Do we reduce the beauty of this work of art by analysis?

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I thank "rita mulholland" on the Twin Peaks Gazette forum for posting this intriguing comment...

"I once heard a great English professor say that dissecting a poem is a crime against the poet. He said that great poetry is meant to be felt, not explained. This is the way I feel about 'MD' and David Lynch. 'MD' is his lyrical poem. It's beautiful without the explanation. The more you explain it, the less beautiful it becomes."


Any thoughts?
Apr 25, 2002 12:08 PM
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As I said on another thread:

"I'm of the opinion that Lynch is well aware of what he is doing and that the imagery he repeats and strange logic he uses is done on purpose. He is very aware of what he puts on screen, and I don't think he would be painting the number "16" on a hotel door or re-shooting and scrapping scenes from the pilot unless it did not fit into his own idea of "cohesiveness".

He is a film purist in the, well, purest sense. He wants his audience to watch it from beginning to end (no chapter stops), not be distracted by someone dissecting every scene (no audio commentaries), and not analyze it to death (as I certainly have). He tells us not to think too much about it because he wants us to understand it on an intuitive level, let it live in our subconscious, and excite our consciousness with its mysteries. He has personally stated that he hates when mysteries are solved because the excitement dies.

I know that when I found out certain things about "Lost Highway", it lessened the film for me to an extent. But, all the things we're finding in "Mulholland Drive" actually make me hold the film in greater regard.

That's my two and a half cents anyway..."


Basically, I can't help analyzing it. It's a compulsion...
Apr 25, 2002 12:27 PM
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I think a human body is a beautiful poetic thing, and certainly when one dissects it - very much less so.

I certainly feel that seeing MD for the first time was indeed love at first sight, but like Shrek's "onion," there are layers that are equally appealing when one finds them. And they can't be found without looking, dissecting, separating, etc.

But as to whether Lynch is purposeful or rather playful with his planting of details. Well, I choose the latter. Lynch has a great sense of humor and he also knows how to give us A STRAIGHT STORY as well as ball of thread that we - his little kittens - can lovingly unravel. But it's all just a game that Lynch plays with any viewer who is willing to take him on.

So I think that in either case - seeing MD once and leaving it alone OR seeing it dozens of times - Lynch fulfills the needs of art-lovers and riddle-solving enthusiasts alike. You just have to decide what category you fall into.
Apr 25, 2002 12:36 PM
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About "The Straight Story", I found a link to an absolutely brilliant interpretation that proves, to me, that it wasn't as "straight" as we thought. It made me rush and see it again.

http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revicontent_97_p.htm
Apr 25, 2002 12:42 PM
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Darklite and RR -- thanks for your takes -- I can't find anything significant to disagree with. And Darklite, that review of The Straight Story was one beautiful piece of work! It's changed my view of the film completely. Thank you.

Now to MD...

I now feel that with MD, Lynch, has for the first time practically succeeded in creating a new art form. He has synthesized lyrical poetry, film and impressionist painting in a way that, as far as I'm aware, has never been seen before.

With an impressionist painting, it's all there -- unless you look too close; then it disappears.

And yet, I'm continually trying to figure it all out -- to throughly understand it.

Yet deep down I really don't think I want to figure it all out (actually, I'm beginning to think it's not possible, anyway) -- I don't want it to "end" -- to "die." And, you know -- I don't think I'd want it any other way. Because maybe in that way it will live forever within me. The first film ever that will have actually become a part of me.

Like a poem or a painting.
Apr 26, 2002 8:56 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Darklite
About "The Straight Story", I found a link to an absolutely brilliant interpretation that proves, to me, that it wasn't as "straight" as we thought. It made me rush and see it again.

http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/revicontent_97_p.htm
[/QUOTE]

Darklite,

Thanks so much for sharing this magnificent analysis of The Straight Story!

(It took me a bit of time to get in to the link, as I kept getting the "page unavailable" message.)

Not only did it provide an amazing new perspective on The Straight Story, it truly makes me appreciate the genius of David Lynch all the more.

I can't wait to rewatch TSS and enjoy the glorious and haunting music of Angelo Badelamenti with these new insights!

Thanks again.
Apr 26, 2002 11:55 AM
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Oh, and I also wanted to comment that this article also provides the first truly no-nonense, no-bullsh!t synopsis of Lost Highway that I've ever seen.

