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Book Review: Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity by David Lynch

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David Lynch's first film, Eraserhead (1977), a dark, disturbing and deeply surreal exploration of the director's own subconscious, was initially pronounced as unreleasable upon completion, but in short time became a cult classic and critical success, launching Lynch to the forefront of avant-garde film-making and earning him the favour of Stanley Kubrick, who proclaimed Eraserhead one of his all-time favourite films.

Thirty years later David Lynch is still exploring the sub-conscious, and unusually for a notoriously private director who refuses to discuss the details of his plots or their meanings, has written a book about… himself. Not a traditional biography, mind you, but a surreal, whimsical exploration of his own consciousness. His legion of fans would expect nothing less.

In Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, David Lynch puts aside his filmic quest to get inside the viewer’s head and lets them instead inside his, an invitation almost as rare as a ticket to fiction’s Wonka Chocolate Factory, and possibly just as out of this world.

    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.'

So begins Catching the Big Fish, and from the very first page, as though entering a state of deep meditation, ordinary reality is left — along with one’s shoes — at the door. A practitioner of meditation for 20 minutes, two times a day, for over 30 years, Lynch invites the reader on a mind-altering journey, expounding upon his commitment to Transcendental Meditation and the powerful creative wellspring it has provided him in 85 alternatively light and lofty chapters, many in koan-like form.

Citing his daily sessions of silence and inner happiness as essential to the creative process, one can only wonder what kind of films this director might have made otherwise – with Academy Award nominated Blue Velvet (1986) among the most disturbing, unsettling films of all time.

Catching the Big Fish is a blend of thoughts and themes, sometimes random like a stream of consciousness, or — the analogy he personally prefers for creativity — casting a hook into a bottomless sea. The book melds biography, film analysis, philosophy and spirituality with a heart-on-sleeve sincerity, while incorporating a narrative of the author’s passion for charting the world of dreams and ideas and rendering them unto action.

Few probably realise that this famously reclusive director is putting his own money into establishing meditation centres around the world, or that he has founded the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and Peace to further his meditative ideals.

Like a rare sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, any public appearance of one of the greatest American directors of modern cinema is compulsory viewing, or reading in this case, and whether or not you are ready to tread the same waters, Catching the Big Fish is worth at least a dip.

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  • Hi John,

    David Lynch is hosting a special weekend in May, which your readers might be interested in.

    If you’d like to have a graphic for your site, it’s available.

    We suggest that the graphic contain a link to David Lynch Weekend

    Thank you and all the best.

    Bente Loevhaug
    Project Manager, David Lynch Weekend

  • Thanks for your thoughts Sushil, or emotions should I say? I like to think that modernity and spirituality aren’t diametrically opposed, and like David Lynch there are many who are attempting to prove that age-old practises like meditation can be combined with the many positive benefits that modern technology has brought us. Extremes in all things are bad—technological or metaphysical, and I for one try to lead a life that blends the inner with the outer—a middle path between two worlds if you will.

  • sushil_yadav

    In response to your post on David Lynch, meditation, happiness and spirituality I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of speed, consumerism and industrialization on our minds and environment. Please read.

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.

    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression/Anxiety.

    A (travelling)society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression/Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression/Anxiety.

    Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

    Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

    A fast (large) society cannot feel pain/remorse/empathy.

    A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

    To read the complete article please follow either of these links: PlanetSave


  • Cheers Natalie. Nice blog you have there.

  • This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States. Nice work!

  • Thanks a lot. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Nice review, well expressed.