Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: The Davids: Lynch and Wallace. Blue: Secrets and Dualities
PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:12 pm 
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The tag really sums up where I’m going: The use of blue by Wallace might be heavily influenced by David Lynch, and people smarter than I have suggested what Blue represents to Lynch, and thus, what it might mean to Wallace.

Wallace wrote an essay titled David Lynch Keeps His Head which is included in A Supposedly Fun Thing… Wallace writes:

Quote:
David Lynch's movies are often described as occupying a kind of middle ground between art film and commercial film. But what they really occupy is a whole third kind of territory. Most of Lynch's best films don't really have much of a point, and in lots of ways they seem to resist the film-interpretative process by which movies' (certainly avant-garde movies') central points are understood. This is something the British critic Paul Taylor seems to get at when he says that Lynch's movies are "to be experienced rather than explained." Lynch's movies are indeed susceptible to a variety of sophisticated interpretations, but it would be a serious mistake to conclude from this that his movies point at the too-facile summation that "film interpretation is necessarily multivalent" or something – they're just not that kind of movie. Nor are they seductive, though, at least in the commercial sense of being comfortable or linear or High Concept or "feel-good." You almost never from a Lynch movie get the sense that the point is to "entertain" you, and never that the point is to get you to fork over money to see it. This is one of the unsettling things about a Lynch movie: You don't feel like you're entering into any of the standard unspoken and/or unconscious contracts you normally enter into with other kinds of movies. This is unsettling because in the absence of such an unconscious contract we lose some of the psychic protections we normally (and necessarily) bring to bear on a medium as powerful as film. That is, if we know on some level what a movie wants from us, we can erect certain internal defenses that let us choose how much of ourselves we give away to it. The absence of point or recognizable agenda in Lynch's films, though, strips these subliminal defenses and lets Lynch get inside your head in a way movies normally don't. This is why his best films' effects are often so emotional and nightmarish. (We're defenseless in our dreams too.)

This may in fact be Lynch's true and only agenda – just to get inside your head. He seems to care more about penetrating your head than about what he does once he's in there. Is this good art? It's hard to say. It seems – once again – either ingenuous or psychopathic. It sure is different, anyway.


Lynch’s films make notorious references to the assassination of Lincoln, The Wizard of Oz, and color symbolism. Blue Velvet, for one, uses the color blue to indicate secrets/mysteries. The movie opens with undulating blue velvet curtains which part, suggesting we are about to see the secrets of Lumberton. When Jeffrey enters Dorothy’s apartment, his disguise is blue. Dorothy and Jeffrey’s secret love affair occurs on blue sheets, etc., etc. The characters associated with blue also contain dualities (Twin Peaks has some obvious duality to it too). Blue also occurs in Mulholland Drive (Yes, this is a post-Jest movie, but it continues Lynch’s trademark use of blue and so seems alright to reference) and is explained by Alan Shaw http://www.mulholland-drive.net/analysis/analysis03.htm

Quote:
The last color symbol that I think is essential to the subtext of the film is the color blue. It is perhaps the most difficult one to interpret because it isn't connected to a single image or state that Diane is experiencing at any one time. Instead it is involved in the movement from one state to another. Duality is a critical element in Mulholland Drive, and it is important to understand that there is always the possibility of transition between connected twofold expressions throughout the film. From pink to red, from life to death, from truth to fantasy, from rationality to insanity, in each case we see the appearance of some type of vehicle for shifting in the domain between the realms. Movement in that domain is called a "blueshift" in the science of optics when you are going from a lower energy state to a higher state. Perhaps this is why Lynch uses the color blue to symbolize fundamental transitions in Diane's inner and external reality. But another reason may be that the domain between states is one of mystery and the surreal. It is where things like illusion can reign, and so it is where Hollywood finds its center. And from Lynch's point of view, one could argue that the essential color of Hollywood's mystique is blue. Just think about the cinematic technique of the blue screen. Or think about the blue glow of the neon lights that Lynch loves to show with the city as a backdrop.


