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Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  11,323 ratings  ·  1,187 reviews
Where do ideas come from?

In Catching the Big Fish, internationally acclaimed filmmaker David Lynch provides a rare window into his methods as an artist, his personal working style, and the immense creative benefits he has experienced from the practice of meditation.

Lynch describes the experience of "diving within" and "catching" ideas like fish - and then preparing them fo
Hardcover, 181 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Tarcherperigee (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  11,323 ratings  ·  1,187 reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Summary: Stay true to yourself. Let your voice ring out, and don't let anybody fiddle with it. Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad idea. And meditate. It's very important to experience that Self, that pure consciousness...start diving within, enlivening that bliss consciousness. Grow in happiness and intuition. Experience the joy of doing. And you'll glow in this peaceful way. Your friends will be very, very happy with you. Everyone will want to sit next to you. And people will giv ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Waste of time. This Transcendental Meditation-proselytizing piece of horseshit provides no insight into Lynch; for all the time he spends meditating, you'd think he'd be more reflective. Instead, we get chapters like this:

"How does meditation get rid of negativity? Picture it this way: You are the Empire State Building. You've got hundreds of rooms. And in those rooms, there's a lot of junk. And you put all that junk there. Now you take this elevator, which is going to be the dive within. And y
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: soulful cineastes
I recommend listening to this in the Audiobooks version. I listened to it on my iPod and it put me in a great place. David Lynch has this great soothing monotone voice that radiates the sincerity and peacefulness of his message. It's sort of like the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix's like how can a man whose art contains such darkness and violence come off as so soft and loving and sensitive? But I guess that's why they call them artists.

This book reaffirmed my desire to meditate. If
A wisp of a book - square in shape and on the smallish side, text gone rogue throughout. A few pages contain mere paragraphs, some a modest few lines. It's what you might expect from an artist on the subject of his process, especially when the muse is inextricably intertwined with transcendental meditation. This is David Lynch's attempt to explain his approach to craft, be it film or art or woodworking, and the manner in which he intuits direction; navigating the course of his passions through t ...more
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book randomly in an airport bookstore in Japan on my way back from a trip to Thailand. I've always been a fan of David Lynch's tv and film work and had heard that he is into TM and even had started a school about it. I was intrigued. I love this little book. The chapters are short - most just one or two pages. They are about art, movies, ideas, conciousness, enlightenment, meditation, Bob's Big Boy and more. They are funny and surreal and its kind of like having a conversation with ...more
Don Roff
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any who wish to expand their creativity
David Lynch has always been an inspiration to me. His films, of course, but also his painting, his carpentry, and even his unfilmed scenarios like RONNIE ROCKET and ONE SALIVA BUBBLE are beautiful mysteries waiting to be uncovered. And now, a book.

Though Lynch doesn't consider himself much of a writer "I have trouble with words" he admits, this book went a bit deeper than much of the work he has previously displayed to the public. I say book, however, I listened to the audio book, read by Lynch
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok

This is not a how-to book. It may inspire and motivate, but it won't inform.

Lynch briefly describes the benefits of Transcendental Meditation. Not only will it greatly enhance your creativity, but it will also greatly enhance your life. And there the lesson ends. If you meditate, greatly enhanced creativity just happens.

Lynch then spends the majority of the book on various anecdotes about how he came up with specific ideas for various film projects. Essentially, they just happened - because he
Paul Greer
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I recently finished reading this book "Catching the Big Fish", a very personal account of David Lynch's approach to creativity, and the role that meditation plays in it.

I have often felt that techniques like meditation may result in the bland art, due to lack of "pain", Mr Lynch is a very good example of how this is not the case.

In the book he writes:

"Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a a story, but they're like poison for the film maker or artist. They're like a vice grip
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
david lynch read this to me (on my ipod). does that count as reading it? it pretty much kills me. it has become regular car reading.
نیلوفر رحمانیان
WTF did I just read?
Our mighty, intimidating Lynch has written a beautiful nonsense!
Oksana Hoshva
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The idea of meditation never appealed to me. First, I had doubts I would be able to meditate at all since I am ‘hyper' 99% of the time. Second, I was afraid to, since I was thinking it could cool me down to the extend I will not be able to return to my ‘hyper’ state (that makes me super productive, coming up with ideas all the time, and I do like being like this). But, reading this book made me seriously reconsider my attitude towards meditation.

“If you have a golf-ball-sized consciousness, whe
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
David Lynch! Why are you so charasmatic and brilliant? Is it your hair which is a living masterpiece, or just your complete and brilliant belief in what you do! You are the North Pole to my magnet!
How can you not be sucked into David Lynch's Dyson like hoover?
This book should really get a star if it's lucky, but the way its written is so innocent you just want to believe! Its like i'm still hoping Steven Hawkings is going to suddenly build a new body and fly into the room strapped to a jetpack
Sanket Hota
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I love Lynch's movies, so I decided to have a peek into his brain. Except for the mysticism, Lynch delivers excellent advices for artists. I particularly enjoyed Eraserhead's making process. Still, the book felt more like a blog. I think his interviews are much better. ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
I hoped to find out more about transcendental meditation, after all it inspired Stevie Wonder to create three of the best pop albums ever made. He even sings its glory in his song ‘Jesus Children of America’. The problem is that none of the books about transcendental meditation, for example HH Maharishi’s own ‘Science of Being and Art of Living,’ say anything about transcendental meditation, they all just sing the praises of TM in an almost glassy eyed fervor, this book being no exception. Tm is ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am a big fan of David Lynch and his films. My first experience of Lynchian style was a late night showing of his classic 'Blue Velvet', which I went to see at my favourite. We were flabbergasted by the end thinking 'what have we just seen?' And of course, his films and their specific style take some getting used to. All we knew was that we were mesmerised.

