The Unnamable is full of references to eyes: eyes opening and shutting, eyes with or without eyelids, disembodied eyes, eyes that can’t see, eyes that can’t help but see, and most of all, eyes that weep copiously and without ceasing. If one of the themes of The Unnamable is the unknowable, then all of these references to eyes, and particularly to eyes weeping, should not be surprising, if the eyes are a primary mode of access to the world and to knowledge. We learn from Foucault that the clinical gaze arose in part from the gaze of a child, and find a formulation that suits art as well as science: “The discourse of the world passes through open eyes, eyes open at every instant as for the first time.” [Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, p 65, Vintage Books Edition, 1973]
But of course Beckett’s attitude toward the wide-open gaze of a child, ever in the present, is radically ambivalent. For what shall we say is behind those perfectly clear windows? That is until, piece-by-piece, the world is taken in to build, piece-by-piece, the adult? “The starting eye,” Beckett writes, “the labouring mind.” [Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, p 86, Grove Press, 1958; all quotations from The Unnamable from this edition] And then, what is the adult, but someone who has broken the world into pieces, having lost the holistic vision of the child? Oh yes, neat classical order only breaks things down so as to be able to build a new and better world. But Beckett seems to see the adult world as a wreck, and “somewhere in the heap an eye, a wild equine eye, always open, they must have an eye….” [p 97]
We know from James Knowlson’s biography of Beckett that Beckett derived his inspiration from impotence and ignorance. This was in part a reaction to his master, Joyce:
I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more…. He was always adding to it…. I realized that my own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away…. [Beckett quoted in Damned to Fame by James Knowlson, p 319]
But in The Unnamable something more serious than this is at play, for it is knowledge itself, or the attempt at knowing, and thus naming, that causes torment.
…this great wild black and white eye…. stays open, it’s an eye without lids, no need for lids here, where nothing happens, or so little, if he could blink he might miss the odd sight, if he could close it, the kind he is, he’d never open it again. Tears gush from it practically without ceasing, why is not known, whether it’s with rage, or whether it’s with grief…. or at having to see, from time to time, some sight or other…. perhaps he weeps in order not to see, though it seems difficult to credit him with an initiative of this complexity. 
What, we might well ask, of the eye of the writer? Surely all of this high literary fun about pain and the impotence of seeing is a clarity of vision of sorts? That thought, always unspoken, seems to haunt Beckett from page to page, as if he’s ashamed of his artistry, his brilliance. He must leave it unspoken. It is not even the silence he sometimes claims to yearn for. He wants to be done with being hounded by classical order, and with the transparency of the games he feels compelled to play to mock an escape from it. He wants a real escape, short of death.
perhaps that’s what I am, the thing that divides the world in two, on the one side the outside, on the other the inside…. I’m neither one side nor the other, I’m in the middle, I’m the partition…. perhaps that’s what I feel, myself vibrating, I’m the tympanum, on the one hand the mind, on the other the world, I don’t belong to either….