Not to sound like Alvin Straight sitting on the porch and saying, “Get off my lawn,” but prior to that book, there was no information about “Twin Peaks.” So when Lynch talked in Lynch on Lynch about the scene where Annie appears next to Laura in bed and tells her what to write in her diary, that was big news, and I never have forgotten it. It’s funny that this concept stuck with Lynch all these years, and that’s really where “The Return” came from.
The other quote that stuck out to me occurs when Rodley likens Henry, Jack Nance’s character in “Eraserhead,” to Josef K in Kafka’s “The Trial.” Lynch responds, “Henry is very sure that something is happening, but he doesn’t understand it at all. He watches things very, very carefully, because he’s trying to figure them out. He might study the corner of that pie container, just because it’s in his line of sight, and he might wonder why he sat where he did to have it be there like that. Everything is new. It might not be frightening to him, but it could be a key to something. Everything should be looked at. There could be clues in it.” To me, that is a spot-on description of Dougie Jones, who at one point mirrors the iconic shot of Henry in the elevator.
There is a ton of Lynch in “The Return.” It is kind of the exclamation point on his career. I do make some jokes in the book about Season Three because if you love something, then I am going to tease it. I’m a Gen Xer, and that’s how we were raised. Biting every hand that feeds me is my nature. We are working on a David Lynch Encyclopedia that’s going to come out in a couple years, and I’m writing about “The Straight Story” for that book. I’m actually going to compare Dougie to Alvin Straight, because wherever Alvin goes, he creates kindness out of the person that he interacts with. You always think that something bad is going to happen. You think that girl who comes up and wants to have dinner with Alvin at the fire is going to steal his stuff, but what occurs between them instead is kindness, and the same thing happens with Dougie. Everyone Dougie comes in contact with, he actually turns them to be kind. I never really considered Dougie and Henry beyond the shot of him in the elevator, which is definitely the same, but I think you’re right about that quote from Lynch connecting them too.
As Lynch said at a book signing for Catching the Big Fish prior to the Chicago premiere of “Inland Empire” in 2007, “My films are like Certs breath mints—two in one!”[laughs] That’s right! At the Q&A in Chicago, I thought it was very interesting that Duwayne Dunham said, “Lynch will never tell you to cut here. He’ll give you a direction like, ‘Make it more yellow.’” There is that feeling in all his films, and that’s why we go back to them. We don’t want answers.
In what other ways do you consider Lynch’s work therapeutic? I think this quote from Lynch singled out by John Thorne in his excellent essay, “Time & Time Again,” contained in the March 2018 issue summarizes this beautifully: “Our trip through life is to gain divine mind through knowledge and experience of combined opposites. To reconcile those two opposing things is the trick. In order to appreciate one, you have to know the other—the more darkness you can gather up, the more light you can see, too.”