The gaze is our lack (of being), that which
slips in our relation to
things; it is only a “strange contingency” and “pre-existence” to sight (The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis 72). “I see only from one point,” Lacan explains, “but in my existence I am looked at from all sides” (72).
In that sense, we may call the gaze the texture of being and, to paraphrase Lacan, I would say that in my existence I’m envelopped traversed supported by the texture of being which, by that very gesture, provides a structural framework for and a mapping of my being in the world, a plastic space in which the body, and language, can move freely, dancing, in flight…
The gaze that looks at me from all sides could be interpreted in terms of an all-embracing consciousness. But, the gaze is not “a universal seer.” It is, in the words of Lacan, “that which always escapes from the grasp of that form of vision that is satisfied with itself in imagining itself as consciousness” (74). Nor is the gaze perceived “as seeing oneself seeing oneself” (74). The essence of the gaze is like a dream where “it shows” without the dreamer watching himself dreaming the dream.
Showing is thus essential to the gaze, but what is shown? A picture of one’s identity, of one’s psychological reality, of the real “in which the subject has to map himself as such”. The picture is, in other words, a “mapping of space, not sight” (86); it is a mapping out of the invisible, of the psyche, of the texture of being. And this mapping must be perceived in terms of a “temporal function, instantaneity”(87). In the real there is no timeline, just as a dream is an amalgamation of disparate memories, desires, fantasies, wishes that write their own composition.