Why Haven’t I Told You?

Why/Haven’t I/Told You?

Did you know that you could easily spend the rest of your life reading net-musings about Lynch’s Mulholland Dr.? Last year, I contributed some words of my own to the tower of babble–but I’m back for more, thanks to Mark K-Punk:

The ‘standard’ interpretation of Mulholland Dr claims that its first two-thirds are the fantasy/ dream of failed two-bit actress Diane Selwyn, whose actual
life is allegedly depicted, in all its quotidian squalor, in the final
section of the film. This would underscore MD’s striking similarities
to The Singing Detective, whose complexly-interacting narrative
lines are weaved from the fantasies and memories of the convalescent
pulp author, Philip E Marlow (Michael Gambon). Yet such a reading is
ultimately unsatisfactory. As Timothy Takemoto argues, (you have to scroll down to his piece, ‘Double Dreams in Hollywood’) to see the second part of Mulholland Dr as real is inherently conservative in its assumption that there is an unambiguous reality to which we can ‘return’.

Following Zizek, Takemoto suggests that what MD presents is not an
exposed ‘reality’ but a ‘grey fog’ of competing, incommensurable
realities, from which desire and will are never extricable. (An
homologous case is Kubrick’s near-contemporaneous Eyes Wide Shut, which is standardly interpreted as entirely the dream of the protagonist, Tom Cruise’s Bill. What this reading of Eyes Wide Shut has in common with the dominant readings of Mulholland Dr
is a confidence in the possibility of parsing reality from desire, a
distinction which both films disturb, as the very title of Kubrick’s
film indicates).

Where was Mark back when Charles and I were having it out in the threads? Clearly, I share his hostility to the Wizard of Ozzing of the film. We’re a strange species–the only thing we like better than a mystery is a solution (especially a hard-bought one). Unfortunately, the only way to  secure that final-Grail piece is to sell the quest short. You know there’s always something missing. You know, because what’s missing is “you”.

This is the age of the second person singular–and we missed it.

We always do.

Mulholland Dr. is its prophet and encomiast.

Play it. Watch it. Play it again. There’s no stopping it, really… Oh sure, life goes on–but there’s no shaking that prison-bar pause sign, once you’ve succumbed to this film.

What I find strange is that none of the fascinating pieces that I’ve read (and I’ve barely scratched the surface, of course) really does much of anything with–for me–the key scene. Oh sure Silencio is breathtaking, that first conversation in Winkie’s lays the foundations for a free-fall and Diane hooked by the phone is intense…but the heart of the film beats somewhere between here
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and here:

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and what song is playing during this charmed interval?

I make up things to say on my way to you,
On my way to you, I find things to say.

I can write poems too, When you're far away,
When you're far away, I write poems too.

But when you are near, my lips go dry,
When you are near, I only sigh, Oh, dear.


I've told ev'ry little star,
Just how sweet I think you are,
Why haven't I told you?

I've told ripples in a brook,
Made my heart an open book,
Why haven't I told you?

Friends ask me:
Am I in love?
I always answer "Yes",
Might as well confess,
If I don't they guess.

Maybe you know it too,
Oh, my darling, if you do,
Why haven't you told me?

“I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star” (composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and deliciously bubble-gummed by Linda Scott) The scene comes exactly halfway through the film, and it’s more of a turning point, as far as I’m concerned, than the belated switch-over between Betty’s tale and Diane’s. Up until this moment, we’ve been splitting our time between following Betty & Rita’s screwball sleuthing and Adam Kesher’s bizarre game of “High Noon” with fate. Many people have identified the director and the actress as two aspects of the same dreamer, and I’m right on board with that, so far as it goes–but where exactly does it go? I mean, there it is–the actor (or purposive self) being seen in the way that every one of us wants to be seen (as a ray from the heavens), and the director (or interpretive self) catching that lightning in a looking-glass bottle…but the much anticipated moment of integration never comes! These two halves remain have-nots–Betty has to leave to keep her date with Rita (a date which will bring them face to face with Diane’s corpse) and Adam is compelled to refocus his gaze upon the lip-synched spectacle on stage, an elaborate cue for him to speak the much-rehearsed line: “this is the girl”.

And that’s it…third-person triumphant!

Forget about not being able to tell “you” what you’ve always wanted to say…these two candidates for “wholeness” never even meet. As Derrida would say, no letter (especially not a love letter) ever reaches its destination. Each of us spends our entire lives trying to reduce that third person by one–and ramming our heads into “the girl” or “the boy” of our dreams. You can’t tell the “whole truth” to a person that you aren’t directly addressing, and no one has ever found that Northwest passage to “you”.  The “shortcuts” (like the one that Camilla unveils to Diane after pulling her from the limo on Mulholland Dr.) aren’t even paved with good intentions, but they do lead straight to Hell (which, Sartre to the contrary, is most definitely not “other people”.) 

And that brings me back to the twin fantasies of pure communion (in love and in hate) that the film offers us–the first in Betty’s impossibly poignant declaration “I’m in love with you” (the very expression of which exposes the unreality of her story and her supposed interlocutor) and the second in the consummation of Diane’s plot to kill the (sublime) object of her desire… After each of these events, there is only Silencio–and the stark emptiness of a  box that isn’t a box, but an airlock, sealed against the vacuum of radical otherness. There isn’t anyone that wouldn’t give their lives to be sucked up into that space–to address those emotions, at long last, to the appropriate place–but the words die still-born in a void. That’s why “I” haven’t told “you”–and maybe it’s a lucky thing too!

Good Night Friends!



  1. What do you think of Lost Highway? Much of what you say in regards to Mulhullond Drive is even more true of Lynch’s prior film. LH for me is all a drem with no reality, but most importantly it is the viewer’s dream, not any character’s, and the movie demands of you “WHY are you having this dream? What does it mean to you?”


  2. I’ve been watching oeuvres lately and right now I’m going through Lang’s (reading Gunning’s great book as I go along). But, I’m going to MH again tonight, just to refresh my memory. I’ll say that I remain skeptical of any view which doesn’t acknowledge what’s in a film, namely MH’s 2 levels of reality. The first 2/3 is not the same diegesis as the final 1/3 and has tons of linking elements that set up the latter as a ground for the former. But I’ll be back.

    LH is precursor to MH, in which Lynch borrows a good bit to work out problems of having a pilot that he needs to turn into a feature film. My own theory is that Pullman is being electrocuted at the end after losing his identity in his own personal film, a dream of death.


