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The Religious Affiliation of Director
David Lynch


From: Debbie Kang, "David Lynch extolls value of transcendental meditation", published in The Eagle (American University's independent voice), 29 September 2005 (http://www.theeagleonline.com/media/paper666/news/2005/09/29/TheScene/David.Lynch.Extolls.Value.Of.Transcendental.Meditation-1003110.shtml; viewed 2 November 2005):
American University will soon be one of the first colleges to participate in a two-year research project on transcendental meditation and its effects on college students, said Bob Roth, vice President of the David Lynch Foundation.

On Tuesday, David Lynch, the award-winning film director of "Mulholland Drive," "Twin Peaks" and "Blue Velvet," was joined in Bender Arena by quantum physicist Dr. John Hagelin and neuroscientist Dr. Fred Davis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management.

The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the benefits of stress-reducing meditation to students. Lynch's foundation recently partnered with other foundations for a $1.2 million research grant to study the effects of transcendental meditation on brain functioning, academic performance, learning disorders, anxiety, depression and substance abuse among students in nine schools and colleges.

"In my mind, I started the organization to raise $7 billion dollars," Lynch said. "That's kind of a lot of money, but it's chicken feet compared to what, for instance, the government spends on bomber airplanes. So for three and a half bombers we can get consciousness based education for any student who wants it."

Lynch explained that consciousness-based education is when a student starts "knowing himself or herself."

Transcendental meditation is the most thoroughly researched and widely practiced program in the world for developing the full creative potential of the brain and mind, improving health, reducing stress and improving academic outcomes, according to the David Lynch foundation website.

"I wanted to form this foundation for enlightenment for the individual and student," Lynch said. "That's what education should be: to develop the full potential of the individual and peace on earth. Peace on earth isn't pie in the sky anymore. Real peace is not the absence of war, it's the absence of negativity."

Dr. Fred Travis said high stress and fatigue cause people to become a "stimulus and response machine." They don't develop the "CEO" part of the brain, which involves decision-making. He said transcendental meditation can help strengthen this part of the brain...

From: "Religious Affiliations of Celebrities" page in "Celebrity Religion" section of "Religion Facts" website (http://www.religionfacts.com/celebrities/religions_of_celebrities.htm; viewed 26 April 2007):

Below is an index of the religious affiliations or belief systems of celebrities (both living and dead; in film, television, music, literature, academics and politics), listed in alphabetical order by last name...

Celebrity: David Lynch

Religion/Belief: Transcendental Meditation

Quotes, More Information, Sources:
The Twin Peaks director has practiced TM since 1976 and recently established the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which aims to bring TM to students. The Eagle, September 29, 2005 [link to: http://www.theeagleonline.com/media/paper666/news/2005/09/29/TheScene/David.Lynch.Extolls.Value.Of.Transcendental.Meditation-1003110.shtml]; Beliefnet [link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/184/story_18457_1.html]

From: Michel Chion. David Lynch (translated by Robert Julian), British Film Institute/BFI Publishing: London, United Kingdom (1995), pages 4-6:
Who is David Lynch, and what kind of man has such visions?...

'I'm from Montana, and that's really middle America! But it is true that many people in the United States think I am European.' Montana is a wooded state in the north-western United States, on the frontier with Canada and partly in the Rocky Mountains... David Lynch was born on 20 January 1946... in Missoula, a small Montana town of 30,000 inhabitants situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, lakes and an Indian reservation.

He is the eldest of three children. His brother John... was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. His sister Margaret... was born in Spokane, Washington. Lynch's paternal line came from Montana, where his father grew up on a ranch in the wheatfields. His father's profession reflected his origins, for he was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture. He frequently moved 'to experiment on tree diseases and insects. He had huge forests at his disposal to experiment on... He loved his job... and he was already interested in his work when he was a boy...' It is well known that woods and forests have an important place in Lynch's work.

In his interviews, Lynch is always more guarded in speaking about his mother. She was a housewife... originally from Brooklyn. She was also a language tutor...

...Lynch enjoys telling how his parents first met... 'It was at an outdoors biology class, when they were both at Duke University.'... His parents never argued, he has said, nor did they drink or smoke (which would have bothered him). He got along well with his brother and sister; all of his grandparents got along well too...

At some unspecified date, the family moved to Boise, Idaho, where Lynch lived until he was fourteen, then on to other agricultural and wooded states: Spokane, Washington; Durham, South Carolina; and Alexandria, Virginia, where he entered high school.

From: Kenneth C. Kaleta, David Lynch, Twayne Publishers: New York (1993), pages 1-2:
David Keith Lynch seems to have been the all-American Boy. He was born in Missoula, Montana, 20 January 1946. Lynch remembers a rural childhood: "My father was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture in Washington. We were in the woods all the time. I'd sorta had enough of the woods by the time I left, but still, lumber and lumberjacks, all this kinda thing, that's America to me." Lynch grew up in the Pacific Northwest, in small towns in Montana, Idaho, and Washington and lived for a time in North Carolina. The first of three children, he was a Boy Scout and an usher at John F. Kennedy's presidential inauguration.

