Herzog in the Jungle : Conquests of The Useless

June 24, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

Due out soon on Eco Press is Herzog’s “Conquests of The Useless,” a book of Herzog’s journal entries kept in the jungle while he filmed the infamous Fitzcarraldo. I came across some excerpts in the Spring 2009 Paris Review and thought I would include an excerpt here.

SANTA MARIA DE NIEVA, 14 OCTOBER 1979

Seen from the air, the junge below looked like kinky hair, seemingly peaceful, but that is deceptive, because in its inner being nature is never peaceful. Even when it is denatured, when it is tamed, it strikes back at its tamers and reduces them to pets, rosy pigs, which then melt like fat in a skillet. This brings to mind the image, the great metaphor, of the pig in Palermo, which I head had fallen into a sewer shaft: it lived down there for two years and continued to grow, surviving on the garbage that people threw down the shaft, and when they hauled the pig out, after it had completely bocked the drain, it was almost white, enormously fat, and had taken on the form of the shaft, and when they hauled the pig out, after it had completely blocked the drain, it was almost white, enormously fat, and had taken on the form of the shaft. It had turned into a kind of monumental, whitish grub, rectangular, cubic, and wobbly, an immense hunk of fat that coule move only its mouth to eat, while its legs had shrunk and retracted into the body fat.

****

also this is just one of my favorite Herzog clips.

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