  3. Also, one doesn’t have to accept the final 1/3 as “real” to accept the other portion as diegetic dream. I think Lynch in both LH and MH is playing with filmic reality as artifice, where multiple characters become one, like that of an author’s. The “reality” segment is still created within a film.

  4. Fritz Lang did pretty cool stuff Charles–I actually think his American films (the ones made in the thirties, at any rate) are way better than the pre-crossover work (Metropolis, M, et al)… I finally saw < href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029808/">You Only Live Once last fall and I found it unbelievably powerful… and Fury is one of the greatest films ever made… the use of “documentary” footage in there is astonishing… I’m less impressed with most of his later stuff… Ministry of Fear is pretty cool, and the pair of Eddie G./Bennett/Duryea films are getting creepier as I get older… but, The Big Heat? man was I disappointed by that one! (Gloria Grahame–as always–makes up for iany lameness in the film…but still, I think it’s the second most disappointing film-viewing experience I’ve ever had…right after My Darling Clementine, which I first saw when I was about 15 and didn’t realize that John Ford sucks, despite what his legion of admirers have to say!)… While the City Sleeps? Beyond A Reasonable? (that one at least makes something interesting out of Dana Andrews’ inability to emote!)

    but yeah–please do return for more diegetic fun!


    I love Lost Highway too (although it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and the bastards won’t put it out on DVD…I don’t have a VCR anymore…) The difference between the earlier film and Mulholland Dr., for me, is that, in the first, we only get the horror of alienation, so to speak… in the second, we certainly get that, but, more importantly, we get the horror of an–almost–perfect communion too!

    If LH asks:”why are you dreaming this dream?”, MD asks: “how could you possibly dream anything else?”


  5. I actually think there’s quite a few similarities between Lynch and Lang: a concern with destiny and desire, where destiny isn’t merely given to us by a god, but constructed on a reality of desire. Lynch also loves to put into his films destiny figures: the Good Witch, the Blue-Haired Lady/maybe the Crazy Bum, the mechanical bird, the Mystery Man.

    YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE is a beautiful film, one of the most powerful from Classic Hollywood. Actually, his trilogy with the woefully underrated, Sylvia Sydney, are all really good (but, contrary to you, FURY seems the weakest to me; YOU & ME is the most experimental and probably the most critical of American consumerism). I love both periods of Lang’s (well, I like his return to Germany, as well, the INIDAN TOMB), but, overall, THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE is probably my favorite, with M being my second. Another thing Lang and Lynch share is that their films get stronger with repeated viewings. And I’d suggest going back over his amazing German work if it didn’t hit you the first time, as well as THE BIG HEAT, which just gets better and better each time I see it. The pathology of Glen Ford becomes more apparent with each subsequent viewing (again, destiny falls out of desire). Particularly regarding the Hollywood films, Lang worked with cliches, which often lessen the initial experience. He’s such a highminded formalist that it takes a bit of effort to break through some of the ironic surface. At least, that’s been my reaction.

  6. I keep trying to put my name in, but nothing happens. I’m sure that it’ll appear multiple times after I come back.


    Charles for a final attempt.

  7. And John Ford is great, but I suspect you’re not a fan of machismo cinema. Fuller, Siegal, Peckinpah, Aldritch and all the rest probably leave you a bit cold, don’t they?


  8. you’re right on that score Charles–I don’t like any of those guys… although Kiss Me Deadly is undeniably fascinating…


  9. Aldrich too–although I do like Autumn Leaves and I suspect I would like Lylah C. too but I haven’t seen it yet…


  10. Welp, I watched it again and took some notes. One interesting factor in this that’s not been commented on as far as I’ve read is how much Lynch borrows from his previous films:

    1. Rita wandering around, blood trickling from her hairline after a car wreck, cf. WILD AT HEART.

    2. Mr. Roque (pronounced ‘Rook’ as in chess), controlling things from a curtained room, cf. TWIN PEAKS (including chess reference).

    3. The Cowboy with a too-big white hat, cf. THE COWBOY AND THE FRENCHMAN.

    4. Shifting identities has been the one parallel most noticed, cf. LOST HIGHWAY.

    5. What should’ve been the most obvious, but I don’t think anyone has: Rebeka del Rio singing Roy Orbison to a tape (funnily enough, of Rebeka del Rio singing Roy Orbison), cf. BLUE VELVET.

    Maybe people want to make something out of 1 and 3, but I’d suggest Lynch loves car wrecks and silly cowboys, the grotesque (see his art of rotting animals) and cheap Americana (see just about any of his stuff). The interesting thing about 2 is that not even Martha Nochimson, who spends a lot of page space on the meaning of the curtained room, as a place of transcendence or where reality becomes possible, has anything to say about why a funny controlling agent who looks quite a bit like a homunculus would be sitting in one of Lynch’s favorite rooms. Mr. Roque is the agent of destiny in Diane’s dream, controlling Adam, telling him who is “the girl”. But he’s a construct built on Diane’s desire and won’t be seen again in the final 3rd. Why is that, if the last 3rd doesn’t serve as some basis for the first 2/3’s? Mr. Roque’s not in control, he’s a chess piece. But, just like in TWIN PEAKS, the game isn’t what it seems.

    As for 4, much has been written, including how it links the film to VERTIGO, so I won’t say much, except to question the irrealist reading of Lynch. FTR, I don’t think Lynch is irrational, feeling-based, or some anti-metanarrative theorist. Sure, some people shift names, but do they shift identities? Betty loves Rita and Diane loves Camilla. Adam is a director and Adam is a director. Coco is an old Hollywood grand damme and she still seems to be as Adam’s mother, Coco. The waitress at Winkie’s is the same waitress, just with the name Diane shifting to Betty. Anyway, you get the point. When you have a dream of a loved one acting bizarrely, like I used to have of my sweet mother chasing me around with an axe in a cheap horror film, is the dream still bizarre if the dream doesn’t connect up to reality? I’d say no. Likewise, the tragedy, and I think that’s what Lynch has created, a tragedy brought on by Dianne’s desire and leading Betty to her necessary conclusion, loses its impact if all segments of the film are merely unreal, competing realities. It’s interesting that the most prominent interpretations I’ve seen all fall into the postmodern camp, but that’s not the “conservative” one. Isn’t it time that we simply recognize the anti-“metanarrative” reading as just another metanarrative. Come on, do we have to still live in 70s film theory?

    Consider, further, number 5. Lynch plays on an old joke of his, and one of his most memorable scenes, by doing himself one better: he has del Rio playing herself, lipsyncing to her own song, a Spanish cover of Orbison. This joke loses much of its humor if (1) you fail to recognize the reality of del Rio, an actual person, (2) its connection to the very real oeuvre of Lynch and (3) how its reality might differ from the rest of the film. I note that Betty and Rita stop crying once del Rio falls to the floor, but the music keeps going. That’s an odd reaction if everything is equally unreal. It’s true that Lynch calls into question the reality of the “reality sequence” (the final 3rd), by putting in the dream characters of the Bum and the Blue-Haired Lady, but that doesn’t mean that *within the film* there’s not a reality which informs the dream within the film, only that the diegesis isn’t reality, despite our emotional involvement, as the real del Rio can attest. Stripping that away, the film loses much of its emotive impact, just like Lynch’s joke, and why the girls stop crying once the mechanism has been laid bare.

    Does Lynch connect all of this in a purely rational, conscious way? Probably not. But, even if he’s purely intuitively driven (which I think isn’t very likely given all the puns, rhymes and connections that appear in his films), who’s to say his intuitions aren’t fairly rational, or coherent?

    I could go on (and how), but that’s enough for now.


  11. this is all good stuff Charles, but I don’t agree with your assumption that affect must be rooted in some kind of ontological ground… feelings are feelings, and it’s a romantic fantasy (you could argue, of course, that my own point of view is premised upon another type of romantic fantasy–and you’d be right!) to believe that just because you feel something intensely, it must therefore be real… who says so?

    your point about the song at silencio is a great one though–the song goes on, but when the auditors lose their belief that it is being sung to them, it loses its power… so yeah, no question, humans crave “the real”–but does it follow that they ever get it? or do they just go on manufacturing it, constantly attempting to replace the parts that time and chaos inevitably corrode, before the mechanism (fragile–and fractured–consciousness itself) completely breaks down? (as it surely does in Betty/Diane’s case?)

    my point is that D/B’s breakdown ought to viewed as the result of a loss of faith in both love and hate as effective routes to “the real”… her problem is that she can’t think her way past the notion that “this (particular) girl” is the pole star (the “reality”, in fact) by whose light she must orient herself…

    she becomes nostalgic for the object of a desire that precedes their encounter…mistaking the object for the desire itself…that’s a danger that each of us faces–and that’s why this film is so poignant… memory is a curse–but the ability to make new ones is a blessing–and the only thing that keeps us going…

    Diane/Betty loses faith in her ability to ever make anything “real” again–and once that happens, you are dead!

    (anyway, that my < href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0595223036/qid=1062132932/sr=8-3/ref=sr_8_3/103-3397425-5339046?v=glance&s=books&n=507846">Darkling I Listenesque take on the film!)


  12. ” this is all good stuff Charles”

    Right back atcha.

    I’m not so concerned with an ontological ground as I am with reference. An object term without an object (of some sort) isn’t an object term, but an empty signifier, a sound string. The reality of a feeling is the feeling, just like the sound string is real. Sorry for this tautological shit, but the ontological importance of a feeling is that you’re feeling it. The degree to which an emotion has significance, however, is what it’s linked up with, its reference. If I’m feeling happy after hearing about my dog dying and I loved the dog, you’d say that’s not a proper emotion. The feeling, however, would still have happened. Even if the emotion is brought on by a manufactured diegesis, it doesn’t mean that the emotion isn’t valid. I think, contrary to the subjectivist take on Lynch, he gives us something like a Goodman-like relativism (which is why I like him): we are as rational as we can be with what’s given. That’s not the same thing as saying everything is equally true. I think MH pretty clearly sets up different levels of reality, but the connection between them is a subjectivity. Do we crave the real? Yeah, otherwise everything and nothing is just shit. Just because we don’t get a transcendent viewpoint doesn’t mean everything is nothing, manufactured on the fly by whoever is doing the manufacturing. MH shows that there’s real responsibility to one’s actions, even if those responsibilities fall out of the desire that led to the actions. I can’t imagine what anyone would see as sad about the story of Betty if they didn’t acknowledge something about Diane killing Camilla. That’s what gives the dream it’s emotive force. Putting both segments (Betty and Diane’s) on the same level makes hash out of the story, resulting in something like destiny being controlled from without (Nochimson insists it’s Mr. Roque changing Betty into Diane — ugh). The dream says something about Diane’s reality, gives meaning to it — I’m not denying that. However, Lynch doesn’t stop there, but goes on to implement the audience, “silencio”, i.e., what does this story say about you? (There’s also a similar use of silencio here to the way the videocassette is used in LOST HIGHWAY, it keeps reminding the subject to face the facts.) I think it’s necessary to recongize the different grounds here, and how the more dream-like worlds (Diane’s flashback for her dream, Betty’s for Diane’s reality, Diane’s reality for us) serve as interpretants for the (shifting) ground. It’s an interaction of the subjective with the objective, not one or the other.

    “my point is that D/B’s breakdown ought to viewed as the result of a loss of faith in both love and hate as effective routes to “the real”… her problem is that she can’t think her way past the notion that “this (particular) girl” is the pole star (the “reality”, in fact) by whose light she must orient herself… ”

    I definitely agree that Camilla serves as Diane’s desideratum, but I think there are very real consequences.

    “Diane/Betty loses faith in her ability to ever make anything “real” again–and once that happens, you are dead!”

    Well, that and a gunshot.


  13. the wonderment continues!

    I like what you’re saying here Charles…and yet, I resist!

    I would call Rita/Camilla/the idea contained within the imperative “this is the girl” (and all referrents in fact!) Betty/Diane’s (and paint-smeared-Adam’s!) idolodulia (as opposed to her/his desideratum)…

    I’m pulling this word from Calvin’s Institutes

    While the whole world teems with these and similar delusions, and the fact is perfectly notorious, we, who have brought back the worship of the one God to the rule of his Word, we, who are blameless in this matter, and have purged our churches, not only of idolatry but of superstition also, are accused of violating the worship of God, because we have discarded the worship of images, that is, as we call it, idolatry, but as our adversaries will have it, idolodulia.

