Tonight at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco, Werner Herzog told his audience that we were all living fictitiously—an amalgam of various presentations, none of which were entirely authentically ourselves.
He also noted that he did not believe in the concept of the present, going on to illustrate how the idea of the present is asymptotic with a metaphor from one of his recent books, The Twilight World: A soldier lifts his boot from the mud. The remaining print represents the past and where the foot will fall represents the future. The arc of every point in between, as the foot travels up and back down again, is what is imagined to be the present, though undefinably so.
Obviously, authenticity and temporality of the self are not new topics. So it felt almost stupid to listen to this guy simplify them to roaring applause.
A patchwork of fictions might as well make up reality as we know it, in which case, reality is fiction and by constantly performing versions of ourselves, we are being authentic. And the present needn’t be defined by a single static unit, but perhaps instead a tumbling aura of energy to which our collective consciousness seeds credibility.
Though Herzog is a legend, and downplaying his wise interpretation of profound concepts is akin to dismissing Picasso’s simple sketches as easy—in both cases, the autors earned their salt.
Quick tangent: Do you ever use a phrase and know in your heart it makes some sort of sense but have no ever loving clue how it weaseled its way into your mind hole? The salt phrase sounded right and I could rationalize the logic behind it with my cursory historical knowledge of the ancient value of salt, but some other sector of my brain questioned whether I made it up and the reader would have to either assume I know what I’m talking about or tally a bullshit point and decide whether to keep reading based on the veracity of my cerebral spewing.
Speaking of the present, my cat whose fur has spilled onto my bodily contour as waves lap the shore has decided to gaze up at me lovingly from an unfathomable slumber. I looked into his eyes and was reminded of the susceptible nature of writing—that producing an essay such as this cannot be completed entirely in an entranced state. And it made me think back to Herzog and tonight’s conversation and how mad I was at his own tired fiction. Here he was in the flesh, and I had to listen to the performative facade of his celebrity.
I really wish he had messed up somehow. Or been put on the spot. Or been hurled into some unknown, having to navigate on pure instinct. I include tangents and asterisks in my own writing because I want the production to be part of the product. The viscerality of reality should counterbalance the pretense of my uncertain, half-baked, poorly prosed, lazily unedited ideas. I want to offer the glimpse behind the balderdash, because I yearn for it in every piece of perfectly-polished media I guiltily consume.
That’s it for tonight. I lost my momentum. Katya stopped snoozing and summoned the popcorn. Pepper’s tufty tide has receded into an ocean of blankets, away from my typing elbow. It’s past midnight, as usual, and my daily regret for lack of a diligent sleep schedule has surfaced. I’m just glad to get something new up on the site to push the porn piece down a chronological notch—I was riding on that reflection for too long and need to make way for the next escapade. Until then, my drafts folder is fucking massive.
May tomorrow’s fiction turn instantaneously into the past with great vigor.