Jerusalem is a place that attracts its fair share of manic mystics, strident soothsayers, and animated visionaries.
So I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise that Hollywood's King of the Surreal -- the man who brought the world Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Twin Peaks -- would eventually find his way to the Holy City.
And it shouldn't have come as a surprise that David Lynch's first visit to Jerusalem would be appropriately bizarre.
On the first day of a four-day visit to Israel, Lynch held a news conference to discuss his personal prescription for peace in the Middle East.
Forget about detailed peace talks, intense negotiations, and delicate diplomacy.
The way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Lynch, is 40 minutes of prayer a day.
It turns out that Lynch is a longtime proponent of Transcendental Meditation.
In a rambling press conference, Lynch went on about "unified fields" and "pure consciousness." He said all Israel needed was 250 TM experts serving as "a lighthouse of coherence." He talked about "total brain coherence" and dissolving the "suffocating rubber clown suit" of hatred and emnity.
To help people escape the constraints of the rubber clown suit, Lynch has started the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.
Predictably, Lynch's prescriptions drew more than a few smirks from the gathered crowd of Israeli journalists who have lived through years and decades of war, suicide bombings, occupation, and persistent mayhem.
When asked directly about his thoughts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lynch sounded like a parody of Chance the Gardener, the central character in Jerzy Kosinski's classic book/movie Being There.
In the 1979 movie, Chance, played by Peter Sellers, is a simplistic gardener who unwittingly becomes an influential presidential adviser (known as Chauncey Gardiner) by imparting simplistic advice about tending to plants and trees:
President: Mr. Gardiner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President: In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President: Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President: Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President: Hmm. Well, Mr. Gardiner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time.
Benjamin Rand applauds
President: I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.
When asked for his views on the Middle East conflict on Monday, Lynch sounded positively Chauncey Gardinerian.
"If the world is like a tree, we see that the tree is not in the greatest shape," said Lynch. "The tree is not healthy."
Too many people, Lynch said, focus on trying to save specific leaves.
"The experienced gardener doesn't worry about the leaves," he said. "Peace on the surface doesn't address the seeds of war."
There may be more than a grain of truth in that statement. But it's hard not to see Lynch's prescription as simplistic and naive.
Then again, Being There ends with Peter Sellers walking on water, suggesting that Chance the Gardener is, in fact, The Messiah, so maybe it's time for us to all shake off the suffocating rubber clown suit with a little TM...