In the February issue of The Blue and White, Torsten Odland and Matthew Schantz tangle over whether you should, well, open the blinds. You should read the full issue either by (1) picking it up on campus or (2) letting your fingers do the walking, and logging on to theblueandwhite.org.
I like to have the blinds up.
It’s nice to be able to look out the window, isn’t it? To see the vernal hornbeams lining the street, little boys and girls playing tag on their way to school, the sunshine—it’s all out there when you have the blinds up, like an extension of the room. When they’re down, my space feels so small and dark. Cut off, you know? It feels like the whole world is just me, my stress candles, and all my little daily worries. I forget the hornbeams—I forget what it’s all about. The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul. But the window is also…a kind of eye.
Like an eye, a window is the vital link between you and the outside world. As long as you’re inside. Those hornbeams aren’t just “the view.” I have a relationship with those trees. One glimpse and—I don’t just see bark—I see where I am, where I’m going: I am in my dorm room; I’m going to continue looking at these trees. With the blinds down—I mean—how am I supposed to know what season it is? I don’t have fucking x-ray vision, Carrie. Having the blinds up reminds me of my place in the universe.
But a window doesn’t just let you look—no, a window is really two eyes. Or two eyeballs . . . looking at each other. I like knowing that it goes both ways. That while I’m looking out, someone could be peering in, penetrating my interiority. In that way, the window is a means of communication. There’s nothing like that connected feeling you get, when, late at night, you’re doing some casual surveillance, and suddenly you find yourself looking straight down the tubes of someone else’s binoculars. You can’t look away. You have a perfect moment, staring at each other. That’s the kind of experience you’ll never have with the blinds down.
And that’s the kind of experience you’re supposed to have. As a human being. I know why we build walls between our neighbors—warmth, protection—but hiding’s not in our nature. Do animals hide? Obviously not. And we’re just animals, baby. Walls are a symptom of our collective neurosis: our need to build walls. In other words: they’re an illusion. It’s through seeing and being seen that we develop a sense of who we are. That we determine the boundary between our community and ourselves. Was I “paying attention” in class that week? Public, private, nature, self-knowledge—it’s all the same thing.
If it were up to me, we wouldn’t even have windowpanes. Just open air. That’s why I usually leave my window ajar. Let me tell you, on Sunday mornings, when the sun starts streaming in, one of my favorite things is to stand on my windowsill and lean out into the new day. There’s nothing like that crisp air, the subtle breeze over my genitalia, the faces of people walking below…It really puts you in touch with your environment—with the people in your world. Sometimes, even when I’m not physically masturbating, the visual bond I form with those pedestrians, making that weird sunday morning face, excites me to climax.
So come on, baby. Don’t be afraid. I want them to see all the freaky things I’m going to do to your asshole.
Let’s keep the blinds down.
To live in New York is to live in a series of interiors, scurrying from one room to the next. Really, to live is to peek into a series of interiors — the thoughts of others, our subconscious, our souls. Think about the language we use to talk about ourselves: “innermost feelings,” “deepest secrets,” “the core of my being.” We should embrace these walls as the physical manifestation of our perceptions’ horizons. To close the blinds is an act of humility. We should feel it. More importantly, we should feel each other. Take your binoculars for example: they let you see who’s far away, showering, but they make it impossible for you to see me, Carrie, sitting right here in front of you, trying to shower you in affection. I’ve got a place you can bury those daily worries and it’s right here between my—
Stop opening the blinds! You know what else they say about eyes? You gotta keep them on the prize, and the prize is sitting right here, directly opposite your window. You’ve got to exchange that telescope for a microscope and focus. On me. Just like you did the time I caught you staring at my belly-button ring from across that crowded Carman room. There’s nothing more attractive than a navel-gazer.
Now I see you looking out that window thinking that making crazed eye-contact with a passing stranger somehow makes you part of a “community.” But before you can enter any sort of public, you have to make crazed eye-contact with the strangers that lurk within — past lives, suppressed memories, the ghosts of secret fears. Then you’re going to have to think long and hard about the division between the public and the private. But all that soul-searching doesn’t have to happen now. Really, I would prefer you to be unthinking, long, and hard. And if you would just close the blinds you could resolve a division currently keeping you out of a different kind of “private space.”
Would you stop opening the blinds? I know you like to admire the greenery outside, but I too am like a flower: unique, easy to bruise emotionally, and in desperate need of affirmation. Take a note from Georgia O’Keeffe: nature is most beautiful when you notice its subtle intricacies and genital resemblance. Think of me as a fleshy mirror up to nature. It doesn’t even have to be subtle, I can be a “penis fly-trap.” Just let me catch you in my folds. Is that a tree growing in Brooklyn or are you just happy to see me?
Do you even see me?
Haven’t you studied the panopticon? Your sense of self is so firmly subjugated to the gaze of disciplinary society that you can’t even appreciate your fucking hornbeams without the possibility of being watched by others. This is not the hot kind of Discipline and Punish. Didn’t you pay attention? The sexual liberation myth is just that, a myth. Your exhibitionist act of defiance only further colonizes your body. But I know some organs of power I think we can subjugate and I have a plan to free us from biopower. You can start by freeing me from these jeans. You can start by just looking, damnit.
No? Fine. The only thing you’re about to “come on” is the window pane, asshole.