In Fleming's Bond books there is a distinct emphasis on eyes and looking: there are many descriptions of eyes, typically to illuminate deficiencies and darkness of character. Cold, bloodshot, blank, twitching, black, pale, dead eyes everywhere.
Now Bond noticed that though the eyes rested on him they had become slightly opaque. They gazed upon Bond without perception. [...] Her eyes blazed for an instant and then went opaque [...] There was no message. They were not focused on his. They looked through him. (LLD74, 79, 80)
More interesting, the act of looking is often described as if it were a mechanical act. Eyes become objects:
James Bond [...] again picked up the jeweller's glass [...] and this time managed to fix it securely into the soket of his right eye. (DAF12)
There are metaphors of film, lenses ("bright, hard eyes like camera lenses" DAF183), x-rays, guns ("black bullet holes of the eyes" YOLT), sniper scopes and above all photography. Bond villains become watchful machines.
For an instant Mr Goldfinger's pale, china-blue eyes opened wide and stared hard at Bond. They stared right through his face to the back of his skull. Then the lids drooped, the shutter closed over the X-ray, and Mr Goldfinger took the exposed plate and slipped it away in his filing system. (G34)
he was one of those men [...] who seem almost to suck the eyes out of your head. [...] The gaze of these soft doll's eyes was totally relaxed and rarely held any expression stronger than a mild curiosity in the object of their focus [...] they stripped the guilty of the false and made him feel transparent [...] Blofeld's gaze was a microscope, the window on the world of a superbly clear brain. (T56, 60-1)
Some of this is Fleming reaching for the efficient certainty and coolness of technological machinery but there's a clear sense of Bond holding himself at a distance from other people.
Fleming also reverses this metaphor, and has inanimate objects suddenly perceived by Bond as if they were human faces, eyes:
the two side windows and the entrance door made two eyes and a mouth. The place seemed to be looking at him, watching him, waiting for him (DAF131)
The many eyes of the castle, glittering white in the moonlight, watched his approach with the indifference of total power. (YOLT205)
This seems to go beyond a mere anthropomorphic bias in Bond, and towards something uncanny. These perceptual moments of organic-eye-as-camera and technologic-object-as-sensing-being eventually seem to overlap: there's an occlusion in the reader's mind that hybridises humans and technology. Fleming seems to write the visual as an experience that's essential yet unreliable and aberrant.
Bond himself is a blind spot: others' vision often cuts through him as if he weren't there: "The grey eyes looked at him, through him" (LLD14). And Bond witnesses an act of violence against a woman at the moment that he sees himself reflected in a barber's mirror. This doubled vision hints that he sees his own doppelganger substitute:
It was as Bond was inspecting the back of his head that it happened (DAF189)
Eyes as camera, buildings that see and his invisibility suggest that Bond experiences an altered state psychologically, which we shall return to in a section about his hallucinatory drink-fuelled and fearful visions.
Previously: Not stirred. Next: Bond's boredom, fear and superstition.