Eruditorum Press

Gaze not into the abyss lest you accidentally write a book

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

3 Comments

  1. Daru
    June 19, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

    Now I am sad that no on (apart from me until now) has thought to comment on this essay, and it has been pretty remiss of me to not do so, but here's some thoughts.

    First, to quote Jack Graham on the Alien post: "The original movie – which belongs to that select group of films which have permanently rented space inside my head – is so rich, strange, perverse, individual and weird (even almost Weird with a capital W) that it remains permanently apart from all the others."

    These words for me could equally apply to Eraserhead. I don't know any other film like it, or another director for that matter. I am so glad that you covered this film, along with Alien, Close Encounters and Blade Runner – which are right up there in my psyche's permanent movie rental.

    It's not that this film is an easy watch, it isn't. Is this Lynch's best film? I don't think so. But there is something visceral and so odd about the feeling of this movie that it reached inside of me when I first watched it. I trained first as an artist and that is the sensibility I feel this film with, and that is what i think it's about – feelings, made into image.

    Like Lynch I had a pretty sheltered and rosy childhood, and also like him I got fascinated through art about the feelings that lay under the surface of culture and family. That is what I think this film is exploring, the imagined and half felt pain at the heart of the family magnified into disturbing images. I do agree that it comes across in a pretty unsubtle and narcissistic way. The film can feel like a teenager fumbling about as it goes for the most lurid pictures, but I suppose that was the nature of the exploration, looking at unsubtle and narcissistic emotions.

    I could have a lot more to say, I'll put a cap on this as it feels like an essay could pour out. Again, I don't think that there are many films like this, and maybe in the end that's for the better.

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    June 20, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

    Thanks a lot for your comment! I'm glad I've been able to give a chance to take a new look at your mental movie collection: It's purely unintentional, I assure you, but it's cool how the post schedule seems to have lined up that way!

    I think you did a wonderful job putting your feelings about this movie into words. I feel like if there's an essay to write, it should be written, for yourself if for nobody else. I know writing helps clarify my thoughts for me, but I guess that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

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  3. Daru
    June 20, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    Cheers Josh! It did blow me away how your schedule touched on favourites of mine. Thanks for the positive comments about my thoughts. If and when I have the time I certainly will put fingers to keyboardI know I have some ideas to explore that are coming through for some fictional/autobiographical work and interestingly an essay on Eraserhead might not be out of place in it… And yes as you say, writing certainly can clarify thoughts, or also how we position ourselves with viewing aspects of lives.

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