    I think that Lynch–like Calvin–is saying…hey! there may be a referrent (God, for Calvin), but it is absolutely inacessible to you… and the heartbreakingly human dream of building some ultimate bridge across the gulf between the subject and the object will get you nowhere…

    and the best bridges (i.e. those which appear most stable) are the surest routes to hell!

    you want to put pressure on the tragedy of Diane’s enraged decision to kill Camilla, in light of Betty’s overwhelmingly beneficent love for Rita… I want to put pressure upon the idea that these emotions themselves are the tragedy … you want to hold Diane accountable for her actions (and so do I)–and yet, it’s hard to imagine how these events–in either of our accounts–can have played out any other way (does B/D have the power not to want to kill Camilla? does she have the power not to focus the sum total of her desire upon one ersatz sunstitute for the inacessible other?)

    If we accept the Adam in Betty’s dream as another aspect of the same desirer, I think we at least get a sense of what her other choice might have been, even if we cannot really imagine her making it (that’s predestination my friend!)–to wit: Adam could have walked away from “his” film… he did not have to capitulate to the cowboy’s (fate’s?/biology’s) demand… he could have chosen not to report back to the studio at all, and damn the consequences… or he could have chosen to follow Betty out of the audition room, instead of playing his assigned role (in effect, he plays Judas to his own Jesus, by betraying himself to the authorities through the instrumentality of a seemingly superfluous act of “identification”)… if he <>had chosen disobedience, the result would have been an entirely different film!

    but he doesn’t (he agrees to make a film with a leading lady that has been chosen for him). and betty doesn’t (her love burns Rita to the socket). and diane doesn’t (she makes a final attempt to bind the fiber of her desire with Camilla’s nebulous substance in the dual noose of an assassination cliche).

    they all follow the injunction to substitute “the girl” for an unscripted life (a life which is unimaginable and yet, somehow, perversley possible–and without that possibility, there is no tragedy)

    and so–I reiterate!–Betty’s impossible confession of love TO Rita is just as much a suicide as the one that follows Diane’s conspiracy to murder Camilla… “something bad is [, indeed,] happening”, and it is all intensely felt, but no one aspect of the tragedy is any more real than any other aspect!

    (yikes! I’ll bet there are some typos in here!)


  14. Oh, Dave, you make my secular brain hurt with these religious references! I find that an odd sounding interpretation of a theological determinist, but the hell if I’m going to spend any time reading Calvin to test it out one way or the other. Anyway, I think you miss some possibilities living way over their on your egopole. A little bit of Davidson on schemata applied to the subject/object “divide”: you have to be in a place of privilege to say one way or the other whether or not they can be bridged and that — like arguments for the prime mover — is going to involve you in an infinite regress. You’re committing the same sin as the most rabid, old school correspondence theorist of truth by suggesting that we can’t (how do you know?). So, you can either assume we can or we can’t with equal authority if you want to play skeptical. I’d say you’re left with pragmatism, and it’s not very pragmatic to assume conversation is impossible. In fact, anyone who writes one word surely doesn’t seriously hold that. And there are some good psychological reasons for thinking conversation is possible (e.g., when listing attributes to a word’s meaning, subjects’ listings tend to collect within certain conceptual dimensions, i.e., “family resemblances”). Now, this doesn’t solve any sort of noumenal problems that philosophers might dream up, but it does suggest that, as a human community (I’d say biologically informed, as well, and there’s some good evidence for this, too), we’re able to live within a world that doesn’t need to connect up to an Absolute for us to have some objective ground for communicating (more or less), that is, we don’t have to know the Absolute to “empathize” (to use the term as loosely as possible). We deal with the given (however metaphysically ineffable) as best we can. I think the work of Lynch emblematizes this condition: real understanding comes out of the way his characters form real bonds, based on how they grapple with the unknowable, not out of recognizing that empathy is metaphysically impossible, or fundamentally unknowable. That’s why Dale Cooper is the Lynchian hero par excellence: he looks at what’s given, and works within the parameters of what’s possible. That means giving in/being open when he doesn’t have control over all the consequences. A subjectivist believes not only that you can justifiably ask any question, but that you can justifiably give any answer (subjectivism is a relativism, but not all relativisms are subjective). I don’t think there’s much evidence for that sort of radical indeterminism within MH or any of Lynch’s films. The most tragic figures are the one’s trying to control the consequences (Diane in her dream as Betty, parallel to her life as Diane, Bill Pullman in LOST HIGHWAY). Subjectivistic wish fulfillment leads to misery. Rational openness to the objective is what brings contentment (of course, the objective in Lynch’s diegeses is a tad bit off from ours, but the message translates). So, it’s not Diane’s decision to kill Camilla per se that I’m focusing on, it’s her attempt to control what she can’t control whence the tragedy derives. She has no control over Adam in reality, but she attempts to control him in her dream (through her homuncular forces), thus I don’t see him as a co-desirer, but as an object of her desire (her desire to control). She’s the director, but not really. That’s not a gaze of love between them, but, I’d wager, one of recognition. She doesn’t have control over the consequences and the dream is a realization of that. I think that’s what silencio is saying, stop fitting the world to your own private language, let it speak. That we can’t connect to the Absolute is neither here nor there, it’s more important to recognize that objective conditions fall out of subjective desires. Again, it’s an interaction, and you can’t have one without the other. Accepting this is rational in the Lynchian universe (and ours).

    I should also point out that Cookie, the fellow with an interesting moustache, is one character who I don’t think has a parallel in the final 1/3. Maybe this is signficant, but I’m inclined to not wrap up every element in this film as if it’s all pointing in the same direction. I’m betting that Lynch liked Forster in the cop routine, so he kept him, likewise, Cookie, and wasn’t that concerned with making everything perfectly fit some preordained form.

    That’s enough from me for now,


  15. we’re more in agreement than you know Charles–pragmatism, after all, is simply a secularized Calvinism (transcendentalism begins with the kind of subjectivism that you impute to me–with a self-reliant rejection of all limitations upon the self that, as you point out, merely reinforces the old metaphysics…but it moves very quickly toward Emerson’s “Experience”, which is the birthplace of pragmatism, and I’m pretty much still there!)…

    I have to disagree with you when you argue that metaphysical doubt is “unimportant”, though! Without it–there could be no change, and, so far as I can see, no desire/history/life either! You say that Betty is at fault for desiring to control circumstances… I agree, I suppose, but I would go further and suggest that to accept a given circumstance is also to exercise a form of wholly unwarranted control! As soon as you say–“this is just the way things are”–you are really absenting yourself from the situation, and associating yourself with “Reality”… it’s the oedipal shift on a grand scale–“I’m not under daddy’s thumb–I am daddy…or, at least, I’ve imagined myself into daddy’s position”… The decision to act only within a set of given parameters is not pragmatic–it’s a capitulation…a refusal to admit that sometimes, despite all appearances, the parameters have to be smashed! (and humans have been smashing parameters with alacrity since the Reformation–all I want is a more of the same!)

