Jacobean Visions: Webster, Hitchcock and Google Culture
- “The message is that there are no ‘knowns’. There are things we know that we know. These are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know that we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know”. (Donald Rumsfeld, The Guardian, 9. Nov. 2006, p. 3)
- “We live in a crucible of contradictory experiences” (Turkle, 1995, p.268)
- “What is central is the perception – as old in academic writing as Burckhardt and Michelet – that there is in the modern period a change in the intellectual, social, psychological, and aesthetic structures that govern the generation of identities…Perhaps the simplest observation we can make is that in the sixteenth century there appears to be an increased self-consciousness about the fashioning of human identity as a manipulable, artful process” (Greenblatt, 1980, pp 1- 2)
- ”And the same goes for my partners in cyberspace communication. I can never be sure who they are: are they really the way they describe themselves, is there a “real” person at all behind a screen persona, is the screen persona a mask for a multiplicity of people, or am I simply dealing with a digitised entity which does not stand for any “real” person? “Interface” means precisely that my relationship to the other is never face-to-face, that it is always mediated by digital machinery. I stumble around in this infinite space where messages circulate freely without fixed destination, while the whole of it remains forever beyond my comprehension. The other side of cyberspace direct democracy is this chaotic and impenetrable magnitude of messages which even the greatest effort of my imagination cannot grasp.”, Zizek, The Guardian, Dec. 2006
- “…more than twenty years after meeting the ideas of Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, and Guttari, I am meeting them again in my new life on the screen. But, this time, the Gallic abstractions are more concrete. In my computer-mediated worlds, the self is multiple, fluid and constituted in interaction with machine connections; it is made and transformed by language…” (Turkle, 1995, p. 15)
- “…one can point to the disturbing quality of so many of Hitchcock’s films. It is one of the functions of art to disturb: to penetrate and undermine our complacencies and set notions…Many refer to this quality…but few try to account for it: how often has one heard that a certain film is “very clever” but “leaves a nasty taste in the mouth”. This “nasty taste” phenomenon has, I believe two main causes. One is Hitchcock’s disconcerting moral sense, in which good and evil are seen to be interwoven…The other is his ability to make us aware…of the impurity of our desires. The two usually operate, of course, in conjunction”. (Wood, 1965/69, p. 20)
- “…truth on the basis of what we see, when appearances are deceptive. Hitchcock doesn’t simply propose that appearances are deceptive and cannot form a basis for knowledge in the manner of the skeptic. Instead, he proposes alternative, mutually compatible interpretations of the same impression…” (Allen, 1999, p. 207)
- “…it can be claimed that in ‘The White Devil’ the reader or spectator is faced with a dramatic objectivity of a new kind…a point of view technique in the modern sense…an audio-visual emphasis where one is tempted to compare Webster’s technique to a film director’s…” (Dallby, 1974, p 51
- “In both plays (The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil), Webster is concerned with exploring tricks of the imagination both in relation to the characters on the stage and the audience’s responses. To differing degrees the exploration is also allied to the art of the theatre and this conscious awareness of the play’s world performing within the larger world outside is an aspect of contemporary drama which Webster shared with so many other playwrights…” (Lomax, 1984, p. 148)
Viewing and Understanding…
- “…if human knowing is conceived exclusively, by an epistemological necessity, as similar ocular vision, it follows as a first consequence that human understanding must be excluded from human knowledge. For understanding is not like seeing. Understanding grows with time: you understand one point, then another, and a third, a fourth…and your understanding changes several times until you have things right. Seeing is not like that, so that to say that knowing is like seeing is to disregard understanding as a constitutive element in human knowledge…” (Lonergan, 1973/1977: 121-2)
