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Psyching Out Lynch

by Jason Cochran
Entertainment Weekly, February 21, 1997

DAVID LYNCH IS associated with nightmarish imagery-but is it associated with him? From freakish infants (Eraserhead) to watchful dwarfs (Twin Peaks), he's built an identity out of distorted visions. "It's not like I'm trying to cop out," he says. "But where these things come from, I honestly don't know."

Sounds like the subconscious. We put Lynch's dreamlike Lost Highway on the couch, screening it for Jungian researcher Delia Doherty, of Manhattan's Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. Images can be "very personal," warns Doherty, but with that in mind, here's what she found in Lost:

  • Moody jazz musician Fred (Bill Pullman) is secretly videotaped at home. "The house is your psyche," says Doherty. "Right away you see he's being invaded by something from the outside."
  • A ghostly pale man (Robert Blake) with unaccountable powers may be to blame. "He's always a harbinger of death. Death comes through him."
  • Fred vanishes into darkness. "Into darkness, into the subconscious."
  • He later appears to turn into moody auto mechanic Pete (Balthazar Getty). "Everything in the film has an opposite. We have a good and a bad side."
  • Pete is getting over a head wound. "All this pain in the head! Psychic tension."
  • He's seduced by the moll (Patricia Arquette) of the local godfather, Mr. Eddy (Robert Loggia). "Fathers and mothers are two of the most powerful archetypes. They can kill you psychically."
  • Mr. Eddy forces her to strip at gunpoint. "That was just a little bit of Lynch's personal S&M kind of stuff." Unless you're a Freudian.

Lynch concludes his psychic ride at the end of a literal highway, in a nearly windowless cabin. "Again, it's someone's head," notes Doherty. What happens next? We won't spoil it, but "if you were the guy having this dream," she says, "you'd be going nuts."

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