David Lynch – The Treachery of Language

David Lynch has a fraught relationship with language. He denounces it, then embraces it. He turns sentences inside out or backwards, both mirroring and masking their meaning. He deconstructs words, then rearranges the pieces into riddles. This video essay by Grace Lee does a great job of tracing that ambivalence towards language. It delves deep into Lynch’s filmography, and finds similar tendencies in his paintings and drawings. In the idiosyncratic universe Lynch has created (across several modes of expression), translation is not a place where things are lost, but where new artistic meaning is created.


“As soon as you put things in words, no one ever sees the film the same way.” Lynch’s words also apply to this video essay: have a look, rather than read this write-up. Take my word for it.