Catching the Big Fish: When Artists Should Call It a Day

[Ed note: This is a review of Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch. Sort of. The lead-in is extreme. So hold on. Please.]

I am told that in Europe design is supposed to work as one unit - if you're in interior design, for example, it would be seen as natural that you dabble in graphic design, industrial design, even fashion design.

Europeans would be astounded (and have been, apparently) by the profusion of designers in Canada that are well-trained in proportion and composition and who can't put together a damn outfit.

While I embrace the fluidity of design, I'm not sure I feel the same way about Art, especially when it concerns books.

It's one thing when a froofy, trashy celebrity writes a book (such as Paris Hilton or Lauren Conrad). It's not insulting because they're not producing an actual book but a product. A little gross but fine.

It feels different when an artist celebrated for their creative genius deigns to turn their attention to the book world, bestow their genius upon the printed page...and then utterly fail. It hits too close to home.

Last year I read an extreme form of wankery titled Design Your Selfby Karim Raschid. Raschid is famous for his functional designs for Umbra, among other things.

The book is a veritable technicolour raincoat filled with shiny silvers and ostentatious oranges and punctuated with similarly blinding credences on everything from fashion to fitness. The tone is invariably condescending. The level of self-involvement would make Kanye West blush.
I'm not trying to create a framework by which to damn David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish as superficial garbage. However misguided Lynch may be, he believes Transcendental Meditation (TM) has the power to spread peace and to relieve the stressed out kids of the modern world. Proceeds from sales of the book go towards funding in-school programs in TM.

Say what you will about TM (*ahem* that it's a cult), it has allowed Lynch to access his creativity, even in the event of terrible disaster, such as the spectacular failure of Dune. Amen.

I even agree with Lynch that success in the modern world requires the processing of a constant stream of information and change. If our consciousness is too small, we will experience the pain of inflexibility. TM (or ordinary meditation) enlarges our container so that we may be fluid enough to accommodate modern living without the toxic stress that can accompany it.

In the end though, I feel that however masterful Lynch may be on the big screen, he is not a writer. Catching the Big Fish feels, looks and reads like a fake book.

For example, the page entitled 'Identity' is followed only by the line, "The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you." Similar painfully obvious observations follow.

Lynch rails against director commentary in the book as he says that a good film should stand alone, as is. Similarly, I feel his cinematic work should stand alone.

No fake books should be allowed to accompany it.

Catching The Big Fish / David Lynch / Tarcher / HC, 2006

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