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The mask and the hammer : nihilism in the novels of Mishima Yukio Starrs, Roy 1986

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THE MASK AND THE HAMMER: NIHILISM IN THE NOVELS OF MISHIMA YUKIO By ROY STARRS B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1971 M.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1980 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department o f A s i a n S t u d i e s ) We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH A u g u s t , 1986 ' © Roy S t a r r s , 1986 COLUMBIA In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department o r by h i s or her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of A s i a n Studies The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date Oct.7, 1986 )E-6 (3/81) ABSTRACT This thesis offers an analysis of some of the major novels of Mishima Yukio i n the l i g h t of t h e i r underlying n i h i l i s t world-view. There are primarily three d i f f e r e n t levels to the analysis: philosophical, psychological and m o r a l / p o l i t i c a l , to each of which a chapter i s devoted. In the treatment of each of these " l e v e l s " the focus i s not merely on the n i h i l i s m per se but on the aesthetic consequen-ces of the n i h i l i s m i n Mishima's art of f i c t i o n . An attempt i s also made to place Mishima, as a " n i h i l i s t writer", with-i n the international context of the n i h i l i s t l i t e r a r y / p h i l o -sophical t r a d i t i o n , a t r a d i t i o n whose origins may be traced back to mid-nineteenth-century Europe. The analysis centres on what are, i n the writer's view, Mishima's three major works—which also represent, coinciden-t a l l y , the three separate decades of his l i t e r a r y career: Con-fessions of a Mask (Kamen no kokuhaku, 1949), The Temple of  the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji, 1956) and The Sea of F e r t i l i t y (Ho jo no umi, 1965-70), a t o t a l of s i x novels, since the l a t t e r work i s a tetralogy. The study aims not to provide an a l l - i n -clusive survey of Mishima's career but to penetrate to the very core of his in s p i r a t i o n through an in-depth study of h i s most important works. Chapter One, "The Tragic Mask", begins with a general consideration of the r e l a t i o n between philosophy and the novel, i i i o r i d e a s a n d t h e n o v e l , a n d o f f e r s a b r i e f t a x o n o m y o f t h e " p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o v e l " . U s i n g t h i s t a x o n o m y , a d e s c r i p t i o n i s t h e n g i v e n o f M i s h i m a a s a p h i l o s o p h i c n o v e l i s t w h o s e c e n t r a l p h i l o s o p h y i s n i h i l i s m . T h e m a i n b o d y o f t h e c h a p t e r t h e n o f f e r s a n a n a l y s i s o f e a c h o f h i s t h r e e m a i n w o r k s i n t e r m s o f t h e i r n i h i l i s t p h i l o s o p h y , p a y i n g p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n t o i t s e x p r e s s i o n i n " e x p e r i e n c e s o f n o t h i n g n e s s " w h i c h f o r m t h e c l i m a x e s o f t h e n o v e l s , a n d t o t h e s t r u c t u r a l d i s c i p l i n e w h i c h h i s u s e o f t h i s p h i l o s o p h y c o n f e r s o n t h e n o v e l s . C h a p t e r T w o , " T h e V o i d B e h i n d t h e M a s k " , o p e n s w i t h a g e n e r a l d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n n i h i l i s m a n d p s y c h o -l o g y , a n d t h e n p r o c e e d s t o a c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f M i s h i m a ' s o w n " n i h i l i s t p s y c h o l o g y " a n d t h e " n i h i l i s t p s y c h o l o g y " o f h i s n o v e l s . E a c h o f h i s m a j o r n o v e l s , w h e t h e r e x p l i c i t l y " a u t o -b i o g r a p h i c a l " o r m o r e a p p a r e n t l y " f i c t i o n a l " , i s f o u n d t o b e p r i m a r i l y a n e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e a u t h o r ' s own " n i h i l i s t p s y c h o -l o g y " . T h e a c t i v e / p a s s i v e t e n s i o n s w h i c h c h a r a c t e r i z e t h i s p s y c h o l o g y a r e a n a l y s e d i n F r e u d i a n , A d l e r i a n a n d p e c u l i a r l y J a p a n e s e t e r m s . C h a p t e r T h r e e , " H a m m e r t o M a s k " , o p e n s w i t h a g e n e r a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f n i h i l i s t m o r a l i t y a n d p o l i t i c s , e s p e c i a l l y i n t e r m s o f t h e " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t " t r a d i t i o n w h i c h may b e t r a c e d f r o m N i e t z s c h e d o w n t o 20th c e n t u r y f a s c i s m a n d t e r r o r i s m . M i s h i m a ' s own r i g h t - w i n g e x t r e m i s m a n d h i s g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f t e r r o r i s t v i o l e n c e p l a c e h i m s q u a r e l y i n t h i s " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t " m o r a l / p o l i t i c a l t r a d i t i o n . But h i s " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t " s i d e was a l s o c o n t i n u a l l y i n danger of being undermined by h i s " p a s s i v e n i h i l i s t " s i d e , h i s sense of the f u t i l i t y of a l l a c t i o n . The r e s u l t a n t t e n s i o n s are found to form the b a s i s of the m o r a l / p o l i t i c a l d i a l e c t i c of h i s major n o v e l s . V TABLE OF CONTENTS A b s t r a c t i i Acknowledgements v i I n t r o d u c t i o n 1 C h a p t e r One: The T r a g i c Mask 11 N o t e s t o C h a p t e r One 87 C h a p t e r Two: The V o i d B e h i n d t h e Mask 93 N o t e s t o C h a p t e r Two 159 C h a p t e r T h r e e : Hammer t o Mask 165 Notes t o C h a p t e r T h r e e 224 C o n c l u s i o n 230 B i b l i o g r a p h y 237 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my heart-felt thanks to my supervisor, Professor John Howes, for his warm encourage-ment and support, and for his sagacious direction of this thesis. I would also like to thank the members of my thesis committee, Drs. Leon Hurvitz, William Wray, Kenneth Bryant and Peter Petro, for their patient reading of this work during a particularly hot and dry August. Grateful thanks are also due to Professor Kinya Tsuruta for his advice and support over many years. Many thanks also to Professor Takahito Momokawa of the National Institute of Japanese Literature for sending me reference materials. Finally, a deep gassho to Kazuko, my wife, for her patience and loving support, and to Sean Kenji, my son, for lightening my days. NIHIL EX NIHILO. 1 INTRODUCTION Mishima Unmasked Mishima Yukio ( ^ , 1 9 2 5 - 7 0 ) is probably the first modern Japanese novelist to have gained a genuinely international reputation. That is , he is the first to be widely known not only among readers with a special interest in Japan but also among readers in general—and, indeed, perhaps even, among many who never read novels. This fact was most obviously demonstrated, of course, by the 1 9 8 5 film, Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters, directed by Paul Schrader—which, in turn, has led to yet another "Mishima boom" in the English-speaking coun-tries. In France, too, there has long been a "Mishima cult", and one of the most distinguished of contemporary French writers, Marguerite Yourcenar, has written a respectful crit ical study of his work, Mishima ou La vision du vide. That a popular American film was based on the l i fe and work of a Japanese writer was certainly an unprecedented event in the history, of Japanese/Western cultural relations, and one cannot imagine such a thing happening with any other modern Japanese writer. Long before the film, in fact, there were already two excellent and highly readable biographies of Mishima in English, one by John Nathan, the other by Henry Scott Stokes—again, an unpre-cedented phenomenon for a Japanese writer. The curious fact is , though, that probably almost anyone who has read widely in modern Japanese literature regrets this "undue" popularity of Mishima. The general agreement seems to 2 be that i t would be far preferable i f this worldwide fame were bestowed on some of the Japanese novelists of obviously higher rank—say, Kawabata or Tanizaki, novelists who not only pos-sessed deeper wisdom and finer artistry but were also more "respectable" as men, and would thus "represent Japan to the world" in a much more satisfactory way. But a writer's fame, of course, is not always strictly commensurate with his l i ter -ary or moral worth, especially his fame beyond the borders of his own country. Many "extra-literary" factors may enter into i t , especially, in this age of mass media, the "human interest" quality of his l i fe and character—in other words, the extent to which the writer himself arouses the public's curiosity. Needless to say, Mishima was a past master at "arousing curiosity", at self-publicity stunts which, to put i t bluntly, helped sell his books. As the media people say, he was "good copy": a writer with an international reputation as a "serious" novelist but who, nonetheless, did such bizarre things as play bit parts in gangster movies, pose nude for semi-pornographic pictures, found his own private army and, finally, commit sui-cide by ritual disembowelment and decapitation after a failed attempt at a coup d'ltat. And, indeed, many cynics have sug-gested that his suicide was merely the last and most spectacu-lar of his self-publicity stunts—a final desperate attempt to revive his flagging popularity. If that was, in fact, its pur-pose, i t can only be judged an outstanding success. Though politically a "non-event", in "human interest" terms i t commands our attention like no other incident in the lives of modern 3 Japanese novelists—which, i t must be admitted, tend on the whole to be rather dull. More than a decade and a half after i t occurred, Mishima's suicide—almost as i f i t were his last "theatrical performance"—continues to be the object of a some-what morbid fascination, as well as the subject of lively de-bate among "Mishima crit ics", most of which revolves around the tantalizing question: why did he do it? But this is not to say that there are no "legitimate" l i t -erary reasons for the unprecedented popularity of this Japanese writer in the West. Firstly and perhaps most importantly, his novels are probably far more exciting to read for the average Western reader than many of those Japanese novels more highly valued by the Japanese themselves. For a reader not in tune with the subtleties of traditional Japanese aesthetics and social relations, the more "purely Japanese" novels by such writers as Soseki, Shiga, Tanizaki and Kawabata often seem rather "flat" and "uneventful"—or, to state the case extremely, a boring parade of tr ivial details headed in no particular d i -rection, and apt to be cut short at any arbitrary moment. Mi-shima 's novels, by contrast, seem a veritable circus of colour and excitement, and a well-organized circus too. This is not entirely because they have more sex and violence, though admit-tedly this is part of i t . Mishima's novels have a clearer structure—a structure as clear, in fact, as a logical syllo-gism—and they always seem to be brought to a neat and resound-ing conclusion, the aesthetically satisfying kind of conclusion which ties up a l l "loose ends". S t i l l more, one also often 4 derives a kind of intellectual excitement from reading Mishi-ma' s novels, the excitement of coming into contact with a "dangerous thinker", a man who challenges conventional wisdom and does so in great style, upon the point of a witty aphorism. This quality in Mishima often reminds one of those earlier "dangerous thinkers", Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche, and this is no coincidence, as these two were among Mishima's very favourite Western writers. Especially Nietzsche, as we shall see, was a primary influence on Mishima's thought. The sharp sense of irony, the hard-edged cynicism, the devastating icon-oclasm of Mishima's style of thought—all those elements, in fact, which make his thought seem so "dangerous" and so "modern" —issue from basically the same source as those qualities in Nietzsche's thought: a nihil ist world-view. Though Mishima was probably a "nihilist" of sorts from early childhood, before he had ever read Nietzsche, there can be no doubt that his reading of Nietzsche as a teenager helped him to formulate his nihilism in a more comprehensive and systematic way. The great dualities of Nietzsche's philosophy: the Apollonian versus the Dionysian principle, active versus passive nihilism, as well as such of his leading concepts as "eternal recurrence" and "love of fate" (amor fati), remained the guiding principles of Mishima's thought throughout his entire career. And i t is essentially Mishima's Nietzschean-style nihilism which creates the sense of intellectual danger and excitement in his best novels—the intellectual equivalent of playing with fire. Or, in moral terms, this may be described as the cultivation of an 5 exciting "machismo of evil", the kind of defiant reversal of values which creates a heady sense of freedom. A less "legitimate" reason for Mishima's.popularity with Westerners centres on the view of him as a kind of archetypal or quintessential Japanese, a paragon of Bushido, perhaps even the "last samurai". His seppuku is naively accepted as "in the best samurai tradition", and i t is assumed that by reading his works one will discover a l l the dark secrets of the "Japanese soul". This is as ridiculous, of course, as i t would be for a Japanese to regard, say, Edgar Allen Poe as a "representative American", Oscar Wilde as a "representative Irishman", or even the Marquis de Sade as a "representative Frenchman". Mishima himself was not above encouraging such a misconception: posing in fundoshi (loincloth) with samurai sword in hand, hachimaki (headband) around his scalp, and an expression of grim deter-mination on his face, as i f he were indeed the last human embodi-ment of the Japanese warrior tradition. Al l this, needless to say, was part of his "sales pitch" to the West, as well as of his general cultivation c ' a "machismo" image. He was no more a "true samurai" than he was a true traffic policeman or air-force pilot, in whose garb he also had himself photographed. The "samurai" image was simply one of Mishima's favorite masks —and also one of his most transparent. The question naturally arises, then: who was the "real" Mishima, the man behind the masks? Or, in literary terms: what was the real world-view underlying his novels? The ques-tion is best answered, of course, by reading the novels them-selves. Though the protagonists of Mishima's novels don masks of various kinds—from the "mask of a normal male" worn by the narrator of Confessions of a Mask to the "mask of an ultranationalist terrorist" worn by the hero of Runaway Horses the second volume of the final tetralogy—there is always in these novels a powerful countervailing force which tends to rip the mask from the protagonist's face just as the work is brought to a conclusion. In a word, this force is Mishima's nihilism, his sense of the nothingness of reality and the meaninglessness of l i fe itself, a sense which continually undermines any small, momentary comfort his heroes take in .a tentative "faith" or in melodramatic role-playing. To use a familiar nineteenth-century nihi l ist symbol, his nihilism is the "hammer" with which he smashes to pieces the masks worn by his characters—and this act of "smashing" itself often forms the dramatic climax of his novels. This was Mishima's real "act of courage": not the self-indulgent sword-play with which he mesmerized the world but the devastating honesty with which in his writings, he unmasked his fictional alter egos and re-vealed the void which gaped behind the mask. Though Mishima tried hard to find Japanese and Chinese precedents for his nihilism, this only forced him, as we shall see, into some anachronistic interpretations of his own cultur al tradition. The truth is that nihilism of Mishima's kind was originally a product of the modern West's disillusionment with its own moral, religious and philosophic traditions, and that the foremost influence on the intellectual formulation of 7 Mishima's nihilism was the German philosopher, Nietzsche. Ironically in view of his much-cherished "ultranationalist" and "traditionalist" masks, this makes Mishima essentially a "Western" thinker—or, at least, a "modern" thinker, since nihilism is now a worldwide phenomenon—rather than a thinker in the Sino-Japanese tradition. And, indeed, i t seems to me that many of the distortions, exaggerations and contradictions one finds in Mishima's view of Japanese culture, and of Asian culture in general, may be attributed to the simple fact that he often views this culture "through Western eyes". Mishima sometimes referred to himself as a nihi l ist , and also described at least one of his novels as "a study in n ih i l -2 ism". And various critics have noted some of the nihi l ist aspects of Mishima's work. Masao Miyoshi, for instance, speaks 3 rather vaguely of Mishima's "quasi-Nietzschean world-system". Noguchi Takehiko speaks of his "nihilist aesthetics", by which he seems to mean Mishima's attraction to "death and night and 4 blood". Sadoya Shigenobu, Agata Ibuki and John Nathan see a fundamental dichotomy between Mishima's "nihilism" on the one side and his "emperor-worship" and "ultranationalist faith" on the other^ From a historical rather than a l iterary/critical perspective, Umehara Takeshi views Mishima as one of a whole group of "nihilist writers" produced by Japan's defeat in the Pacific War and the general disillusionment that resulted. No-one has yet offered, though, a comprehensive and system-atic study of Mishima's nihilism as expressed in his novels, a study which would attempt to show the philosophical, psycho-8 logical, moral and political ramifications of this "core ele-ment" of his world-view, and the aesthetic consequences of these within his art of fiction. By doing so, such a study would not only clarify some of the obscurities and apparent contradictions in the "inner logic" of these novels, but also demonstrate to what a remarkable extent they form an integral whole, both in themselves and as related to each other. This should at least have the effect of increasing the reader's res-pect for the "aesthetic integrity" of Mishima's novels—even i f those novels continue to seem flawed in many other ways. Needless to say, the present work aims to be- the above-mentioned study. It has seemed best to concentrate the analy-sis on what, in my view, are Mishima1s "three major works"— which represent, coincidentally, the three separate decades of his career, the 'forties, ' f i f t ies and 'sixties: Confessions of a Mask ( 1 9 4 9 ) , The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1956) and The Sea of Fertility (1965-70). Though these constitute "three works", the total of novels is actually six, since the final work is a tetralogy. Mishima was a prolific writer and, of course, wrote many other novels, as well as numerous short stories, plays and essays. I have preferred to limit my analysis to these three major works for two reasons. Firstly, because Mishima, like many writers, repeats the same basic structural and thematic patterns in most of his novels, so that to go through them one after the other analysing the same n ih i l -istic elements would be to risk a monotonous redundancy. And I doubt that any reader will have trouble "extrapolating" our 9 findings here onto other Mishima novels. Secondly and more importantly, my purpose is to show how Mishima's nihilism functions on a l l "levels" of his novels—especially the philo-sophical, psychological and moral/political—and I devote a chapter each to these three main "levels". Rather than use a different work to illustrate each different "level", i t has seemed possible to better demonstrate the interrelationships between the various "levels" by referring to the same works in each of the three chapters. What is lost in "scope" is , perhaps, made up for in "depth". For my purpose is not to offer an all-inclusive survey of Mishima's career but to penetrate to the "essence" of his character as a novelist —to find the "real" Mishima behind the masks. 10 I n t r o d u c t i o n  Notes 1. M a r g u e r i t e Y o u r c e n a r , M i s h i m a ou La v i s i o n du v i d e ( P a r i s : G a l l i m a r d , 1980). 2. Q u o t e d i n D o n a l d Keene, A p p r e c i a t i o n s o f J a p a n e s e C u l t u r e (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1981), p.216. 3. Masao M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s o f S i l e n c e ( B e r k e l e y : U n i v . o f C a l i f . , 1 9 74), p.158. 4. N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o , M i s h i m a Y u k i o no s e k a i (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1968), p.117. 5. Sadoya S h i g e n o b u , Mishima Y u k i o n i o k e r u s e i y o ( T o k y o : Tosho s e n s h o , 1981), pp.65-9. A g a t a I b u k i , M i s h i m a Y u k i o r o n : Sumerogi no kamen t o  n i h i r i z u m u (Tokyo: S a n ' i c h i shobo, 1974), pp.63-120. J o h n Nathan, M i s h i m a ( B o s t o n : L i t t l e , Brown, 1974), pp.174-5. 11 C h a p t e r One T h e T r a g i c M a s k  1 . I n t r o d u c t i o n : M i s h i m a a s a P h i l o s o p h i c N o v e l i s t A . P h i l o s o p h y a n d t h e N o v e l T h e p r e c i s e n a t u r e o f t h e r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e n o v e l a n d i d e a s — o r , m o r e f o r m a l l y , b e t w e e n l i t e r a t u r e a n d p h i l o s o p h y — h a s o f t e n b e e n a f e r t i l e s o u r c e o f c o n t r o v e r s y , a n d e v e n o f r a g i n g d e b a t e , a m o n g n o v e l i s t s a n d c r i t i c s . A t o n e e x t r e m e i s w h a t m i g h t b e c a l l e d t h e " n o v e l - a s - f i n e - a r t " v i e w , w h i c h d e n i e s t h a t t h e r e c a n b e a n y w o r t h w h i l e r e l a t i o n a t a l l , s i n c e t h e v a l u e o f a n o v e l i s b a s e d o n p u r e l y a e s t h e t i c f a c t o r s , a n d i d e a s b y t h e i r v e r y n a t u r e a r e " i n a r t i s t i c " . A t t h e o t h e r e x t r e m e i s w h a t m i g h t b e c a l l e d t h e " n o v e l - a s - c r i t i c i s m - o f - l i f e " v i e w , w h i c h i n s i s t s t h a t a n y n o v e l w o r t h i t s s a l t p r o v i d e s s i g n i f i c a n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f m a j o r p h i l o s o p h i c a l i s s u e s . I n t h e i r c l a s s i c s t u d y o f c r i t i c a l m e t h o d , T h e T h e o r y o f L i t e r a t u r e , ( 1 9 4 2 ) , R e n e W e l l e k a n d A u s t i n W a r r e n a r g u e l a r g e l y i n f a v o r o f t h e f o r m e r v i e w , a n d e x p r e s s r e g r e t t h a t t h e r e a r e s t i l l c r i t i c a l d i s c u s s i o n s " w h i c h t r e a t a l i t e r a r y w o r k a s 2 t h o u g h i t w e r e a p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r a c t . " T h e y s u b s u m e a l l a n a l y s i s o f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t e n t o f a l i t e r a r y w o r k u n d e r w h a t t h e y c a l l t h e " e x t r i n s i c a p p r o a c h t o t h e s t u d y o f l i t e r a -t u r e " , a s o p p o s e d t o t h e " i n t r i n s i c s t u d y o f l i t e r a t u r e " , w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e m , i n c l u d e s a n a l y s e s o f s u c h t h i n g s a s 12 style, image, symbol and narrative technique. But they never satisfactorily explain why an idea in a literary work should be regarded as a more "extrinsic" element than, say, an image. Indeed, even they concede that: "Sometimes in the history of literature however there are cases, confessedly rare, when ideas incandesce, when figures and scenes not merely represent but actually embody ideas, when some identification of philoso-phy and art seems to take place. Image becomes concept and 4 concept image." In an essay protesting the modern prejudice against ideas in literature, Lionel Trilling singles out Wellek and Warren, along with T.S. Eliot, as examples of critics "who seem to think of ideas as masculine and gross and of art as feminine and pure, and who permit a union of the two sexes only when ideas give up their masculine, effective nature and 'cease to be ideas in the ordinary sense and become symbols, or even myths.' [a quote from Wellek and Warren] We naturally ask: symbols of what, myths about what? No anxious exercise of aesthetic theory can make the ideas of, say, Blake and Lawrence other than whan they are intended to be—ideas relating to actions and to moral judgement".^  And Trilling argues in the same essay that i t is this very lack of an active relation with ideas, with "intellectual power",^  which accounts for the weakness of much modern American prose literature, in contrast to contemporary European literature, which is "in competition with philosophy, theology, and science", in that " it seeks to match them in comprehensiveness and power and seriousness".^ 13 Some d i s t i n g u i s h e d p r a c t i s i n g n o v e l i s t s have a l s o e n t e r e d t h i s d e b a t e . P e r h a p s t h e most p o w e r f u l v o i c e o f r e c e n t y e a r s r a i s e d on t h e s i d e o f t h e " n o v e l - a s - f i n e - a r t " was t h a t o f t h e g r e a t R u s s o - A m e r i c a n n o v e l i s t , V l a d i m i r Nabokov (1899-1977). Nabokov o f t e n t h u n d e r e d a g a i n s t t h e " s e c o n d - r a t e and e p h e m e r a l " works o f " p u f f e d - u p w r i t e r s " who d e a l t i n " g r e a t i d e a s " , and he i n c l u d e d among t h e s e some o f t h e most r e s p e c t e d n o v e l i s t s o f modern t i m e s : D o s t o e v s k y , Thomas Mann, Camus, S a r t r e , D.H. Lawrence, P a s t e r n a k and K a z a n t z a k i s . He h e l d t h a t " m e d i o c r i t y 10 t h r i v e s on i d e a s " and t h a t t h e " m i d d l e b r o w o r t h e u p p e r P h i l i s t i n e c a n n o t g e t r i d o f t h e f u r t i v e f e e l i n g t h a t a book, 11 t o be g r e a t , must d e a l i n g r e a t i d e a s " . Though Nabokov's w i t t y j i b e s m i g h t s e r v e as a s a l u t a r y a n t i d o t e t o t h e i n t e l -l e c t u a l p r e t e n t i o u s n e s s o f much modern l i t e r a t u r e and c r i t i -c i s m , s t i l l one f i n d s i t h a r d t o a c c e p t h i s w h o l e s a l e d i s m i s s a l o f so many o b v i o u s l y i m p o r t a n t n o v e l i s t s . C e r t a i n l y he i s c o r r e c t i n a s s e r t i n g t h a t one c a n n o t j u d g e t h e a e s t h e t i c v a l u e o f a n o v e l e n t i r e l y on t h e b a s i s o f i t s i d e a s , b u t t h i s does n o t mean t h a t a n o v e l c a n do w i t h o u t i d e a s , o r t h a t i d e a s a r e h a r m f u l t o i t s n a t u r e as a work o f a r t . And one m i g h t a l s o q u e s t i o n w hether h i s own d i s t a s t e f o r i d e a s d i d n o t p r e v e n t Nabokov from a c h i e v i n g t h e f i r s t r a n k as a n o v e l i s t , d e s p i t e h i s b r i l l i a n t g i f t s as a s t y l i s t . T h e r e i s a l w a y s t h e d a n g e r , w i t h s u c h a w r i t e r , t h a t h i s work may g i v e t h e i m p r e s s i o n o f b e i n g " a l l s t y l e and no s u b s t a n c e " . A n o t h e r d i s t i n g u i s h e d n o v e l i s t who has e n t e r e d t h e d e b a t e i s Mary M c C a r t h y (1912- ), thou g h she s t a n d s i n t h e o p p o s i t e 14 camp t o N a b o k o v . I n h e r I d e a s a n d t h e N o v e l ( 1 9 8 0 ) s h e l a m e n t s t h a t , " b e i n g o f my p l a c e a n d t i m e , I c a n n o t p h i l o s o p h i z e i n a n o v e l i n t h e g o o d o l d w a y , a n y m o r e t h a n I c a n w r i t e ' w e m o r -t a l s ' . A n o v e l t h a t h a s i d e a s i n i t s t a m p s i t s e l f a s d a t e d ; 12 t h e r e i s n o e s c a p e f r o m t h a t l a w " . M c C a r t h y i n t r o d u c e s a n h i s t o r i c a l d i m e n s i o n i n t o t h e d e b a t e , p o i n t i n g o u t t h a t i n t h e 13 n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , t h e " c l a s s i c p e r i o d " o f t h e n o v e l , t h e i " i n t e l l e c t u a l a n d e x p o s i t o r y c o m p o n e n t " o f n o v e l s w a s " i m m e n s e " . W h a t s p e l l e d t h e d e a t h o f t h i s I n t e l l e c t u a l c a p a c i o u s n e s s , t h i s r e c e p t i v i t y o f t h e n o v e l t o i d e a s , was t h e a s c e n d a n c y o f H e n r y J a m e s , w h o , a c c o r d i n g t o T . S . E l i o t , " h a d a m i n d s o f i n e n o 1 5 i d e a c o u l d v i o l a t e i t " . T h u s b e g a n t h e A n g l o - A m e r i c a n m o d e r n -i s t d o c t r i n e t h a t i d e a s w e r e " i n a r t i s t i c " — t h a t i s , i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h t h e a e s t h e t i c q u a l i t y o f t h e n o v e l . W h a t M c C a r t h y f a i l s t o p o i n t o u t i n h e r e x c e l l e n t s t u d y i s t h a t t h i s i s l a r g e l y a n A n g l o - S a x o n p r e j u d i c e ; o n t h e E u r o p e a n c o n t i n e n t t h e n o v e l o f i d e a s h a s f a r e d m u c h b e t t e r . I n d e e d , t h e l i t e r a r y s i t u a t i o n i n t h i s r e s p e c t r e s e m b l e s t h e s i t u a t i o n i n m o d e r n p h i l o s o p h y , i n w h i c h a s p l i t o b t a i n s b e t w e e n t h e A n g l o - A m e r i c a n a n a l y s t s , who s h y a w a y f r o m t r a d i t i o n a l p h i l o s o p h i c a l s p e c u l a t i o n , a n d t h e c o n t i n e n t a l m e t a p h y s i c i a n s , who s t i l l d a r e t o p h i l o s o p h i z e i n t h e m o s t a b s t r a c t a n d a b s t r u s e T e u t o n i c m a n n e r . ^ A n d , o f c o u r s e , t h i s p a r a l l e l i s n o t e n t i r e l y c o i n c i d e n t a l . S i n c e c o n t i n e n t a l p h i l o s o p h y ( e x i s t e n t i a l i s m , f o r i n s t a n c e ) i s m o r e c l o s e l y l i t e r a r y ( b e i n g c o n c e r n e d w i t h m a n y o f t h e s a m e g e n e r a l t h e m e s a s l i t e r a t u r e ) , i t f o l l o w s q u i t e n a t u r a l l y t h a t c o n t i n e n t a l l i t e r a t u r e s h o u l d b e m o r e p h i l o s o p h i c a l . A n d , a s 15 we shall see, i t was mainly French and German literature which captivated Mishima. In the context of modern Japanese literature, one can also find examples of the above-mentioned polarity of views on the use of ideas in the novel. Perhaps the most conspicuous was the divis ion in the early Showa period ( 1 9 2 6 — ) between the left-wing "proletarian" writers, whose novels were imbued with Marxist ideology, and the "neo-sensory" writers (shin kankaku-ha) such as Kawabata Yasunari and Yokomitsu Riichi, whose novels were devoid of ideas but remarkable for their experi-17 ments in modernist style. B. The Philosophical Novel - a brief taxonomy Evidently, then, for those critics of the most extreme faction of the "novel- as-fine-art" school, the very notion of a "philosophical novel" seems a deplorable contradiction in terms. But the fact remains that many important novels have been written which may justifiably be termed "philosophical", though not always in the same sense. In fact, there are at least six different senses in which a novel might be called philosophical, and i t wil l be useful to distinguish between these before proceeding any further. Passive versus Active 1. Any novel is passively philosophical. Even a novel intended as merely popular entertainment, with no pretentions to any "serious message", s t i l l presents the reader with an image of the world based on certain assumptions about the 16 n a t u r e o f r e a l i t y . T h e c o n t e m p o r a r y F r e n c h n o v e l i s t , A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t , a r g u e s t h i s p o i n t w e l l , i n h i s F o r a New N o v e l ( P o u r u n n o u v e a u r o m a n , 1 9 6 3 ) , w h i l e a d v o c a t i n g t h e n e e d f o r a n e w f o r m o f n o v e l c o n s o n a n t w i t h a m o d e r n w o r l d - v i e w . He d e p l o r e s t h e c o n t i n u i n g p o p u l a r i t y o f t h e " b o u r g e o i s " , B a l z a c i a n m o d e l o f t h e n o v e l b e c a u s e , a c c o r d i n g t o h i m , i t r e f l e c t s a n o u t m o d e d p h i l o s o p h y : " A l l t h e t e c h n i c a l e l e m e n t s o f t h e n a r r a -t i v e — s y s t e m a t i c u s e o f t h e p a s t t e n s e a n d t h e t h i r d p e r s o n , u n c o n d i t i o n a l a d o p t i o n o f c h r o n o l o g i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t , l i n e a r p l o t s , r e g u l a r t r a j e c t o r y o f t h e p a s s i o n s , i m p u l s e o f e a c h e p i s o d e t o w a r d a c o n c l u s i o n , e t c . — e v e r y t h i n g t e n d e d t o i m p o s e t h e i m a g e o f a s t a b l e , c o h e r e n t , c o n t i n u o u s , u n e q u i v o c a l , 18 e n t i r e l y d e c i p h e r a b l e u n i v e r s e " . I n R o b b e - G r i l l e t ' s own n o v e l s , o f c o u r s e , t h e i m a g e o f t h e u n i v e r s e p r e s e n t e d i s a n y t h i n g b u t " s t a b l e , c o h e r e n t , c o n t i n u o u s , u n e q u i v o c a l , e n t i r e l y d e c i p h e r a b l e " . To t a k e a s i m p l e e x a m p l e : i n a p o p u l a r d e t e c t i v e s t o r y , w h e n A . p u t s a r s e n i c i n t o B . ' s c o c k t a i l a n d B . d i e s u p o n d r i n k i n g i t , t h e r e may b e some s h o c k t o t h e r e a d e r ' s m o r a l s e n s e b u t t h e r e w i l l b e n o n e a t a l l t o h i s s e n s e o f r e a l i t y . E v e r y t h i n g i s " i n o r d e r " ; t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l l a w s o f c a u s a t i o n a r e f u n c t i o n i n g s m o o t h l y . B u t w h a t i f , w i t h o u t a n y e x p l a n a t i o n , B . w e r e s u d d e n l y t o r e a p p e a r l a t e r i n t h e n o v e l a s i f n o t h i n g h a d h a p p e n e d ? T h e r e a d e r m i g h t t h i n k e i t h e r h e o r t h e n o v e l i s t w e r e g o i n g m a d ! O r , a t l e a s t , h e m i g h t b e g i n t o q u e s t i o n t h e n o v e l i s t ' s a s s u m p t i o n s a b o u t t h e n a t u r e o f r e a l i t y . I t i s e x a c t l y s u c h a s s a u l t s u p o n c o n v e n -t i o n a l n o t i o n s o f t i m e a n d c a u s a t i o n t h a t R o b b e - G r i l l e t — w h o 17 might be regarded as a kind of philosophical terrorist—has perpetrated in his novels and films. 2. Though any novel may be considered passively philosophical, obviously i t would not be appropriate to call every novel a philosophical novel. The term should be applied, i f at a l l , only to those novels which are in some way actively philoso-phical, by which I mean that—unlike the popular detective story, which is merely based on conventional assumptions about the nature of reality—they actively engage with philosophical issues. Robbe-Grillet1s novels, as we have seen, are in this sense actively philosophical, though they do not indulge in any explicit philosophizing. And this brings us to the next distinction. Implicit versus Explicit 3. A novel may be actively philosophical without ever resort-ing to a philosophical idea—by, for instance, addressing philosophical issues metaphorically or symbolically. To aesthetes this is no doubt the highest kind of philosophical novel, and perhaps the OP"1 y kind which deserves to be consid-ered a work of art. As Stephen Ross, in his Literature and  Philosophy: An Analysis of the Philosophical Novel, argues convincingly, Kafka's The Trial is a good example of the fact that works of literature "which present philosophical theses do not necessarily harangue the reader with philosophical diatribe". 1 9 4. There are many novelists, though, and among these some of the greatest, who see no reason why they should abide by the 18 taboo against the explicit discussion of philosophical ideas. Indeed, they seem to feel that, since such discussions are an ordinary and important part of l i fe , their novels would present a narrower and less accurate image of l i fe without them. The discussions may be carried on either in the narrator's voice, the voice of a "spokesman" character, or the voices of char-acters in general. Since a novel is a work of fiction and not a philosophical treatise, i t can never be taken for granted that the philosophical positions expressed are those of the author himself. But there is one further distinction to be made, and i t has important aesthetic consequences: does the novel merely present an array of philosophical positions, in an ongoing conflict that may never be resolved? Or is i t or-ganized around a central philosophical argument that is brought to a definite conclusion by the novel's end? Mimetic versus Advocatory 5. A prime example of what Mary McCarthy calls the "discus-20 sion novel", which presents conflicting philosophical views without ever resolving them, is Thomas Mann's The Magic Moun-tain, in which the debates between Naphta and Settembrini, as McCarthy says, "oppose nihi l ist ic Jesuitry to progressive athe-21 istic humanism...." 