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Hitchcock’s Cryptonymies: Volume II. War Machines

Tom Cohen
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Hitchcock’s Cryptonymies
    Book Description:

    This second volume of Hitchcock’s Cryptonomies presents the director’s works as a radical collage of images and absences, letters and numbers, citations and sounds that together mark Hitchcock as a knowing figure who was entirely aware of his—and cinema’s—place at the dawn of a global media culture, as well as of the cinema’s revolutionary impact on perception and memory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9491-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Hitchcock’s Esperanto
    (pp. 1-10)

    Can “Hitchcock” today—as if to say, in the afterlife of cinema—can be seen as something of a cipher event in the still–evolving histories of teletechnics?¹ Jean–Luc Godard speaks of a Hitchcock who, at the proliferating dawn of teleglobalization, wielded power on the level of global conquerors (he mentions as lesser examples Napoleon and Hitler). The director’s name and drawl infiltrated global media to render that voice and girth the most recognized signature of mass culture: constantly, in the guise of “black humor,” making light of the public’s individual and collective murder, later transforming critical culture and,...

  6. Part I. Travel Service Window

    • 1. Transports
      (pp. 13-37)

      In Hitchcock’s early anatomy of cinematic tourism,Rich and Strange,the title’s promise of Prospero’s transformation seems to allow the two cinematic tourists to circle the globe and return to the banality of home—a stationary return to a dwelling occupied by a black cat. Harried by the machinal nature of modern times, the cinematic beckons as escape displaced, thanks to a monetary gift, onto geographic sites in a virtual map. The result of travel is privation: they lose money, almost lose their marriage, their cruise ship sinks, and they return to a now “rich and strange” banality that the...

    • 2. Combined Ops: The postal Politics of Bon Voyage!
      (pp. 38-52)

      Stop and consider. It is absurd and naive, asking Hitchcock to produce propaganda shorts, even and especially in the midst of a world war, even for an ally. De Gaulle’s people apparently would never see or get to seeSaboteurorForeign CorrespondentorLifeboatin time. It is like asking Verloc to run a documentary exposing saboteurs or asking Peter Lorre for a solar blessing from the Tabernacle of the Sun. It is to position the request in the least desirable of patron positions—like Selznick, like his TV sponsors, like England or America. Betrayal is assured, in the...

  7. Part II. Prehistory of the Afterlife of Cinema

    • 3. A Performativity without Frame
      (pp. 55-67)

      It is not enough to remark a propensity to performance or “acting” in Hitchcock, since the topic cannot be framed in a manner that maintains borders, speakers, or places of retreat. Rather than a so–called modernist or Pirandelloesque inflection of wit or reflexivity, the “citational structure” of the image seems turned upon itself and retracts received definitions of action, questions the spectrality of the event, allows the verticality of movement to rewrite or vaporize direction. This question is raised if not answered by David Sterritt:

      Hitchcock’s characters “act” for more than one audience, moreover. They perform for one another’s...

    • 4. “How Old Is Mae West?”
      (pp. 68-81)

      In the opening scene in the Music Hall ofThe 39 Steps,a peculiar question is asked of Mr. Memory, who, generally, will repeat all known “facts” that the public can, in recognizing, confirm in the follow-up: “Am I right, sir?” Memory, heir of the mother of the muses, Mnemosyne, is reduced to turning tricks for the hoi polloi in what amounts to a cinema house: photographs, of course, copy “facts,” and if the audience recognizes them he earns his keep. If the question is about the future (the audience tests and jostles him), he tells them to come back,...

    • 5. Phoenix Rex: The Passing of Oedipus in Hitchcock
      (pp. 82-104)

      What does a phoenix have to do with dead stuffed birds, immobilized in a blank "psychotic" stare, arrested in predatory flight? How, moreover, can that fabled bird be other than mockingly meant to celebrate a rebirth of flight not out of the fiery ashes of a Daedalian crash, eternally recurrent, but as drawn, dredged by pulleys, as a dead mechanical vehicle (a Ford at that) emergent from a fecal burial pond, a bog? What car-tomb, what retrieved newspaper folded over what deficit of cash, resumes the upward trajectory in abject mockery, or otherwise? of a phoenix, at the point where...

