From Staring

We know that you are going to see Rosemarie Garland-Thomson on Friday. We offer the following quotation from her brand new book Staring: How We Look to whet your appetite.

Staring is profligate interest, stunned wonder, obsessive ocularity. The daily traffic reports capture staring’s disruptive potential with the term “rubbernecking,” a canny summation of our reflexive compulsion to look. In line at the supermarket, a freak on a tabloid cover or the senasational photo of a murder vicitim lures our hapless eyes, trumpeting harsh evidence of the randomness of human embodiment and our own mortality. We may gaze at what we desire, but we stare at what astonishes us …

Staring is a conduit to knowledge. Stares are urgent efforts to make the unknown known, to render legible something that seems at first glance incomprehensible. In this way, staring becomes a starer’s quest to know and a staree’s opportunity to be known. Whatever or whomever embodies the unpredictable, strange or disordered prompts stares and demands putting order to apparent disarray, taming the world with our eyes. Because we are all starers, knowledge gathering is the most productive aspect of staring in that it can offer an opportunity to recognize one another in new ways.

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