06 May 2011

Too much light in our lives

Werner Herzog has a new film coming out (cave paintings in 3D!), and GQ interviews him for this month's issue. I came across the interview care of a Tim Carmody guest-post on Kottke.org about Herzog's negative views of psychology and self-reflection, which are:

I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century. A major, major mistake. And it's only one of the mistakes of the twentieth century, which makes me think that the twentieth century in its entirety was a mistake.

We have to have our dark corners and the unexplained. We will become uninhabitable in a way an apartment will become uninhabitable if you illuminate every single dark corner and under the table and wherever—you cannot live in a house like this anymore. And you cannot live with a person anymore—let's say in a marriage or a deep friendship—if everything is illuminated, explained, and put out on the table. There is something profoundly wrong. It's a mistake. It's a fundamentally wrong approach toward human beings.
My initial reaction was disgust and the belief that Herzog's just being a nut (as many people are wont to argue), but I keep thinking about the idea and can't shake the feeling that it might be partially true. I'm more moderate in my opinion than Herzog. That is to say that I think people seeing therapists to help them through depression and other emotional/life distresses is good. But maybe there are aspects about ourselves that we can't understand, and if we can't understand them, maybe we shouldn't even try. There are violent horrors that people are exposed to that send their bodies into shock--a biological response to carnage. Maybe there are emotions or existential confusions that most of us are fundamentally ill-equipped to process.

On a lighter note, if you have designs of working with Herzog someday, keep this in mind:
Another skill Herzog has advocated for filmmakers (and, I suspect, pretty much anyone else whom he considers truly worthy of respect) is the ability to milk a cow: "If an actor knows how to milk a cow, I always know it will not be difficult to be in business with him." Herzog has also previously claimed that when he walks into a room, he can tell who in there has previously had hand to udder. Or, at the very least, would.
I'm in like Flynn.

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