I looked for you in my closet tonight.
And more on silence: the differences between the sounds emitted by the VHS player and the DVD player, and our associations with those sounds, our connections with the technologies of viewing make the silence of the film never completely silent. At this moment in Blue Velvet, there is no soundtrack, and no dialogue. There is only the metallic sound of the knife tumbling behind the radiator, the pounding on the apartment door, and the swoosh of Dorothy’s movement across the room. (And there is the sound of terror, which cannot be measured.) And yet if you watch this scene, wherever you are, you inevitably will bring your own soundtrack to the unfolding images: the rain outside your window, the noise of traffic in the distance, the hum of a furnace, a song coming from another room, your very own blood, dear reader, coursing through your body.
THE BLUE VELVET PROJECT, #54
What’s first helpful to understand is the genuinely folksy manner that seems to underscore Lynch’s strangeness. David Foster Wallace identified this quality in his 1996 Premiere essay “David Lynch Keeps His Head.” On the set of Lost Highway, Lynch apparently muttered “Golly!” three times in five minutes. “This is a genius auteur whose vocabulary in person consists of things like okey-doke and marvy and terrif and gee,” Wallace wrote. He speaks of Lynch’s matching pants and socks, “suggesting an extremely nerdy costume that’s been chosen and coordinated with great care.” Yet in his criticism, Wallace zeroes in on what we would call the creepiness of Lynch’s films (and they are quite unsettling, from 1977’s Eraserhead to 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE) and defines the Lynchian essence as “a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” Yes, Wallace nailed that Lynchian aesthetic accurately enough. But inherent in that mundanity is the potential for wry Lynchian humor, kitschy in the way it plays off those humdrum details and able to skillfully humanize and often deepen the characters as a result.
Heineken! Damn Fine Coffee! The Wry, Enduring Comedic Collaboration of David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan