Integral to the Whole: The Voyeur’s Role in Culture

by on September 3, 2013 :: 0 comments

photo courtesy Tyler Malone

I’m a voyeur.

But rather than surreptitiously stealing glances through the open blinds of a neighbor’s windows while sauntering or crouching behind a bush for a longer gaze, I sit in plain view. I’m right here. I am not a peeping Tom. My name is not Tom.

I feign the look of disinterest, but I watch and see what’s going on. I see life scripts being acted out. I see the depth of lives, from the shallow to the deep yearners. I see the scars and beauty, the heartless and saints.

Amidst the clutter, there are those who sponge attention. They are the lush, broad green leaves that require the sun. It’s evidenced in more than how they dress—although, the trim and fit of clothes help. There is an attitude. A tilt of head, sideways glance, a posture that exudes a desire to be admired. They clearly need it. They need it as much as the air they breathe.

We are, after all, humans—social animals. We require interaction, even if the interaction is from being looked at, observed, and stared at. Some collect the looks from others. Each day they start empty, a blank sheet that must be filled. A double take, an eyebrow flash, an involuntary smile are logged against the deficit they start with each morning after their eyes flutter awake.

The cafe chair, park bench, bar stool where I sit makes me integral to the scene—the grand picture. My voyeurism completes many. I reassure and validate the existence of others. I am the omega to others’ alphas. I am the period at the end of the sentence. The final note of the song. A comforting hug in a vacant life. Without me, there is an imbalance, an emptiness that must be filled.

There is an unspoken contractual code that exists: in order to be, one must be seen—acknowledged. As a voyeur, I am there. I am a click of the counter, a tick on the tracker sheet, and a plus on the balance sheet. I look so you can exist.

editors note:

We are watchers, aren’t we. All of us, the ears of writers and the eyes of photographers, giving stories to strangers who dissolve into shadows. – Tyler Malone

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