Sex, murder, and cannibalization are only metaphors in this stunning excerpt from “The Temple of Dawn”. This is an entirely fascinating look into the mind of a narcissist, artist, and genius—and a telling revelation of how he perceived his audience and what he saw as their role in his immortalization.
“…half the babies are incredibly beautiful, while the other half are ugly and deformed.
The creative powers of all artists in the land are utilized to develop various means of slaughter. That is to say, there are theaters throughout the country devoted to sexual murder, in which the beautiful boys and girls are cast in all manner of roles where they are tortured to death. They recreate all sorts of mythological and historical personalities who were sadistically murdered while young and beautiful. But of course there are many new creations too. They are nobly murdered in magnificent, sensual costumes, with splendid lighting, brilliant stage settings, and wonderful music; but usually they are toyed with by members of the audience before they are quite dead, and after that the bodies are consumed.
The graves? The graves are right outside ‘The Garden of the Loved Ones.’ It is a beautiful place, and ugly deformed people stroll among the tombs on moonlit nights, lost in romantic moods. As statues of the beautiful ones are erected as gravestones, there’s no cemetery in the world with so many beautiful bodies.
Orgasm, a phenomenon something like a corporeal crystal, is further crystallized in memory, and following the death of the god of beauty, one can recall the highest degree of sexual excitement. The people live only in order to reach this point. Compared to this heavenly jewel, the physical existence of human beings, whether the lover or the beloved, the killer or the killed, is only the means of reaching this point. This is the ideal of the country.
Memory is the sole matter of our spirit. Even should a god appear at the climax of sexual possession, then that god becomes the ‘remembered one,’ and the lover becomes ‘the one who remembers.’ Only through this time-consuming process is the presence of the god really proved, is beauty attained for the first time, and is sexual desire distilled into love that is independent of possession. Hence, gods and humans are not separated in space, but there is a time lag between them. here lies the essence of temporal polytheism. Do you understand?
Murder sounds harsh, but it is necessary for purifying memory and distilling it into its strongest concentrated element. Besides, these ugly, deformed inhabitants are noble, truly noble. They are experts in altruism; they live for self-denial. These lovers-cum-murderers-cum-rememberers live their roles faithfully, they remember nothing about themselves, but live only in adoration of the memory of the loved ones’ beautiful death. Remembering becomes the single task of their lives. ‘The Land of the Pomegranate’ is also a country of cypresses, beautiful mementos, and mourning; it is the most peaceful and quiet place in all the world, a country of recollections.
Every time I go there, I think I never want to return to a place like Japan. The land is full of the sweetest, tenderest elements of humanity. It is a country of true humanism and peace. They have no such savage custom as eating the flesh of oxen and pigs.”
Yukio Mishima, “The Temple of Dawn” (Chapter 25, bits and pieces taken from pp. 169-173)