Tyrants, Typhoons, and Trauma: Spectrality and Magic Realism in Nick Joaquin’s Cave and Shadows

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Cave and Shadows revolves around a crime investigation: Jack Henson discovers the body of Nenita Coogan in a cave that has mysteriously surfaced amid the city of Manila. Not only does his investigation reveal the reappearance of other corpses; with Nenita coming only after a series of “female priestesses” over the course of many centuries; but also the return of an ancient form of nature epitomized by the cave. Although other scholars; such as Josen Masangkay Diaz (2015); approach Cave and Shadows in terms of identity politics; I am interested in what I suggest are the spectral figures that question historical justice and that embody both remembering and forgetting. Specifically; I examine not only the specters of colonization but also the unsettled past of the infamous Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. As such; this chapter first provides a theoretical discussion of spectrality and its correlation with trauma and belatedness. It also studies the difference between mourning and mid-mourning; the latter understood as a way of ethically re-assessing historical losses. Second; it proposes two readings of the revenant; Nenita Coogan. In the third part; which analyses manifestations of ecological spectrality; I interrogate new ways of thinking about trauma in “disaster cultures.” Consequently; in the fourth part; I investigate the compatibility of MagicRealism and postcolonial trauma in decolonized societies. Finally; the chapter considers the spectrality of the Marcos Regime and the inclusion of dictatorial era as legitimate areas of investigation in Trauma Studies.