One of the core themes in Werner Herzog’s work is that the universe is a cold and unflinching place that is ruled by nothing but madness. The natural order of things is chaos, and any attempt by man to forge some stability in that chaos is a pointless endeavor. Also, happiness is an illusion. Also, working with Klaus Kinski is the worst.
Anyway, with Herzog’s internet documentary Lo And Behold set to be released in August and his online film class available on MasterClass this summer, The Verge sat down with the legendary filmmaker to pick his brain about technology and how it has impacted our lives, which is to say that they asked him about Pokémon Go.
Naturally, Herzog doesn’t know what it is, but he does seem vaguely open to the concept of a Pokémon. The Verge’s Emily Yoshida showed him the game and explained the basic augmented reality setup, with Herzog saying that he “made his first phone call at age 17” and doesn’t own a cell phone “for cultural reasons.” Then, without Yoshida even bringing up the battling aspect of the game, Herzog asked if there would be “violence” when “two persons in search of a Pokémon” bump into each other on a street corner. The next exchange is worth quoting in its entirety:
“Physically, do they fight?”
“Do they bite each other’s hands? Do they punch each other?”
“The people or the…”
“Yes, there must be real people if it’s a real encounter with someone else.”
Herzog isn’t especially interested in comprehending the game beyond that point, mostly because he’d never use a cell phone anyway (and he was just in it for the hand-biting), but when Yoshida uses the game’s popularity to suggest that augmented reality—as opposed to virtual reality—is easy for people to accept into their lives, Herzog shoots the theory down. “These things are very ephemeral,” he explains, adding “they come and go.” (He’s not talking about Pokémon Go, though, because we’ll obviously all still be playing that in a few months, right?)