6. An aesthetically more dangerous kind of novel, but also, rewarding i t seems to me, a potentially more^kind, is the novel which actually advocates a philosophical position. It may seem odd to say that the "novel" advocates rather than the novelist, but, as already noted, since a novel is not a philosophical 19 tract, none of its views may be unequivocably attributed to the author. The danger in this kind of novel, of course, is exactly that i t might come to seem like a tract, a crude piece of propoganda—in the manner, for instance, of so much Marxist or social-realist fiction. With most such advocatory philoso-phical novels, of course, the position advocated is probably that of the author himself, but the possibility remains that he has adopted the position tentatively, on a "what if" basis, purely for the purpose of writing this particular novel. Such is the case, for instance, with many of the ficciones of Jorge Luis Borges. And even in the case of a philosopher/novelist such as Jean-Paul Sartre, the correspondence between his phil -osophy and his fiction is not necessarily exact. Given the unconscious processes at work in any true act of artistic cre-ation, there is no guarantee that what the novelist intends to say precisely equals what the novel says. Especially in this age of psychoanalysis, i t is , in fact, quite easy to imagine that the novel says something more or something quite differ-ent. Even great philosophers make Freudian slips. Though the dangers of the advocatory philosophical novel are obvious (many readers, for instance, s t i l l cannot abide D.H. Lawrence's "preachiness"), its advantages are perhaps less so. Since Mishima's novels belong largely to this cate-gory, i t wil l be one of the main purposes of the present study to show what those advantages are. 20 C. Mishima as a Philosophical Novelist Using the above taxonomy of the philosophical novel, i t may be said that Mishima's novels are philosophical mainly in the active, explicit and advocatory senses, though occasional-ly, also, in the implicit and mimetic senses. Nihilism, the central philosophy of Mishima's novels, in -forms not merely the world-view of the characters but the very perspective from which the novels are narrated. Nothingness, the core idea of nihilism, is presented not merely as an idea but as a fact of l i fe , as an experience which the characters must suffer through, and as the very nature of reality. No other world-view besides this nihi l ist ic one is permitted.. Even when other philosophies, such as Buddhism or neo-Confuci-anism, are made use of, they are interpreted in a nihi l ist ic way. Because the nihi l ist ic philosophy is so all-pervasive in these novels, no clear line can be drawn between their "philo-sophic" and their "aesthetic" components. Nihilism permeates not only their themes and motifs but also the psychology of their characters, their narrative points of view, their plots, structures and styles. Nevertheless, the focus of the present study wil l be more on the aesthetic effects of the nihi l ist ic philosophy, to the extent that these can be isolated, than on the philosophy per se. This is not primarily a study of Mishi-ma as philosopher but of Mishima as novelist. Although there was a remarkable consistency in Mishima's world-view from the day when, as a precocious thirteen-year-old, 21 he p u b l i s h e d h i s f i r s t s t o r y i n a s c h o o l m a gazine, t o t h e day when, o v e r t h i r t y y e a r s l a t e r , he handed i n t h e m a n u s c r i p t o f h i s l a s t n o v e l and p r o m p t l y c o m m i t t e d s u i c i d e , n o n e t h e l e s s , t h e r e were, o f c o u r s e , some changes i n t h e " s t y l e " o f h i s n i h i l i s m . I n an e a r l y n o v e l s u c h as C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Mask (Kamen no kokuhaku, 1949), as we m i g h t e x p e c t , i t i s p r e s e n t e d w i t h a y o u t h f u l , n a r c i s s i s t i c r o m a n t i c i s m , as p a r t o f t h e h e r o ' s " t r a g i c d e s t i n y " and w i t h s t r o n g l y e r o t i c o v e r t o n e s , s i n c e t h e h e r o o b v i o u s l y d e r i v e s an i n t e n s e m a s o c h i s t i c p l e a -s u r e f r o m t h e r o l e o f v i c t i m . I n a m i d d l e - p e r i o d work s u c h as The Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n ( K i n k a k u j i , 1956) t h e n i h i l -i s m i s p r e s e n t e d i n a more complex p h i l o s o p h i c a l and p s y c h o l o -g i c a l f o r m , w i t h l e s s s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e and s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , and even, i t seems, some p r o m i s e o f i t s b e i n g o v e r c o m e — a r a r e p o s i t i v e n o t e i n M i s h i m a . By h i s l a s t work, The Sea o f F e r t i l -i t y ( Hojo no umi, 1965-70) t e t r a l o g y , however, t h e r e a d e r i s p e r m i t t e d no i l l u s i o n s a b o u t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f n i h i l i s m b e i n g overcome. I t s f i n a l s c e n e i s t h e b l e a k e s t , l e a s t s e n t i m e n t a l and most u n c o m p r o m i s i n g o f a l l M i s h i m a ' s e x p r e s s i o n s o f n i h i l -i s m , and i t may be r e g a r d e d as h i s " l a s t t e s t a m e n t " , s i n c e i t was t h e l a s t t h i n g he w r o t e b e f o r e c o m m i t t i n g s u i c i d e . I n d e e d , he seems t o have p u r p o s e l y e m p h a s i z e d t h i s p o i n t by a f f i x i n g t o i t t h e d a t e o f h i s d e a t h , November 2 5 t h , 1970. S i n c e t h e t e t r a l o g y ' s f i n a l s c e n e does g i v e t h e c l e a r e s t and most p o w e r f u l e x p r e s s i o n o f M i s h i m a ' s n i h i l i s m , i t has seemed a p p r o p r i a t e t o b e g i n t h e p r e s e n t s t u d y w i t h an a n a l y s i s o f t h i s s c e n e . As M i s h i m a h i m s e l f once s a i d , h i s n o v e l s have 22 a kind of "optical" structure, in which a l l of their forces 22 converge on the final scene. Since this is as true of the two earlier works dealt with in this chapter, Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, as i t is of his last work, in my analysis of these too I begin with their final scenes. In this way, having witnessed the end, one is able to understand more clearly the forces leading to that end. Thus, after examining the nihil ist implications of the final scenes of each of the three novels, I proceed to analyse the forces throughout the novel which lead to this final nihil ist epiphany, then the aesthetic functions of the novel's nihi l ist philoso-phy and, finally, in the light of these analyses, the value of the novel as a work of art. Following this analysis of the novels themselves in terms of their nihilism and its essential consequences, the chapter then concludes with an attempt to situate them in a wide cul-tural and historical context, encompassing both the Western and the Japanese philosophic traditions, and the Western and Japanese literary traditions. At the same time, an attempt is made to assess Mishima's unique achievements as a philoso-phical novelist, especially in terms of his transcendence of the "I-novel" or shi-shosetsu, the dominant form of modern Japane s e nove1. 23 11.-. N i h i l i s m a s t h e C o r e P h i l o s o p h y o f M i s h i m a ' s N o v e l s A . T h e E x p e r i e n c e o f N o t h i n g : T h e S e a o f F e r t i l i t y 1 . T h e f i n a l s c e n e o f t h e t e t r a l o g y T h e f i n a l s c e n e o f T h e D e c a y o f t h e A n g e l ( T e n n i n g o s u i , 1 9 7 1 ) b r i n g s t o a c l o s e n o t m e r e l y a s i n g l e n o v e l b u t a w h o l e t e t r a l o g y , a n d n o t m e r e l y a t e t r a l o g y b u t a n e n t i r e c a r e e r . M i s h i m a h a d a l w a y s a t t a c h e d g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e t o h i s f i n a l s c e n e s . A p l a y w r i g h t a s w e l l a s a n o v e l i s t , h e l i k e d t o r i n g d o w n t h e c u r t a i n w i t h . a l a s t d r a m a t i c f l o u r i s h , a t r a d i t i o n a l " g r a n d f i n a l e " . H i s s p e c t a c u l a r s u i c i d e o n N o v e m b e r 2 5 t h , 1 9 7 0 , a p p e a r s t o h a v e b e e n i n s p i r e d , a t l e a s t i n p a r t , b y t h e same t h e a t r i c a l i m p u l s e — a u n i q u e c a s e o f l i f e i m i t a t i n g a r t . B y a f f i x i n g t h i s d a t e t o t h e e n d o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , i n f a c t , h e s e e m s t o h a v e w a n t e d t o l i n k t h e t w o : h i s f i n a l t e s t a m e n t a s a man o f a c t i o n w i t h h i s f i n a l t e s t a m e n t a s a w r i t e r . A s e r i -o u s s t u d e n t o f M i s h i m a , t h e n , w i l l n a t u r a l l y p a y c l o s e a t t e n -t i o n t o t h e t e t r a l o g y ' s i j . n a l s c e n e , e x p e c t i n g t o f i n d i n i t some c l u e t o w h a t l i e s a t t h e v e r y h e a r t o f t h i s w r i t e r ' s w o r k . A n d h e w i l l n o t b e d i s a p p o i n t e d . T h e s c e n e t r a n s p i r e s a t t h e G e s s h u T e m p l e , a n u n n e r y i n t h e h i l l s o u t s i d e N a r a . H o n d a S h i g e k u n i , t h e o n l y c h a r a c t e r who a p p e a r s i n a l l f o u r n o v e l s o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , h a s come t o v i s i t t h e A b b e s s o f t h i s n u n n e r y , who i s n o n e o t h e r t h a n A y a -k u r a S a t o k o , t h e h e r o i n e o f t h e f i r s t n o v e l o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , 24 Spring Snow (Haru no yuki, 1965). Honda has not seen her for sixty years, though he has thought of her often, and he has finally come to visit her because he knows he is dying and feels a need to see her before he dies. The reasons for this need seem various. As an old man, he naturally wants to remin isce pleasantly with someone who shared the most meaningful experiences of his youth. Then again, he seems to need to reassure himself that her love for his friend Kiyoaki, who sacrificed his l i fe for her, remains undiminished, despite her "enlightenment". And, perhaps most urgently, he hopes that she, in her mature Buddhist enlightenment, might be able to help him understand some of the puzzling incidents of his own life—especially his encounters with reincarnation—which s t i l perplex him. Lastly, he no doubt hopes not only for enlighten ment but also for purification from his contact with her: he has, after a l l , sunk into a moral quagmire in his old age—he has even taken to spying on young lovers in public parks—and so he feels himself to be in urgent need of a spiritual clean-sing before he dies. In short, Honda's expectations as he goes to visit the old nun could not be higher, and he is so moved when finally he finds himself in her presence that his eyes f i l l with tears and he is unable to look at her. But his expectations are soon cruelly dashed. Instead of the various kinds of comfort and consolation he has come for, he receives a great shock. The Abbess does not even remember his friend Kiyoaki, a young man who died for love of her! 25 Honda s u s p e c t s t h a t she i s o n l y p r e t e n d i n g i g n o r a n c e , t o a v o i d b e i n g t a i n t e d by t h e s c a n d a l w h i c h had s u r r o u n d e d h e r a f f a i r w i t h K i y o a k i . I f so, i f she s t i l l i s g u i d e d by s u c h w o r l d l y c o n s i d e r a t i o n s , t h e n o b v i o u s l y h e r " e n l i g h t e n m e n t " i s d i s a p p o i n t -i n g l y s h a l l o w . But Honda i s i n f o r a n o t h e r k i n d o f s h o c k . The Abbess p e r s u a d e s him t o doubt t h a t K i y o a k i had e v e r e v e n e x i s t -ed, and n o t o n l y K i y o a k i b u t a l s o I s a o , t h e h e r o o f t h e s e c o n d n o v e l , Y i n g Chan, t h e h e r o i n e o f t h e t h i r d , and Honda h i m s e l f — a l l now seem e n v e l o p e d i n a m i s t o f u n r e a l i t y : "But i f , from t h e b e g i n n i n g , K i y o a k i n e v e r e x i s t e d " — f e e l i n g as i f he were w a n d e r i n g t h r o u g h a heavy m i s t , and b e g i n n i n g t o t h i n k t h a t h i s m e e t i n g h e r e now w i t h t h e Abbess was h a l f a dream, Honda c r i e d o u t , as i f t r y i n g t o c a l l b a c k h i s s e l f , w h i c h was d i s a p p e a r i n g as p r e c i p i t o u s l y as b r e a t h does from a l a c q u e r t r a y . 23 The A b b e s s ' s " l e s s o n " i s now r e i n f o r c e d , as i t were, by t h e " l e s s o n " o f t h e g a r d e n . S t u n n e d i n t o s i l e n c e by what she has s a i d t o him, Honda i s l e d l i k e an automaton t o v i e w t h e t e m p l e ' s s o u t h g a r d e n , a v i s i o n o f a b s o l u t e s t i l l n e s s , e m p t i -n e s s and b l a z i n g s u n s h i n e . The o n l y sound i s a monotonous one: t h e s h r i l l i n g o f c i c a d a s — a sound w h i c h o n l y i n t e n s i f i e s t h e s i l e n c e . As t h e n a r r a t o r t e l l s u s : " t h e r e was n o t h i n g i n t h i s 24 g a r d e n " (kono n i w a n i wa. nanimo n a i ) . G a z i n g upon t h i s d i z z y -i n g a p p a r i t i o n , Honda's f i n a l t h o u g h t i s t h a t he has come " t o a p l a c e o f no memories, o f n o t h i n g a t a l l " ( K i o k u mo n a k e r e b a 25 nanimo n a i t o k o r o e, j i b u n wa k i t e s h i m a t t a t o Honda wa o m o t t a ) . 26 2. The n i h i l i s t i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h e s c e n e At f i r s t s i g h t , Honda's f i n a l o r d e a l might seem t o have a s t r o n g l y B u d d h i s t t e n o r , and p e r h a p s even s u g g e s t a B u d d h i s t e n l i g h t e n m e n t e x p e r i e n c e . I t t a k e s p l a c e a t a B u d d h i s t t e m p l e , a f t e r a l l , and t h e p r i m a r y a g e n t s i n v o l v e d a r e a B u d d h i s t nun and a B u d d h i s t temple g a r d e n . The e x p e r i e n c e , t h e s e a g e n t s p r o v o k e i n Honda might seem e n t i r e l y c o n s o n a n t w i t h t h e B u d d h i s t p h i l o s o p h y o f n o t h i n g n e s s . F u r t h e r m o r e , i t m i g h t e a s i l y be t a k e n as t h e c u l m i n a t i o n o f Honda's y e a r s o f s t u d y o f Buddhism, e s p e c i a l l y o f t h e form o f Y u i s h i k i ( " C o n s c i o u s n e s s O n l y " ) Bud-d h i s m r e p r e s e n t e d by t h i s v e r y Abbess and t e m p l e . Honda was f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d t o t h i s f o r m o f Buddhism as a young man, as 2 6 r e c o u n t e d i n t h e f i r s t n o v e l o f t h e t e t r a l o g y . H i s e n c o u n t e r s w i t h t h e r e i n c a r n a t i o n s o f K i y o a k i l e d him, i n m i d d l e - a g e , t o an i n - d e p t h s t u d y o f t h e Y u i s h i k i t e a c h i n g s on r e i n c a r n a t i o n . H i s s t r u g g l e s t o comprehend t h e s e a b s t r u s e d o c t r i n e s a r e r e -c o u n t e d i n d e t a i l i n t h e t h i r d volume o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , The  Temple o f Dawn ( A k a t s u k i no t e r a , 1 9 7 0 ) . What p u z z l e s him above a l l i s t h e d o c t r i n e o f anatman, "no s e l f " . I f man has no s e l f , t h e n what i s r e i n c a r n a t e d t h r o u g h l i f e t i m e a f t e r l i f e -t i m e ? The Y u i s h i k i answer seems t o be: an i m p e r s o n a l k a r m i c 27 f o r c e , t h e a l a y a v i j n a n a o r " s t o r e h o u s e c o n s c i o u s n e s s " . T h i s 28 a l a y a c o n s c i o u s n e s s i s a " s t r e a m o f n o - s e l f " (muga no n a g a r e ) w h i c h t h e Y u i s h i k i s c r i p t u r e s compare t o a t o r r e n t o f w a t e r , 29 n e v e r t h e same from m i n u t e t o m i n u t e . Thus t h e image o f a w a t e r f a l l i s one o f t h e main m o t i f s r u n n i n g t h r o u g h t h e t e t r a l o g y , a l w a y s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e r e i n c a r n a t i o n s o f K i y o a k i . Honda's final experience at the Buddhist temple is cer-tainly, as we have seen, an experience of "no-self"—of the unreality of his own self as well as of the selves of the in-carnations of "Kiyoaki". It is also an experience,of the un-reality or nothingness of the external world, in keeping with the idealist Yuishiki philosophy of the reality of "mind-only". Does this mean, then, that a l l his efforts have not been in vain? That his years of patient study and his final arduous climb up to the temple on the h i l l have been rewarded by a re-deeming flash of satori? Against a l l our expectations, did Mishima finally write a novel with a happy ending? One smiles at the thought. If Honda's experience is Bud-dhist, then Schopenhauer and so many other Western interpreters since him must be right: Buddhism is a darkly pessimistic faith indeed, i f not the very prototype of nihilism. But this is a view of Buddhism against which Buddhists themselves have often protested. To give an example: the eminent Meiji-period Zen Buddhist Abbot, Shaku Soyen, quotes the famous poem or gatha by the sixth patriarch of Zen, Hui-Neng: No holy tree exists as Bodhi known, No mirror shining bright is standing here; Since there is nothing from the very f i rst , Where can the dust itself accumulate? Soyen's comments on this verse are worth quoting at length: At the first blush the gatha seems to smack not a l i t t l e of nihilism, as i t apparently denies the exist-ence of individuality. But those who stop short at this negative interpretation of i t are not likely to grasp the deep signification of Buddhism. For Buddhism teaches in this gatha the existence of the highest re-ality that transcends the duality of body and mind as well as the limitations of time and space. Though this highest reality is the source of l i fe , the ultimate 28 r e a s o n o f e x i s t e n c e , a n d t h e n o r m o f t h i n g s m u l t i f a r i -o u s a n d m u l t i t u d i n o u s , i t h a s n o t h i n g p a r t i c u l a r i n i t ; i t c a n n o t b e d e s i g n a t e d b y a n y d e t e r m i n a t i v e t e r m s , i t r e f u s e s t o b e e x p r e s s e d i n t h e p h r a s e o l o g y we u s e i n o u r common p a r l a n c e . Why? F o r i t i s a n a b s o l u t e u n i t y , a n d t h e r e i s n o t h i n g i n d i v i d u a l , p a r t i c u l a r , d u a l i s t i c , a n d c o n d i t i o n a l . 30 T h e e x p e r i e n c e o f mu o r n o t h i n g n e s s i n B u d d h i s m , t h e n , i s n o t t o b e c o n f u s e d w i t h t h e n i h i l i s t e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s . I n a v e r y r e a l s e n s e , i n d e e d , t h e y a r e o p p o s i t e s . A s A n d o S h o -e i h a s s a i d i n h i s e x c e l l e n t s t u d y , Z e n a n d A m e r i c a n T r a n s c e n -d e n t a l i s m : T h e b e s t w a y t o o v e r c o m e n i h i l i s m i s t o b e a w a k e t o t h e M i n d o f " M u " , w h e r e b y we c o m e t o b e a b l e t o e n j o y p e r -f e c t l i b e r t y , b e c a u s e t h e M i n d o f " M u " i s t h a t w h i c h d o e s n o t a b i d e a n y w h e r e f i x e d l y : w h i c h i s o n e w i t h , a n d a t t h e same t i m e f r e e f r o m , e v e r y t h i n g . 31 B u t h o w i s t h e n o n - B u d d h i s t t o j u d g e w h e t h e r a n y p a r t i c u -l a r e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s — s a y , H o n d a ' s — i s B u d d h i s t i c o r n i h i l i s t i c ? S u r e l y t h e r e i s o n l y o n e s a f e w a y : t o j u d g e t h e t r e e b y i t s f r u i t . One may j u d g e t h e n a t u r e o f w h a t i s e x p e r -i e n c e d b y t h e e f f e c t i t h a s o n t h e p e r s o n e x p e r i e n c i n g i t . T h e e m o t i o n a l t o n e o f t h e n i h i l i s t e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s i s i n -v a r i a b l y n e g a t i v e , w h e t h e r i n t h e m i l d f o r m o f a v a g u e d i s q u i e t o r i n t h e m o r e e x t r e m e f o r m o f d e s p a i r o r t e r r o r . A s C h a r l e s G l i c k s b e r g p o i n t s o u t i n h i s c o m p r e h e n s i v e s t u d y o f n i h i l i s m i n m o d e r n W e s t e r n l i t e r a t u r e , T h e L i t e r a t u r e o f N i h i l i s m , t h e " n i h i l i s t d e n i e s h i m s e l f t h e r e l i g i o u s p r o m i s e s t h a t c o u l d 32 r e s c u e h i m f r o m t h e b o t t o m l e s s p i t o f d e s p a i r . . . . " A n d , a g a i n : T h e n i h i l i s t s u f f e r s e x c r u c i a t i n g l y f r o m h i s o b s e s s i o n w i t h t h e d i a l e c t i c o f n o t h i n g n e s s . I f h e a c t u a l l y b e -l i e v e s t h a t n o t h i n g n e s s i s t h e u l t i m a t e e n d o f e x i s t e n c e , t h e n h e c a n n o t b e s u s t a i n e d , l i k e t h e h u m a n i s t , b y t h e 29 c o n s t r u c t i v e r o l e h e p l a y s i n t h e h i s t o r i c p r o c e s s o r r e s t h i s h o p e s o n some r a d i a n t c o n s u m m a t i o n i n t h e f u t u r e o r d e r o f s o c i e t y . T h i s e n c o u n t e r w i t h n o t h i n g -n e s s f o r m s t h e c r u x o f n i h i l i s t l i t e r a t u r e . . . . 33 A n d i t i s a n e n c o u n t e r , c o n c l u d e s G l i c k s b e r g , w h i c h l e a v e s t h e n i h i l i s t " t r a p p e d i n a s p i r i t u a l c u l - d e - s a c " , s u f f e r i n g 3 A f r o m a " l i f e - n e g a t i n g d e m e n t i a " . A n o t h e r a u t h o r i t y o n t h e s u b j e c t , H e l m u t T h i e l i c k e , a s s e r t s t h a t t h e " d e c i s i v e p o i n t i s n o t o n l y t h a t n i h i l i s m a s s e r t s t h e v a c u u m , t h e n i h i l , t h e n o -t h i n g , b u t t h a t t h e a s s e r t o r h i m s e l f i s o p p r e s s e d a n d a f f l i c t e d b y h i s o w n n o t h i n g n e s s ; i n p s y c h i a t r i c t e r m s , h e i s o p p r e s s e d b y t h e b r e a k d o w n , t h e d e c a y o f h i s ' s e l f - w o r l d ' , [ I c h - Z e r f a l l ] h i s l o s s o f t h e c e n t r e . A n d a t t h i s p o i n t we may a n t i c i p a t e a n d s a y t h a t t h e r e i s a n e s s e n t i a l c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e b r e a k -d o w n o f t h e ' o b j e c t i v e w o r l d ' a n d t h e b r e a k d o w n o f t h e ' s e l f -w o r l d ' . " 3 5 I n a b s o l u t e c o n t r a s t t o t h i s , t h e B u d d h i s t s a t o r i o r e x -p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s a l w a y s p r o d u c e s a p o s i t i v e e m o t i o n a l a n d p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t a t e — o r , a s S u z u k i D a i s e t s u h a s d e s c r i b e d i t , a " f e e l i n g o f e x a l t a t o n " : T h a t t h i s f e e l i n g i n e v i t a b l y a c c o m p a n i e s s a t o r i i s d u e t o t h e f a c t t h a t i t i s t h e b r e a k i n g - u p o f t h e r e s t r i c -t i o n i m p o s e d o n o n e a s a n i n d i v i d u a l b e i n g , a n d t h i s b r e a k i n g - u p i s n o t a m e r e n e g a t i v e i n c i d e n t b u t q u i t e a p o s i t i v e o n e f r a u g h t w i t h s i g n i f i c a t i o n b e c a u s e i t m e a n s a n i n f i n i t e e x p a n s i o n o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l . T h e g e n e r a l f e e l i n g , t h o u g h we a r e n o t a l w a y s c o n s c i o u s o f i t , w h i c h c h a r a c t e r i z e s a l l o u r f u n c t i o n s o f c o n s c i o u s -n e s s , i s t h a t o f r e s t r i c t i o n a n d d e p e n d e n c e . . . . T o b e r e l e a s e d o f t h i s , t h e r e f o r e , m u s t m a k e o n e f e e l a b o v e a l l t h i n g s i n t e n s e l y e x a l t e d . 36 I f we e x a m i n e H o n d a ' s f i n a l e x p e r i e n c e w h i l e k e e p i n g i n m i n d t h e s e d e s c r i p t i o n s o f t h e B u d d h i s t e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g -30 ness on the one hand, and the nihi l ist experience of nothing-ness on the other, there can be no doubt as to which his type belongs. His.experience is entirely negative; i t has none of the positive emotional tenor or sense of self-transcendence described by Suzuki. On the contrary, he seems "trapped in a spiritual cul-de-sac", to use Glicksberg's phrase, and there is a simultaneous breakdown of both his inner and his outer worlds, as described by Thielicke. As he stares blankly at the empty garden, as i f mesmerized by the sight of the void itself , he seems more like a man in a state of catatonic shock than a man who has just achieved spiritual enlightenment and libera-tion. The penultimate sentence of the tetralogy drives this home: "It seemed to Honda that he had come to a place of no 37 memories, of nothing at a l l . " There is a bitter irony in this sentence: the eighty-one-year-old man, after a l l , had come to the temple in the hope of revivifying and somehow authenticating his memories—certainly not expecting that they would a l l be taken away from him! What is bestowed on Honda, in short, is not the soothing balm of Buddhism but a blow from the hammer of nihilism. At the same time, the mask of Buddhism, which has covered the true face of the work up to now, is shattered to pieces by the same hammer. Whereupon, for the first time, the work's true face stands revealed: the face of nihilism. To use another simile: i t is as i f Mishima erects an elaborate house of cards, based 31 mainly on the Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation, only to knock i t down again the moment i t reaches completion. In this also the novelist himself shows a destructive impulse typical of nihilism. If the tetralogy as a whole may be regarded as a Bildungs-roman or "education novel", then the education which Honda re-ceives is not so much in Buddhist philosophy as in nihilism. This becomes a l l the more clear i f we trace the course of his "education". 3. Nihilist elements throughout the tetralogy a. The historical dimension: the decline of modern Japan It is highly significant that, just prior to his final experience of nothingness, while on his way to the temple, Honda pays close attention to the surrounding landscape, and finds that, even in this most sacred area of Japan, the ancient heartland of the culture, i t is sadly desecrated: From around Daigo the landscape was of the modern, desolate kind one finds a l l over Japan: fresh building materials and blue-tiled roofs, television antenna, high-tension wires with l i t t l e birds perched on them, Coca-Cola signs and snack-stands complete with parking lots. At the edge of a c l i f f where wild camomiles stabbed at the sky, there was an automobile graveyard. Among the rubble he saw wrecks piled precariously on top of each other, blue and yellow and black, the flashy colours of their body-work incandescent in the sun. The sight of this miserable pile of rubbish, so different from how cars usually look, reminded Honda of an adven-ture story he had read as a child, which told of the piles of ivory in the swamps where elephants go to die. Perhaps cars too, when they feel their death coming on, 32 g a t h e r one by one a t t h e s e g r a v e y a r d s — a t any r a t e , t h e g l i t t e r , t h e s h a m e l e s s n e s s and t h e openness t o p u b l i c v i e w a l l seemed q u i t e a u t o m o b i l i s h . 38 T h i s i s n o t t h e f i r s t t i m e i n t h e t e t r a l o g y t h a t t h i s b i t t e r l y e l e g a i c n o t e i s sounded o r t h a t t h e d e c l i n e o f t h e J a p a n e s e e n v i r o n m e n t s t a n d s as a t e l l i n g o b j e c t i v e c o r r e l a t i v e o f t h e m o r a l d e c l i n e o f t h e J a p a n e s e t h e m s e l v e s — a n d e v e n, as s u g g e s t e d h e r e by t h e image o f t h e a u t o m o b i l e g r a v e y a r d , o f t h e a p p r o a c h i n g d e a t h n o t o n l y o f Honda b u t o f t h e whole o f J a p a n e s e c i v i l i z a t i o n . The most s i g n i f i c a n t o f a l l s u c h s c e n e s o c c u r s e a r l i e r i n t h e f o u r t h n o v e l , when Honda t a k e s h i s f r i e n d K e i k o t o v i s i t t h e p i n e g r o v e a t Mio; t h o u g h i n t a k i n g h e r t h e r e , he " f e l t t h a t he m i g h t d e s t r o y h e r dreamy, bu o y a n t mood by showing h e r how t h i s s c e n i c s p o t had been v u l g a r i z e d and 39 d e s p o i l e d " . And, i n d e e d , t h e y f i n d t h a t " t h e a i r was t e r r i b l y p o l l u t e d w i t h c a r fumes and t h e p i n e t r e e s l o o k e d on t h e p o i n t 40 o f d y i n g " . What i s e v e n worse i s t h a t t h e s a c r e d s i t e has b e en c r a s s l y c o m m e r c i a l i z e d ; i t i s c l u t t e r e d w i t h s o u v e n i r s t a l l s , w h i c h s e l l n o t o n l y s o u v e n i r s b u t t h a t o m n i p r e s e n t symbol o f A m e r i c a n i z a t i o n , C o c a - C o l a . And crowds o f v u l g a r w o r k i n g - c l a s s J a p a n e s e ( M i s h i m a ' s s n o b b e r y e v i d e n t h e r e ) pose t o have t h e i r p i c t u r e s t a k e n i n f r o n t o f t h e famous p i n e , w i t h -o u t even b o t h e r i n g t o l o o k a t i t . The s i t e o f Mio i s s y m b o l i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t , i n f a c t , n o t m e r e l y as a famous b e a u t y s p o t b u t , w i t h i n t h e s p e c i f i c c o n t e x t o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , as t h e s i t e o f t h e No p l a y , Robe o f F e a t h e r s (Hagoromo), f r o m w h i c h t h e f i n a l n o v e l d e r i v e s i t s t i t l e . I n 33 this famous play a fisherman•steals an angel's robe of feath-ers and refuses to return i t . Unable to fly back to heaven, the disconsolate angel begins to exhibit the "five signs of an angel's decay" (tennin gosui—the Japanese t i t le of the fourth novel), symptoms of physical and psychological deter-ioration which presage the approach of death. What the Mio scene makes clear, then, is that, in the tetralogy, the "angel" who is showing signs of decay and of imminent death is not only the reincarnated protagonist, Toru, but Japan itself . An important part of Mishima's purpose in writing this tetralogy obviously was to show the decline of modern Japan over a period of about sixty years, from just after the turn of the century to the mid-seventies. He could do justice to this historical theme, of course, only by writing a work of such considerable magnitude. Actually the course of this decline is not steady or unimterrupted; the revolt of jun-ior officers and young rightest fanatics against the "corrupt" establishment in the 'thirties was, from Mishima's point of view, a momentary reversal of the downward trend—and this is well represented by the second novel of the tetralogy. But whatever chance might have existed of a national renaissance was lost, of course, by Japan's defeat in the Pacific War. And, i f we look at the tetralogy as a whole, the vision i t presents of the decline of Japan over the modern period is clear and unmistakeable. As the first novel opens, the country is s t i l l flush from its victory over Russia in 1905; morale is as high 34 as could be, and military men are held in the greatest esteem by a grateful populace. (For Mishima, this was the most im-portant gauge of the spiritual health of a nation, and his attempted "coup" of 1970 was ostensibly for the purpose of restoring the postwar Self-Defense Force to its proper place of honour.) The vision of Japan presented in the final novel makes a sorry contrast to this: a country both physically and morally polluted, thoroughly demoralized by the recent foreign occupation, and s t i l l so thoroughly dominated by the foreign culture that i t is in imminent danger of losing the last shreds of its own identity. Given Mishima's own ardent nationalism, i t would hardly be surprising i f this view of his country's fate contributed significantly to his nihil ist world-view. At any rate, i t forms a major element in the nihilism of the tetra-logy. b. The personal dimension: the decline of Honda and of the  reincarnated hero The physical and moral decline of Japan over the course of the tetralogy is paralleled by Honda's own decline, which also occurs on both the physical and moral levels. His physi-cal decline may be regarded, of course, as a natural part of the process of aging, since by the work's end he does attain the age of eighty-one. But Mishima the aesthete is not one to forgive the ugliness of the old, whether "natural" or not. For, in a sense, age is the fault of the aged; instead of sur-vival at a l l costs, they might have chosen to die heroically 35 while s t i l l young and beautiful, like Kiyoaki and Isao, the heroes of the first two novels of the tetralogy. Thus the physical repulsiveness of the old Honda is something to be counted against him, as even he is made aware: All old men dried up and died. As payment for failing to stop time in the wonderful period when the rich, abundant blood was bringing a heady intoxication, un-beknownst to the man himself.... Why had he not tried to stop time? 41 This latter question is made a l l the more urgent by the sad spectacle of Honda's moral decline, which is even more ex-treme than his physical decline. He begins in youth as an innocent observer, one who likes to watch great events from the sidelines, and to speculate on their meaning. By old age he has become a caricature of himself, no longer a detached, philosophic observer but now a prurient voyeur, spying on pro-letarian lovers in city parks. The evil which lurks beneath the surface of passive "detached observation" itself is un-masked for what i t is and stands in sharp contrast to the stalwart virtues of an iii eflective man of action such as Isao. If by his example Isao seems to hold out some promise of a transcendence of the tetralogy's nihil ist world-view, how-ever, this is soon shattered. In its very next incarnation, the spirit of Isao becomes a lecherous Thai princess, a lesbian temptress, the very epitome of evil passivity, who makes an unheroic exit after being bitten by a snake. Similarly Toru, the "false incarnation" of the final novel, is merely an 36 enlarged mirror-image of Honda, but one that illustrates the evil effects of intellectual detachment and passivity to an even more extreme degree. Whereas, then, the heroes of the first two novels, the tragical/romantic figure Kiyoaki, who sacrifices himself for love, and the man of action Isao, who sacrifices himself for his country, are both presented as ad-mirable in their own way, the heroine and hero of the final two novels, the lecherous Ying Chan and the cynical Toru, are both presented as thoroughly reprehensible. Thus the moral history of the reincarnated spirit follows the general pattern of decline evident in the history of Honda and of Japan at large. And the cumulative effect of these various forms of decline is an overwhelming sense of l i fe itself as a process of ineluctable decay—given time, everything ends badly. Thus the great irony of the work's t i t le : the "sea of fert i l i ty" turns out to be a mirage; the nihi l ist discovers that l i fe is , in fact, the most arid kind of desert. c. The philosophical dimension: Honda's own speculations  and his contacts with Asian religious philosophies We have already observed how, in the final scene of the tetralogy, Buddhist philosophy is turned to nihil ist uses, undermining Honda's sense of self and of reality but without replacing these by "enlightenment" in any positive sense. S i -milarly, throughout the entire tetralogy, i t is the apparently negative aspects of Buddhist philosophy which are exclusively emphasized: especially, the doctrines regarding no-self and the 37 illusory nature of the phenomenal world. No reference is made to the counterbalancing Buddhist ideas such as those of compassion and of spiritual liberation. Though on a more subtle level, this distorted use of Buddhist ideas is essen-tial ly the same as that in an earlier Mishima novel, The Temple  of the Golden Pavilion, in which certain koan (Zen riddles) are taken as enjoining the hero to commit his act of arson. But in the tetralogy it is not only Buddhism which is put to such uses. Honda's most traumatic nihi l ist epiphany prior to his final experience of nothingness occurs in India, at Benares. The author himself is on record as saying that Honda's horrific vision of Benares in the third novel, The Temple of Dawn, was meant to be the "most climactic scene" of the entire tetralogy^ At the same time, he went on to confess that, on his own trip to India, "I felt that I had never experienced anything more 43 terrible than Benares". The same may be said for Honda. At Benares he is confronted with an appalling vision of the cheap-ness of l i fe and the omnipresence of disease and death, of the cruelty of the gods and of the never-ending torture of a l l living beings on the wheel of samsara: Everything was floating there. Which is to say, every-thing most ugly, most mournful, the realities of human flesh, the excrements, the stenches, the germs, the poisons of the corpses—all together were exposed to the sun, and, like a steam arising from ordinary real-ity, floated through the sky. Benares. It was a car-pet so ugly i t was splendid. One thousand five hundred temples, temples of love with scarlet pillars on which al l the positions of sexual intercourse were carved in black ebony reliefs, houses in which widows waited for death while continually and fervently chanting sutras 38 i n l o u d v o i c e s — i n h a b i t a n t s , v i s i t o r s , t h e d y i n g , t h e dead, c h i l d r e n c o v e r e d w i t h s y p h i l i t i c s o r e s , d y i n g c h i l d r e n c l i n g i n g t o t h e i r m o t h e r ' s b r e a s t . . . . 