    I can’t read Mulholland Dr. as a parable about giving in to circumstance (or, as you put it, letting life speak)… Life speaks whether we let it or not–the question is whether we are going to join in the conversation, even if we know that one side of it has been pre-recorded! We are always hoping that, somehow, through some magic, the recording will halt and the real voice that laid down the tracks will make a spontaneous reply… I think you misinterpret my skeptical position on language Charles (not unexpected!)–I’m not arguing that talking is useless, I’m saying that it never says it all (and I’m not saying that I want it to, I’m merely arguing that our desire to say it all is what drives us forward, and makes us try different means of solving an insoluble problem!)

    on Adam–I really disagree with you here… I don’t see him as being controlled by Betty in the dream–I think he is Betty… and so, yes, it’s definitely a look of recognition, but it’s also a look of love…isn’t that always the way? Not sure if you caught (or what you think of) my little investigation of Adam’s conversation with Cynthia (Katharine Towne), but it’s really moving to the center of my analysis of the film… “you don’t know what you’re missing”… it’s true… we never know that… we can’t… when you get right down to it–we don’t even want to know! it’s not control that poisons life–it’s certainty… like Morgan Morgan in Minnie and Moskowitz–“I know where my wife is buried”–if you know that, then you know where your life is buried too–if you can be sure of the one, you can be pretty sure of the other…certainty forecloses upon desire…and this is the tragedy of Mulholland Dr.–Diane/Betty’s conclusion that there’s nothing left to want coupled with our own powerful–but unformularizable–sense that there is someone on the other end of the line, even if we never see them–and we’ll never know what we’re missing…


  16. I don’t see how theological determinism and pragmatism mesh, but I’ll trust you that there’s some historical connection.

    Just keeping with the film, and not necessarily whether I agree with it or not, I think the the dream (you know what section I’m referring to, so I’ll just use this term for ease of typing) is a story of failed subjectivity. It’s dream of a split identity, not only in terms of the characters being aspect of Diane’s readings of others, but in how her homunculus isn’t letting her get away with absolute control (Mr. Roque makes Diane’s Adam behave in a way that Diane was trying to dream away). Thus, the dream isn’t merely her creation, but it’s rooted in the given/objective/real/Lynch’s narrative. Certain aspects of what’s given aren’t metaphysically certain, if that’s how you were taking my use of “given”, but in actions brought on by desire. Diane might’ve been in control of her actions, but she’s not in control of the events brought on by those actions. Lynch uses a similar story device in STAIGHT STORY where this present story is “bent” by the revelation of memories and the responsibility for those memories by Alvin Straight. In MH, however, Lynch inserts the memories towards the end. Lynch is pretty moral filmmaker, his stories tend to be morality tales (among other things, of course). And I think all this talk of smashing boundaries and such is more yours and others wanting to incorporate Lynch into a particular worldview than looking at and reading the film. The film is a given, the interpretation is not. But we’ve been down that road before. However, I hope that I’ve made it clearer what I’m talking about as “given”. A capitulation is pragmatic if it’s useful to capitulate. I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to make of the different segments and how they might relate to each other. It seems to me that “breaking the boundaries” is exactly what begins to fall apart in Betty’s world each time silencio/shhh is uttered. Your interpretation tends to leave me at the same point that the girls stop crying upon realizing the artifice. It tends to dance around the morality and the empathy that really drives the formal play into a much deeper level.

    On letting life (or in our case, the film) speak, is a fundamentalist really living always dreaming of a promise of another life? I’d say no. That pretty much sums up my view on what I think you’re missing about the dream (and the film itself). But that’s just restating our difficulty here. I agree that language never uses up all the possible meaning of what’s being talked about. The irony is that it’s often those most skeptical of communication that are the most linguistically focused. But that’s an argument for some other time.

    On Adam, I hope it’s clearer how I read him in the dream by my first paragraph. I agree that he’s Betty, but that he’s a part of Betty that’s not entirely subjective, he’s got an objective correlate elsewhere, just like many in her dream cast. There is no objective self, no Cogito.


  17. What the hell, a tad more to go with the other shit.

    Dave, are you familiar with Putnam’s “meaning is not in the head” view? It’s from the analytic side of the Great Divide, but it’s apt here. His thought experiment is something like this: Imagine another world exactly like ours, but with the one key difference that what they refer to as water is composed of xyz instead of H20. “Water” behaves the same on both worlds, but knowing this difference, are the people on both worlds referring to the same thing when using the same term? Diane’s Adam isn’t just referring to herself, but is also referring to the Adam that we see later in reality sequence. Diane tries to escape into a world where all reference leads back to her cogito, but it just can’t happen. Reference is knocking on her door.

    Alright, I’ll shut up for now.


  18. ahh…but who says that the Adam that is engaged to Camilla is the “real” Adam?

    I agree that there’s a relationship between Adam 1 & Adam 2…but I don’t see that relationship the same way that you do! I don’t want to cast Adam as the heavy of the piece… I think that he/they each represent different styles of dealing with desire’s inability to reach its objects…

    Adam 1 flips out, steeps in his rage for a while, intuits the possibility of a completely divergent storyline (which would, of course, be no less fraught with obstacles) whilst on the phone with Cynthia (I think you could write a dissertation on the use of phones in Lynch), and, finally succumbs to the certainty that “this is the girl” (at the very moment in which the dreamer’s fractured subjectivity comes closest to fusion–which, of course, ultimately, merely ups the angsty ante)

    Adam 2 is more at his ease because he can, seemingly, take things or leave them…romance is a joke to him, and so is everything else… he wants to marry Camilla, but he clearly isn’t depending upon that–or any other–relationship for anything…he sure comes across as an ass–but I think the point is that, in Diane/Betty’s view, in a world in which “this is the girl” is not up to you–Adam 2’s ambivalence toward the object of desire is the only sane path… and she doesn’t want to take it! She isn’t crying because she has lost Camilla–she’s crying because she realizes that the only that she could have “kept” Camilla would’ve been to play a role that seems worse than death itself (her own–and Camilla’s…for the murder plot unites the two lovers in a way that Adam 2–who is kind of Diane’s disciple of < href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446602744/qid=1110918500/sr=8-10/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i10_xgl14/104-4230834-0171135?v=glance&s=books&n=507846">“the rules”–and Camilla never could be!)

    oh well!

    doesn’t out continued disagreement over this movie prove anything about the instability of all meaning Charles? As far as I can tell, you resist my reading because it diminishes the impact of the film upon your mind and emotions… I resist your reading for the same reason… there are moments in the film (I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star; the phone conversation) that do crazy things to my head & heart that your reading simply cannot account for–and I presume that this goes both ways… and so each of us is left to muse upon the text in our own ways!


