Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Yukio Mishima

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

"In all ages, literature aims at the interpretation of the universe and a deep perception of humanity by means of language."

"For an artist to do creative work, he needs at once physical health and some physiomental ill-health. He needs both serenity and gloom."

"Of late, the factual world has been buried under agnosticism, and its mystery has deepened as human society has come to cover a wider territory. Usually the statements of people who have witnessed the same incident contradict one another. An extraordinary incident that shocks the whole society always contains an eternal mystery."

"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."

"The period of childhood is a stage on which time and space become entangled."

"A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn't even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality."

"According to Eshin's "Essentials of Salvation," the Ten Pleasures are but a drop in the ocean when compared to the joys of the Pure Land."

"A heart that tries to approach the heart of the other seems far away."

"A samurai is a total human being, whereas a man who is completely absorbed in his technical skill has degenerated into a ?function?, one cog in a machine."

"A man isn't tiny or giant enough to defeat anything."

"Abruptly he thrust his snow-drenched leather gloves against my cheeks. I dodged. A raw carnal feeling blazed up within me, branding my cheeks. I felt myself staring at him with crystal clear eyes... From that time on I was in love with Omi."

"Actually the action called a kiss represented nothing more for me than some place where my spirit could seek shelter."

"Adolescence it was colored in pale and dull tones. The world of black shadows terrified me, but bright daylight was not mine."

"Again and again, the cicada?s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth."

"Again, Saburo Tominaga once went to the Shirakawa Prefectural Office to cash his brother Morikuni?s bonus bond and, unwilling to touch paper currency defiled with a foreign-style design, carried it home between chopsticks."

"All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. For forty-five years I struggled to resolve this dilemma by writing plays and novels. The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. So I found another form of expression."

"All of this caused Kiyoaki constant pain. In comparison with Satoko?s public humiliation, however, he did not even have a slighting remark to contend with. And however acute his private agony, it was, after all, the torment of a coward."

"All six of us are geniuses. And the world, as you know, is empty."

"Again, there were maidens who cherished the firm belief that he had come from the sea. Because within his breast could be heard the roaring of the sea. Because in the pupils of his eyes there lingered the mysterious and eternal horizon that the sea leaves as a keepsake deep in the eyes of all who are born at the seaside and forced to depart from it. Because his signs were sultry like the tidal breezes of full summer, fragrant with the smell of seaweed cast upon the shore."

"All that has really been overwhelming sense of folly and Balaptmal, has melted and becomes a humdrum. How much are enormous and vulgar manifestations of normal! Vulgarity dress up, Ivory vulgarity, vulgarity holiness, vulgarity madness, vulgarity with extensive knowledge, vulgarity Academic prosecutor, vulgarity Coquette, vulgarity Persian cat, vulgarity kings and beggars and insane and butterflies."

"And it seemed increasingly obvious that the world would have to topple if he was to attain the glory that was rightfully his. They were consubstantial: glory and the capsized world."

"An ugliness unfurled in the moonlight and soft shadow and suffused the whole world. If I were an amoeba, he thought, with an infinitesimal body, I could defeat ugliness. A man isn?t tiny or giant enough to defeat anything."

"Amid the moon and the stars, amid the clouds of the night, amid the hills which bordered on the sky with their magnificent silhouette of pointed cedars, amid the speckled patches of the moon, amid the temple buildings that emerged sparkling white out of the surrounding darkness - amid all this, I was intoxicated by the pellucid beauty of Uiko's treachery."

"And certain that life consisted of a few simple signals and decisions; that death took root at the moment of birth and man?s only recourse thereafter was to water and tend it; that propagation was a fiction; consequently, society was a fiction too; that fathers and teachers, by virtue of being fathers and teachers, were guilty of a grievous sin."

"Anything can become excusable when seen from the standpoint of the result"

"And one clouded stream that never ran dry was that choked with the scum of humanism, the poison spewed out by the factory at its headwaters. There it was: its lights burning brilliantly as it worked even through the night - the factory of Western European ideals. The pollution from that factory degraded the exalted fervor to kill; it withered the green of the sakaki's leaves."

"As he saw it, there was only one choice ? to be strong and upright, or to commit suicide."

"As long as you know I am waiting, take your time flowers of the spring."

"As to animals, said the Count unexpectedly, whatever one says, I maintain that the rodent family has a certain charm about it. The rodent family . . . ? replied the Baron, not getting the drift at all. Rabbits, marmots, squirrels, and the like. You have pets of that sort, sir? No, sir, not at all. Too much of an odor. It would be all over the house. Ah, I see. Very charming, but you wouldn't have them in the house, is that it? Well, sir, in the first place, they seem to have been ignored by the poets, d'you see. And what has no place in a poem has no place in my house. That's my family rule. I see. No, I don't keep them as pets. But they're such fuzzy, timid little creatures that I can't help thinking there's no more charming animal. Yes, Count, I quite agree. Actually, sir, every charming creature, no matter what sort, seems to have a strong odor. Yes, indeed, sir. I believe one might say so."

