25 November 2012


The 25th of November was an important day for Yukio Mishima. I would never do what he did, but I would like to act with the same intensity and clarity. Apart from his gifts as a writer, director, poet, actor, and militarist, Mishima was also a great prophet -- perhaps the great prophet -- of the 21st century. Along with Pasolini, he foresaw better than anyone what was around the corner. Jay McInerny has a great essay about Mishima here:
One of the tasks of reassessing Mishima is to go back to the novels themselves, which are astonishingly diverse, and to stop seeing him as a representative figure. At the risk of robbing Mishima’s life of the perfect shape which he apparently wanted to impose on it, I’m not sure that it would hurt to try to imagine what we would make of his oeuvre if he had, say, died in a car crash, in ’68 or ’69, or of an aneurysm on his way out the door on that final day in 1970, moments after completing the first installment of The Sea of Fertility. It wouldn’t hurt to recall the Mishima that the world knew before he killed himself: an international literary figure, the most successful Japanese literary export of the twentieth century, a writer who has as much in common with Hemingway as he does with Lady Murasaki. We might do well to celebrate Mishima’s contradictions rather than seeing them as solved by his death. We need to rescue him from the mists that obscure him; we need to see him in relation to his contemporaries, like his sometimes-mentor Yasunari Kawabata, who called Mishima the kind of talent who comes along only once every two or three hundred years.

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