Sensor Scan: Eraserhead

Here’s another entry I know I’m likely out of my league on, but we’re doing it because we really don’t have a choice. David Lynch has been cited as a primary influence on an extremely significant creative figure for…not the period of Star Trek we’re about to enter, but the one right after that, and continuing on to 2005. And since 1977’s Eraserhead was Lynch’s motion picture debut and widely considered to be the best demonstration of his perspective, we need to take a look at it for the future’s sake.

Since context and influence is the name of the game today, I won’t beat around the bush and come right out and say the person I’m talking about is Brannon Braga. Braga is, suffice to say, a controversial figure within Star Trek, and definitely a misunderstood one. Along with Rick Berman, he is almost universally blamed for killing the franchise off in 2005 and his reputation in Star Trek fandom tends to hover between “Public Enemy Number One” and “Satan”. This in spite of the fact Berman helped shepherd Star Trek through what is typically seen to be its Golden Age and Braga helmed what was, at least for a time, the consensus fan-favourite Star Trek series, Star Trek Voyager, and co-wrote the consensus second-best Star Trek movie, Star Trek First Contact. We’ll deal with Berman another day, and, in regards to Braga, while it’s true he has a number of fumbles and missteps to his name, and in some cases quite egregious ones, he’s also someone whose positionality is frequently badly misread, and putting him into some kind of intellectual tradition will prove supremely helpful down the road.

Which brings us to David Lynch. What strikes me about Lynch is that he’s a filmmaker who is on the one hand regarded for his surreal, disturbing and frequently confusing style of cinematography, yet is also someone who wears his influences very obviously on his sleeve and is quite upfront about his positionality. This, to me, renders reading his work somewhat trivial. There are two major aspects of Lynch’s life that seem to crop up over and over again throughout his work: One, he has a major interest in dreams, and in particular the subconscious side of dreaming. However conversely, Lynch also seems to believe the only way to truly comprehend this is to be awake to engage with it, and Lynch seems to believe quite strongly in the ability of filmmaking to convey this kind of dreamscape, such as in this quote:

“Waking dreams are the ones that are important, the ones that come when I’m quietly sitting in a chair, letting my mind wander. When you sleep, you don’t control your dream. I like to dive into a dream world that I’ve made or discovered; a world I choose …”

So, it’s not actual dreams he’s interested in, but daydreams. This is actually a pretty significant distinction to make, because, at least judging from this, it means that Lynch is probably unfamiliar with the concept of lucid dreaming, because, a lucid dreamer actually can control her dreams when she’s asleep.…

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