herd animals

Herd Animals

Reflections after watching Werner Herzog’s Stroszek


People like me, it’s best they don’t lock us up. It’s best they let us roam, just don’t give us too much space. And don’t let us play in the game, but every now and then feign concern. Any token gesture will do.

I apologize if hearing this makes you anxious. It probably sounds like there are dangers lurking you can’t detect. How can you recognize people like me? And what would happen if you don’t make those token gestures? Will we infringe on your entitlement? Will the balance tip?

Don’t fret. You’ll do what you have to automatically. Just stick close together, especially when darkness falls. And keep an eye open for anything in your midst that has one toe too many and a look of longing. Such creatures can be nudged to the herd’s fringes over time.

Out there on the fringes, we form a spiritual Van Allen Belt. We absorb the impact of gamma rays and bolder-size meteorites, the paralyzing sting of absolute zero. We’re what allows you to dream. We don’t dream ourselves, we never sleep. We’re the sacrificial lambs you butcher on the Winter Solstice.

A small word of warning: If you panic and lock us down, we’ll melt your illusions into molten nightmare. You know this is true, even though you can never admit it. That too is factored into what you so proudly call your will to survive.

We’re the ones who hold the mirror that you gaze into. Glance to the edges and you’ll see the tips of our gnarled and blackened fingers.

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