Thursday, June 24, 2010

Out Of The Gaze

This post should make real sense to folks who have been wearing glasses for the better part of their lives. During my high school years, I remember reading an autobiographical piece on how the author had to spend a few days without wearing glasses.
He had described the experience as being very destabilising. According to him, he could not think without wearing glasses. The funny part is that glasses or spectacles do become an extension of ALL our sense organs. The other day a friend of mine mentioned that he could not hear what the other person was saying because he himself was not wearing his pair of glasses!
I realised that without my pair of glasses, I am truly helpless. Or is it hopeless? I think any veteran-spectacles wearer will agree when I say that we somehow equate our vision to other sensory experiences. Like the aforementioned author, I find it difficult to make my mind work without my spectacles.
Then I tried something which felt good. While coming home on the bus, I decided to take off my spectacles while staring outside the window. (In moments of anger, my mother has often confessed that she thinks that while creating Dog, God made me. I guess she is drawing the parallel from the way dogs stick their heads out of car windows, eagerly lolling their tongues. I however, do NOT loll my tongue. I stare.)
Anyway, I digress. I stared out of the window at the world sans my high powered glasses. Everything looked like a pleasant blurry haze. While I could discern faces, I could not make out their facial features. And then I had an epiphany. (I use the word for cheap drama. It is not that sensational perhaps. ) For once I could stare without being stared at.
I feel that we live under a perpetual gaze. (Foucaldians, back off! The Pan-opticon can wait.) At home, we are under the stare of our family and outside, under the multimillion gazes of strangers. And a woman especially has to cope with the lecherous leers of perverts who are sizing her up. That lecherous gaze exists because we are able to see it. We return the gaze and the process is completed.
But that evening I was liberated from that. Yes, liberating is the word. I was not subject to that all knowing gaze anymore. That was because I could see without "looking" or "gazing".
I stared happily at the hazy world outside. For once the details did not matter. I saw a million faces that day, and not the million eyes under which I have lived all my life.
(For the non-spectacle people: If you don't get this, then worry not. We bespectacled people are not part of a secret cult. )


rukmini said...

Was that Without Glasses by James Thurber? Or was it someone else? Oh, well. I am technically part of the 'bespectacled people' group, although I am not bespectacled unless I really need to be. I like that fuzzy blur of a world that passes me by. :)

storyteller said...

I know exactly what you mean.But I am so blind without my glasses that I prefer not to move around much without them, for fear of getting hit by random auto or bus :P

And and, I also remember this short story by James Thurber.

The Spyked One!!! said...

Well. Remember Mafia? I couldn't concentrate?
Precisely because I wasn't wearing my spectacles.
Blur doesn't generally work... unless something else is in focus.
Maybe your mind was immersed in thoughts of deep intellectual consideration... while the images simply flashed by, leaving a blurred impression. And your blog-post summarises what might have been the centre of your attention - enjoyable visuals to accompany your thoughts.

Thursday's child has far to go.... said...

Thats Without Glasses you are talking about, aren't you? Had it in class X. I loved that piece too, precisely because I could relate to it.
Nice piece and interesting thoughts.

Indranil said...

I basically can't see without my glasses either. But I don't wear them outside at all because my nose gets a distinct black spot :( So I've been accused of being blind on the road/not identifying people more than my fair share, had to have movie subtitles read to me and what not..

And as for not having the gaze, let me be very cheesy please! (I've been dying to ... ) by quoting this bangla song line :

"Kauke cheno na tumi tomaake chene naa keu shei to bhaalo"

Yay!! *cheesiness drips*

atindriyo said...

The Truman Show! :D