A lesson from David Lynch

Wilfred van Dellen (1977), educational psychologist and lecturer/researcher at UCM

“My motto isn’t a one-liner, but more a lesson I learned from David Lynch, the director of the TV series Twin Peaks. I discovered that series when it came out on DVD and then went to see Lynch’s films as well.”

New genre
“With Twin Peaks, I think he introduced a new genre of TV. I’d describe the genre as a well-written and directed combination of soap, horror, comedy and mystery, with multiple layers and formidable music. Besides the music from Twin Peaks, I also collect soundtracks from cult series like The X-Files, Carnivale, MillenniuM and Lost. Thanks to the music of Mark Snow, you can recognise a scene as being from The X-Files even without one of the main characters being on screen. The music can really draw you into a scene, which I find pretty cool.
Twin Peaks, with music by Angelo Badalamenti, only lasted two seasons, MillenniuM three, but thanks to a fanatical fan base those series have stayed alive. I get those people, because each episode is a kind of candy shop of creativity. It’s the combination of something new and something strange that’s intriguing. And when it’s so well made, 45 minutes fly by and leave you craving another episode.”

“A trademark of David Lynch’s work, and then we’ll get to my ‘motto’, is that he works very intuitively. In Twin Peaks there was a ‘Red Room’, where a dancing dwarf talked backwards. He’d had a vision of that once; meanwhile, the ‘Red Room’ has achieved cult status, and was even referenced in a recent photo series in Elle Magazine. David Lynch got me thinking about creative processes. It’s ultimately about finding the balance between a rational/organised basis and creative ideas that come up—between what you think of in advance and what happens spontaneously.”

“When I coordinate a block, I bring various elements together as a kind of director, hoping that in these six weeks the students are able to ‘fly’, that the message gets across and that there are good discussions. I’m not acting as I teach, but I think it’s nice to ‘play’ a lecture hall. Sometimes during a lecture I’m able to captivate my ‘audience’ pretty well, and sometimes an ‘episode’ doesn’t go so well. If the curriculum is well organised, you can play around with it, or let your creativity loose. It’s nice to look at education that way, and to be able to somehow achieve my childhood dream of being an actor or director.”

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