Postcolonial Pharmakon: Traumatic Transmission in Tony Perez’s Cubao-Kalaw Kalaw-Cubao

Ryan Ku

DOI: https://test.crossref.org/10.13185/KK2022.003810
Published Date: Feb 28, 2022

Abstract

Tracing Tony Perez’s Filipino modernism in Cubao–Kalaw Kalaw–Cubao to trauma, this article considers whether the novel’s processing of psychic trauma also amounts to the processing of national trauma. Seemingly positing representation as the means of traumatic processing, Perez, in distinguishing the unconscious transmission of the traumatic event from the conscious narration of its aftereffects, in fact premises representation on deconstruction. Consisting in the displaced and deferred repetition, or writing, of trauma, this process is facilitated in the novel by three discursive practices—Catholicism, psychotherapy, and creative writing—that are derived from the colonial history of the Philippines. Rather than corresponding to the nation’s postcolonial trauma, psychic trauma in the novel is thus processed through the remainders of national trauma. Of these postcolonial legacies that serve as psychic cures, Perez privileges one that causes him to disavow not only the others but also kapwa, the indigenous concept of sociality recuperated by sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino psychology) after independence to counter colonial history. Rather than working through national trauma with psychic trauma, Perez ultimately overcomes psychic trauma through the disavowal and repetition of national trauma, thus potentially inducing further psychic trauma.

Keywords

Catholicism, deconstruction, kapwa, modernism, postcolonial, trauma, writing

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
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Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
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Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
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University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

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Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)