Sunday, November 16, 2003

David Lynch, saving the world? (For what?)

The Guardian has a list of the world's 40 Best Directors, and David Lynch is at number one. Ok, I'm hip to that, but it turns out that (surprisingly) the strangest thing this guy is up to is happening off-screen: he wants to build 100 meditation centers in America, as part of a plan to build 3000 centers around the globe. Personally I think that developing focus and engaging in a little quiet introspection would do most of the world some good, but unfortunately I think this is the wrong way to go about it. The centers are all to follow the ideas of Transcendental Meditation, which, though a good idea in and of itself (once again in terms of focus and introspection), has turned into a parody of itself with offers to teach you 'Age Reversal' and 'Yogic Flying', all for one low low price, special for you today only.

I learned TM when I was 16; my mailman had studied with the Maharishi in Rishikesh shortly after the Beatles made the whole thing fashionable. (The story of how and why I ended up learning meditation from my mailman is too long and complex to include here, perhaps I will write it up another day). By the mid-80s, it was no longer fashionable, but my friends and I were on some sort of spiritual quest (why oh why weren't we just trying to get laid like all the other kids?). TM is a useful practice for developing mental focus, but there are many such practices. (Turning off your television would be a good first step). The amount of good such a practice can bring, however, is largely offset by the image of wacko hippies bouncing around on the ground and calling it flying.

So: interesting films? Check. Building places where people can go to develop focus and calm their minds? Check. Flying hippies? I think I'll pass, thanks.