Now I'm gratified to know that I really wasn't "missing," something but perceived a fairly straightforward story in LH exactly as this reviewer described it.

(And BTW, brainstormed, that doesn't at all take away from the beauty of LH, just makes it a whole lot less convoluted than most people try to make it.)
Apr 26, 2002 12:00 PM
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Hmm,

Just wanted to drop my thoughts on the whole over-analyzing question.

[QUOTE]I think a human body is a beautiful poetic thing, and certainly when one dissects it - very much less so. [/QUOTE]

In my mind, the human body is beautiful when noone dissects it, and still beautiful when one does. Sometimes the most beautiful thing i can find about a movie is the fact that it does make you look beneath the exterior to a inner core. Whether you feel it on an unconscious level, the fact that the movie made you sit and realize those feelings and bring it to the conscious level does nothing to hinder the art of the film. it only adds to it. Those are my thoughts.
Apr 27, 2002 8:44 PM
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Ruby, that was very nicely put.
Apr 28, 2002 7:59 AM
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[QUOTE]Ruby, that was very nicely put. [/QUOTE]

Ahh, another realizes my specialness. Thanks
Apr 28, 2002 4:16 PM
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I speculate that Lynch's sympathies may lie, in some sense, with the original poster. Over-analysis risks missing the point put forward by many that Lynch's work is highly emotive.

Perhaps the complexity that people complain about (non-linearity, body confusion, etc.) is an attempt on Lynch's part to dislocate the viewer, to knock them out of their reflexive move to grasp things rationally. All of the threads on this board attempting to order the film, to place it back firmly within the grip of linearity, may be worse than useless.

Lynch's sometimes in-your-face use of convention (Adam being doused in pink paint as he is emasculated by the proverbial "pool boy" in MD comes to mind) can be read as an attempt to discourage the inevitable rush to semiotic explanations that his movies seem to elicit. If the symbolism is so obvious that no explanation is needed, so cliché that nothing can be added, then maybe people will move past it and focus their deeper insight on what he considers to be more important aspects of the work. He is making fun of us, the DL analysts that populate these boards.

The movie is so "open" that it can arguably be read to support almost any view. I mean, the phrase "forced.. but humanistic" has been applied in about a hundred contexts on this board alone. Instead of trying to fill in the blanks, touching up the impressionists painting to continue the metaphor used above, maybe we should step back and appreciate the work as it is.
Apr 28, 2002 8:35 PM
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I think analysis and appreciation of the art can coexist. I believe some analysis is needed to fully appreciate some aspects of the film. The first time I saw it I knew I really liked it, I understood the first part was a dream and I knew that Diane tragicly killed herself in the end. I saw it again, and then again effectively self analyzing it and appreciating it more each time. Each new viewing brought new light and enjoyment to the film. I came to this forum and started discussing the film and went back and saw deeper and clearer meaning to the film. To give an example of what I mean I can tell you that for the first 4 or so viewings I was very emotional but never brought to tears. After analysis I came to know exactly what was happening during the love scene, Silencio etc. and now I cry for Diane each time I see it.

I think the point where analysis becomes over analysis is different for each person, but I think to say that it should be seen once and enjoyed for what it appears to be the first time and not be discussed/analyized further is a big mistake. All good films require multiple viewings, which is analysis, to be fully appreciated.

