“Eye contact” is not as well-defined a concept as it seems. As a child, I had an idea that true eye contact required a perfect eye-to-eye lock: my right eye looking into the other’s left eye, my left eye looking into their right, and vice versa. This, of course, is impossible; you have to pick one eye, or a point somewhere near the eyes on the face, in order to focus your gaze. The paths might randomly cross, but they don’t meet and stop. When standing near someone at a party, or sitting on opposite sides of a desk, holding eye contact is tricky — not because of the intimacy, but because you have to move your eyes around to take in their whole face. Counterintuitively, the illusion is easier to maintain if the person you’re looking at is farther away.
More… “Ways of Looking”

Elisa Gabbert is the author of L'Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean) and The French Exit (Birds LLC). Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.


Usually when someone starts talking about how our inner cavemen chafes against our modern lifestyles, it’s a man justifying his cheating on his wife: “I am not built for monogamy — I am programmed to spread my seed!” Our sex lives are not the only part of us that goes against “nature.” From our diets to our urban surroundings to our parenting, modern life occasionally goes so against our evolutionary impulses that we become sick. With depression and obesity on the rise, and our recent exiting from the most violent century in the history of mankind, the warning signs that we are living wrong keep showing up.

When we talk about human evolution, it’s helpful to remember that we are a mere speck on the Earth. The Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old. The… More…