David Lynch Folds Space: mind-origami at 24LiesASecond

November 16, 2006

I realize we’re not exactly prolific at 24LiesASecond (The House Next Door we ain’t!), but when we do publish something, we try to make it worth the wait. Today is a joyful day…


When Bob Cumbow, author of Once upon a Time: The Films of Sergio Leone and Order in the Universe: The Films of John Carpenter, emailed me a few months ago with a new idea for a 24LiesASecond essay, tantalizingly titled “David Lynch Folds Space,” I went nuts! Gone was my contributing-editor cool, and up jumped a drooling fanboy.

As a teenager – I was thirteen at the time – I found Lynch’s Dune (1984) as puzzling as anyone who’d never read Frank Herbert’s novel. Nonetheless, the concept of “travel without moving” as explained by Princess Irulan in her opening monologue, always made perfect sense to me. Why cross all those light-years from galaxy to galaxy when you can simply fold the distance? You can’t, of course… but the idea just seemed so obvious, so right!

Bob’s plan to apply the very same concept to David Lynch’s work was a stroke of genius (Mel Brooks didn’t call Lynch the Jimmy Stewart from Mars for nothing!) and we had lots of fun speculating on the subject in our email correspondence.

An excerpt from David Lynch Folds Space: Because He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!:

Folding space consists in bringing two spatial points together by collapsing the space between them, thus eliminating the need to move from one to the other. Dune’s “explanation” of travel without movement, of the folding of space, is a sly announcement of not only the vision but the technique that David Lynch brings to the screenwriter’s and film director’s art.

So early in Lynch’s career, in only his third feature film, we have a pseudo-scientific articulation of the artist’s unique way of seeing the world, and of remaking it. For folding space is a near-perfect metaphor for the way David Lynch makes movies.

For a mind-bending trip to the epicentre of Lynchian logic, read Bob’s whole article at 24LiesASecond. If you like it, don’t hesitate to drop a note in its dedicated thread at the 24Lies Article Feedback forum, or comment on it here.