanny Ironies and David Lynch

“Or both? Of course both. This is what Lynch is about in his movies: both innocence and damnation; both sinned-against and sinning… And we hate this possibility in movies; we hate this ‘both’ shit.”

-David Foster Wallace, ‘David Lynch Keeps his Head’ (1997, p211)

…Not surprisingly, Lynch has become a lot of things to a lot of critics, particularly those with strong theoretical dispositions. Schaffner is right to note that “Lynch’s films have been appropriated as paradigmatic case studies by a large number of critics” due to their “programmatic vacillation between irony and pathos… parabolic ambiguities and… narrative indeterminacy” (2009, p271). Lynch’s work, then, profits from a wealth of critical interpretations, though his sustained ambiguity often serves as Rorschach test to one’s own critical proclivities. Todd McGowan (2007) and Slavoj Zizek (1997) address this ambiguity from a sustained Lacanian position, the strength of which lies in narratological analysis. Specifically Freudian tropes in Lynch’s works, such as the primal scene (Ishii-Gonzales, 2004), virgin-whore dichotomies (Schaffner, 2009) and the dream-work (Bulkeley, 2003, Thomas, 2006) benefit from close readings.

In another life – where I was talented and even the very idea of being a film director was possible – I think about how one would use film and its possibility – sound, light, moment, dialogue, acting to create meaning. There is so much going on – the three-dimensional chess of art ( theater as well) it becomes a kind of puzzle game. The people like Lynch that can do it well ( Fire Walk With Me being the one possible exception) are at least as fascinating as say gifted physicists and writers.

8A rusty metal wallpaper

Habitual behavior is not merely hard to break, it is the comfort food  of the mind. When all the world seems to be tumbling down, the habits of everyday life, even the bad ones, become a safe refuge…or a prison, Breaking the Habits that Enslave Us

Duhigg breaks down the sequence of ritualized behavior (which he calls the habit loop) into three component parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. The cue is the trigger that sets the sequence in motion. Perhaps it’s a certain time of day when you tell yourself it’s time for your daily chocolate-chip cookie (that was Duhigg’s particular jones). Perhaps it’s email from your boss that makes you want to dash out for another smoke. Perhaps it’s the chiming bells and flashing lights of a crowded casino, designed to make a room full of incremental losers look like winners who are hitting jackpots all the time. The routine is the behavior itself, which can be positive (like a daily running habit) or harmful (like gambling away the family savings). And the third part is the reward — the goal of the behavioral loop, which your brain’s pleasure centers gauge to determine if a sequence of behavior is worth repeating and storing in a lockbox of habit.

A pint of butterfat and sugar with a Ben and Jerry’s label, a spurt of oxytocin when you see that @jayrosen_nyu or @ebertchicago has retweeted you, that tingling in your legs after a strenuous workout, the numbing rush of a fix, the first puffs of an American Spirit… it’s all the same to the basal ganglia, four lumps of gray matter in the forebrain that encode highly rewarding behavior for easy repetition.

I’m not sure I agree with the reviewer or Mr.  Duhigg that our objections, reservations or even sometimes disgust with our worse habits suddenly becomes this whisper that we come to ignore. On the contrary, it is what keeps many alcoholics from suffering alcohol poisoning every other day. Or those addicted to power from overtly rushing their agenda. Any way, there are some good points about bad habits and how seductive they can be.

Four Seasons ~ Vivaldi