Another Cult Classic from David Lynch

Radar Magazine/November 9, 2006
By Allison Mooney

If you thought David Lynch was out there, wait until you read his book. In recent months, the oddball auteur behind Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet has been stumping for his spiritual discipline of choice, Transcendental Meditation. In January, he'll issue a book on the practice, which critics deride as an Eastern-flavored cousin to Scientology and Kabbalah.

Lynch makes no secret that Catching the Big Fish is a tool to win converts. "The book is about his commitment to Transcendental Meditation and his wish to spread his beliefs in what it can accomplish," says his editor, Mitch Horowitz. The filmmaker, who learned the method from His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who was famously dismissed as a fraud by his onetime pupil John Lennon), has said he practices TM for 20 minutes every day.

Of course, for readers to embrace Lynch's convictions, they'll first have to understand them. Catching the Big Fish's 85 un-numbered chapters cover such abstruse topics as "The Unified Field" ("It's there, within, within, within"), "The Fourth State" ("you get a little jolt of bliss"), and "The Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit" (of depression and anger, natch). The entire text of one chapter, "The Box and the Key," consists of this statement: "I have no idea what those are." Thanks, Dave!

If these musings seem disconnected, it could be because the chapters are merely transcriptions of comments Lynch made during a speaking tour of colleges last fall. (At least that's the speculation on some blogs). Proceeds from the book will go to his foundation, which promotes "consciousness-based education," and to which Lynch has already donated over $400,000 of his own money. The David Lynch Foundation offers scholarships to junior high and high school students to study TM, and Bob Roth, the foundation's vice president, says it also plans to establish "universities of world peace" in the next few years.

Not everybody wants their kids' consciousness tampered with, however. Parents at a high school in Marin County, California, protested plans for an intramural meditation club, calling it a form of religion and a cult. The blowback ultimately forced the foundation to withdraw the $175,000 it had pledged, which would have provided funds for 250 students and 25 staffers to practice TM.

Readers who buy Catching the Big Fish seeking enlightenment on Lynch's inscrutable plots (as opposed to the nature of existence) are bound to be disappointed. In a chapter about his newest film, Inland Empire (whose release will coincide with the publication of the book), Lynch writes, "I really had this feeling that if there's a Unified Field, there must be a unity between a Christmas tree bulb and this man from Poland who came in wearing these strange glasses." And if you're wondering what that means, you'll find the answer within, within, within.

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