The face to face encounter and its ethical meaning/implications is at the heart of Levinas‘ thought.Just today I was thinking over some personal events relating to this.
A few months ago I went into a cafe and found myself just behind an ex-colleague whom I regard [note the word] as friend.I could see her husband sitting at the back of the cafe.She did mutter,Hello,but instead of meeting me eye to eye and saying,”my husband wants to be alone”,she went through an elaborate pantomime of mime indicating rejection or keep a distance…which was unpleasant.I would been much happier with a straightforward look and a few words.
Today I had a similar event.I met a woman who used to be my physiotherapist ,again in a queue.She looked at me full on and greeted me with pleasure.As she picked up her tray she asked me to join her and her husband plus a grandchild.We had a pleasant time,But if she had said,we are with our family,or whatever,that woulded have been fine too.because she looked at me
I am not saying the first woman ought to have done that.But what interests me is the lack of a willingness to “meet” me with her gaze.I am entirely happy if people wish to be alone whilst the have coffee but I prefer them to say so.
Some individuals with autism are almost unable to make eye contact…. and this is because others are not real to them,If we are near someone who will not meet our eyes,it can convey the same feeling.On the other hand,every one has off days and so I feel no anger,just a discomfort as this woman is very articulate and highly educated.I think her husband is quite controlling.
There is also an expression,”he looked right through me”which is also a negative way of facing someone.And also,Cutting someone dead.
Essentially not looking at someone is a form of killing them as you imply they are not part of society.Like not responding to someone verbally or in writing.You are saying,You do not exist.
- Eye Contact (hannahandharriet.wordpress.com)
- You only have 7 Seconds to Make a First Impression! (top2toestyliestadotme.wordpress.com)
- The Art of Connecting to the Other (huffingtonpost.com)
- Eric Frydenlund: To know someone requires we meet them in the present (lacrossetribune.com)
- At Wit’s End: Delmore Schwartz’s Poetic Reflections on the Other (schlemielintheory.com)
- Robert Alter And The King James Bible 2 – James Wood (payingattentiontothesky.com)
- Annoying Habits of Some Philosophers (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)