  19. Still puttering about online, Dave, but I’ll get back to you later. I just wanted to say that you’re talking to someone who is obsessed with phones in movies. Particularly ringing. My favorite is in SECONDS (which if you haven’t seen, you’ll absolutely love) where protagonist (who’ll be turned into Rock Hudson) is startled by the ringing of his phone (by the company who’s going to do the identity switch). You have to see and hear it, but it just knocks you back. But Lynch is a fucking master of the ring. Anyway, I’ve had the same thought and evidently someone released a book a couple years ago on the use of phone conversations in film. I read an essay in some film mag about a year ago.

    Talk to you later,


  20. Oh yeah, I finally saw a star that I like out here in Hollywood: Harry Dean Stanton, eating pasta at a restaurant where I was drinking. Goofy stargazing, but I thought you’d like that.


  21. perhaps we can collaborate on that book someday Charles–it’d be awesome!

    and Stanton is great–I’ve been meaning to watch Paris, Texas again sometime soon…


  22. “I don’t want to cast Adam as the heavy of the piece… I think that he/they each represent different styles of dealing with desire’s inability to reach its objects…”

    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at here. I don’t see Adam as the heavy, but he’s part of the central triad of the film (which I think makes your allusion to NO EXIT a worthwhile comparison, how hell is similar and different in the 2 works; it also relates both to GILDA; all 3 stories, to some degree, question who you are, other’s readings of you or your reading of others, or your reading of others’ readings of you, etc.). Desire might not be intentionally controlled (I think the movie pretty clearly says that), but it does reach objects, effects conditions one has to live with.

    But, we definitely have a difference about the “Ev’ry Little Star” segment. I see fission where you seem to be seeing something like an objective self emerging (by your use of “fusion”), or fighting for air. But I’m not sure what’s being fused according to you. You’re definitely right to pay attention to the lyrics, since Lynch rarely if ever uses pop songs frivously (although LH might be an exception — why he’d use that shitty Bowie song instead of the classic Hank song “Lost Highway,” I’ll never know). But those lyrics are targeted at Diane’s relation to Camilla, not Adam. Adam’s gaze is an intrusion into this delusional world Diane’s created for herself (but don’t get hung up on a too literal reading of those last 3 words: Diane clearly fails to do this successfully, she’s dreaming a version of herself based on the manufactured illusion sold to our culture by Hollywood). Adam intrudes in the dream just like he intrudes in reality (and, of course, Diane’s view of Camilla isn’t very accurate in either world). Now, you say that Adam threatens a divergent storyline, and it’s hard not to see many segments as somewhat doing that (the dreamer at Winkie’s, the assassin sequence), but it’s just Lynch includes so many rhymes in the 2 segments of his film, that the simplest explanation is one story that I don’t see any way out of reading this as a single narrative that questions the possibility of singular narratives but to postulate another enunciator/dreamer that exists within the diegesis (but what’s the evidence?) or to say that the film never pulls things together (which leaves all those parallels unexplained). You kind of go back and forth between these possibilities. I’d prefer parsimony. I think that there’s just as much philosophical fallout with the more parsimonious explanation as the approach which tries to make the narrative as difficult as the philosophical issues it tackles.

    “She isn’t crying because she has lost Camilla–she’s crying because she realizes that the only that she could have “kept” Camilla would’ve been to play a role that seems worse than death itself”

    See, I’d use a single explanation here: she’s lost her Camilla (which was never really Camilla). Diane’s been living a life where either she’s playing herself (both as others have made her or as she like to be, based on illusions that weren’t completely her own doing). She doesn’t have any more control in her dream than she does in reality. She’s lipsynching.

    As for polysemy, well, there are some wrong interpretations out there. You acknowledge this possibility when you ask, “doesn’t out continued disagreement over this movie prove anything about the instability of all meaning Charles?” That is, our continued disagreement is proof that meaning is instable. Is that stable? Sorry to get all liar’s paradoxical on you, but you’ve got a self-refuting viewpoint on this issue, Dave.

    I’m not sure that I get exactly how you’re connecting the different versions of the characters or the segments. You often say things which are pretty similar to what I’m saying (only with different terms), but resist my conclusions. You seem to approach the film in such a way that any ability to say what’s so sad about Diane’s arc becomes impossible, since no sequence can serve as an interpretive source for any other sequence (they’re all equally valid within the narrative and all equally wrong within the same context). I mean, is Betty Diane, Camilla, Adam, what? You say desire, but who’s desire? Obviously, the film speaks to us, but the film also says something about itself. Why, at the end of the “girl is missing” phone sequence, is the final phone that isn’t answered the same one as Diane’s in the later part of the film? I’m not getting these sort of basic points from you. That’s an objective connection on the surface of the screen. So maybe I’m missing something crucial about your position, but I’m not seeing what I haven’t covered. Maybe you could point out how my view fails to cover a particular point about the narrative. To get back to the preceding point, you’d have to argue that some point is an important aspect of the film, and that my view simply can’t handle it. That, too, entails something more than all meanings are in flux. But, if you’re pooped (and I’m getting there), I’ve enjoyed arguing with you once again.



  23. I wrote that too fast:

    “To get back to the preceding *paragraph*, you’d have to argue that some point is an important aspect of the film, and that my view simply can’t handle it.”

    Should be how that last part reads.

  24. I will never tire of discussing this film! (certainly not when my interlocutor is as engaged as you are) and I’ll definitely be referring back to these conversations when we reach the film in my class!

    but for now, let’s see…

    “I mean, is Betty Diane, Camilla, Adam, what? You say desire, but who’s desire? Obviously, the film speaks to us, but the film also says something about itself.”