  8. Part III. Jump Cuts

    • 6. Time Machines
      (pp. 107-137)

      Michel Chion argues that the separation of voice from the body inPsycho,of “Mother’s” voice, heard but never seen, belongs to the category of theacousmêtre:“In Psycho . . . voice and body brush against each other at the end of a long asymptotic journey.”¹ The disembodied voice (“A person who talks to you on the telephone, whom you have never met, is anacousmêtre” [206]) is addressed to the idea of Mother, inviting Doris Day’s singing, mounting the self–replicating stairs of the secondMan Who Knew Too Muchin search of her kidnapped son, to enter...

    • 7. Matrixide
      (pp. 138-166)

      Marnie counters Mark Rutland, book publisher who identifies his real profession as a lapsed “zoologist,” with the question, “Does zoology include people, Mr. Rutland?” InThe Birdsan inversion of position puts humans in what seems nonanthropomorphic perspective, enclosed in telephone cages, yet even there intolerable to behold without attacking. Hitchcock’s deployment of animemes traverses a series of bounds: animation, trace, telepathy, animal otherness, black suns; dogs and cats, zoo creatures (say, fish and turtles inSabotage’saquarium), birds, carousel and real horses; in the secondMan Who Knew Too Much,a menagerie of stuffed beasts. In the first film...

  9. Part IV. The Black Sun

    • 8. Prosthesis of the Visible
      (pp. 169-190)

      Blinking:what the eye does to wash itself, to shutter or shut out light, to open as if afresh upon a world whose lines, perceptual configurations, shapes mnemonically reassemble where or as already imprinted or known; an interruption or cut, involuntary contraction, segmenting, sphincter–like.

      InSabotage,Detective Ted Spenser calls the shutting down of the Bijou through the putting out of the lights in London, the caesura induced by and opening that filmwork itself, a “blinkin’shame” InYoung and Innocent,blinking is a tic, an accelerating twitch, first witnessed compulsively before a stormy background of lightning flashes,Blitz.It...

    • 9. Upping the Ante: A Deauratic Cinema
      (pp. 191-196)

      The chicken that causes a police car to crash into a wall on the way to the picnic scene inTo Catch a Thiefdoes so to get, famously, to the other side. The other side of what? The French cop explains the wreck to his superior on the wireless by yelling, “Poulet! Poulet!” Summoning the entire wiring of teletechnics, the clever tourist hears a remark about Francie (that she is what was called a tramp), as if that were the content, but the chicken in question imperiously looks back, stopped in the middle . . . Like stopping on...

    • 10. Hitchcock’s Light Touch
      (pp. 197-256)

      To Catch a Thiefvisually condenses and implodes, in the opening car chase, the ritual “chase” that Hitchcock deploys as a trope of the cinematic, miming, as he suggests in an interview, the mock continuity of the celluloid band. To curtail that chase (like the rooftop chase that beginsVertigo) positions the narrative as if “beyond” the former’s machinal controls and pretenses. But the chase or hunt here accelerated to implosion had long also been the template for philosophical inquiry, for hermeneutic tracking, for a version of reading. That “chase,” if left to run its own logics, would be quickly...

  10. Coda: Trouble at the Séance
    (pp. 257-266)

    In his interview with Gavin Elster inVertigo,Scottie explains his vertigo as a minor impediment, keeping him merely from doing things like going to the “bar at the top of the Mark” (the hotel by that name in San Francisco). To readers of Hitchcock who have developed a third ear and eye, the phrase is arresting. Within the labyrinth of Hitchcock’s networked scenes and phrasings, one cannot get away from these two terms—barandmark:neither words, really, nor figures. They recur across every work, linking each to each, as do the cameos. They become and invoke the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 267-298)
  12. Index of Films
    (pp. 299-300)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)