Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Gazing: Phenomenological inquiry aims to reach the perspective of the gaze.


The researcher/writer is someone who studies and practices writing in the hope to make something clear. Of course, a reluctant writer may need encouragement. And pedagogical encouragement by a teacher sometimes has to make false promises. Promises of a clear view, a sharp hearing. Indeed, there is a strange contradiction at work in helping others write. Every now and then he or she may find an updraft and suddenly soar, reaching the perspective of the gaze. Phenomenologically this could be described as really “seeing” something. Really being in touch with something. One experiences a sensation of something intuited. Further encouragement is no longer needed. In fact, external encouragement may now be brushed off, dismissed. Something strange now animates the writing: desire.


To write is to be driven by desire. So, perhaps, in a moment of desire one has become a writer, propelled to traverse the space of the text in search for another updraft-the perspective of the gaze. But it is then, and only then, that the true nature of writing may reveal itself: this is not a perspective at all. There is no-thing to see. What happens is that one realizes that there was no soaring height to reach from which things could be seen in Heideggerian brightness. One aimed for the light of insight, but one ends up facing the darkness of the night. The intimation of the gaze only yielded something unintimatable, ineffable. Perhaps, in a sensation of being surrounded by transcendence one was caught confusedly in a downward movement plunging into the Orphean depths of desire. So the original motivation to write was based on a false promise. But it was a promise that needed to be believed in, for the sake of being brought to the edge, where one may take off, on an unfulfillable (perhaps) but fine flight to finally write. One becomes a true seeker of meaning.