44 I n t h e m i d s t o f a l l t h e s e h o r r o r s , Honda c o n f e s s e s t o h i m s e l f t h a t " s i n c e h i s eyes had s e e n s u c h an e x t r e m i t y , he f e l t t h e y would n e v e r be h e a l e d . I t was as i f t h e whole o f Ben a r e s s u f f e r e d f r o m a h o l y l e p r o s y , and as i f Honda's v i s i o n 45 i t s e l f had a l s o been c o n t a m i n a t e d by t h i s i n c u r a b l e d i s e a s e . " I t i s as i f , i n f a c t , r e a l i t y has f i n a l l y t a k e n r e v e n g e on t h e p a s s i v e o b s e r v e r ; he i s no l o n g e r s e c u r e i n h i s pose o f i n t e l -l e c t u a l d e t a c h m e n t . Mere l o o k i n g i s no l o n g e r a h a r m l e s s a v o -c a t i o n ; he has been f o r e v e r " c o n t a m i n a t e d " by what he has s e e n . The p r a c t i c a l e f f e c t s o f t h i s " c o n t a m i n a t i o n " become i n c r e a s -i n g l y e v i d e n t i n t h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e t e t r a l o g y . Soon a f t e r h i s r e t u r n home f r o m I n d i a , t h e P a c i f i c War b e g i n s , b u t Honda i s c o m p l e t e l y u n i n t e r e s t e d : "when t h e v i s i o n o f B e n a r e s a r o s e b e f o r e him, a l l k i n d s o f b r i l l i a n t h e r o i s m l o s t t h e i r l u s t r e . P e r h a p s t h e m y s t e r y o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n had p a r a l y s e d h i s s p i r i t , r o b b e d him o f h i s c o u r a g e , and c o n v i n c e d him o f t h e n u l l i t y o f a l l a c t i o n . . . . P e r h a p s , f i n a l l y , i t had made him use a l l h i s 46 p h i l o s o p h y o n l y t o s e r v e h i s s e l f - l o v e ? " I n o t h e r words, Honda's c o n t a c t w i t h I n d i a and H i n d u i s m has t u r n e d him i n t o a p a s s i v e n i h i l i s t , i n c a p a b l e n o t o n l y o f h e r o i c a c t i o n s b u t eve n o f h e r o i c t h o u g h t s . H i s d e s c e n t i n t o n o t h i n g n e s s b e g i n s a t B e n a r e s and ends, as we have s e e n , a t t h e Y u i s h i k i t e m p l e o u t s i d e N a r a . B o t h H i n d u i s m and Buddhism t h u s a r e u s e d i n t h e t e t r a l o g y t o r e i n f o r c e t h e n i h i l i s t w o r l d - v i e w . 39 Besides this Hindu-Buddhist strain in Honda's thought, another important current in his intellectual l i fe is composed of his speculations on the role of human will in history. As a philosophic young man in the first novel, Spring Snow, he often discusses his ideas on this subject with his friend, Kiyoaki, and already takes a deterministic stance, arguing against the "Western view" that "Napoleon's wil l moved history" "But, from a long-term perspective, the wil l of a l l human beings is frustrated. The usual state of affairs is that things never turn out as one expects. What do Westerners think when this happens? They think: "My wil l functioned as wi l l ; failure occured by chance. Chance removes a l l laws of causality; i t is the one irrationality which can be recognized by free wi l l . Thus, the Western philosophy of wil l could not arise without the recognition of 'chance'." 48 The young Honda's arguments in favor of an iron-clad de-terminism, a rigid law of cause and effect, anticipate, of course, his later encounter with the Hindu/Buddhist doctrines of karma and reincarnation. And they also anticipate his ex-perience, in the second novel, Runaway Horses, of the utter futi l i ty of the heroic Isao's efforts to impose his wil l on history. Honda's sense of what used to be called "Oriental fatalism" thus only intensifies with age. It appears in its most extreme, and most nihi l ist ic, form in Honda's ruminations just before he makes his final visit to the Yuishiki temple: For Honda now, to live was to grow old, to grow old was to l i ve . . . . History knew this. Among the things human beings produced, history was the most inhuman. Because i t generalized a l l human wi l l , grasped i t in its hand and chewed i t up, while dripping blood from its mouth like the goddess Kali at Calcutta. We are feed to stuff something's belly. 49 40 This combination of a deterministic view of human fate with an almost paranoid view of the malevolence of the forces that control that fate was a central aspect of Mishima's n ih i l -ism from his very first major novel, Confessions of a Mask ( 1 9 4 9 ) . 4. The aesthetic function of the work's nihil ist philosophy a. structure With a tetralogy such as The Sea of Fertil ity, the author is naturally confronted by certain problems of structure which would not arise i f he were writing a single novel. He is calle upon to delicately balance the independence of the four novels on the one hand against their interdependence on the other. Each novel must in some sense stand alone—otherwise, why not write just one large novel? But also they must a l l be linked together in some way—otherwise, why associate them together in a tetralogy? In The Sea of Fertility this delicate balance is generally well maintained. Each novel tells a separate "story" in that each recounts the l i fe of a new protagonist—three heroes and one heroine. At the same time, these protagonists are not en-tirely "new", since each is supposedly a reincarnation of his or her predecessor. In this way the theme of reincarnation i t -self serves as a linking device between the four novels, and is uniquely suited to the kind of balance needed in a tetralogy Since i t would probably fa i l to provide enough cohesive force 4 1 b y i t s e l f , h o w e v e r , a s t r o n g e r l i n k i n g t h r e a d i s p r o v i d e d i n t h e s h a p e o f t h e c h a r a c t e r H o n d a S h i g e k u n i , who p l a y s t h e r o l e o f d e u t e r a g o n i s t o r w h a t i n t h e No t h e a t r e i s c a l l e d a w a k i , a n o b s e r v e r o f a n d c o m m e n t a t o r o n t h e a c t i o n . O v e r a n d a b o v e t h e s e l i n k i n g s t h r o u g h c h a r a c t e r s , a m o r e a b s t r a c t i n t e g r a t i v e a g e n t f u n c t i o n s i n t h e w o r k ' s t h e m a t i c s t r u c t u r e : n a m e l y , i t s c e n t r a l p h i l o s o p h i c a r g u m e n t o f n i h i l i s m , w h i c h , a s we h a v e s e e n , i s c a r e f u l l y d e v e l o p e d o v e r t h e c o u r s e o f t h e f o u r n o v e l s a n d b r o u g h t t o a p o w e r f u l c o n c l u s i o n a t t h e v e r y e n d . I t i s p r i m a r i l y t h r o u g h t h e f o r c e o f t h i s p h i l o s o -p h i c a r g u m e n t t h a t t h e t e t r a l o g y , d e s p i t e i t s g r e a t l e n g t h a n d d i v e r s i t y , i s h e l d t o g e t h e r i n a r e a s o n a b l y t i g h t , w e l l - i n t e -g r a t e d s t r u c t u r e — a r a r e a n d r e f r e s h i n g v i r t u e i n a w o r k o f J a p a n e s e l i t e r a t u r e . F r o m T h e T a l e o f G e n j i ( G e n j i m o n o g a t a r i , e a r l y 1 1 t h c e n t u r y ) t o T h e M a k i o k a S i s t e r s ( S a s a m e y u k i , 1 9 4 3 -4 8 ) , J a p a n e s e n o v e l s h a v e t e n d e d t o w a r d a l o o s e l y o r g a n i z e d , d i g r e s s i v e a n d e p i s o d i c r d e o f s t r u c t u r e d B y w r i t i n g W e s t e r n -s t y l e p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o v e l s , M i s h i m a w a s a b l e , a t l e a s t , t o i n -t r o d u c e a n e w l e v e l o f f o r m a l d i s c i p l i n e i n t o t h e n a t i v e t r a -d i t i o n . A n d , s i n c e t h e t e t r a l o g y i s a p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o v e l , i t s h o u l d b e n o t e d t h a t i t s p h i l o s o p h i c a l a r g u m e n t t a k e s p r e c e d e n c e o v e r o t h e r o f i t s u n i f y i n g a g e n t s . T h e f u l l s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h i s f a c t s e e m s t o h a v e e s c a p e d t h o s e c r i t i c s who a r g u e t h a t , b y d e m o l i s h i n g t h e w h o l e m y t h o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n a t t h e e n d o f 4 2 the tetralogy, Mishima destroys the very foundations of the 51 work's structure. In fact he is merely playing a variation of his favorite game of applying hammer to mask: the hammer of nihilism to, in this case, the mask of the Hindu/Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation, a mask he has played at wearing throughout the tetralogy. What this shows is simply that the nihilism takes precedence over the Hindu/Buddhist doctrine as the work's real unifying force. The false support of reincar-nation is suddenly removed and the true support of nihilism stands revealed. But the transition from one to the other is not really as sudden as i t might seem at first sight. Honda's introduction to the "nihilist" aspect of Yuishiki philosophy, as we have observed, came long before the final scene: already in the third novel, its doctrine of "no-self" poses a challenge to his naive interpretation of reincarnation as a form of per-sonal immortality. The author's act of destroying the mask of reincarnation, or of Honda's illusions regarding reincarnation—which leaves Honda in a kind of nihil ist limbo—may seem to the sensitive reader to be tinged by an unpleasant hint of a pleasure more sadistic than aesthetic. But this is also entirely appropriate in a nihil ist novel. Destruction is the ultimate nihil ist action—indeed, the only mode of true self-expression available to the nihi l ist . The nihil ist artist can never be satisfied with merely an act of creation; he must go on to destroy what he has created, and takes a god-like pleasure in doing so. No 4 3 doubt this is why, in the present work, Mishima's alter ego, Honda, is so fascinated by the Hindu god and goddess of des-52 truction, Shiva and Kali. At any rate, this destructive im-pulse may be found in various forms, as we shall see, in novels from a l l periods of Mishima's career. This is not to say, of course, that a reader would be wrong to object to the sadistic or destructive elements in Mishima's works, but merely to point out their consistency with his overall nihil ist perspective, b. style In his essay on "My Method of the Novel" (Watakushi no shosetsu no hoho), Mishima makes a significant distinction between his uses of the two Japanese words for "style": buntai ~53 and bunsho. Bunsho for him is the individual, subjective, intuitive quality of a writer's style, related even to his personal physiology. Buntai, on the other hand, is the univer-sal, objective, intellectual quality of his style, and derives ultimately from his ideas about the nature of the world, his Weltanschauung. Or, conversely, buntai is the author's mode of interpreting the world, the way he uses language to achieve that interpretation. The problem with many Japanese novels, according to Mishima, is that they lack buntai. They are writ-ten in a personal, subjective, lyrical mode which precludes the kind of objective world-view and consistent structure of themes which gives shape to a proper novel. This is especially true of the writers of "I-novels" (shi-shosetsu) such as Shiga 44 Naoya, b u t e v e n a w r i t e r o f more p u r e l y f i c t i o n a l works s u c h as Kawabata Y a s u n a r i l a c k e d b u n t a i b e c a u s e , a c c o r d i n g t o M i -shima, he had "abandoned t h e w i l l t o i n t e r p r e t t h e w o r l d so 54 e n t i r e l y " . The o n l y c o n s p i c u o u s e x c e p t i o n t o t h i s among modern J a p a n e s e n o v e l i s t s , i n M i s h i m a ' s v i e w , was M o r i O g a i (1862-1922), who had l i v e d f o r some y e a r s i n Germany and had a c q u i r e d t h e r e a t a s t e f o r e x p o u n d i n g p h i l o s o p h i c a l i d e a s i n f i c t i o n ? " ' I t was O g a i ' s u n e m o t i o n a l , c e r e b r a l , " m a s c u l i n e " s t y l e t h a t M i s h i m a t o o k as h i s model i n much o f h i s own w r i t -56 i n g s . By u s i n g h i s n o v e l s t o g i v e e x p r e s s i o n t o a n i h i l i s t p h i l o s o p h y , i t i s c l e a r , t h e n , t h a t M i s h i m a w i s h e d t o t r a n s -c e nd what he c o n s i d e r e d t o be t h e l i m i t a t i o n s o f t h e J a p a n e s e n o v e l as i t had u s u a l l y been w r i t t e n b e f o r e him. He was de-t e r m i n e d t h a t h i s n o v e l s would have b u n t a i , a s t y l e w h i c h ex-p r e s s e d a c o n s i s t e n t and o b j e c t i v e w o r l d - v i e w . The e f f e c t s o f t h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n , i n The Sea o f F e r t i l i t y , may be o b s e r v e d on e v e r y l e v e l o f i t s f u n c t i o n i n g as a work o f a r t . The i n t e -g r i t y o f i t s o v e r a l l s t r u c t u r e has a l r e a d y been n o t e d , b u t t h e e f f e c t s a r e a l s o e v i d e n t on more p a r t i c u l a r s t y l i s t i c f e a t u r e s . E x p l i c i t p h i l o s o p h i c a l d i s c u s s i o n s s u c h as t h o s e w h i c h abound i n t h e t h i r d n o v e l o f t h e t e t r a l o g y g i v e a d e t a c h e d , o b j e c t i v e t o n e t o t h e n a r r a t i v e v o i c e , o f c o u r s e , b u t t h e same e f f e c t i s a l s o a t t a i n e d , f o r i n s t a n c e , by t h e n a r r a t i v e t r e a t m e n t o f Hon-da. A l t h o u g h he i s g e n e r a l l y t h e v i e w p o i n t c h a r a c t e r , he i s n o t h i m s e l f g i v e n t h e f u n c t i o n o f n a r r a t o r ; t h a t i s r e s e r v e d 45 to a detached, disembodied narrative voice, in the omniscient third-person mode. The reader, then, is not allowed such close identification with the viewpoint character as would occur in an "I-novel". And the reason for this is obvious: the work seeks primarily not to involve the reader in Honda's emotional l i fe but to present an "objective" world-view through the medi-um of his life-experiences. And, particularly since this world-view is n ih i l ist ic , i t is essential that no humane sympathy interfere with the reader's perception of cold reality. Thus we see Honda destroyed, in the end, from a distance; the narra-tive voice describes i t a l l with a kind of ruthless detachment, as in the description of him as a puppet-like automaton imme-diately after his experience of nothingness: "Honda stood up as i f he were being manipulated by strings, and followed the two nuns through the dark r o o m s . ' Or the impersonal, dis-tancing tone of the very last sentence of the tetralogy: "The 58 hushed garden basked in the high-noon sun of summer." The nihi l ist vision behind the narrative viewpoint also produces strong tones of irony and satire, often in a typically Mishima-esque aphoristic style. Particular scorn is reserved for por-traits of Westernized Japanese aristocrats and of Westerners themselves; here the general misanthropy which pervades the whole work reaches a venomous pitch. A typical target is the Anglophilia of a certain Baron Shinkawa, who seduously apes not only the lifestyle but even the mannerisms of an English gentleman: "no matter what kind of ironic or sarcastic comment 4 6 h e m a d e , t h e B a r o n m u m b l e d i t i n t h e E n g l i s h m a n n e r , w i t h a n 59 e x p r e s s i o n l e s s f a c e , s o t h a t n o o n e h e a r d h i m " . T h e s e h e a v i l y i r o n i c , b i t i n g l y s a t i r i c t o n e s b e g i n t o v e r g e o n b a d t a s t e a n d c r u e l t y w h e r e W e s t e r n e r s a r e i n v o l v e d , a s i n t h i s c a r i c a t u r e p o r t r a i t o f a g r o u p o f e l d e r l y W e s t e r n women a t a g a r d e n p a r t y : E l d e r l y W e s t e r n w o m e n , o b l i v i o u s t o t h e f a c t t h a t t h e i r d r e s s e s w e r e u n f a s t e n e d b e h i n d t h e m , s w u n g t h e i r w i d e h i p s a n d e m i t t e d s h r i l l l a u g h s . I n t h e i r h o l l o w , p i e r c -i n g e y e s w e r e b l u e o r b r o w n p u p i l s w h i c h l o o k e d o n e k n e w n o t w h e r e . T h e y s p o k e w i t h g r e a t e m p h a s i s , o p e n -i n g t h e i r d a r k m o u t h s s o w i d e o n e c o u l d s e e t h e i r t o n -s i l s . A n d t h e y i m m e r s e d t h e m s e l v e s i n t h e i r c o n v e r s a -t i o n s w i t h s h a m e l e s s e n t h u s i a s m . W i t h t h e i r c r i m s o n m a n i c u r e d f i n g e r n a i l s , t h e y s n a t c h e d u p s m a l l , t h i n s a n d w i c h e s , t w o o r t h r e e a t a t i m e . S u d d e n l y o n e o f t h e m t u r n e d t o H o n d a a n d , a f t e r i n f o r m i n g h i m t h a t s h e h e r s e l f h a d b e e n d i v o r c e d t h r e e t i m e s , a s k e d i f J a p a n -e s e d i v o r c e d a l o t t o o . 60 5 . C r i t i c a l e v a l u a t i o n o f t h e w o r k i n t h e l i g h t o f i t s n i h i l -i s t p h i l o s o p h y T h e t e t r a l o g y , t h e n , may b e s a i d t o a r g u e t h e c a s e f o r n i h i l i s m w i t h c o n s u m m a t e s k i l l , u s i n g e v e r y a s p e c t o f i t s n o -v e l i s t i c t e c h n i q u e . A n d , a s L i o n e l T r i l l i n g h a s p o i n t e d o u t , t h e r e i s a d e f i n i t e a e s t h e t i c p l e a s u r e t o b e h a d f r o m s e e i n g 6 1 a c a s e w e l l a r g u e d , w h e t h e r i n l i t e r a t u r e o r i n p h i l o s o p h y . B u t w h a t b e a r i n g d o e s t h i s c e n t r a l a r g u m e n t o f t h e t e t r a l o g y h a v e , o n c e i d e n t i f i e d , o n t h e q u e s t i o n s w h i c h c r i t i c s h a v e r a i s e d r e g a r d i n g t h e w o r k ' s l i t e r a r y v a l u e ? T h e f u n d a m e n t a l c r i t i c a l p r o b l e m s o f t h e t e t r a l o g y r e l a t e 47 m a i n l y t o i t s u s e o f t h e i d e a o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n . F i r s t l y , t h e r e i s t h e b r u t e p r o b l e m o f c r e d i b i l i t y . T o b a s e a l i t e r a r y w o r k o n t h e d o c t r i n e o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n w a s n o d o u b t a p p r o p r i a t e i n t h e a g e o f t h e H a m a m a t s u C h u n a g o n m o n o g a t a r i ( e l e v e n t h c e n t u r y ) , t h e w o r k w h i c h i n s p i r e d M i s h i m a ' s u s e o f t h i s i d e a , b u t i n t h e p r e s e n t s e c u l a r a g e i t s e e m s l i k e l y t h a t a n o v e l b a s e d o n s u c h a n e s o t e r i c r e l i g i o u s c o n c e p t w i l l a l i e n a t e many r e a d e r s f r o m t h e o u t s e t . T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y t r u e w i t h T h e S e a o f F e r t i l i t y b e c a u s e many o f t h e u n t o w a r d c o i n c i d e n c e s w h i c h l i n k t h e f o u r n o v e l s s e e m t o r e s t o n a p a r t i c u l a r l y n a i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f how r e i n c a r n a t i o n f u n c t i o n s . T h e r e a d e r ' s c r e d i b i l i t y i s s t r a i n e d b y t h e f o r t u i t o u s m a n n e r i n w h i c h H o n d a r e e n c o u n t e r s t h e t h r e e l a t e r i n c a r n a t i o n s o f K i y o a k i , b y d i s c o v e r i n g t h e same t e l l t a l e b i r t h m a r k o f t h r e e m o l e s u n d e r t h e i r l e f t a r m -p i t s ! T h e same may b e s a i d o f t h e w a y i n w h i c h e a c h h e r o o r h e r o i n e i s f a t e d t o d i e a t t w e n t y , a s i f f o l l o w i n g a p r e d e t e r -m i n e d s c h e d u l e . O r t h e w a y i n w h i c h t h e T h a i p r i n c e s s o f t h e t h i r d n o v e l r e m e m b e r s her- p r e v i o u s i n c a r n a t i o n s a s a J a p a n e s e . T h e p r o b l e m i s p a r t l y , o f c o u r s e , o n e o f r e a d e r p s y c h o l o g y . How r e a d i l y e a c h r e a d e r a c c e p t s s u c h s u p e r n a t u r a l o c c u r e n c e s d e p e n d s t o some e x t e n t o n h i s o w n p s y c h o l o g i c a l m a k e u p — s a y , h i s " s c i e n t i f i c - m i n d e d n e s s " o n t h e o n e h a n d v e r s u s h i s c a p a c i t y f o r " s u s p e n s i o n o f d i s b e l i e f " o n t h e o t h e r . B u t i t a l s o d e p e n d s t o a g r e a t e x t e n t o n how c o n v i n c i n g l y t h e y a r e p r e s e n t e d b y t h e w r i t e r , a n d w i t h i n w h a t c o n t e x t . Few r e a d e r s w o u l d o b j e c t t o t h e u s e o f t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l i n t h e G o t h i c s t o r i e s o f a H e n r y 48 James or an Edgar Allen Poe: these writers take care to esta-blish the proper mood and atmosphere to l u l l the reader into a dream-like state in which the rules of everyday rationality no longer seem to apply. But The Sea of Fertility is not a Gothic novel, nor even primarily a "tale of the supernatural": i t aims to give an objective, realistic portrait of three-quar-ters of a century of modern Japanese history and, beyond that, of the nature of reality itself. Thus Mishima, in using ele-ments of the supernatural in such a work, is faced with a spe-cial problem of credibility, which disturbs even some readers born into the Hindu/Buddhist cultural sphere. Miyoshi Yukio, for instance, has stated bluntly that, because of this, the 6 2 tetralogy impresses him as a "counterfeit" (koshiraemono). Indeed, one crit ic has even suggested that Mishima himself, by the third novel, "may have grown uncertain about or perhaps 6 3 bored with the whole idea of transmigration". This leads to another major crit ical problem: the uneven-ness in quality of the four novels. Critics disagree as to which of the novels is the best (though most would probably vote for the f i rst ) , but there is a general consensus that the 64 third is the worst. The reasons given for this supposed f a i l -ure have much to do with the problems discussed earlier as in-herent in the novel of ideas. In view of the almost universal crit ical distaste the work has inspired, i t is ironic that Mi-6 5 shima himself considered i t to be the key novel of the four. But his reason for thinking so becomes clear when we view the tetralogy in its proper light as a work of philosophical fiction. 49 The third novel is meant to provide the philosophical founda-tion for the others. Thus the long disquisitions on the var-ious Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist concepts of reincarnation, 6 6 which many critics have objected to, no doubt were seen by the author as essential to his ultimate purpose in writing the tetra-logy. It may be urged in Mishima's favor, in fact, that a l l of these criticisms betray a certain narrowness of view, whether of The Sea of Fertility in particular or of novels in general. One may regret with Mary McCarthy the demise of the capacious nineteenth-century view of the novel, which included philoso-now phical disquisitions as well as many other elements^considered "extra-literary", and one may even hope that Mishima's example might inspire a rebirth of this traditional view. But the most important point is that, within the tetralogy itself, the r e l i -gious and philosophical elements are by no means extraneous; they are an integral part of the work's total aesthetic effect. The fictional use made of reincarnation and its concomitant philosophy can be properly understood, in fact, only in the light of the tetralogy's underlying nihi l ist world-view. The  Sea of Fertility is not a Hindu/Buddhist novel, any more than The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a Zen novel. The Hindu/ Buddhist elements appear not for their own sake but symbolical-ly or metaphorically, in support of the work's central nihil ist argument. Thus their l iteral truth is easily disposed of by the final scene, in which Honda realizes that his acceptance 50 o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n a s a l i t e r a l f a c t , a t l e a s t i n t h e f o r m o f t h e c o n t i n u i t y b e y o n d d e a t h o f a p e r s o n a l e g o , h a s b e e n a n a i v e i l l u s i o n . B u t t h e s y m b o l i c t r u t h o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n , a s e x p e r i e n c e d s o v i v i d l y b y H o n d a a t B e n a r e s , h i s n i g h t m a r e v i -s i o n o f h u m a n e x i s t e n c e a s a n e t e r n a l t r e a d m i l l , a m e a n i n g l e s s b u t i n e s c a p a b l e r o u n d o f l i f e a n d d e a t h — t h i s r e m a i n s a s a c e n t r a l p a r t o f t h e t e t r a l o g y ' s f i n a l m e s s a g e , a n d i s g i v e n m u c h t h e same n i h i l i s t i m p l i c a t i o n s a s N i e t z s c h e ' s i d e a o f " e t e r n a l r e c u r r e n c e " ^ T h u s i t i s n o t q u i t e f a i r t o s i n g l e o u t t h e t h i r d n o v e l o f t h e t e t r a l o g y a n d a t t a c k i t f o r b e i n g o v e r l o a d e d w i t h p h i l -o s o p h y . T h e T e m p l e o f Dawn i s n o t a s i n g l e n o v e l b u t p a r t o f a s e r i e s , a n d s h o u l d b e j u d g e d a s s u c h . One m u s t t a k e i n t o a c c o u n t t h e p r o c e s s o f m u t u a l i l l u m i n a t i o n a t w o r k b e t w e e n t h i s a n d t h e o t h e r n o v e l s . N o t o n l y d o e s i t s p h i l o s o p h y i l l u m -i n a t e t h e o t h e r n o v e l s b u t a l s o t h e o t h e r n o v e l s i l l u m i n a t e i t s p h i l o s o p h y . I n p a r t i c u l a r , o n e c a n n o t u n d e r s t a n d t h e f u l l i m -p l i c a t i o n s o f i t s d i s c u s s i o n s o f t h e Y u i s h i k i i d e a s o f r e i n -c a r n a t i o n , n o - s e l f a n d t h e w o r l d - a s - i l l u s i o n u n t i l t h e f i n a l s c e n e o f t h e f o u r t h n o v e l , H o n d a ' s e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s . T h o m a s M a n n , a w r i t e r whom M i s h i m a m u c h a d m i r e d , a n d w h o s e B i b l i c a l t e t r a l o g y , J o s e p h a n d H i s B r o t h e r s ( 1 9 3 3 - 4 3 ) , p e r h a p s i n s p i r e d M i s h i m a w i t h t h e d e s i r e t o w r i t e h i s own t e t r a l o g y , o n c e p l e a d e d w i t h h i s r e a d e r s t o r e a d h i s magnum o p u s , T h e  M a g i c M o u n t a i n , t w i c e : " O n l y s o c a n o n e r e a l l y p e n e t r a t e a n d e n j o y i t s m u s i c a l a s s o c i a t i o n o f i d e a s . T h e f i r s t t i m e , t h e 51 reader learns the thematic material; he i s then i n a position to read the symbolic and a l l u s i v e formulas both forwards and 6 8 backwards." The point might be urged just as strongly for The Sea of F e r t i l i t y , since i t i s composed with the same kind of "musical association of ideas", the same kind of Wagnerian structure of l e i t m o t i f s , as i s Mann's great novel. (And Wag-ner's own tetralogy of music-dramas, The Ring of the Nibelungs [1854-74], by the way, may be regarded as the structural arche-type of a l l such works.) At any rate, one wonders how much of the objection to the philosophic content of Mishima's tetralogy i s merely the f i r s t reaction of impatient modern readers who might change t h e i r minds i f they gave the work a second reading? B. The Making of a N i h i l i s t : Confessions of a Mask 1. The f i n a l scene Though The Sea of F e r t i l i t y was written i n the late 'six-t i e s , at the end of Mishima's career, and Confessions of a Mask was written i n the late ' f o r t i e s , just as his career was getting under way, there are s i g n i f i c a n t points of s i m i l a r i t y between thei r f i n a l scenes. The Confessions also ends with a devasta-ting s a t o r i by the viewpoint character, an experience of no-thingness which precipitates the collapse of the elaborate structure of i l l u s i o n that he has laboured to erect throughout the novel. It i s another clear example of the novelist apply-ing "hammer to mask", though i n this case i t i s not a mask of 52 r e l i g i o u s d o c t r i n e b u t o f s o c i a l c o n v e n t i o n , t h e " m a s k o f n o r -m a l c y " . D u r i n g t h e l a t t e r h a l f o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s , t h e p r o t a -g o n i s t / n a r r a t o r , who i s m u c h m o r e t r a n s p a r e n t l y M i s h i m a ' s a l t e r  e g o t h a n i s H o n d a , h a s b e e n t r y i n g d e s p e r a t e l y t o d i s g u i s e h i s h o m o s e x u a l i t y , e v e n f r o m h i m s e l f . T h u s h e h a s b e e n h a l f - h e a r t -e d l y c o u r t i n g a g i r l n a m e d S o n o k o , a n d h a s e v e n m a n a g e d t o c o n v i n c e h i m s e l f t h a t h e m i g h t l o v e h e r . I n t h e l a s t s c e n e h e t a k e s h e r t o a l o w - c l a s s A m e r i c a n - s t y l e d a n c e - h a l l , f o r M i s h i m a a p r i m e s y m p t o m o f t h e d e g e n e r a c y o f p o s t w a r J a p a n ( a g a i n t h e o m n i p r e s e n t C o c a - C o l a ) , w h i c h t h u s s e t s t h e a p p r o -p r i a t e mood f o r t h e f i n a l e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s , i n m u c h t h e same way a s d i d t h e d e s e c r a t e d l a n d s c a p e a r o u n d N a r a i n T h e S e a o f F e r t i l i t y . I n s t e a d o f d a n c i n g w i t h S o n o k o , t h o u g h , t h e p r o t a g o n i s t s o o n b e c o m e s l o s t i n r a p t c o n t e m p l a t i o n o f t h e m u s c u l a r , h i r -s u t e t o r s o o f a h a l f - n a k e d y o u n g t o u g h w i t h a p e o n y t a t t o o e d 6 9 o n h i s c h e s t . He i s " a t t a c k e d b y s e x u a l d e s i r e " a n d s o o n a s s a i l e d b y t h e k i n d o f s a d i s t i c , h o m o - e r o t i c f a n t a s i e s w h i c h h a v e t r o u b l e d h i m s i n c e b o y h o o d : t h e h a l f - n a k e d y o u n g man w o u l d g e t i n t o a f i g h t w i t h a r i v a l g a n g , a d a g g e r w o u l d p i e r c e h i s s p l e n d i d t o r s o , a n d h i s b l o o d - s o a k e d c o r p s e w o u l d b e c a r -r i e d b a c k i n t o t h e d a n c e - h a l l f o r t h e p r o t a g o n i s t ' s d e l e c t a -t i o n . S u d d e n l y s n a p p e d o u t o f t h e s e f a n t a s i e s w h e n S o n o k o ' t a l k s t o h i m , t h e p r o t a g o n i s t e x p e r i e n c e s a d e v a s t a t i n g moment o f s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n : I n t h i s i n s t a n t s o m e t h i n g i n s i d e me was b r o k e n i n t w o b y a c r u e l f o r c e . A s i f a t h u n d e r b o l t h a d s t r u c k a n d 53 c l e a v e d a p a r t a l i v i n g t r e e . I h e a r d t h e m i s e r a b l e c o l l a p s e o f t h e s t r u c t u r e I h a d b e e n b u i l d i n g w i t h a l l my e n e r g y u p t o n o w . I f e l t I h a d s e e n t h e i n s t a n t w h e n my e x i s t e n c e w a s t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o some k i n d o f t e r r i b l e " n o n - b e i n g " . 70 2 . T h e n i h i l i s t i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h e s c e n e T h e e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s w h i c h e n d s t h e C o n f e s s i o n s may s e e m s t r i c t l y p s y c h o l o g i c a l , w h e r e a s t h a t w h i c h e n d s T h e  S e a o f F e r t i l i t y a l s o h a s a d e f i n i t e o n t o l o g i c a l d i m e n s i o n : H o n d a i s c o n v i n c e d n o t o n l y o f h i s o w n u n r e a l i t y b u t o f t h e u n r e a l i t y o f e v e r y o n e h e h a s k n o w n , a n d o f t h e w o r l d i n g e n e r a l . No d o u b t t h e o n t o l o g i c a l d i m e n s i o n i s m o r e c l e a r l y d e l i n e a t e d i n T h e S e a o f F e r t i l i t y , l a r g e l y t h r o u g h t h e u s e o f t h e i d e a l -i s t p h i l o s o p h y o f Y u i s h i k i B u d d h i s m . B u t t h e w o r l d o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s i s a l r e a d y p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y i d e a l i s t : n o t h i n g e x i s t s h e r e o u t s i d e o f t h e m i n d o f t h e p r o t a g o n i s t / n a r r a t o r . J u s t a s H o n d a b u i l d s h i s v i s i o n o f m e t e m p s y c h o s i s o u t o f h i s d e s i r e f o r p e r s o n a l i m m o r t a l i t y , s o t h e p r o t a g o n i s t o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s , u s i n g S o n o k o a s h i s p r o p , c r e a t e s h i s o w n w o r l d o f s t o r y b o o k r o m a n c e o u t o f h i s d e s i r e f o r n o r m a l m a s c u l i n i t y . S i n c e b o t h o f t h e s e e l a b o r a t e s t r u c t u r e s o f i l l u s i o n a r e s t r i c t l y p r o d u c t s o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l m i n d , a p s y c h o l o g i c a l e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g -n e s s s u f f i c e s t o b r i n g t h e m c r a s h i n g d o w n . I n t h i s s e n s e t h e p r o t a g o n i s t / n a r r a t o r ' s e x p e r i e n c e o f " t e r r i b l e n o n - b e i n g " s e r v e s t h e same f u n c t i o n a s H o n d a ' s " p l a c e o f n o m e m o r i e s , o f 71 n o t h i n g a t a l l " . B o t h b r i n g a b o u t t h e p r e c i p i t o u s c o l l a p s e o f t h e w o r l d o f t h e n o v e l , w h i c h i s t h e m e n t a l c r e a t i o n o f t h e v i e w p o i n t c h a r a c t e r . A n d t h e s e c o l l a p s e s f o r m t h e c l i m a c t i c 5 4 finales of both novels. This is what gives to Mishima's end-ings their theatrical f la ir . It is almost as i f the author, like some malevolent deus ex machina at the work's conclusion, steps onto the stage with his own characters and, wielding his nihi l ist 's hammer, smashes to pieces the very masks which, up to now, he has so painstakingly crafted. Once the mask falls away, of course, a l l that remains is a gaping void. The fact that the psychological experience of nothingness in the Confessions also has ontological implications is further confirmed by the novel's closing lines, which again bring to mind the closing lines of The Sea of Fertil ity: As I stood up, I stole another look at the chairs in the sun. The group had apparently gone to dance, leav-ing their chairs to stand empty in the blazing sunshine. Some kind of drink had been spilt on the tabletop, and gave off glittering, terrible reflections. 7 3 Though the scene is rather more secular—a dance-hall courtyard instead of a Buddhist temple garden—there is the same sense of vacancy, the same lack of human presence, and the blaze of sunshine giv'.ng an impression of nature as a ruth-less, overpowering force. This is the other side to Mishima's philosophic idealism: a vision of the brutal,, insentient ob-jectivity of the world, and of the nothingness at the centre of that world, a nothingness perceived as malevolent because ultimately i t undermines and destroys everything that is good in human l i fe , a l l of man's dreams and hopes and visions. 