I have seen MD probably 20 or so times now and the meaning has changed from the first to the last time but the beauty and emotional impact of it has only grown.
Apr 28, 2002 9:22 PM
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MD seems so malleable that really any interpretation is plausible. Look at the inane connections to the Wizard of Oz being concocted in another thread. They are, in general, patently absurd. The analysis of how the colors match up ignores the fact that there are numerous other colors present in those scenes. Almost any shade could be substituted for the ones listed! How about this: Camilla Rhodes has 13 letters; Judith Garland has 13 letters.
The danger here is that at some point the movie ceases to be Lynch?s and becomes nothing more than a structure for our mental gymnastics. While analysis can obviously serve a valuable function in helping understand the movie, I have to ask what rooting out every possible similarity to the Wizard of Oz really does to increase our appreciation of the work. I would submit that it mostly serves to increase our appreciation for ourselves. Like solving a crossword puzzle, Lynch?s film ceases to be an independent work and instead becomes a code to be cracked, but the message we discover may be of our own writing. I am reminded of Russell Crowe?s character in Beautiful mind. This board can at times degrade into people drawing connections which are, no matter how elegant, most likely arbitrary order imposed upon random noise.
A resolution to this issue is, of course, impossible. No line can be drawn regarding how far is too far to stretch in interpretations of the movie. But I thank Dave H. for starting this thread because, like mad scientists, we may be losing touch with the reality of Lynch?s intent, slowly becoming a more insular community until one day we discover that Mulholland Drive, for us, is no longer a DL masterpiece but a Frankensteinian jumble of our own rantings, a mish mash of mental snippets cobbled together without the slightest thought of how the parts affect the whole. MD is not the Wizard of Oz, it is not Contempt, it is not even Gilda. To Ascribe Lynch?s motivation to a desire to mimic someone else?s art is to sell him short. To view MD as a collection of references to other Hollywood projects is to, in some small way, limit our ability to see it as a referent to social reality.
Apr 28, 2002 11:03 PM
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bwenban,

Analyses of a work of art such as this exist in a continuum -- from major themes down to minute details. There is no either/or in terms of whether something is either reasonable or inane. In any case, where a hundred separate discussions are taking place, you'll be sure to find some stretching the limits of the inane. You've apparently found a couple. And of course there are more.

But it almost seems as if you've taken a position and are looking for data to support it. Because if you do read all that's here, I think you'll find that the great majority of discussions on the major themes and characters are quite reasonable indeed, given the nature of the beast. And when someone tries to take it too far, many times, if not most, they're called on it.

Recall that I didn't imply that this was just an impressionist painting to be admired from afar. It's a film as well, with a story, and this is why I think there's some confusion as to how deep one "should" go in an analysis. I think this film takes us all into new territory as an art form, and I really think we're doing the best anyone could reasonably expect with it. Naturally some take it too far. But even this comes from the same place -- the natural human impulse to use our minds to make as much sense as we can out of something -- and especially something we love. And how could there be anything wrong with that?
Apr 29, 2002 7:44 AM
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Hearing my Oz theory targeted as being called "inane" and "absurd" ("patently absurd" even), I feel I must respond somehow. First, just to let you know, finding out the true Denny's on Sunset is located in Hollywood rather than West Hollywood definitely puts the Land of Oz metaphor in big time question, but I don't understand how weird you thought my colour connections were.

(From Oz books): Winkies Country-yellow... Emerald City-green... Munchkin Country-blue

(From MD): Winkie's sign was yellow... Hollywood sign surrounded by green... Los Angeles sign was blue.

What's so wacky about that? Plus, I still think my findings of the Oz origins of Mr. Roque and Coco are very plausible.

And I never said "Mulholland Drive" *was* "Contempt". I just thought it was cool that both ended with the word "Silencio", and the more I looked into it the more I found parallels I just had to share.

I don't see how Lynch's *possible* references to other works lessens his art. Are all artists supposed to block themselves from the inspiration from others in order for their work to be entirely original, and thus not "sell themselves short"?

Anyway, bwenban, you've got a great head on your shoulders. Perhaps you mistook my "Oz" and "Contempt" postings as me proclaiming some vast meaning behind the film, when really I was only sharing thoughts I found interesting.
Apr 29, 2002 9:08 AM
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Darklite,

I'm sorry if I came across as agreeing with bwenban with respect to the content of and intent behind your Oz and Contempt posts. In fact I recall only skimming them. I was giving him/her the benefit of the doubt in order to carry the discussion forward; I should have made it clear that I was assuming he was correct just for purposes of discussion.
Apr 29, 2002 10:02 AM
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That's ok. Believe me, I really couldn't care less what anyone thought of those particular posts because they are among the least important things I've posted in relation to the true themes in MD. I just wanted to make my intentions of the posts clear. It's funny to think someone thinks they warrant such strong reactions as "inane", "patently absurd", "rantings", and "elegant"...
Apr 29, 2002 10:49 AM
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I am playing devil's advocate in a way here. I have no problem with you interpreting MD in any way you like. That being said, I do believe that none of Dark's "analysis" really goes deep enough to offer anything useful to me.