..."'As a teenager, I was really trying to have fun 24 hours a day,' sys Lynch. 'I didn't start thinking until I was 20 or 21. I was doing regular goofball stuff.'...

Lynch shares the maturation process of the U.S. baby boomers' first wave. A child of the affluent, promising fifties, he grew up in the turbulent sixties. He was a member of a youth culture that sought a world of mind-expanding experimentation and uninhibited exuberance; he witnessed the national idealism assissinated with JFK in Dallas. "In the official biography prepared for Wild at Heart, Mr. Lynch divulges only two pieces of information: that he is a native of Missula, Mont., and that he is an Eagle Scout. 'Those two things are not a joke; they are there because they are the most important,' he said earnestly, explaining factors that have formed his values and his outlook in life."

Chion, page 11:
David Lynch's first child, Jennifer, was born in April 1968. Since then he has had two more children by two other wome: Austin from his marriage with Jack Fisk's sister, and Riley in 1992 with Mary Sweeney. Peggy and David Lynch lived fairly modestly in 1968. Lynch would later create a veritable myth about this Philadelphia period, the point of describing Eraserhead as an expression of the fear and tension he felt in that city during his five years there...
Kaleta, pages ix-xi:
Bridging the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, William Blake created a mythic world of Innocence and Experience in his poetry and copper-plate illustrations. His was a world of spiritualism, dreams and nightmares, inhabited by angels and devils. His literary and visual creation of a dual world may be a forerunner of David Lynch's evolving cinematic world. Lynch bridges the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with his dual world of beauty and violence, with dual evocations of wonder and terror. Lynch creates these physical and emotional worlds as a screenwriter and director; he extends his artistic innovations with musical compositions and production work; he expands from his theater films to include television films. But make no mistake, David Lynch's masterstroke, regardless of the medium, is always a compelling invitation into Lynch's world. His world is focused on its very lack of core, a postmodernist rendering, oxymoronic and awesome, forcing us to watch while we think we would like to turn away.

Lynch's world is good and evil. Bad and good openly and plainly coexist. Under every facade lies an infected root; under every clean, middle American picture is some dark and hidden secret. But in Lynch, good and evil also commingle. Good may be evil or evil good. It is left to the observer to make the valu ejudgment. A woman is beautiful, then grotesque, as a shift in camera angle changes her clean good looks to a common harshness. In Lynch's world, "Nothing is good or bad but viewing makes it so." Lynch does not write his story with words and tell it with pictures; he is a filmmaker who creates objective duality, so suitable tot he world of the motion picture.

Chion, page 25:
Surrealistic works are notably absent [among the films David Lynch names as his favorites by other filmmakers], though he has often been aligned with that tradition. He admitted seeing [Luis Bunuel's] Un Chien andalou (1928), but only after having made Eraserhead. He professed to know nothing else of Bunuel. Reacting to being labelled as a surrealist, he protested: 'Why worry about terms and classifications? If surrealism comes naturally, from inside yourself, and you stay innocent, then its fine. A forced, affected surrealism would be horrible.' Besides, in Lynch's view, his interest in narration also separtes him from surrealism: 'The surrealists were only interested in the medium, the texture.'
Kaleta, page 17:
[David Lynch's first feature-length film] Eraserhead asks a number of questions; reducing Eraserhead to its ultimate question is self-defeating. The film's basic question translates into phrases like "Why was I born?" or "Why am I living?" This is at best a rhetorical question. Attempts to answer it resound in the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and the lyrics of Jerome Kern in musical comedy, from William Shakespeare's soliloquies in iambic pentameter to the scrawling of a desperate suicide note as accounted in a local newspaper.
Kaleta, pages 20-21:
Interviewer David Breskin quotes Lynch to Lynch to confirm meanings in Lynch's films. "One of the confusions seems to be over whether art has to mean anything. Let me quote you: 'I don't know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn't make sense.' First off, I don't think people accept the fact life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable. It seems like religion and myth were invented against that, trying to make some sense out of it. Don't you think that's where art comes from, too?"

Lynch responds to his own question. "Maybe some of it does. But for me, I'm of the Western Union school. If you want to send a message, go to Western Union. It's even a problem with responsibility. You have to be free to think up things. They come along, these ideas, and they hook themselves together, and the unifying thing is the euphoria they give you or the repulsion they give you--and you throw those ideas away. You have to just trust yourself."

"So you don't resist the idea that your films mean something?" Breskin continues. "Not a bit," clarifies Lynch. "But they mean different things to different people. Some mean more or less the same things to a large number of people. It's okay. Just as long as there's not one message, spoon-fed. That's what films by committee end up being, and it's a real bummer to me . . . Life is very, very complicated, and so films should be allowed to be, too."

Kaleta, pages 32-37:
Joseph Carey Merrick [the real-life subject of David Lynch's feature film The Elephant Man] was born in a hourse at 50 Lee Street in Leicester on 5 August 1862. he was named after his father, Joseph Rockley Merrick, and after a prominent Baptist minister, Carey...