3 . Anticipations of the final scene earlier in the novel This sense of the malevolence at the core of reality is 55 a central theme of the Confessions and is closely associated with the novel's main philosophical argument: the protagonist's deterministic view of the formation of his own character as a sado-masochistic homosexual. The emotional coefficient of this philosophic idea is the palpable state of fear which pervades the whole novel, a paranoid sense of the world as constantly impinging on and threatening the self. Early in the first chapter the protagonist/narrator tells us that, since childhood, his "ideas regarding human existence have never strayed from the Augustinian notion of predestina-73 tion". And, indeed, the memories he recounts from his early years a l l support his claim that: "I was handed, so to speak, the menu of the sum-total of my life-problems before I could 74 even read i t . " Lest the reader have any doubt on this score, he recalls that he first experienced homosexual urges when he was a mere four years old, and goes on to give detailed accounts of a series of such experiences throughout his childhood. S i -milarly, with his masochistic and sadistic urges, he recounts, for instance, how already as a boy he derived a quasi-erotic pleasure from imagining his own violent death and, s t i l l more, from imagining the violent deaths of handsome fairytale princes. Thus, before he knew what was happening, his sexuality was corrupted by violence, directed either inwards or outwards. And he even calls upon the authority of a nineteenth-century German sexologist, Magnus Hirshfeld, to substantiate his view that "the sadistic and homosexual impulses were inseparably 56 l i n k e d w i t h e a c h o t h e r i n t h e o v e r w h e l m i n g m a j o r i t y o f homo-75 s e x u a l s , e s p e c i a l l y c o n g e n i t a l h o m o s e x u a l s " . Whether o r n o t t h e r e r e a l l y i s s u c h a phenonmenon as a " c o n g e n i t a l h o m o s e x u a l " , t h e p o i n t i s t h a t , f o r t h e p u r p o s e s o f t h e n o v e l , t h e p r o t a g o n -i s t i s c l a i m i n g t h a t he i s homosexual t h r o u g h no f a u l t o f h i s own, and t h e r e f o r e a l s o s a d i s t i c t h r o u g h no f a u l t o f h i s own. B o t h h i s h o m o s e x u a l i t y and h i s s a d i s m were i n f l i c t e d upon him by t h e m a l e v o l e n c e o f t h e l i f e - f o r c e i t s e l f . T h i s e n a b l e s t h e young a u t h o r t o see h i m s e l f as an i n n o c e n t v i c t i m o r , more r o -m a n t i c a l l y , as a t r a g i c h e r o , and e x p l a i n s why he n o t o n l y f e e l s s e x u a l l y a t t r a c t e d t o t h e t o r t u r e d f i g u r e o f t h e young Roman m a r t y r , S t . S e b a s t i a n , b u t i s a b l e t o i d e n t i f y w i t h him. By an a l m o s t wondrous a c t o f l e g e r d e m a i n , j u g g l i n g h i s p h i l o s o -phy i n t h e one hand and h i s p s y c h o l o g y i n t h e o t h e r , t h e young M i s h i m a i s t h u s a b l e t o make h i s n i h i l i s m s e r v e h i s n a r c i s s i s m and t o f a s h i o n f r o m h i s d e t e r m i n i s t i c p h i l o s o p h y a v e r y a p p e a l -i n g " t r a g i c mask" t o be worn upon h i s d e b u t as an a u t o b i o g r a p h -i c a l n o v e l i s t . The c o s m i c i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h e p r o t a g o n i s t ' s " t r a g i c d e s -t i n y " a r e a l r e a d y e v i d e n t e a r l y i n t h e n o v e l , when he remarks r e g a r d i n g h i s f i r s t e x p e r i e n c e , a t f o u r , o f t h e e r o t i c a t t r a c t -i v e n e s s o f a n o t h e r male: "The f a c t t h a t t h i s was f i r s t m ani-f e s t e d t o me i n t h e f o r m o f a n i g h t - s o i l man i s ' a l l e g o r i c a l ' . B e c a u s e excrement i s a symbol o f t h e e a r t h . And b e c a u s e I am s u r e t h a t what c a l l e d t o me t h e n was t h e m a l e v o l e n t l o v e o f t h e 7 6 E a r t h M o t h e r . " S i m i l a r l y , when, a t t h e age o f f o u r a l s o , he 57 is told that a beautiful knight in a picture which bewitches him is actually a gir l dressed up as a man—Joan of Arc—in his disillusion he feels that this is the first " 'revenge by reality' I had encountered in my l i fe , and it seemed a cruel one"--again, as i f "reality" itself were a malevolent force intent on making him suffer. This cosmic paranoia rises to a kind of crescendo at the close of the f irst chapter, though, when the protagonist is made to feel a "joy close to terror" 7 8 by watching the Dionysian frenzy of a summer festival. The savage gods who dispose of men's lives seem here to brazenly flaunt their power, and to the young romantic nihil ist i t is both a negative and a malevolent power. As the portable shrine, the omikoshi, comes into view, he is f i l led with a "confused feeling of uneasiness": Around the omikoshi there hung an atmosphere of veno-mous calm, like the air of the tropics. It seemed an ill-intentioned torpor, swaying hotly above the naked shoulders of the young men. Inside the red and white ropes, within the railings of black lacquer and gold, behind the gold door that was tightly shut, there were four square feet of pitch-black darkness, and, at this high noon of an early summer's day, when there was not a cloud in the sky, this perfect square of empty night, swaying side to side and continuously tossed up and down, openly lorded i t over the world. 79 This sumptuous but ominous vision, this hypostatization of a malevolent nothingness, captures so brill iantly the essence of Mishima's world-view—or, at least, of the world-view pre-sented in his novels. What festers dangerously at the core of reality, like some radioactive mineral at the core of a nuclear reactor, is not merely nothingness but a nothingness of evil 58 intent (akui, one of Mishima's favorite words). Here we see clearly the difference between Mishima's nothingness and the plenum void of Buddhism, the benevolent source of a l l creative power. Already in this early novel, Mishima's concept of no-thingness is clearly nihi l ist ic . As in the case of Honda's experience of nothingness, in fact, we may judge its true character by the effect i t has on the human beings who come into contact with i t . The young men carrying the omikoshi seem possessed by the demonic force that resides within the shrine. They crash into the protagonist's 80 garden and "delightedly trample down the shrubbery". Their Dionysian abandon, the expression on their faces of "the most licentious and undisguised intoxication in the world", causes deep distress to the young artist's Apollonian mind: their in -toxicated expressions "both startled and distressed me, f i l l ing 81 my heart with limitless suffering". This is not to say, of course, that Shintoism is a nihi l ist ic religion, any more than Buddhism is; the scene tells us more about the protagonist's paranoid state of mind than about the innocent high spirits of a Shinto summer festival. The point is that, within the con-text of this novel, Shintoism functions as a nihil ist symbol, just as Buddhism does in The Sea of Fertility and The Temple  of the Golden Pavilion. Continuing with the theme of the inescapable, predestined nature of his sado-masochistic homosexuality, in the second chapter the narrator/protagonist describes a more active phase 59 of his sex-life, which began when, as a twelve-year-old, he found himself aroused by pictures not of naked women but of naked men, preferably in torment. Again he finds that homo-sexual pleasure is inextricably linked, for him, with sadistic pleasure, and he indulges in the most outrageous fantasies of managing a "murder theatre" in which muscular young men are 8 2 slowly tortured to death for his amusement. These fantasies reach an abominable climax at the end of the chapter, when he imagines, in gruesome detail, that one of his classmates, "an excellent swimmer, with a strikingly good physique", is stran-8 3 gled and then sliced up like a side of beef, to be eaten. The self-disgust which even our young nihil ist professes to feel at his own fantasies, combined with his jealousy of the superior masculinity of an older youth, Omi, with whom he has fallen in love, inspire him finally to try to break free from his "tragic destiny", and to become a "normal" male. His struggles in this direction are recounted over the last two chapters of the novel. He manages to fashion a "mask of norm-alcy" with which he almost deceives even himself but, as we have seen, this mask is torn away in the novel's final scene and he must wear again the "tragic mask" of his nihi l ist ic determinism, the mask through which he utters these very "con-fessions" . 4. The novel as argument: the aesthetic functions of the work's nihil ist philosophy Perhaps because the Confessions is a single novel rather 60 t h a n a t e t r a l o g y , a n d p e r h a p s b e c a u s e t h e a u t h o r m e d i t a t e s t h e r e i n o n t h e m e a n i n g o f a s i n g l e l i f e — h i s o w n — r a t h e r t h a n o n t h e m e a n i n g o f t h e l i v e s o f a g r o u p o f f i c t i o n a l c h a r a c t e r s , t h e w o r k i s o r g a n i z e d a l o n g t h e l i n e s o f a p h i l o s o p h i c a r g u m e n t m o r e c l e a r l y t h a n T h e S e a o f F e r t i l i t y . T h e b a s i c p r o p o s i t i o n o f t h i s a r g u m e n t — a d e t e r m i n i s t i c v i e w o f t h e o r i g i n s o f t h e p r o t a g o n i s t ' s s a d o - m a s o c h i s t i c h o m o s e x u a l i t y — i s p r e s e n t e d , a s we h a v e s e e n , e a r l y i n t h e n o v e l , a n d t h e m e m o r i e s o f h i s s e x -u a l a w a k e n i n g w h i c h f o l l o w a r e m a r s h a l l e d t o g e t h e r l i k e a s e r -i e s o f " p r o o f s " i n s u p p o r t o f t h i s l e a d i n g p r o p o s i t i o n . I t i s p e r h a p s n o c o i n c i d e n c e t h a t , a t t h e t i m e w h e n M i s h i m a w r o t e t h e n o v e l , h e h a d j u s t g r a d u a t e d f r o m l a w s c h o o l : i t i s o r -g a n i z e d s o m e w h a t i n t h e m a n n e r o f a l e g a l b r i e f . F o r t h e e v i -d e n c e i t p r e s e n t s o f t h e m a l e v o l e n c e o f t h e l i f e - f o r c e , i t may b e r e g a r d e d a s t h e " c a s e f o r t h e p r o s e c u t i o n " . On t h e o t h e r h a n d , f o r t h e e v i d e n c e i t p r e s e n t s o f t h e b l a m e l e s s n e s s o f t h e p r o t a g o n i s t , i t may b e r e g a r d e d a s t h e " c a s e f o r t h e d e f e n s e " . T h u s t h e " c o n f e s s i o n s " o f i t s t i t l e i s r a t h e r m i s l e a d i n g ; i t i s r e a l l y m o r e o f a n a p o l o g i a p r o v i t a m e a . T h e n o v e l — o r , a n y w a y , t h e E n g l i s h / F r e n c h / R u s s i a n n o v e l a s we h a v e k n o w n i t u p t o t h e p r e s e n t c e n t u r y — h a s u s u a l l y g i v e n t h e a p p e a r a n c e , a t l e a s t , o f f o l l o w i n g a p r i m a r i l y i n -d u c t i v e p r o c e d u r e . T h a t i s , t h e n o v e l i s t h a s s e e m e d t o m a r -s h a l l t o g e t h e r a p o t e n t i a l l y i n f i n i t e n u m b e r o f f a c t s a n d d e t a i l s c o n c e r n i n g c h a r a c t e r s , s e t t i n g s a n d p l o t s t h a t i n t e r e s t h i m , t h e n o r g a n i z e t h e m i n t o a n o v e r a l l n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e , 61 and only then, i f at a l l , derive from this amorphous mass of material a leading argument or theme. To go the opposite route, to set out with an argument and then present the specific de-tails of the novel as so much evidence in support of this argu-ment, would probably have seemed an excessively art i f ic ia l pro-cedure, fatal to the novel's lifelikeness or verisimilitude. Dickens may have set out, in Bleak House (1853), to prove the inhumanity of the courts of chancery, or Tolstoy, in War and Peace (1869), to explode the myth of the "great man's" role in history, but the main organizing principle of both these great novels s t i l l is not the argument but the story; the arguments emerge in full only after the stories have been told. In the Confessions, as we have seen, Mishima follows the reverse procedure: he presents his main argument at the begin-ning of the novel and a l l that follows is directly apropos to this argument, as evidence either pro or contra. Undoubtedly this "deductive" procedure produces a certain sense of art i -f ic ia l i ty , of the novel as something more like a "case history" than a "slice of l i fe" , but i t also gives to the work a certain sense of objectivity, as well as a remarkably well-integrated structure—qualities rare indeed in any autobiographical novel, but in the Japanese autobiographical novel in particular. As Mishima himself told his editor, in writing the Confessions he had no intention of producing the kind of "conventional ich-roman we have grown so accustomed to"?^ In an essay on the methodology of his own novels, Mishima 62 p o i n t s t o t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e c r i t i c a l , o p p o s i t i o n a l s p i r i t 8 5 i n t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e n o v e l i n g e n e r a l . He n o t e s t h a t e v e n t h e v e r y f i r s t modern W e s t e r n n o v e l , Don Q u i x o t e ( 1 6 0 5 ) , 86 "was b o r n f rom a c r i t i c i s m o f e a r l i e r c h i v a l r i c romances", I n t h e c o n t e x t o f i t s own t r a d i t i o n , t h e C o n f e s s i o n s t o o assume t h i s c r i t i c a l , o p p o s i t i o n a l r o l e , i n r e g a r d t o what i s t h e d ominant f o r m o f modern J a p a n e s e n o v e l , t h e s h i - s h o s e t s u o r " J - n o v e l " . I n d e e d , t h e work c o u l d be r e g a r d e d as an " a n t i -s h i - s h o s e s t s u " , b e c a u s e , on t h e one hand, as a " c o n f e s s i o n a l " n o v e l , i t seems t o f a l l v e r y much w i t h i n t h e s h i - s h o s e t s u t r a -d i t i o n (kokuhaku s h o s e t s u o r " c o n f e s s i o n a l n o v e l " b e i n g a n o t h e r 87 t e r m f o r s h i - s h o s e t s u ) b u t , on t h e o t h e r hand, i t s " d e d u c t -i v e " p r o c e d u r e seems p u r p o s e l y t o c o n f o u n d a t l e a s t t h e J a p a n -ese r e a d e r ' s e x p e c t a t i o n s o f what c o n s t i t u t e s an a u t o b i o g r a p h -i c a l n o v e l . The C o n f e s s i o n s may t h u s be r e g a r d e d as b o t h a p r o d u c t o f and a c r i t i q u e o f t h e s h i - s h o s e s t s u t r a d i t i o n , i n t h e same way as Don Q u i x o t e was b o t h a p r o d u c t o f and a c r i -t i q u e o f t h e t r a d i t i o n o f c h i v a l r i c romance. I n a 1981 r o u n d - t a b l e d i s c u s s i o n on t h e C o n f e s s i o n s , Tsuge T e r u h i k o , t r y i n g t o e x p l a i n t h e o v e r w h e l m i n g i m p r e s s i o n o f o r i g i n a l i t y w h i c h t h e n o v e l gave r e a d e r s on i t s f i r s t a p p e a r -ance i n 1949, s u g g e s t s t h a t , i n t h o s e d a y s , i t was s o m e t h i n g v e r y new f o r a J a p a n e s e w r i t e r s i m p l y n o t t o w r i t e a s h i - s h o -oo s e t s u . F u r t h e r , what above a l l d i s t i n g u i s h e d t h i s work, a c c o r d i n g t o T s u g e , f r o m s h i - s h o s e t s u , e v e n t h o u g h i t was a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l , was t h e o b j e c t i v i t y o f i t s p o i n t o f v i e w : 63 t h e d i s p a s s i o n a t e way i n w h i c h t h e n a r r a t o r d i s s e c t s h i s own p s y c h e , e v e n a p p l y i n g t o h i m s e l f , a t t i m e s , t h e s c i e n t i f i c 89 t h e o r i e s o f modern p s y c h o l o g y . N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o , w h i l e a g r e e i n g w i t h T suge on t h e u n u s u a l o b j e c t i v i t y o f t h e n o v e l ' s v i e w p o i n t , sees t h i s n o t m e r e l y i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l b u t i n l a r g e r m e t a p h y s i c a l t e r m s : i f t h e n o v e l was s i m p l y a b o u t i t s n a r r a -t o r ' s h o m o s e x u a l i t y , t h e n i t would be a s h i - s h o s e s t s u ; b u t a c t u a l l y t h e h o m o s e x u a l i t y i s u s e d as a "metaphor" o f s o m e t h i n g l a r g e r : t h e h e r o ' s " e x i s t e n t i a l r e m o r s e " — j u s t a s , i n a l a t e r n o v e l , The Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n , t h e h e r o ' s s t u t t e r i n g 90 s y m b o l i z e s h i s a l i e n a t i o n . I n h i s book on M i s h i m a w r i t t e n o v e r a decade e a r l i e r , N o g u c h i had a l s o v i e w e d t h e h o m o s e x u a l -i t y , more n a r r o w l y , as a "metaphor" o f t h e h e r o ' s a l i e n a t i o n 91 f r o m p o s t w a r J a p a n e s e s o c i e t y . The e s s e n t i a l way i n w h i c h t h e C o n f e s s i o n s d i f f e r s f r o m a c o n v e n t i o n a l s h i - s h o s e t s u i s t h a t i t seems t o have, t o u s e M i s h i m a ' s own word, b u n t a i : a s t r u c t u r e o f l a n g u a g e c r e a t e d out o f t h e s t r u g g l e t o e x p r e s s a u n i v e r s a l , o b j e c t i v e and c o n s i s t e n t w o r l d - v i e w . I t i s n o t i n t e n d e d as an image o f m e r e l y one man's l i f e , b u t as a symbol o f l i f e i t s e l f . T hus, f o r i n s t a n c e , as N o g u c h i p o i n t s o u t , t h e h e r o ' s h o m o s e x u a l i t y i s s e c o n d a r y t o t h e n o v e l ' s main p o i n t . Though t h e C o n f e s s i o n s may be r e g a r d e d as an a p o l o g y f o r t h e h e r o h i m s e l f , i t i s by no means an a p o l o g y f o r h o m o s e x u a l i t y p e r s e — i n t h e manner o f , say, G i d e ' s C o r y d o n ( 1 9 2 4 ) . On t h e c o n t r a r y , t h e f o r c e o f t h e n o v e l ' s c e n t r a l argument v e r y much depends on a n e g a t i v e v i e w 64 of homosexuality. The more undesirable i t seems to be a homo-sexual, the stronger the narrator's case against the gods who made him one. Thus he takes advantage of every opportunity to reinforce this negative view—most conspicuously, by associat-ing his homosexuality with his blood-lust. Throughout the first part of the novel, there is a rising crescendo of negativity in his self-portrait, which reaches its climax in his "fantasy that may be considered the very worst of which man is capable"— namely, his fantasy of slicing up and eating one of his class-92 mates. The narrator may try to deceive the reader with such conventional expressions of moral repugnance, but actually he is playing a cunning, duplicitous game here, having rigged the rules in his own favor. Since he views his own character and behavior as predestined, the darker his self-portrait, the brighter his image as a "tragic hero", an innocent victim of fate. Mishima obviously relished such paradoxes, and his work is rife with them. The surface air of objectivity in the style of the Confes-sions , then, is also, in a sense, deceptive. While the narra-tor may seem to present a ruthlessly detached, uncompromising, bleakly realistic image of himself and of the world which made him, i t is also an image very much subject to his own will and ego—and, indeed, to his own paranoia. Obviously he takes a perverse consolation in imagining himself the victim of malevo-lent cosmic forces, a romantic, sentimental—not to say inflated —self-image. "Perverse", in fact, in both senses of the word. 65 This self-image as victim or martyr also affords him a kind of masochistic sexual pleasure, as is most evident in the "climac-tic" scene of his masturbation by the seashore. Here he be-comes sexually aroused by identifying himself with St. Sebast-ian, and assuming the "languid" death-pose of the Roman martyr, arms stretched above his head. When the narrator, in fact, speaks early in the novel of his attraction towards "'tragedy1 in the most sensuous meaning of the word", the non-masochistic reader may wonder exactly what that meaning is , never before having associated tragedy with sensuality. But the seashore masturbation scene provides a vivid illustration, and shows how, in Mishima's work, there is a strange alliance between nihilism and sexuality. This alliance emerges most clearly in Confessions of a Mask, a study of his own sexuality, but i t runs through a l l his works, and accounts for the constant association of the most negative aspects of life—violence, destruction, torture, humiliation, death itself—with sexual pleasure. In the Confessions, then, the apparently objective nihil ist world-view is put to some subjective uses indeed. It might be termed, somewhat paradoxically, a "romantic" n i -hilism, since i t bolsters the Promethean self-image of the narcissistic narrator. The words Honda applies to himself, in fact, could also be applied to the narrator/protagonist of the Confessions: he uses his philosophy "merely to serve his 93 self-love". Nevertheless, this psychological use to which the philosophy is put does not detract from its aesthetic use. 66 The philosophy s t i l l shapes the work with a formal discipline rare in such autobiographical novels. A common complaint against the shi-shosetsu, particularly from Western readers, regards its general "formlessness", its digressive, random quality, which often makes i t seem that the author includes the most tr iv ial events for no better reason than that they actually happened to him. Edward Seidensticker, for instance, describes the typical Japanese I-novel as an "un-formed reminiscense" and as a "form of autobiographical jotting 9 4 that may scarcely seem to deserve the name fiction at a l l " . Whatever the justice of such criticisms, there can be no doubt that, in the Confessions, Mishima wrote an autobiographical novel which is not at a l l formless, which is , in fact, shaped with such precise discipline that each detail of the work re-lates centripetally to its core argument, so that everything has a larger meaning and nothing seems included merely "because it happened". Events are not arranged randomly or merely chron-ologically as in many aui. biographical novels; there is a defin-ite inner logic to their arrangement, since each represents a further progression in the argument. And this form of narra-tive progression, associatively, by argument rather than by story-line, allows for abrupt transitions from incident to incident without any disturbance to the reader, since no causal connection between the incidents need be established. All of which gives the novel an unusually tight structure, but with-out resorting to a conventional plot-line. The way Mishima 67 a c c o m p l i s h e d t h i s w a s b y t a k i n g a " d e d u c t i v e " a p p r o a c h , b y u s i n g h i s own l i f e a s a " c a s e h i s t o r y " i n s u p p o r t o f a c e r t a i n a r g u m e n t , t h a t o f n i h i l i s t i c d e t e r m i n i s m . W h a t e v e r o n e may t h i n k o f t h i s a r g u m e n t , o r o f t h e u n s a v o r y p s y c h o l o g i c a l u s e s t o w h i c h i t i s p u t , o n e c a n n o t g a i n s a y i t s e f f e c t i v e n e s s f r o m a s t r i c t l y a e s t h e t i c p o i n t o f v i e w . C . T h e N i h i l i s t a s A e s t h e t e : T h e T e m p l e o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n 1 . T h e f i n a l s c e n e o f t h e n o v e l I n t h e f i n a l s c e n e o f T h e T e m p l e o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n ( K i n k a k u j i , 1 9 5 6 ) , M i z o g u c h i , t h e n a r r a t o r / p r o t a g o n i s t , c o m m i t s a n a c t o f a r s o n . I t i s n o o r d i n a r y a c t o f a r s o n : h e b u r n s d o w n o n e o f t h e g r e a t a r c h i t e c t u r a l t r e a s u r e s o f J a p a n , a f i v e - h u n -d r e d - a n d - f i f t y - y e a r - o l d p a v i l i o n w h i c h i s f o l i a t e d i n g o l d . W h a t m a k e s h i s a c t i o n s e e m a l l t h e m o r e o u t r a g e o u s i s t h a t M i z o g u c h i i s n o t some s t r a y p y r o m a n i a c b u t a monk a t t h e v e r y Z e n t e m p l e t o w h i c h t h e p a v i l i o n b e l o n g s . A n d h i s a c t i o n i s c a r e f u l l y p l a n n e d . I n d e e d , h e b o a s t s a b o u t t h i s : " I w a n t my 9 5 s c r u p u l o u s a t t e n t i o n t o d e t a i l t o b e r e c o g n i z e d . " He a s s e m -b l e s a l l t h e f l a m m a b l e m a t e r i a l s t h a t h e o w n s — m a t t r e s s , q u i l t s , m o s q u i t o n e t t i n g , m e d i t a t i o n c u s h i o n — a n d s t e a l t h i l y c a r r i e s t h e m o n e n i g h t , a l o n g w i t h t h r e e b u n d l e s o f s t r a w , f r o m h i s l i v i n g q u a r t e r s o v e r t o t h e g o l d e n p a v i l i o n . A f t e r some h e s -i t a t i o n , a n a t t a c k n o t o f r e m o r s e b u t o f i n e r t i a , h e s e t s f i r e t o t h e m , c h a n g e s h i s m i n d a b o u t d e s t r o y i n g h i m s e l f a l o n g w i t h 6 8 t h e p a v i l i o n , and t h e n e s c a p e s t o a m o u n t a i n n o r t h o f h i s tem-p l e . F a r f r o m f e e l i n g r e m o r s e , he f e e l s " j u s t l i k e a man who s e t t l e s down f o r a smoke a f t e r h i s j o b i s done: I wanted t o 96 l i v e " . An u n u s u a l l y p o s i t i v e e n d i n g f o r a M i s h i m a n o v e l ! The s t r u c t u r e o f The Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n , M i -shima ' s most a c c o m p l i s h e d n o v e l , i s e v e n more p r o n o u n c e d l y " o p t i c a l " t h a n t h a t o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s o r The Sea o f F e r t i l i t y . The whole n o v e l i s " w r i t t e n t o w a r d s " t h e f i n a l a c t i o n , and may be r e g a r d e d as M i s h i m a ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f why t h i s a c t i o n — a n a c t u a l e v e n t o f 1 9 5 0 — t o o k p l a c e . T h i s i s n o t t o s a y , t h o u g h , t h a t t h e work i s m e r e l y a " d o c u m e n t a r y " o r " n o n - f i c t i o n " n o v e l . I n t h e f i r s t p l a c e , M i s h i m a ' s c h o i c e o f m a t e r i a l — a mad monk who d e s t r o y s a c u l t u r a l t r e a s u r e — w a s an i n s p i r e d one: i t i s so w e l l s u i t e d t o h i s p e c u l i a r w o r l d - v i e w and h i s p a r t i c u l a r t a l e n t s t h a t i t seems t o have s p r u n g f u l l - b l o w n f r o m h i s own i m a g i n a t i o n . S e c o n d l y , and most i m p o r t a n t l y o f c o u r s e , M i s h i -ma ' s u s e o f t h i s m a t e r i a l i s s k i l l f u l and e v e n i n g e n i o u s . To have been p r o v i d e d w i t h t h i s i n c i d e n t w h i c h s y m b o l i z e d so w e l l t h e n i h i l i s t i c mood o f p o s t w a r J a p a n e s e y o u t h was, f o r M i s h i m a as w r i t e r , a d e f i n i t e p i e c e o f l u c k . But he was g i v e n o n l y t h e b a r e bones; he had t o f l e s h them o u t w i t h t h e power o f h i s own i n t e l l e c t and i m a g i n a t i o n . The whole n o v e l , i n d e e d , c o n s i s t s o f t h i s " f l e s h i n g o u t " . I n b r i e f , t h e way M i s h i m a p u t s f l e s h on M i z o g u c h i ' s bones i s by t u r n i n g him i n t o an a e s t h e t e who i s a l s o a h i g h l y i n t e l l i -g e n t n i h i l i s t . By t h e f i n a l s c e n e i t becomes c l e a r , i n f a c t , 69 t h a t h i s a e s t h e t i c i s m i s t h e s o u r c e o f h i s n i h i l i s m , a p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m w h i c h a l i e n a t e s h i m f r o m t h e w o r l d , a s s y m b o l i z e d b y h i s s t u t t e r i n g , a n d p r e v e n t s h i m f r o m t a k i n g a c t i o n . T h e a l l -i m p o r t a n t e q u a t i o n i n t h e n o v e l , a n d t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l a r g u -m e n t o n w h i c h t h e w h o l e s t r u c t u r e i s b a s e d , i s t h a t g i v e n i n t h e f i n a l s c e n e : " N o t h i n g n e s s w a s t h e s t r u c t u r e o f t h i s 97 b e a u t y . " ( K y o m u g a k o n o b i n o k o z o d a t t a n o d a . ) T h e f a t a l a t t r a c t i o n t h e p a v i l i o n e x e r t s o n M i z o g u c h i i s t h u s t h e a t t r a c -t i o n o f n o t h i n g n e s s ; b e a u t y i s a v o i d w h i c h , l i k e a v o r t e x , s u c k s t h e a e s t h e t e i n a n d d r a i n s h i m o f h i s w i l l t o a c t . I n M i z o g u c h i ' s ( a n d M i s h i m a ' s ? ) u n i q u e , i f p a r a n o i d , w o r l d - v i e w , e v e n b e a u t y i s p e r c e i v e d a s u l t i m a t e l y a s i n i s t e r , m a l e v o l e n t f o r c e . O n l y b y d e s t r o y i n g t h e p a v i l i o n c a n h e r e l e a s e h i m s e l f f r o m t h e g r i p o f i t s n o t h i n g n e s s a n d b e f r e e t o l i v e — a n d t o a c t . T h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r u g g l e i n v o l v e d i n t h e r e s o l u t i o n o f t h i s p h i l o s o p h i c a l d i a l e c t i c i s e v i d e n t i n t h e f i n a l s c e n e . A f t e r M i z o g u c h i h a s a s s e m b l e d a l l h i s f l a m m a b l e m a t e r i a l s i n s i d e t h e p a v i l i o n , a n d n e e d s o n l y t o s e t t h e m a t c h , h e m a k e s t h e m i s t a k e o f p a u s i n g f o r a moment t o a d m i r e i t s b e a u t y f o r o n e l a s t t i m e . I t i s n o w t h a t h e h a s h i s v i s i o n o f t h e n o t h i n g -n e s s o f t h e p a v i l i o n ' s b e a u t y a n d f e e l s t h a t " t h e p r o b l e m o f t h e i n c o m p r e h e n s i b i l i t y o f t h e g o l d e n p a v i l i o n ' s b e a u t y , w h i c h 98 h a d t r o u b l e d me s o m u c h i n t h e p a s t , w a s n o w h a l f w a y s o l v e d " . A n d h i s " s o l u t i o n " i s a s f o l l o w s : . . . i f o n e e x a m i n e d t h e b e a u t y o f t h e [ p a v i l i o n ' s ] d e t a i l s , o n e f o u n d t h a t t h i s b e a u t y c e r t a i n l y d i d n o t e n d w i t h a n y d e t a i l , w a s n o t c o m p l e t e d w i t h a n y d e t a i l , b e c a u s e , w h i c h e v e r d e t a i l o n e l o o k e d a t , i t h e l d w i t h -70 i n i t a h i n t o f t h e b e a u t y o f t h e n e x t d e t a i l . The b e a u t y o f e a c h d e t a i l i n i t s e l f was f i l l e d w i t h u n e a s i n e s s . T h i s was b e c a u s e , w h i l e i t dreamt o f c o m p l e t i o n , i t n e v e r a t t a i n e d i t , b u t was e n t i c e d on t o t h e n e x t b e a u t y , an unknown b e a u t y . E a c h h i n t o f b e a u t y was c o n n e c t e d t o a n o t h e r h i n t o f b e a u t y , and so a l l t h o s e h i n t s o f b e a u t y w h i c h d i d n o t e x i s t be-came, so t o speak, t h e theme o f t h e g o l d e n p a v i l i o n . Such h i n t s were s i g n s o f n o t h i n g n e s s . N o t h i n g n e s s was t h e s t r u c t u r e o f t h i s b e a u t y . Thus, t h e i n c o m p l e t i o n o f t h e d e t a i l s o f t h e p a v i l i o n ' s b e a u t y n a t u r a l l y h i n t e d a t n o t h i n g n e s s , and t h i s d e l i c a t e s t r u c t u r e , made o f t h e t h i n n e s t lumber, s h u d d e r e d i n a n t i c i p a t i o n o f n o t h i n g n e s s , l i k e a p e n d ant t r e m b l i n g i n t h e wind.99 M i z o g u c h i ' s f i n a l e x p e r i e n c e o f n o t h i n g n e s s t h r e a t e n s t o u n d e r mine him i n t h e same way as s i m i l a r e x p e r i e n c e s undermine Honda and t h e p r o t a g o n i s t o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s . He i s overcome by " v i o l e n t f a t i g u e " and a s e n s e o f t h e f u t i l i t y o f t h e a c t i o n he i s a b o u t t o t a k e 1 ^ He remembers what h i s n i h i l i s t f r i e n d K a s h i w a g i had t o l d him: "what changed t h e w o r l d was n o t a c t i o n 101 b u t k nowledge". To have i m a g i n e d t h e d e e d was enough; t h e r e was no n e e d t o a c t i t o u t p h y s i c a l l y . " A c t i o n f o r me now i s 102 no more t h a n a k i n d o f s u p e r f l u i t y . " I r o n i c a l l y , M i z o g u c h i i s r e s c u e d f r o m what i s , i n M i s h i m a ' s as i n N i e t z s c h e ' s e y e s , t h e h e r e s y o f p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m , and t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o a "manly" a c t i v e n i h i l i s t , by h i s memory o f a Zen e x h o r t a t i o n , w h i c h i n c l u d e s t h e famous l i n e : "When you meet t h e Buddha, k i l l t h e Buddha!" The e f f e c t o f t h e s e s t i r r i n g , b u t e a s i l y m i s c o n s t r u e d , words on t h e u n b a l a n c e d M i z o g u c h i i s e l e c t r i f y i n g : The words snapped me o u t o f t h e p o w e r l e s s n e s s I had f a l l e n i n t o . S u d d e n l y my whole body o v e r f l o w e d w i t h power. Which i s t o s a y : one p a r t o f my mind s t u b b o r n l y k e p t t e l l i n g me t h a t t h e a c t i o n I soon had t o p e r f o r m was m e a n i n g l e s s , b u t my new-found power had no f e a r o f m e a n i n g l e s s n e s s . I n d e e d , i t was b e c a u s e t h e a c t was m e a n i n g l e s s t h a t I must do i t . 104 71 Whereupon he dashes to the Golden Pavilion and, for the first time in his l i fe , achieves a satisfying act of self-ex-pression. Having turned the hammer of his nihilism outwards, he finds that, unlike other Mishima heroes, he now has no need to turn i t against himself. This explains the great contrast in emotional tone between the final scene of The Temple of the  Golden Pavilion and the final scenes of the Confessions and of The Sea of Fertil ity: relief or catharsis versus devastation, life-affirmation versus life-negation. Whereas the two pre-vious characters were overcome by nothingness, Mizoguchi over-comes nothingness, ironically, by an act of destruction. Thus, as we have seen, he decides against suicide, escapes to a near-by mountain, and relaxes over a smoke, as i f after a job well done. Life now has new savor for him, and, indeed, as he tells us rather complacently in the last words of the novel, he is 105 now determined to live. (...ikiyo to watakushi wa omotta.) This does not mean, though, that Mizoguchi ceases to be a n i -h i l is t . His act of destruction may hardly be regarded as a "positive" act. Rather he becomes an "active" instead of a "passive" nihi l ist , and this frees him from the forces, both psychological and ontological, which have been oppressing him —the principal among which is the strangely enervating power of beauty. 2. The nihil ist dialectic throughout the novel The dialectical tension between active and passive nihilism, so clearly expressed in the final scene of the novel, is adum-brated in various forms from the very beginning. The key 72 i n c i d e n t o f t h e f i r s t c h a p t e r , f o r i n s t a n c e , M i z o g u c h i ' s f r u s t r a t e d a t t e m p t t o m a k e c o n t a c t w i t h a n e i g h b o r i n g g i r l , U i k o , e x p r e s s e s t h e same t e n s i o n . A f t e r b e c o m i n g a s o b s e s s e d w i t h h e r b e a u t y a s h e a l r e a d y i s w i t h t h e b e a u t y o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n , h e h i d e s i n t h e d a r k n e s s b y t h e s i d e o f t h e r o a d e a r l y o n e m o r n i n g , w a i t i n g f o r h e r t o r i d e b y o n h e r b i c y c l e . When f i n a l l y s h e a p p e a r s , h e r u n s o u t t o s t o p h e r . S h e s t o p s , b u t h e f i n d s h i m s e l f s u d d e n l y o v e r c o m e b y a w a v e o f p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m , w h i c h r e n d e r s h i m i n c a p a b l e n o t o n l y o f a c t i n g b u t e v e n o f s p e a k i n g : A t t h a t moment I f e l t m y s e l f t u r n t o s t o n e . W i l l , d e s i r e — e v e r y t h i n g b e c a m e s t o n e . T h e o u t e r w o r l d a g a i n t o o k o n a c o n c r e t e e x i s t e n c e a l l a r o u n d m e , w i t h o u t a n y c o n n e c t i o n w i t h my i n n e r w o r l d . T h e " I " who h a d s t o l e o u t o f h i s u n c l e ' s h o u s e , p u t o n h i s w h i t e s n e a k e r s , a n d r a n a l o n g a r o a d s t i l l s h r o u d e d i n d a w n d a r k n e s s u p t o t h i s Z e l k o v a t r e e — t h a t " I " h a d o n l y made i t s i n n e r s e l f r u n h e r e a t s u c h a f u r i o u s s p e e d . I n t h e r o o f s o f t h e v i l l a g e h o u s e s , w h o s e o u t l i n e s w e r e f a i n t l y v i s i b l e i n t h e d a w n l i g h t , i n t h e b l a c k g r o v e o f t r e e s , i n t h e b l a c k p e a k o f A o b a y a m a , e v e n i n U i k o who s t o o d b e f o r e m e , t h e r e w a s , t o a t e r r i b l e d e g r e e , a c o m p l e t e l a c k o f m e a n i n g . W i t h o u t my p a r t i c i p a t i o n , r e a l i t y h a d b e e n b e s t o w e d u p o n t h i s w o r l d , <md, w i t h a w e i g h t I h a d n e v e r e x -p e r i e n c e d u n t i l i iuw, t h i s g r e a t , m e a n i n g l e s s , p i t c h -d a r k r e a l i t y w a s g i v e n t o m e , w a s p r e s s e d d o w n u p o n m e . 