- “…central idea is the moral complexity of human action, the possibility of the coexistence of guilt and innocence in a world in which moral judgement is corrupted by tyrants. Webster requires his audience to juggle this paradox by treating the theatrical experience as a metaphor for the complex nature of reality…” (Luckyj, 1989, p. 117)
- “The style Hitchcock developed during the ten year period of the re-released films- with its expressionistic use of color and music, its preponderance of subject point-of-view shots, its alternation of long takes with montage sequences – reinforced his growing concern with the irrational forces beneath the seemingly placid surface of contemporary American life…” (Raubicheck, 1991, p. 18)
Hitchcock, Stewart & Hollywood
- “One cannot help but find even the normality of the ordinary, typical American family slightly disquieting. This disquiet is reflected in the film through a play of masks and mirrors, in which ordinary people invariably find other ordinary people disturbing; or conversely, find disturbing people merely ordinary…” (Bonitzer, on “The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1958; Ed, Zizek, 1992, p. 180)
- “…at the stage of his career exemplified by films such as Rear Window Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and Marnie, the central impulse or theme of Hitchcock’s filmmaking involves an insistence of the centrality of madness or varying degrees of irrational behaviour in human life. Hitchcock’s project is to impress upon his audience the nature and centrality of madness, as well as the possibility of madness in all of us”. (Simon, in Raubicheck & Srebnick, 1991, p. 113)
- “…I believe Hitchcock is here also trying to tell us something about cinema itself – its box of tricks, its capacity to present a façade as if it were a building, a model train as if it were a full size one, day for night. In a different way, he had already used four years earlier a whole, and wonderful, film (I am talking of Rear Window) to express his view of cinema as a voyeuristic exercise that manipulates us into seeing only what it wants us to see. But with this remarkable scene in Vertigo Hitchcock-the-Magician takes us by the hand behind the scenes, on the backstage of the Paramount Studios, and forces us to confront what the cinema’s function really is: to give us fictional fantasies in the shape of reality – nothing more, perhaps, than the flickering lights and shadows of a projector on a silver screen”(Sabaddini, 1999)
- “The plot is absurd, so far-fetched, and the story is honest and true…” Sam Taylor, Screenwriter, Raubicheck, 1991. “To put it plainly, the man chants to go to bed with a woman who’s dead; he is indulging in a form of necrophilia”. A. Hitchcock, Truffaut, 1968/1984
- “On the surface, then, Vertigo seemed to have all the trappings of the Paramount Hitchcock…Like many other films of the fifties, Vertigo also seemed to have an eye on the tourist trade, or, more precisely, on those who like to be vicariously transported to glamorous and scenic spots like the French Riviera, French Morocco, and San Francisco…there was no indication that with Vertigo Hitchcock would be presenting a different side of his persona.” (Kapsis, 1992, pp. 50-51)
- “It isn’t difficult to see Vertigo as a permutation of Rebecca. It’s easy to imagine, for example, de Winter, gradually, without quite realising it, asking his young wife to make herself in the living image of her predecessor. But her very success in becoming the living mummy of his lost love brings her dead rival back to his mind…” (Durgnat, 1974, p. 295)
- “By allying himself with a privileging woman’s story in Vertigo, Hitchcock breaks with the genre’s characteristic absorption in the man’s dilemma – (falling in love with a villainous woman). While Vertigo undeniably evokes film noir it does so…in order to undermine the genres central assumptions about the camera, that it and the hero’s subjectivity are a single “I”…” (Keane, 1986, p. 242/243)
- “…for the viewer who identified himself with Ferguson, the effect of the flashback is extraordinary, almost a personal betrayal. Not only is the dead Madeleine who Ferguson loved a fraud but so too is the living Judy he is about to fall in love with. The scene was Hitchcock’s own addition to the script, inserted over universal opposition from his advisers. Hitchcock believed that the snapping of the suspense for the viewer was necessary to focus attention on Ferguson’s emotion to the doubleness of his situation…” (Palombo, 1991, p. 54)