    I think this question accounts for most of our difference of opinion–I don’t think anyone is desire. Desire just is. (just as when say I that “the universe is a break-up’, I purposefully exclude any subject)

    When I say that the film is all dream–I don’t mean that it’s all Betty’s dream, but that it’s making a bid to become the viewer’s dream… I think that’s what a great work of art does–manages to convince you that you dreamed it, and makes you puzzle over it in the same way that you would puzzle over one of your own somnambulant sonatas–if you were lucky enough to remember it as vivdly as you can remember a text that you encountered while awake (and the added privilege of flipping back and forth through the pages or the film make only intensifies this)

    when I say that another possible story opens up in the phone conversation between Adam and Cynthia, I don’t mean that Adam (as a separate character) threatens to take over the narrative–the possibility that I’m referring to is embodied by Cynthia…

    That scene, that warning–“you don’t know what you’re missing”–I find it so powerful, and I can’t account for its power in any other way… it just seems to me that her side of the conversation is coming from an entirely different film (call it “This is not the Girl”, or “This is a different girl”, or somethin’)–we know that there’s no way to get there, and, moreover, that we’ll never see this character again (she doesn’t have a double in the second narrative)…that, in fact, there’s something vaguely illicit (and, therefore, all the more liberating) about this one glimpse itself! Does it feel that way to you at all?

    about the fusion in the I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star scene–it’s near-fusion, not fusion itself (I don’t think that’s possible)… like Kitty, in Random Harvest, who is “so nearly the one”, this near-meeting of two parts of the dreamer’s self only makes the faultline within the self (which I call desire) more apparent… but I don’t think that Adam’s gaze is an intrusion here, nor do I feel that we are supposed to think that Betty resents it… it’s very hard to tell, in this scene, what Betty is looking at… in fact, I would argue that she isn’t looking at anything at all–she is merely being seen…but the moment is broken up before it can lead to anything definite (as all of these moments are) by something outside of it, by the circumstances that force Adam to deal with his casting situation, and Betty to deal with her quest to discover “Rita’s” history…

    I could go on–but I hope this clarifies (although I’m sure it fails to convince you) why I can maintain that none of the characters are “real’ (except to the extent that they all mirror the viewer), but that the film nevertheless packs an emotional and intellectual wallop!


  25. I mistyped: should’ve been “whose” not “who is,” but maybe it didn’t make that much of a difference. Getting back to the point about what’s a conservative reading of Lynch: I’ve got a collection of books about him, and not one author suggests anything but an illogical/death of author/dissolution of narrative approach. I think this is largely due to a conflation of narrative, linearity, and logic. Just because Lynch critiques certain philosophical ideas doesn’t mean that his work isn’t logical or that he doesn’t work within a narrative structure or even that MH doesn’t have a linear sequence of events. That doesn’t mean that his selection of elements has to be rational or entirely conscious, but there’s a good deal more narrative logic to the way he puts these elements together than he’s typically given credit for. Reading a collection of essays on Lynch is pretty much a game of one-up-manships, where each essay begins with how some “radical” reading doesn’t go far enough. Much like bad litcrit writing (but I’m most certainly not including you here), the film has to be as muddled as what it supposedly expresses. I bring this up because you seem to be assuming that a separation of diegetic levels in the film would decrease the oneiric feel of what I’ve taken to calling the reality sequence. Not at all, I think that’s what explains the logic of putting those dream/destiny characters at the end: this film affects you in a real way, but it’s not real, it’s a dream of reality, if you like. That doesn’t entail any need to rid the film of it’s narrative logic. The way I see it is that it’s a narrative that critiques narrative, but still a narrative. Without that, it ceases to be self-reflexive, for their is no “filmic self” to reflect on. The film gives us something. Otherwise, you could apply your reading of MH to any film in existence. There’s something other than you applying some limitations to your reading. Theoretically, we might have unlimited semiosis, but that doesn’t mean, practically, everyone is randomly applying whatever concepts to whatever objects, a film’s narrative is no different. This film is replete with references to the other, a reference beyond the self (Rebeka del Rio being a reference to her actual self in our world at the point that most assume is the center of the film, what Lynch calls his “eye of the duck” sequence). One can assume a diegetic “reality” without thinking of Neorealism or socalled transparent filmmaking, you know?

    Another irony is that even though I’m arguing for a more “logical” Lynch, I don’t feel the need to tie up every element of the film in a particular philosophical reading. The Cynthia scene could be there because it introduces the reason for going to see the Cowboy, which was all part of the pilot. Not that this makes your “this is another girl” reading wrong; it fits just fine into both of our readings, I think, but I don’t see how it has much consequence one way or the other (no more so than the yelling mobster, Adaya or whatever the actor’s name is, during the meeting). I mean, she was suggesting herself because Adam’s wife definitely wasn’t “the girl.” However, I think you’re right in pointing out a good example of the dialogue meaning something more than what it suggests in the particular scene. “You don’t know what you’re missing” is definitely saying something to the character of Adam, and by extension, I’d suggest, the dreaming Diane (just like the crazy mystic neigbor at the door). Good point (hopefully you don’t feel I mangled it too badly).

    As for Adam’s gaze, “intrusion” doesn’t quite cover it, true. I mean, according to my view, he can’t exactly intrude in a place of which he’s part. But he’s like a doorknob on a door, sort of part of it, but kind of an intrusion as well. Hell, the door knob even kind of suggests intrusion. He both calls attention to himself (a reference to the “real” Adam, your Adam 2), but calls attention to Diane, as well. That’s what I meant by intrusion (which, come to think of it, is something like that “eye of the duck” thing — have you read Lynch’s comments on that in the book of interviews with him? If not, and you’re interested, I can probably dig up the quote — that’s just another way of saying I don’t disagree with you about the importance of this scene).

    I’m not familiar with Random Harvest (I initially thought of Red Harvest), but I have the web at my fingertips …

    Good talking with you,


    p.s., the Mystery Man is free!

  26. ah yes–the web is wonderful Charles!

    Random Harvest is an old-time amnesiac-romance by Mervyn LeRoy…came out on DVD recently… I love it! (although Red Harvest is even better!)

