Job Application

Henry [Kaiser] told me about the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program of the National Science Foundation, to which anybody can apply. This was fortunate, as not being a pilot, scientist, mechanic, or chef I had little to contribute wtfto the community of Antarctica. I made a strange, wild application, explaining that though I was curious about insanity among mammals and, specifically, derangement in penguins, I wasn’t going to make a film about the animals. My application made no secret of the fact that I was interested in certain species of ants that keep flocks of plant lice as slaves, milking them for droplets of glucose, and wondered why a sophisticated animal like a chimpanzee doesn’t utilise inferior creatures, for example straddling a goat and riding off into the sunset. To my surprise, the National Science Foundation invited me down. There are Nobel Prize winners lined up hoping to go to Antarctica, so I have no idea why my application was successful. Once I finished the film, but before I screened it to anyone, the Foundation told me they hoped it could be used as an educational tool. I told them perhaps in a poetry class, but probably not a science one. 

—Werner Herzog


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When I Worked

May 2015
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