Typology of the Gaze

The Gaze was brought into prominence through the psycho analytic language of Jacque Lacan. But he emphasized only one kind of gaze, the phallic gaze. Here I would like to disseminate various typologies.

I would like to begin a narrative of Lacan’s Gaze, the Phallic. The phallic has strong libidinal connotations, meaning the gaze is of a sexual one. The phallic embraces masculine sexuality to its very core. It’s typical of the male libido that when he sees an attractive woman his adrenalin surges in the brain, he kind of preys upon the subject with a symptom of aroused, libidinal gesture. For example even in today we use in language the phrase: ‘she is hot and not he’.

For commenting on the Feminine gaze especially the erotic one, I would like to go back to the language of courtly love. You have to literally please a woman to win her subjective affections and that too being a very difficult task. Wooing a woman is the most difficult thing in the world. You have to please her with words, cajole her with affections and animate her soul with love. Sexuality for her unlike males is a secondary concern. Her genetic makeup is tuned to courtly love and courtly love has not undergone any significant revisionism.

Next I would like introduce a new terminology for the gaze called as the animistic gaze. This gaze is related to the primitive man’s fascination towards animistic objects and they being ritualistic totems. When one is undergoing an animistic gaze, one is awed, one is in rapture, or one feels an intense repulsion. The animistic is entirely subjective and embraces the human tendency to be intensely emotional and subjective.

Then there is the causal gaze or the stare. For example: I stare upon the chair and reflectively acknowledge its existence, but I do not let it allow to disturb the contents of my consciousness. The chair exists, and I longer ponder of its existence.

The next gaze that I would like to put into framework is the objective gaze. The objective gaze is an analytic one. One, through the gaze probes reasons, causes, effects or solutions. The objective gaze is a scientific, mathematical, logical and philosophical gaze.

Next I would like to classify the gay gaze. I would like to introduce two new typologies derived from Jungian psychology. They are the anima for the feminine or the lesbian gaze and the animus for the homosexual. What is the gaze of the anima? I would like to trace the footprints of Jung and leave it at the doorstep of the archetypal feminine. The anima is a feminine one, invested with the feminine psyche and her libido. What is the gaze of the animus? The animus depicts the archetypal masculinity. We can see it work in the famous Michael Angelo’s nude sculpture of David. David is adorned as poetic youth with metaphor that shows beatification with the nude. The animus portrays homosexuality vividly.

King Louis’s Fragrant Kingdom – The Perfumed Court of Obsession

Not to alarm you but what historians claim that our ancestors hesitated to bathe is quite true. Hygiene among the noble people was rare to find and thus we can only imagine what they would have smelled like. But trust me, it wasn’t that bad after all because we are talking about King Louis’s court and it was known for its extensive use of perfumes and everything that smelled pleasant. What few of us are aware of is that our nobility had a great fear of water. People back then had a common belief that diseases travelled through water. Now this is what led them to stay away from it and eventually prevented them from bathing. They thought that the less they bathed the healthier they would stay. They couldn’t be further from the truth but we know that now, so let’s come them some slack this time. This is the reason that during King Louis XIV’s reign perfumes were used on a wide scale to scent every nook and corner of the castle and whatever possible. This actually happened and the air in and around the castle became so heavy with fragrance that the French court gradually came to be known as “the Perfumed Court.”

So was that it? That is what they did the entire time, day in and day out? Trying to hide and cover up unpleasant and pungent odors? Wouldn’t that be redundant and didn’t they have better things to do? Didn’t they have a kingdom to look after? The answer is yes and no. The truth is that they were not just used to hide a less than pleasing scents. Perfumes were in fact quite expensive to produce and clearly deemed as a sign of luxury. For instance, clothing perfume was used all over as a telling sign of one’s wealth. So this was not just a means to smell good but to portray a grander image.

Imagine the place that you live in is studded throughout with several bowls filled with loads of flower petals that sweeten the air. It is still something over the top but it is a castle, remember. In the same manner their furniture was given an equal opportunity to smell good as generous quantities of perfume were sprayed onto them. Not only this, but any visitors that came to the palace were doused with perfume before they entered. Even the fountains that were dispersed about the palace had scented water in them. Such became the impact of perfumes and fragrances on King Louis that he eventually grew extremely sensitive to all kinds of scents and would get migraines even at the slightest hint of a smell. This constant exposure to perfume did this to him and we don’t want any bit of it. Perfumes and fragrances were so essential back then and the constant need to smell good was so intense that it almost became an obsession. Well, I would say that it is a bit of obsession still but of a much smaller magnitude and we are definitely not dousing ourselves or each other in perfumes anymore.

