Eye and Thou
“Through the Thou a person becomes I” – M. Buber
Allow me my pun based on cursory googling. I am no scholar, but I won’t apologize. The gaze and the breast are both hot topics in the articles I read on art, philosophy and psychology so…
For this post I put an actual bug-eyed frog key chain together with memories of a personal lost object, a plush mermaid with round, sewn-on breasts.
“Of course what most often manifests a look is
the convergence of two ocular globes in my direction.”
–J. P. Sartre
I drew the eyes and the breasts the same, as circles with dots to link the see-er with the seen to link two otherwise incompatible “see” creatures. A tadpole becoming, in time, a frog and in space a fish becoming a woman.
I made the drawing thinking about “existence as encounter,” (Buber) the necessity for being being the awareness of others in the world; and the “myth of the isolated mind,” (Stolorow) one can’t be aware but not aware of something (some one else) and its like to the figure/ground thing in art writ large now about shared agreements/divergences of meaning.
Sartre says the gaze is that which permits the subject to realize that the other is also a subject. But Lacan says the gaze is more the object of desire — of attention if desire is too strong a word here — than the subject desiring. That object of desire is not another subject but only what the subject thinks it is.
If both the gaze and object of desire are “out there” belonging to neither the first subject nor the other subject, what are they? Can they be painted en plein aire? Can they walked around behind; can they be bought and sold?
His eyes and her breasts are all “ocular globes” they are circles with dots, icons and symbols aren’t they? They are both gaze and object of desire, but they are neither I nor thou.
“Consciousness, in its illusion of seeing itself seeing itself,
finds its basis in the inside-outside structure of the gaze.” –J. Lacan
The mermaid looks at the frog/artist too. She sees him not looking at her subjective, conscious self but at breasts, objects to her as well. He’s reaching for them with his eyes, he wants them! No way! She says.
The artist/frog can’t stop the gaze. It’s a shot fired or a drawing posting. He’s still responsible for it, hence his guilt and her anger. The gaze is as much his object, his conscious self, as the breasts are hers. Eyes and breasts become the same in art — circles with dots, icons and symbols. Mermaid and frog/artist both watch the watching.
“I am (in the world), therefore I think.” –Robert Stolorow
Or “The world exists for the sake of the Self.”—Patanjali