kester brewin and i were watching werner herzog's film 'the wild blue yonder' in london a few weeks ago and it provoked a conversation about art and meaning. i found myself thinking about this while trying to drift off to sleep in a very warm room last night and the profile of herzog tom bissell wrote last december in harpers magazine came to mind. what herzog says in the following extract is either the transcendent wisdom of an artist, or pretentious nonsense, or both. i like it whatever it is.
'Herzog walked me to the door. I had spent only a few hours with him, but I had spent weeks watching and re-watching his films, and somehow I knew they had changed me. I wanted to tell Herzog this but was not sure how. Instead I asked him if he was ever frustrated that his films were not more widely known. He seemed to get somewhat shy before looking away. “I believe,” he said, “in what I call the secret mainstream. Kafka was there too. Today, yes, we know Kafka was the voice of an overwhelming bureaucracy with a deep evil inside of it. Often we see these figures in the secret mainstream. I am one of them.”
With that, embarrassed, I told Herzog how much I admired him, and how thankful I was that he had agreed to see me. Herzog seemed neither surprised nor pleased by my effulgence. Instead he looked at me for a disarmingly long time—so long, in fact, I began to feel like a character in a Werner Herzog film. Finally, he said: “There is a dormant brother inside of you, and I awaken him, I make him speak, and you are not alone anymore.” We shook hands and he was gone. I walked outside, through a curtain of Los Angeles sunshine, to the street’s edge, where I stood for a long time, ecstatic and not quite alone.'