Director and auteur David Lynch is known for his iconic films and television shows such as Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks. Imagine my surprise when a wonderful friend of mine gifted me with a book written by him. Catching the Big Fish is a collection of thoughts and extended musings about Lynch’s personal philosophies that guide his life. The book’s subtitle “Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity” pretty much sums up the cornerstones of these writings, but the picture he lays out is much broader.
Broken up into small one to two-page sections, the book maps out a primer on how to live a life that includes an expansive awareness of self and the world and an attunement toward persistent ideation. Lynch wants his readers to think about how meditation can be a gateway into a landscape of creative ideas, and he makes a compelling, albeit gently conveyed, case for this. He does so by using his own life as an example from his early days as a painter in the fine arts and through experiences developing ideas for films like Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, and others.
For filmmakers like myself, gaining insight into his creative life is one of the best parts of this book. His body of work stands tall among the best in the business. For everyone else looking to nurture a contemplative life rich with artistic fulfillment, Lynch offers plenty to ponder.
Here are the polka dot pros:
- Easy to read. The short sections of this book make it much more accessible in terms of digesting Lynch’s ideas in smaller chunks. Even at a length of 180 pages, I could easily imagine finishing this in one long and luxurious sitting. Nonetheless, this book is best enjoyed without the pressure of rushing through it. I took my time over three days, and I’m glad I did. I was able to let his ideas sink in as I read along.
- Gentle writing style. There is a casual ease to the tone of this book. You won’t find any moral grandstanding or ultimatums here. Reading this felt like a conversation a person would have while sitting around at a pond and fishing. It is idyllic and sweet.
- Insightful about Lynch’s work. If you are attracted to this book because you are a fan of Lynch’s films, this book does not disappoint. While it is far from an exhaustive exposé on his creative output, the kernels of what he does provide are quirky and amusing, and he links everything to how his meditation practice plays a foundational role in all of it.
Perhaps this book would be more interesting to people who have seen Lynch’s movies, but as a case study of the effects of meditation on creative work, this book hits that mark easily.
It is also such a delightful and thoughtfully conceived little book and is certainly worth the leisurely time it takes to read it.