David Lynch and Ni id


I have a growing fondness for the twisted insides of David Lynch’s nervous system, at least the bits he shares with us on the small and big screen.

Blake typed Lynch as INTJ, and I see no reason to differ. It’s crystal clear, if you’ve seen any of the scenes he writes for himself in Twin Peaks.

Lynch specialises in diamond-sharp explorations that portray or suggest cosmic order while resolutely refusing to make sense. David Foster Wallace wrote a fun essay on this theme: a superficial look at any Lynch offering might give the impression that he indulges in empty symbolist wankery, daring you to admit you just don’t see the lofty (non-existent) point. This was kind of my suspicion as I trudged through the flabby backstretch of second-season Twin Peaks. But it’s more that, in honing visuals and stories that carry genuine life as symbols, he trades precision for power. It’s the murk of the unmanifest, you can’t avoid it.

Also, second-season Twin Peaks is a mess (Lynch, 2016 :wink: ).

I’m focusing on Twin Peaks for the moment, because it’s Lynch near his most accessible and it’s what most are likeliest to have encountered. It’s one part crime procedural, one part proto-X-Files, and one part vertiginous retro-Americana where every single small-town schmuck is on the wrong side of a love dilemma. And there’s a ton of stuff about pocket dimensions and UFOs and crypto-masonic symbolism, which can be fun or tiresome depending on your point of view.

A princess, Laura Palmer, has been murdered, and the series explores how and why without ever getting there. There’s a demon named Bob, who many years ago came from… somewhere. He possesses people and makes them do bad things. As the spinoff film, Fire Walk With Me, makes clear, and as the recent third season transfigures on an epic plane, the whole mythos actually centres on Laura’s heroic, vulnerable resistance to Bob and the cosmic evil he represents.

While the wider world of the show can be whimsy-fluffy, and there’s a case to be made that Kyle MacLachlan and his G-man are both INFP, Fire Walk with Me is hard-edged and zeroes in on what I imagine the INTP Ni id must be like. Centre stage, as it were, is Laura’s bedroom at night, where Bob appears: creepy, laughing, implacable, and there to invade the moaning princess’s spirit, again and again.


And his conquest, some time later

Anyway that’s all I want to say for now. What I’ll want to take a closer look at is Lynch’s portrayal of INFP’s dissociative Ni id, Mulholland Drive. I just hope I’ll be able to find enough suitable stills on Google, because otherwise ye gods, the wall of text!

To be clear, I think Ni id is just one thing that’s going on in the movie, a motif or theme. The film is complex and potentially confusing. But Lynch has said that Mulholland Drive is exceptional among his works, in that it is wholly coherent. Or in other words, it can be made sense of. So to the lab! There’s a good five or six layers to it, plus Ni id resonance doing things like fucking with the time sequence. I’ll have to watch it again and give myself a chance to brood before mustering a clear account. I hope I have the patience to reduce it all, the film’s like nothing so much as a classical symphony of correspondences. But ultimately simple and unified. It’s worth poring over.

Also, I’d like to pause in case there are any Lynch enthusiasts or people who actually know something about film here, because then I’ll have to be less glib. Or at least pretend to feel shame about it.

Here’s Joni, this is kinda related if you’ve seen the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N7gPcCgkZU


Wow that much interest, hey? Well then I won’t be arsed.

Here it is in bite size, for anyone who does briefly rubberneck, because I think it’s great material for learning about something important: the imaginative key.

Keys open locks. You may know what a key is and call it something different; but then again you might not, because it’s not loose metaphor, it refers to something quite specific. A key is a symbolic diagram that, once properly taken in, makes sense of previously confusing subject matter.

A geometry textbook is a kind of key: not only does it contain knowledge of geometry, but its structure makes that knowledge easier for a student to learn, and even makes it easier to learn other things about geometry that aren’t actually contained in the textbook.

A novel is also a kind of key. It alerts a reader to how its content is to be engaged with: namely, as a work of fiction, which is to say a series of sequentially related stories in which a few imaginary people work through certain problems. This allows the writer to do things which would be upsetting or confusing if you thought you were reading a newspaper or a shopping list.

Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces (aka Jung for dumb people) is a kind of key. Taken in, it alerts you to a few common elements or episodes often found in stories. This means you can think more efficiently about what goes on in a given story (Oh! there’s the refusal to cross the threshold.) and notice more easily what is foregrounded or unique about it (the hero has the key in her pocket but says it’s only for assembling Ikea furniture! zomg). It also lets you chat knowingly about what a crowning narrative achievement Star Wars is.

It can of course be a melancholy thing to acquire a key, because almost by definition at least 90% of any cultural form becomes intolerably boring when you’ve learned the crass algorithms by which they’re made.

A key can, on the other hand, unlock lifetimes of worthy pursuit. Some theologians used to say that, from the image of Jesus on the cross, given time the whole of the Bible and everything worth knowing about the soul and the world could be reconstructed.

(I think I’ve mentioned before Ted Hughes’ book, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, which describes with remarkable concision the complex glyph at the heart of the playwright’s imaginative world. I found that long study of this glyph led me to another key, the theory that Marlowe was that playwright-- and that’s the way, one key will often lead you to another. These two keys together give me a royal road into the task of staging any of those plays.)

Which brings me to Mulholland Drive. Following its release and in the years since, this film has been the go-to punchline for jokes about complicated, confusing, hard-to-follow symbolic movies. And I finally watched it a few weeks ago and was like, “…did I watch the wrong thing? Cause this movie is… obvious.” Which is why I basically don’t waste time on pop culture-- it’s shit, and the people who talk about it are empty-headed.

But the main thing is that the movie was transparent to me because I had the keys, which I will now give you, absent the time-consuming explanations that would make it easy to use.


That’s actually all you need, but here, have some hints:


Wow, this is incredibly fascinating to me to think about a Key in this way. Not just this paragraph but your whole thing. huh. I NEVER think like this. I don’t know if I can even hold onto the info because it’s so outside of my habit of thought.

Gonna have to reread this a lot and try to remember to keep thinking about it.

No wonder I have a fucking problem with Key Performance Indicators and shit like that


By the way, those hints at the end will not compute for me. I think there’s a zero percent chance of me ever understanding what in the world could be going on there. Zero.

Is it supposed to look like this|/\| or is it supposed to be on separate lines like that?


I’m like

right here

that’s the progress I’ve made in understanding these clues.


I have not had the chance to watch Mulholland Drive [just watched trailer and it doesn’t look like something I’d normally choose], but your talk on keys reminded me of my reaction to Avatar [the blue cattish people, not the cartoon] with Sam Worthington [swoon]. I was really unimpressed. The Se part was beautiful, so much work done there, but the story was a disappointment I had to carry on my own because everyone was raving over it and I just felt like I’d seen it so many times before. I didn’t feel any of the hype or obsession. Felt like fucking painful and seemingly inevitable history repeating itself. As it seems to be doing now, right outside.


It’s as it’s supposed to be, except join up the lines. So, like a chevron and a long stripe. Or a delta and a line or backwards 1. Backwards h, etc.

The neat thing about film is that the images are all right there, there’s literally nothing else. So one way in might be to watch and notice whenever you see the key on the screen. (There’s one in my post to start you off, not counting the ones in the hints.)

A really good key, like a temple whore, caters to all kinks. Ideally someone of any temperament could approach it in a way that suits them-- think your experience so far with catholic Jesus. Or the Kircher tree. Or Blake’s MBTI for that matter.

The best Ne approach to the hints is probably to dick around with the chicks on the boat and the blue bird.


Just our luck, they’re turning it into a trilogy!


I have only watched bits of the new Twin Peaks and it just came off as kind of weird, but I did enjoy Earthbound (Mother 2) the videogame by Itoi, who probably was inspired by the show and movie.

I do enjoy a kind of weird symbolic absurdity to things. But maybe because the themes become emergent even if they weren’t “intentional”.