by John Grauerholz
There are some scientists that scrutinize the behavior of animals in a zoo – I stalk complete strangers in order to understand human interaction. One of those research subjects is you, my dear reader. Consider this surveillance to be a sort of study project.
I sit outside your house and keep watch. I observe who you might let into your home. I follow you just beyond your peripheral vision. I keep a record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
Consider stalking to be a kind of guerrilla ethnography. I scrutinize everything. I record your every lapse and your every longing with a pinhole camera. I photograph your daily routine; I capture every facial expression; I video exactly what it is that you do in your bedroom.
Consider stalking to be a type of research project. Sometimes I plant hidden microphones – but I won’t tell you exactly where. I possess a recording of every telephone conversation that you have ever made. When you accidentally reveal your deepest secret, I listen in. Stalking gives me an opportunity to monitor human beings in the wild, as it were.
Sometimes, though, I place obstacles in your environment – just to evaluate how you might react. If you have recently experienced some unfortunate events, if you have recently undergone some unpleasant episodes in your life, perhaps these impediments are part of my ethnographic experiment. Sometimes I make a few alterations in your text messages before they are released to the recipient – just slight improvements, mind you. Sometimes I withdraw a little bit of money from your bank account – just enough to see how you might respond.
The act of surveillance transforms the observer: watching my human experiments invariably makes me feel isolated from the rest of society. The act of stalking creates a boundary between the viewer and the subject. The process of keeping targets under surveillance transmutes the personality of the stalker. Covert observation gives the watcher the impression that he is of a completely different species than that of his subjects. Conducting surveillance is a means of my own exaltation.
Taking a surreptitious photo gives me an intuition that I “own” you. When I shadow your movements through the city, I have this idea that I am, somehow, controlling your travel direction. I stalk you for this particular rush of “deification” and “superiority” into my psyche. An individual becomes one of the elite not by treating other humans kindly, but by reducing other people to the objects that they truly are. Watching you gives me the sensation that I am a god.
Don’t mistake me – you are of no particular importance to me. You are just a target for me to calibrate my awareness. You are a subject precisely because you are so worthless – after all, an ethologist does not select one specific animal because it is unique, but because the creature is completely representative of the entire herd.
You are of such insignificance that I know you better than you know yourself. You only exist because you are in my files. You are only alive only because I opened a dossier on you. If something were to happen to my data, your life would vanish. If I were to close my eyes, you would disappear.