The world of Eraserhead seems like a spiritual extension of the theories Jack Ripper propounded in Doctor Strangelove. The precious bodily fluids have been polluted and the world has plummeted into an apocalyptic bedlam following a probable nuclear explosion. The chasm between the world and those who inhabit it has become illogical, pathetic and absurd. No wonder it was one of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite movies.
Eraserhead works like all of Lynch’s other works, in tone rather than plot. We are so confined in the world of these characters, so intrigued by the absurdity that we ‘demand’ an explanation. Yet Lynch knows better than to give one, for any payoff it seems would be impotent when compared to the set-off.
Which brings me to think, is the set-off the payoff ? Is the very invitation Lynch extends into the absurd world of his the point of his works ? His movies seem to start in the middle of nowhere, end in the same way as well and in between, the magic happens. Furthermore, the structure accentuates our lack of satisfaction in whatever answers we think we encounter.
The film continually makes a gesture to itself as a source of meaning and discovery independent of the protagonists, and the audience ceaselessly tries to attribute a final meaning to the affairs. Yet Lynch evokes rather than supply. Hesitate to put a final meaning to Eraserhead, dear reader, but rather try energetically, even frantically, to figure out what Lynch has asked to have experienced, to have noticed and understood.
Eraserhead stands like an enigma cloaked in a mystery, a labyrinth without a center. For me, it even worked as a personal expression of the agony of Lynch himself as an artist, projecting himself in the form of The Man In The Planet, agonizing in pain with every pull of the lever of the stage he is setting up. Lynch knows that no relation of a dream can convey the dream sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. The realization dawns upon on him with every passing frame that we live and as we dream – alone.
Eraserhead is a movie about a plethora of characters searching for a movie to fit themselves in. Where are they going ? We don’t know. Lynch doesn’t say.
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