"As usual, it occurred to me that words were the only thing that could possibly save me from this situation. This was a characteristic misunderstanding on my part. When action was needed, I was absorbed in words; for words proceeded with such difficulty from my mouth that I was intent on them and forgot all about action. It seemed to me that actions, which are dazzling, varied things, must always be accompanied by equally dazzling and equally varied words."

"At his leisure, the lieutenant allowed the unforgettable spectacle to engrave itself upon his mind. With one hand he fondled the hair, with the other he softly stroked the magnificent face, implanting kisses here and there where his eyes lingered. The quiet coldness of the high, tapering forehead, the closed eyes with their long lashes beneath faintly etched brows, the set of the finely shaped nose, the gleam of teeth glimpsed between full, regular lips, the soft cheeks and the small, wise chin?"

"At thirteen, Noboru was convinced of his own genius (each of the others in the gang felt the same way) and certain that life consisted of a few simple signals and decisions; that death took root at the moment of birth and man's only recourse thereafter was to water and tend it; that propagation was a fiction; consequently, society was a fiction too: that fathers and teachers, by virtue of being fathers and teachers, were guilty of a grievous sin. Therefore, his own father's death, when he was eight, had been a happy incident, something to be proud of."

"At the moment a captive lion escapes from the cage, has a broader world that has only known the forest."

"At no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny, as when we are busy with preparations for it. After that, there remains only the journey itself, which is nothing but the process through which we lose our ownership of it."

"Because all those people around you and Miss Satoko are moving slowly but inexorably toward a d‚nouement. You don?t think the two of you can hover forever in mid-air like two dragonflies making love?"

"Beauty is death."

"Beauty is something that burns the hand when you touch it."

"Beings in existence thus are annihilated from moment to moment, and this gives rise to time. The process whereby time is engendered by this moment-to-moment annihilation may be likened to a row of dots and a line."

"Better to be caught in sudden, complete catastrophe than to be gnawed by the cancer of imagination."

"Because the fact of not being understood by other people had become my only real source of pride, I was never confronted by any impulse to express things and to make others understand something that I knew."

"But for me Golden Temple was not just an abstract concept. Mountains hid it from my sight, but wish I could always go and see it. Thus beauty was still something I could touch in hand, to see with their own eyes. I knew and believed that the temple is eternal and unchanging regardless of all possible changes in this world. Sometimes I imagined an exquisite miniature, which can be taken in hand; another time it was a huge and monstrous and tip disappeared into heaven. I was too young to be conscious of that beauty can be neither small nor large, but always moderate. Summer, I saw you wet from morning dew flowers emitting a pale glow like immediately I told myself it was wonderful as the Golden Temple. And when over the opposite hills gathered black torn lightning storm clouds encircled with gold stripe, dark splendor also makes me think about it. It was there that the sight of someone's beautiful face in my heart whispered: Fascinating as the Golden Temple."

"Beyond doubt it would speedily verify the proverb that a nation must ravage itself before foreigners can ravage it, a man must despise himself before others can despise him."

"But I had deliberately acquired the habit of closing my eyes even to such obvious assumptions, just as though I did not want to miss a single opportunity for tormenting myself. This is a trite device, often adopted by persons who, cut off from all other means of escape, retreat into the safe haven of regarding themselves as objects of tragedy."

"Beyond doubt, there was a certain splendor in pain, which bore a deep affinity to the splendor that lies hidden within strength."

"But now, along this high, rocky road, it was the leaves of cherry trees that predominated. From the bridge on, these lay like fallen red flowers. Some wet leaves, already decaying, had faded to a pink that was the color of the dawn. Why should decay take the color of the dawn?"

"But soon I realized something else - The Palace Chariot performed by Kashivagi sounded so fascinating not only for the night and the moon was so beautiful, but because I was playing crippled monstrosity. Subsequently, when I got to know better, I realized that hates the prolonged beauty. So deeply despised and literature and architecture, and loved only music that sounded and suddenly disappeared, and Ikebana, whose life lasted only a few days."

"By means of microscopic observation and astronomical projection the lotus flower can become the foundation for an entire theory of the universe and an agent whereby we may perceive the Truth. And first we must know that each of the petals has eighty-four thousand veins and that each vein gives eighty-four thousand lights."

"But there is no such thing as individual knowledge, a particular knowledge belonging to one special person or group. Knowledge is the sea of humanity, the field of humanity, the general condition of human existence."

"But this girl simply let my hands gather on her own small, plump hands, like flies gathering on someone who is taking a nap."

"Certain that life consisted of a few simple signals and decisions; that death took root at the moment of birth and man?s only recourse thereafter was to water and tend it; that propagation was a fiction; consequently, society was a fiction too; that fathers and teachers, by virtue of being fathers and teachers, were guilty of a grievous sin."