- “As the nothing at the centre of the speaking being the Thing is what we unconsciously want in the lost real. But it can never be found, Lacan insists. On the contrary, the subject must keep its distance from the Thing. Too close an encounter…would bring about the dissolution of the subject, the symbolic order and culture in its entirety”. (Belsey, 2005, p. 70)
- ““…whether he be game-playing, role-playing, or involved in any number of variations, possesses two distinct fictive identities, between which we are forced to distinguish, accepting one of the fictive identities as “real” and the other as “fictive”. At times the metafictional character is the embodiment of one portion of its duality, and at other times is the embodiment of the other portion. Ultimately, though, these two aspects of reality and illusion are both embodied in the same character, giving the playwright the perfect opportunity to confuse them once he has distinguished them”” (West, 1991, p. 171)
- “What Hitchcock does for narrative technique in the filmic medium, Hermann does for film music by introducing many of the chromatic elements that had been explored by the twentieth century avant garde…in Vertigo, Herrmann’s exploration of complex harmonies, asymmetrical phase structures, and unique orchestration challenges the ear of listeners, thereby furtherenveloping them in the film’s “irrational” world where everything, including identity, is removed from the domain of reason, understanding and order”. (Sribnick, 2004, p. 150)
- “At the beginning of the picture, when James Stewart follows Madeleine to the cemetery, we gave her a dreamlike, mysterious quality by shooting through a fog filter. That gave us a dream effect, like fog over the bright sunshine. Then, later on, when Stewart first meets Judy, I decided to make her live at the Empire Hotel in Post Street because it has a green neon sign flashing continually outside the window. So when the girl emerges form the bathroom, that green light gives her the same subtle, ghostlike quality…” (Hitchcock, in Truffaut, 1984, p. 371)
- “Our relation to space, including city space, is epistemological. And since subject and object are always produced together, the quality and design of city space will pose reciprocally a certain position and definition for the subject.” (Easthope, in Clarke, 1997, p. 130)
- “…stable worlds have broken down. What matters most now is the ability to adapt and change – to new jobs, to new career directions, new gender roles, new technologies”. (Turkle, 1995, p. 255)
- On Blade Runner (1983) “…the more we see, the more our uncertainty grows. Its world features a profusion of simulations: synthetic animals, giant viewscreens, replicants, memory implants and faked photos are only some of them. Vision is no guarantee of truth, and the film’s complexity encourages us to rethink our assumptions about perception by reminding us that, like memory, vision is more than a given ‘natural’ process. There is no nature in Blade Runner…Replicants, forged memories with sumptuous surfaces make Blade Runner a film deeply concerned with the making and unmaking of selves, and with worlds that are no longer given” (Bukatman, 1982, p. 11)
- “In the shadows of late Capitalism the silent majority eats out under the golden arches of McDonalds. Civic society dissolves into a blur, and on the pathways of the new high-tech information highways, spatially dispersed selves communicate in cyberspace. The modernist notion of the autonomous individual no longer works…A new global politics of identity is upon us, a new public culture that no one understands” (Denzin, 1996, p. 217)
Identity: The Challenge of the Web
- “…identity can be fluid and multiple (where) a signifier no longer clearly points to a thing that is signified, and understanding is less likely to proceed through analysis, than by navigation through virtual space” (Turkle, 1995, p. 49)
- ““There are aspects of my personality that I am able to work on the MUDS. I’ve never been good at bureaucratic things, but I’m much better from practicing on MUDS and playing a woman in charge. I am able to do things – in the real, that is – that I couldn’t have been before because I have played Katherine Hepburn characters…”” (Turkle, 1995, p. 220)
- “…stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum…“ (Jameson, 1983, p. 115)
