Quotes From David Lynch’s “Catching the Big Fish”

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These are some choice quotes from David Lynch’s “Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

Ideas are like fish.
If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.

Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.

  • Introduction, p. 1
  • When I first heard about meditation, I had zero interest in it. I wasn’t even curious. It sounded like a waste of time.
    What got me interested, though, was the phrase “true happiness lies within.” At first I thought it sounded kind of mean, because it doesn’t tell you where the “within” is, or how to get there. But still it had a ring of truth. And I began to think that maybe meditation was a way to go within.

    • The First Dive, p. 3
  • When I started meditating, I was filled with anxieties and fears. I felt a sense of depression and anger.
    I often took out this anger on my first wife. After I had been meditating for about two weeks, she came to me and said, “What’s going on?” I was quiet for a moment. But finally I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “This anger, where did it go?” And I hadn’t even realized that it had lifted.
    I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’s suffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.
    Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they are like poison to the filmmaker or artist.They are like a vise grip on creativity. If you’re in that grip, you can hardly get out of bed, much less experience the flow of creativity and ideas. You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas.

    • Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit, p. 8
  • I started out just as a regular person, growing up in the Northwest. My father was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture, studying trees. So I was in the woods a lot. And the woods for a child are magical. I lived in what people call small towns. My world was what would be considered about a city block, maybe two blocks. Everything occurred in that space. All the dreaming, all my friends existed in that small world. But to me it seemed so huge and magical. There was plenty of time available to dream and be with friends.
    I liked to paint and I liked to draw. And I often thought, wrongly, that when you got to be an adult, you stopped painting and drawing and did something more serious.

    • Starting Out, p. 9
  • I’m not always good with words. Some people are poets and have a beautiful way of saying things with words. But cinema is its own language. And with it you can say so many things, because you’ve got time and sequences. You’ve got dialogue. You’ve got music. You’ve got sound effects. You have so many tools. And so you can express a feeling and a thought that can’t be conveyed any other way. It’s a magical medium.
    For me, it’s so beautiful to think about these pictures and sounds flowing together in time and in sequence, making something that can be done only through cinema. It’s not just words or music — it’s a whole range of elements coming together and making something that didn’t exist before. It’s telling stories. It’s devising a world, an experience, that people cannot have unless they see that film.

    • Cinema, p. 17
  • I like the saying “The world is as you are.” And I think films are as you are. That’s why, although the frames of a film are always the same — the same number, in the same sequence, with the same sounds — every screening is different. The difference is sometimes subtle but it’s there. It depends on the audience. There is a circle that goes from the audience to the film and back. Each person is looking and thinking and feeling and coming up with his or her own sense of things. And it’s probably different from what I fell in love with.
    So you don’t know how it’s going to hit people. But if you thought about how it’s going to hit people, or if it’s going to hurt someone, or if it’s going to do this or do that, then you would have to stop making films. You just do these things that you fall in love with, and you never know what’s going to happen.

    • The Circle, p. 21
  • An idea is a thought. It’s a thought that holds more than you think it does when you receive it. But in that first moment there is a spark. In a comic strip, if someone gets an idea, a lightbulb goes on. It happens in an instant, just as in life.
    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.
    You fall in love with the first idea, that little tiny piece. And once you’ve got it, the rest will come in time.

    • Ideas, p. 23
  • Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is.
    Eraserhead was growing in a certain way, and I didn’t know what it meant. I was looking for a key to unlock what these sequences were saying. Of course, I understood some of it; but I didn’t know the thing that just pulled it all together. And it was a struggle. So I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent.
    I don’t think I’ll ever say what that sentence was.

    • Eraserhead, p. 33
  • On Blue Velvet, I worked with a casting director, Johanna Ray. And we had all brought up Dennis Hopper. But everybody said, ‘No, no; you can’t work with Dennis. He’s really in bad shape, and you’ll have nothing but trouble.’ So we continued looking for people. But one day, Dennis’ agent called and said that Dennis was clean and sober and had already done another picture, and I could talk to that director to verify it. Then Dennis called and said, ‘I have to play Frank, because Iam Frank.’ That thrilled me, and scared me.
    • Casting, p. 69
  • People have asked me why — if meditation is so great and gives you so much bliss — are my films so dark, and there’s so much violence?
    There are many, many dark things flowing around in this world right now, and most films reflect the world in which we live. They’re stories. Stories are always going to have conflict. They’re going to have highs and lows, and good and bad.
    I fall in love with certain ideas. And I am where I am. Now, if I told you I was enlightened, and this is enlightened filmmaking, that would be another story. But I’m just a guy from Missoula, Montana, doing my thing, going down the road like everybody else.
    We all reflect the world we live in. Even if you make a period film, it will reflect your times. You can see the way period films differ, depending on when they were made. It’s a sensibility — how they talk, certain themes — and those things change as the world changes.
    And so, even though I’m from Missoula, Montana, which is not the surrealistic capital of the world, you could be anywhere and see a kind of strangeness in how the world is these days, or have a certain way of looking at things.

    • Darkness, p. 91
  • Stay true to yourself. Let your voice ring out, and don’t let anybody fiddle with it. Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad idea. And meditate. It’s very important to experience that Self, that pure consciousness. It’s really helped me. I think it would help any filmmaker. So start diving within, enlivening that bliss consciousness. Grow in happiness and intuition. Experience the joy of doing. And you’ll glow in this peaceful way. Your friends will be very, very happy with you. Everyone will want to sit next to you. And people will give you money!
    • Advice, p. 159

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