I’m watching Eraserhead in preparation for Valentine’s Day, as that’s about a marriage. My other films don’t seem to be, something I hadn’t actually noticed till now.
Black and white
Sock on radiator
I would’ve watched My Bloody Valentine but I don’t have it and have a feeling it’s less romantic. They’re just about to have dinner in this film and I’m fairly certain the dinner will be absolutely disgusting. Henry’s sitting on a sofa in a grotty suburban flat with a woman who won’t talk to him and her mother staring at a dog with her puppies which will be one of themes in this film, about repulsion at birth, and I think they’re going to eat chicken, and then later, when Henry himself has a child, it looks like this chicken, so he kills it. I think all relationships are like this but no one admits to it, so Eraserhead just goes on in the background of everyone’s minds like a programme no one watches but everyone knows is there. The extent of misery and isolation is almost like a Bergman movie, but more amusing. I have trouble with Bergman.
Oh right so it’s a brood of chickens, tiny little ones, poussins maybe, but much smaller. And they’re still alive, even though they’re cooked - also the people in this movie seem to be talking in tongues or going into catatonic states from time to time. It’s a film about poor communication.
‘God deserves this,’ I feel like saying. ‘This is the kind of thing he needs to take a look at.’
Henry and Mary spend most of their time with huge black lines drawn between them - mirror frames, doorways, etcetera so it looks as if they exist in separate films or worlds or whatever, severe boundaries at any rate. I don’t like babies so this creature that’s just arrived from the hospital reminds me of what I really think about them, alien and angry, and just wanting things, though this baby is like a shrunken pterodactyl head on a cushion and human babies look more human. Though they’re not really.
This is a film about the underside of the mind, what people really are, what they might truly express, and these sad vistas, lonely landscapes, poor Mary, like a doll on a chair in Bedlam. The hero of my novel is a little like this; he can’t stand relationships or domesticity, and wigs out if anyone tries to talk to him, feels they are eating him alive or ‘crowding’ him - his problems are endless, he can’t even look at glass without having hallucinations, and this is much the same thing but more depressing and it is (in terms of the film) real life, because there’s no opposing view.
I think this is a must see for Valentine’s Day in fact as this is how it all ends up. They actually do never touch or even appear to be in the same room with each other, even when they’re in bed together. Blankets curve like a mountain range. Anyway, she’s just walked out, because the creature cries too much - oh no, now she’s shaking the bedstead from the floor like someone in prison (check out the bar symbolism) and OK has finally left. Now the sexy girl from next door has turned up and he’ll feel vanquished, no doubt, by her appetite.
How our own loneliness shames us. All this eating and feeding and death all the time.
The baby’s covered with pustules now, and wrapped in a bandage.
Any second now Daniel Downstairs will come galloping up the stairs demanding entertainment and I’ve got my glasses on and in ‘a lonely mood.’ It occurs to me that life may be even worse now his jaunty presence has installed itself here as his enthusiasm - and also his catatonia - he goes into these ‘lost states’ too, hence his liking for Elbow - which is infectious - will cause me to become more accomplished at what I am really good at, which is Beautiful Melancholy, Subversion, The Surreal, and Visions of the Apocalypse inside The Normal.
Which is good, because without his buoyant presence I am stretching out and yearning and can’t throw myself into these things, because my existence is too much under threat, which is how I feel most people are, too scared to let go and let their imaginations take over.
Some really foul woman is in bed with Henry now, though you don’t of course know whether that’s his perspective or not, but I’ve been in bed with people who crush me and move about and end up driving me to sleep on the floor or cry silently. Not any more of course. Now Henry appears to be throwing some kind of umbilical cord out of the bed - and a strange spermatozoa-type creature is running around the earth wauling like a Clanger – here’s the thing of it: it could be that reproduction is something you can just say no to – ‘bring another tragic, thwarted creature onto this ship of fools? Give in once again to all these things we are caused to do, merely to exist? It’s too humiliating.’ OK, the sexy woman is saying ‘I locked myself out of my apartment’ and Henry looks harassed and flummoxed, preoccupied. He’s worried about the wailing baby, the thing that emerges from situations like this
She is definitely going to seduce him, and for him, it will be falling into an endless well of death, I can see that right off. The bed has become a pool of milk - something I hadn’t myself thought of, but I’m not particularly imaginative.
I remember really liking this film when I watched it so long ago. I suppose I am somewhat occluded by the dark side.
Henry’s now got up on stage with the deformed singer who looks as if she has elephantitus, the one who sings about Heaven - Lynch loves these stages with curtains behind, and I like them too - I think he thinks life is pre-recorded - of course I’d prefer more possessed children and nasty little dolls but this is male angst and male alienation so - ah, he has just been decapitated - this is a bit like Prufrock now, and the strange baby screaming from the neck stump - Henry still befuddled on the floor.
I think what I like about this film is the structure. It’s really about how images link together rather than a cohesive plot. It’s actually a little bit like a Plath poem.
Aha, this is the crucial point in the film, something to do with erasers, which are being created on a machine, pencils with little rubbers on the top (Henry works in a printing press - so do I, by the way) - and this bit, the rubbing out - I think they put an eraser in his decapitated brain, though I have to admit I missed that bit both the first time and now. He seems to be all put back together again now, and back with the baby, or the pterodactyl, which is laughing at him. A skinned pterodactyl. I wonder if Daniel Downstairs ever looked like that? I talk about him a lot, don’t I.
He’s just seen the lady next door with some dreadful lover and it has traumatised him. He’s had to sit on the floor with his back against the door in a rumpled heap. Daniel once caught me with a bloke and thought I’d been up to tricks but it was actually a man who’d come to help me with my computer. He SUSPECTS me philandering. He SUSPECTS me, all the time.
he’s cutting open the hole
and he snips the
baby spouts blood
piles of foam
lights switching on and off
more sperm trying to get away
heaven girl in the whiteness with the deformed face
I think that’s it – yes it is