invention of the unreal

I got attracted by discovering the novel La invencion de Morel (1940) by the Argentinean author Adolfo Bioy Casares.

It is the description how an anonymous fugitive arrives at a desert island and has to realize that a mysterious group of ‘characters’ suddenly appear on the island. The narrator tries in vain to come into contact with them. Finally he concludes that they are not real people, but hyper-realistic holograms that are produced by a machine. This machine, invented by the Mr. Morel referred to in the title, has recorded the presence of the people in the past and will now continue to broadcast their images “for ever and ever”. The figures that confront the hero are no more than apparitions, making actual communication impossible.

The story reappears in various contexts – not only under the title ‘invisible scripts‘ (anyway an actual idea) as a recent curating theme – but also in reflections on the virtual (link) …

What he finds there is a terrifying and seductive new technological invention, created by a mad scientist Morel, a 1940s televisual answer to Wells’ Moreau who, you will remember, fashioned human beings out of pumas in a double allegory of science and colonization, medicine and mission. Morel’s invention also transforms bodies, quite literally consuming the real to produce its hyperreal simulacrum. In that, it can serve for us today as an allegory for a new kind of technologically mediated colonization — that of globalization — and precursor of a new mode of telematic simulation.

… and ‘as an hidden underlying structuring scource in so wellknown works like Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad (link to an interesting article about the film and its relation to the mentioned text).

But finally a quote from the book itself:

The body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom. Love is a privileged perception, the most total and lucid not only of the unreality of the world but of our own unreality: not only do we traverse a realm of shadows; we ourselves are shadows.
(12 page pdf of the book’s introduction)
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