1 0 6 S t a n d i n g h e l p l e s s l y i n f r o n t o f U i k o , u n a b l e e v e n t o u t t e r a w o r d , h e i s h u m i l i a t e d b y h e r s c o r n : " S h e c y c l e d r o u n d •C A A • +• , , 1 0 7 m e , a s i f d o d g i n g a s t o n e . " L a t e r i n t h e n o v e l t h i s s c e n e i s r e p e a t e d i n a n o t h e r f o r m w h e n M i z o g u c h i f i n d s h i m s e l f u n a b l e t o a c t o u t h i s l u s t f u l f a n t a s i e s o n a g i r l p r o v i d e d b y h i s n i h i l i s t M e p h i s t o p h e l e s , K a s h i w a g i . T h i s t i m e , t h o u g h , t h e a g e n t o f p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m 73 i s n o t a n e x p e r i e n c e o f g e n e r a l m e a n i n g l e s s n e s s b u t t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n i t s e l f , a v i s i o n o f w h i c h r e n d e r s h i m e v e n s e x u a l l y 1 0 8 i m p o t e n t . A n d a g a i n t h e g i r l r e a c t s w i t h s c o r n . T h e s c e n e t h u s n o t o n l y e c h o e s h i s e a r l i e r e x p e r i e n c e w i t h U i k o b u t a l s o p r e f i g u r e s h i s l a t e r e x p e r i e n c e , i n t h e n o v e l ' s f i n a l s c e n e , o f t h e l i f e - n e g a t i n g p o w e r o f t h e p a v i l i o n i t s e l f . T h e f a c t t h a t M i z o g u c h i p e r c e i v e s h i s o w n p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m a s a g r a v e a f f l i c t i o n a c c o u n t s f o r t h e s t r a n g e p r i d e h e f e e l s a f t e r b e i n g f o r c e d b y a n A m e r i c a n s o l d i e r t o t r a m p l e o n h i s g i r l f r i e n d ' s s t o m a c h , t h u s i n d u c i n g a n a b o r t i o n . T h o u g h h e c a n n o t t a k e t h e f u l l " c r e d i t " f o r t h i s a c t i o n , s i n c e i t w a s f o r c e d o n h i m , n e v e r t h e l e s s t h e i n c i d e n t d o e s p r o v e t h a t h e , a man o f t h e i n n e r w o r l d , i s a t l e a s t c a p a b l e o f a c t i o n . A n d i t i s a c t i o n w h i c h h a s c o n s i d e r a b l e r e p e r c u s s i o n s i n t h e o u t e r w o r l d — n o t o n l y t h e m u r d e r o f a n u n b o r n c h i l d b u t a l s o t h e p l a c i n g o f h i s S u p e r i o r i n t o a c o m p r o m i s i n g p o s i t i o n . I n t h e t o p s y - t u r v y w o r l d o f h i s n i h i l i s t v a l u e s , t h e a c t i o n t h u s r e -p r e s e n t s h i s f i r s t i m p o r t a n t t r i u m p h a s a f l e d g i n g man o f a c t i o n . A n d t h e v e r y e v i l o f i t o n l y a m p l i f i e s h i s u n a c c u s t o m e d s e n s e o f p o w e r : T h a t a c t i o n w h i c h , a t t h e t i m e i t w a s c o m m i t t e d , h a d n o t f e l t l i k e a c r i m e , t h a t a c t i o n o f t r a m p l i n g o n t h e w o m a n , h a d g r a d u a l l y b e g u n t o s h i n e i n my m e m o r y . T h i s w a s n o t o n l y b e c a u s e I k n e w t h a t t h e woman h a d s u f f e r e d a m i s c a r r i a g e b e c a u s e o f i t . T h e a c t i o n h a d s i f t e d i n -t o my m e m o r y l i k e a s h o w e r o f g o l d d u s t , a n d h a d b e g u n t o e m i t , a b r i l l i a n t g l i t t e r t h a t c o n t i n u a l l y p i e r c e d t h e e y e s . T h e g l i t t e r o f e v i l . Y e s . E v e n i f i t w a s o n l y a t r i v i a l e v i l , s t i l l I was now e n d o w e d w i t h t h e c l e a r a w a r e n e s s t h a t I h a d c o m m i t t e d e v i l . T h a t a w a r e -n e s s w a s h u n g l i k e a m e d a l o n t h e i n s i d e o f my c h e s t . 1 0 9 74 What this ongoing dialectic between active and passive nihilism makes clear, then, is that Mizoguchi's final act of destruction is simply a necessary condition of his psychic health. He is faced with the choice of becoming an arsonist or a suicide. Since, in the final scene, he chooses the former, he is also able, in this scene, to renounce the latter. Through his use of this dialectic, Mishima himself achieves a triumph in the kind of ethical paradox which appealed to both the law-yer and the rebel in him: Nothing stimulates the novelist's imagination more, challenges his ability more, and inspires his creative urge more, than a crime that seems indefensible in the light of ordinary morality. In such a case, the novel-ist takes pride in his courage to render a different verdict, though the rest of the world may condemn him. Perhaps the criminal, in his unrepentant pride, is the harbinger of hitherto unknown values. In any case, a novel reveals its uniquely ethical nature at a crisis like this one. 110 The fact that Mishima viewed the novel as a moral instru-ment may itself seem highly paradoxical, considering his n ih i l -ism, but Nietzsche, the principal philosopher of nihilism, was also primarily a moralist. Nietzsche's morality, of course, was not the conventional Judeo-Christian morality of Western civilization, but a new set of values supposedly "beyond good and evil" to justify the willful behavior of the active n ih i l -ist , the power-hungry Ubermensch. Mizoguchi, pitiable figure that he is , is Mishima's own version of an Ubermensch. He is presented as such partly, no doubt, in ironic jest, and partly out of the thirty-one-year-old Mishima's enfant terrible desire to shock the public, but also, there can be no doubt, with some 75 genuine conviction that he represents a new kind of nihil ist moral hero. 3. Critical evaluation of the work in the light of its nihil ist philosophy The historical actuality of the novel's central action, and the great outrage which this action aroused in the hearts of a l l patriotic and beauty-loving Japanese, some to have pro-duced some confusions between l i fe and art in the crit ical re-action to The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The danger arises when critics fa i l to distinguish sufficiently between the actual historical incident and the symbolic use which Mishima made of i t . Consequently, the moral outrage which the mad monk's act-ion provoked is transferred to Mishima, who seems in his novel to justify the burning of national treasures as a form of "self-expression". Needless to say, moral outrage is not the state of mind most conducive to a fair estimation of the novel's aes-thetic value. Surprisingly, the judgements of some of the most eminent of contemporary Japanese critics seem to have been clouded by such moralistic considerations. Nakamura Mitsuo, for instance, objected that Mishima had turned "an outrageous criminal act 111 into a young aristocrat's intellectual prank". And even the late "Dean" of Japanese critics, Kobayashi Hideo, seems to have been swayed by similar sentiments when he declared that 112 Mishima should have "killed off" Mizoguchi at the end. No doubt many readers likewise find their sense of "poetic justice" 76 offended by Mizoguchi's i n s o u c i a n t , s e l f - c o n g r a t u l a t o r y a t t i -tude a f t e r he has performed h i s act of arson, and would p r e f e r to see him p u n i s h e d — b y remorse at l e a s t i f not by death. A Western c r i t i c , Donald Keene, on the other hand, perhaps be-cause he i s capable of a more detached a t t i t u d e towards Japan-ese n a t i o n a l t r e a s u r e s , i s q u i t e w i l l i n g to overlook the moral i s s u e , and even argues t h a t : " I t i s a measure of Mishima's suc-cess that he persuaded readers that a d e p l o r a b l e e v e n t — t h e des-t r u c t i o n of a p r i c e l e s s work of a r t — w a s j u s t i f i a b l e i n terms 113 of the l i b e r a t i o n of one man." Keene's c l a i m , though, be-sides being f a l s e (the above Japanese c r i t i c s , f o r i n s t a n c e , o b v i o u s l y were not so e a s i l y "persuaded"), i s based on the same naive c o n f u s i o n of the r e a l i n c i d e n t with Mishima's f i c t i o n a l , symbolic use of i t . The Temple of the Golden P a v i l i o n cannot be s a i d to " j u s t i f y " the a c t u a l act of arson of 1950 f o r the simple reason that Mizoguchi i s not Hayashi, the a c t u a l arson-i s t , but an a l t e r ego of Mishima h i m s e l f , and Mizoguchi's a c t -i o n i s g i v e n a symbolic, p h i l o s o p h i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e which Ha-y a s h i ' s a c t i o n , a p p a r e n t l y committed "on impulse", i n no way 114 possessed. I f Mishima h i m s e l f had set f i r e to the Golden P a v i l i o n , then perhaps h i s novel could reasonably be regarded as an "apology f o r arson". But s i n c e he was i n " r e a l l i f e " the most ardent defender of Japanese c u l t u r e among the w r i t e r s of h i s generation, perhaps i t would be s a f e r to regard h i s de-fense of the f i r i n g of c u l t u r a l t r e a s u r e s as more symbolic than l i t e r a l . 77 I n c i d e n t a l l y , K e e n e ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e n o v e l a s a " p o w -e r f u l , i n e v i t a b l e t r a g e d y " i s a l s o b a s e d o n t h e same a r t / l i f e c o n f u s i o n . T h e a c t u a l e v e n t o f 1 9 5 0 was n o d o u b t r e g a r d e d a s a n a t i o n a l t r a g e d y b y m o s t J a p a n e s e , b u t w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f t h i s n o v e l i t b e c o m e s a s y m b o l o f t h e t r i u m p h o f a c t i v e o v e r p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m . T h e n o v e l ' s c o n c l u s i o n i s t h e o p p o s i t e o f t r a g i c , s i n c e t r a g e d i e s e n d w i t h t h e h e r o ' s d e a t h b u t t h i s w o r k e n d s w i t h h i s r e s o l u t i o n t o l i v e . A l t h o u g h a d m i t t e d l y t h i s i s a r a t h e r o d d way t o p u t i t , t h e n o v e l w o u l d b e b e t t e r d e s c r i b e d a s a s u c c e s s s t o r y w i t h a h a p p y e n d i n g — a n d , o f c o u r s e , i t i s M i s h i m a ' s s u p r e m e a c h i e v e m e n t i n i r o n y t o h a v e made i t s o . A m o r e s e r i o u s c h a r g e a g a i n s t t h e n o v e l t h a n i t s m o r a l c u l p a b i l i t y i s t h a t i t f u n c t i o n s t o o e x c l u s i v e l y o n t h e l e v e l o f p h i l o s o p h i c a l a r g u m e n t , a n d t h u s n e g l e c t s t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i z a t i o n o f i t s c h a r a c t e r s . One o f t h e s t r o n g e s t p r e s e n t a -t i o n s o f t h i s a r g u m e n t i s made b y M i y o s h i M a s a o , who c h a r g e s t h a t t h e n o v e l " e v a d e s c o n s e q u e n t i a l i t y b y t h e m o s t s u b t l e 1 1 5 m e a n s " . B y w h i c h h e m e a n s t h a t : " W h a t h a p p e n e d e a r l i e r i s c o n n e c t e d w i t h w h a t c o m e s l a t e r o n l y t h e m a t i c a l l y , n o t n o v e l -i s t i c a l l y — t h a t i s , n o t h i s t o r i c a l l y , p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y , o r 116 c a u s a l l y . " To i l l u s t r a t e h i s p o i n t , M i y o s h i n o t e s t h a t t h e r e a d e r i s g i v e n n o i d e a o f how a r o u g h - h e w n monk l i k e M i z o g u c h i e v e r a c q u i r e d s u c h a s o p h i s t i c a t e d a e s t h e t i c s e n s i b i l i t y : " I am n o t i n s i s t i n g t h a t M i z o g u c h i ' s a e s t h e t i c s i s ' i n c r e d i b l e ' , g i v e n h i s o r i g i n s a n d e d u c a t i o n , b u t am a r g u i n g t h a t T h e G o l d e n T e m p l e s i m p l y d i s r e g a r d s t h e j o b o f m a k i n g i t a p p e a r p r o b a b l e 117 o r e v e n f e a s i b l e i n t h e l i g h t o f h i s b a c k g r o u n d . " 78 It seems to me, though, that Miyoshi falls into the " l i t -eralist fallacy" almost as deeply as those critics who would transfer their moral outrage from the real arsonist to Mizo-guchi. Of course the novel does not offer a realistic psycho-logical portrait of the pyromaniac as aesthete—the very idea seems ludicrous. In demanding that i t do so, Miyoshi, an ex-pert on the nineteenth-century English novel, seems to be guided too much by nineteenth-century conventions of psychological realism. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is obviously not meant to be "realistic" in that sense, but then neither are many of the other major novels of the twentieth century. What, for instance, are the precise psychological origins of the Kafka hero's guilt? Why is the Sartre hero overcome by nausea towards the physical world? Why does Camus' outsider shoot the Arab? In the nihi l ist universe of such modern philosophi-cal fiction human psychology is not always made to appear "pro-bable or even feasible" in the light of the character's back-ground. Characters ofter* are offered more as symbols than as l iteral human beings. Thus Mizoguchi may be taken as a symbol of the passive nihi l ist struggling to become an active nihi l ist , and most of the other characters of the novel may likewise be taken as symbolic active or passive nihil ists, or, as Ueda Ma-koto has said, as "people of the inner world (the Superior, Kashiwagi, most of the other acolytes) and people of the outer world (the Naval Engineering School student, Uiko, Tsurukawa, the American soldier), with the latter group eventually winning 79 Mizoguchi... to their side". In this way the characters themselves function as contending forces in the novel's phil-osophic dialectic between active and passive nihilism. This is not to say, of course, that they are completely devoid of psychological reality, mere ciphers in a philosophical equa-tion. But neither are they ful l or round characters in the traditional sense, recognizable human beings who seem to exist independently of the author's mind, or of the novel's central argument. What reality they do have clearly derives from the author's own psychology: they are a l l , to some extent, his alter egos. Thus the simple answer to Miyoshi's objection is that no reader need look into Mizoguchi's background to account for his sophisticated aesthetics, since their obvious source is the author himself. And any reader not unduly influenced by nineteenth-century conceptions of the novel will know this. It is a natural part of the conventions of this kind of novel. Admittedly the result is a certain psychological narrowness, since the only psychology expressed by the novel is that of the author himself. But a l l this means, in the end, is that the philosophical dimension takes precedence over the psycho-logical dimension, since the psychology of the characters, as we have seen, plays its role in the unfolding of the novel's central philosophical argument. And this is only to be expected in a work that is primarily, after a l l , a philosophical rather than a psychological novel. Mishima did prove on several occa-sions that he was capable of greater psychological range—most 80 conspicuously, in After the Banquet (Utage no ato, 1960), in who which the heroine, Kazu,^radiates "open good nature" and bursts with "energy and enthusiasm", is about as unlike the typical 119 Mishima hero as anyone could possibly be. By the same token, though, After the Banquet is not a philosophical novel and does not give expression to Mishima's nihil ist world-view. What Miyoshi's objection ultimately comes down to, then, is an objection to the philosophical novel per se. This is evident in his choice of words—in his complaint, for instance, that: "What happened earlier is connected with what comes later only thematically, not novelistically—that is , not historical-120 ly, psychologically, or causally." Here Miyoshi betrays the same prejudice against ideas as "extra-literary" or "inart-ist ic" that we found earlier in various Anglo-Saxon writers. Thus the strange antithesis he sets up between the "thematic" and the "novelistic". Why, we might ask, is the connection of events in a novel thematically any less "novelistic" than their connection "historically, psychologically, or causally"? Sure-ly the thematic structure of a novel is as integral a part of its artistry as its plot-line or its character-psychology. And in a philosophical novel i t is only natural, as we have seen, that this thematic structure take precedence over a l l the other aesthetic elements. Rather than carp over what the novel is not, and was not meant to be, perhaps the crit ic would do better to celebrate what i t is , and to point out the significance of Mishima's 81 achievement, especially within the Japanese context. The Tem-ple of the Golden Pavilion is the most successful of Mishima's philosophical novels, no doubt because in that act of cultural arson he found the most powerful objective correlative of his nihil ist world-view and, more specifically, of the conflict between active and passive nihilism. Centred on this single dramatic action, and on the dialectical tensions which precede that action, the novel thus attains a unity, intensity and dra-matic interest rare in a work which also engages in such a weighty philosophical discourse. This was no small achieve-ment, especially in view of the fact that, to accomplish i t , Mishima had to go against pretty much the entire Japanese l i t -erary tradition. As he himself was well aware: With respect to the conversations in my novels, I believe I have already freed myself to a considerable extent from Japanese fastidiousness. Japanese writers enjoy displaying their delicate sk i l l at revealing in an indirect manner, by means of conversations, the per-sonalities, temperaments and outlook on l i fe of their characters; but conversations that are unrelated to the personalities and temperaments of the characters, conversations that are read for their content alone and, finally, long conversations that fuse into the same tempo with their descriptive passages, are the special quality of the novels of Goethe, and of the German novel in general. 121 Much as Mishima looked to a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, to help him define the dualistic polarities of his nihil ist thought, so also he looked to the German tradition of the philosophical novel, from Goethe to Mann, for his model of the kind of novel which could give expression to that thought. In doing so he significantly widened the perimeters of the modern Japanese novel. 82 D. C o n c l u s i o n N i h i l i s m was o r i g i n a l l y a p r o d u c t o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h - c e n -t u r y West, and c o n t i n u e s as a m a j o r f o r c e i n modern W e s t e r n t h o u g h t , t h r e a t e n i n g t o undermine t h e t r a d i t i o n a l t h e o l o g y , m e t a p h y s i c s and m o r a l i t y o f W e s t e r n c i v i l i z a t i o n . M i s h i m a ' s n i h i l i s m has some d i s t i n c t l y W e s t e r n e l e m e n t s , e s p e c i a l l y i n i t s u s e o f su c h N i e t z s c h e a n d u a l i s t i c c o n c e p t s as a c t i v e and p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m and t h e A p o l l o n i a n and D i o n y s i a n p r i n c i p l e s . M i s hima was a l s o s t r o n g l y a t t r a c t e d t o N i e t z s c h e ' s i d e a o f t h e n i h i l i s t superman, t h e man o f i r o n w i l l , b e yond good and e v i l , and t o t h e German p h i l o s o p h e r ' s e x a l t a t i o n o f Gr e e k p a g a n i s m , o f t h e c u l t o f t h e body and o f t h e Greek c o n c e p t o f man as a t r a g i c h e r o . But M i s h i m a a l s o l i k e d t o f i n d p r e c e d e n t s f o r h i s n i h i l i s m w i t h i n h i s own J a p a n e s e t r a d i t i o n . He was, a f t e r a l l , an extreme n a t i o n a l i s t , and no doubt was l o a t h t o be c o n -s i d e r e d a " f o r e i g n " t h i n k e r . T h u s , i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e  Hagakure (Hagakure nyumon, 1967), f o r i n s t a n c e , he d e p i c t s t h e Tokugawa s a m u r a i m o r a l i s t , Yamamoto J o c h o , as an a d m i r a b l e 122 " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t " . And he d e a l s i n a s i m i l a r way w i t h Yo-mei-gaku and t h o s e r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s i n f l u e n c e d by t h i s m i l i t a n t f o r m o f n e o - C o n f u c i a n i s m , s u c h as O s h i o H e i h a c h i r o . A l s o , he sought o u t n i h i l i s t i c e l e m e n t s i n Buddhism, e s p e c i a l l y i n Zen and i n t h e Y u i s h i k i s c h o o l , and ev e n i n S h i n t o i s m . W h i l e t h e r e may be some q u a s i - n i h i l i s t i c a s p e c t s t o t h e s e t r a d i t i o n a l modes o f t h o u g h t , and t o J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e i n g e n e r a l , i t i s o b v i o u s l y a n a c h r o n i s t i c t o r e g a r d them as " n i h i l i s t " i n t h e modern sense 83 o f t h e t e r m . T h e B u d d h i s t i d e a o f n o t h i n g n e s s , f o r i n s t a n c e , r e f e r s t o a c o m p l e t e l y d i f f e r e n t r e a l i t y t h a n t h a t o f t h e n i h i l i s t i d e a . T h e s i m p l e f a c t o f t h e m a t t e r i s t h a t M i s h i m a ' s w o r l d -v i e w w a s e s s e n t i a l l y W e s t e r n , a n d i t w a s e x a c t l y t h i s w h i c h e n a b l e d h i m t o w r i t e W e s t e r n - s t y l e p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o v e l s . W h i l e h i s a f f i n i t i e s w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l J a p a n e s e t h i n k e r s may t h u s b e s u s p e c t , s t i l l h e d o e s h a v e s t r o n g a f f i n i t i e s i n h i s n i h i l i s m w i t h o t h e r m o d e r n J a p a n e s e n o v e l i s t s , who w e r e a l s o W e s t e r n -i n f l u e n c e d . T h e v e r y f i r s t m o d e r n J a p a n e s e n o v e l i s t o f i m p o r -F u t a b a t e i S h i m e i , t a n c e 5 / ^ i n f a c t , i m b i b e d n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y R u s s i a n n i h i l i s m d i r e c t l y f r o m i t s s o u r c e , t r a n s l a t i n g T u r g e n e v , a n d t h e e f f e c t s o f t h i s may b e s e e n i n h i s n o v e l , T h e D r i f t i n g C l o u d ( U k i g u m o , 1 8 8 6 - 8 9 ) , a s t u d y i n n i h i l i s t m a l a i s e . M o r i O g a i , t h e J a p a n e s e n o v e l i s t whom M i s h i m a a d m i r e d a b o v e a l l o t h e r s , a n d w h o s e s p a r e d i s c i p l i n e d s t y l e h e c o n s c i o u s l y i m i t a t e d , w a s a l s o s t r o n g l y i n f l u e n c e d b y G e r m a n l i t e r a t u r e a n d w r o t e p h i l o s o p h i c a l a n d 12 h i s t o r i c a l s t o r i e s w h o s e t h e m e s o f t e n a p p r o a c h t h e n i h i l i s t i c . I n d e e d , i f we s u r v e y t h e w h o l e o f s e r i o u s m o d e r n J a p a n e s e l i t -e r a t u r e , we f i n d t h a t t h e v i e w o f l i f e i t p r e s e n t s i s c e r t a i n l y d a r k i f n o t a c t u a l l y n i h i l i s t i c . T h i s a p p l i e s a l s o t o M i s h i -ma ' s " t e a c h e r " a n d p a t r o n , K a w a b a t a Y a s u n a r i , w h o s e n i h i l i s m , t h o u g h , i s n o t e x p r e s s e d i n s u c h e x p l i c i t p h i l o s o p h i c a l t e r m s a s M i s h i m a ' s , a n d i s t e m p e r e d w i t h a n e x q u i s i t e t r a d i t i o n a l a e s t h e t i c i s m . I n o t h e r w o r d s , M i s h i m a ' s n i h i l i s m p e r s e i s b y n o m e a n s a n i s o l a t e d p h e n o m e n o n , a n d may e v e n b e t a k e n t o 84 represent a fairly common mood in modern Japanese literature, i f in a rather extreme form. But what is definitely uncommon is the manner in which he articulates this mood, the philoso-phical shape he gives to i t . In terms of psychological scope Mishima never progressed far beyond the shi-shosetsu (I-novel), the dominant form of the modern Japanese novel, since most of his characters are alter egos of himself, imbued with aspects of his own psychology, and his novels as a whole are expressions of his personal world-view and its concomitant emotional state. In terms of style, structure and intellectual interest, however, his novels far surpassed the conventional shi-shosetsu, and they did this mainly through the aesthetic functions of their nihil ist phil-osophy. In each of the three cases examined here, a somewhat different aspect of the nihil ist philosophy is emphasized: determinism in Confessions of a Mask, the triumph of active nihilism in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the triumph of passive nihilism in The. ? i a of Fertility. But in each case the central philosophical argument is used to confer an exem-plary order on the structure of the novel as a whole, and to imbue the style of the novel with a sense of ironic detachment. The various ideas the central argument generates are also a fertile source of intellectual interest. Though the pleasure these novels afford is often more cerebral than emotional or sensual, i t is no less "aesthetic" for a l l that, whether i t be the pleasure of a witty aphorism or of an absorbing and well-85 r e a s o n e d a r g u m e n t . A c t u a l l y , a b e t t e r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f M i s h i m a a s a n i h i l i s t p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o v e l i s t w o u l d b e h a d b y p l a c i n g h i m i n t h e c o n -t e x t o f m o d e r n W e s t e r n l i t e r a t u r e . T h i s c o u l d a l s o p r o v i d e t h e b a s i s o f a f a s c i n a t i n g s t u d y i n c o m p a r a t i v e l i t e r a t u r e , b u t h e r e , u n f o r t u n a t e l y , I am a b l e t o o f f e r o n l y t h e b r i e f e s t s u m m a r y . T h e f i r s t s i g n i f i c a n t l i t e r a r y u s e o f n i h i l i s m was i n n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y R u s s i a n l i t e r a t u r e , e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e n o v e l s o f T u r g e n e v a n d D o s t o e v s k y . B u t , u n l i k e M i s h i m a , t h e s e t w o R u s s i a n n o v e l i s t s d o n o t w r i t e f r o m a n i h i l i s t v i e w p o i n t ; t h e y m e r e l y p r e s e n t c h a r a c t e r s who p r o f e s s t o b e n i h i l i s t s . M i s h i m a i s m u c h c l o s e r t o t h e l a t e r R u s s i a n n o v e l i s t , A r t z y b a -s h e f , who i n a n o v e l s u c h a s B r e a k i n g - P o i n t (U p o s l e d n e i c h e r t y , 1 9 1 1 - 1 2 ) , a c t u a l l y w r i t e s o u t o f a n i h i l i s t p o i n t o f v i e w , a d -1 2 4 v o c a t i n g n o t h i n g l e s s t h a n u n i v e r s a l s u i c i d e ! On t h e o t h e r h a n d , M i s h i m a d i f f e r s f r o m l a t e r E u r o p e a n n i h i l i s t n o v e l i s t s s u c h a s S a r t r e , B e c k e t t a n d R o b b e - G r i l l e t i n t h a t h e m a k e s n o r e a l a t t e m p t t o w r i t e a n " a n t i - n o v e l " f r o m w h i c h a l l c o n v e n t i o n a l e l e m e n t s o f p l o t , c h a r a c t e r a n d s e t t i n g h a v e b e e n e x p u n g e d . O f c o u r s e , i t may h a v e b e e n m o r e c o n s i s t -e n t w i t h h i s n i h i l i s m t o w r i t e s u c h n o v e l s , b u t M i s h i m a s e e m e d 1 2 5 t o h a v e l i t t l e t a l e n t f o r e x p e r i m e n t a l w r i t i n g . R a t h e r h e c h o s e t o g i v e e x p r e s s i o n t o h i s n i h i l i s m , a s we h a v e s e e n , t h r o u g h t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l f o r m o f t h e p h i l o s o p h i c n o v e l , i n t h e G e r m a n t r a d i t i o n o f M a n n , H e s s e a n d , o r i g i n a l l y , G o e t h e . T h a t t h e r e w e r e c e r t a i n u n r e s o l v e d t e n s i o n s i n v o l v e d i n t h i s 86 choice, though, may account for the "destructive impulse" he sometimes displayed towards his own creations. As we have already noted, he seemed to enjoy building elaborate houses of cards and then knocking them down—a tendency that reaches its grand climax at the end of The Sea of Fertil ity. But i f , as a nihi l ist , he was dissatisfied with the conventionalities of his own novels, this was at least a creative dissatisfaction, in that i t produced those striking moments of reversal and collapse—as i f a l l supports are suddenly removed—which recur throughout his major novels. 87 C h a p t e r One  Notes 1. On t h e n o t i o n t h a t i d e a s a r e " i n a r t i s t i c " s e e , f o r i n s t a n c e , Mary M c C a r t h y , I d e a s and t h e N o v e l (New Y o r k : H a r c o u r t B r a c e J o v a n o v i c h , 1980), p.14, where she a t t r i b u t e s t h e n o t i o n t o Henry James. 2. Rene W e l l e k and A u s t i n Warren, T h e o r y o f L i t e r a t u r e , 3 r d ed. (New Y o r k , H a r c o u r t , 1956), p.110. 3. o p . c i t . , pp.5-6. 4. o p . c i t . , p.123. 5. L i o n e l T r i l l i n g , The L i b e r a l I m a g i n a t i o n (New Y o r k : D o u b l e -day, 1 9 5 0 ) , p.279. 6. o p . c i t . , pp.285-6. 7. o p . c i t . , p.283. 8. V l a d i m i r Nabokov, S t r o n g O p i n i o n s (New Y o r k : M c G r a w - H i l l , 1981), p.41 and p.54. 9. o p . c i t . , p.42 and p.54. 10. o p . c i t . , p.66. 11. o p . c i t . , p.41. 12. M c C a r t h y , I d e a s , p.119. 13. o p . c i t . , p.31. 14. o p . c i t . , p.62. 15. Q u o t e d i n M c C a r t h y , p.3. 16. F o r a c o n c i s e summary o f t h i s s p l i t i n modern p h i l o s o p h y see J o h n F. K a p p e l , An I n t r o d u c t i o n t o 2 0 t h C e n t u r y P h i l o s o p h y ( T o r o n t o : Forum House, 1969), pp.5-14. 17. F o r an a c c o u n t o f t h e s e two o p p o s i n g t e n d e n c i e s i n e a r l y Showa l i t e r a t u r e see O d a g i r i Susumu, Showa bungaku no s e i r i t s u ( T okyo: K e i s o shobo, 1965). 18. A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t , F o r a New N o v e l (New Y o r k : G r o v e , 1965), p.32. 19. S t e p h e n D. R o s s , L i t e r a t u r e and P h i l o s o p h y (New Y o r k : A p p l e t o n - C e n t u r y - C r o f t s , 1969), p.217. 88 20. M c C a r t h y , I d e a s , p.24. 21. o p . c i t . , p.21. 22. Q u o t e d i n Makoto Ueda, Modern J a p a n e s e W r i t e r s and t h e N a t u r e o f L i t e r a t u r e ( S t a n f o r d : S t a n f o r d U n i v . P r e s s , 1976), p.250. 23. M i s h i m a Y u k i o z e n s h u [ h e r e a f t e r MYZ] (Tokyo: S h i n c h o s h a , 1973-76), v o l . 1 9 , p.646. A l l t r a n s l a t i o n s f r o m t h e J a p a n e s e my own u n l e s s o t h e r w i s e s p e c i f i e d b u t , f o r r e a d e r s who would l i k e t o r e f e r t o t h e p u b l i s h e d E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s o f M i s h i m a 1 s n o v e l s , I a l s o g i v e page r e f e r e n c e s t o t h e p a p e r b a c k e d i t i o n s o f t h e s e , i n b r a c k e t s , as f o l l o w s : (The Decay o f t h e A n g e l , t r a n s . Edward G. S e i d e n s t i c k e r , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p.246.) 24. MYZ, v o l . 1 9 , p.647. (Decay, p . 2 4 7 ) . 25. i b i d . ~ 26. MYZ, v o l . 1 8 , p.40. ( S p r i n g Snow, t r a n s . M i c h a e l G a l l a g h e r , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p . 2 7 ) . 27. MYZ, v o l . 1 9 , p.132. (The Temple o f Dawn, t r a n s . E. D a l e S a u n d e r s and C e c i l i a Segawa S e i g l e , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p . 1 1 1 ) . 28. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.135. (Dawn, p . 1 1 4 ) . 29. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , pp.132-3. (Dawn, pp.111-2). 30. Rev. Soyen Shaku, Sermons o f a B u d d h i s t Abbot (New Y o r k : Samuel W e i s e r , 1971), p.98. 31. S h o e i Ando, Zen and A m e r i c a n T r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m ( T o k y o : H o k u s e i d o , 1970), p.34. 32. C h a r l e s I . G l i c k s b e r g , The L i t e r a t u r e o f N i h i l i s m ( L e w i s -b u r g : B u c k n e l l U n i v . , 1975), p.40. 33. o p . c i t . , p.18. 34. o p . c i t . , p.19. 35. Helmut T h i e l i c k e , N i h i l i s m (New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row, 1961), p.54. 36. D a i s e t s u T e i t a r o S u z u k i , E s s a y s i n Zen Buddhism, 2nd s e r i e s , (New Y o r k : Samuel W e i s e r , 1971), p.38. 37. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.647. (Decay, p . 2 4 7 ) . 89 38. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , pp.630-31. (Decay, p . 2 3 2 ) . 39. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.426. (Decay, p . 6 0 ) . 40. i b i d . 41. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.484. (Decay, p . 1 1 0 ) . 42. T a k e d a K a t s u h i k o and M i s h i m a Y u k i o , "Bungaku wa kukyo k a " , i n M i s h i m a Y u k i o (Tokyo: Kawade, 1975), p.144. 43. i b i d . 44. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.70. (Dawn, p p . 5 4 - 5 ) . 45. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.78. (Dawn, p . 6 2 ) . 46. MYZ v o l v 1 9 , p.114. (Dawn, p . 9 4 ) . 47. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , p.110. ( S p r i n g Snow, p . 9 3 ) . 48. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , p.113. ( S p r i n g Snow, p . 9 5 ) . 49. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.617. (Decay, p . 2 2 1 ) . 50. F o r an e l a b o r a t i o n o f t h i s p o i n t see Edward S e i d e n s t i c k e r , " S t r a n g e l y Shaped N o v e l s " , i n S t u d i e s i n J a p a n e s e C u l t u r e , ed. J o s e p h R o g g e n d o r f (Tokyo: S o p h i a U n i v . , 1963). 51. F o r i n s t a n c e , T suge T e r u h i k o i n a r o u n d - t a b l e d i s c u s s i o n w i t h M i y o s h i Y u k i o , N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o and Matsumoto T o r u , i n Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u t o k y o z a i no k e n k y u ( v o l . 26, no.9, J u l y , 1981), pp.31-7. 52. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.63 and p.79. (Dawn, p.48 and 6 3 ) . 53. M i s h i m a , " W a t a k u s h i no s h o s e t s u no hoho", i n S h o s e t s u k a no k y u k a (Tokyo: S h i n c h o s h a , 1 9 8 2 ) , pp.156-8. 54. Q u o t e d i n Masao M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s o f S i l e n c e ( B e r k e l e y , U n i v . o f C a l i f . , 1 9 7 4 ) , p.95. 55. F o r an e x c e l l e n t s t u d y o f O g a i ' s " l i t e r a t u r e o f i d e a s " see R i c h a r d J o h n B o w r i n g , M o r i O g a i and t h e M o d e r n i z a t i o n o f J a p a n -ese C u l t u r e (Cambridge: Cambridge U n i v . P r e s s , 1979), pp.125-94. 56. See Hasegawa I z u m i , ed., M i s h i m a Y u k i o k e n k y u ( T o k y o : Ubun s h o i n , 1970), p.9. 57. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.646. (Decay, p . 2 4 6 ) . 58. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.647. (Decay, p.247. 59. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , p.136. ( S p r i n g Snow, p . 1 1 9 ) . 60. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.292. (Dawn, p . 2 5 2 ) . 90 61. T r i l l i n g , L i b e r a l I m a g i n a t i o n , pp.281-2. 62. See above Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i 63. S e i d e n s t i c k e r , "Sea o f F e r t i l i t y " , I n T h i s C o u n t r y , J a p a n (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1979), p.143. 64. See above z a d a n k a i , p.33 and D o n a l d Keene, Dawn t o t h e West: F i c t i o n (New Y o r k : H o l t , R i n e h a r d and W i n s t o n , 1984), p.1210. 65. Keene, Dawn, p.1210. 66. See above z a d a n k a i , p.33 and Keene, Dawn, p.1210. 67. See P i e r r e K l o s s o w s k i , " N i e t z s c h e ' s E x p e r i e n c e o f t h e E t e r -n a l R e t u r n " , i n The New N i e t z s c h e , ed. D a v i d A l l i s o n (New York: D e l t a , 1 977), pp.107-20. 68. Thomas Mann, The M a g i c M o u n t a i n , t r a n s . H.T. L o w e - P o r t e r (New Y o r k : V i n t a g e , 1 9 6 9 ) , p.723. 69. MYZ v o l . 3 , pp.349- 50. ( C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Mask, t r a n s . Mere-d i t h W eatherby (New Y o r k : New D i r e c t i o n s , 1 958), p. 252) . 70. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.350. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 2 5 2 - 3 ) . 71. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.647. (Decay, p . 2 4 7 ) . 72. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.352. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 2 5 4 ) . 73. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.173. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 1 4 ) . 74. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.173. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.15) . 75. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.192. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 4 1 ) . 76. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.168. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.8) . 77. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.171. ' "onf e s s i o n s , p.12) . 78. MYZ v o l . 3 , p. 1.85. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 3 0 ) . 79. MYZ v o l . 3 , p. 185. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.31) . 80. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.186. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 3 2 ) . 81. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.186. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.33) . 82. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.229. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.92) . 83. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.230. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 9 4 ) . 84. Q u o t e d i n Jo h n N a t h a n , M i s h i m a ( B o s t o n : L i t t l e , Brown, 1974 p.94 • 85. M i s h i m a , S h o s e t s u k a no k y u k a , p.154. 91 87. See E t o J u n , "An U n d e r c u r r e n t i n Modern J a p a n e s e L i t e r a -t u r e " , i n The J o u r n a l o f A s i a n S t u d i e s , v o l . X X I I I , no.3 (May, 1964), p.435. 88. See above Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i , p.7. 89. i b i d . 90. o p . c i t . , pp.8-9. 91. N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o , M i s h i m a Y u k i o no s e k a i ( Tokyo: Kodansha, 1968), p.108. 92. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.230. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 9 4 ) . 93. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.114. (Decay, p . 9 4 ) . 94. S e i d e n s t i c k e r , " S t r a n g e l y Shaped N o v e l s " , p.217. 95. M i s h i m a Y u k i o Shu ( h e r e a f t e r MYS), i n N i h o n bungaku zenshu, no.82, (Tokyo: S h u e i s h a , 1966), p.382. (The Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n , t r a n s . I v a n M o r r i s , New Y o r k : B e r k l e y , 1971, p . 2 7 2 ) . 96. MYS, P- 391. (Temple, p . 2 8 5 ) . 97. MYS, P- 386. (Temple, p . 2 7 8 ) . 98. i b i d • 99. MYS, PP .386- 7. (Temple, p . 3 8 6 ) . 100. MYS, P- 387. (Temple, p . 2 7 9 ) . 101. i b i d • 102. i b i d * (Temple, p . 2 8 0 ) . 103. MYS, P- 388. (Temple, p . 