- “…those ancient Enlightenment signifiers which pointed to ultimate realities where human essence was defined, no longer exist. Here, in the moment of expulsion from our private Gardens of Eden we stand naked before the postmodern simulacrum” (Denzin, 1996, p. 213)
- “Everyday life and our consciousness and interpretations of that life are filtered through and defined by the cinematic apparatus, that structure that brings life, as Noel Burch (1990) argues, to those shadows that define daily existence. Krug (1992: 60) elaborates, ‘the intersection of experience and cultural forms is the site where the (postmodern) self is articulated linguistically and formally’. This intersection is aesthetic, talking the self into existence through a cultural form, like a home video, a family photograph…as visual ethnographers of the post-modern visual, cinematic culture (see Harper, 1994) we study our own and other’s intersections with these visual texts, showing how they give and produce meaning for ourselves and others”. (Denzin, 1996, p. 208)
- “I work in a day care centre for children, in Texas. My Avatar is a big yellow triceratops: I am a “furry”…My Second Life feels more real than my real life; it’s the one where I feel pain. Today I’ve spent about $100 (real dollars). I bought a dungeon for my piece of land, but donated it to someone else. I spend most of my time n the furry bath houses – I was actually born a homosexual dragon”. (Jeffries, The Guardian, Oct, 7th 2006, p. 21)
Questions of Power, Freedom & Ideology
- “The dominant classes in early industrial society sought to get their inferiors to do what they wanted them to do. In contemporary society, elites try to make their subordinates be what they want them to be.” (Brown, 1987, p. 52)
- “…there is often a loss in appreciation for complexity and ambivalence. Immersion in simulation games and relationships with digital creatures put us in reassuring microworlds where the rules are clear. But never have we so needed the ability to think, so to speak, “ambivalently,” to consider life in shades of gray, consider moral dilemmas that aren’t battles for “infinite justice” between Good and Evil. Never have we so needed to be able to hold many different and contradictory thoughts and feelings at the same time.” (Turkle, essay, 2004)
- “Dialectical irony…involves making a statement that is open to ambivalent interpretations, that is, interpretations of opposite weights and meanings. The construction of a meaning that is to be taken as the intended one is left to the audience. The ironist must thus be an explicit social actor in that to practice her irony she requires a public that is willing to be enlightened. In order to be ironical, the ironist must impel her audiences to make choices about their own categories of perception and evaluation. By her ironic method of rerealizing reified meanings, she challenges her public to create meanings for themselves” (R. H. Brown, 1987, p. 17)
The Sting in the Tail
- “I see only from one point of view, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides” (Lacan, 1986, p. 72)
- “Every breath you take, every move you make, Every bond you break, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you. Oh can’t you see, you belong to me.” (The Police, 1983)
Selected Cited Bibliographic References
- Allen, Richard. (1999): “Hitchcock, or The Pleasures of Metaskepticism”, in Allen, Richard, S. Ishi Gonzalés. (eds.) Alfred Hitchcock Centenary Essays, BFI, 1999, pp 221-237
- Belsey, Catherine. (1985): The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama. Methuen.
- Belsey, Catherine. (2005): Culture and the Real. New Accents. Routledge.
- Belton, John. (1983): Cinema Stylists. Metuchen, New Jersey. Scarecrow.
- Belton, John. (1991) “The Space of Rear Window”. in Hitchcock’s Re-Released Films. (ed.) Raubicheck, Wayne State University Press, 1991
- Berry, Ralph. (1972): The Art of John Webster. Oxford.
- Bonitzer, Pascal. (1992): “The Skin and the Straw” in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan, But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock. Zizek, Slavoj (ed.) Verso, 1992, 178-184
- Brown, Richard H. (1987): Society as Text. Essays on Rhetoric, Reason and Reality. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
- Bukatman, Scott. (1997/8): Blade Runner. BFI Modern Classics.
- Clarke, David. B. (1997): (ed.) The Cinematic City.Routledge, London & New York.
- Dallby, Anders. (1974): The Anatomy of Evil: A Study of John Webster’s ‘The White Devil’. Lund Studies in English. No 48.
- Denzin, Norman K. (1995): The Cinematic Society. The Voyeur’s Gaze. Sage, 1995.
