Yukio Mishima

Yukio
Mishima
1925
1970

Japanese Writer, Committed Ritual Suicide on this day after failing to inspire an insurrection against the Japanese government

Author Quotes

The ghosts of the sea, ship and ocean voyages existed only in this bright green drop. But for each day that passed, the more abominable smells of life on earth clung to the sailor: Family smell, the smell of the neighbors, the smell of peace, fried fish, the jokes and always real furniture, the smell of household bills books and tours of end-of-week ... all the putrid smells that land men lie, the stench of death.

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.

Though small, the shrine has a long history. In 1333?the Third Year of the Genko era?Lord Takeshig‚ Kikuchi ascended to it in order to implore the divine favor before going into battle. Victory was his, and in gratitude he had the shrine rebuilt. According to tradition, he himself carved the Worship Image, reciting a triple prayer after each stroke. This represented the god as standing on the mountain peak with one hand raised, gazing at the armed host he had blessed. It was an image of victory. Now, however, the morning after the rising, early on the auspicious Ninth Day of the Ninth Month, the time of the Chrysanthemum Festival, there were gathered around the shrine forty-six hunted survivors of a defeated force. Some standing, some sitting, they stared blankly about them, though the penetrating autumn chill made their wounds sting. The clear light of the rising sun cast a striped pattern as it shone down through the branches of the few old cedars that surrounded the shrine. Birds were singing. The air was fresh and clear. As for signs of last night?s sanguinary combat, these were visible in the soiled and bloodstained garments, the haggard visages, and the eyes that burned like live embers. Among the forty-six were Unshiro Ishihara, Kageki Ab‚, Kisou Onimaru, Juro Furuta, Tsunetaro Kobayashi, the brothers Gitaro and Gigoro Tashiro, Tateki Ura, Mitsuo Noguchi, Mikao Kashima, and Kango Hayami. Every man was silent, sunk deep in thought, looking off at the sea, or at the mountains, or at the smoke still rising from Kumamoto. Such were the men of the League at rest on the slope of Kimpo, some with fingers yellowed from brushing the petals of wild chrysanthemums that they had plucked while staring across the water at Shimabara Peninsula.

What transforms this world is ? knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed. You may ask what good it does us. Let's put it this way ? human beings possess the weapon of knowledge in order to make life bearable. For animals such things aren't necessary. Animals don't need knowledge or anything of the sort to make life bearable. But human beings do need something, and with knowledge they can make the very intolerableness of life a weapon, though at the same time that intolerableness is not reduced in the slightest. That's all there is to it.

The highest point at which human life and art meet is in the ordinary. To look down on the ordinary is to despise what you can't have. Show me a man who fears being ordinary, and I'll show you a man who is not yet a man.

The resemblance is such a sweet feeling, believe that there would be enough to resemble the understanding, the thoughts that are transmitted without words, mutual trust. Resembled especially in their clear eyes, those eyes that purified the dirt of the world that overshadowed them, as the filter that purifies the air and makes it murky drinking. It seemed like the clear water flowed from their eyes out. The day that scroll across the world will take away all filthiness.

Thus in a single phrase I can define the great illusion concerning 'love' in this world. It is the effort to join reality with the apparition.

When a boy? discovers that he is more given into introspection and consciousness of self than other boys his age, he easily falls into the error of believing it is because he is more mature than they. This was certainly a mistake in my case. Rather, it was because the other boys had no such need of understanding themselves as I had: they could be their natural selves, whereas I was to play a part, a fact that would require considerable understanding and study. So it was not my maturity but my sense of uneasiness, my uncertainty that was forcing me to gain control over my consciousness. Because such consciousness was simply a steppingstone to aberration and my present thinking was nothing but uncertain and haphazard guesswork.

The instant that the blade tore open his flesh, the bright disk of the sun soared up and exploded behind his eyelids.

The samurai ethic is a political science of the heart, designed to control such discouragement and fatigue in order to avoid showing them to others. It was thought more important to look healthy than to be healthy, and more important to seem bold and daring than to be so. This view of morality, since it is physiologically based on the special vanity peculiar to men, is perhaps the supreme male view of morality.

Time is what matters. As time goes by, you and I will be carried inexorably into the mainstream of our period, even though we?re unaware of what it is. And later, when they say that young men in the early Taisho era thought, dressed, talked, in such and such a way, they?ll be talking about you and me. We?ll all be lumped together?. In a few decades, people will see you and the people you despise as one and the same, a single entity.

