Born from bombs, walled from war by mountains, Herzog pulled himself fully-formed from beneath a thick layer of glass shards and brick debris. Almost immediately he invented breathing. Soon, and without being exposed to prior demonstration, walking. Very late in life, at the age of eight, he crossed the Alps to Bavaria’s only movie house where he would make with his hands the reverse of most masks, pressing his fingers over his eyes—his middle digits swirling constellations onto the black back of his eyelids, his pinkies plugging his nostrils, his thumbs deafening his ears. In this way, he was guarded from education, guarded from influence. In this way, it would be Herzog who would pull Murnau from beneath the glass shards and brick debris. It would be his own tiny town of the midgets that would inspire Todd Browning’s Freaks. Herzog, the Father Grimm. He would likewise stare at and abstain from using telephones, forks, tanks, or any other instruments of civilization. His peers would sing out “Ein Kraftwagen! Ein Kraftwagen!” and he would turn back to face the ruins. “Ein Vater! Ein Vater!” and the city he alone possessed. I still don’t think you realize how remote the place truly was, or the thickness of the brick debris for that matter. Can you in today’s world even understand the idea of 1940s remoteness? By very I mean abysmally, I mean impregnably, supernaturally, I mean very very very. For Americans it sounds totally bizarre. He invented chewing gum so we could sit at the slope of the mountain and love it together, and I suggested to Herzog that maybe a contradiction-based aesthetic is a way to avoid and ridicule the ironic/genuine dichotomy. He responded by walking around the border of Germany. It’s one big film he’s always worked on and—I add this for the fun of you— the production is the production and—I add this for the fun of you—there is no film history.
Joe Sacksteder teaches creative writing at Eastern Michigan University and the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. Other Herzog sound poems have appeared on The Collagist, textsound, and Sleeping Fish (with video!). Punctum Records will release the whole 16-track album, Fugitive Traces, later this year under the artist name The Young Vish. Recent page-based publications include Passages North, Fourteen Hills, Booth, and Rio Grande Review.