Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Meets the Eyes

New York is, amongst it's many wonders, a feast for the eyes. Whether it's our amazing skyline or our beautiful parks, whether it's our impressive bridges or interesting streets, NYC is never boring to gaze at (scary, sometimes, weird, often, but never boring).

But what about the things we're not supposed to see -- yet do anyway?

Like graffiti sprayed on the metal gates of stores: graffiti is illegal in this town, it's the defiling of property and community standards. When we see graffiti, we have, in essence, seen evidence of a crime.

And what about voyeurs? In this crowded city, with buildings stacked close to one another, people can look out their windows and see other people in their apartments, their inner sanctums, their designated zones of privacy and respite. When people look into other people's homes in this city, they're being nosy neighbors. And when people stare into other people's homes with binoculars hoping to see people naked, showering, having sex, naked and showering and having sex, or perhaps doing something else either sexual or nasty, then they become naughty neighbors -- otherwise known as voyeurs or Peeping Toms.

Considering what a crazy crowded city we live in, it's amazing the whole place isn't sprayed with graffiti and that anyone anywhere has any privacy.

Two articles today look at these dilemmas of that which we see in NYC but should not.

First, an article in the Times about new city council rule forbidding the use of metal gates on stores precisely because they are graffiti magnets. The city council has ruled that from now on stores must have open weave gates, gates with spaces in them that will hopefully deter graffiti artists and other such miscreants.

Second, a column by a young woman recently arrived in our fair city. She describes what it was like stepping out of the shower one day only to see her neighbor (someone Archie Bunker might call a "prevert") ogling her lithe young dripping person and about how she totally freaked.

Both stories got me thinking: we see so much stuff in this city everyday, our eyes are bombarded with so much visual data each millisecond, what-oh-what are we to make of those very few things we shouldn't see but do anyway? Granted there's a HUGE difference between looking at (even admiring creative) graffiti and intentionally staring at a naked neighbor. Still, they got me wondering: how much of what we see every day in NYC is meant for our eyes and how much of it is accidental or perhaps unintended? Who knows? It's just another one of the endlessly interesting things about living in NYC.

But then again, as a character in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors said "The eyes of God are on us always." So don't try to hide!

1 comment:

Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.