The obsessions of Werner Herzog

2f47950e-7ae4-11e4_1113513kIain Sinclair at the Times Literary Supplement:

The voice. That voice. The forest as an oozing, fecund sump of original darkness and interspecies fornication. Birds screaming in pain. Monkeys howling like the legions of the damned. And deluded humans, those naked forked beings, babbling their eco-political plea bargains to an indifferent destiny, as they are broken on the wheel of fate. Until there is just one heretic left, with cones of light beaming, burning from his unblinking eyes. The sweeping gestures. The leaps from rock to rock. And, always, that voice. The seductive drone of reason from an undeceived witness to horror. He sounds amused, engaged: implicated. The voice of a village Bavarian from the mountains. A long-striding walker. A world-weary autodidact devouring the classics: Virgil, Homer, and the never-ending voyage that refuses to bring him home to the black hole of unresolved history that is never going away. He is a self-proclaimed searcher for the “ecstatic truth” of Euripides.

Here is the captured voice of Werner Herzog: the maverick, the sanest madman still in the game; performing, researching, scribbling in microscopic calligraphy, hard-tramping margins of ice and sand, working the burden of life to the final groan. And now, with a mime of easily overcome reluctance, directing this comprehensive fiction of an autobiography, by way of recorded conversations with the film scholar Paul Cronin. A Guide for the Perplexed is a blockbuster performance of telling and hiding: remembering, denying, cursing, reliving traumas and triumphs; picking over all the projects, triumphant and forgotten.

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