Lost Highway - david-lynch

WITHIN THE PAST EIGHTY YEARS, the dialogue between American and European cinema gave birth to various interesting fusions of Hollywood’s ‘commercial aesthetic’ with the more European concept of ‘cinema as art’. While many European and then later also American independent film-makers turned away from their art-film origins in order to adjust their ability to a capitalistic comprehension of art, David Lynch, who had proven already to be capable of producing entertaining mainstream cinema, decided with Lost Highway (1997) again to turn his back on a successful goal-driven narrative conception; the conception that characterises Hollywood’s history, valid for its early films of the classical period and still present in most of todays blockbusters.

Lost Highway offers an impressive self-reflexive example of an American filmmaker implicitly questioning his own background and cultural basis. An attitude that would be more closely related to Jean Baudrillard’s post-modern discussion of America as a ‘hyperreality’ and supporting in parts perspectives of European scepticism towards America. In the independent filmmaking sector of the United States, the influence of British, French and German art-cinema is apparent. This short study is concerned with an interpretation of Lost Highway‘s non-linear elements and what I see as its cinematic critique of a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Western capitalist countries: on the one hand, the immaculate realm full of possibilities and, on the other hand, the ground for distorted existential nightmare and profound anxieties.

Its combination of both sceptical deconstruction and overcoming of scepticism, undermining and questioning the central notion of progress in America’s history and culture, is constructing the discourse of Lost Highway. David Lynch’s $15m production enjoyed more success in Europe than in his home country and one reason for that is definitely Lost Highway’s textual deconstruction of cinema as pure entertainment that can easily be consumed by the modern spectator. Lost Highway is offering ‘onto-logical’, European style art-cinema, questioning man’s existence itself, in presenting a pessimistic and much more challenging screen experience.

Manuel Dries
David Lynch’s Lost Highway: Perpetual Mystery or Visual Philosophy

Leyland watched it come crawling through the dirt towards him, making its way erratically around the edge of the dying campfire, shuddering unsteadily on the makeshift legs which had been attached to its flesh by whatever dark magic lay within the vagabond’s book.

As it rounded the last vestige of flame and placed one sharpened leg atop his outstretched thigh, Leyland stared down at the head and felt his brain go fuzzy. The wrinkled lump of pinkish filth suddenly seemed to him to resemble the shape of an unborn foetus, wrapped up tightly into a ball, slowly advancing unbidden towards him like the future he was not ready to accept.

Carl Baker
From Chatterton Hill

Ghost trains

October 18, 2017

ecstatic

Nothing is known for certain, Isarda. All knowledge is illusion – purpose is a meaningless word, a mere sound, a reassuring fragment of melody in a cacophony of clashing chords. All is flux – matter is like these jewels.

She throws a handful of gleaming gems upon the golden surface; they scatter. When the last jewel has ceased to move, she looks up at him.

Sometimes they fall into a rough pattern, usually they do not. So as this moment, a pattern has been formed – you and I stand here speaking. But at any moment that which constitutes our beings may be scattered again.

Michael Moorcock
Phoenix in obsidian

Duncan raises the blade and watches the parcel squirm. He’s going to love the next few hours. The pain, the fear, the pleading. Not that the parcel can speak, of course – he always makes sure of that. But the eyes: he can tell from the state of the eyes. That’s why he leaves those till last. So they can watch him watching them. So they can watch his work.

Tess Makovesky
Raise the Blade

Anne Jefferies was the daughter of a poor labouring man, who lived in the parish of St Teath. She was born in 1626, and is supposed to have died in 1698. When she was nineteen years old, Anne, who was a remarkably sharp and clever girl, went to live as a servant in the family of Mr Moses Pitt. Anne was an unusually bold girl, and would do things which even boys feared to attempt. Of course, in those days every one believed in faeries, and everybody feared those little airy beings. They were constantly the talk of the people, and this set Anne longing anxiously to have an interview with some of them. So Anne was often abroad after sundown, turning up the fern leaves, and looking into the bells of the foxglove to find a fairy, singing all the time –

“Faerie fair and faerie bright;
Come and be my chosen sprite.”

