August 2, 2016

When everything has already happened

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog, 2016). Fata Morgana is a long time ago now, and Werner Herzog is a very different kind of figure who works much closer to the mainstream, with eccentricities that are now considered to be quirks, but his internet documentary Lo and Behold reminded me of Fata Morgana more than anything else: it appears before us as a creation and destruction myth, narrated in numbered chapters that are reminiscent of the mythological chapter headings in Fata Morgana. There is the same mix of portentousness and black humour and a soundtrack, relying heavily on Wagner, that suggests both the start and the end of time at once. Mythological time. Herzog is drawn to images of catastrophe and collapse, even here. Where many would see only the Utopian and democratic promise of the internet, and the convenient ease of online shopping, travel and communication and the improved quality of life, he thinks about black holes and sun spots, destructive storms and the end of mankind, and finds a tranquil beauty in imagining that a deserted Chicago means we have all left for Mars.