He sits and observers. Observing always from the distance; a stranger, he does not belong, does not mix, does not get lost in a group, and does not belong to a coalition.
He is on the side, focusing with the lens of his binoculars, enlarging every detail.
Everything interests him, every face, every expression, and every movement. Observing intensively, carefully, studies all, as though his life depended on it.
Just ordinary people, but he observes as though he sees them for the first time. He is looking but as if he was not looking, photographs with his eyes, records with his ears, but as though he does not – for he is a planted agent, a foreign plant, not from here, a tourist from a different place. His language is not their language and their language is not his own – and therefore he should be careful not to arise unnecessary attention.
He is indeed from the distance, but so involved even more than people in whom he is watching, people that are so close to each other, but so distant, so unaware to that which exists beyond the standard trivia chatter. And him? He is more than aware, he wonders, people for him are a wonderful phenomenon. He understands them better than they understand themselves, but he finds it difficult to grasp the enthusiasm in the trivia, the effort in nonsense, the seriousness in nothingness, the hassle in the dullness.
He watches them and notices that apparently all are busy, all are good – but only when they are together, for when they are alone they are either sad or simply empty.
He sees that everyone is playing for everyone, but no one exists for himself, all are shining when they are with others and fading when alone.
They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.R. D. Laing