Advertisement

Postscript, Posthuman: Werner Herzog’s “Crocodile” at the End of the World

  • Dominic O’Key
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

This chapter explores posthumanism, inscription, technics, and futurity in Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010). Specifically, I discuss the relationship between the film’s preoccupation with paleoart and the birth of humanity on the one side and its representation of the nonhuman animal on the other. I argue, first, that Cave of Forgotten Dreams ends with an animal biography. Herzog’s postscript pivots away from his film’s documentary style and narrates a speculative fiction: a posthuman future in which supposedly mutated albino crocodiles outlive humanity. And I argue, second, that this animal biography discloses the technical interpenetration of human and nonhuman life. By putting Herzog’s film in conversation with the work of Georges Bataille, Bernard Stiegler, and Jacques Derrida, I demonstrate how even this posthuman postscript is not post-script. The “script” of humanity survives its own destruction and lives on in the irradiated bodies of Herzog’s crocodiles.

Keywords

Werner Herzog Posthumanism Technics Documentary Georges Bataille Bernard Stiegler 

Works Cited

  1. Adorno, Theodor W. “The Essay as Form.” In Notes to Literature, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen, 3–23. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. ———. “Theories on the Origin of Art: Excursus.” In Aesthetic Theory, edited by Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor, 325–331. London and New York: Continuum, 2002.Google Scholar
  3. Ames, Eric. Ferocious Reality: Documentary According to Werner Herzog. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  4. Bataille, Georges. The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture. Edited and translated by Stuart Kendall and Michelle Kendall. New York: Zone, 2009.Google Scholar
  5. Blanchot, Maurice. “The Birth of Art.” In Friendship, translated by Elizabeth Rottenberg, 1–11. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  6. Buchanan, Lucas A. “Kambara taraina sp. nov. (Crocodylia, Crocodyloidea), a New Eocene mekosuchine from Queensland, Australia, and a Revision of the Genus.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29 (2009): 473–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bullock, Marcus P. “Germany’s Lost Son, Germany’s Dark Dream: Werner Herzog, Ecstasy, and Einfühlung.” Discourse 36 (2014): 232–260.Google Scholar
  8. Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Directed by Werner Herzog. UK: IFC Films, 2010. DVD.Google Scholar
  9. Clottes, Jean. Return to Chauvet Cave: Excavating the Birthplace of Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 2003.Google Scholar
  10. Corrigan, Timothy. The Essay Film: From Montaigne to Marker. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  11. Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  12. Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  13. Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination. Translated by Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  14. ———. “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives).” Translated by Catherine Porter and Philip Lewis. Diacritics 14 (1984): 20–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dicker, Barnaby and Nick Lee. “‘But the Image Wants Danger’: Georges Bataille, Werner Herzog, and Poetical Response to Paleoart.” Time and Mind 5 (2012): 33–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. La Ferme aux Crocodiles. “La Ferme aux Crocodiles.” http://eng.lafermeauxcrocodiles.com. Accessed August 18, 2015.
  17. Herzog, Werner. “The Minnesota Declaration.” In Ferocious Reality: Documentary According to Werner Herzog, by Eric Ames, ix–x. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  18. ———. “Why Being rather than Nothing?” Framework 3 (1975): 24–27.Google Scholar
  19. Herzog, Werner and Paul Cronin. Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Faber and Faber, 2014.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, Christopher. “Science in Three Dimensions: Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” Modern Language Review 109 (2014): 915–930.Google Scholar
  21. Koepnick, Lutz. “Herzog’s Cave: On Cinema’s Unclaimed Pasts and Forgotten Futures.” The Germanic Review 88 (2013): 271–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lippit, Akira Mizuta. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  23. Lord, Catherine. “Only Connect: Ecology Between ‘Late’ Latour and Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” Global Discourse 6 (2016): 119–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morton, Timothy. “From Modernity to the Anthropocene: Ecology and Art in the Age of 28 Asymmetry.” International Social Science Journal 63 (2012): 39–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pettitt, Paul and Paul Bahn. “An Alternative Chronology for the Art of Chauvet Cave.” Antiquity 89 (2015): 542–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rayns, Tony. “Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Director: Werner Herzog.” Sight and Sound April (2011): 52.Google Scholar
  27. Sheehan, Paul. “Against the Image: Herzog and the Troubling Politics of the Screen Animal.” SubStance 117 (2008): 117–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stiegler, Bernard. Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Translated by Richard Beardsworth and George Collins. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  29. ———. Technics and Time, 3: Cinematic Time and the Question of Malaise. Translated by Stephen Barker. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  30. Stiegler, Bernard and Peter Hallward. “Technics of Decision: An Interview.” Translated by Sean Gaston. Angelaki 8 (2003): 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wickman, Forrest. “Fact-checking Herzog’s ‘Ecstatic Truth’: Are Those Alligators Really Radioactive Mutants?” Slate Magazine, May 13, 2011. http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2011/05/13/fact_checking_herzog_s_ecstatic_truth_are_those_alligators_really_radioactive_mutants.html. Accessed May 3, 2017.
  32. Wolfe, Cary. What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.Google Scholar
  33. Wylie, Dan. Crocodile. London: Reaktion, 2013.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominic O’Key
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations