Everybody's Got a Hungry Heart: Kierkegaard and Hitchcock

Everybody's Got a Hungry Heart: Kierkegaard and Hitchcock

Constantino Pereira Martins (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0525-9.ch004


The text is a reflection on seduction in its primordial meaning: men and women. We support our analysis in the confrontation of Kierkegaard concepts and the film Vertigo. In this sense, more than seduction itself, it's the notion of figure or conceptual character that is focused. The figural assumes here a mode and a process of reading a particular way of the aesthetic, i.e., a form of life that corresponds to the seducer. What is a seducer? Are there different types of seducers? We will present the formal basic premises of Kierkegaard and try to show how Hitchcock's movie mirrors it, amplifying the categories in use to the unveil a new sort of seducer.
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1. Introduction: Lust To Love

This article aims to build a philosophical and cinematic interpretation platform regarding desire and seduction. Addressing the thought of Kierkegaard, and in particular through his work Either/Or, the proposal pursues readings and film correspondences, assessing how the philosophy of Kierkegaard can clarify the issue of seduction, in an attempt to show different configurations. With different images, concepts and problems, we will try to display cinematic double by relation to Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The film is embedded in a sort of melancholy and sorrow that Kierkegaard also identifies and thematizes as main pieces for the puzzle of the aesthetic dizziness. Some passages can explicitly encapsulate different tones of the movement of seduction. Tonality, between melody and moods, passion and sorrow, the seduction in its different forms mirrors the Kierkegaardian process of thinking in images. There is a vital paradox in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, beyond boredom, between immediacy and reflexive sorrow. Here we will undertake the task of showing parallel and overlap layers of interpretation from text to image, reminding that this work of Kierkegaard points out not only a reflection about seduction, but also about forms of art and general aesthetics, which will authorize us to display Kierkegaard’s premonition on the cinematic form.

If we address three apparently different things, the immediate question is: what does Kierkegaard have to do with Vertigo? Trying to establish parallel lines, the main and common topic will be seduction, progressing from a general perspective to a more particular comprehension that will end inside Hitchcock’s film. Starting with some preliminary notes on seduction (from the seducer’s point of view), we could present the following general guide lines regarding seduction as a form of desire (love, passion), that could be identified as a specific form that corresponds to:

  • 1.

    An Active Desire: With a set of determinations that involves:

    • a.


    • b.

      Game, play (meaning both game and theatrical performance; performativity);

    • c.

      Hunt (fight, combat, conquer; this means and explains the lack of interest after the conquest has been made) or the eternal search of the new (Kierkegaard, 1987, pp. 24);

  • 2.

    The Most Important Here to Focus:Hunger. This hunger is also a specific hunger: its insatiable, voracious. It seeks the impossible: The Woman in the women.

This interpretation could have three possible main meanings:

  • 1.

    The woman as passion: a platonic eidetic hunger (burning passion misplaced seeking the woman in the women);

  • 2.

    The woman as redemption: a quiet passion, a freudian hunger, regressive towards the mother;

  • 3.

    The women as hunting games (hunger games): Freudian projection (relates also to1).

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