A continuación: la entrada de “The meaning of life” de la revista Esquire, dedicada a Werner Herzog. Para quien no sepa: “The meaning of life” es una sección de Esquire en la que, después de entrevistar a distintas personalidades (directores de cine, médicos célebres, actores, etcétera), un colaborador de la revista edita las respuestas en forma de breves oraciones. Esta, la de Herzog, es la mejor de todas. Una verdadera joya (con la que, por cierto, coincido).
Facts do not interest me much. Facts are for accountants. Truth creates illumination.
I know the heart of men. It may sound pretentious, but it’s true.
Not a good question. You are trying to deduce if I am obsessed like the subjects of my films. Let’s not get into that. I am a professional person. Others would not do what I do, but I am trying to be a good soldier of cinema.
There is no small talk in the Sahara.
You look at the footage of Timothy Treadwell, you look into the abyss of human nature.
We are overconcerned with the well-being of whales, panda bears, and tree frogs. But cultures are dying with incredible speed. There are six thousand languages still alive, many of them spoken by very few speakers. By the end of the century, there may be only 10 percent left. I met an aborigine in Australia who was eighty years old and the only speaker of his language. He was considered mute because he had nobody left to talk to. He is certainly dead now.
Los Angeles is the city with the most substance in the United States–cultural substance. There is a competition between New York and Los Angeles, but New York only consumes culture and borrows it from Europe. Things get done in Los Angeles.
I will not become a citizen of a country that has capital punishment. It is a question of principle.
More than in any other historical epoch, our sense of reality is severely challenged. It is the Internet, Photoshop, digital effects in cinema, video games–tools that have arrived with instant impact. It is like warfare. For centuries, warfare was the same: the medieval knight with a sword in combat. Suddenly he was confronted with firearms and overnight was never the same. It is now a moment of the same magnitude for us.
School has not given me anything. I have always been suspicious of teachers. I do not know why.
I do not get lost. Sense of direction is a missing skill among modern men.
Tourism is a sin. Traveling on foot is a virtue. The moment people understand that you have come on foot and are trying to engage and understand them, there is an immediate change in attitude. On foot, no one chases you away or does not allow you to use their resources. They tell you stories they have not told anyone else.
If I opened a film school, I would make everyone earn their tuition themselves by working. Not in an office–out where there is real life. Earn it as a bouncer in a sex club or as a warden in a lunatic asylum. And travel on foot for three months. And do physical, combative sports, like boxing. That makes you more of a filmmaker than three years of film school. Pura vida, as the Mexicans say.
It is significant that neither the Sherpas nor any of the other mountain people ever thought about climbing the Himalayas until bored English aristocrats in the nineteenth century came in. You do not have to be on the summit of Mount Everest to appreciate it. To speak of “conquering” a mountain is not right.
I won’t answer that. The meaning of life does not belong in a magazine. A magazine should know its limitations.