If Philippine cinema, during a time of dictatorial duress, has indeed gathered into its fold allegories of a certain social texture, then contemporary critique must also provide a rather thick notion of allegory itself, in order to describe the quality of the metonymic membranes which make possible the emergence of substance through eloquent surface. In this essay, I propose a critical elaboration of Laura Mulvey’s category “carapace,” and a subtle yet significant declension of surface, “diaphane,” in an attempt to intervene in the understanding of film as a plastic form with the tensile capacity to surpass its flatness by choosing to intimate within the coordinates of its semiotic labor a theory of texture, the tactile, and textuality itself. I compare Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night (1980) and PequeGallaga’sScorpio Nights (1985) to intuit that moment when, compellingly, through certain figures of ambivalence, the trope of the carapace can disseminate its attempt to enclose the world in a discursive gambit.

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