Wednesday, May 20, 2009

lingua blanca

We watched Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World tonight. D called the filmed sites "little geek villages in the middle of the tundra." Which they were. But the people were striking for more than their nerdy ramblings on neutrinos and seal milk proteins: these were wild people, struggling to preserve some sort of wisdom, articulate, unusual, fierce, so clear in the eyes, so unbelievably alive in the environment.

So again, it seems Herzog has widened his lens to show something bigger--hilarious humans, a bizarre sampling, who seem to thrive in these "outposts of Antarctica, the kind of people you might expect would gravitate to the edge of existence--the curious, the oddball, the wanderers who've run out of other places to explore." Of course the awesome landscapes are humbling, reminders of how infinitesimal we are and how perilous the situation is for our species.

In the midst of all the interviews with these "professional dreamers," these squirrely nutjobs who can't stop wandering and wondering, who end up locked in close quarters deep in the antarctic, Herzog offers this up. And since I heard it and replayed it four or five times, I can now think of nothing else. “In our efforts to preserve endangered species, we seem to overlook something equally important. To me, it is a sign of a deeply disturbed civilization where treehuggers and whalehuggers in their weirdness are acceptable while no one embraces the last speakers of a language.” Chilling, one might say.