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Contemporary Experimental Narratives
ENGL 146EN - Fall 2003,  Rita Raley
Thu, 11/6 Incompleteness

"David Lynch once said: "I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable." This is a truth past question, I'd say, but how is an artist to make use of this truth? Lynch, whose directing and writing career glows with talent, has developed a mode that serves his perception. He devises films that seem sensible, sufficiently so as to engage us, and then he proceeds to subvert sense. Other artists structure their work in an order that itself pleases us and then use their order as an avenue to fundamental disorder. (There is no larger example than King Lear.) Lynch goes directly to the disorder without the seductions of order. Imagine Abstract Expressionist painting done with realistic figures, and somewhere in this oxymoron dwells David Lynch....In Mulholland Drive, as in such past films of his as Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet, Lynch challenges our expectations of narrative and credibility by luxuriating in something else--the unexplained, the making of no-sense that (he says) underlies life."
- Stanley Kauffmann, "On Films - Sense and Sensibility," The New Republic (October 29, 2001)

"The movie is nearly two and a half hours long, and it is often deliberately slow, in the manner we have come to expect from Lynch (the unzipping of a purse, for instance, may take an agonizing five seconds--complete with an overly loud zipping noise set against suspenseful silence). But it is never dull. From the smashing credit sequence, which consists of jitterbugging dancers shadowed by cloudy white faces, to the final moments of the film, when a fatal shot is fired, you will find yourself gripped by the unfolding narrative. The problem is, it unfolds more like a vast, unwieldy tarp--the sort of ragged plastic sheet you keep in your basement and never get all the kinks or crinkles out of--than it does like a neat map or a carefully drawn puzzle. David Lynch has a fine disregard for plot: He thinks of it as a mere springboard for emotionally rich images."
- Wendy Lesser, "In dreams begin responsibilities," The American Prospect (November 19, 2001)


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