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Filmmaker David Lynch plays a game of Wild Card

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

The filmmaker David Lynch rarely does interviews, but he made an exception for NPR's new show Wild Card. Guests play a game where they have to answer big questions about their life drawn from a deck of cards. Lynch is famous for works like "Twin Peaks" and "Mulholland Drive" that explore the dark side of humanity. But he tells my colleague Rachel Martin that he's found bliss in his personal life through meditation. He and Rachel started by talking about his newest work, an album with the singer Chrystabell titled "Cellophane Memories." It's out in August.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUBLIME ETERNAL LOVE")

CHRYSTABELL: (Singing) When we saw it coming round and...

DAVID LYNCH: I was experimenting with sound, and I came upon this thing at a point when Chrystabell came here. And she sang into this experiment, and she is perfect for this in ways I can't really explain. So it takes two or three times to hear it before it becomes beautiful.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: So the first go out, you were like, oh, this is dissonant. This is not...

LYNCH: First hearing it - total bull****.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

LYNCH: Second hearing - a little bit less. Third hearing - beauty. It just clicked as being like a friend, and it conjures memories. That's how come the title came. In listening to this, all these way distant memories started bubbling up. Something about this music conjured memories.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: We're going to play the game.

LYNCH: OK.

MARTIN: Round 1 - memories. One, two, three - which one?

LYNCH: I'll take No. 1.

MARTIN: No. 1 - what was your form of rebelling as a teenager?

LYNCH: OK. Well, I lived three lives. I lived a home life. I lived the school life with my sweetheart, my girlfriend, and the studio art life. I had a studio during high school in downtown Alexandria with my friend Jack Fisk. So after school, I'd go to the studio. And then, you know, I also was a bit of a party animal. So I had these three lives, and I didn't want any of them to mix, really. So I developed spasms of the intestines.

MARTIN: You developed a condition. So you created it for yourself. It was psychosomatic.

LYNCH: I have a psychosomatic disease. Yeah.

MARTIN: And what did it do for you?

LYNCH: I [expletive] my pants. That's what happened.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

LYNCH: It was a horrible thing.

MARTIN: But...

LYNCH: However, I'll tell you a good side of this.

MARTIN: OK.

LYNCH: The Vietnam War was cooking up around this time.

MARTIN: Right.

LYNCH: And my father took me to a doctor because this spasms in intestines. I got an intestinal - you know, one of these things where they look at your...

MARTIN: Like a colonoscopy kind of thing.

LYNCH: A colonospity (ph), you know, whatever.

MARTIN: Yeah.

LYNCH: And the guy was a great doctor, and he pretended that, as he was watching - that it was a race track. And he said, here they go around this corner. They're going around there. Such and such No. 7 is in the lead, and they're going around this corner.

MARTIN: In your colon.

LYNCH: Following the colonostomy (ph), you know, he was - as he was telling me about, you know, my intestines. Anyway, he said, you have spasms of the intestines. And he said, by the way, I see on the X-rays you have vertebrae out of place. And if you're ever called for the army, I can give you these X-rays, and you probably won't be called if you want to get out. So spasms of intestines led to a doctor that helped me get out, and I didn't have to go to Vietnam.

MARTIN: Wow.

LYNCH: And let me live the art life, you know, in peace, and that was so beautiful. I can't tell you how lucky I've been in my life, how fortunate and lucky I've been.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Round 2. These are insights...

LYNCH: OK.

MARTIN: ...Things you're working on now or have learned now - one, two or three?

LYNCH: I think I've worked my way to two now.

MARTIN: What failure have you learned the most from?

LYNCH: "Dune," my film "Dune," which - I knew already one should have final cut before signing on to do a film. But for some reason, I thought everything would be OK, and I didn't put final cut in my contract. And as it turned out, "Dune" wasn't the film I wanted to make because I didn't...

MARTIN: Wow.

LYNCH: ...Have a final say. So that's a lesson I knew even before, but now there's no way. Why would anyone make a film, work for three years on something that wasn't yours? Why? Why do that? Why - I died the death, and it was all my fault for not knowing to do that, put that in the contract.

MARTIN: So what did you learn from that?

LYNCH: Always have final cut.

MARTIN: Just (laughter)...

LYNCH: That's my lesson always - creative control, final cut.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Last question. This is the beliefs round - one, two, three?

LYNCH: Three.

MARTIN: Where have you experienced awe?

LYNCH: Where have I experienced...

MARTIN: Awe.

LYNCH: ...Awe? Well, many times, but for sure my first meditation. I'd just been taught. And I was taken to a little room, a little place. And my teacher said, sit here, and start your meditation. I'll be back in 20 minutes. So I sat and closed my eyes, and boom. I say it was as if I was in an elevator and someone snipped the cables. Boom - within I went. Boom - bliss.

Transcendental meditation is garbage going out, gold coming in. I always say we are living, like, in a suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity. We don't want to be clowns. We don't want to have this heavy, stinking rubber all around us of negativity. You start transcending every day. The rubber starts disintegrating, evaporating, and freedom comes. Bliss starts coming. It's so beautiful. Why isn't everybody and his little brother meditating? I don't know. Go figure.

MARTIN: I mean, I have to say you seem to truly have found some level of contentment that I don't think a lot of people have found.

LYNCH: It's all there within. If, you know, it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. And it's a great trip we're all on. It just makes it greater when you're transcending every day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANGELO BADALAMENTI'S "TWIN PEAKS THEME")

PFEIFFER: For a longer version of this conversation with filmmaker David Lynch, search for NPR's new podcast Wild Card With Rachel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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