[page 34] Merrick's skeleton is in the London Hospital Medical College Museum; "His other (flesh) remains were buried in an unmakred grave in 1890. More recently members of the Merrick family applied to the Ecclesiastical Council to have Joseph's skeletal remains cremated and buried near Treves's grave."

[page 35] ...St. Philip's church is now a part of the hospital's library system.

[page 37] ...The London Hospital Medical College houses a museum that contains a collection of medical exhibits and archives... The church model made by Merrick for Mrs. Madge Kendal is here.

...But Whitechapel even then was a teeming neighborhood of shops, pubs, homes, and thriving business... In the 1880s crowds of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe joined the working-class Londoners and filled the streets.

Chion, pages 67-68:
Lynch has always said that, in order not to disappont its fans, he aimed to condense the essentials of the novel [Dune] into the film. Nevertheless, in his adaptation a certain number of the book's important elements are treated rather allusively. Some have been attenuated or have simply been trasnposed. These changes reveal much about his approach to the story... The second modification relates to religion. In the novel it is made very clear that religion is an invention designed to manipulate the masses. However, in the film, this notion that the religious myth has been manufactured is passed over in silence. Everything suggests that Paul and the Bene Gesserit are themselves believers, which makes all the difference. When Paul haughtily declares (in a line borrowed from the novel but to which Lynch accords pride of place, at the end of the film), 'God created Arrakis to train the faithful. One cannot go against the word of God', the film makes his statement sound like an article of faith.

What makes this statement particularly surprising is that there has been little quesiton of God previously. Given the symbolic importance of speech in the film, the use of the word God in extremis turns it into a sort of coup de theatre, a clap of thunder with most disturbing reverberations. We suddenly realise that these people are fanatics and that we do know Lynch's opinion on this. We do not even know whether he has one. In fact, there is every reason to suppose that Lynch has a religious sensibility, though to my knowledge he has never openly expressed it. Religion is present in many ways, directly or indirectl, in Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet and Fire Walk with Me.

Kaleta, pages 81-82:
Myth is an essential element of Dune [the classic science fiction novel that David Lynch adapted to a feature film]. Whatever the future setting of the world, it is most importantly the creation of a mythical universe, not merely our world in a distant future. Concepts of redemption, sin and punishment, and revenge are present in both Western and Eastern mythologies. Historically, it is possible to tie many of the elements of Dune to religious myths: the redeemer, the mystic conception, and the life-giving water. A blood feud writhing with turns of barbarism and deceit, floodwaters, and a battle against giant foes also color many world legends. The Mahabharata and Beowulf are echoed by the screenplay; Venetian altarpieces and Thai temple obes are evoked by the shots.

If Dune is illuminated by studying any other science-fiction/fantasy films, a commparison of Dune to Bakshi's Lord of the Rings (1978) [the screenplay for which was written by Latter-day Saint writer and scholar Chris Conkling], which adapts Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy to the screen, seems most appropriate. Both literary sources lament a fall from grace which becomes Tolkien's and Herbert's rationale for their plots. Both worlds have a sense of the historical. Both share a feeling of loss and melancholy. Most important, these are not world of future realism; they are future worlds of surrealism. The bond establishes real kinship. Bakshi animates a cosmic cartoon and Lynch's enormous world exaggerates reality in bold colors and large, sweeping gestures. Akin to Lord of the Rings, Dune consecrates tomorrow's holy quest.

Actually, straddling the line between sci-fi and myth causes the confusion in viewing Dune. Lynch has a film intuition that propels his other films... The immensity of Dune's world and the mythological tone of its quest in the fragmented film suggest that Herbert is, as was Tolkien, adapted to the cartoon. Lynch has in some aspects approached creating a live-action cartoon in Dune. But Lynch seems to equivocate between film and film tribute. While Dune begins to function as mythological cartoon--a cinematic allegory--with broad colors, bold, sweeping gestures, and captionlike language, it is quickly undercut by the laborious seriousness of transferring Herbert's message from his book into a serious new-world film. Dune as a film vision is buried in its own linear prose exposition.

Eastern religious myths are suggested, but the most overt mythological comparision in Western litererature is to the Bible. The audience can make a much easier connection to Western theology and legends. The comparision is not a commentary on religious beliefs, but instead treats the narrative aspects of the Bible as the dominant story in Western society. Much of Dune's mythology appears to be rooted in the New Testament.

Paul is sent by his father to save the universe. He has a mother of indomitable strength and a conception of mystic importance. After a secluded childhood preparing himself, his public actions are judged by friend and enemy in light of their conformity to actions predicted of the messiah. He teaches the secret of the water of life. He must conquer tremendous obstacles and he must expend his energy selflessly so that men will find the truth. Paul Atreides is a model of honor.

But Christian myth differs in some important ways. Most telling, Jesus Christ is a figure of great love. The New Testament teaches that the savior's price is his own death. Christ clearly refuses the rulership of any earthly kingdom. Thus the New Testament separtes worldly and psiritual concerns and infuses its teachings with humanizing love. Dune does neither. Paul's triumph is glossed over as a prophet (when he experiences the waters of life) and as a philosopher (when he moves from student to the teacher of the Fremen).

Paul Atreides triumphs as a warrior. When he defeats Feyd-Rautha...

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