Tuesday, January 14, 2014

David Lynch's "Rabbits" and Other Creepy Places Where Inspiration Hides

Well, long time no see! I'm back after a long, creative hiatus, and I've missed you so much!!

2013 was a special year for me as I dared out of my comfort zone, wrote more, and published more. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I didn't blog as often, didn't read as much, and I stopped reviewing books altogether. However, I must say it was a very rewarding year, albeit an exhausting one. By December I was pretty burned out, and that's why I stayed away for so long. Now that 2014 has begun, I'm ready to reassume my position at the head of this blog. Good thing my boss likes me and didn't fire my lazy-blogging-ass!

These days I'm struggling to round up an idea for a new story I want to submit by June. I know, it seems like an awful long time, but between first draft and final draft anything can happen. Better safe than sorry, don't they say? So this story I'm planning has as central theme the fear of death (Necrophobia). My unnamed-as-of-yet main character suffers of Existential Death Anxiety, which cripples his ability to lead a somewhat normal life. Doing research about the disease, I found out an astounding study carried out by the University of British Columbia that asserts the use of acetaminophen (tylenol) can help reduce anxiety caused by an existential crisis.

I swear it's totally legit. Apparently the same areas of our brain that process pain are also involved during anxiety attacks, therefore treating these areas has a direct effect on our levels of anxiety. The study is quite interesting and if you're ticked by the idea, follow this link down the rabbit hole.

"Sure, thanks," you say, "but what on earth has David Lynch to do with all of this?" Well, it turns out that the study used one of Lynch's productions called "Rabbits" as a way to trigger existential anxiety over the test subjects. I kid you not.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lynch's work, he is one of the most bizarre, complex cineasts ever. A few of his famously surreal movies are "Ereaserhead," "Mullholand Drive," and "Twin Peaks." Now, the work used for the study is described by Lynch himself as an eight-episode-long sitcom that follows three humanoid rabbits in what can only be described as their life... nonsensical as it sounds. Lynch's tagline is equally inadequate to portray the series' quirkiness, but he's the creator so he must know what he means; here you have it: "In a nameless city deluged by continuous rain... three rabbits live with a fearful mystery."

I'll do my best to put into words the images and feelings this 11 minute episode left me with. "Rabbits" is the strangest, creepiest thing I've seen since Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou." Mind you, there's nothing really scary about it; there are no monsters under the beds, spilling of blood or guts, no one hiding behind a door waiting to jump out screaming "boo!" It still has a dreadful atmosphere that has caused nightmares in a few and, based on some scientist's opinion at British Columbia, a fair dose of existential anxiety. I leave it here so you can see for yourself.

Trippy, huh?

For me, the strangest was the dialogue. I guess because I'm a wordsmith obsessed over the perfect word to convey an emotion, these non sequiturs lines baffled me. I mean, they've gotta mean something, right? Then there are the canned laughs at the most inappropriate moments, and applause whenever a character enters the box set. It is just a surreal experience like no other. And like internet always does, this piece of unexpected imagery pulled me down a deep black hole that sucked down all the productive hours of my morning. Down I went, this time searching for meaning...

As it turns outs, Lynch's works have a tendency to show different representations of hell; hell on earth, literal hell, the experience of hell, a life of hell... you get the drift. So, one interpretation of the whole sitcom is that the three rabbits are people trapped in purgatory on their way to be reincarnated as rabbits. They are dealing with their own failings in life, which put them where they are. That would explain the unconnected dialogue and the demonic voice to which they don't react. They are used to the environment. At some point, the door to the living room opens by itself and we hear a woman scream. A newly arrived soul discovering the tortuous place these three call home? Once more, the characters seem unfazed.

I find this interpretation to be the most interesting amidst the many floating on the internet, but it certainly leaves unexplained areas. If you have your own theory after watching the short, or if you have watched the whole series or are a Lynch fan, please share your ideas. The possibilities fascinate me.

My warmest wishes for you and your loved ones on this 2014. May it prove to be the best yet. =)


Lexa Cain said...

I'm definitely going to read the "Tylenol & Death Anxiety" link. (And thanks 'coz it will help a lot with a character I'm researching!) It's kind of funny that you say that David Lynch puts his vision of hell into his own creations because, to me, watching his creations IS hell.

Good luck with the new story and the June deadline! :)

Nicole said...

Welcome back, and good luck with that new story idea!

Michael Pierce said...

I guess I wasn't the only one gone for a while. An online break is good for the soul once and a while. I don't really know what to think about that video. I think it's one of those art pieces that I just don't get. There was a creepiness to it though. Best of luck with the new story!