Creation vs. Destruction

Discussion of Eraserhead

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Mr. Reindeer
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Creation vs. Destruction

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:01 am

To me, this is a key theme of the film. Lynch has often talked about the fact that as soon as you make a creative choice, you're closing off doors to other possibilities - "some things just can't survive in that world." This can be both a thrilling and a disturbing concept to an artist. Every act of creation is, by its nature, an act of destruction.

There are two major types of creation: physical human reproduction, and creations of the mind (artistic output, dreams, personal expression). We know that Eraserhead resulted from a period in Lynch's life when he was terrified that his reproductive act of having a daughter would destroy his "Art Life." The creation of products of the mind and products of the body are thematically tied together in the opening shot: the conception act is depicted not literally, but rather with a fully-clothed Henry releasing an alien-like sperm from his mouth. I have a sneaking suspicion that the sentence from the Bible that brought the film together for Lynch was John 1:14--"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." Perhaps this is too on-the-nose for Lynch, but a word becoming flesh is exactly what seems to be going on in that first shot, with Henry floating in space like God - the first creator.

Throughout the film, we see Henry struggle with Lynch's fear that creation of a child is essentially destruction of the self--a forced abandonment of the parent's dreams and identity (depicted very literally by the child beheading Henry in a VERY phallic manner and taking Henry's place in his own body). Hence, the metaphor that gives rise to the title of the film: Henry's mind (the mechanism for all creative output and expression) is turned into an eraser, the ultimate metaphor for the destruction of artistic output. Similarly, the mushroom cloud picture hanging in Henry's bedroom perfectly depicts this concept in the realm of physical reproduction: a mushroom cloud, the "destroyer of worlds," ironically looks a lot like a sperm, the genesis of all life. The beginning and the end - "one and the same," as the Giant from Twin Peaks might put it.

Complete unrelated sidebar - It just struck me that a number of key players in the film suffered untimely deaths under mysterious circumstances. Herb Cardwell died at age 35, and according to Lynch, no cause was ever determined. Peter Ivers (writer and singer of "In Heaven") was the victim of an unsolved murder. And, of course, Nance's "killer" was never identified. Alan Splet also died fairly young, at 55.
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Re: Creation vs. Destruction

Postby P3Pictures » Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:37 am

I haven't read the Creation/Destruction thing anywhere else. You are onto something.

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