So what if MD has similarities to Wizard of Oz? We should be discussing the significance of that, rather than the factuality of the question. I know that the two are not mutually exclusive, but the point remains that digressions into finding minute connections to other movies does not do much to make us appreciate MD any more.

And most of your "similarities" *are* absurd. For instance, you say:
When Dorothy arrives in Oz, she lands in Munchkin Country, which is in the *East*. Betty lands in Los Angeles, which is east of Hollywood. (Notice how both land from the air from a far off land.)

I say:

It seems that the most logical way for Betty to reach Hollywood would be on a flight into LAX. You have to test the null hypothesis -- would this event be in the movie even if Lynch were not trying to make this point? I say yes, obviously.

Plus, some of the locations you listed aren't even where you say they are.

You then do your color analysis, but there are so many colors in every MD scene that it is possible to find connections to almost any shade at all. The fact that there is blue in the first scene is an utterly unsurprising revelation.

Like the mad scientist, you are not following acceptable methods of analysis, letting your desire to find the results you want get in the way.

Now, I enjoy reading about all of the connections you have discovered -- they are certainly fun and intelligent and well researched -- but just as I enjoy looking for familiar shapes in a cloud bank, at some point we should recognize that there is very little growth to be had from fabricating references to any and every movie that shares some initial similarity to MD.

So keep doing what you're doing if you derive pleasure from it (as I said, I liked reading it). We just shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we've made some deep connection to Lynch that will open the door to a new level of appreciation of MD.
Apr 29, 2002 11:00 AM
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"So what if MD has similarities to the Wizard of Oz?" I agree wholeheartedly. The significance, to me, is almost nothing, and is most certainly no "deep connection". I just thought I would share what I perceived to be as a few Oz references. I'm not even a "Wizard of Oz" fan, but I know Lynch is a huge fan of it, which is why I brought it up. This forum is packed with deep analyses into the main themes of the film, so I thought I would mix things up by posting odds and ends like metaphors and numbers.

Also, the four addresses I mentioned in the post you brought up are absolutely, positively in West Hollywood, just in case you were trying to call my bluff. I did my research. And the similarities I listed, if looked at individually, are totally idiotic, and I was definitely grasping at straws as far as colours were concerned (excepting the Winkie's, Hollywood, and Los Angeles signs). Anyway, let's just drop the whole Land of Oz debate, because I don't even support the theory much anymore since learning that the Denny's was in Hollywood rather than West Hollywood.

Me, a mad scientist using improper methods of analysis? The only methods I have ever used are attention to detail and Lynch logic. I have bucked at least a couple of mainstream ideas due to these methods. It's true that I desire to find out about the film, but contrary to what you might think, it takes *a lot* for me to even consider a theory, which is why I refuse to latch onto a meaning of who the Cowboy is. I just don't pick out the wackiest thing and say, "Cool!" I choose what I believe Lynch was trying convey. For instance, "Lost Highway" is full of interesting and baffling scenes, and yet I remain baffled. If I were a "mad scientist", I would be spouting off a myriad of theories, wouldn't I?

Lastly, you say I am "fabricating references to any and every movie that shares some initial similarity to MD". I think there are many here who would say that the references are there and are more than just "some initial similarity" that is coincidental. (I'm sorry if I'm putting words in people's mouths). "Any and every movie"? I mentioned TWO movies!

I hope I'm at least a little less absurd to you now.
Apr 29, 2002 12:08 PM
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Dark:

You are not absurd, one particular subset of one particular theory you presented was.

You have not answered my concern that you should test the nul hypothesis and consider whether the event being analyzed would have occured even if Lynch were not trying to make the point that you ascribe to him. I think the LAX example was telling. Im not saying everything you said was wrong, or necessarily that anything you said was wrong. I just feel that it is highly likely that there is another, better explanation for Lynch's choice.

Dave:
Of course analyses exist in a continuum, my point was just that we should be wary that some of our thoughts on the movie may be so close to the far end of the "details" continuum, that they are worse than useless.

By claiming that Lynch did certain things to mirror the wizard of oz, we may gloss over other important details. I doubt his color choices were dictated by a Baum novel, but rather by broader concerns such as how they convey the theme of the movie or what emotive response they evoke. My point was merely that we risk distracting ourselves from these pursuits by explaining parts of the movie as references to other movies when we have scant evidence that that is their purpose.
Apr 29, 2002 7:20 PM
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