The Invention of Morel
“The Invention of Morels”, also known as Morels Invention written in 1940, turned out to be one of Casares’ greatest works despite being previously overlooked. The account is today made famous through the television series “Lost”, where a man is similarly stuck on an island and seems to have hallucinations that eventually start to seem like reality. In the book, the narrator is stuck on an island somewhere and as time goes by, he comes to discover there were other inhabitants at another point in time. He eventually runs into some people who seem to be a part of the island he thought he had believed he was on his own. As he says, “I am a writer who has always wanted to live on a lonely island.” (Snook 1979). Among them, is a beautiful woman whom he falls in love with as the plot unfolds. The idea behind the novel is in the different aspects of life. It is a tale of a man on a quest to find his soul and as he goes on, he comes to discover that on overcoming the fear of death and in the realization of ones consciousness, real life does lie. The man also comes to discover that the inhabitants do not see him or simply choose not to (Casares, & Simms p. 82). “The narrator’s inability to relate to the others seems to be symbolic. He could be dead and existing…” (Auerbach 2001). However, the whole occurrence is as real as day to him.
It is an impossible love story where a man’s love causes him to commit acts he never thought himself capable of. The man, formerly a scientist who ran away to this previously inhabited island, finds the inhabitants in an unconscious state in a museum. He then finds Faustine whom he falls in love with and later attempts to recreate his first vision of her through a flower garden. Among the people he finds on the island is a man in great resemblance of himself, Morel, who shares a love with Faustine. This love between them, where Morel is living his life makes him incredibly jealous. He then finds a speech by Morel showing the making of a machine, which is believed to synthesize all human emotion through various senses (Quinby 135). With this, he plans to create a world for himself, his love and his friends whom he kills and attempts to destroy the machine but finds it has the ability to reproduce. It now seems to be acting in revenge to repay the injustice of its possible destruction.
The novel uses a series of events, some real and some unreal in the man’s quest to find himself. In reality, he is a fugitive on the island and ended up there in escape of a life sentence for his crime. He suffers regret for his crime and is remorseful but is afraid to reveal himself to the inhabitants whom he is sure are going to prosecute him. There is evidence of this where he says he is sure that like any other city, they have stored away somewhere fingerprints of all the inhabitants, which they can easily use to track and prosecute him. There is also some evidence that the past inhabitants were wiped off the island by an incurable disease, which he is now trying to survive and possibly find a cure. An analysis of the book shows that a number of ideas can be derived from the events. While one may say he is dead, in purgatory another may argue that the events are a series of his imagination or that he has been committed to a mental institution and they are all hallucinations. It may also be that the occurrence is because of some projection of his life on the island, happening concurrently with the current life.
The final derivation explains the two moons and suns that he sees. The idea is that the projection comes from the machine created by Morels, of the events of the same week occurring repeatedly in time. The machine is said to synchronize all senses to the emergence of the soul. The effect of this week being re-played continuously results in it becoming the reality of these inhabitants hence they lose their lives. This brings out a theme of circular time or eternal occurrence. According to Casares, such knowledge of eternal existence is the cause of great distress to the point of death. The idea of eternity results in a slow death for man because while it is a life with no difficulty, it is a never-ending prison for its inhabitants.
The statement “When all senses are synchronized, the soul emerges.” (Casares p.71), is well brought out by the fact that the fugitive is in exact likeness to Morels. There is a shift in consciousness from the original form of the fugitive to the fictional Morels. The two simply cannot co-exist. While one is subject to time the other is not and vice versa. Everything that is going on the island is a creation of Morels machine. Casares tries to bring out that while the machine replays the reality, the external environment remains the same. This is however not true because the reality is being replicated in a different environment yet the inhabitants lack the ability to realize this and make the necessary changes. This then locks them in a prison where they are unable to derive the necessary satisfaction. The shifting in consciousness has locked the inhabitants in a place of confusion and they are no longer in control therefore making them similar to the objects that surround them. While Morels claims to have captured the soul, there is actually no proof as his characters only embody the senses. He is only able to replicate a certain reality in a constant state that is not affected by the individual’s subjectivity.
The fugitive seems to be doomed no matter what way he goes. He cannot continue to live alone on the island when it is impossible for him to interact with the other inhabitants. He is also tortured by the fact that he is deeply in love with Faustine yet has no way to express this love or enjoy the love she would return. He is also unable to jump into a boat and go back home to Venezuela since because of the crime he committed, he is at risk of life imprisonment upon his return. He therefore results to looking for a way in which he can become a part of the life he mostly longs for, that in which he and Faustine can be together. The fugitive strives to understand Morels machine and eventually manages to replicate himself in that world and be by her side.
He is now one with his existence as he is willing to give up his soul for the mechanical immortality. “If we grant consciousness, and all that which distinguishes us from objects to the persons who surround us, we shall have no valid reason to deny it to the persons created by my machinery.” (Casares & Simms p.71) It is my understanding therefore that one does not have to develop physically this consciousness but because of certain occurrences and changes in reality, ones consciousness tends to shift. The sum of this is a number of individuals who are constantly changing with the changing times where those who resist this change are imprisoned by their defensiveness.
As the series of events continue to happen, one day, the tourists who are the previous inhabitants disappear and the fugitive begins to panic. They however return that night but with different reactions to the current environment. We find them jumping to shake the cold off while the island is actually quite hot. On closer inspection however, the fugitive realizes that he does not recognize them. He tries to explain the previous occurrences to them but they do not believe him and he storms of in anger. The people are then able to derive that just as the last group ceased to exist, they will too. One of them manages to decipher the pattern brought about by Morel’s machine bringing the reader to the understanding that the two suns and moon do indeed exist but as an overlap of the events in the projection with real time events.
For the fugitive however, he has resigned himself to all attempts that will enable him to spend the rest of his days with Faustine. He cannot continue to live in longing and jealousy and resigns to a physical death. In the end, we draw the conclusion that the fugitive is the only real person in the whole encounter. One may also conclude that having being sentenced to a lifetime in prison, he did not actually ever go to the island and that it is fictional. Given that all this happened while he was in jail, what the writer was trying to bring out is that our reality is as real as our thoughts. “When all senses are synchronized, the soul emerges.” (Casares p.71) that is, a persons hallucinations can be their reality, which when they choose to accept, they free their consciousness.
Auerbach, David. The invention of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares. Web. May 11 2003.
Casares, Adolfo, & Simms, Ruth. The Invention of Morel. New York, NY: New York Review Books, 2003. Print.
Quinby, Lee. Genealogy and Literature. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota Press, 1995. Print.
Snooks, Margaret. “The Narrator as Creator and Critic in the Invention of Morel.” Latin American Literary Review 1979: 45-51. Web.