Posts Tagged ‘mishima


The Pure Land

If one feels like having something to eat, there automatically appears before one’s eyes a seven-jeweled table on whose shining surface rest seven-jeweled bowls heaped high with the choicest delicacies. But there is no need to pick up these viands and put them in one’s mouth. All that is necessary is to look at their inviting colors and to enjoy their aroma: thereby the stomach is filled and the body nourished, while one remains oneself spiritually and physically pure. When one has thus finished one’s meal without any eating, the bowls and the table are instantly wafted off.

Yukio Mishima, “The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love”


The law as an obstruction to poetry…

The law is an accumulation of tireless attempts to block a man’s desire to change life into an instant of poetry. Certainly it would not be right to let everybody exchange his life for a line of poetry written in a splash of blood. But the mass of men, lacking valor, pass away their lives without ever feeling the least touch of such a desire. The law, therefore, of its very nature is aimed at a tiny minority of mankind. The extraordinary purity of a handful of men, the passionate devotion that knows nothing of the world’s standards… the law is a system that tries to degrade them to ‘evil’, on the same level as robbery and crimes of passion.

– Yukio Mishima, “Runaway Horses” (Chapter 33)


Mishima on contempt…

Honda wondered why he could not be more tolerant. He knew, as it became more and more of a burden to make new acquaintances, how difficult it was to muster a smile. Contempt was of course the emotion that came first, but even that was rather a lot of trouble these days. He thought how much easier it would be to respond with spittle than with words, even as the words came to his lips, but words were the task that remained. With them an old man could twist the world as he might squash a willow lattice.

- Yukio Mishima, “The Decay of the Angel” (Chapter 23)


More love-related morsels from Mishima…

And when I hung up I felt a quite unexpected twinge of sadness. Denial is itself a sort of concession, and it is natural that the concession should bring a shadow of sadness over one’s self-respect. I am not afraid of it.

Summer is almost over. I am very much aware of its passage. As strongly as words can express. There were mackerel clouds and cumulus clouds in the sky today and a faint touch of sharpness in the air.

Love should follow along, but my emotions must not follow anything.

Yukio Mishima, “The Decay of the Angel” (Chapter 24)

The little present Momoko gave me in Shimoda is here on my desk. It is a framed bit of white coral. On the back, in two pierced hearts, it carries the inscription: “From Momoko to Toru.” I do not understand how she can go on being prey to these childish tastes. The case is filled with little bits of tinfoil that float up like the white sands of the sea when you shake it, and the glass is half frosted with indigo. The Suruga Bay I have known is compressed into a frame five inches square, it has become a lyrical miniature forced on me by a girl. But small though it is, the coral has its own grand, cold cruelty, my inviolable awareness at the heart of her lyric.

Yukio Mishima, “The Decay of the Angel” (Chapter 24)


Happy Valentine’s Day! ^_^

On reflection, falling in love for him was not only extraordinary, but rather comical. By having closely observed Kiyoaki Matsugae, he knew full well what sort of man should fall in love.

Falling in love was a special privilege given to someone whose external, sensuous charm and internal ignorance, disorganization, and lack of cognizance permitted him to form a kind of fantasy about others. It was a rude privilege. Honda was quite aware that since his childhood, he had been the opposite of such a man.

- Yukio Mishima, “The Temple of Dawn” (Chapter 39)


Mishima: Social Psychologist

Back to “Runaway Horses” real quick. This is quite a different approach from how we studied and considered groupthink during my undergraduate and graduate social psychology courses.

In ordinary human relationships, good and evil, trust and mistrust appear in impure form, mixed together in small portions. But when men gather together to form a group devoted to a purity not of this world, their evil may remain, purged from each member but coalesced to form a single pure crystal. Thus in the midst of a collection of pure white gems, perhaps it was inevitable that one gem black as pitch could also be found.

If one took this concept a bit further, one encountered an extremely pessimistic line of thought: the substance of evil was to be found more in blood brotherhoods by their very nature than in betrayal. Betrayal was something that was derived from this evil, but the evil was rooted in the blood brotherhood itself. The purest evil that human efforts could attain, in other words, was probably achieved by those men who made their wills the same and who made their eyes see the world in the same way, men who went against the pattern of life’s diversity, men whose spirits shattered the natural wall of the individual body, making nothing of this barrier set up to guard against mutual corrosion, men whose spirit accomplished what flesh could never accomplish. Collaboration and cooperation were weak terms bound up with anthropology. But blood brotherhood… that was a matter of eagerly joining one’s spirit to the spirit of another. This in itself showed a bright scorn for the futile, laborious human process in which ontogeny was eternally recapitulating phylogeny, in which man forever tried to draw a bit closer to truth only to be frustrated by death, a process that had ever to begin again in the sleep within the amniotic fluid. By betraying this human condition the blood brotherhood tried to gain its purity, and thus it was perhaps but to be expected that it, in turn, should of its very nature incur its own betrayal. Such men had never respected humanity.

- Yukio Mishima, “Runaway Horses” (Chapter 33)


History hangs detached somewhere in mid-air…

Like the knives and forks in the waiters’ hands that had not yet been separated, emotion and reason commingled in Honda; and not a single plan (a malicious tendency of reason) had been made—his will was still uninvolved. The pleasure which he had discovered at the end of his life entailed such an indolent abandonment of human will. As he thus relinquished it, the determination to engage himself in history that had so obsessed him since youth was also suspended in space, and history hung detached somewhere in mid-air.

Yukio Mishima, “The Temple of Dawn” (Chapter 41)

March 2015
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