EXTRA LETTER: Werner Herzog's Christmas Life Hacks
December 18, 2014
Christmas time. Mistletoe and pain.
As is generally the case with most seasons of festivity, yuletide, or as we Bavarians call it Vashtalnacht, troubles my soul with equal amounts of anguish, bile and buoyant regret.
But I have established a few tricks and shortcuts to make every Christmas just a little bit less grizzly... man. (That, believe it or not, is my little joke).
I steadfastly refuse to have any living thing within my dwelling as it represents to me the full abhorrence and blighted ambiguity of the natural world. So instead of a christmas tree I have a stout well in my living quarters - filled with algaed swamp water and the cries of lost children. The well is not decorated.
I do bedeck the exterior of my dwelling with a certain decoration. I take a long string of festive lights and use them to spell out the phrase 'Non Est Spes Tantum Timor' - which, as you will know, is the Latin phrase meaning ‘There is no hope. Only Spite’.
To be thrifty, creative and to add a personal touch to the proceedings, I always construct my own Christmas crackers, using a discarded cardboard tube and some gaily printed wrapping paper. These I fill with salt. The powdered killer of biological life. Instead of a joke I cram inside a shred of parchment onto which I scrawl a few lines concerning the futility of existence. When pulled, the crackers make no sound, though I encourage the participants to release a plaintive ‘WHY’ as they are ripped asunder.
I do not trouble my children with fantastic tales concerning Santa Claus - but instead regale them with stories about Fata Slaughta, a hideous, gnarled, Bavarian wood goblin who has hooves for eyes. This beast does not deliver gifts but instead delivers warnings about impending injury. The children grow their fingernails long all through the winter months to ward off his diabolical advances and dark songs from the forest.
Rather than turkey, I have always favoured the flesh of a goose. This I eat raw. The subsequent stomach pain is my pudding.
I find most Christmas songs to be far too uplifting and jubilant to be palatable at such a tragic time of year. Instead I repeatedly play a novelty recording featuring varied dogs barking out the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’. This I slow down significantly until every canine yelp sounds like a discordant banshee howl from the deepest recesses of hades. Men have cried at its volume.
I have a tin of Quality Street. Inside, no sweeties reside. Instead, lift the lid and you will encounter a small albino gecko. The gecko is dead.
Christmas is also a time when we must think of others. Each year, on Christmas Eve, I visit an infirmary where children are treated, near to my dwelling. Once there I inform the invalided youth that all of us are dying all the time - it’s just some are better at it than others. Then I present them with ashes.
Finally, I’m afraid I must make comment on that most vile of seasonal practices. Of course I speak of the blasphemy that is egged nog. How can such a beverage be alive in this world? It detonates all faith in a higher power and debases all truth. I have devised my own Christmas drink, seeped from a mulch made from crushed fallen leaves, soil and Vimto. This is then mulled in a tainted pail. A single drop once rendered a local strongman obsolete.
I hope these Christmas tips help to make your yuletide slightly less hideous. Pain is my marrow. Seasons greetings. I will never trouble you again.
[This was performed at the first We Could Send Letters night and probably makes much more sense to hear it than to read it - especially in my Werner voice which slightly resembles McBain from The Simpsons - but here it is anyway.]