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Small Post Inspired by a Werner Herzog quote

Hilary_Brashear's picture

I was reading an interview with German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, in the most recent issue of GQ and Herzog said something that made me think about our discussion of the “efficiency of communication” we had on Monday. Herzog said, “I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century. A major, major mistake…explaining and scrutinizing the human soul, into all its niches and crooks and abysses and dark corners, is not doing good to humans. We have to have our dark corners and the unexplained. We will become uninhabitable in a way an apartment will become uninhabitable of you illuminate every single dark corner and under the table and wherever- you cannot live in a house like that anymore.” This thought reflects Grobstien’s idea that you need ambiguity in language for meaningful communication. His recognition of the necessity to leave things unexplained also harkens back to Barad’s “indeterminitness.” I found his metaphor of an uninhabitable apartment that has no dark corners particularly evocative. Perhaps part of what creates close human ties is not how much we know about a person but what we don't know. Perhaps we create long lasting relationships because we keep trying to find a persons "dark corners." It is in that search the meaningful relationships are created, not in the actual discovery. 

This statement also made me think about the theme of perfection in Tron. The ultimate message in the film was pretty clear: “perfection” entails “imperfections,” not a superficial homogeneity. Herzog implies a similar idea with his call for keeping the “niches and crooks and abysses and dark corners” of humanity dark. The darkness is our imperfections that also make us human. Understanding them will not make us better humans but rather turn us into “uninhabitable” beings. I don’t know if I agree with Herzog but his statement did provide me with some thought snacks and I thought I would share it in case other people found it provoking.    




vgaffney's picture

Herzog and Chorost

 I think this quote by Herzog is really interesting, and, like you, I’m not sure I entirely agree with him. Nevertheless, your initial response to the quote reminded me of our discussion with Michael Chorost and the readings from his book. The notion that “psychology and self-reflection” is a catastrophic mistake for humans reminded me of Chorost’s World Wide Web of interconnecting minds. Herzog’s notion of illuminating the “dark corners” and, consequently, perhaps knowing or realizing too much evokes my initial response to Chorost’s idea of an interconnected web of minds via the internet. In a similar sense, I’m still wary of such interconnectivity, and think—as Herzog does in terms of “psychology” and “self-reflection”—that perhaps such a web of interaction—such an increase in our knowledge of these “dark corners—would be deleterious to humanity. Chorost does claim that we will never be able to “experience the world exactly the way another brain does”, yet I feel myself resisting the extent of the knowledge that such access—albeit limited—would give us to others’ thoughts and emotions. There are, perhaps, positive aspects of such interaction, but I do think that Herzog’s quote interestingly evokes some of the potential negative aspects of communication.

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