Friday, June 22, 2007

Inland Empire: The Wound You Were Born to Embody Pt. 1

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts, based on a first viewing on David Lynch’s Inland Empire (if ever a film demanded continued viewings, this is one.) Think of this post as a first, worst step.

Deleuze, following Bergson, distinguishes between the Actual and the Virtual: the Actual is that which is enacted, created, whereas the Virtual is the determinate set of conditions that are necessary for enacting, creating. The Virtual does not necessarily prefigure the Actual; the task of thought, for Deleuze, is the recover the Virtual in the Actual (this is one sense of “deterritorialization’); as Peter Hallward, in his not uncontroversial Out of this World; Delezue and the Philosphy of Creation states: “The only positive or affirmative thing that a creative force can do is to dissolve itself.”

IE dissolves film, or specifically, Lynch’s previous films. IE deploys motifs and themes from his previous filmwork: Eraserhead (sinister concrete corridors illuminated with sinister rumbles), Blue Velvet (the picture of robins that the camera pans into during one scene), Wild at Heart (references to other films - Sunset Boulevard in particular, but also, as K-Punk notes, The Shining in its use of Pendereki), Fire Walk With Me (grotesqueries portending sinister futures or pasts, constant references to the Red Lodge) Lost Highway (LA as a opulent zone of the sexual exploitation of women, “supernatural“ or, better still, uncanny figuration) and, above all, Mullholland Drive (LA, and specifically, Hollywood, as generalized exploitation presided over by sinister men of unknowable motivation, lesbianism as redemption.) But these motifs are not exactly used in the way that the vastly inferior Wild at Heart, whose po-mo intertextuality with, say, The Wizard of Oz, choked the film’s mobility and rendered it an inmate of San Quentin (Tarantino) uses them; in IE, the repetitions behave much more ambiguously. At times, they serve as nodal points around which the scenes torque; at other moments, they seem as preludes to an interrogation, a dissolution of themselves and the scene in which they are cast. (It is important to note that at no time do they refer to themselves saying “hey lookee, this is a David Lynch Movie.")

Their cumulative effect is deeply uncanny. Antigram’s excellent
post refers, in passing, to Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos, whose suggestive power I exactly that - suggestive, unspecified, incomplete, full of holes. My sense is that the dispersal of “Lynchian” motifs does something similar - the preceding films are “of a piece“, they constitute a sort of aggregate that is not entirely revealed to the viewer or, I suspect, to the filmmaker himself.

So, not a smugonaut game of “look here, I’m clever,” nor quite a career summation as Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma or Éloge de l'amour
, but something else altogether. Lynch shows us a glimpse of the aggregate in order to dissolve it - a Foucault might say that the figure of the oeuvre only appears at the moment it is being eclipsed.

Further Material to be Incorporated

Lynch’s statement that he will never use “film” as such again, that he is strictly a dv artist.

Tracking the virtual and the actual. Images and scenes comment back on each other, sometimes in a faux-explanatory way (Laura Dern’s character - as though she had only one - goes crazy during the making of a movie).

Hollywood / LA

“Who is she?” / “Look at me! Have you seen me before?”

Labyrinths, rabbit warrens, corridors, holes, doorways.

I told you this was a first step.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,

How can get a hold of a toque for my nodal points?

I haven't made it to IE yet, but plan to do so this week.


Tom K. said...

Yes, I have taken off the toque and put a torque on my nodal point. You'd have thought that at some point I would have learned to spell, but oh no, not me.