King Henry VIII and His Six Miserable Wives

What comes to your mind when you hear “Henry VIII?” Perhaps, he became King of England centuries ago who married six women and beheaded all of them. Actually, he beheaded only two of his wives, but beheaded thousands of people during his reign. But, how and why did he marry so many times?

Henry VIII was arguably England’s most infamous king, and one of the worst monarch who had ever ruled. Historians have used the most unfavorable adjectives to describe this Medieval English ruler, such as: wife-murderer, tyrant, obsessive, greedy, self-indulgent, and gluttonous. What was most important to Henry, like most kings throughout history, was to marry to solidify political alliances, gain status, wealth, land, and, especially, to produce a male heir. Henry VIII did not marry to be a happily wedded man. As his six wives could testify, Henry was an intolerable husband.

Henry began his life as a husband in 1509 when he was eighteen years old. He married Catherine of Aragon who was the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, as well as husband to Henry’s deceased brother. While this marriage lasted twenty-four years and solidified ties between England and Spain, Catherine was expected to have a son to succeed Henry as the next king of England. But among seven pregnancies that ended in miscarriages and stillbirths or produced babies that died shortly after their births, Catherine only gave him one daughter – the future Queen Mary I of Scotland. To Catherine’s horror, Henry was so displeased with her for not producing a male heir that he asked the Pope for an annulment. The Pope didn’t allow it, so Henry rebelled against Rome and started his own church. Although breaking away from the Catholic Church resulted in heresy and excommunication, Henry’s own church, called the “Church of England” enabled him to divorce Catherine. Henry was the head of the Church of England which, eventually forced England to sever ties with, not just the Pope, but most other Catholic countries. It should be noted that during their marriage, Henry had developed severe mental and physical illnesses which contributed to his erratic, tyrannical behavior.

After his divorce to Catherine of Aragon, it was back to business to find a woman who could produce a male heir. Henry married Anne Boleyn. Their marriage didn’t last as long as Henry’s first to Catherine. Anne became enraged at Henry. She was so notorious for her irritability that Henry’s court tried to avoid her. Henry grew so tired of Anne’s strong-willed attitude, he had her beheaded. Anne had many miscarriages with Henry, but she gave birth to a baby girl who later became Queen Elizabeth I.

Jane Seymour became Henry’s third wife immediately after Anne death. Unlike Anne Boleyn, Jane was a quiet and complacent woman who Henry genuinely loved and respected. The king was even more pleased when she gave birth to a baby boy, Edward IV. Henry finally got the male heir he wanted. Unfortunately, after their first year of marriage, Jane died two weeks after giving birth to Prince Edward. Henry was devastated because Jane was the love of his life.

Henry didn’t immediately look for anyone to marry after Jane Seymour’s death but was encouraged to marry for political reasons. A marriage was arranged between him and a noble woman from Germany named Anne of Cleves. Henry disliked her at first sight because she wasn’t nearly as beautiful as reported. She never became pregnant after consummation. Anne and Henry got along well enough, but he made early plans to annul their marriage after six months. Much to Anne’s joy, she was given money and several homes out in the English countryside.

Several weeks after his annulment with Anne, Henry became infatuated with Catherine Howard, a younger member of Anne’s own household. Catherine was a seventeen-year-old promiscuous, conniving girl who won the attention of the king. She attended to his health needs since he was considered old at forty-nine years of age and in increasingly poor health. Unfortunately, Catherine had many affairs with younger men at court. When Henry learned about her betrayal, he had her beheaded.

As Henry grew older, his health continued to deteriorate. Nevertheless, he married one last time. His last wife, Katherine Parr became Henry’s friend. Henry developed many illnesses and she took care of him during his final years. Katherine loved Henry’s children, and showered them with a lot of attention. She loved him and even mourned the great king after his death.

When Henry died in 1547, he had been married thirty-six out of his fifty-six-year life span. England’s most infamous king was no wonderful, loving husband to four of his wives. His strong-willed second wife, Anne Boleyn and wildly promiscuous fifth wife, Catherine Howard were executed. He divorced first wife, Catherine of Aragon, which led to historical changes in Christianity and lost important ties to other European countries. Yet, Henry’s annulment to fourth wife, Anne of Cleves resulted in far fewer consequences, except for the fact she was happy to leave him. Only his third wife, Jane Seymour died a natural death, which King Henry mourned for a long time. His last wife, Catherine Parr was the only wife who actually loved Henry, and mourned him after his death. During his final years of life, Henry ate obsessively and ballooned to 400 pounds. At 56 years old, Henry died a sick, heartbroken monarch who only had three legitimate children from six wives. At least two of them-Mary I and, especially Elizabeth I would later play crucial roles in English history.