Kenosis to Gnosis
Hear the silence
Eraserhead is a disturbing arthouse movie from 1977. The director, David Lynch, had often called Eraserhead, "a dream of dark and troubling things." That is the keyword, dream. The main character, Henry Spencer, is in a dreamworld that is very grim and dark. That is the Gnostic view of physical life. David Lynch has been a big supporter of Trancendental Meditation since 1973 and he said that Eraserhead was his most spiritual movie. There are spiritual themes throughout the movie and that is how it should be interpreted. This quote from his foundation website gives an idea to how spiritual he is, "I started Transcendental Meditation in 1973 and have not missed a single meditation ever since. Twice a day, every day. It has given me effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity and happiness deep within. This level of life is sometimes called “pure consciousness”—it is a treasury. And this level of life is deep within us all." It's interesting to note that Henry says that he is a printer who is on vacation, who vacations in such a grim world? The answer is the soul in the physical world.
At the start of this movie Henry is floating in Space. The asteroid could represent his brain and this asteroid has a house on it with a hole in the roof that has a man covered in Earth. Henry has a sperm coming out of his mouth and this represents the word becoming flesh as both the Bible and The Hermetica put it. 1 John, "1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Corpus Hermeticum,  "I am the light you saw, mind, your god," he said, "who existed before the watery nature that appeared out of darkness. The lightgiving word who comes from mind is the son of god."
The man in the house then pulls some train levers and the sperm is thrown into a puddle. The man in the house may represent time. The camera rises up out of a water tunnel, which represents the birth canal. When the sperm is thrown in there are lots of bubbles and these bubbles appear at the end of the movie as well, which represents a rebirth. That's when Heny lives his life. After Henry is born he steps into a muddy puddle of water, which maybe a reference to the birth canal and how it makes him dirty.
The dinner scene near the start of this movie has some important symbolism in it and it gives a foreshadowing of the rest of the movie. This is where Henry finds out that he has a baby and he will have to move into a room with it and look after it. At 10 minutes, 15 seconds after a long pause the father asks Henry the question, "Well what do you know?" Henry responds by saying, "I don't know much of anything." That dialogue seems very random and most people won't give much thought to it, but there is a point to it, because the chicken that Henry was trying to cut was giving birth and Henry's statement afterwards, "I don't know much of anything." represents the ignorance of the soul in the body.
The scene where the baby is found to be sick shows that Henry is internally sick in the room of his body.
The scene where Henry's head falls off is very important. It shows that the alien baby is Henry. That would explain why the alien baby wouldn't let Henry leave the room. The checkered floor represents the polar opposites of the world and the dead tree that is brought out represents that there is no life, it is the opposite of the Tree of Life. A lifeless tree is also beside Henry's bed in the room that he sleeps in. The soil that the dead tree is in pours out blood which surrounds Henry's head and covers the checkered floor. The blood emphasizes that this represents death. This all occurs on a stage which seems to be suggesting that the world's a stage.
After this scene Henry's head is taken to a pencil maker who drills a hole in Henry's head and the core of his head is used to make erasers for the pencils. This scene reveals why the movie is called Eraserhead. His head is erased, as in he has lost his knowledge when he is in the world.
The Lady in the Radiator that Henry dreams about sings, "In Heaven, everything is fine" and she is the one who rescues Henry from this dark world. The meaning of this song is clear and she is going to rescue Henry and take him to Heaven. In one scene she has sperm thrown at her while she is on the checkered stage and she resists them. This may represent that she is a virgin physically or even spiritually. She resists being part of this world.
The room that Henry is in has a brick wall covering the window blocking out the Sun. The body covers over the window of the soul blocking out the spiritual light.
The dead tree is seen throughout the movie and this is the opposite of the Tree of Life. The tree is next to his bed in the room that is blocked off from the light. The bed looks like it is in rags which emphasizes that this place is in a state of poverty. This is the soul asleep in the body, it is in a state of darkness and it is in a state of poverty.
At the start of the movie when the sperm was thrown into the puddle, there were lots of bubbles and the same thing is shown here, except with Henry in the scene. Henry has been born again and he will ascend into Heaven. After that the man in the house pulls the train levers back and they come to a screetching halt.