Life has never felt more Lynchian.
For those of us lucky enough to be stuck at home—and not on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic—a bizarre mix of daily ennui and looming dread has come to define life in quarantine.
Unremarkable activities like drinking coffee or going for a solitary walk can take on absurd qualities, providing sterile comfort while darkness lurks right beneath the surface. Boredom abounds, but so does death, just like in the physical and emotional landscapes explored by David Lynch in his films, television, and visual art.
But David Lynch is not bored; he’s making lamps.
A creature of habit fueled by potent streams of caffeine and Transcendental Meditation, Lynch’s daily routine was pretty monastic before quarantine and remains largely unchanged. He says he’s fine with being in quarantine; eager as ever to create and hopeful about the world that awaits us on the other side of isolation.
We spoke to Lynch from his woodshop in LA about coffee, creative quarantining, and how meditation can illuminate the darkness we’re all feeling right now and maybe even lead to world peace. But first, by way of introduction to these themes, let’s talk about wood.
VICE: What is David Lynch’s quarantine routine?
David Lynch: My routine is pretty much the same now as it was before. First, I get up and I get a coffee. Me, I like to get going with the coffee right away. That’s just the way it is with me. You know how in a hospital they put an IV in your arm? I pretty much have a drip going all day long.
After that, I meditate and then I go to work.
What are you working on these days?
I’m in the woodshop right now, building two wall sconces—two little lamps. It involves lightbulbs, electricity, polyester resin plastic, and those kinds of things.
Wood and electricity have been recurring themes in your films. Why are they such an inspiration?
Electricity is so thrilling and think about wood—just think about wood, if you would, for a second. Nature supplies this for us, all different kinds of wood, and the structure of it can be sawed, sanded, shaped, polished, turned into furniture, so many things like houses. It’s the most incredible material and it smells so good when you cut it. Like Transcendental Meditation, wood is something that you could say the “almighty merciful Father” supplies for us. And where would we be without electricity right now?
Electricity gives us light and light gives us hope. Is meditation like electricity?
Darkness is nothing—it’s the absence of something. Negativity is the absence of this all-positive that lies within. When you start enlivening that, the darkness of negativity starts to go away in the light of this positive. Once you clear out this tube, the ideas start coming and you’ll know what to build, what to paint, what to invent. What blocks the flow of ideas is negativity. If you meditate, you’ll start to see the solutions coming.
Why is daily meditation important?
Transcendental Meditation allows the human being to dive within and experience an eternal form of pure consciousness that is within all of us. For some reason, we’ve lost contact with this field within—this non-relative, absolute, eternal level, but it’s there within us all.
Why Transcendental Meditation, specifically?
Because it’s easy and effortless. It’s built for the human being in isolation. It’s not a concentration or contemplation or mindfulness meditation. Those are all fine, but only TM will let you transcend.
What would your advice be for people dealing with the stress and anxiety of a global pandemic?
What do you think? [ Laughs.] Learn the technique of TM and get a whole different ball game going where you start to enjoy life and solving these problems! We can grow in that and expand consciousness. Life gets better and better. People begin enjoying being alive and start seeing a bigger and bigger picture for themselves and getting better with their fellow human.
What if you’re stuck inside in quarantine or are under financial stress right now and can’t take TM courses?
You can learn it right now. Find the local TM teacher in your area and find a way to learn with six or eight feet of separation. If you can’t afford it you can pay over time or get a scholarship from the David Lynch Foundation. Just get it. Talk to a TM teacher and get a plan. Take advantage of this technique right away. Not tomorrow! This afternoon! Go get it!
World peace is one of the stated goals of TM. With billions of people in quarantine right now around the world, what do you think would happen if they all meditated at the same time?
Within every human being is a field of unbounded intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy, power, and peace—all positive qualities, within us all. If it can be enlivened powerfully enough, it can bring world peace. It’s been researched and studied. What’s come out of this is what are called Peace Creating Groups and if they get big enough and on a permanent basis they can bring world peace. But the secret is within. Always has been, always will be.
Can self-isolation be good for creativity?
That depends. If you’re miserable and suffering in isolation, then it won’t be good for creativity. Negativity is the enemy of creativity. If you’re filled with fear and anger and all kinds of negative things, that flow of ideas gets restricted and the tube of happiness just gets squeezed by negativity. If you meditate and transcend every day, the negativity lifts away. Gold comes in and garbage goes out. Negativity, stress, anxieties, tensions, depression, sorrow, hate, need for revenge, bitter selfish anger; it all starts to recede.
Do you think there’s a lesson here for humanity in this pandemic experience?
For some reason, we were going down the wrong path and Mother Nature just said, “Enough already, we’ve got to stop everything.” This is going to last long enough to lead to some kind of new way of thinking.
Better or worse?
I think it’s going to be much more spiritual and much kinder and it’s going to bring us all closer together in a really strong and beautiful way. It’s going to be a different world on the other side and it’s going to be a much more intelligent world. Solutions to these problems are going to come and life’s going to be very good. The movies will come back. Everything will spring back and in a much better way probably.
And in the meantime?
In the meantime, there are things that people can do at home. They can draw, they can paint, they can build small things, they can write lyrics, they can write poems, they can write stories that can later be filmed, they can play games, they can invent games. So many things can happen in a small space, they can invent new recipes and cooking things. It’s an opportunity for a bunch of different experiments.
Thanks David, I’ll let you get back to your lamps.
You got it, Nick. Take care, buddy!
Follow Nick Rose on Twitter.