David Lynch: Czar of Bizarre

As his haunting Twin Peaks begins a new season, David Lynch tests whether a brilliantly eccentric film artist can move into the mainstream

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These days he has little time for a primo passion: painting. "A guy told me that in order to get one hour of good painting done, you need four hours of uninterrupted time." He describes a recent favorite, Oww, God, Mom, the Dog He Bited Me: "There's a clump of Band-Aids in the bottom corner. A dark background. A stick figure whose head is a blur of blood. Then a very small dog, made out of glue. There is a house, a little black bump. It is pretty crude, pretty primitive and minimal. I like it a lot."

Lynch doesn't analyze his dreams much; his consciousness percolates plenty provocatively, thank you. But he remembers being depressed once because "in my dream, I see these fantastic paintings that were done by somebody else. And I wish that I had painted them. And I wake up, and after a while the impression wears off. I say, wait a minute, those are my paintings. I dreamed them; they're mine." Another pause. "Then I can't remember what they were."

This courtly man doesn't stay depressed for long, though. He has seen too much. Life, to him, is an endless search, one long lesson. He is proof of the notion that every artist is a scientist, obsessed with discovering how things and people work. His eyes go electric as he skims the subjects of his forthcoming photography book. "I've got a real lot of beautiful industrial landscapes. And I'm real interested in dental hygiene, so I'm going to have a chapter on that. Maybe something on fictitious archaeology: I'd like to bury some things, then wait a little while and dig them up. I like to photograph plastic people in little scenes. Then I might have a chapter on spark plugs. Kind of amazing things, spark plugs; our lives revolve around them.

"This is good food today."

Lynch brings this canny naivete, this promiscuous curiosity, to every aspect of his life and work. It could be a trait bred from childhood -- a sylvan youth of eagle-scout badges and family camping trips, spent amid the Pacific Northwest trees that today loom over Twin Peaks. "My father was a scientist for the Forest Service," Lynch says. "He would drive me through the woods in his green Forest Service truck, over dirt roads, through the most beautiful forests where the trees are very tall and shafts of sunlight come down and in the mountain streams the rainbow trout leap out and their little trout sides catch glimpses of light. Then my father would drop me in the woods and go off. It was a weird, comforting feeling being in the woods. There were odd, mysterious things. That's the kind of world I grew up in."

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