So then we go to the List O’ Blue on 508 and consider the information we learn/already know about Tavis and Avril who clearly are a duality. Getting to either Tavis or Avril requires passing through a blue waiting room, the domain between realms. One side is Tavis: unattractive (pg520), short, non-smoker (pg 519), male, terribly honest about what he’s thinking, two doors to his office. Avril, conversely is an attractive, tall, smoking (where air filtration is available) female who never seems to share what’s really going on in her head and who has no doors to her office. Tavis seems to shrink and recede; Avril becomes the The Black Hole of Human Attention (pg 521). Avril has a larger office and a table that Tavis both covets and lacks the space to accommodate.

Also in this section, we learn that Jim Struck’s parents drove a Lincoln which may be another nod to Lynch who used Lincoln Street to divide Lumberton in Blue Velvet. Lynch makes frequent artistic references to Lincoln’s assassination in his films and in Twin Peaks.


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 Post subject: Re: The Davids: Lynch and Wallace. Blue: Secrets and Dualities
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:23 am 
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Hmmm, interesting to think about. There was also a blue rose in Twin peaks, which I think symbolized secrets. I know DFW was a Lynch fan so wouldn't be surprised if his writing was influenced by him, consciously or subconsciously.


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 Post subject: Re: The Davids: Lynch and Wallace. Blue: Secrets and Dualities
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:16 pm
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Location: North Dakota
Ok, so I was midway through the essay on Lynch when I last posted. I have since finished and offer you the following bits of interest:

1. Blue Velvet's deep impact on DFW's writing's purpose, feel, and reach for truth.

Quote:
Blue Velvet...was a kind of revelation for me...[T]he whole group of us MFA Program students [went] to a coffeehouse and talk[ed] about how the movie was a revelation...The movie's obvious "themes"...were for us less revelatory than the way the movie's surrealism and dream-logic felt: they felt true, real (italics true to original text)...Blue Velvet captured something crucial about the way the US present acted on our nerve endings, something crucial that couldn't be analyzed or reduced to a system of codes or aesthetic principles or workshop techniques...This was what was epiphanic for us about Blue Velvet in grad school, when we saw it: the movie helped us realize that first-rate experimentalism was a way not to "transcend" or "rebel against" the truth but actually to honor it. [Blue Velvet] remains for me an example of contemporary artistic heroism.


2. Wallace, in the essay, talks about...squeak... Lynch's use of...squeak... ominous ambient noises... Squeak, squeak, squeak...Marathe sniff.


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 Post subject: Re: The Davids: Lynch and Wallace. Blue: Secrets and Dualities
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:20 am 
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Storm, thanks for the interpretation of the color blue by Lynch and Wallace. I now see how IJ is related to _Blue Velvet_.


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 Post subject: Re: The Davids: Lynch and Wallace. Blue: Secrets and Dualities
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:19 pm 
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As I'm writing this, I'm watching Federer-nemesis Rafael Nadal (in a blue shirt) warm-up for his match against David Ferrer at the Masters Series event in Montreal. That was the tournament covered so memorably in 1995 by DFW in his essay "String Theory." One point he keeps making in the piece is that in '95 the color scheme of the venue is arterial-spurt blood red – the tarps behind the courts, banners around the tournament site, shirts of the tournament staff, concession stands, everything – in order to complement the logo of the event's then sponsor, du Maurier cigarettes. Which, coincidentally, were named for the British actor Gerald du Maurier in an endorsement deal. He was both the son of the illustrator and novelist George du Maurier, who created the character Svengali, and father of the novelist Daphne du Maurier, who wrote Rebecca. Hmm, let's see here; red suggests nicotine, Svengali, Mrs. Danvers – addiction, surrendering freedom and choice, obsessive attachment to dead people. Definitely fertile Wallace territory.

Minor historical note: a few years ago the ATP decided to change the color of the court in all Master Series hardcourt tournaments to improve visibility for TV. The new color? Blue.


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