A crucial ingredient of Lynch’s universe is a phrase, a signifying chain, which resonates as a Real that insists and always returns - a kind of basic formula that suspends and cuts across time: in Dune, it is “the sleeper must awake”; in Twin Peaks, “the owls are not what they seem”; in Blue Velvet, “Daddy wants to fuck”; and, of course, in Lost Highway, the phrase which is the first and the last spoken words in the film, “Dick Laurant is dead,” announcing the death of the obscene paternal figure (Mr. Eddy).
The entire narrative of the film takes place in the suspension of time between these two moments. At the beginning, Fred hears these words on the intercom in his house; at the end, just before running away, he himself speaks them into the intercom. We have a circular situation: first a message which is heard but not understood by the hero, then the hero himself pronounces this message. In short, the whole film is based on the impossibility of the hero encountering himself, like in the time-warp scenes of science fiction novels where the hero, traveling back in time, encounters himself in an earlier time.
On the other hand, do we not have here a situation like that in psychoanalysis, in which, at the beginning, the patient is troubled by some obscure, indecipherable, but insistent message (the symptom) which, as it were, bombards him from outside, and then, at the conclusion of the treatment, the patient is able to assume this message as his own, to pronounce it in the first person singular. The temporal loop that structures Lost Highway is thus the very loop of the psychoanalytic treatment in which, after a long detour, we return to our starting point from another perspective.
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