Beginning with Lost Highway, director David Lynch “swerved” in a new direction, one in which very disorienting images of the physical world take center stage in his films. Seeking to understand this unusual emphasis in his work, noted Lynch scholar Martha Nochimson engaged Lynch in a long conversation of unprecedented openness, during which he shared his vision of the physical world as an uncertain place that masks important universal realities. He described how he derives this vision from the Holy Vedas of the Hindu religion, as well as from his layman’s fascination with modern physics.
With this deep insight, Nochimson forges a startlingly original template for analyzing Lynch’s later films—the seemingly unlikely combination of the spiritual landscape envisioned in the Holy Vedas and the material landscape evoked by quantum mechanics and relativity. In David Lynch Swerves, Nochimson navigates the complexities of Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire with uncanny skill, shedding light on the beauty of their organic compositions; their thematic critiques of the immense dangers of modern materialism; and their hopeful conceptions of human potential. She concludes with excerpts from the wide-ranging interview in which Lynch discussed his vision with her, as well as an interview with Columbia University physicist David Albert, who was one of Nochimson’s principal tutors in the discipline of quantum physics.
By Martha Nochimson
Martha P. Nochimson has had a distinguished academic career, teaching at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and serving at Mercy College as the creator and first Chair of the film program. She is the author of five previous books, including The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood.
“Taken as a whole, this book is nothing less than a revelation of a new David Lynch.”
—Eric Wilson, author of The Strange World of David Lynch: Transcendental Irony from Eraserhead to Mulholland Dr.
“To grant Lynch agency and study him as Nochimson does—through his lens—is not to indulge in sloppy hagiography, but to know something of his remarkable vantage point on the mysteries of existence. . . . Nochimson is stretching herself beyond film studies into a realm where few film studies academics have dared to go. She is up front about the excitement and dangers of this approach, but she also makes an outstanding case that—with Lynch—such stretching beyond every conceivable boundary (be it academic or ontological!) is essential. . . . This book will likely be the standard for studying Lynch’s later films.”
—Joseph Kickasola, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Baylor University, author of The Films of Krzysztof Kieslowski: The Liminal Image