Filmmaker David Lynch plays a game of Wild Card: NPR

Filmmaker David Lynch plays a game of Wild Card with NPR's Rachel Martin and talks about his upbringing and learning from failure.



SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Filmmaker David Lynch rarely does interviews, but he made an exception for NPR's new show Wild Card, in which guests play a game. They have to answer big questions about their lives, drawn from a deck of cards. Lynch is known for works such as 'Twin Peaks' and 'Mulholland Drive', which explore the dark side of humanity. But he tells NPR's Rachel Martin that he has found bliss in his personal life through meditation. He and Rachel started talking about his latest work, an album with singer Chrystabell, entitled 'Cellophane Memories'. It comes out in August.

(SOUND OF SONG, “SUBLIME ETERNAL LOVE”)

CHRYSTABELL: (Singing) When he saw it coming and…

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DAVID LYNCH: I was experimenting with sound, and I came across this thing when Chrystabell came here. And she sang in this experiment, and she's perfect for this in ways that I can't really explain. So it takes two or three times of hearing it before it becomes nice.

RACHEL MARTIN: So when you first went out, you thought, oh, this is dissonant. This is not…

LYNCH: I heard it for the first time – total bull****.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

LYNCH: Second hearing, a little less. Third hearing, beautiful. We just hit it off as a friend and it brings back memories. That's how the title came about. As I listened to this, all those distant memories started to bubble up. Something about this music brought back memories.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: We're going to play the game.

LYNCH: Okay.

MARTIN: Round 1 – memories. One, two, three, which one?

LYNCH: I'll take number 1.

MARTIN: No. 1 – what was your form of rebellion as a teenager?

LYNCH: Okay. Well, I've lived three lives. I lived a domestic life. I lived the school life with my lover, my girlfriend and the studio life. I had a studio in downtown Alexandria with my friend Jack Fisk during high school. So after school I went to the studio. And then, you know, he was a bit of a party animal too. So I had these three lives, and I didn't want any of them to really intermingle. So I started having intestinal spasms.

MARTIN: You've developed a condition. So you made it for yourself. Was it psychosomatic?

LYNCH: I have a psychosomatic illness, yes (laughter).

MARTIN: And what has it done for you?

LYNCH: Me [expletive] my pants. That's what happened.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

LYNCH: It was a terrible thing.

MARTIJN: But…

LYNCH: But I'll tell you the good side of this.

MARTIJN: Okay.

LYNCH: The Vietnam War broke out around this time.

MARTIJN: Right.

LYNCH: And my father took me to a doctor because this was causing cramps in the intestines. I have a gut, you know, one of these things where they look at you…

MARTIN: Some kind of colonoscopy?

LYNCH: A colonospity (ph), you know, whatever.

MARTIN: Yes.

LYNCH: And the man was a great doctor, and as he watched, he acted like it was a race track. And he said: this is where they turn the corner. They go around there. So and so No. 7 is in the lead, and they come around the corner.

MARTIN: In your colon?

LYNCH: After the colonostomy (ph), you know, he was – like he told me about, you know, my intestines. Anyway, he said, you're having intestinal cramps. And he said, by the way, I see on the x-rays that your vertebrae are out of place. And if you ever get drafted into the military, I can give you these x-rays, and you probably won't get called if you want out. So intestinal cramps led to a doctor helping me get out, and I didn't have to go to Vietnam.

MARTIN: Wow.

LYNCH: And let me live the art life in peace, you know, and that was so beautiful. I can't tell you how lucky I've been in my life, how happy and happy I've been.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Round 2 – these are insights…

LYNCH: Okay.

MARTIN: …Things that you're working on now or that you've learned now – one, two or three?

LYNCH: I think I've worked my way up to two now.

MARTIN: What failure have you learned the most from?

LYNCH: “Dune” – my movie “Dune,” which I already knew you should definitely have before you sign on to make a movie. But for some reason I thought everything would be fine, and I didn't take a permanent reduction in my contract. And it turned out that “Dune” wasn't the movie I wanted to make, because I didn't…

MARTIN: Wow.

LYNCH: …Have the final say. So that's a lesson I knew before, but now I can't anymore. Why would someone make a movie and spend three years working on something that isn't yours? Why? Why do that? Why – I died, and it was all my fault for not knowing I had to do that, put that in the contract.

MARTIN: What did you learn from that?

LYNCH: Always have a final solution.

MARTIN: Just (laughter)…

LYNCH: That's my lesson: always creative control, final solution.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Last question – these are the beliefs – one, two, three?

LYNCH: Three.

MARTIN: Where have you experienced awe?

LYNCH: Where have I experienced…

MARTIJN: Awe.

LYNCH: Awe. Well, often, but definitely, my first meditation – I had just learned it. And I was taken to a small room, a small place, and my teacher said, sit here and begin your meditation. I'll be back in 20 minutes. So I sat down and closed my eyes and boom. I say: it was as if I was standing in an elevator and someone cut the cables. (Imitating a small explosion) inside I went – (imitating a small explosion) bliss, the bliss that makes you cry – so beautiful, so powerful.

Transcendental meditation is garbage going out and gold coming in. So there is a process of removing the obstacles to enlightenment and bringing in that which makes enlightenment. I always say we live in a suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity. We don't want to be clowns. We don't want that heavy, smelly rubber of negativity around us. You begin to transcend every day. The rubber begins to disintegrate, evaporate and freedom comes. Happiness starts to come. It is so beautiful. Why doesn't everyone and their little brother meditate? Don't know. Go figure.

MARTIN: I mean, I have to say, it seems like you've really found a level of satisfaction that I don't think many people have found.

LYNCH: It's all in there. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And it's an amazing journey we're all on. It only makes it greater when you transcend every day.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DETROW: For a longer version of this conversation with filmmaker David Lynch, search for NPR's new podcast, Wild Card With Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Please visit the terms of use and consent pages of our website at www.npr.org for more information.

NPR transcripts are produced on an urgent deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not yet be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio recording.

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