I discovered Blue Velvet without ever intending to. In college I dated a woman who completely turned me off to anything David Lynch. She loved him. For instance, she had every episode of Twin Peaks on VHS, recorded straight off the TV. She introduced me to Lynch, and that introduction failed magnificently.
She started by showing me the very last episode of Twin Peaks first. Consequently, I’ve never been able to make it through the entire series because I know how it ends – there is, essentially, no mystery. Imagine someone tells you there is a kaleidoscopic mystery orchestrated by someone painting what seems to be fractal nightmares about the seedy underbelly of Rockwell Americana. To me that sounds fantastic. Continue to imagine that instead of allowing you to explore this bizarre panorama someone tells you the end of the story first. Everything becomes about that one focal point, stunting any imaginings trying to grow; the wonder of not knowing, and the infinite possibilities therein are lost. And that is an experience which cannot be recaptured.
With Twin Peaks dead on the vine, my then girlfriend decided perhaps we should explore the movies of David Lynch. Thumbs up, I was onboard. Her being the fan, I let her choose where we would begin. She chose Fire Walk with Me. For those who don’t know, this movie is about all the events prior to the Twin Peaks series. The same previous problem ensued. In addition, the film is not regarded as one of Lynch’s best.
She continued trying to kindle my interest by insisting the oddities in Twin Peaks were more than just red herrings, they were surrealist symbolism. To this end she showed me websites and chatrooms where people debated and swapped hypotheses about the significance of the number of pie slices Kyle MacLachlan ate throughout the series. Biblical references, star charts, and all manner of subjective crazy shouted out at me; and while it’s true that the works of David Lynch can be interpreted to a certain degree, I felt like the websites catered to pretentious people and potential mental patients more than providing any insight into the material.
I admit my mind closed to most things Lynchian. Even though we both later enjoyed Mulholland Drive I considered it a fluke. I was reluctant to see another movie of his least I get let down again.
When our relationship ended some years later it did not end well. As such, I’m afraid a certain subconscious dislike for everything she enjoyed crept into my thinking. It happens, though if a person gets back to being honest with them self it fades.
So fast forward about five or six years.
Reading an article by David Foster Wallace he proposed that David Lynch films should be regarded as dreams, or rather nightmares. There is symbolism, but for the most part one shouldn’t expect to find logic in the flow of events. In a few concise sentences Wallace completely shattered the entire lens through which I viewed Lynch. My ex- had often insisted otherwise, and since she was a smart woman I accepted her point of view. When I couldn't see it the same way she did youthful arrogance took hold, and I concluded there was nothing to see, so stopped looking. But with this new perspective in mind everything Lynch did made a weird kind of irrational sense. So with my mind open again, I returned to his work.
This time I did it right. I went in with no prior conceptions. Zero expectations I sat down with a bottle of vodka and started watching Eraserhead, which I had never seen. My only intention revolved around watching the movie, and letting whatever popped into my head arrive.
Eraserhead will forever remain one of those films I’ll periodically watch again, but never own. Something about it being in my house feels like an invitation to entities I do want visiting. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the film thoroughly. As such, I moved down the list.
Next came Blue Velvet. And truth be told, watching it resurfaced hazy recollections of seeing it with my ex-. She on the bed in her dorm, me next to her pounding whiskey to get drunk enough I could enjoy the movie. Expectations of disappointment ruining any chance the film had. I remember not really wanting to watch it, but being in a relationship isn’t about always getting your way. The point being, I had seen it before, but not like this. This time I enjoyed the movie.
I won’t bore anyone with a synopsis. If you don’t know what it’s about click this hyperlink (or better yet see it). Since then (circa 2008) I watch it two or three times a year, but make no mistake. I watch it as little as possible so it never grows stale. I never want the movie to be too familiar. That’s always a risk even with things you enjoy. Yet, it influences my work to this day. The short film Honesty is Not Contagious recently put together, The Musician, is my first attempt at making a Lynchian film. So it seemed only natural that this new musical project would in some way feature a piece with Lynch elements. There’s a bluntness to this song, and I hope to be more subtle in the future; however, I’m happy with the finished product. Like the film that inspired it the song combines harsh elements with softer ones, mingling the unsettling with the soothing. But I’ve talked too much.
Here is… Blue Velvet Valentine.