by Nadja Sayej: The famed director talks about the power of transcendental meditation, bad paintings, and rubber clown suits of negativity…
When David Lynch picks up the phone in his Hollywood home, he dives right into the depths of consciousness. There is no small talk with the Twin Peaks co-creator and director. His namesake foundation aims to bring the age-old technique of transcendental meditation, developed by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, across the world. As he says, “If you don’t already meditate, take my advice: Start. It will be the best decision you ever make.”
Lynch’s Festival of Disruption ran this past weekend at the Ace Hotel’s 1927-built Gothic theatre in Los Angeles in hopes of raising awareness on transcendental meditation, which he has been doing twice a day for 45 years, and which he hopes to bring to everyone across the world.
The multi-disciplinary arts festival featured a live audience Q&A with Lynch, alongside stage talks and performances with Francis Ford Coppola, Grace Jones, and the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, as well as the debut of Twin Peaks VR. Lynch also exhibited his erotic photo series made with Parisian shoe designer Christian Louboutin.
If that wasn’t enough, Lynch will also be exhibiting paintings (best described as nightmarish versions of American suburbia) at the Kanye Griffin Corcoran Gallery in L.A. until November 3, is opening a museum retrospective in the Netherlands next month, and releasing an experimental album he made with his 1990s band, The Thought Gang. When does he even have time to meditate? Lynch is notorious for evading questions about his artwork but he spoke to VICE about decay, clown costumes, fishing for ideas and how building a career on darkness helped him find his inner light.
VICE: What is the Festival of Disruption to you?
David Lynch: In my mind, it’s disrupting the old and bringing in the good and the new. It can be smooth or it can be rough. My friend Charlie Lutes used to say, “When the vibes start going up in the world, some people are going to love it and others are going to fly off the handle.”
Do you feel you are bringing people together at the festival with that high-level energy of positivity?
Absolutely, that’s the whole thing. There is a Vedic line that says, “The world is my family.” We are all members of the family of humanity. We should be getting along, helping each other out if we need it, walking away from suffering and enjoying life together.
What happens when someone starts doing transcendental meditation?
They’re given an ancient mental technique of meditation that allows them to dive all the way into the ocean of pure consciousness. Transcending is the key word. They start infusing this all-positive consciousness, watching negativity, like stress, anxiety and depression, lift away. People start feeling happier, there is more harmony in the air, coherence, and unity. They start walking away from suffering and start enjoying life.
Is the cause of the trouble mental clutter or digital distractions?
No, they say negativity is just like darkness, when the light of unity is low, there’s more negativity. If you ramp up this light from within, the darkness of negativity recedes. It’s automatic. As Maharishi said, don’t even worry about the darkness. Just simply turn on the light.
That sounds like it’s easier said than done, no?
It’s almost completely easy if you have the techniques. That’s the beautiful thing. Right now, there are groups who hold meditations, but—believe it or not—are getting better, day by day. Things would go faster if the groups were larger and held on a permanent basis. In the big picture, it’s a drop in a bucket compared to how much it takes to build up militaries and all these things. This is far more cheaper and something that will truly work. It’ll be like a miracle, it’ll be beautiful. People will wonder where this negativity went.
You’re also showing a photo series, the ones you created in collaboration with Christian Louboutin? They have a filmic quality to them that’s also mysterious.
Yes, I did those photos with Christian which are based on his fetish shoes. They will be shown at the festival. The thing with those, they were printed in Paris in a very special way, so the actual prints won’t be in the show. The projections will be in the show at the festival. The prints are so glossy, it looks like they’re wet. They’re super glass gloss. But they’ll look great on the screen.
You’re also having a concurrent exhibit at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery in L.A., and despite being a filmmaker, you’ve always wanted to be a painter. But I hear you think “bad painting” is also good?
I love bad painting. What I mean by it, what you could say is good-bad painting. I like organic phenomenon and I like nature playing a part in the work. And I like childish things but a kind of sophistication of a childish thing utilizing organic phenomenon.
Like the ants that ate the sugar on your canvas?
Like the ants. And there might be a special projection at the festival featuring a Cheesehead that I did.
Is painting a form of meditation to you?
Nope, a lot of people think all meditations are the same. I’ve run into so many people who say “My form of meditation is jogging” or biking, those are nice things but that’s not meditation. The whole thing about meditation is that it’s a technique to take you all the way within. Concentration or contemplation will not give you the experience of transcending. Little by little, people are catching onto this fact. You want to transcend, the eternal deepest level. This is where it’s at. You get there, it’s a euphoric experience.
What’s it like?
It’s so beautiful. You start truly expanding whatever consciousness you had. If you are transcending every day, you are unfolding your true potential, which is called enlightenment. In enlightenment, you have zero problems. You have no negativity, you have total fulfillment and total liberation. You just watch things get better and better on the path towards supreme enlightenment.
Is that where you are right now?
[Laughs] No. I’m on the path just like everybody else. But there are people who have achieved that. But you achieve it by transcending. As they say, when you walk towards the light, with each step, things get brighter. You start transcending every day, life gets better and better. I say its like gold coming in from within and garbage going out. All this positivity starts flowing from within, you start getting happy, more energy, you sleep better at night, better relationships with people, more ideas flow, more creativity, more problem solving. It’s time that everyone jumps on this program and starts to boogie! And get a great life going.
You’ve been doing transcendental meditation for 45 years?
Right. Everyday, twice a day and I haven’t missed a meditation since I started.
It helped you be less of an angry person?
My personal experience, I was filled with anger before I started. I took it out on my first wife. Then, in the first two weeks of meditating, she says: “What’s going on?” I said, “What are you talking about?” She said: “This anger, where did it go?” I didn’t even realize it had lifted. Your friends will notice changes in you before you do because it seems so natural. There is no need to suffer.
In relation to creativity, you believe that ideas are gifts?
Ideas are like gifts and I’ve equated it to fishing. I say negativity is the enemy of creativity. Negativity shuts the tube of how those ideas flow. Once you start meditating, that tube opens up and you start expanding consciousness, they flow right through and you experience consciousness on a deeper level. This is going to help you in your work, in solving problems and the heavy weight of negativity surrounding you—I call it the suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity. Nobody wants to be a clown suffering with rotting, heavy rubber. You start meditating and the rubber starts to dissolve, you can breathe, you feel so good in your body. The lifting is such a relief. All this positivity is flowing in from within, so the clown suit is dissolving and in place, you have this incredible energy, creativity, love, and happiness flowing. Your awareness expands, you start seeing a bigger picture of life. And like I say, life becomes more like a game, than a torment!
You do answer a lot of the public’s questions when touring and teaching transcendental meditation. Is there anything you wish people would draw more attention to? I’m obviously tempted to ask you questions about your films, but maybe you’re tired of everyone theorizing about them?
You can ask me anything you want! It doesn’t matter, but I would like people everywhere to know they have a treasury within. Every human being. Its good for people to know they have that treasury, but it’s even better they know how to access that treasury. Bring it out and utilize it. That’s the whole thing. Get transcendental meditation out to the people ASAP!