In the interpersonal world, the eyes, above all, are the source of our initial power over others, which is why cultures and religions throughout history have sought to regulate the stare, the gaze, the glance, the mask. Even in our political and national security life, the words „FOR EYES“ on a government document indicate top secrecy, testifying to the fact that only the truly powerful, the judiciously selected, may affix their gaze there.
On a more intimate level, when I stare at someone, when I meet them with the full intensity of my gaze, I bring to bear upon them my full light, the focus of both my attentions and my being. Which is why, in matters of sexual love, it is often so difficult– and so frought with danger– for the lover, in the act of lovemaking, to truly regard the beloved. (The more frequent position, in fact, is with one’s head to the side, or to enter from the rear like the „lower“ animals.)
For the gaze, the clear look, is the confrontation of two powers, the literalization of the combat, the disequivalence, the terror, that often passes for (and must be included in) love. Gazing at you in the act of love, I acknowledge not only our twin presence, but the reality of our respective senses of power and powerlessness. Which is why, perhaps, it is most often the case that women– rather than men– long for such eye contact during the act of love.
For though both man and woman are at such a moment on the ground of their making, it is she, not he, who may make something of this … it is in her that the life force may be imbedded and bear fruit. What frightens a man most at such a moment, however, is his narcissistic misperception of woman as merely an extension of himself. He fails to see, rather, that, for most women unlike for so many men, the stare, the gaze, the look is an opportunity not only for a comparison of powers, but of generosities… that his depletion, his impoverishment, his sense of fatigue and powerlessness after orgasm are deprivations only in his own eyes.
For the woman, however, this submission to the life force, this willingness to relinquish, if even for a moment, the control he so relentlessly clings to, makes him large in allowing her to call forth her own deeply powerful sense of the generous. But– seeing himself instead as diminished, powerless, about to be humiliated– the man (who only hours before, perhaps, was gazing relentlessly at her across a crowded room) looks away.
Seeing him, now, as vulnerable, connected, humanized by his relative helplessness, the woman (who may have shyly evaded his gaze just moments earlier) now seeks to meet him on the ground of her own power. Each, fearing the other, looks away at the moment of the other’s greatest sense of empowerment. Each, confronting his/her own sense of powerlessness, stares off into the air.