Are eyes really windows to the soul? When I was little I learned how to deal with my dad’s temper by staring at him without any expression. I have rather big teal-blue eyes, and I would stare into his rather icy blue eyes and he would get incredibly angry at my lack of responsiveness and I felt it was my best form of rebellion against his anger. Now I tend to wear glasses not just to see but to hide behind, because I’m so socially claustrophobic. When I like a guy and have an opportunity to hang out with him one on one for the first time my pupils dilate and my eyes sparkle. When I’m sad or disappointed my brow furrows. So these are emotional responses and my eyes and brows reflect them. Some people have more of a handle over the way that they are seen, and consciously alter there responses, but they still have the frankness of the eyes to constrain.
Some faces you can penetrate, because they are always cross or smiling, and yet their transparent eyes appear systematically blank. In a way these practiced expressions have the eyes I reserved for my dad’s temper, and they are locked in neutrality. But if you converse with them for long enough, they give away who they are, and they cannot lie. So we continually are attracted to and yet repulsed by the primoridal authenticity of the eye, and we cannot help but scrutinize it. We sense sickness. We sense intelligence. We sense attraction. We sense fear.
And as with anything involving the body, we have our histories and our associative memories to enlighten us to which eyes we enjoy, distrust, gravitate toward or feel repelled by or both. For instance, when I see certain eye colors I am immediately drawn to an association. Dark brown is comforting. Light brown is quizzical. Green is sexy. Light blue is cold. Dark blue envelops me like the ocean. Hazel leaves me questioning. These associations blend and evolve in the ways the eyes manipulate the face, and vice versa. When eyes are small I think my eyes squint back. When eyes are large I think of receptivity and children, but also sexiness, and I want to fall inside them. When they are bulging I want to inch away. When your brows are bushy I think of science and nature and chaos. When they are trimmed and painted I think of geishas and Sephora and cholas and insecurity. If they’re extremely wide set like Jackie O.’s, then I personally feel a keen intelligence, yet if they are too close together I may slow down my words to accommodate my worry over your intellect. A friend in undergrad, who was very stoned, said sparkling eyes were witch eyes, and so this thought unwillingly carved out a place in my mind that the sparkling eyes were the warlocks and witches among me, and that I too might be a witch. Again, these are all just subconscious deductions.
It’s impossible to say what it is about eyes that make them the first thing we want to see and the first we want to avoid. Perhaps because like a window, they are a glimpse past our skin, and a sneak into all of the juices that are bottled up inside, hydrating our brains and sustaining our bodies. Perhaps because eyes are just two small organs in our skulls, not even an inch, but they can distinguish 10 millions colors. Perhaps because when we look at fluttering eyelids we know that someone is nervous or hiding something. And when someone’s eyes are shifting back and forth and all around they are usually processing information. And when someone is troubled they squint. And when someone’s bored their pupils contract. And when they blink more than average they may be attracted to us. And when they look to the left they may be reminscing. And when they look up and to the right they are probably bored.
These are things that we innately understand, if not consciously. And so in our eyes we capture a person, and unless they are great actors, and even if they are, we may be able to discern who they are, apart from the words, apart from the body, and apart from the carefully crafted presentation of the self. I do know that couples who look into each other’s eyes for extended periods of time tend to follow in love deeper. And that eye contact frightens most people because of the intimacy that it can establish. I suppose if every part of my body were to go, that I would hope the eyes would be the last, because they carry every bit of us in their small orbs; a universe of the mind wrapped into two slimy chambers.
Clou le Fou
In conjunction with my photography exploring negative space, I have also been writing in that silent time between midnight and 4am, and here I have gathered memories and words from that space between dreams and reality.