David Lynch Or Quentin Tarantino?
  • David Lynch: Genius? Obscurantist extraordinaire? Both?

    A reader writes:

    Dear Ray Harvey: Well, it took me five months but I finally finished reading More and More unto the Perfect Day and I wish to compliment you! Though it is a challenging and not easy read, it is rewarding and gives much food for thought to say the least. Your story reminded me a little (sometimes) of David Lynch, and I believe I remember you once answered a question about David Lynch, don’t I? Do you still have that?

    — John Kronk

    Dear John Kronk: Thank you! If you liked my book, please tell your friends about it: if your friends like it, get new friends.

    The following is probably the post you’re referring to:

    Dear Sir: Who’s the better filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino or David Lynch?

    Quentin Tarantino

    — P. Durango

    Dear P. Durango: Are you kidding? But there’s no comparison. That’s like asking me: who of those two has better hair?

    As a filmmaker, David Lynch possesses innumerable shortcomings, foremost of which is the fact that he’s an obscurantist extraordinaire — and this is no small thing.

    The symbolic in art, you see, must never supersede the literal — or to put that another way, the symbolic meaning must always remain secondary to the literal meaning, and the literal must hold up on its own without reference to the symbolic. When an artist makes the symbolic meaning the tail that wags the dog, as David Lynch so often does, she defaults on art’s primary function: making the abstract concrete.

    Yet for all this, David Lynch is not only the better filmmaker: he’s better by light years.

    Quentin Tarantino barely makes it above average. He makes good B movies.

    It’s true that Tarantino can tell a story (at times, not consistently). This isn’t really his problem. His problem is that he lacks any sort of real depth.

    If theme is the meaning that a story’s events add up to — and it is — then Tarantino’s movies are almost all themeless because they add up to nothing. They’re action movies, which, even as action movies go, are often boring and wildly gratuitous. (Inglorious Basterds was a notable exception.)

    Tarantino’s dialogue at its best is good, but it, too, is inconsistent. Pulp Fiction, slightly campy now, remains by far his best movie.

    Reservoir Dogs? You can see certain skills at work there, in flashes, despite its wobbly plot. But there’s no getting around the fact that Quentin Tarantino could never in a million years create Wild at Heart and Sailor Ripley, let alone the John Merrick that David Lynch gave us in his awesome version of the Elephant Man — John Merrick dancing alone in his room with tophat and cane, the pure poignancy of which scene is unforgettable.

    Tarantino has yet to match Pulp Fiction. It seems to me now that he never will.

    Pulp Fiction spawned a thousand imitators — and for good reason: it was funny and it was original. And yet its appeal has dated a little: many scenes still hold up and are as fresh today as they were fifteen years ago. But an almost equal number (i.e. “The Bonnie Situation”) have grown stale and are unconvincing. Time has sunk them.

    The David Lynch of Twin Peaks and the David Lynch of Blue Velvet has a depth and intelligence that Tarantino cannot match. Wild at Heart, which is half a decade older than Pulp Fiction, has proven more durable by far.

    Just incidentally, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Man From Hollywood” (his Four Rooms contribution) was taken from a Roald Dahl short story called “The Gambler,” and if you want to see where Tarantino got his idea for the ending of Reservoir Dogs, please watch this movie, which was based on the novel by Lawrence Block.

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

9 Responses and Counting...

  • susielindau 10.14.2011

    This such a great post! Where are the comments? If you look at the tags on the WP home page and just use them and one category you may be seen better. I also found out that with wordpress blogs you have to promote yourself on Twitter. My twitter handle is @susielindau . If you have an account, tweet me and I will help promote you…

  • Susie, you’re very kind to me. Thank you so much.

    How did you yourself come across my website?

  • I was reading random posts last night and saw your comment on one. I tried to go back and find the post, but I couldn’t figure out which one it was. I tweeted your poem and it got retweeted so hopefully you got a little bump in your views. I may be presumptuous and you may be getting 1000’s of views by shy readers. I just was shocked to see so few comments.
    When you get a Twitter account, let me know and I will get you noticed.

    I also left a comment on the Autumn poem which is amazing btw.

  • Good work, sir. Good work.

  • Thank you, Mr. Sinclair. And thank you very much for dropping by.

  • ordered two of your books (amazon) – of course i expect you to sign them – will your signature make them more valuable ?
    … remember to watch roman holiday…

  • Hi Jani! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your buying my books. If I were a betting man — and I’m not — I’d bet that my signature will actually depreciate the value of the books.

    See you in the stratosphere.

    Thank you for dropping by.

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