She never allowed a moonlight night to pass without going down into the valley, and walking against the stream, singing –

“Moon shines bright, waters run clear,
I am here, but where’s my faerie dear?”

The faeries were a long time trying this poor girl; for, as they told her afterwards, they never lost sight of her; but there they would be, looking on when she was seeking them, and they would run from frond to frond of the ferns, when she was turning them up its her anxious search.

One day Anne, having finished her morning’s work, was sitting in the arbour in her master’s garden, when she fancied she heard some one moving aside the branches, as though endeavouring to look in upon her; and she thought it must be her sweetheart, so she resolved to take no notice. Anne went on steadily with her work, no sound was heard but the regular beat of the knitting-needles one upon the other. Presently she heard a suppressed laugh, and then again a rustle amidst the branches. The back of the arbour was towards the lane, and to enter the garden it was necessary to walk down the lane to the gate, which was, however, not many yards off.

Click, click went the needles, click, click, click. At last Anne began to feel vexed that the intruder did not show himself, and she pettishly said, half aloud –

“You may stay there till the kueney [moss or mildew] grows on the gate, ere I ‘ll come to ‘ee.”

There was immediately a peculiar ringing and very music laugh. Anne knew this was not her lover’s laugh, and she felt afraid. But it was bright day, and she assured herself that no one would do her any mischief, as she knew herself to be a general favourite in the parish. Presently Anne felt assured that the garden gate had been carefully opened and again closed, so she wait anxiously the result. In a few moments she perceived at the entrance of the arbour six little men, all clothed very handsome in green. They were beautiful little figures, and had very charming faces, and such bright eyes. The grandest of these little visitors, who wore a red feather in his cap, advanced in front the others, and, making a most polite bow to Anne, addressed her familiarly in the kindest words.

This gentleman looked so sweetly on Anne that she was charmed beyond measure, and she put down her hand as if shake hands with her little friend, when he jumped into her palm and she lifted him into her lap. He then, without any more ad clambered upon her bosom and neck, and began kissing her. Anne never felt so charmed in her life as while this one little gentleman was playing with her; but presently he called his companion and they all clambered up by her dress as best they could, and kissed her neck, her lips, and her eyes. One of them ran his fingers over her eyes, and she felt as if they had been pricked with a pin. Suddenly Anne became blind, and she felt herself whirled through the air at a great rate. By and by, one of her little companions said something which sounded like “Tear away,” and lo! Anne had her sight at once restored. She was in one of the most beautiful places – temples and palaces of gold and silver. Trees laden with fruits and flowers. Lakes full of gold and silver fish and the air full of birds of the sweetest song, and the more brilliant colours. Hundreds of ladies and gentlemen were walking about. Hundreds more were idling in the most luxurious bowers, the fragrance of the flowers oppressing them with sense of delicious repose. Hundreds were also dancing, engaged in sports of various kinds. Anne was, however, surprised to find that these happy people were no longer the small people she had previously seen. There was now no more than the difference usually seen in a crowd, between their height and her own. Anne found herself arrayed in the most highly-decorated clothes. So grand, indeed, did she appear, that she doubted her identity. Anne was constantly attended by her six friends; but the finest gentleman, who was the first to address her, continued her favourite, at which the others appeared to be very jealous. Eventually Anne and her favourite contrived to separate themselves, and they retired into some most lovely gardens, where they were hidden by the luxuriance of the flowers. Lovingly did they pass the time, and Anne desired that this should continue forever. However, when they were at the happiest, there was heard a great noise, and presently the five other fairies at the head of a great crowd came after them in a violent rage. Her lover drew his sword to defend her, but this was soon beaten down, and he lay wounded at her feet. Then the faerie who had blinded her again placed his hands upon her eyes, and all was dark. She heard strange noises, and felt herself whirled about and about, and as if a thousand flies were buzzing around her.

