S. Walker: Adequate Images

In this video clip (see below) Werner Herzog presents the view that people of the modern world “lack adequate images”. In a world of beverage advertisements, sitcoms, and courtroom dramas it’s hard to find forms capable of speaking to a person’s higher faculties. The role of the poet today is, perhaps, to address this need for adequate images. The poet tears away the hollow and lifeless forms to reveal the secret beating heart of every matter. Where some people may see unique instance, the poet sees universal law. There is, I believe, an intense general desire to attain proximity to the extremities of human existence. In our modern condition we are separated from these extremities by comfort and by distraction. Though we have a desperate curiousity to experience eternal joy and derelict suffering we are cushioned from these experiences by mindless and comforting images. Don’t worry about life and death and happines. Keep your mind on the spinning wheel of money or the disasters overseas. Today the poet is the only one brave enough to ask “America what is this river of stars that runs through us all?” (from Noelle Kocot’s “Poem for the End of Time”). The poet will make “a harvest of loneliness and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos” (from Jack Gilbert’s “The Manager of Incidentals”). From the poet’s harvest we may finally receive the images Herzog desires. The poet will take his/her sincere, probing abstraction and will perhaps present to the people the adequate forms necessary to satisfy their eternal desire.


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