2 8 1 ) . 104. MYS, PP .388- 9. (Temple, p . 2 8 1 ) . 105. MYS, P- 391. (Temple, p . 2 8 5 ) . 106. MYS, P- 228. (Temple, p . 2 9 ) . 107. MYS, P- 229. (Temple, p . 3 0 ) . 108. MYS, PP .302- 3. (Temple, pp.144-5). 109. MYS, P- 276. (Temple, p . 1 0 6 ) . 110. Q u o t e d i n Ueda, Modern J a p a n e s e W r i t e r s , pp.258-9. 111. Q u o t e d i n M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s , p.161. 112. Q u o t e d i n above Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i , p.22. 113. Keene, Dawn, p.1196. 114. Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i , p.18. 115. M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s , p.160. 92 116. i b i d . 117. i b i d . 118. Ueda, Modern J a p a n e s e W r i t e r s , p.223. 119. M i s h i m a , A f t e r t h e Banquet, t r a n s , D o n a l d Keene (New Y o r k : B e r k l e y , 1971), p.5. 120. M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s , p.160. 121. Quoted i n Keene, A p p r e c i a t i o n s o f J a p a n e s e C u l t u r e (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1981), p.215. 122. Y u k i o Mishima on Hagakure, trans.. K a t h r y n S p a r l i n g (Tokyo: T u t t l e , 1978), p.52 and pp.83-4. 123. A good example i s " D e l u s i o n " (MosS, 1911), t r a n s . J.W. Dower i n Monumenta N i p p o n i c a 25 (Autumn, 1970). 124. See G l i c k s b e r g , L i t e r a t u r e o f N i h i l i s m , pp.103-15. 125. On t h i s p o i n t see Keene, Dawn, p.1204. 93 Chapter Two The Void Behind the Mask I. Introduction: the Psychology of Mishima's Novels A. Nihilism and Psychology Nihilism relates to psychology in two general ways, which we may distinguish as: 1. the psychology of the nihil ist him-self, and 2. the nihilist view of psychology. 1. Firstly, nihilism may be regarded as in itself a parti-cular psychological state, subject, of course, to diverse de-finitions, but characterized in general by an extremely scept-ical and negative mental attitude and a mood either of bleak despair or of profound indifference—the despair of someone for whom l i fe has lost a l l meaning, or the indifference of someone who has lost even the capacity to care. To these moods of passive nihilism should be added, too, the hysterical euphoria an active nihi l ist such as Mishima's hero, Mizoguchi, experien-ces in accomplishing an act of destruction. But this euphoric mood, of course, is only transitory; i t is soon replaced by one of the more basic nihi l ist moods, which are entirely ne-gative. The paradoxical quality of the keynote mood of n ih i l -ism—"the pathos of 'in vain'"—was well captured by Nietzsche in his famous definition of a nihi l ist : A nihil ist is a man who judges of the world as i t is that i t ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of "in vain" is the nihi-l is ts ' pathos—at the same time, as pathos, an incon-sistency on the part of the nihil ists. 1 94 Some writers on nihilism go further and describe it not merely as a psychological but as a psychopathological state, and one that infects an increasing number of people in modern society. Nietzsche himself, in fact, was a prophet of this view and, since he regarded the advent of nihilism as a histor-ically inevitable consequence of the loss of authority by Judeo-Christian civilization, he wished to hasten the process in the hope that, the sooner the nihil ist "fever" reached its climax, 2 the sooner Western man could recover his psychological health. But Nietzsche was only the first great psychologist to take this psychopathological and sociopathological view of nihilism. As Charles Glicksberg says: Nietzsche conceded that nihilism could be rightfully classified as a species of disease. Freud arrived at the same conclusion. And Jung argued that "mean-inglessness inhibits fullness of l i fe and is therefore equivalent to illness". Nietzsche sought to cure him-self of this metaphysical mania that reduced him at times to a state of absolute despair. 3 2. Secondly, the term "nihilist psychology" may refer, more objectively, to various concepts of human psychology which appear nihi l ist ic. Surely one of the most radical of these is the view that consciousness itself, or the intellect itself , is a form of disease, since its ultimate product is passive nihilism, which brings about a paralysis of the wi l l . The idea is an old one—it forms a leitmotif of Shakespeare's Hamlet, for instance: Hamlet is held back from taking revenge upon his uncle because of the morbid over-development of his intellect. Though no doubt i t would be anachronistic to do so, one could regard the play as a parable of the conflict between 95 the forces of active and passive nihilism within Hamlet's mind: Thus conscience does make cowards of us a l l ; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. 4 Nor, of course, is this the only expression of a n ih i l -ist ic attitude in Shakespeare—his plays are ful l of them, though he could not have known of the concept of "nihilism" per se. But has any writer ever given a more powerful and terrifying expression to the nihil ist world-view than King  Lear? Nietzsche, though, was the first to give systematic ex-pression to the philosophy and psychology of nihilism, inclu-ding the idea that the intellect itself is a disease. Thus he presented the paradoxical spectacle of "the intellectual as a protagonist of anti-intellectualism", using his formidable intellect to argue in favor of instinct over reason5 In this also he was to be echoed, as we shall see, by Mishima. Of more immediate relevance to literature, though, and especially to the novel, is the nihil ist anti-psychology of the self: its concept of the inner void, its denial of the metaphysical category of being, its negation of human identity. Again, as with the nihil ist idea of the nothingness of the ex-ternal world, there is a superficial resemblance between this idea of inner nothingness and certain Buddhist/Christian mysti-cal concepts of the inner void. But, again, the two ideas are 96 n o t t o b e c o n f u s e d , b e c a u s e , a t l e a s t i n e m o t i o n a l t e r m s , t h e y r e f e r t o e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t e x p e r i e n c e s . T h e n i h i l i s t e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e i n n e r v o i d i s h a r d l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y m y s t i -c a l r a p t u r e — n o r i s i t f o l l o w e d b y a n u p r u s h o f p o s i t i v e c r e a t i v e e n e r g y , s u c h a s , f o r i n s t a n c e , a C h r i s t i a n m y s t i c l i k e S t . J o h n o f t h e C r o s s g i v e s s u c h e x q u i s i t e e x p r e s s i o n t o i n t h e p o e m s t h a t f o l l o w e d h i s own " d a r k n i g h t o f t h e s o u l " . A s h i s E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t o r R o y C a m p b e l l h a s s a i d , t h e s e p o e m s a r e s o n g s o f " t h e s o u l i n r a p t u r e a t h a v i n g a r r i v e d a t t h e h e i g h t o f p e r f e c t i o n , w h i c h i s t h e u n i o n w i t h G o d b y t h e r o a d o f s p i r i t u a l n e g a t i o n " ^ O r , a s a n o t h e r c o m m e n t a t o r o n t h e S p a n i s h p o e t / s a i n t p o i n t s o u t , t h e C h r i s t i a n u n i o m y s t i c a i s a " b e a t i f i c n o t h i n g n e s s w h e r e a l l t h a t t h e s o u l w a s i s ' f o r g o t -t e n ' " ! I n t h e n i h i l i s t e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e i n n e r v o i d , n e e d l e s s t o s a y , t h e r e i s n o t h i n g " b e a t i f i c " . T o q u o t e H e l m u t T h i e -l i c k e o n c e m o r e : " T h e d e c i s i v e p o i n t i s n o t o n l y t h a t n i h i l i s m a s s e r t s t h e v a c u u m , t h e n i h i l , t h e n o t h i n g , b u t t h e a s s e r t o r h i m s e l f i s o p p r e s s e d a n d a f f l i c t e d b y h i s own n o t h i n g n e s s ; i n p s y c h i a t r i c t e r m s , h e i s o p p r e s s e d b y t h e b r e a k d o w n , t h e o d e c a y o f h i s ' s e l f - w o r l d ' , h i s l o s s o f t h e c e n t r e . " A n d , a g a i n , n i h i l i s m " l e a d s t o t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e s e l f . T h e s e l f i s ' u n s e l f e d ' , i n K i e r k e g a a r d ' s s e n s e , a n d b e c o m e s m e r e l y a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a t h i n g o r a n e n e r g y , w i t h a l l t h e c o n s e -9 q u e n c e s o f s e l f - a n n i h i l a t i o n t h a t t h i s i n v o l v e s . " T h e c o n s e q u e n c e s o f w h a t we m i g h t c a l l t h i s " d e p e r s o n a l -i z a t i o n " o r e v e n " d e h u m a n i z a t i o n " o f t h e s e l f , t h i s t r a n s m o g r i -97 f i c a t i o n o f t h e s e l f i n t o a " t h i n g o r a n e n e r g y " , a r e , o f c o u r s e , p l a i n l y a n d a b u n d a n t l y i n e v i d e n c e t h r o u g h o u t t h e w h o l e o f m o d e r n l i t e r a t u r e . On t h e o n e h a n d t h e m e s o f a l i e n -a t i o n , a n o m i e a n d a b s u r d i t y h a v e b e c o m e c o m m o n p l a c e ; o n t h e o t h e r h a n d t h e t r a d i t i o n a l a e s t h e t i c e l e m e n t o f c h a r a c t e r h a s a l l b u t v a n i s h e d f r o m t h e s e r i o u s m o d e r n n o v e l . C o m m e n t -i n g o n t h i s l a t t e r t r e n d , B a r u c h H o c h m a n , i n h i s p e r s p i c a -c i o u s s t u d y , C h a r a c t e r i n L i t e r a t u r e , r e m a r k s : C h a r a c t e r h a s n o t f a r e d w e l l i n o u r c e n t u r y . . . . O v e r t h e p a s t f i f t y y e a r s t h e c h a r a c t e r s o f l i t e r a t u r e h a v e , i n t h e w o r k s o f o u r m o s t i n n o v a t i v e w r i t e r s , o f t e n b e e n r e d u c e d t o s c h e m a t i c a n g u l a r i t y , v a p i d o r d i n a r i n e s s , o r a l l e g o r i c a l i n a n i t y . T h e g r e a t w r i t e r s o f e a r l y m o d e r n i s m f u l f i l l e d t h e R o m a n t i c p r o g r a m o f i n d i v i d u a l i s m a n d c r e a t e d a g a l l e r y o f u n p r e c e d e n t e d l y c o m p l e x c h a r a c t e r s , b u t t h e i r h e i r s h a v e d e l i b e r a t e l y s u b o r d i n a t e d t h e r o l e o f c h a r a c t e r i n t h e i r w o r k . A n d t h e y h a v e d o n e s o w i t h t h e c o n -v i c t i o n t h a t n e i t h e r l i f e n o r l i t e r a t u r e c a n e f f e c t -i v e l y a c c o m m o d a t e r i c h , f u l l - b o d i e d , i n t e r e s t i n g , , a n d s u s t a i n e d m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f c h a r a c t e r — o f e m -b o d i e d h u m a n b e i n g o r v i a b l e p e r s o n a l i d e n t i t y . I f S a m u e l B e c k e t t , f o r e x a m p l e , h a s a v i t a l t h e m e b e y o n d t h e b l a b b i f i c a t i o n o f l a n g u a g e , i t i s t h e e m p t y i n g o u t o f t h e s e l f a n d t h e l o s s o f i t s m e a n i n g . A n d i f p o s t m o d e r n i s m h a s a r a n g e o f b u g a b o o s t h a t i t a t t a c k s a s f i c t i v e , c h a r a c t e r a s a s u b s t a n t i a l r e a l i t y i s n o t t h e l e a s t o f t h e m . P o s t m o d e r n i s t w r i t e r s n o t o n l y c h a l l e n g e t h e c o g e n c y o f c h a r a c t e r a s a c a t e g o r y b u t a c t i v e l y w o r k t o d i s m a n t l e i t a s a n o p e r a t i v e e l e m e n t i n t h e i r s t o r i e s . 10 O f c o u r s e , n i h i l i s m p e r s e i s n o t t h e o n l y c a u s e o f t h i s e r o s i o n o f o r a n t a g o n i s m t o w a r d s c h a r a c t e r i n t h e m o d e r n n o v e l . B u t t h e s o c i a l a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l p h e n o m e n a w h i c h H o c h m a n l i s t s a s c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s — t h e s u p p r e s s i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l i t y b y m a s s s o c i e t i e s , t h e i n c r e a s i n g d o m i n a n c e o f l i f e b y i m p e r s o n a l t e c h n o l o g i e s , t h e u n d e r m i n i n g o f t r a d i t i o n a l h u m a n i s t i d e a s o f t h e s t a b i l i t y a n d r e a l i t y o f c h a r a c t e r b y s u c h m o d e r n n o t i o n s 98 as that of the unconscious—certainly are also contributing factors in the rise and spread of nihilism. If, as Martin Heidegger claimed, in the contemporary world "nihilism is in the most varied and most hidden forms 'the normal state' of 11 man", then no doubt the same forces which account for this fact also account for the diminution of character in the modern novel. As Hochman points out, modern psychology itself must be considered as one of these forces. Freud's psychology, for instance, i f not actually n ih i l ist ic , at least has close affinities with nihilism. Freud acknowledged Nietzsche as his 12 precursor in the discovery of the unconscious, and, as with Nietzsche, this discovery led Freud to take a deterministic view of human behavior, to view i t as guided more by uncon-scious animal instinct than by conscious morality or reason. Freud's later quasi-metaphysical doctrine of the "death in-stinct", the so-called "nirvana principle", first expounded in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), seems especially nihi l ist ic in tenor. Mishima himself, in fact, seemed to regard Freudian psychology as one of the two major twentieth-century offshoots of Nietzsche's nihilism—the other being - . 13 fascism. B. Mishima's Psychology and the Psychology of his Novels As already suggested in Chapter One, the relation between Mishima's own psychology and the psychology of his novels is an intimate one indeed—despite "fictional" appearances, every bit as intimate as in the case of a writer of shi-shosetsu. 99 J u s t a s , f o r i n s t a n c e , W i l l i a m S i b l e y s p e a k s o f t h e " S h i g a 14 h e r o " , a t h i n l y d i s g u i s e d a l t e r e g o o f t h e a u t h o r who a p p e a r s i n a l l h i s m a j o r w o r k s , s o a l s o we m i g h t s p e a k o f t h e " M i s h i m a h e r o " , who i s b a s i c a l l y a s p o k e s m a n o f M i s h i m a ' s n i h i l i s m , a n d who i n c o r p o r a t e s w i t h i n h i s p s y c h o l o g y v a r i o u s a s p e c t s o f M i s h i m a ' s own " n i h i l i s t i c " p s y c h o l o g y . T h o u g h o t h e r v a r i e t i e s o f c h a r a c t e r d o a p p e a r , g e n e r a l l y t h e y l a c k t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i t y o f t h e s e c e n t r a l n i h i l i s t c h a r a c t -e r s . S o m e t i m e s M i s h i m a e m p l o y s t h e e x p e d i e n t o f " f r a c t u r i n g " h i m s e l f i n t o s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t p a r t s a n d a p p o r t i o n i n g t h e s e p a r t s a m o n g s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r s — o n e p r e s u m e s , f o r t h e s a k e o f v a r i e t y . T h e m o s t c o n s p i c u o u s e x a m p l e o f t h i s 15 o c c u r s i n t h e w o r k h e r e f e r r e d t o a s h i s " s t u d y o f n i h i l i s m " , K y o k o ' s H o u s e ( K y o k o n o i e , 1 9 5 9 ) , i n w h i c h h e s u p p o s e d l y d i v i d e s h i m s e l f i n t o f o u r p a r t s : a p a i n t e r r e p r e s e n t i n g s e n s i -t i v i t y , a b o x e r a c t i o n , a n a c t o r n a r c i s s i s t i c s e l f - a w a r e n e s s a n d a b u s i n e s s m a n n i h i l i s t i c w o r l d l y w i s d o m . A s N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o h a s p o i n t e d o u t , t h i s p a t t e r n o f f o u r " t y p e s " may a l s o b e s e e n t o b e r e p e a t e d i n t h e h e r o e s o f t h e f i n a l t e t r a -l o g y : K i y o a k i r e p r e s e n t i n g s e n s i t i v i t y , I s a o a c t i o n , Y i n g C h a n n a r c i s s i s t i c s e l f - a w a r e n e s s a n d T o r u n i h i l i s t i c w o r l d l y 16 w i s d o m . B u t d o e s t h i s k i n d o f s e l f - f r a g m e n t a t i o n r e a l l y i n t r o d u c e p s y c h o l o g i c a l v a r i e t y ? A s M i s h i m a ' s o w n c a t e g o r i e s s u g g e s t , t h e r e s u l t i n g c h a r a c t e r s a r e o f t e n o v e r - s i m p l i f i e d " t y p e s " r a t h e r t h a n c o m p l e x , f u l l - b l o o d e d h u m a n b e i n g s . T h i s i s p a r t i c u l a r l y t r u e o f t h e " m a n o f a c t i o n " t y p e s , f l a t , w o o d e n c h a r a c t e r s s u c h a s I s a o who d o n o t r e a l l y p a r t a k e o f 100 the author's psychology but are merely idealized icons repre-senting the kind of man he would like to be. On the other hand, those characters who do come alive, and who do attain to an interesting degree of complexity, a l l seem to partake of essentially the same nihil ist psychology. As Donald Keene remarks of the four heroes of Kyoko1s House, for instance "the four men seem curiously uniform in outlook, in no way suggesting (as Mishima had intended) that they stand for a 17 whole generation." Mishima himself, in fact, pointed to the underlying nihilism which accounts for this sense of uniformity The characters in the book run about in one direction or another as their individual personalities, their professions and their sexual tendencies command them, but in the end a l l roads, no matter how devious, lead back into nihilism, and each man helps to complete the sketch-map of nihilism that Seiichiro first proposed.18 Though Mishima referred to Kyoko's House specifically as his "study in nihilism", what is explicit in this novel, which 19 was a resounding critical failure, is , as we have seen, impli-cit in other of his works—which achieved greater crit ical success perhaps for the very reason that they were not so explicitly or schematically arranged as his "sketch-map of nihilism". Likewise, when Mishima justified his study of nihilism in Kyoko's House by saying that the "spiritual state known as nihilism is essentially emotional in content, and i t is therefore more appropriate for a study to be made in the novel of a novelist than in the theoretical researches of the 20 scholar," he might just as well have been talking of the psy-chology underlying most of his major novels, which are similarl 101 pervaded by nihil ist states of emotion, as much as by n ih i l -ist patterns of thought and behavior. Given, then, this uniformity of the psychology of Mishi-ma 's novels, and its close affinity with the author's own psychology, the "biographical" approach to crit ical analysis, the search for life/work parallels, an approach favored so predominantly by Japanese crit ics, seems particularly appro-priate in Mishima's case, as i t does in the case of the main-stream writers of the shi-shosetsu. Readers are naturally curious about a writer's psychology, and in Mishima's case this natural curiosity is piqued a l l the more by the fascin-ating contradictoriness of his Dionysian/Apollonian psychology: on the one hand, a rather spectacular Molotov cocktail of explosive elements, everything from political fanaticism to narcissistic machismo to sado-masochistic homosexuality; and, on the other hand, the compulsive orderliness and workaholic habits of an exemplary c iv i l servant (which he once was), matched by the strict conventional-mindedness of a dutiful son and responsible family man, who lived with his parents up to the day of his death, at the age of forty-six. (This con-vention-loving, bourgeois side to Mishima is well expressed, also, by his approval of Thomas Mann's dictum that "writers 21 should look like bankers", an injunction which he did his best to conform to throughout his l i fe.) Apart from this fascination of the author's psychology per se, a reader might also presume that some acquaintance with that psychology will deepen his understanding of the author's 102 work, especially when, as in Mishima's case, those works give expression largely to that psychology. Certainly i t seems relevant to speculate, for instance, on the psycholo-gical origins of Mishima's nihilism. Taking a clue from the Confessions, we might point to his unusual childhood, during which he was forcibly cut off from his mother's love and jealously over-protected by his neurotic and dictatorial 22 grandmother, who taught him to fear the outside world. If psychoanalytically inclined, no doubt we would find here the roots of his narcissism, his sado-masochistic homosexuality and his paranoia, each of which, in turn, fed into his n ih i l -ism. If, on the other hand, we were historically inclined, we might point to Mishima's affiliations with the Japan Roman-tic School (Nippon Roman-ha) during the war, a group of mysti-cal ultranationalists whose creed that death and destruction were the highest values in l i fe certainly qualified them to be regarded as active nihi l ists, as much so as their German all ies, those Nazis who Lked to regard themselves as nihil ist 23 supermen, the legitimate heirs of Nietzsche. Or, again from a historical perspective, we might consider Mishima's plight in post-war Japan, his feelings of being an outsider or even an "anachronism" at the ripe old age of twenty-one! As Nogu-chi Takehiko pointed out in his seminal study of Mishima, the strange young man with his "aesthetics of blood" and his "meta-physics of death" felt very much at home in war-time Japan, where blood, death and destruction were very much the order 103 24 of the day. Thus, paradoxically—and in sharp contrast to those older men who had actually tasted the reality of battle —for the rest of his l i fe Mishima romanticized those glory-days of war-time, looked back to them with intense nostalgia, and even, in the end, tried vainly to resurrect them. Thus his espousal of "active nihilism". On the other hand, the socialist and liberal-humanitarian values prevalent in post-war Japan were not at a l l to his taste; they allowed no scope to his appetite for blood, death and destruction, nor to his aristocratic pretensions, nor even to his emperor-worship, which he regarded as the cornerstone of Japanese culture. Thus his "passive nihilism". It could be said that the emper-or's renunciation of his godhead played a similar symbolic role in the development of Mishima's nihilism as the "death of God" played in the development of nineteenth-century Euro-pean nihilism—the removal of the cornerstone of a l l tradi-tional values. No doubt a l l of these psychopathological and historical elements of Mishima's experience contributed to the formation of his nihilism, as reinforcing i f not as causal factors, and the actual formulation of that nihilism in intellectual terms certainly was facilitated by his wide readings in European literature and philosophy. We could also point to less obvi-ous but perhaps no less significant biographical factors, such as his troubled relationship with his father, a fanatic admirer of Hitler who tried to suppress his son's literary creativity and force him to channel his energies into a more "responsible" 104 profession, such as that of a government bureaucrat; or the early death of his beloved sister, which, Mishima claimed, had a more devastating effect on him than Japan's defeat in the war. The purpose of the present chapter, though, is to deline-ate the psychological background not of Mishima's own nihilism but of his protagonists'. The two are no doubt closely a f f i l -iated, but ultimately only t h e latter is of aesthetic rele-vance. And this is fortunate. An author's l i fe is "open-ended", but his work is a "closed system", and thus subject to more conclusive analysis. Whatever the real psychological origins of Mishima's nihilism, a l l that need concern us in the analysis of his novels are the origins discernible in the novels themselves, as a dynamic element in their structure. The point here is not to uphold the now old "new crit ical" doctrine on the strict separation of " l i fe" and "work", nor to deny that acquaintance with an author's psychology or l i fe can deepen our understanding of his work. The point is simply that, with a writer such as Mishima, the tendency is strong to overidentify the work with the l i fe , even to regard the two as interchangeable—as Henry Scott Stokes does, for in -stance, when he uses the Confessions as primary biographical 2 6 source-material—so that questions of aesthetic value tend to get swamped by questions of biographical interest. This is unfortunate, because the aesthetic value of Mishima's major novels is considerable. To assess that value correctly, one must regard each novel as ultimately a self-contained unit, 105 not as a running commentary on the author's l i fe . One must proceed on the assumption that the author has provided, with-in the novel itself, a l l the information necessary for its understanding and appreciation; no extraneous "supporting evidence" should be needed. Otherwise one would have to assume that the novel was unfinished. Although the psychology of Mishima's novels is , by and large, a mirror-image of his own, this does not mean that i t is entirely uniform or unchanging. During the three decades or so of his writing career, there were, of course, some modifications in his own psychology—most conspicuously, his complete about-face from passive introvert to active extrovert. And these changes are clearly reflected in his work: for instance, in his later glorification of some revolutionary activist heroes. But, perhaps more importantly, Mishima's attitude towards psychology itself also changed. In an early novel such as the Confessions, the narrator seems to accept, quite uncritically, the "scientific" approach of modern Western psychology and psychoanalysis, even using i t , like a scalpel, to dissect his own psyche, and seeming to hope for some therapeutic relief thereby. By the final tetralogy, though, the attitude towards orthodox Western psychology has changed entirely: i t is not merely sceptical but adversary. And this, of course, is quite in keeping with the overall movement towards a stricter, more developed form of nihilism. The four novels are pervaded by an anti-psychological, anti-subjective view of the self which vitiates the psychological 106 reality of the characters. But i t must be admitted that this works towards Mishima's purpose, which is to demonstrate the illusory nature of human identity—the "void behind the mask". C. Psychology in a Japanese Context Any Western critic who would presume to deal with Japanese psychology—whether the psychology of the author himself or of his characters—must ultimately confront the question of whether Western psychological theories are universally appli-cable, or whether he must learn a new system of specifically Japanese psychology. The Japanese, after a l l , are an odd lot —centuries of isolation in the hot-house or even pressure-cooker atmosphere of their tight l i t t l e islands have produced in them perhaps the most idiosyncratic national psychology in the world. What other people bow and smile so much, work so indecently hard, or cut their own bellies open in the gruesome way that Mishima did? How, then, can one apply to them with any confidence psychological theories developed in the West, and which even in the West are by no means universally accepted? Psychology, after a l l , has not yet reached the stage of being a universal science with the same standards of verifiability as, say, physics or chemistry. The most satisfactory, common-sensical solution of this problem to date, i t seems to me, has been provided by Doi Takeo, a Freudian psychoanalyst who has practised in both Japan and the United States. Doi takes a balanced, median position on the issue of universal versus national psychology. On the one hand, he argues that the "typical psychology of a 107 given nation can be learned only through familiarity with 27 its native language", and he makes good use of such Japanese terms as amae (dependency) to illustrate the special char-acteristics of Japanese psychology, On the other hand, he asserts that "human psychology does not vary so very greatly from place to place. Though i t may appear different, i t 2 8 invariably rests on common foundations." And he points out, for instance, that even Westerners feel the need for amae, dependency or passive love, which corresponds to Freud's 29 "the child's primary object-choice", but that this need is generally suppressed in Western culture, in which the indivi-dual is urged to be self-reliant; whereas i t is encouraged in Japanese culture, in which the individual is taught to depend on a group. Conversely, Doi also recognizes the applicability of such Freudian concepts as the Oedipus complex to Japanese culture. Many aspects of Doi's psychology of amae are of obvious relevance to the psychology of Mishima's novels—and of Mishi-ma himself. One important example: i t may be easier for a Westerner to understand the seeming anomaly of Mishima's emperor-worship through Doi's analysis of this peculiar Jap-31 anese institution as the "ideology of amae". Before Japan's defeat in the Pacific War, the emperor was the "spiritual center of sSbiety"; a l l Japanese were "His Majesty's children", 32 dependent on the emperor. Thus the post-war collapse of the emperor system as an ideology also "undermined the authority of the moral concepts that had bound together Japanese society 108 33 so far"—all based on the psychology of amae. Thus Mishima's espousal of a return to emperor-worship, while no doubt impract-ical , s t i l l was not, as i t might first appear to Westerners, an atavistic or romantic pose, but quite a rational response to a perceived decline in Japanese morale. From this perspec-tive also, i t seems more likely that the emperor's renuncia-tion of his godhood was an important factor in the onset of Mishima's postwar passive nihilism. And i t must be said, in fact, that he showed some prescience in anticipating Doi's diagnosis of the psychological significance of this event. In the present chapter I have also tried to adopt a middle-ground approach in dealing with Japanese psychology, drawing on both psychoanalytical theory and on Doi's psychology of amae—and balancing the two, i t is hoped, with some modicum of common sense. II. The Sex Life of a Nihilist: the Psychology of the Confessions A. An Active/Passive V rchology Viewed strictly in terms of its psychology, Confessions  of a Mask is, without doubt, Mishima's most successful novel, a powerful and fascinating psychological self-portrait. Since the Confessions is also his most directly autobiographical novel, its conspicuous success on this level seems to confirm what was implied earlier, that the psychology of Mishima's novels takes on reality as i t approaches the author's own 109 psychology, and, conversely, tends to lose reality as i t grows distant from him. In this sense, then, he is no different from a writer of shi-shosetsu or "lyrical novels", except that the philosophical thrust of his novels, their constant groping after general truth, confers on them a cer-tain impersonality and objectivity of tone. In the Confes-sions , for instance, he approaches his "self-analysis" not so much with the gentle, sympathetic touch of a poet as with the ruthless efficiency of a man of science: his intent was, as he boasted to his editor, to "turn upon myself the scalpel of 35 psychological analysis" in order to "dissect myself alive". And "dissect" himself he certainly did. Few writers out-side of the Marquis de Sade or, more recently, Jean Genet have revealed their fantasy-lives with more devastating hon-esty. The "inner parts" which stand exposed are sometimes, like most inner parts, rather gruesome to look upon, including as they do scenes of homosexual sadism, autoerotic narcissism and even cannibalism. Since this was Mishima's debut work in the post-war literary world—not his first novel but the novel which made his reputation—one suspects that he was out to shock his readers, a tried and true way for any ambitious young writer to draw attention to himself. If so, his strategy was bril l iantly successful—the work made him famous l iterally overnight. But the Confessions is by no means a mere piece of sensationalism. The philosophic detachment of its narrative tone, and the "classical" restraint and beauty of its literary style, effectively counterbalance the coarse or shocking 110 nature of its subject-matter. Here already, at the outset of Mishima's career, we find an excellent example of an essential aspect of his art, the kind of equilibrium he liked to esta-blish, as a play of creative tensions, between classical form and decadent-romantic content, Apollonian order and Dionysian chaos. Though a crit ic such as Noguchi Takehiko tries to down-play the role of the narrator/protagonist's homosexuality, seeing i t as merely a "metaphor" of his general alienation, comparable in this way to Mizoguchi's stuttering in The Temple  of the Golden Pavilion, on the level of the novel's psychology the hero's homosexuality is obviously the central fact, from 3 6 which everything else proceeds. To downplay this fact is to underestimate the author's achievement in writing a novel which functions as well on the psychological as on the philo-sophical level. The question of which came first—the psycho-logy or the philosophy—is perhaps a "chicken and egg" ques-tion, but in this post-Freudian age perhaps most of us would opt for the psychology as primary, since its main components are formed long before the individual is intellectually com-petent enough to philosophize. On the other hand, in an intellectually mature person, as the woeful history of nihilism shows, the adoption of a certain philosophy can certainly have a profound effect on that person's psychological state. At any rate, in the case of the Confessions, the fact that the psychology and the philosophy are intimately related, regard-less of which is primary, is made abundantly clear throughout. I l l The narrator/protagonist's depiction of himself as a narcissistic, sado-masochistic homosexual seems to conform quite closely to the Freudian model. Although no actual mention is made of Freud's theories, reference is made, as an aside in brackets, to the findings of Magnus Hirschfeld: (It is an interesting coicidence for me that Hirsch-feld singles out "pictures of St. Sebastian" among a l l works of art as the special favorite of homosexuals. It is easy to conjecture from this that in the over-whelming majority of homosexuals, especially congenital homosexuals, the homosexual and the sadistic urges are inextricably linked,. ) 3 7 Hirschfeld was a late nineteenth-century German sex patho-logist who, along with Krafft-Ebing and a number of other Ger-man psychiatrists, devoted much research to the problem of homosexuality, perhaps because of its prevalence among the Prussian officer class. Freud, in turn, drew heavily on the data gathered by these earlier researchers in forming his own theories on the "sexual aberrations", as he himself acknow-ledged3^ But an important difference between Freud and Hirschfeld —or, at least, Hirschfeld as interpreted by Mishima—lies in the former's rejection of the idea of "congenital inversion". While not categorically denying the role played by physical 39 constitution and heredity, Freud, of course, placed great emphasis on certain conditioning factors of early childhood which determine the individual's sexual "object choice". In regard to homosexuality, for instance, he observed that: Although psychoanalysis has not yet given us a ful l explanation for the origin of inversion, i t has re-vealed the psychic mechanism of its genesis and has 112 essentially enriched the problems in question. In al l the cases examined we have ascertained that the later inverts go through in their childhood a phase of very intense but short-lived fixation on the woman (usually on the mother) and after overcoming i t , they identify themselves with the woman and take themselves as the sexual object; that is , proceeding on a narcissistic basis, they look for young men resembling themselves in persons whom they wish to love as their mother has loved them.... They thus repeat through l i fe the mech-anism which gave origin to their inversion. 40 On the level of the novel's philosophical argument, as we have seen, the narrator of the Confessions prefers to transfer blame from his family to some larger force, nature or the en-tire cosmos, for his "tragic destiny"—and thus resorts to such ideas as "congenital inversion" and the "Augustinian theory of predetermination". No doubt he does so not only to spare his family but also to widen his argument, to give its philosophic nihilism more universal implications. But, at the same time, he does provide ample evidence for a narrower, more strictly Freudian interpretation. And a Freudian interpretation does not really change the gist of his central argument: that he is a blameless victim, that he was handed "the menu of the sum-total of my life-problems before I could even read i t . " Indeed, one might even claim that, without the advantage of a Freudian perspective, much of the material presented in the novel would be difficult to understand or even to accept. 42 Freud's idea of infant sexuality, for instance, an idea which once aroused much indignant resistance, receives vivid confir-mation in the Confessions: the narrator's first experience of homosexual arousal occurs when he is a mere four years old. The nature of his "object choice" in this instance is also 113 significant from a Freudian point of view: a night-soil man, a ladler of excrement. The narrator himself, again, prefers to find a larger, philosophic meaning here: "excrement is a symbol f ot" the earth* And. • «I am sure that what called to me then was the malevolent love of the Earth Mother." But one may also discern a more specific psychological meaning: the attraction to excrement common among homosexuals fixated in what Freud calls the "anal-sadistic phase"^ And, more par-ticularly, one might suspect that the model for the narrator's paradoxical idea of the "malevolent love" of an overpowering mother-figure was the jealous, over-protective love of his grandmother, a love that was "malevolent" in the lasting effects i t had on his character. If one looks in the narrator's early childhood for what Freud referred to as "the mechanism which gave origin to [his] inversion", one finds almost a classic, textbook case. The only unusual element is that here the primary object choice is not so much the mother as the grandmother, but one should note that in the above quotation Freud claims only that the fixation is "usually on the mother". Even though i t is the grandmother in this case, the intensity of the relationship s t i l l cannot be doubted: My parents lived upstairs. Giving the excuse that i t was dangerous for a baby to be raised upstairs, grand-mother took me from my mother's arms when T was forty-nine days old. My bed was lined up beside her sickbed, and I was raised in her sick-room, constantly closed up and stifling with the stench of sickness and old age. 4.5 The grandmother makes exclusive demands on the boy's affections, and she also overprotects him: 114 Worried about my weak constitution and also that I might learn bad thing's, grandmother forbade me to play with the loca l boys, so that my only playmates, besides the maids and nurses, were three g i r l s she had chosen from among those of our neighborhood. 46 Thus, when he i s taken to play with a g i r l cousin, who expects him to act l i k e a boy, he already feels obliged to wear a "mask" of m a s c u l i n i t y — t o pretend, for instance, to enjoy war-games—and recognizes already that " i t was exactly what people saw as my true s e l f that was r e a l l y p l a y a c t i n g " ^ It i s hardly surprising, then, that the boy, raised i n this exclusively, oppressively feminine atmosphere, both iden-t i f i e s strongly with women—as revealed most conspicuously when he dresses up as the female performer Tenkatsu--and har-bors a romantic longing for men—especially those "rough", low-class men who represent the opposite extreme to his grandmother's ideal of a r i s t o c r a t i c g e n t i l i t y . His abnormal intimacy with his grandmother continues u n t i l his twelth year, when his father " f i n a l l y reached the belated 49 decision to claim me back into his own household". When this happens, his grandmother acts for a l l the world l i k e a j i l t e d lover: Grandmother embraced my photograph day and night, weeping profusely, and i f I broke our agreement that I would stay with her one night a week, she would immediately throw a f i t . At thirteen I had a six t y -year-old lover who loved me with a wild, inordinate passion. 50 The effeminacy, passivity and paranoia so inevitably pro-duced i n the protagonist by his bizarre childhood a l l come to the fore i n the f i r s t great e r o t i c experience of his l i f e , 51 when he " f a l l s i n love" with his v i r i l e older classmate, Omi. 115 But the ambiguity of his feelings about playing the passive, feminine role in relation to the older, stronger boy is evi-dent from the start. There is a strong suggestion of "penis envy" in the way Omi is first presented: as a young man of superior potency, who is "a man of experience" (with girls) and 53 whose "thing is so big!" In the scenes which follow great emphasis is placed on his feet and hands, and on his socks and gloves—all, as Freud pointed out, familiar phal-54 l ie symbols. This series of phallic motifs is brought to a head in the climactic scene in which the protagonist fights with Omi for possession of a swinging log. The scene is charged with a high-tension sexuality, both because of the strongly phallic character of the log itself , which "swung back and forth rhythmically, with a battering-ram motion" and because of Omi's aggressive posture as he stands astride the log: "his posture made him look exactly like an assassin brought to bay"55 The protagonist's contradictory feel-ings as he mounts the log are partly sexual, in a masochistic/ erotic way: a desire to yield himself to the mastery of the stronger boy, to be slain by this handsome "assassin"—indeed, as he confesses, "an impulse toward suicide"5^ And, as Omi teasingly flutters his gloved fingers at him, this masochistic urge is amply satisfied: "In my eyes-[his fingers] were the , sharp points of a dangerous weapon about to pierce me through." But there is another side to the protagonist's motivation in daring to mount the log: a jealous desire to possess this symbol of phallic potency for himself, to himself become the 116 active, dominant male. This wi l l fu l , power-hungry aspect of his psychology also shows itself in his sadistic fantasies, culminating in the imagined act of dining on his fellow class-mate. What Freud has to say on the inextricable relation of sadism and masochism—and even on the connection of the former with cannibalism—seems entirely apropos here: Sadism and masochism occupy a special place in the perversions, for the contrast of activity and passivity lying at their bases belongs to the common traits of the sexual l i fe . That cruelty and the sexual instinct are most intimately connected is beyond doubt taught by the history of c i v i l -ization, but in the explanation of this connection no one has gone beyond the accentuation of the aggressive factors of the libido. The aggression which is mixed with the sexual instinct is , according to some authors, a remnant of cannibalistic lust—that is , a participa-tion of the domination apparatus.... The most striking peculiarity of this perversion lies in the fact that its active and passive forms are re-gularly encountered together in the same person. He who experiences pleasure by causing pain to others in sexual relations is also capable of experiencing pain in sexual relations as pleasure. A sadist is simultan-eously a masochist, though either the active or the passive side of the perversion may be more strongly developed in him and thus, represent his preponderant sexual activity. 58 Surely we might discern, in the sadistic/masochistic, act-ive/passive dialectic of Mishima's pathological sexuality , the psychological coordinate, i f not the psychological source, of his lifelong obsession with the active/passive dialectic of philosophic nihilism. His entire l i fe and work may be seen in terms of his struggle to overcome the passivity, effeminacy— and fear—which were the natural heritage of his childhood. By sheer force of wi l l , the sickly, effeminate boy turned him-self into a muscle-bound warrior who, on the last day of his 117 l i fe , wielded his samurai sword to inf l ict wounds on some of the highest-ranking officers of the Japanese Self-Defense Force-, before dying himself like a traditional hero, by seppu-5 9 ku. The victim had become the victimizer, the terrorized the terrorist—sadly, i t seems that Mishima felt that he had to be either one or the other. The active/passive dialectic may not seem so explicitly a part of the central philosophic argument of the Confessions as i t is of the later novels, but actually the determinism which does form its central argument may be seen as another expression of the protagonist's passivity, enabling him to regard himself as a victim of fate. Viewed in this light, the novel culminates, as does The Sea of Fertil ity, in the triumph of passive nihilism, since the protagonist proves, in the end, incapable of overcoming his homosexuality—thus confirming, as we have seen, his nihi l ist ic determinism. Though the active/passive dialectic may function only implicitly on the philosophical level, on the psychological level i t is quite explicit. After the protagonist succeeds in toppling Omi from the swinging log, there is a noticeable in-crease in the active, aggressive aspects of his behavior. When Omi helps him to his feet, dusts him off and then takes him by the arm, the protagonist looks up into his face "as i f reproaching him for taking me by the arm"d In this mo-ment of rejection of Omi's amae, he has already begun to rebel against his role as the junior partner, the passive admirer. This wil l ful impulse asserts itself in a more decisive way 118 shortly afterwards in the scene where the protagonist watches Omi perform some exercises on the horizontal bar. The sight of Omi's muscular body, and especially of the abundant growth of hair in his armpits—a sure sign of his superior masculinity! —arouses the protagonist's sexual desire, but also quite an-other emotion, "the opposite of joy", is "unexpectedly released" within him: It was jealousy. A jealousy intense enough to make me give up my love for Omi. Probably the need for the Spartan self-training that arose in me from about this time was related to those circumstances. (My writing of this book is already one expression of this need.) Because of my weak constitu-tion and the way I had been overprotected since infancy, I had become a child who was afraid to look people d i -rectly in the face, but from this time I became obsessed by a single motto: "You must become strong!" 61 And, somewhat absurdly, he begins to overcompensate for his shyness about looking people "directly in the face" by "glaring fixedly into the face of any passenger whatsoever on 62 the trains in which I commutted back and forth to school". The hunger for power, then, takes precedence in the prota-gonist's psychology over the hunger for love. He is quite pre-pared to "renounce" his love for Omi so as to suppress the passive side of his own nature and himself take on an Omi-like power. As noted in the previous chapter, the protagonist of the Confessions, though a homosexual himself, takes a very negative view of homosexuality, and thus is able to regard him-self as a victim of fate. The psychological motive of this self-contradictory attitude—which obviously generates much of his inner tension—emerges clearly in the dynamics of his rela-1 1 9 tionship with Omi: what he rejects so fiercely about his homo-sexuality is the passive and powerless position i t places him in. This accounts for the rather odd fact that, though the novel largely concerns the protagonist's homosexuality, i t does not actually depict any homosexual encounters between him and another male. In this sense, i t is not a very active vita sex-ualis—even by the rather tame standards of Mori Ogai. The closest the protagonist comes to real physical contact is his tussle with Omi on the swinging log—an encounter more symbol-i c a l l y than l iterally sexual. The closest he comes to real sexual activity is masturbation. He admires other men from a distance and enjoys masturbatory fantasies which involve those men, but he avoids actual contact with them because, given his shy disposition and his poor physique, this would inevitably place him in an inferior, passive and powerless position. In his fantasies, on the other hand, he is free to assume the pos-ition of dominance; he transforms himself in a moment from masochistic victim to sadistic torturer. Thus the overwhelming richness and power of his fantasy-life. Throughout the entire novel, indeed, his fantasy-life assumes a more convincing, more substantial reality than his "real" life—both for the reader and for the protagonist himself. Even in the very last scene, he forgets the existence of the gir l beside him, Sonoko, as he fantasizes about a half-naked young tough. The whole episode of his real- l i fe courting of Sonoko is, in fact, the weakest part of the novel. His heart is just not in i t , and the writing inevitably reflects this lack of any real interest 120 or excitement. The truth is that the protagonist's heart is just not in any real relationship with other other people, whether male or female. Like many writers, he is essentially a solipsist: he wants to observe others from a safe distance, perhaps make use of them in his fantasies, write about them, but not to allow them to impinge on his intellectual detach-ment—which, for a writer, is an important source of power. The Confessions seems to imply that the ideal form of sexual activity for such a writer is the self-contained one of mastur-bation. Thus the sexual high-point of the novel, the only time when the protagonist experiences anything like sexual ecstasy, is when he masturbates on the seashore while narcissistically admiring his own body, which he identifies with the bodies of 6 3 Omi and St. Sebastian. From a Freudian perspective, i t is significant in this connection also that the protagonist mentions his writing as 64 part of his new "Spartan-style self-training". The Confessions is , among other things, Mishima's "portrait of the artist as a young man" and, like Joyce's Portrait, i t provides a clear example of how a writer sublimates his sexuality into his art. It is no coincidence that the protagonist's most powerful sad-istic fantasies—of his "murder theatre" and of his cannibalis-tic feast—occur shortly after his "break-up" with Omi and his resolve to actively develop his own masculinity. What cannot be enjoyed in reality can be freely enjoyed in his imagination. Furthermore, since he is a writer, he is able to bestow a very real substance onto the products of his imagination—an accom-121 plishment which gives him a sense of power over the world, and even wins for him an actual position of power in the world: since, for instance, a novel such as the Confessions wil l earn him the status of a famous writer. Adopting such a strategy, the artist satisfies, as Freud pointed out, both his taboo desires and his will-to-power: The artist is originally a man who turns from reality because he cannot come to-terms with the demand for the renunciation of instinctual satisfaction as i t is first made, and who then in phantasy-life allows ful l play to his erotic and ambitious wishes. But he finds a way of return from this world of phantasy back to reality; with his special gifts, he moulds his phan-tasies into a new kind of reality, and men concede them a justification as valuable reflections of actual l i fe . Thus by a certain path he actually becomes the hero, king, creator, favourite he desired to be, with-out the circuitous path of creating real alterations in the outer world. 65 We might note, though, that as Mishima aged he became dis-satisfied with such vicarious literary satisfactions, which created no "real alterations in the outer world". Like the hero of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, he longed to per-form some action which would propel him from the inner world into the outer world, and thus alleviate his sense of unreality. He would become a real historical personage, an active force for social change, and not a mere purveyor of ineffectual fan-tasies. "For poetry makes nothing happen...." as W.H. Auden 6 6 once wrote, and Mishima, though coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum, felt this just as deeply. But the ambition to "make things happen" proved to be a dangerous one for a man who was, after a l l , an impractical dreamer, a man of the inner world, an artist. It resulted not in any real social 122 change, of course, but "merely" in another work of art—albeit a rather low caliber of theatrical farce. Such grandiose ambitions, though, are s t i l l far from the mind of the protagonist of the Confessions. He is sufficiently preoccupied trying to come to terms with the violent seesawings of his psyche between the passive pole of masochistic experience and the active pole of sadistic fantasy. And his relationship with what Freud called the "reality principle" is s t i l l an un-easy one. The basic pattern of this relationship was already established early in his childhood when, as we remember, he was shocked to discover that Joan of Arc was actually female: he considered this "the first 'revenge by reality' I had encoun-tered in my.life, and i t seemed a cruel one, especially on the 6 7 sweet fantasies I had cherished about his death." A l -ready, then, reality is perceived as a malevolent force which continually threatens to undermine his psychological stability by destroying the structure of fantasy upon which i t rests. The most violent of these "reality-shocks" comes at the very end of the novel when, as ?e have seen, the inner reality of his homosexuality suddenly shatters his masquerade of normalcy. Thus, although he is able to escape to some extent from his passive position in his relations with other men—by cutting himself off from them and by indulging in sadistic fantasies involving them—in his relations with reality in general he remains the passive victim. The novel's conclusion shows that, despite a l l his efforts to develop the more active side of his nature, he has been unable to expunge the root-cause of his passivity: his homosexuality. Though in fantasy he may be a sadist or even a "normal" male, in reality passive, masochist-ic homosexuality remains, to use Freud's words quoted above, his "preponderant sexual activity". Unable either to accept himself as he is or to become the kind of man he wants to be, the protagonist naturally takes to the wearing of masks. He is desperate to hide his "true self" not only from the world but from himself. The "true self" behind those masks thus becomes a force every bit as threaten-ing as external reality: i t might break through at any moment and subject him again to the role of passive victim. Just as, on a philosophic level, the nothingness of external reality is perceived in Mishima's novels not as a simple nothingness but as a threatening, malevolent force, so also, on a psychologic-al level, with the void behind the mask. Thus, when the pro-tagonist's "true self" reveals itself at the end of the Confes-6 8 sions, he perceives i t only as a "terrible non-being", a kind of inner chaos which threatens his mental stability. Suddenly confronted by this frightening inner reality, he must struggle heroically, using a l l the controlling powers of his intellect, to keep i t in check: "I closed my eyes and, in an instant, had 69 gained a grip on my frozen sense of duty." In Freudian terms, he brings the superego ("duty") into play to control the errant power of the id. Perhaps we may discover here the reason why Mishima u l t i -mately abandoned psychology. In the Confessions he used a "scalpel", as he said, to dissect his own psyche, and what he 124 found was not particularly to his liking. It was as i f he had opened up a Pandora's box of disturbances to his del i -cate mental stability—and, i t seems, without any lasting therapeutic benefit. He would never again open that box so widely, and eventually, by the time of his final tetralogy, he would close i t up completely. No doubt this helped him to maintain his masculine "masquerade", which grew more exag-geratedly "viri le" as the years went by, but i t also meant that he would never again write another novel which possessed the psychological depth and power of the Confessions. B. Mishima's Active/Passive Psychology in a Japanese Context However "Western" Mishima and his fictional alter egos may be on an intellectual level—in terms of their nihi l ist philosophy, for instance—on an emotional and psychological level, of course, they remain quintessentially Japanese. As we have seen, this does not mean that there are no universal elements in their psychology—elements subject to Freudian interpretation, for instance—but i t does mean that their psychologies may be better understood when the specifically Japanese context, with its particular emphases on some psycho-logical elements more than on others, is taken into account. The view of l i fe as a contest of active and passive, male and female, yin/yang priciples is , of course, a very ancient Chinese/Japanese mode of thought, dating back at least to the Book of Changes (I. ching, circa early first millennium B.C. in its f irst form). The idea of an active/passive psychological 125 dialectic is entirely consonant with this tradition. Mishima's attempt to extirpate the passive aspect of his nature is under-standable, of course, as an overcompensation for the excessive passivity induced in him by his childhood. But, had he con-sulted this ancient traditional wisdom, he might have learned that i t would also be a mistake to go too far in the opposite direction; that psychological health depends on the proper balance of the active and passive, male and female principles, and that any attempt to completely suppress one side or the other would inevitably result in psychological distortions. Indeed, East Asian culture has always emphasized, i f anything, the value of passivity, associating i t with the highest forms of spirituality. One may see this, for instance, in the Taoist ideal of "non-action" (wu-wei, mui), and in the Buddhist prac-tise of sitting meditation (zazen), especially in Dogen Zenji's more passive form of "just sitting" (shikan-taza). In con-sciously adopting such a passive state of mind, the meditator grows increasingly familiar with his "true self". Or, as D.T. Suzuki and Erich Fromm have pointed out in their Zen Buddhism  and Psychoanalysis, this may also be interpreted in modern psychological terms: by assuming a passive attitude the medita-tor allows the contents of his unconscious to become conscious —which is also the therapeutic goal of psychoanalysis?^ But Mishima, as we have seen, had a great fear of the unconscious, as well as an intense loathing for a l l forms of passivity. This no doubt explains why he became increasingly anti-spiritu-al—or anti-psychological—as he aged. In his final work, as 126 we s h a l l s e e , p a s s i v i t y i s r e g a r d e d as t h e s o u r c e o f a l l e v i l ; t h e p a s s i v e c h a r a c t e r s , Honda and T o r u , become t h o r o u g h l y c o r -r u p t . A c t i o n , on t h e o t h e r hand, i s i d e a l i z e d ; even i f i t i s u l t i m a t e l y m e a n i n g l e s s , i t enhances a man l i k e I s a o ' s m o r a l s t a t u r e . On a s y m b o l i c l e v e l , t h e M i s h i m a h e r o ' s f e a r o f w a t e r and a t t r a c t i o n towards f i r e (as i n The Temple o f t h e  G o l d e n P a v i l i o n ) may a l s o be u n d e r s t o o d i n y i n / y a n g t e r m s : w a t e r i s a t r a d i t i o n a l symbol o f t h e p a s s i v e p r i n c i p l e and f i r e o f t h e a c t i v e p r i n c i p l e . The f o l l o w i n g a c c o u n t o f t h e c r e a t i o n o f t h e u n i v e r s e , f o r i n s t a n c e , comes f r o m t h e H u a i -nan T z u ( s e c o n d c e n t u r y B.C.), b u t was a l s o u s e d as a p r e f a c e t o t h e N i h o n s h o k i ( 7 2 0 ) , one o f t h e f i r s t works on J a p a n e s e h i s t o r y : A f t e r a l o n g t i m e t h e h o t f o r c e o f t h e a c c u m u l a t e d y a n g p r o d u c e d f i r e and t h e e s s e n c e o f t h e f i r e f o r c e became t h e sun; t h e c o l d f o r c e o f t h e a c c u m u l a t e d y i n became w a t e r and t h e e s s e n c e o f t h e w a t e r f o r c e became t h e moon. 71 I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t , t o o , t h a t i n t h e i d e a l " t r a i n i n g camp f o r w r i t e r s " w h i c h M i s h i m a once i m a g i n e d , e l a b o r a t e p r o v i s i o n s would be made f o r t h e w r i t e r ' s p h y s i c a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a i n -i n g , b u t none a t a l l f o r h i s s p i r i t u a l t r a i n i n g — - t h e r e would be no z a z e n o r any o f t h e o t h e r s p i r i t u a l d i s c i p l i n e s a d v o c a t e d 72 i n E a s t o r West. I n h i s own l i f e M i s h i m a d e v o t e d much e f f o r t t o t h e c u l t i v a t i o n o f h i s body and h i s i n t e l l e c t , b u t he n e -g l e c t e d h i s p s y c h e . As a r e s u l t , he p r e s e n t e d t h e odd s p e c t a -c l e o f a man who p o s s e s s e d a s p l e n d i d p h y s i q u e and a h i g h l y s o p h i s t i c a t e d i n t e l l e c t b u t who, on t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l and s p i r i t u a l l e v e l s was p i t i f u l l y immature. P h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h , 127 after a l l , does not equal overall well-being—nor does know-ledge equal wisdom. In the end, of course, he paid a high price for his immaturity, in terms not only of his l i fe but also of his work. What the great novelists of the past com-municated to their characters was not merely some "authentic" psychological details, whether culled from their own psyche or from elsewhere; what they communicated above a l l was their own fullness of being, a quality which may be defined perhaps only by its presence or absence, but which is indispensible for the creation of full-blooded, l i fe - l ike characters. Psy-chological verisimilitude alone is not enough. One may see this clearly in the Confessions: many of the details of the protagonist's psychology are absolutely convincing, but s t i l l he remains a fragmentary figure, real in his fantasies, but insubstantial when he steps out into reality—to court Sonoko, for instance. What Mishima could communicate even to this character, his own alter ego, was a sense not of fullness of being but of inner emptiness, of "fearful non-being". In this, of course, he was not alone. As Baruch Hochman points out in the passage quoted earlier, the crisis in "character" in the modern novel is but a symptom of the general spiritual crisis in modern world civilization. Though the traditional yin/yang cosmology is of obvious general relevance to Mishima's active/passive psychological dialectic, i t may also be better understood when viewed within the more specifically psychological context of the "structure of amae", the adhesive force which holds Japanese society 128 so tightly together. Amae is dependent, passive love, the kind of love which, as Doi Takeo points out, Freud associated with 73 homosexuality. Doi himself argues that, though amae is not confined to homosexual relations, "the essence of homosexual feelings is amae", since the homosexual is continually striving to recapture the relationship of passive love he enjoyed with 74 his mother. This is exactly why, of course, the Mishima hero struggles against his own homosexuality, his own need for amae —and angrily rejects, for instance, Omi's offer of amae. By doing so he hopes to develop a jibun, an independent self, for, as Doi points out, "a man who has a jibun is capable of check-ing amae, while a man who is at the mercy of amae has no jibun"1^ But other aspects of the Mishima hero's psychology indicate clearly that he has not really outgrown his need for amae, and that his rejection of amae, his attempt to develop an indepen-dent self, costs him dearly in psychological terms. His sadis-tic urges, for instance, may be seen as a typical symptom of a frustrated desire for amae—and even, too, his cannibalistic urges. Doi points to the -arious Japanese verbs according to which one man is said to eat (kuu), drink (nomu) or lick (name-ru) another man as an expression of "various assumed attitudes of superiority or contempt in dealing with the other person": Japanese is not, of course, the only language that uses verbs originally connected with food in reference to human relationships, but what is interesting in the case of Japanese is that they a l l imply a lack of amae. The man who "eats", "drinks", or "licks" others seems active and confident on the surface, but inside he is alone and helpless. He has not really transcended amae; rather, he behaves as he does in order to cover up a lack of amae. For example, a speaker who "swallows" his audience is a man who would otherwise tend to be "swallowed" by i t instead, and assumes an overbearing attitude in order to 129 avoid this happening. It is the same with "eating" people, (in the case of "eat or be eaten" in parti-cular, the struggle becomes a matter of l i fe or death). 76 It is clear from this, then, that the Mishima protagon-ist 's sadistic and cannibalistic fantasies are an expression both of a frustrated desire for amae and of the resultant para-noid will-to-power. The need to subjugate others arises, of course, from the fear of others, and, as Doi points out, this fear of others (taijin kyofu) is another salient characteristic of the amae-frustrated mentality?^ The child who is over-depen-dent on his mother's amae fears strangers because he knows they wil l not treat him with.the same indulgence. This "stranger anxiety" (hitomishiri) was instilled in the Mishima protagonist, as we have seen, by his over-protective grandmother, so i t is hardly surprising that, in later l i fe , he shys away from real contact with other people. What Doi has to say on the amae-frustrated person's sense of being the injured party, his "victim mentality" (higaisha ishiki), is even more obviously applicable to the psychology 7 8 of the Confessions' protagonist. The whole purpose of his central argument, as we have seen, is to present himself as a victim of fate—even to the extent of identifying himself with the Christian martyr, Saint Sebastian. In this respect the Confessions itself may be regarded as an appeal for the reader's amae—in the same way as are most shi-shosetsu—and, though we are touching here on the delicate issue of reader psychology, this may account for the novel's tremendous popularity in Japan. 130 The protagonist's determinism, in fact, more or less guarantees that he will never outgrow his need for amae, how-ever much he resents i t . As Doi points out, Western indivi-dualism was based on the "myth" of free wi l l , and now that this myth seems to have been undermined by Marx, Nietzche and Freud—in other words, by nihil ist determinism—even modern Western man has begun to see himself as the passive 79 victim of fate, and thus to express a greater need for amae. Thus the Mishima hero's nihilism too—at least in its passive form—frustrates his attempt to outgrow the psychology of amae. He is caught between his desire for freedom on the one hand and his disbelief in freedom on the other—his view of human 80 beings, for instance, as mere "puppets". But Doi also points to the traditional way out of this cul-de-sac, as allowed for by the system of amae: "For the Japanese, freedom in practise existed only in death, which was why praise of death and incite-81 ments towards death could occur so often." Needless to say, Mishima's heroes always feel strongly attracted to this "way out" and many of them actually take it—as did, ultimately, Mishima himself. C. The Aesthetics of Fear If there is one emotion which dominates the Confessions more than any other, i t is the primal emotion of fear. Nogu-chi Takehiko has described the Confessions as Mishima's "con-fession of terror", a terror caused by his sense of alienation from postwar Japanese society. It seems to me, though, that a more fundamental terror "confessed" by the novel is the ter-ror caused by the protagonist's own self-alienation. What fear in a human being could be more fundamental than the fear of oneself? The "Mishima psychology", at least as expressed in his novels, is pervaded by a l l kinds of fear: fear of the sea, fear of the gods, fear of other people, fear of the l i f e -force—and so on almost ad infinitum—but what the Confessions clearly shows is that a l l of these fears originate in a fear of the self—or, in Freudian terms, a fear of the unconscious. The whole novel, as we have seen, is structured around the pro-tagonist's recognition of his own inability to escape from his in-born psychology as a passive homosexual, and the fear and resentment which this realization arouses colors his perception of everything else, even of the very nature of reality. Since he cannot escape his own psychology but only, as i t were, "hide" i t behind a mask, l i fe becomes a frightening, precarious contest between reality and illusion, with his psychological well-being depending on the maintenance of illusion. Since reality is thus perceived as a kind of illusion-smashing hammer, naturally he fears i t in a l l its manifestations, whether internal or ex-ternal. But the objective fears can really be understood only in relation to the subjective fears: for instance, the fear of the sea, a constant motif in Mishima's novels, and which occurs most conspicuously in the Confessions in the seashore masturba-tion scene, may seem a meaningless, irrational fear unless regarded in its true light: as an "objective correlative" of 132 his fear of the unconscious. In his famous essay on "Art and Neurosis", Lionel T r i l -ling argues against those critics such as Edmund Wilson who "find the root of the artist's power and the source of his 83 genius in neurosis". Trilling's arguments no doubt are just: whatever the mysterious source of creativity may be, i t is obviously something more than, i f not something entirely dis-tinct from, neurosis, since not a l l neurotics are creative artists. Nevertheless, even Trilling is obliged to admit that "the expression of a neurotic or psychotic conception of real-84 ity is likely to be more intense than a normal one". It is exactly such intensity which is the aesthetic product of the mood of fear which pervades the Confessions, and which accounts for the power and originality of its imagery. Without this intensity the novel would lose its high literary value; i t would be reduced to the level of a mere documentary "case his-tory" or a dry philosophical argument in favor of nihil ist determinism. A novel, after a l l , cannot live by argument alone; i t needs an emotional as well as an intellectual com-ponent. In the Confessions, i t is mainly fear which plays this role: i t is the natural and necessary emotional concomitant of the determinist nihil ist philosophy. Perhaps the most conspicuously original aesthetic effect produced by this "mood of fear" is the anti-lyrical tone of the novel's treatment of nature. The phenomenon of anti-lyricism is not unknown, of course, among modernist Western writers— one thinks, for instance, of T.S. Eliot's famous line in his 133 i r o n i c a l l y e n t i t l e d , "Love Song o f J . A l f r e d P r u f r o c k " : " . . . t h e e v e n i n g i s s p r e a d o u t a g a i n s t t h e s k y / L i k e a p a t i e n t e t h e r i z e d 8 5 upon a t a b l e " . But n a t u r e l y r i c i s m i s t h e v e r y s o u l o f t r a d i -t i o n a l J a p a n e s e l i t e r a t u r e . I n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l J a p a n e s e l i t e r -a r y mind n a t u r e o c c u p i e s a p o s i t i o n a l m o s t as s a c r e d as t h a t o f God i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l W e s t e r n l i t e r a r y m i n d — a n d , l i k e t h e W e s t e r n God, i t i s v i e w e d as a s o u r c e o f s a l v a t i o n . Thus t h e M i s h i m a p r o t a g o n i s t ' s v i e w o f n a t u r e as a f r i g h t e n i n g , m a l e v o -l e n t f o r c e seems p a r t i c u l a r l y s t a r t l i n g and o r i g i n a l i n a J a p -a n e s e c o n t e x t . Such n a t u r a l f e a t u r e s as snow, c h e r r y b l o s s o m s and t h e s e a , f o r i n s t a n c e , c o u l d a l w a y s be c o u n t e d on t o evoke p o s i t i v e l y r i c a l e m o t i o n s i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l J a p a n e s e w r i t e r , b u t i n t h e M i s h i m a p r o t a g o n i s t t h e f e e l i n g s t h e y a r o u s e a r e e n t i r e l y n e g a t i v e . As he l o o k s down on sn o w - c o v e r e d Tokyo f r o m an e l e v a t e d t r a i n , t o him t h e snow seems " l i k e a f i l t h y bandage 8 6 h i d i n g t h e wounds o f t h e u r b a n s c e n e " . Or, as he w a t c h e s t h e sea j u s t p r i o r t o m a s t u r b a t i n g b e f o r e i t , he has a b r i l l i a n t , a l b e i t p a r a n o i d , p e r c e p t i o n o f an " a t t a c k i n g " wave as a s e l f -d e c a p i t a t i n g g u i l l o t i n e : Soon s o m e t h i n g awoke and r o s e up w i t h i n [ t h e wave's] g r e e n hood. The wave r o s e up a f t e r t h a t , and r e v e a l e d t h e whole o f t h e s h a r p b l a d e o f t h e huge ax o f t h e s e a , abo u t t o s t r i k e t h e b e a c h . T h i s d a r k - b l u e g u i l l o t i n e f e l l , s e n d i n g up a s p r a y o f w h i t e b l o o d . Then, f o r a moment, t h e back o f t h e wave, s e e t h i n g and f a l l i n g , p u r s u e d i t s own d e c a p i t a t e d head, meanwhile r e f l e c t i n g t h e u n e a r t h l y b l u e o f t h e s k y , a p u r e b l u e s u c h as i s r e f l e c t e d i n t h e eyes o f a man a b o u t t o d i e . 