jeffrey winke | integral to the whole: the voyeur's role in culture

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

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. My name is not Tom. I am not peeping.

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 life-spongers to the deep yearners. I see the scars and beauty…the heartless and saints.

Amidst the clutter, there are those who demand attention. They are the lush, broad green leaves that soak up the sun. It’s evidenced in more than how they dress—although, the trim and fit of clothes help. There is attitude. A tilt of head, sideways glance, a posture that exudes a desire to be admired. They clearly 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, scrutinized, stared at. Some collect the looks from others. Each day they start empty… a vessel 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 must be 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… a plus on the balance sheet. I look so you can exist. And validated.

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