Melodrama: An Aesthetics of Impossibility
Jonathan Goldberg is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English at Emory University and the author of several books, most recently Strangers on a Train: A Queer Film Classic. He is also the author of Willa Cather and Others and editor of Queering the Renaissance, both also published by Duke University Press.
The Art of Murder: Hitchcock and Highsmith
This chapter begins the move in the book from its focus on impossibility to the remediated aesthetic possibility that lies in the combination of word and music. It considers the role that music plays in Hitchcock’s Rope, where one of the murderers also is a concert pianist, and in Strangers on a Train (based on a Patricia Highsmith novel), where music fills the fairground scene of murder. This possibility manifests itself as a music that never stops, and thereby suggests something else that accompanies the constraints of life and its impossible, mortal plots. The chapter also discusses the role of music in Highsmith’s five Ripley novels and a range of kinds of music, as well as painting practices that refuse classificatory difference. This sound track goes beyond the kinds of difference that usually regulate and constrain social life; it is the sound track of aesthetic existence.