The Marabar Caves

Or more specifically, the Marabar Caves and the television series “Lost”. The two share many similarities: an exotic location(the novel’s opening is like a panoramic scene from a movie), people who don’t really want to be where they are (Adela’s mind is on marriage, Aziz’s on breakfast, and everyone on the island wants to get off it), and a terrifying presence noone except the victim has seen or heard(an echo best symbolises the Caves, rustling trees the creature in “Lost”).

If a visit to the Marabar Caves is an attempt by the British members of the picnic party to access the “real” India, to glean some semblance of what an authentic India is, then the Caves’ ability to confuse and mislead even a native of the land highlights the impossibility of that task. Immediately, Modernist concerns of knowledge and representation echo in my head, as sure as the echo that plagues Adela. Truth with a “T” is substituted in the novel with the experience of a “real” India. That experience is at times awkward, at times terrifying and at times simply unrecognizable by the British, but it is present  in the strange nooks and crannies of the Marabar Caves.

As Adela is described running out frantically from the caves with cactus thorns pricking her and she melodramatically flings herself around, I cannot help but be reminded of those little trailers for “Lost” where some poor soul is running away through the bushes from the thing that ominously stirs the trees before killing them. Much like Truth for the Modernists, you know it’s there, you just don’t know what it looks like. It shakes the trees, lets out a growl or leaves an echo in your head. Many different forms, but you’ll never see the Thing itself.

Well, not until the next episode maybe.

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