Alfred Hitchcock sat down with writer Samuel Taylor to discuss the script for the movie Vertigo.
Within the very first moments, Taylor knew that there was no way he could stray from
Hitchcocks vision for the film. Hitchcock was an outstanding storyteller. His description of
the concept of the movie was so vivid that he could mesmerize his listeners.
He was so certain about his narrative and so confident about his story that
the only task left to the scriptwriter was to fill the blanks left by Hitchcocks narration.
When the script was ready and the shooting commenced, the stage was transformed into the most
elaborate acting place. Lights, camera positions, blocking, and dimensions were carefully arranged
in order to allow a smooth and rigorous shooting. Hitchcocks directing style was meticulous yet
calm. While most filmmakers are energetic and oftentimes aggressive, yelling at their crew
and barking out orders, Hitchcocks attitude was characterized by serenity and patience. He would
sit in his chair and he would sedately monitor and supervise the set; oftentimes even apathetically.
His actors could get annoyed and even frustrated, but, eventually, they would come to realize that
his attitude is infectious. In the course of time, everybody would respect his rules and his films
would be produced in a way that was transgressing the principles of ordinary filmmaking.
The secret to Hitchcocks attitude wasnt his special character or his high intelligence.
It was his obsession with planning and influence. Hitchcock wasnt an ordinary director.
He was a director, a strategist, and an expert in human nature.
A great example of his influential character was highlighted in an argument he had with actress
Kim Novak. When the actress refused to wear a gray suit in Vertigo,
because she felt it made her look washed out, Hitchcock told her he wanted her to look like
a woman of mystery who had just stepped out of the San Francisco fog. How could she argue with that?
To me, Alfred Hitchcock represents the quintessence of the socially
and emotionally intelligent person. He is a man who managed to transcend the regular and become
a strategic warrior in the battlefield of life because whether we like it or not,
sometimes it feels like a battlefield out there. Despite our most gentle intentions,
the mere structure of society and the complexity of our emotional and social world
make our life conditions difficult to manage. In the midst of this battle,
people can only maintain emotional stability by staying detached and managing their
interactions with patience and empathy. As Robert Greene very elegantly states in
The 33 Strategies of War: Our successes and failures in life can be
traced to how well or how badly we deal with the inevitable conflicts that confront us in society.
The common ways that people deal with themtrying to avoid all conflict, getting emotional and
lashing out, turning sly and manipulativeare all counterproductive in the long run, because
they are not under conscious and rational control and often make the situation worse.
Strategic warriors operate much differently. They think ahead toward their long-term goals, decide
which fights to avoid and which are inevitable, know how to control and channel their emotions.
This mindset is the only way to help one bring equilibrium to their emotional world and,
most probably, the catalyst that can lead to a proper way to deal with human nature.
Since I usually favor structure over abstraction, in this video,
I will suggest four pillars that, according to my worldview, are the cornerstones this mindset.
Each individual is an amalgamation of biological, cultural, and social influences.
This complicated mixture suggests that it is almost impossible to find
individuals whose opinions can align perfectly. The idea that we tend to idealize our expectations
and hope that the narrative of others wont interfere with our personal narrative
is nave and irresponsible, to say the least. This is a clear symptom of a character that
voluntarily denies growing up and accepting the responsibilities of adulthood. You see
it all over the Internet nowadays where certain online ecosystems feel more like nurseries than
places where adults can exchange insightful views and ideas.
In my opinion, high expectations should only be established on a purely personal
level. Expecting a lot from yourself and managing to craft a plan that can
help you reach your expectations is a sign of a mature and emotionally healthy individual.
Constantly expecting a lot from others, and showcasing your dissatisfaction when the
expectations are not met, constitutes an ill obsession.
Alfred Hitchcock rarely discussed expectations with the members of the set.
His choices were strategically planned and, once he decided on the players of the game,
he only adapted his moves in order to regulate the behaviors and reactions of each player.
He could properly identify the strengths and weaknesses of each actor and, according
to what was at play in a given moment, he knew how to strategize his approach.
Since the establishment of our species as the dominant force on our planet,
we experience an omnipresent struggle: How to reconcile individualism with collectiveness.
This struggle has led to innumerable fights, wars, and atrocities. However,
it has also led to innumerable lessons that, if properly construed, can lead to
the reengineering of the way we coexist. And this is the state of affairs
we experience in the present day. Personally, the closest I have come
to achieving the perfect balance between individuality and togetherness is when
I realized that the idea of self is an illusion. Sam Harris explains why, in one of his interviews:
The sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head
is an illusion. It makes no neuroanatomical sense. Theres no place in the brain for your ego to be
hiding. We know that everything you experience your conscious emotions and thoughts and moods and
the impulses that initiate behavior all of these things are delivered by a myriad of different
processes in the brain that are spread out over the whole of the brain. They can be independently
erupted. We have a changing system. We are a process and theres not one unitary self thats
carried through from one moment to the next unchanging. And yet we feel that we have this
self, this center of experience. This profound statement can have a
galvanic effect on the way one perceives the idea of ego, self, and togetherness.
In an article published back in February 2016, the New York Times approached a very interesting
topic: Googles quest to build the perfect team. Based on a research conducted within Google that
aimed to identify the key to successful team building, the major finding was that
a combination of conversational turn-taking and average social
sensitivity is what helps a team stay strong. Conversational turn-taking refers to the ability
of the team to allow each of the members to express their opinion about a topic.
Average social sensitivity refers to how easy it is for members of a team to intuit how others
felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions, and other nonverbal cues.
This showcases two things: One, that people want to feel safe,
and two that people want to be understood. In simple words, psychological safety, and empathy.
Human nature is very fragile. Imagine a creature that wants to feel
understood and safe, but requires training in order to exhibit such behaviors towards others.
That creature is a very tortured creature. We are hostages of our own lack of ability
to do to others what we want others to do to us. And thats something very crucial to have in mind.
Candor means frankness or forthrightness. Candor highlights the ability of the individual to
demonstrate not just truth-telling, but a lack of reserve. It is closely related to
assertiveness and it can be considered the quintessential tool for self-exploration.
The subtlety with regards to candor is that it entails a level of dynamism
that is extremely liberating. Candor is also very sophisticated.
It is not honesty for the sake of being honest. It is honesty with a purpose.
Candor offers the chance to the individual to be honest for the right reasons.
In a world that constantly oscillates between victimization and injustice,
speaking our minds and speaking the truth, a truth that is based on morality and reason,
is the most legitimate expression of our desire to transcend the limitations imposed by our nature.