A fellow fan of Lynch loaned me this book to read, and I have to say that it was a really interesting read. It was nice to be able to get in
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"if you have a golf ball-sized consciousness, when you read a book, you'll have a golf ball-sized understanding; when you look out a window, a golf ball-sized awareness; when you wake up in the morning, a golf ball-sized wakefulness; and as you go about your day, a golf ball-sized inner happiness."

quirky, thoughtful meditations on consciousness, meditation, and the creative process. surprisingly inspiring.
Mack Hayden
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook for this one and getting to hear it in Lynch's own voice makes it all the better. Definitely don't go here if you're on the lookout for something clearcut. But I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't even expect that from Lynch to begin with. A lot of great thoughts on meditation, film, dreams, the creative process, and a life spent pursuing mysteries. ...more
Peter Derk
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is great. If you like David Lynch, or if you're a junkie for that stuff where you read about a creative person's habits and ways, this one is sure to please.

He's definitely a believer in transcendental meditation. Which...

I'm curious. I'll be honest, I'm curious. But I'm also skeptical.

See, the thing is, I don't have a lot of experience with religion. TM sounds close-ish, or like maybe it provides the good side of religion.

But, the things I do have experience with, I think I would say it's
Niklas Pivic
While providing some clear, lucid insights into his creative process, how he worked before discovering transcendental meditation, and interesting trivia such as descriptions of happy accidents on how his films are made and what Kubrick's favourite film was ("Eraserhead", according to Lynch), there's also a downside.

Lynch does get me interested in transcendental meditation, but the theme is so regurgitated and repeated throughout the entire book that he feels a bit like a cult member trying to lu
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: artists
This was a wonderful read! Inspiring, uplifting and interesting for anyone who loves David Lynch as much as I do. I recently went to a screenwriting class that struck the same nerve (being artistic as a way of enriching your life). Starting to believe it..
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Read it in one 6 hour flight from LA to NY.
Enjoyable and insightful.
Mr. Lynch talks meditation, life and film.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I understand that most books about creativity are ungodly narrations of piffle that are only moderately better than the moral life lessons at the end of an episode of He-Man, but I give David Lynch a pass on this because the man has no reason or cause to bullshit. Ernestness, conviction, and sheer honesty are the defining qualities of Lynch as an artist and the man has never tried to be anything he isn't: which is weird.

This book is a blend of meditations upon his career as an artist, but it's a
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This reads like it was taken from interviews/speeches from David over the years.

After neglecting meditation, I was hoping reading someone I admire would kick start it again.

The way he talks about bliss is a bit silly, but after listening to a few Naval Ravikant podcasts - I would like to have complete control over my emotions.

Maybe my subconscious will pick up one of these koans.
Tristan Alaba
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-shelf
Great little collection of insights into the relationship between Lynch’s meditation and creative practices - many valuable takeaways for me, and bonus points for the unified consciousness awareness, which is surprisingly rare to read from celebrated artists, yet a most pivotal point of progress for the upcoming century ~ recommended to artists, film fans, meditators and the cosmically inclined!
Jan 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
TM will solve everything. EVERYTHING. There I saved you a couple hours of your life and a tone deaf chapter droning on about awesome low def digital video is. Hey, Mr. Lynch- If you are noticing the screws in the Sci-Fi set, you should go back and read a few chapters before.
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
There's not much here, it's mostly a sales pitch for transcendental meditation, but it was a fun audiobook to listen to because it was read by Lynch. ...more
Alaleh Arjmandi
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
2 stars. 1 more star since I could see Lynch speaking those words and I really like him.
Seriously, I'm feeling a bit odd after finishing this book as it's more like having a chat with someone rather than reading a book; it's exactly like I had a few questions from Lynch and I've got answers from him. And the whole book is like: "Meditation is awesome. Everything will be perfect if you meditate... (a few memories and experiences)... You know, meditation is awesome."

Anyways, I'm not going to recom
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
David Lynch speaking frankly and succinctly about his process, meditation, and how to be a happy person. Read it in one sitting.
Aya McGee
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
♡ read as a young painter
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Quick and easy read containing insights into some of David Lynch's films as told through the lens of his experienes with meditation. ...more
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Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married, and fathered future director Jennifer Chambers Lynch shortly after he turned 21. That experience, plus attending art school in a particularly v ...more

Articles featuring this book

  Every December, as we wrap up our annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, we ask our book-loving colleagues a simple yet incredibly tough...
182 likes · 322 comments
“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure.They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” 193 likes
“We all want expanded consciousness and bliss. It's a natural, human desire. And a lot of people look for it in drugs. But the problem is that the body, the physiology, takes a hard hit on drugs. Drugs injure the nervous system, so they just make it harder to get those experiences on your own.
I have smoked marijuana, but I no longer do. I went to art school in the 1960s, so you can imagine what was going on. Yet my friends were the ones who said, "No, no, no, David, don't you take those drugs." I was pretty lucky.
Besides, far more profound experiences are available naturally. When your consciousness stars expanding, those experiences are there. All those things can be seen. It's just a matter of expanding that ball of consciousness. And the ball of consciousness can expand to be infinite and unbounded. It's totality. You can have totality. So all those experiences are there for you, without the side effects of drugs.”
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