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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Walang Arte: Gina Apostol’s Insurrecto and Filipino Non-Coherence


In this article, I use and theorize the Filipino performative style of walang arte to account for the ways in which Filipinos negotiate with the violence of translation and everyday life. By way of walang arte—which I will also be referring to as “the Filipino style of being” and “Filipino non-coherence”—and its disruptive and playful stylistic possibilities, I look at Gina Apostol’s 2018 novel Insurrecto as not a mere performance of a postmodern aesthetic but an enactment in novel form of a Filipino repertoire of style. On the one hand, the Filipino repertoire of style that Insurrecto performs poses a problem for translation as an act of mastery and fluency because of the ways in which it not only identifies linguistic fragmentation but bridges the fragments through play; it enacts the Filipino capacity to move between fragments of languages. On the other hand, through fragmentation and acts of breaking, the novel articulates the disjunction between playfulness and pain, the relationship between the pain of breakage and the play that breaking allows.

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