Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, June 27, 2011

Godspede You Crazy White Emperor!

Kathryn Bigelow
I encountered this unexpected piece by Kathryn Bigelow, filmmaker and conceptual artist, on my way to see the great Les Blank documentary, Burden of Dreams, about the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcaraldo, at MOMA. You see it at the base of the escalator just before you enter the theater. It's ironically appropriate for the film, which describes the nearly insurmountable and sometimes self-imposed challenges Herzog faced in making the film, including, famously, getting a steamboat up a 40 degree incline and between two rivers. So, next time you're on the BQE, or your own personal journey metaphor, just be glad you're not pulling a 360-ton boat behind you.

I have always thought "Godspeed" was a wish for a speedy journey and, in part, it is. A check on the derivation turns up a broader meaning: from the Middle English, "God spede [prosper] you." I still like my naive idea of God speeding along over hill and dale.

(The title of this post refers, of course, to the recently reunited Canadian band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.)

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