The Philosophical Hitchcock

The Philosophical Hitchcock : "Vertigo" and the Anxieties of Unknowingness

3.93 (45 ratings by Goodreads)
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On the surface, The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness, is a close reading of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece Vertigo. This, however, is a book by Robert B. Pippin, one of our most penetrating and creative philosophers, and so it is also much more. Even as he provides detailed readings of each scene in the film, and its story of obsession and fantasy, Pippin reflects more broadly on the modern world depicted in Hitchcock's films. Hitchcock's characters, Pippin shows us, repeatedly face problems and dangers rooted in our general failure to understand others or even ourselves very well, or to make effective use of what little we do understand. Vertigo, with its impersonations, deceptions, and fantasies, embodies a general, common struggle for mutual understanding in the late modern social world of ever more complex dependencies.
By treating this problem through a filmed fictional narrative, rather than discursively, Pippin argues, Hitchcock is able to help us see the systematic and deep mutual misunderstanding and self-deceit that we are subject to when we try to establish the knowledge necessary for love, trust, and commitment, and what it might be to live in such a state of unknowingness. A bold, brilliant exploration of one of the most admired works of cinema, The Philosophical Hitchcock will lead philosophers and cinephiles alike to a new appreciation of Vertigo and its meanings.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 16 x 23 x 2mm | 312g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • United States
  • English
  • 24 color plates, 36 halftones
  • 022650364X
  • 9780226503646
  • 1,145,273

Review quote

"The illumination that Pippin's careful and systematic account casts on this complicated, convoluted movie will remind readers of the virtues of close reading. A seminal and unusual contribution to the literature on Vertigo specifically, on Hitchcock more broadly, and on film in general."--George Wilson, University of Southern California
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About Robert B. Pippin

Robert B. Pippin is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago.
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Rating details

45 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 24% (11)
4 51% (23)
3 20% (9)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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