this morning I made a miscalculation by putting on My Best Fiend as something to watch while having a coffee and eggs. it was personally brutal to see some of the same strange places* I went to in Peru a few years ago in a happier moment, but I needed to stop watching 90 Day Fiance for a hot minute and turn on my brain a bit.
there’s the infamous story of Herzog brandishing a gun to get Aguirre: the Wrath of God finished, amongst many other production horrors. watching Kinski melt down over and over again in My Best Fiend, sometimes literally writhing in mud, I kept thinking back on my own burnout and feelings about my work and my field. is there a difference between the mad genius of Kinski and the grueling production ambitions of Herzog and the “brilliant asshole” and tech crunch?
first of all, I want to get it out of the way that Fitzcarraldo has more cultural value than a b2b app. I don’t care what kind of argument you can make about your KPIs and global impact. I’ve made those arguments to myself when working on these things, and it’s a crock. and if your brilliant asshole is just optimizing infrastructure, do you really feel any awe? get back to me when he writes a song that can make people dance.
a film also has a discrete end. you wrap, you edit, you release. you can be the sort of madman that spends a lifetime trying to revisit their past (looking at u Dan O’Bannon & Dark Star), but you don’t have to be. there’s a touching story from Eva Mattes in My Best Fiend that centers around the last day of filming for Woyzeck that gives even Kinski’s mania a tenderness. the thing is finished, you cry, everyone moves on.
you can’t actually do that in tech anymore. everything is an endless product roadmap, everything can be optimized more, the project only ends if you run out of runway or get bought. don’t forget, you’re here forever, and that brilliant asshole is always sitting across from you in the open office plan. I don’t think I can live like that anymore. I need the finality, the narrative that a life can be discrete explorations that slide into each other instead of the endless grind.
it just has to be done! it can be broken, and not what you thought it would be. and maybe you gave and used up too much of yourself. but it’s done. I cannot wait to be done with this game.
* this was partly inspired by listening to an old episode of The Flop House. the hosts joke a bit about Herzog’s bleak view of nature, but I will personally confirm that the Peruvian rainforest is a particularly eldritch horror and he is not wrong.