When a captive lion steps out of his cage, he comes into a wider world than the lion who has known only the wilds. While he was in captivity, there were only two worlds for him - the world of the cage, and the world outside the cage. Now he is free. He roars. He attacks people. He eats them. Yet he is not satisfied, for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage.

The intellect, far from being a harmless cultural value, I had been given only as a weapon, a means of survival. Thus, the physical disciplines that later would be so necessary to my survival could be compared in some ways to how a person for whom the body has been the only livelihood embarks on a frantic attempt to acquire an intellectual education when his youth is on his deathbed.

The special quality of hell is to see everything clearly down to the last detail.

To be strong and true had been the most important task he had set himself since early childhood. Once, as a boy, he had tried to outstare the sun. But before he could tell whether he had really looked at it or not, changes had occurred: the blazing red ball that had been there at first began to whirl, then suddenly dimmed, till it became a cold, bluish-black, flattened disk of iron. He felt he had seen the very essence of the sun... For a while, wherever he looked he saw the sun's pale afterimage: in the undergrowth; in the shade beneath the trees; even, when he gazed up, in every part of the sky. The truth was something too dazzling to be looked at directly. And yet, once it had come into one's field of vision, one saw patches of light in all kinds of places: the afterimages of virtue.

When I arrived at the house in the suburbs that night I seriously contemplated suicide for the first time in my life. But as I thought about it, the idea became exceedingly tiresome, and I finally decided it would be a ludicrous business. I had an inherent dislike of admitting defeat. Moreover, I told myself, there's no need for me to take such decisive action myself, not when I'm surrounded by such a bountiful harvest of death?death in an air raid, death at one's post of duty, death in the military service, death on the battlefield, death from being run over, death from disease?surely my name has already been entered in the list for one of these: a criminal who has been sentenced to death does not commit suicide. No?no matter how I considered, the season was not auspicious for suicide. Instead I was waiting for something to do me the favor of killing me. And this, in the final analysis, is the same as to say that I was waiting for something to do me the favor of keeping me alive.

The lips and eyes glowed Sonoko. Beauty depressed me and awakened in me a sense of helplessness. That same feeling causes me Sonoko seem even more ephemeral.

The whole house is spic and span and everybody's supposed to be real honest and full of what he calls 'the good'. We even leave food out for the mice in the rafters so they won't have to sin by stealing. And you know what happens when dinner's over? Everybody hunches over and licks his place clean so none of God's grace will be wasted.

To put it in a rather vulgar way, I had been dreaming about love in the firm belief that I could not be loved, but at the final stage I had substituted desire for love and felt a sort of relief. But in the end I had understood that desire itself demanded for its fulfillment that I should forget about the conditions of my existence, and that I should abandon what for me constituted the only barrier to love, namely the belief that I could not be loved. I had always thought of desire as being something clearer than it really is, and I had not realized that it required people to see themselves in a slightly dreamlike, unreal way.

When it comes to satisfying the heart, any error was the height of hypocrisy.

The long suffering dulls people. Blunt of suffering are no longer able to question the joy.

Then I had a premonition that exists in the world a kind of desire like a stabbing pain.

To see human beings in agony, to see them covered in blood and to hear their death groans, makes people humble. It makes their spirits delicate, bright, peaceful. It's never at such times that we become cruel or bloodthirsty. No, it's on a beautiful spring afternoon like this that people suddenly become cruel. It's at a moment like this, don't you think, while one's vaguely watching the sun as it peeps through the leaves of the trees above a well-mown lawn? Every possible nightmare in the world, every possible nightmare in history, has come into being like this.

When people concentrate on the idea of beauty, they are, without realizing it, confronted with the darkest thoughts that exist in this world. That, I suppose, is how human beings are made.

The mind, by its very nature, persistently tries to live forever, resisting age and attempting to give itself a form... . When a person passes his prime and his life begins to lose true vigor and charm, his mind starts functioning as if it were another form of life; it imitates what life does, eventually doing what life cannot do.

Author Picture
First Name
Yukio
Last Name
Mishima
Birth Date
1925
Death Date
1970
Bio

Japanese Writer, Committed Ritual Suicide on this day after failing to inspire an insurrection against the Japanese government