Fishing with David Lynch

David Lynch (A5 Prismacolour indigo pencil in sketchbook 2019)

I like David Lynch.

I never understood Eraserhead or Mulholland Drive and I wasn’t much of a Twin Peaks fan. His drawings are baffling and his music isn’t really to my taste, despite having titles such as “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)”.

But how can you not admire his creativity? It seems to burst out of him. He’s best known as a film director, but his musical output consists of – Wikipedia tells us – three studio albums, two collaborative studio albums, six soundtrack albums, two spoken-word albums, one extended play, twenty singles and six music videos. That’s more than many people whose day job is music.

In a recent interview in the Observer newspaper, Lynch spoke about his creativity:

You’ve often described creative ideas as fish. Are the fish biting at the moment?
Well, as you know if you ever fished, you have to have patience – some days you catch some, some days you don’t. I am fishing now, and I’m gathering fish together, but I haven’t started cooking them. Right now, I’d say the ideas are in the world of sculpture and painting.

When asked where these ideas came from, his answer was equally charming:

I don’t know where any of them come from. That’s why I don’t think I can take credit for anything I’ve ever done. They’re all little gifts and they string themselves together, and stories come out or a painting comes out. They just come into your head and it’s like Christmas morning.

Or, to quote the Urban Dictionary’s definition of Lynchian (as told in a recent Big Issue interview), “You have no fucking clue what’s going on, but you know it’s genius.”

I know, from reading blog and Instagram posts, that many of us feel that way – to such an extent that it might as well be one definition of creativity. Why does a painting you start on a Saturday come to nothing while the same subject on a Tuesday might be your best one yet? What makes you do that abstract thing in the background of a still life? Where did that doodle come from while you were sitting on a slow-moving train, your mind a complete blank?

I don’t know about you but I would be wary of probing into that too deeply. “We murder to dissect,” wrote Wordsworth and he had a point. Explanation is one thing, but thrashing it until its life blood seeps away is another, and frankly I’d rather not know what lies behind a successful creative act. It would almost be like a pact with the devil if every mark you put on paper, every note you played on the piano, and every sentence you scribbled down was an enduring creative experience.

Better to see it like Lynch does: It just comes into your head and it’s like Christmas morning.

29 thoughts on “Fishing with David Lynch

  1. Thank you Michael for the narrative about Lynch and the link to the interview. The magic of creativity is endless. Daily, I’m thrilled with the surprises I find. Your drawing of Lynch is wonderful, including what looks to be a chicken and a shadow reminds me of a cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is! I really dislike when people try to over explain their work, to make it “clear”–it ruins the work to know too much about it, and even sometimes to know too much about the artist themselves. It is, we are, just connect the dots between yourself.
    Great eyes in your drawing. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m always drawn to those who appear to bubble with creativity – with a mixture of admiration and envy! – and Lynch certainly seems one of them. I do like his fishing analogy, and there’s surely much to be said for sitting patiently by the river. Stunning portrait!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The fishing analogy? Couldn’t be better!
    Ideas flit past, occasionally resurfacing and coming back into focus, time to watch and mull over a few ripples of thought, before – hopefully – snagging one that you feel you can push forward.
    Sometimes I think I do absolute crap, then I have the thought ‘well who cares anyway?’ it’s my own brain which casts the net to nab whatever is floating around in there. So I should just be pleasing myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this portrait, Michael. The hair is just fun and the wrinkles/hash marks create depth. But you really captured the eyes. Those are fantastic.

    Your post is very informative. It’s also a great reminder that the creative process is not to be forced but to be allowed freedom to flow through us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Creativity doesn’t work on command, that’s for sure. But I think you can encourage the muse to show up, even when you feel creatively stuck every so often. As to David Lynch, yes, no doubt that he is a very creative person. I didn’t know he made music, but very much liked the first installments of Twin Peaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynch is one of those people who feels he can turn his hand to everything, I’d say. Whether one enjoys the outcome is, of course, a matter of taste.

      I’ve looked at ways of encouraging the muse in earlier posts. It can be done, certainly, but sometimes it’s a matter of will to start the process, I find.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynch appears to subscribe to the notion that Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) put out there once on a TED Talk: that WE are not the genius but it a genius (genie, daemon, many other names for it) working through us at its pleasure that creates. We are but the agents, most of the time unwittingly so.

    Liked by 1 person

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