The gaze

Today I’m interested in the similarities between Saunders’s discussion of the gaze (drawn from Zimmerman and Satre) and its relationship to distance (p. 30) because I see something similar when the narrator of Event Factory reaches downtown and notices people staring at her from four different directions (84-85). Saunders says that the gaze “is experienced both as an absolute distance and as an eradication of distance,” where “the impenetrable eyes of the aliens place them at an infinite distance,” but “their…invasive gaze…penetrates the inward, private space of mind and soul, [and] seems to collapse distance” (30). In other words, I think, the unknown-ness of the person who is gazing makes them foreign (distant), but the invasiveness of the gaze makes them not foreign (close). 

I’m interested in the connection to this statement from the narrator: “I thought, a force of one is negligible. If one person is staring at you, there are at least three alternative directions in which to run. However, in having four stalkers I was without option” (85). In some ways, this relates to Saunders’s thought: the narrator definitely recognizes the invasiveness (force) of the gaze, but she makes a distinction between the difference between one person’s gaze and four people’s gaze, saying that one person’s is not nearly as invasive – and definitely escapable – as four people’s gaze. Saunders, on the other hand, does see the gaze of one alien as forceful. I’m wondering what that might tell us about this narrator, if anything? Is she somehow stronger than most other people? She’s in a foreign environment, being stared at by aliens, but it’s not the presence of an alien that really invades her – it’s only when the aliens completely surround her that she really feels incapable of escaping, or afraid. 

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