    I agree that certain critics will purposefully ransack a work looking for a confirmation of their theory, and then leave a mess behind as a smokescreen… and I share your passion for reconstructing narratives (or, at least, for tracing out tentative paths through narratives)… that’s what’s been happening to me throughout our various discussions of the film, in fact! I’m becoming more and more enamoured of one basic set of assumptions about the ways in which the parts fit together…

    1. i.e. that the most important thing about the two Adams is they way that they comment upon each other (and upon a series of available roles vis-a-vis “the girl”–i.e. fight against the command, “this is the girl”, and then, later, submit, and disappear from the narrative/then, on the other side of the “this is the girl” divide, accept the imperative, but hedge against self-destruction by “playing it cool” and refusing to truly engage with–despite becoming engaged to!–the object of desire), rather than their respective functions as first puppet the puppet and then the antagonist of Betty/Diane;

    2. that the I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star scene is just as important as the Silencio scene, and that these scenes comment upon each other as well (in the first, the magic of life as action–agency/self-assertion–and direction–storytelling/memory–blaze off of the screen, without quite soldering the fault-line that separates these two aspects of the subject from each other, and the world–the “you” that “I” can’t tell; in the second, we get the reverse: a profoundly demystifying enterprise that nevertheless leaves us feeling less knowing than ever before…sure, it’s all a tape, and we’re all just spectators, rather than actors or directors, but who did lay down those tracks? No one has ever found that one out–at least, no one that ever returned from their leap into the void within the blue box of experience…pure surface that contains nothing/everything)

    3. that the phone conversation with Cynthia stands out in–a way that I’m still wrestling with–by holding out the possibility (which, we know, somehow, could never actually be accepted) of an escape into an entirely new narrative… the fact that both ends of the conversation are filmed creates a kind of wormhole between the two planes… the second of which is a place that we know nothing about, except that we don’t know what we’re missing there (and thus we correspondingly miss it more!)

    next time I watch it (in class, about ten days from now)–I really want to focus on the Cowboy… because I’m still not completely sure what I want to say about that scene…

    I’d love to hear more about the “eye of the duck” comments… I’ve never read any interviews Lynch…and, in fact, I’ve read almost nothing about the films either (except for the stuff that I’ve been linking to!)

    okay–time to read some Poe for my seminar!

    bon weekend!


  27. Lynch on ducks and their eyes:

    “Yeah, a duck, its a…well, one of the most beautiful animals.”

    “I sort of go by a duck when I work on a film because if you study a duck, you’ll see certain things. You’ll see a bill, and the bill is a certain texture and a certain length. Then you’ll see a head, and the features on the head are a certain texture and it’s a certain shape and it goes into the neck. The texture of the bill for instance is very smooth and it has quite precise detail in it and it reminds you somewhat of the legs. The legs are a little bit bigger and a little more rubbery but it’s enough so that your eye goes back and forth. Now, the body being so big, it can be softer and the texture is not so detailed, it’s just kind of a cloud. And the key to the whole duck is the eye and where the eye is placed. And it has to be placed in the head and it’s the most detailed, and it’s like a little jewel. And if it was fixed, sitting on the bill, it would be two things that were too busy, battling, they would not do so well. And if it was sitting in the middle of the body, it would get lost. But it’s so perfectly placed to show off a jewel right in the middle of the head like that, next to this S-curve with the bill sitting out in front, but with enough distance so that the eye is very very very well secluded and set out. So when you’re working on a film, a lot of times you can get the bill and the legs and the body and everything, but this eye of the duck is a certain scene, this jewel, that if it’s there, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s just fantastic.”

    The eye sort of stands out, doesn’t make quite aesthetic sense, but it makes the duck whole, creates its own aesthetic. Used narratively, it’s kind of Lynch’s McGuffin.

    On narratives and theory, the oft-mentioned Zizek says this about LOST HIGHWAY: “In a first approach, one should absolutely insist that we are dealing with a real story (of the impotent husband, etc.) that, at some point (that of the slaughter of Renee), shifts into psychotic hallucination in which the hero reconstructs the parameters of the Oedipal triangle that again make him potent — significantly, Pete turns back into Fred, I.e., we return to reality, precisely when, within the space of psychotic hallucination, the impossibility of the relationship reasserts itself, when the blond Patrician Arquette (Alice) tells her young lover, “You’ll never have me!”” Would anyone argue Zizek’s “conservatism” strangles the interpretative possibilities of Lynch? I’ll leave the issue of conservative versus radical with that and go on to your points.

    1. The 2 Adams do comment on each other, which suggests reference. One problem the film explicitly addresses (but that’s probably an issue with all films) is what’s being referenced? I’d say that, minimally, one has to recognize a difference in realities/worlds/status as signifier or whatever you want to call it between the 2 segments in order to suggest any commenting is going on (identical twins don’t stand for each other). His role in the dream is to play the mouthpiece for the Hollywood Other, where Diane buries the elements of Camilla standing in her way of obtaining her desired object. What functions as uncontrolled irrational otherness in Betty’s world turns out to be reality worming its way into the dream’s logic. Adam 1 is no more of a puppet of Diane’s than Betty. Going back to Zizek, he suggests that ideology is objective to the degree that subjects accept it, or act as if they accept it. I think that’s a pretty good way of reading the Hollywood ideology at work in the dream and Diane’s dreamy take on Adam’s place within that ideology. Diane’s repressing things and filtering much through an ideology that’s not exactly her own, so it’s not like she’s a puppetmaster. (I try to avoid psychoanalytic theory as best I can, but it’s not easy with Lynch.)

    2. I think the Ev’ry Star scene is really important, it sets up the Silencio one, makes it possible, even, but I can’t see it as being more crucial. The former is the creaking and screetching of the wheels to the latter’s derailed train. I still believe you need a reality to supply the tragedy of the dream and that’s what the film gives with the second segment. I do believe the film insists on giving “a reality” and shows it’s importance while not having “the reality” (which is where many get derailed into putting both segments into one continuous diegetic line: “they’re both equally unreal” — yeah, but not within the film).

    3. Yeah, there’s maybe something missing which is alluded to by the Cynthia conversation, but I don’t put much importance on it (at least, I’d be surprised if any interpretation would be radically altered by a reading of that scene). Maybe you’ll change my mind.

    The Cowboy is one of the more vague elements: he only appeared once more to Adam, indicating he did good. But he appeared 2 times for Diane (and us), and one of those times is before she wakes up, and the other is in the past, her memory. Diane certainly never picks “the girl,” in dream or reality or memory. And if Adam 1 is Diane (you know what I mean by now), then the Cowboy was addressing her at the same time as Adam 1. I don’t know, but I’ll be interested in hearing if you come up with anything.

    Oh yeah, I copied the Lynch quote from The City of Absurdity ( http://www.thecityofabsurdity.com/quotecollection/ducks.html) and the Zizek one from his “The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch’s Lost Highway.”


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