A Fine Line Between Love and Immortality 

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In the novel, The Invention of Morel, we learn about a Venezualan fugitive’s life on what is said to be a dangerous uninhabited Polynesian island. He resides on the island because he is attempting to hide from the police. However, one day more people show up, but they do not interact with him. The fugitive eventually learns the people on the island are being projected by a machine invented by Morel, one of the men on the island. A material world is created by Morel’s machine. Not only is the world created physical, but the fugitive also becomes emotionally attached to the world too, specifically one of the people on the island named Faustine. The fugitive has to come to terms about his life both before and after he figures out about the machine and decide what is truly important to him. We as humans face similar problems the fugitive had to deal with in our everyday lives.

When the fugitive gets to the island, he notices there are already signs of civilization, but no people. An Italian rug seller in Calcutta told the fugitive, “around 1924, a group of white men built a museum, a chapel, and a swimming pool on the island. The work was completed, and then abandoned.” (Casares, 10) One night, the fugitive went to bed and was awoken by the music and shouting of other people. However, he did not hear any form of transportation arrive. The fugitive is very skeptical of these newcomers and tries to keep hidden from them because of his fear that they have come to the island to turn him into the police. Despite the fugitive’s fears, he can’t keep himself concealed for long. He soon falls in love with a woman on the island named Faustine. She sits on the rocks to watch the sunset every afternoon. She wears a bright scarf over dark curls. Faustine gives the fugitive hope, something he thought he would never have on the island. He watches her everyday until he finally builds up the courage to make himself known to her. Despite his efforts to acquire the mutual feeling from Faustine that he feels for her, she doesn’t acknowledge him. The fugitive even goes out of his way to make her a garden with numerous flowers and a romantic design and a quote, but nothing prevails. Not only does Faustine not acknowledge the fugitive, but all of the other residents on the island as well. Other unusual signs appear too, like two suns and two moons. Soon, the fugitive starts to question his mental state. He debates on whether he has the infamous disease on the island, which is causing him to hallucinate and make up the people and signs in his head. He also ponders if the polluted air of the lowlands and his improper diet has made him invisible. However, none of what the fugitive speculates is correct.

Finally, one night a man named Morel, who also is in love with Faustine, calls a meeting for everyone on the island to listen to what he has to say. He tells them he has created a machine that will allow the people recorded, in a sense, to “live forever.” Morel was able to save their character, their aspirations, and their logic and their body. In this way, they would live forever in a happy memory that they wouldn’t recall. Immortality of the soul, if you will. Morel, without telling the residents on the island he was doing so, had been recording them for the past week. Being recorded, however, makes the actual body of the human deteriorate. The recording of the past week will forever play on the island. Everything starts to become a lot clearer to the fugitive as he listens in on Morel’s explanation. The people, in a way, aren’t real. They are projections. This realization is heartbreaking for the fugitive. Faustine isn’t even real. In the end, the fugitive makes the decision to record himself into the projection so it appears him and Faustine were actually lovers, and that hopefully, one day, someone will be able to invent a machine based off of Morel’s that merges souls, and his and Faustine’s can be together forever.

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While on the island the fugitive has to come to terms about his life both before and after he figures out about the machine. One of the challenges the fugitive faces is figuring out why the people on the island aren’t responding to him. The unresponsiveness of the people could represent the narrator’s inability to relate to others. His crime could have cast him out from the foundation of humanity and left him socially invisible. He could be imagining or recreating life on the island when he is in fact alone. Once the fugitive figures out about the machine, he faces the challenge of figuring out how the machine actually works. Down in the basement, he discovers a problem with the real world and the projection and the overlapping by breaking the tiles, and the tiles continuing to be repaired moments later. This can also be said for not only the buildings, but the humans as well. If we were to create a copy of a person in the same exact situation, what would there be to separate the copy’s consciousness from the original’s? In the story, there is an apparent view of consciousness, which means they can’t coexist. There is a metaphysical boundary between the real and the unreal. Morel states that his machine only replicates what already exists, however, this is untrue as the machine actually reconstructs reality. The people recorded have no idea that anything has changed. The projections are not conscious of their surroundings.

Not only do the fugitive’s physical findings impact him and his decisions, but his emotions as well. Ever since he laid eyes on Faustine, he has been in love with her. Infatuated by her, and maybe slightly obsessed. She gave him hope, something to live for. Every chance he got he tried to get closer to her, and eventually built up the courage to try and talk to her. His love for Faustine is so strong that he decides to record himself into the projection, and by doing so, give up his real life. Faustine meant more to him than any element in the real world. His only desire was for her to love him back and for them to be together, even if it just be in a projection. The fear of death has been a concern of humans as long as time itself. In contrast, immortality and boundless love are some of the greatest desires humans seek. Love, in a way, can make us feel like we will live forever. This concept is what makes Morel want to create the machine in the first place, to immortalize himself with Faustine. The same goes for the fugitive.

We as humans face similar problems the fugitive had to deal with in our everyday lives. The fugitive felt invisible on the island because none of the humans were acknowledging him. The intruders couldn’t see him because they were simply images and memories. The fugitive couldn’t accept that invisibility. It was very painful for him, especially when it was Faustine ignoring him. To be imperceptible to others is basically like dying. “It was not as if he had not heard me, as if he had not seen me; it was as if the ears I had were not good enough to hear, as if the eyes I had were not good enough to see.” (Casares, 44) There are times when we as humans feel invisible too, and very lonely. Not because the people around us are projections, but just because people, and friends, can be mean sometimes and act like you don’t exist. Maybe it was something we did to offend them, but whatever the cause, we know what this feels like, and so did the fugitive, and it is not a good feeling.

Along with the very real and common emotions of feeling lonely, some of us know what it is like to have unrequited love, just like the fugitive. The fugitive loved Faustine, and I guess we will never know if when she was actually alive if she would have loved him back, but for the fugitive the love he gave and showed her was not returned. Many humans on earth pour their hearts out to a certain person and get nothing in return. The feelings we have for others are sometimes, and unfortunately, not mutual. Lastly, what may even be worse than someone not loving us back, is when plans we so wished for change. According to the fugitive, “the habits of our lives make us presume that things will happen in a certain foreseeable way, that there will be a vague coherence in the world. Now reality appears to be changed, unreal.” (Casares, 139) In life, many aspects of our lives do not go as planned. Our plans are constantly changing, sometimes to our dismay. We can organize everything precisely to how we want it to turn out, and follow through with that plan everyday, yet nothing is guaranteed to turn out the way we want them to. I ensure that the fugitive would never have guessed, or planned for that matter, that he would lose his life by recording himself with a machine to be projected for eternity to be with the woman he loves.

Once again, the fugitive had to come to terms about his life both before and after he figured out about the machine and decide what was truly important to him. We as humans face similar problems the fugitive had to deal with in our everyday lives. Looking at the fugitive’s problems can help us with our issues as well. Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at someone else’s complications and not necessarily our own. Eventually, the fugitive figures out what ultimately means the most to him, and that is his feelings for Faustine. Even though his human body deteriorated, the fugitive’s love for Faustine will live on forever.

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