Catching the Big Fish

Book: "Catching the Big Fish" by David Lynch.
Book: “Catching the Big Fish” by David Lynch.

For my year of creative reading, which technically started in December 2014, not today (I’m not that fast a reader), I read David Lynch’s “Catching the Big Fish“. It is by THE David Lynch of Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet fame. It contains mini-essays by Lynch about his experience with transcendental meditation and how he thinks about film making and the creative process.

My surface impression of the book was, “Meh.” Perhaps it would have done more for me if I were familiar with Lynch’s films.

While my initial impression wasn’t that favorable, the book did have me thinking a couple of things. One, what’s the difference between transcendental meditation (TM) and other forms of meditation? A Google search gave me the answer. Other than TM using a mantra to induce relaxation, it also produces different brain activity than mindfulness meditation.

Lynch has practiced TM twice a day for over three decades and swears by it as a source of his creativity. He is so taken with the technique that he has a foundation to help introduce TM to schools.

The second thing that struck me about the book was Lynch’s method of capturing his original creative ideas in movie form. It’s almost as though he sneaks up on them by playing with the various aspects of film making, like the location, sound, or lighting. He can start with very tiny images or thoughts and build an entire movie starting there and sneaking up on the larger story. Here’s what he has to say about ideas:

“It would be great if the entire film came all at once. But it comes, for me, in fragments. That first fragment is like the Rosetta Stone. It’s the piece of the puzzle that indicates the rest. It’s a hopeful puzzle piece.

“In Blue Velvet, it was red lips, green lawns, and the song — Bobby Vinton’s version of “Blue Velvet.” The next thing was an ear lying in a field. And that was it.” (pg. 23)

I’ve never thought of my initial idea for a creative project as a Rosetta Stone, something waiting to be deciphered that contains the whole idea. I figured I had to keep adding to the initial idea with more ideas, rather than attempting to code-break the original by sneaking up on it.

This feels like a big idea that I haven’t quite grasped yet. Perhaps some TM is in order.

It also goes to show that I can’t always trust my initial impression of a book.