This clip is from the end of the documentary, Burden of Dreams (Les Blank and Maureen Gosling, 1982). In it, Werner Herzog tries to answer why art is so vital and so absurd, and what kind of sheer artist hubris is necessary to say so. In his face and his falsely casual body language, we see his pride and slight embarrassment mingle.Herzog’s testament to art is echoed in Bernard Stiegler’s “The Tongue of the Eye: What “Art History” Means,” which I recently read in the very good Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media (edited by Jacques Khalip and Robert MItchell, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011). Stiegler writes,
To paint, to write (music, literature), to perform (music, theater), to stage and to install, is to take care of oneself–and consequently of others, and of the realm of others. The practices constituing this care, and that give acces to noetic organs (including the memory and brain that connect them), have been destroyed by the proletarization of the consumer subjected to the automatisms of a de-sublimated unconscious. This tends to make us return en masse–and as audiences–to the prenoetic, losing the ability to look [savoir regarder], trans-individuated by the ability to do [savoir-faire] and the ability to live [savoir-vivre] transmitted to us by painting and, broadly, by culture. For the culture industries and the psycho-technologies that they develop destroy the organological circuits supporting the processes of transindividuation (229).