What makes people Stare, and why?

24/06/2013 20:56

What makes people stare...? The same thing that impels people to read? That special hunger for the latent details of our counterparts; of strangers breezing by, destitutes and microaerophiles. The washed-out glimpse, like a running light slowing to a rising smell, peels back into a longer stare, nervously or not. The staring radius is twenty-five metres, unless the sun's blinding you.


Staring at the old woman who eats trolleys at the back of the supermarket; it's both corrosive and kind. Among the crunching sounds her returning stare spits, rolls, hits, endures... Makes you stay inside it, free to roam, as though her glare wipes everything from the floor.


Why do people stare... What does today's retina want? Smashed eyes, crashed eyes, cash eyes, paint-steaming eyes, and bouncing-high eyes. I know at least that I'd like them to continue. The habit is gravitational. A weighty stare first steals permission then properly requests it. Or through one-way windows, undetected  in nightclubs, or worse. The stare is everywhere. Mad extremes of patience, ego-gas, and decorum all gushing out. The stare penetrates the living in their factoid rhythm, betrays it at their feet in a beating ring.


The unwavering stare aims pure and ahead, curves back, approaches, licks. It's irresistible. When an aged man looked over me and blinked, I looked through him and smiled for both of us. His dying vacuous eyes – all knowing, beneficent, ticklish eyes – mated mine like caterpillars. Hurtling eyes, like his; everlasting eyes, ringing eyes, expectant eyes, clenched eyes, surging eyes, softening and moist eyes. They all stare the same.


A stare can bare itself, gnash, and rot... Can turn thoughts over, lift mouths from the strung-down lip. Too, it can irritate, make a lonely soul feel maggoty in the lungs. The stare is an affront, a gift, it's generous, admiring. We curse it! then miss it. It's the fracturer, the multiplier, and the crawler passing over each street – above car wheels, then column-propped, on shelves, or sitting down. High-necked, bricked down, greased, shrugged and shouldered, the bolted begging stare holds up its will before sliding by... Gives you sensations that fall to pieces, like water dropped over wriggling hands. A stare is what it's like to be somewhere.

What are individuals thinking when they stare? We think we know, of course. But following eyes don't care for thought. Little pupils dead to total transmission simply raise or smash their chin to the floor, bullied on by a furtive sclera that bangs, in anticipation, on the best and worst impulse. So we stare and forget the way to ignore other faces. Good. We stare like we sleep, to absorb ourselves. Gaze ahead, then, deep into any of those emblem-locked tracts to demand our answer:


“Staring is preservative,” rattles out their confession, “it stabilises a moment. That's why people stare.”


But there's a little left.

Peer just once more into some evolving eyes – peer like a caterpillar, this time, like the old man – and at the first blink our answer dilates:


That pang of special hunger pounding in a stare?

It's the antidote for fear...

It's clear now.

The antidote we can't escape, since it belongs in every place the eyes can't think to remember.





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