Werner Herzog and the Violence of Nature

My output has been a little slow the last two days due to a one two allergy punch of a high mold count and what is known in Texas as Cedar Fever.  I love nature, but sometimes she hates my shit!  I am a big supporter of protecting the environment.  I find the natural world fascinating, beautiful, and full of mystery, but I am under no illusions about the nature of nature.  Nature and evolution are a nonstop story of things killing other things.  Although I love to spend time in the outdoors I know that if I had to survive in the outdoors I would probably freeze, get dehydration, starve to death, drown, be eaten, or meet any other number of unfortunate ends.  When I went to snorkel at the great barrier reef last year they gave us a lecture before we left the boat about what could hurt you if you touched it.  The list was so long I just remember thinking, “well just don’t touch ANYTHING!”  The Australian beach and rainforest were also full of what not to do lists.  When I was at the beach on the edge of the rainforest there were all kinds of saltwater crocodile warnings.  Thinking about this tonight reminded me of Werner Herzog’s speech above.  This speech is from the documentary Burden of Dreams, which is about him making the movie Fitzcarraldo with Klaus Kinski.


Art and Nature

Is there any art in your life that makes you sad?  It could make you sad because it reminds you of something that you went through in your life.  Or it could make you sad because of the qualities that are inherent in the work.  Maybe you know what the artist was going through when the piece was written.  I was listening to Warren Zevon’s “The Wind” the other day, an album made while he was dying of terminal cancer, and thinking about what a struggle it must have been to create such a great work under those circumstances.  At another time in my life I watched the movie “Lost in Translation” and felt a sense of emptiness in my life that was reflected by the characters on the screen.  I’m someone that loves to read, watch movies, and listen to music.  I grew up playing football in a small town, but somewhere along the line I turned into a total art freak.

The older I get the more I’ve come to see the greatest work of art as nature itself.  Whether you believe in a creator or not, I think you can view nature in artistic terms.  This is not a new idea by any stretch, but it was to me a couple of years ago.  Rarely do you see anything in art that can match a perfect sunset.  Last year I saw an electrical storm at sea that made the Sistine Chapel look like a crayon drawing.

Not only can nature be beautiful but think of how perfect it is in the aesthetic sense.  Left to its own devices it’s a perfectly functioning system.  Think of all the various parts of an ecosystem and how they compliment each other and depend on one another.  Think of the cycle of the seasons.  Think of a mist rising through the rain forest like some kind of primordial fever dream.

Many artists have used the term “art for art’s sake”.  This is a term that is used to declare that art has intrinsic value in and of itself, divorced from any moral functions.  However in nature we see art that has purpose as well as beauty.  In the natural world we see how beauty is almost never divorced from some greater purpose.

I think it’s immensely sad that we are destroying such a place filled with striking beauty and perfect aesthetic creation.  If you believe in God then why would you want to destroy his handiwork?  If you don’t then why would you want to mess with the perfect order of the natural world?  It’s a place that’s natural cycle runs on such precision that it could put the finest clock makers to shame.

In closing I want to quote the last two lines of a song that always gets to me emotionally for the truth that it contains.  It’s called Black and White and it’s by Jackson Browne:

Time running out, time running out