Disguised as thrillers, Hitchcock's films are as subversive as the spies around which their plots often revolve. Tom Cohen's exploration of Hitchcock emphasizes the web of signatures and marking systems inscribed on and around his films. They are "secret agents" which reflect, critique, and disrupt ways of seeing inherited from the Enlightenment and prefiguring postmodern culture. From the recurrence of the eye motif and the frequency of names beginning with "Mar" to the role of memory and the director's trademark cameos, Cohen explores Hitchcock's labyrinthine system as an assault on what might be called the aesthetic state--the power to control perception that we find in the contemporary global media. He sees 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. Aligning this agenda with the philosophical and aesthetic writings of Nietzsche, Derrida, and Benjamin, Cohen asks whether Hitchcock's films do not remain still unsettled events in the archeology of contemporary global image culture.
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