- Durgnat, Raymond. (1974): The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock. Faber & Faber
- Easthope, Antony (1997): Cinécities in the Sixties, in The Cinematic City. (ed.) Clarke, David. B. Routledge, London & New York, 1997
- Gottlieb, Sidney. (1995): (ed.) Hitchcock on Hitchcock Selected Writings and Interviews. Faber & Faber
- Greenblatt, Stephen. (1980): Renaissance Self-Fashioning From More to Shakespeare University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London
- Jameson, Fredric. (1983): “Postmodernism and Consumer Society”, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on postmodern Culture. Forster & Townsend, W.A: Bay Press, p.115 -25.
- Jeffries, Stuart. (2006): You only live twice. The Guardian, Oct, 7th, 2006, p. 21-22
- Kalinak, Kathryn. (1992): Setting the Score: Music and the Classic Hollywood Film. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Kapsis, Robert. E (1992): Hitchcock. The Making of A Reputation, University of Chicago press, 1992
- Keane, Mariane. (1986): “A Closer Look at Scopophelia, Mulvey, Hitchcock and ‘Vertigo’’”. in A Hitchcock Reader. (eds.). Deutlebaum & Poague, Iowa State University Press.
- Lacan Jacques. (1986): The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. Harmondsworth, Penguin.
- Lefebvre, Henri. (1991): The Production of Space. trans, Donald Nicholson Smith, Oxford, Blackwell.
- Leggatt, Alexander. (1992): Jacobean Public Theatre. Routledge, London & New York.
- Lomax Stage. (1984): Images and Traditions, Shakespeare to Ford. Cambridge.
- Lonergan, Bernhard. (1977): ‘Consciousness and the Trinity”, in Interfaces of the Word. (ed.) Walter, J Ong, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 121-122, 1977.
- Luckyj, Christina. (1989): A Winter’s Snake: Dramatic Form in the Tragedies of John Webster. University Georgia Press.
- Palombo (1985): “The Dream Function in Film: Hitchcock’s Vertigo”, in Smith. A. J. (1991): The Darker World Within. Associated University Press.
- Raubicheck, Walter & Walter Srebnick, (1991): Hitchcock’s Re-Released Films. Wayne State University Press.
- Rumsfeld, Donald (2006): in The Guardian, 9.Nov.2006, p. 3
- Sabbandini, “The attraction of fear:some psychoanalytic observations on Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’”, in The British Journal of Psychotherapy, 16 (4), 507-511, Summer 2000.
- Scharff, Stefan. (1991): Alfred Hitchcock’s High Vernacular. Columbia University Press.
- Schleuter, Jane.(1979): Metafictional Characters in Modern Drama. New York, Columbia University Press
- Simon, William. G. Hitchcock (1991): “The Languages of Madness”, inHitchcock’s Re-Released Films. Raubicheck, & Walter Srebnick (eds.) Wayne State University Press. 1991, p. 109 -115.
- Smith. A. J. (1991): The Darker World Within. Associated University Press, Delaware
- Sribnik, Daniel Antonio. (1999): “Music and Identity: The Struggle for Harmony in Vertigo”, in Alfred Hitchcock Centenary Essays. (eds.) Allen, Richard, S. Ishi Gonzalés. BFI, 1999, 149 -163
- Stacy. R.H. (1977): Defamiliarizaion in Language and Literature. Syracuse University Press.
- Truffaut, Francois. (1984): Hitchcock. Paladin.
- Turkel, Sherry. (1995): Life on the Screen. Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster
- Turkel, Sherry. (2004): “Whither psychoanalysis in Computer Culture?” in Psychoanalytic Psychology, Vol 21, No. 1, 2004, p.16-30.
- West, Ann. (1991): “The Concept of the Fantastic”, in Hitchcock’s Re-Released Films. (ed.) Raubicheck, Wayne State University Press, 1991.
- Wood, Robin. (1965/1969): Hitchcock’s Films. A. S. Barnes & Co, Inc.
- Zizek, Slavoj. (1992): (ed.) Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan, But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock. Verso.
- Zizek, Slavoj. (1992): “In his bold gaze my ruin is writ large”, in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan, But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock. (ed) Zizek Verso, 1992, pp. 211-263.