Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Reconciling Film Studies and Geography: Adolfo Bioy Casares's la Invencion De Morel

Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Reconciling Film Studies and Geography: Adolfo Bioy Casares's la Invencion De Morel

Article excerpt

If [...] matter is the inverse of consciousness, if consciousness is
action unceasingly creating and enriching itself, whilst matter is
action continually unmaking itself or using itself up, then neither
matter nor consciousness can be explained apart from one another.
--Henri Bergson, "Life and Consciousness"

[I]mmortality cannot be proved experimentally.
--Henri Bergson, "The Soul and the Body"

The short novel La invencion de Morel by Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914-1999), praised by author and friend Jorge Luis Borges who wrote the book's prologue, has been rightly considered a notable example of fantastic literature (Suarez Coalla) in the same vein as H.G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau (Levine, "Science" 1981). Along with this irreproachable, if evident, comparison critics have explored the many dimensions of the work and have noted the significant connections between it and Derridean critique (Dowling), the work of Gilles Deleuze (Silva Echeto and Browne), the existence of post-scientific subjects (Kantaris), intertextuality (E. Smith), the discourse of perfection (Gonzalez), the psychoanalytic view of self (Snook), narration and representation (Fort), Borges's short story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" (Block de Behar), parody (Levine, "Parody"), and of course the fiction/reality dichotomy (Rogachevsky). While its plot is certainly quite fantastic, and while it does merit this plurality of approaches, I believe that the fundamental trope of the novel--a three-dimensional cinematic recording machine on a remote island--suggests not merely the somewhat sensational importance of a play between fiction and reality considered in themselves, but, moreover, the crucial role that the distinct categories of space and time fulfill in our common perception and our theoretical practice. In this sense, La invencion de Morel may be considered Bergsonian.

The present account is by no means a study of the historical connection between Henri Bergson and Bioy Casares. Even so, it is important to note in passing that such an influence was plausible. Both the Argentine author and his frequent collaborator Borges were at some point familiar with the French philosopher, (1) whose works were translated into the Spanish language as early as 1900. (2) Certainly, Bergson exercised some degree of influence on the Spanish Generacion del '98, which can be seen as a precursor of the avant-garde narratives of the forties in Argentina. In an interview, Bioy Casares has admitted that he developed the short story "Historia desaforada" around a remark he purports Bergson made on the topic of intelligence (Sorrentino 204), (3) yet it is difficult to be precise regarding a conscious Bergsonian influence on the design of La invencion de Morel. Far more important than the possibility of a direct influence is the undeniable fact that they both shared a fundamental concern for larger philosophical questions and their concrete consequences. Bioy Casares shared with Bergson an interest in exploring the nature of not only time and space (see E. Smith), but also perception. Like Bergson's writings, La invencion de Morel underscores and ultimately dissolves the opposition between subjective and objective viewpoints, soul (mind) and body (matter), and even filmic representations and represented geographical space.

This essay will argue from a Bergsonian perspective, (4) first, that the problematic separation of space and time implicit in Morel's invention has philosophical roots and, second, that this philosophical schism presents methodological consequences of great interest to recent directions in the disciplines of film studies and geographical theory. Throughout, La invencion de Morel will serve as both illustration of, and simultaneous challenge to, the ill-founded schism between space and time. In fact, the cinematic apparatus at the heart of Bioy Casares's novel serves as a concrete, if fantastic, introduction to the recent and powerful methodological shifts that have brought film studies and geography together (see Cresswell and Dixon). …

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