At length her eyes were opened, and Anne found herself on the ground in the arbour where she had been sitting in the morning, and many anxious faces were around her, all conceiving that she was recovering from a convulsion fit.

Robert Hunt
Popular Romances of the West of England

face and shadow

Occasionally, I heard the frantic scratches of small, rodent feet upon the stone floor, going about their business. Far away, I thought I could hear the hum of conversation from a group of people – the medical staff perhaps – in their own building. Even further away, the echo of gunfire and explosions reverberated back to me. I couldn’t be sure whether this was real, or just my mind playing tricks on me. Perhaps something terrible had happened to my ears; perhaps I’d always hear the ringing of a bomb blast. And so, when I heard that louder, closer sound, it took me some time to acknowledge it.

Tap, tap, tap.

From where I was lying, it sounded as though somebody was knocking at the front door. I felt the urge to pull the sheet up over my head again but resisted after the embarrassment of being caught like that by Nurse Thomas.

Tap, tap, tap.

This time, the knocking was unmistakeable. My voice rasped as I whispered across at Do-Nowt’s sleeping form: ‘Did you hear that?’ But the poor Yorkie only rattled his remaining leg by way of response. Closer, I heard the rustling from more rodents. I heard them as they passed under my bed. There were quite a large number of them and they all seemed to be moving with a common purpose, as though called by a piper. A quick look over the edge of my bed confirmed that a thin carpet of vermin was swimming across the floor towards a crack in the wall and escape.

Tap, tap, tap.

Why would one of the nurses be knocking at the door? Wouldn’t they just unlock the door and walk in? And surely, none of them expected us to hobble up out of bed and one-leggedly, with flaking, burned skin, answer the door did they?

Tap, tap, tap.

Bullies, they say, only behave in that way because deep down they are insecure. Over the years, I’d laughed at that notion; I hadn’t felt very insecure when I was kicking Tommy in the kidneys had I? But now… Now I felt as though I was completely exposed. Whatever was outside that door could do whatever they wanted with me…Even the rats had deserted.

Before I realised what I was doing, I swung a leg out from under the sheet. Before I understood what was happening, I felt the cold of the stone floor on my feet. Before I could stop myself, I was grasping at the metal bed-head and pushing myself upright. As though in a trance, I walked to the door…

A J Kirby
Bully

Advice to a new writer

October 16, 2017

Write. A lot. Make room for it at least 5 days a week. Make your life bend to your desire to write. Write what you want to write, not what you feel you should write. Creating and editing are two different steps. Don’t confuse them. I think a lot of aspiring writers stop themselves at the gate, judging their words as soon as they’ve put them on the page or even before they get to the page. If you truly want to write whole books, you have to get that hypercritical voice out of the room long enough to write a first draft.

Lily King
Interview with Niki Johnson in Superstition Review issue fall 2015

A Head

The wooden door burst open and a dark figure flew at them. The sword swung at Mike before he could turn, and it cut through the air toward his head.

Sarah screamed and froze to the spot. Everything funnelled in, like slow motion. The bearded man wearing a long black cloak turned to her. He leered, his manic eyes shining with glee. She looked at Mike and he staggered. His expression was fixed, wide-eyed. His head slowly slid from his neck and fell off onto the stone floor. It bounced, settled and he stared up at her, like a dead salmon. His jerking body crumpled beside her, blood spurting onto her legs from the gaping neck.

Catatonic, she couldn’t scream. Her legs wobbly, she turned to the stairs and clambered up. She instantly heard throaty laughter and felt sturdy hands gripping her ankles, as her bladder gave way. She was pulled back down, slowly, her chin buffeting the steps, one by one. At the bottom, he grabbed her by the hair and an excruciating pain ripped through her scalp as she was dragged past Mike’s head, those eyes still staring, helplessly…

Col Bury
The Writing on the Wall

They have done with this family, these creatures made by human hands. They have fed – gorged themselves on blood until the hosts became their playthings. They leave the crusts behind – paper-thin of skin and void of organs – and beat a strange retreat into the woods behind the house.

Lilly Childs
Smiling Cyrus