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Spoofs & Satire

Be Not Afraid

Between rescuing Joaquin Phoenix from a car wreck and dodging bullets during an interview, German director Werner Herzog leads a dramatic life. According to his private diaries, we shouldn’t be surprised.

German director Werner Herzog was shot by a crazed fan during a recent interview with the BBC The 63-year-old was chatting with movie journalist Mark Kermode about his new film, the documentary Grizzly Man, when a sniper opened fire with an air rifle. “Herzog, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, said, ‘Oh, someone is shooting at us. We must go.’…He just carried on with the interview while bleeding quietly in his boxer shorts.” An unrepentant Herzog insisted, “It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid.” —Feb. 3, 2006

Dear Diary: Calisthenics, shower, and breakfast. Then I water the garden because it is dry. After the water I put fertilizer into the soil. I feel the flowers growing stronger the more I talk to them. Accidentally with my trowel I kill a flower. The world is chaos. I am unsuccessful at crying.

Dear Diary: Today my car is stolen from the driveway. I am not surprised.

Dear Diary: Work all day, a short break, and then dinner. Routines please me because they put order into the day; without order, there is chaos and violence. But for dinner I make a cheese sandwich and I hate it. I want to spit on it and see what it does. But I eat it anyway. Everyone dies, but for now I must live.

Dear Diary: Because my new film is coming into theaters, I am with a studio executive this evening for dinner. Outside the restaurant are trees with lights in the branches. This is popular in Los Angeles. Most people, I think, find them pretty. But all I can do is stare, all I can think of is the night I watched a Sri Lankan family who lived in a tree-house burn to death. It is a moment for crying, but not for me. I remember watching the babies on fire and not crying. I proceed to coat-check.

The dinner specials include scallops. “I will have the scallops,” I tell the waiter, and they are fine, they do not hurt me.

The executive asks if the new film is like Desperate Housewives, a TV program about women who enjoy sex. I have been raped by life many times. I think the waiter is shocked to hear this.

Dear Diary: When Klaus Kinski and I made Fitzcarraldo, I had trouble maintaining my composure. At one point I told Kinski I would shoot him if he did not cooperate. This comes to mind this evening because I buy a pound of spinach leaves for dinner, but when I cook the spinach, it reduces, and there is only enough for one serving. I have four guests. I should not be surprised, but I am.

Dear Diary: In the mornings I like to dress quickly. Today in my underpants I find a hundred dollar bill. I put it in the garbage.

Dear Diary: To pass time, I look through my old diaries. This entry is from my eighth year:

The classroom upsets me. None of the boys are nice to me, and one hits me in the face. I tell him, “You are hitting me, I must go,” and I walk home, but I do not pity myself. They will die, too.

Dear Diary: I have a cellular phone plan that includes “whenever minutes.” This is a chuckle to me, because no minutes are “whenever”—they are precisely now, and in fact they are already gone.

Dear Diary: My girlfriend calls and asks me to a coffee. Her first name is Thea. I do not know her last name. She does not arrive. The gentleman in the shop puts cream in the coffee even when I say, I do not want the cream. I order a sandwich and they give me a chocolate. This is beautiful to me, this chaos in the Starbucks. All is well.

Dear Diary: My sister Hedda is a kindergarten teacher near my house. She calls me because she is sick with the flu—but not so bad that she will die, yet—and asks me to be the teacher in her place.

I consent. I enjoy being around children. Children are not dishonest and we have a very happy day together. During our snack time is when we have our conversations. Hopefully I do not fail them.

CHILD: What is paper made of?
HERZOG (ME): I do not know.

CHILD: I have a dog and a cat named Sabrina, my sister’s name is Sabrina too but she’s not a cat.
HERZOG: Is the cat named after the sister?
CHILD: No.
HERZOG: Is the sister named after the cat?
CHILD: No.
HERZOG: How old is the sister?
CHILD: I’m five.
HERZOG: You can die at any age.
CHILD: Pickles is my dog.
HERZOG: Who is Pickles named after?
CHILD: Cheese goes on the cracker!
HERZOG: I am named after nothing.
CHILD: Cheese goes on the cracker!

CHILD: How many cars fit on a plane?
HERZOG: None.
CHILD: Why?
HERZOG: It is a trick question. You are trying to deceive me.

CHILD: Why do I have to give Michael back his hat?
HERZOG: Because it is his. Give it to him.
CHILD: But it’s mine.
HERZOG: Then do not give it to him. Keep it. No one cares.
CHILD: Where’s teacher?
HERZOG: If there is a God, even he does not care, but there is not a God.

CHILD: Why do I have to eat the cracker?
HERZOG: You do not have to eat the cracker.
CHILD: Teacher makes us eat the crackers.
HERZOG: I am not Teacher, I am Herzog.
CHILD: I hate crackers.
HERZOG. Herzog hates crackers too.

Dear Diary: This is another old diary entry, from university years:

My new girlfriend’s name is Elvsted. That is her family name. I do not know her first name. I ask her to the toffee shop this afternoon and she does not meet me. I order a chocolate. Instead they serve me a sandwich. All is well.

Dear Diary: In the mall I pass a clothing store. A colorful T-shirt is on a mannequin in the window. The message on the T-shirt says “No Fear.” I break through the window with my hands and shred the T-shirt into pieces. I am not being made fun of by this clothing.