Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cobra Verde

I've been watching all of Werner Herzog's films starring Klaus Kinski. I wish I had time to write a proper essay on Herzog's view of nature and civilization. Herzog's colonial anti-heroes are usually left drifting in a nowhere land between two equally unappealing choices: the soulless and cold rationalism of Western Civilization, and the dumb and irrational Primitivism of the Native. The collision of these two worlds reveals the mistake we often make of Romanticizing Non-Western cultures as somehow Noble or above reproachment. In an interview, Herzog refers to Nature as a brutal obscenity and I think that he is strangely accurate. The jungles and rivers of Cobra Verde, Aguirre, and, Fitzcarraldo are indeed dark and murderous, placed in direct oppostion to the Will of Man. Ultimately of course, for Herzog nature works as a metaphor for the human spirit...and the realization that is slowly formed is that we are looking not at something other than oursleves, but at the dark mirror of the soul. If nature is brutal, than man is equally so. There is no resolution to this contest, although the effort consumes us. Man's conquest of Nature is itself a linguistic hallucination.....a task something akin to biting one's own teeth...for how can one conquer that which he is?

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