87 T h i s i s t h e l i t e r a r y e q u i v a l e n t o f t h e c o n t r o l l e d h y s t e r i a one f e e l s i n t h e music o f , s a y , T c h a i k o v s k y and M a h l e r — a n d i t 134 is equally as beautiful. Mishima, of course, was not the first artist to sense the intimacy of the relation between beauty and terror, or, on a somewhat different level, between eroticism and death. He shares these insights with, for instance, the nineteenth-century European "decadent romantics"—exactly those artists castigated by Nietzsche as "passive nihil ists" who ex-pressed the death-wish of an aging civilization. Nietzsche's favorite target was, of course, Richard Wagner, whose music-dramas were ful l of scenes of Liebestod which, to Nietzsche, were the very epitome of the decadent passive nihil ist desire to escape from the tensions of l i fe into a blissful nothingness. Similarly, in Mishima*s works one may find ample evidence that the tendency of his protagonists towards passive nihilism is grounded in a basic fear of l i fe . And not only is their n ih i l -ism so intimately connected with this fear, but also their sense of beauty; their aesthetic motto might well have been taken from Rilke: ....For beauty is only the beginning of a terror we can just barely endure, and what we so ad. Ire is its calm on disdaining to destroy us. Every Angel brings terror. There are moments in the Confessions, though, when the protagonist's cosmic paranoia seems to threaten to overwhelm his sense of beauty. Perhaps the most shocking to a Japanese sensibility is his reaction to the bloom of cherry-blossoms in the last springtime of the war. As in The Sea of Fertility so often—beginning with the irony of its title—the very prodigal-ity of nature is perceived as a threatening, invasive and even 135 m a l e v o l e n t power: N a t u r e ' s f r e e b o u n t y and w a s t e f u l e x t r a v a g a n c e had n e v e r seemed so b e w i t c h i n g l y b e a u t i f u l as t h i s s p r i n g . I had t h e u n p l e a s a n t s u s p i c i o n t h a t n a t u r e had come t o r e c o n q u e r t h e e a r t h . F o r t h e b r i l l i a n c e o f t h i s s p r i n g was n o t a common t h i n g . The y e l l o w o f t h e r a p e b l o s -soms, t h e g r e e n o f t h e new g r a s s , t h e g l o w i n g b l a c k o f t h e c h e r r y - t r e e t r u n k s , t h e canopy o f h e a v y b l o s s o m s w h i c h weighed t h e b r a n c h e s down, somehow a l l o f t h e s e were r e f l e c t e d i n my eyes as t h e b r i l l i a n c e o f c o l o u r s c h a r g e d w i t h m a l e v o l e n c e ( a k u i ) . I t was, so t o speak, a b o n f i r e o f c o l o u r s . 90 A d m i t t e d l y t h i s i s a w a r - t i m e v i s i o n , b u t i f we compare t h e M i s h i m a p r o t a g o n i s t ' s r e a c t i o n t o n a t u r e ' s f e r t i l i t y , u n-c o n q u e r a b l e e v e n i n w a r - t i m e , w i t h t h a t o f I b u s e M a s u j i ' s n a r -r a t o r i n B l a c k R a i n ( K u r o i ame, 1966), who g r a t e f u l l y welcomes t h e r e a p p e a r a n c e o f n a t u r e ' s power e v e n a f t e r t h e d e v a s t a t i o n o f H i r o s h i m a , t h e n we r e a l i z e t h a t t h e Mishima p r o t a g o n i s t ' s 9 p a r a n o i a i s by no means n e c e s s i t a t e d by t h e w a r - t i m e s i t u a t i o n . The f e a r w h i c h c o l o u r s t h e p r o t a g o n i s t ' s p e r c e p t i o n s o f n a t u r e a l s o , o f c o u r s e , d i s t o r t s — a n d i n t e n s i f i e s — h i s v i s i o n o f p r a c t i c a l l y e v e r y t h i n g e l s e . What any " n o r m a l " p e r s o n would r e g a r d as t h e i n n o c e n t h i g h s p i r i t s o f young men p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a S h i n t o summer f e s t i v a l , f o r i n s t a n c e , he r e g a r d s , as we h a v e s e e n , as " t h e most l i c e n t i o u s and u n d i s g u i s e d i n t o x i c a t i o n i n t h e w o r l d " , t h e s i g h t o f w h i c h " b o t h s t a r t l e d and d i s t r e s s e d 92 me, f i l l i n g my h e a r t w i t h i n f i n i t e s u f f e r i n g " . S i m i l a r l y , whereas most p e o p l e would welcome a r e t u r n t o p e a c e - t i m e n o r -m a l c y a f t e r a war i s o v e r , t h e p r o t a g o n i s t p e r c e i v e s s o m e t h i n g s i n i s t e r and t h r e a t e n i n g e v e n i n t h i s : F o r me, and f o r me a l o n e , what t h i s meant was t h a t f r i g h t e n i n g days were b e g i n n i n g . I t meant t h a t t h e " e v e r y d a y l i f e " o f human b e i n g s — t h e v e r y m e n t i o n o f 136 which made me shudder, and which, also, I had always been fooled into believing would never come—already that "everyday l i fe" would begin tomorrow for me. too, whether I liked i t or not. 93 The protagonist/narrator's paranoid psychology thus may be said to have a definite aesthetic effect: i t makes for both emotional intensity and a vivid, original imagery. And, in a less direct way, the irony which pervades the narrative tone may also be regarded as its product. Irony, after a l l , protects the mind from being overwhelmed by fear: i t is a "distancing" device, and thus affords the sufferer some sense of detachment from his suffering, some momentary freedom from his sense of being trapped by fate. (Is this not why the world's greatest ironists, writers such as Swift and Hasek, have appeared among peoples such as the Irish and the Czechs, who have suffered so much from oppression by their larger neighbors?) In the pas-sage quoted above, for instance, at the same time that one feels the narrator's very real fear, one also feels his enjoy-ment of the delicious irony of the fact that he, and he alone (as he emphasizes), welcomes war and fears peace. There are, in fact, many such occasions throughout the novel when one senses that he not only fears his own paradoxical nature, but also revels in i t : as with Oscar Wilde—who was, by no coinci-dence, one of Mishima's favorite authors—his delight in his own contradictoriness, a contradictoriness which seems inher-ent in the homosexual psyche, is exactly what makes him such a supreme ironist, and such a fine coiner of aphorisms. 137 III. The Nihilist's Will to Power: the Psychology of  The Temple of the Golden Pavilion Though The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is probably Mishima's most successful novel as a whole—as is the gen-eral crit ical opinion—strictly in terms of its psychology i t may seem to fa l l short of Confessions of a Mask. The fantasy-life of its hero, Mizoguchi, is not nearly so vivid or of such absorbing interest as that of the Confessions' protagonist: i t consists mostly of semi-philosophical musings on the strange, oppressive power of the golden pavilion's 9 4 beauty. And, as Miyoshi Masao has pointed out, the novel lacks a certain kind of psychological realism or verisimilitude, in that, for instance, no account is given of how such a humble country monk could have developed a philosophical intellect and an aesthetic sensibility of such rare sophistication. This psychological "vagueness" or abstraction must be attributed to the fact that the protagonist/character is not a l iteral por-trait of Mishima himself, s t i l l less of the actual arsonist, but something in between, a fictionalized alter ego of the author. Had Mishima intended to present a documentary-style psychological portrait of the real arsonist, no doubt he would have supplied more concrete "background information", and also assigned to the monk the kind of mediocre intelligence he un-doubtedly possessed. The novel might then have gained in "psy-chological realism", but just as surely i t would have lost in philosophical brilliance. On the other hand, i f Mishima had presented the protagonist as a l i teral self-portrait, no doubt he would have supplied more detailed and convincing background information, as in the Confessions, and also readers would have accepted the protagonist's intellectual brilliance more readily. But this, of course, was impossible since i t was Hayashi, not Mishima, who had actually burned down the pavilion. A lack of psychological verisimilitude, though, does not necessarily imply a lack of psychological truth. Such truth must exist not at the periphery of a novel's concerns but at the core of the central problem i t addresses. In The  Temple of the Golden Pavilion the central psychological pro-blem revolves around a question of motivation: why would a Zen monk destroy a cultural treasure which belonged to his own temple? By transposing his own active/passive psychic conflicts onto this monk, Mishima managed to answer this question with a convincing psychological veracity. The active/passive psychological dialectic, indeed, is more clearly and dramatically presented in Mizoguchi than in the Confessions protagonist. The polar oppositions in his psyche are more extreme: he is more neurotically introverted but, at the same time, more capable of exploding into real destructive action. In this sense, indeed, he is Mishima's most interesting male character: his most "well-rounded", multi-dimensional creation, neither completely passive like the Confessions' protagonist or Honda, nor completely active like Isao or some of the other "martial" heroes the later 139 Mishima was so fond of depicting. By the same token, Mizo-guchi also proves capable of psychological development, evolv-ing throughout the novel from a passive to an active state of mind—and this too is unprecedented in a Mishima hero. Because Mizoguchi's fantasy-life is not emphasized as much as that of the Confessions' protagonist, the novel may seem to deal more with what Freud calls "ego psychology" than 95 with the psychology of the unconscious—that is , for instance, with the strategies consciously adopted by Mizoguchi to protect and assert his ego in the world. Similarly, the source of his inner conflicts is not so obviously his struggle against a wayward libido—which, for Freud, is the sine qua non of a l l genuine neurosis. Though he has trouble relating to women, and though he suffers from an excessively passive disposition, s t i l l he is not explicitly presented as a homosexual. Freud used the term "ego psychology" to disparage the "individual psychology" of his breakaway disciple, Alfred Adler, and, in -deed, i t is Adler's psychology which does seem to apply most appropriately to Mizoguchi—and to Mishima himself. The active/passive psychological dialectic plays an even more central role in Adler's psychology than in Freud's. And this is hardly surprising, since Adler's psychology is even closer than Freud's to Nietzsche's: he agreed with Nietzsche that the "will to power" is the basic driving force of human 9 6 psychology—not, as with Freud, the sex-drive or libido. From this Adler developed a psychological system of "inferior-ity-superiority dynamics" which is the modern psychological 140 expression par excellence of Nietzsche's philosophy of passive and active nihilism. Given these "nihilist roots" of Adler's psychology, then, i t is no coincidence that i t seems entirely apropos to Mishima and his protagonists. For Adler the source of neurotic conflict, then, is not thwarted sexuality but frustrated wil l to power. But he also views this in conventional masculine/feminine terms, as defined by society: "the apparent double-life of the neurotic ('double vie' , 'dissociation', 'split-personality', of many authors), is definitely grounded in the fact that the psyche partakes of 9 7 both feminine and masculine traits". Though these "traits" are masculine and feminine only as arbitrarily determined by social convention, s t i l l the child who feels himself burdened by an excess of "feminine traits" may consequently overcompen-sate with an exaggerated "masculine protest": The deep-rooted feeling that permeates the folk-soul and which has always awakened the interest of poets and thinkers, that evaluation and symbolizing of types of phenomena as "masculine" and "feminine", although seemingly arbitrary and yet coinciding with our social l i f e , impresses itself early upon the infant mind. Thus the child, • \; th occasional variations, regards the following as masculine: strength, greatness, riches, knowledge, victory, coarseness, cruelty, violence and activity as such, their opposites being feminine. The normal craving of the child for nestling, the exag-gerated submissiveness of the neurotically-disposed individual, the feeling of weakness, of inferiority protected by hyper-sensitiveness, the realization of actual fut i l i ty, the sense of being permanently pushed aside and of being at a disadvantage, a l l these are gathered together into a feeling of femininity. On the contrary, active strivings, both in the case of a gir l as of a boy, the pursuit of self-gratification, the stirring up of instincts and passions are thrown challengingly forward as a masculine protest. On the basis of a false evaluation, but one which is extensive-ly nourished by our social l i fe , there thus develops 141 a psychical hermaphrodism of the child, "logically" dependent upon its inward opposition. From within itself is then unfolded that frequently unconscious urge toward a reinforced masculine protest which is to represent the solution for the disharmony. 98 Needless to say, Mishima's entire l i fe may be seen as an ever more exaggerated "masculine protest" against his "femini-zation" in childhood. And it is hardly surprising that his works also give expression to this "protest"—-The Temple of the  Golden Pavilion more powerfully than any other. Though Mizoguchi is not overtly homosexual, he certainly possesses enough of the "feminine traits" referred to by Adler to burden him with an enormous inferiority complex. As he him-self admits: I was physically weak and was always defeated by others at running or on the horizontal bar; in addition, I was a congenital stutterer, and this made me al l the more introverted. 99 As Noguchi Takehiko has pointed out, Mizoguchi's stutter functions in much the same way as the Confessions' protagonist's homosexuality: i t alienates him from the world of "normal" people^^With a stutter, of course, this is even more l i te r -ally the case, since i t impedes the flow of language, the main medium of interpersonal communication. Adler, in fact, mentions stuttering as one of the defects typical of the neurotic in childhood, and because of which he was "frequently subjected to humiliation, or made the object of ridicule, for which he 101 was often punished and which rendered him socially unfit". This was exactly the case with Mizoguchi: "Some of the naughtier children would mock me by imitating a stuttering priest as he 142 102 stutteringly read the sutras." Added to Mizoguchi's feelings of weakness, then, is a feeling of social ostracism—or what Adler describes, in the 103 above passage, as a "sense of being permanently pushed aside". Indeed, Mizoguchi is quite l iterally "pushed aside" after his pathetic attempt to make contact with Uiko—part of whose name, significantly, means "activity" (ui ) as opposed to " in-activity" (mui jflfe, ^ ) s ) , an antithesis made frequent use of in Zen Buddhist philosophy: "She cycled round .me, as though 104 she were dodging.a stone." Thus Mizoguchi's rejec-tion by Uiko symbolizes his rejection by the world of activity, "ui", in general, and his failure to break out of the subjective realm of inactivity, "mui". Interestingly enough, Adler also mentions "the realization of actual futi l ity" as one of the feelings which are "gathered together into a feeling of femininity"T^5 This, of course, is the mood of passive nihilism, the prime obstacle to any kind of action, and, as we saw in the first chapter, i t is the mood which Mizoguchi must struggle against throughout the whole novel, and which, right to the end, almost forestalls his transformation into a man of action. The other side of Adler's "inferiority/superiority dynamics" is the neurotic's compensatory aggressiveness in fact or fantasy: "This feeling of inferiority is the cause of his continual rest-lessness as a child, his craving for action, his playing of  roles, the pitting of his strength against that of others, his 143 a n t i c i p a t o r y p i c t u r e s o f t h e f u t u r e and h i s p h y s i c a l as w e l l 106 as m e n t a l p r e p a r a t i o n s . " [ e m p h a s i s mine] M i z o g u c h i ' s " m a s c u l i n e p r o t e s t " b e g i n s e a r l y : when a young h e r o v i s i t s h i s s c h o o l , an o f f i c e r c a d e t from a n a v a l e n g i n e e r i n g s c h o o l , and i s s u r r o u n d e d by y o u n g e r a d m i r e r s , M i z o g u c h i c a n n o t c o n -t a i n h i s j e a l o u s y . He becomes o b s e s s e d w i t h t h e s h o r t sword w h i c h d a n g l e s f r o m t h e c a d e t ' s w a i s t — a t r a d i t i o n a l symbol o f male p o t e n c y — a n d he c o v e t s i t f o r h i m s e l f , w i t h a s u g g e s t i o n o f t h e same k i n d o f " p e n i s e n v y " w h i c h t h e C o n f e s s i o n s ' p r o -t a g o n i s t f e e l s t o w a r d s Omi: I wanted my p r i d e t o be s o m e t h i n g v i s i b l e so t h a t , no m a t t e r who l o o k e d a t i t , t h e y would know i t was mine. F o r i n s t a n c e , t h e s h o r t - s w o r d w h i c h hung f r o m h i s w a i s t was e x a c t l y s u c h a t h i n g . T h i s s h o r t - s w o r d , w h i c h a l l t h e s t u d e n t s were a d m i r i n g , was r e a l l y a b e a u t i f u l o rnament. 107 S c o r n e d by t h e handsome h e r o as a s t u t t e r e r , and as a f u t u r e B u d d h i s t p r i e s t r a t h e r t h a n a w a r r i o r — a man w i t h t h e p a s s i v e r o l e i n wartime o f b u r y i n g a h e r o s u c h as h i m s e l f , who e x p e c t s t o d i e soon f o r h i s c o u n t r y — M i z o g u c h i t a k e s r e -venge by d e f a c i n g t h e " b e a u t i f u l b l a c k s c a b b a r d " o f t h e c a d e t ' s sword. T h i s , o f c o u r s e , i s a p a t t e r n o f b e h a v i o r w h i c h he w i l l r e p e a t l a t e r , b u t on a much l a r g e r s c a l e : s i n c e he i s n o t "man" enough t o p o s s e s s t h e o b j e c t o f b e a u t y , he p r o v e s t h a t he i s "man" enough t o d e s t r o y i t . (Note t h a t w i t h t h e g o l d e n p a v i l -i o n t o o , he d e s t r o y s i t o n l y a f t e r t h e S u p e r i o r has d e c i d e d n o t t o a c c e p t him as h i s s u c c e s s o r , t h u s f r u s t r a t i n g h i s d e s i r e t o " p o s s e s s " t h e p a v i l i o n i n a more p o s i t i v e way.) No d o u b t t h e same p s y c h i c mechanism a l s o a c c o u n t s f o r t h e s t r a n g e " j o y " M i z o g u c h i f e e l s i n p e r f o r m i n g h i s most s a d i s t i c 1 4 4 a c t o f t h e n o v e l : t r a m p l i n g w i t h h i s b o o t s o n t h e s t o m a c h o f a p r e g n a n t p r o s t i t u t e . I n i t s i n i t i a l i m p e t u s t h e a c t i s p a s s i v e , s i n c e i t i s d o n e i n s u b m i s s i o n t o t h e command o f a n A m e r i c a n s o l d i e r . T h u s M i z o g u c h i * s i n i t i a l " s e n s e o f d i s h a r m o n y " . B u t o n c e h e b e g i n s t o p e r f o r m t h e a c t , h e r e a l i z e s t h a t i t i s q u i t e i n h a r m o n y w i t h h i s o w n w i l l — a n d , i n d e e d , s a t i s f i e s some d e e p n e e d w i t h i n h i m . H a v i n g b e e n r e j e c t e d b y U i k o , t h e woman h e m o s t d e s i r e d , h e i s n o w a b l e t o a s s e r t h i s d o m i n i o n o v e r women i n g e n e r a l b y a n a c t o f a g g r e s s i o n — a n d , t o h i s d e l i g h t , h e f i n d s t h a t t h e w o m a n ' s b o d y p a s s i v e l y " r e s p o n d s " t o h i s " m a s c u l i n e " a c t i o n : T h e s e n s e o f d i s h a r m o n y I f e l t t h e f i r s t t i m e I s t e p p e d o n h e r c h a n g e d , t h e s e c o n d t i m e , i n t o a b u b b l i n g j o y . I t h o u g h t t o m y s e l f : t h i s i s a w o m a n ' s s t o m a c h , t h i s i s h e r b r e a s t . I h a d n e v e r i m a g i n e d t h a t a n o t h e r p e r -s o n ' s f l e s h c o u l d r e s p o n d w i t h s u c h e l a s t i c i t y , l i k e a b a l l . 108 T h e a u t h o r h i m s e l f i s p e r f e c t l y a w a r e o f t h e t w o p o l e s o f t h i s a c t i v e / p a s s i v e d y n a m i c , a n d h i s p e n e t r a t i n g i n s i g h t i n t o t h e w a y t h e y f u n c t i o n i s w e l l r e v e a l e d i n t h e f o l l o w i n g p a s s a g e : A y o u t h s u c h a s I , a s may e a s i l y b e i m a g i n e d , came t o e m b r a c e t w o a n t i t h e t i c a l f o r m s o f t h e w i l l - t o - p o w e r . I l o v e d d e s c r i p t i o n s o f t y r a n t s i n h i s t o r y . I f I w e r e a s t u t t e r i n g , c l o s e - m o u t h e d t y r a n t , my v a s s a l s w o u l d a n x i o u s l y w a t c h my e v e r y e x p r e s s i o n , a n d w o u l d l i v e i n c o n s t a n t f e a r o f m e . T h e r e w o u l d b e n o n e e d t o j u s t i -f y my c r u e l t y i n c l e a r , s m o o t h w o r d s . My t a c i t u r n i t y a l o n e w o u l d j u s t i f y e v e r y k i n d o f c r u e l t y . I e n j o y e d i m a g i n i n g , o n t h e o n e h a n d , h o w I w o u l d p u n i s h , o n e a f t e r t h e o t h e r , t h o s e t e a c h e r s a n d f e l l o w s t u d e n t s who a l w a y s t r e a t e d me w i t h c o n t e m p t ; a n d , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , how I w o u l d b e c o m e a g r e a t a r t i s t , a m o n a r c h o f t h e i n n e r r e a l m , p o s s e s s e d o f a q u i e t , c l e a r v i s i o n . My o u t e r a p p e a r a n c e was p o o r b u t , i n t h i s s e n s e , my i n n e r w o r l d was r i c h e r t h a n a n y o n e e l s e ' s . Was i t n o t n a t u r a l t h a t a b o y l i k e m e , who l a b o u r e d u n d e r some k i n d o f i n e r a d i c a b l e d r a w b a c k , s h o u l d t h i n k o f h i m s e l f a s a s e c r e t l y c h o s e n o n e ? S o m e w h e r e i n t h i s w o r l d , 145 I f e l t , a m i s s i o n a w a i t e d me-—though I - m y s e l f s t i l l d i d n o t know what i t was. 109 M i z o g u c h i ' s m e s s i a n i c — o r m e g a l o m a n i a c — s e n s e o f h i s " m i s -s i o n " c o r r e s p o n d s t o what A d l e r c a l l s t h e n e u r o t i c ' s " i m a g i n e d g o a l , an a t t e m p t a t a p l a n n e d f i n a l c o m p e n s a t i o n " f o r h i s f e e l -110 i n g s o f i n f e r i o r i t y . I n M i z o g u c h i ' s c a s e t h e u l t i m a t e f o r m t h i s t a k e s i s t h e b u r n i n g o f t h e p a v i l i o n b u t , f r o m a p s y c h o -l o g i c a l p o i n t o f v i e w , t h e p r e c i s e f o r m o f t h e " f i n a l compensa-t i o n " i s i r r e l e v a n t : Whether a p e r s o n d e s i r e s t o be an a r t i s t , t h e f i r s t i n h i s p r o f e s s i o n , o r a t y r a n t i n h i s home, t o h o l d c o n -v e r s e w i t h God o r h u m i l i a t e o t h e r p e o p l e ; whether he r e g a r d s h i s s u f f e r i n g as t h e most i m p o r t a n t t h i n g i n t h e w o r l d t o w h i c h e v e r y o n e must show o b e i s a n c e , whether he i s c h a s i n g a f t e r u n a t t a i n a b l e i d e a l s o r o l d d e i t i e s , o v e r - s t e p p i n g a l l l i m i t s and norms, a t e v e r y p a r t o f h i s way he i s g u i d e d and s p u r r e d on by h i s l o n g i n g f o r s u p e r i o r i t y , t h e t h o u g h t o f h i s g o d l i k e n e s s , t h e b e l i e f i n h i s s p e c i a l m a g i c a l power. I n h i s l o v e he d e s i r e s t o e x p e r i e n c e h i s power o v e r h i s p a r t n e r . I n h i s p u r e l y o p t i o n a l c h o i c e o f p r o f e s s i o n t h e g o a l f l o a t i n g b e f o r e h i s mind m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f i n a l l s o r t s o f e x a g g e r a t e d a n t i c i p a t i o n s and f e a r s , and t h i r s t i n g f o r r e v e n g e , he e x p e r i e n c e s i n s u i c i d e a t r i u m p h o v e r a l l o b s t a c l e s . I n o r d e r t o g a i n c o n t r o l o v e r an o b j e c t o r o v e r a p e r -s o n , he i s c a p a b l e o f p r o c e e d i n g a l o n g a s t r a i g h t l i n e , b r a v e l y , p r o u d l y , o v e r b e a r i n g , o b s t i n a t e , c r u e l ; o r he may on t h e o t h e r hand p r e f e r , f o r c e d by e x p e r i e n c e , t o r e s o r t t o b y - p a t h s and c i r c u i t o u s r o u t e s , t o g a i n h i s v i c t o r y by o b e d i e n c e , s u b m i s s i o n , m i l d n e s s and modesty. I l l Awkward and i n e f f e c t u a l i n h i s r e l a t i o n s w i t h p e o p l e , t h e s t u t t e r i n g i n t r o v e r t M i z o g u c h i n a t u r a l l y s e e k s r a t h e r t o " g a i n c o n t r o l o v e r an o b j e c t " — n o t j u s t any o b j e c t , o f c o u r s e , b u t one o f t h e most h i g h l y p r i z e d o b j e t d ' a r t i n t h e whole o f J a p a n . He c a n make i t h i s own and a s s e r t h i s power o v e r i t o n l y by d e s t r o y i n g i t — a n d by d o i n g so he a c h i e v e s t h e most s p e c t a c u l a r " m a s c u l i n e p r o t e s t " o f any o f M i s h i m a ' s h e r o e s . H i s a c t i o n i s 146 t h u s " j u s t i f i e d " as much by h i s n e u r o t i c p s y c h o l o g y as by h i s n i h i l i s t p h i l o s o p h y ; and, i n d e e d , t h e demands o f b o t h a r e s a t -i s f i e d by t h e f i n a l c o n f l a g r a t i o n . By r e f e r r i n g t o A d l e r ' s "ego p s y c h o l o g y " , t h e n , we may c o r r o b o r a t e t h e f a c t t h a t M i s h i m a has s k e t c h e d , i n M i z o g u c h i , a p s y c h o l o g i c a l p o r t r a i t o f r e m a r k a b l e d e p t h and r e a l i t y , c o n -v i n c i n g i n a l l i t s d e t a i l s — a n d w h i c h , most i m p o r t a n t l y , m a i n -t a i n s i t s c o n s i s t e n c y e v e n w h i l e u n d e r g o i n g dynamic d e v e l o p m e n t . I t i s a c h a r a c t e r w o r t h y o f D o s t o e v s k y , f o r , d e s p i t e g r e a t i n n e r t e n s i o n s and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s , i t n e v e r l o s e s t h a t " i n t e g r a t e d u n i t y " w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g t o A d l e r , a c c o u n t s f o r t h e "tremendous 112 e f f e c t e x e r t e d upon us by D o s t o e v s k y ' s p e r s o n a g e s " . And M i s h i m a a c c o m p l i s h e s t h i s by s k i l l f u l m a n i p u l a t i o n o f an a c t i v e / p a s s i v e p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i a l e c t i c t r a n s p o s e d , i t seems, f r o m t h e c o r e o f h i s own p s y c h e . IV. The N i h i l i s t ' s V a c a n t S e l f : t h e A n t i - P s y c h o l o g y o f t h e  Sea o f F e r t i l i t y T e t r a l o g y I n Towards a G e n e a l o g y o f M o r a l s ( Z u r G e n e a l o g i e d e r M o r a l , 1887), N i e t z s c h e d i s c u s s e s what he c o n s i d e r s t o have been t h e o r i g i n o f " b a d • c o n s c i e n c e " : I t a k e bad c o n s c i e n c e t o be a d e e p - s e a t e d malady t o w h i c h man succumbed u n d e r t h e p r e s s u r e o f t h e most p r o f o u n d t r a n s f o r m a t i o n he e v e r u n d e r w e n t — t h e one t h a t made him one and f o r a l l a s o c i a b l e and p a c i f i c c r e a t u r e . J u s t as happened i n t h e c a s e o f t h o s e s e a c r e a t u r e s who were f o r c e d t o become l a n d a n i m a l s i n o r d e r t o s u r v i v e , t h e s e s e m i - a n i m a l s , h a p p i l y a d a p t e d t o t h e w i l d e r n e s s , t o war, f r e e r o a m i n g , and a d v e n t u r e , were f o r c e d t o change t h e i r n a t u r e . Of a sudden t h e y f o u n d a l l t h e i r i n s t i n c t s d e v a l u e d , u n h i n g e d . . . . A l l i n s t i n c t s t h a t a r e n o t a l l o w e d f r e e p l a y t u r n i n w a r d . 147 T h i s i s w h a t I c a l l m a n ' s i n t e r i o r i z a t i o n ; i t a l o n e p r o v i d e s t h e s o i l f o r t h e g r o w t h o f w h a t i s l a t e r c a l l e d m a n ' s s o u l . M a n ' s i n t e r i o r w o r l d , o r i g i n a l l y m e a g e r a n d t e n u o u s , w a s e x p a n d i n g i n e v e r y d i m e n s i o n , i n p r o -p o r t i o n a s t h e o u t w a r d d i s c h a r g e o f h i s f e e l i n g s w a s c u r t a i l e d . T h e f o r m i d a b l e b u l w a r k s b y m e a n s o f w h i c h t h e p o l i t y p r o t e c t e d i t s e l f a g a i n s t t h e a n c i e n t i n s t i n c t s o f f r e e d o m ( p u n i s h m e n t w a s o n e o f t h e s t r o n g e s t o f t h e s e b u l w a r k s ) c a u s e d t h o s e w i l d , e x t r a v a g a n t i n s t i n c t s t o t u r n i n u p o n m a n . H o s t i l i t y , c r u e l t y , t h e d e l i g h t i n p e r s e c u t i o n , r a i d s , e x c i t e m e n t , d e s t r u c t i o n a l l t u r n e d a g a i n s t t h e i r b e g e t t e r . L a c k i n g e x t e r n a l e n e m i e s a n d r e s i s t a n c e s , a n d c o n f i n e d w i t h i n a n o p p r e s s i v e n a r r o w -n e s s a n d r e g u l a r i t y , man b e g a n r e n d i n g , p e r s e c u t i n g , t e r r i f y i n g h i m s e l f , l i k e a w i l d b e a s t h u r l i n g i t s e l f a g a i n s t t h e b a r s o f i t s c a g e . T h i s l a n g u i s h e r , d e v o u r e d b y n o s t a l g i a f o r t h e d e s e r t , who h a d t o t u r n h i m s e l f i n t o a n a d v e n t u r e , a t o r t u r e c h a m b e r , a n i n s e c u r e a n d d a n g e r o u s w i l d e r n e s s — t h i s f o o l , t h i s p i n i n g a n d d e s - 1 p e r a t e p r i s o n e r , b e c a m e t h e i n v e n t o r o f " b a d c o n s c i e n c e " . T h e g i s t o f t h i s m a g n i f i c e n t p i e c e o f r h e t o r i c , t h e n , i s t h a t a l l p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n f l i c t i s a r e s u l t o f t h e s u p p r e s s i o n o f m a n ' s n a t u r a l a g g r e s s i v e i n s t i n c t s b y " c i v i l i z a t i o n " ; i f t h e h u m a n b e i n g ' s i n s t i n c t s a r e n o t a l l o w e d a h e a l t h y o u t l e t , t h e y w i l l t u r n i n w a r d s , w i t h d i s a s t r o u s p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n s e q u e n c e s . T h i s i s a n i d e a w h i c h , o f c o u r s e , w a s t a k e n u p a g a i n b y m a n y l a t e r p s y c h o l o g i s t s . B u t , w h e r e a s a l a t e r p s y c h o l o g i s t s u c h a s F r e u d a d v o c a t e d t h e c u l t i v a t i o n o f a " s u p e r e g o " t o k e e p t h e i n s t i n c t s i n c h e c k , o r A d l e r t h e c u l t i v a t i o n o f a s e n s e o f " s o c i a l i n t e r e s t " , N i e t z s c h e h i m s e l f s e e m e d t o f e e l a s t r o n g " n o s t a l g i a f o r t h e d e s e r t " , a n d , i n B e y o n d G o o d a n d E v i l ( J e n -s e i t s v o n G u t u n d B o s e , 1 8 8 6 ) h e a d v o c a t e s a n " a r i s t o c r a t i c " o r " m a s t e r " m o r a l i t y w h i c h w o u l d a l l o w " s e l f - g l o r i f i c a t i o n " 114 a n d f r e e e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e w i l l t o p o w e r . A n d , a g a i n s t t h e " l o a t h s o m e s i g h t o f p e r v e r s i o n , d w a r f i s h n e s s , d e g e n e r a c y " p r e -s e n t e d b y m o d e r n m a n , w h o s e " s a v a g e i n s t i n c t s " h a v e b e e n " d o m e s -t i c a t e d " , h e o p p o s e s a n i m a g e o f t h o s e f e a r s o m e b u t a d m i r a b l e 148 " n o b l e r a c e s " who g a v e f u l l v e n t t o t h e i r a g g r e s s i v e i n s t i n c t s — a n d a m o n g whom h e i n c l u d e s , n o d o u b t t o M i s h i m a ' s s a t i s f a c t i o n , t h e " J a p a n e s e n o b i l i t y " : O n c e a b r o a d i n t h e w i l d e r n e s s , t h e y r e v e l i n t h e f r e e -dom f r o m s o c i a l c o n s t r a i n t a n d c o m p e n s a t e f o r t h e i r l o n g c o n f i n e m e n t i n t h e q u i e t u d e o f t h e i r own c o m m u n -i t y . T h e y r e v e r t t o t h e i n n o c e n c e o f w i l d a n i m a l s : we c a n i m a g i n e t h e m r e t u r n i n g f r o m a n o r g y o f m u r d e r , a r s o n , r a p e , a n d t o r t u r e , j u b i l a n t a n d a t p e a c e w i t h t h e m s e l v e s a s t h o u g h t h e y h a d c o m m i t t e d a f r a t e r n i t y p r a n k — c o n v i n c e d , m o r e o v e r , t h a t t h e p o e t s f o r a l o n g t i m e t o come w i l l h a v e s o m e t h i n g t o s i n g a b o u t a n d t o p r a i s e . D e e p w i t h i n a l l t h e s e n o b l e r a c e s t h e r e l u r k s t h e b e a s t o f p r e y , b e n t o n s p o i l a n d c o n q u e s t . T h i s h i d d e n u r g e h a s t o b e s a t i s f i e d f r o m t i m e t o t i m e , t h e b e a s t l e t l o o s e i n t h e w i l d e r n e s s . T h i s g o e s a s w e l l f o r t h e R o m a n , A r a b i a n , G e r m a n , J a p a n e s e n o b i l i t y a s f o r t h e H o m e r i c h e r o e s a n d t h e S c a n d i n a v i a n v i k i n g s . 1 1 5 N i e t z s c h e ' s o p p o s i t i o n t o " b a d c o n s c i e n c e " , a n d h i s i d e a l -i z a t i o n o f t h e " b l o n d b e a s t " , f o r m e d , o f c o u r s e , t h e b a s i s o f h i s a d v o c a c y o f " a c t i v e n i h i l i s m " , w h i c h h e c o n c e i v e d a s a n e s s e n t i a l l y l i f e - a f f i r m i n g p h i l o s o p h y , i n c o n t r a s t t o t h e l i f e -116 d e n i a l o f " p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m " . T h e m o r a l a n d p o l i t i c a l i m p l i -c a t i o n s o f t h i s v i e w I s h a l l c o n s i d e r l a t e r ; w h a t I am c o n c e r n e d w i t h h e r e a r e t h e s t r i c t l y p s y c h o l o g i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s . I n b r i e f , w h a t N i e t z s c h e s e e m s t o b e s a y i n g i s t h a t p s y c h o l o g i c a l d e p t h , t h e " s o u l " , o r w h a t h e c a l l s " m a n ' s i n t e r i o r w o r l d " , i s a l m o s t e n t i r e l y t h e f a b r i c a t i o n o f a " c i v i l i z e d " , " d e c a d e n t " s o c i e t y , a n d t h a t t h e p u r e " m a n o f a c t i o n " p r o d u c e d b y s t r o n g e r , f r e e r p e o p l e s f e e l s n o n e e d f o r t h i s k i n d o f s u b j e c t i v i t y . T h u s " p s y -c h o l o g y " i t s e l f — b o t h t h e s c i e n c e a n d t h e p h e n o m e n a i t s t u d i e s — i s a s y m p t o m o f t h e d i s e a s e o f c i v i l i z a t i o n , a n e v i l b y - p r o d u c t o f p e a c e a n d p a s s i v i t y ; o n l y w a r a n d a c t i v i t y h a v e t h e p o w e r t o " c u r e " u s o f p s y c h o l o g y . 149 Whether or not Nietzsche's ideas te l l us anything about psychology in general, certainly they do te l l us much about his own psychology. While this is not the place for an in-depth psychological portrait of this complex and tragic man who, as i f in ironic comment on his own doctrine of "self-glor-ification", ended up a raving megalomaniac, nevertheless it is an interesting—and perhaps significant—fact that the psycho-logy of the "father" of modern nihilism shares many features with the psychology of a latter-day nihil ist on the other side of the earth—Mishima himself. When Adler coined the term "masculine protest", he might well have been thinking of the man who taught him so much about the "will to power", Friedrich Nietzsche. Like the young Mishima, the young Nietzsche was an extreme variety of the "sensitive plant". He lost his father at an early age, so that, like Mishima, he was raised as an over-protected "mother's boy". It was Nietzsche's mother, in fact, who nursed him for years after his final mental breakdown. Nietzsche was also severely "feminized" in other senses of the word as used by Adler: he was slight in stature, weak in consti-tution, and nervous in temperament, so that, again like Mishima, he had ample opportunity to develop a massive inferiority com-plex vis-a-vis other males. This was no doubt compounded by his conspicuous failure in both love and war. Although not overtly homosexual, he had trouble relating with women and never married. Like Mishima in the Pacific War, Nietzsche proved to be unfit for service in the Franco-Prussian War—a decided irony in both men's cases, considering their idealiza-tion of "martial" virtues and the "warrior" spirit. But, of 1 5 0 c o u r s e , t h a t i s e x a c t l y t h e p o i n t . B o t h w e r e o v e r - c o m p e n s a t i n g i n f a n t a s y f o r p e r c e i v e d " d e f i c i e n c i e s " i n r e a l i t y . I n N i e t z -s c h e ' s w r i t i n g s , a s i n M i s h i m a ' s , o n e may d e t e c t t h e s h r i l l t o n e o f a " f e m i n i z e d " man t r y i n g t o a s s e r t h i s " m a s c u l i n i t y " i n t h e o n l y w a y h e u n d e r s t a n d s m a s c u l i n i t y t o b e a s s e r t e d : t h r o u g h v i o l e n c e , c r u e l t y , a g g r e s s i o n , d e s t r u c t i o n — o r , i n o t h e r w o r d s , t h r o u g h a c t i v e n i h i l i s m . A p o s i t i o n s t r o n g l y r e m i n i s c e n t o f N i e t z s c h e ' s i s e x p r e s s e d i n t h e s e c o n d n o v e l o f t h e t e t r a l o g y b y M a s u g i K a i d o , I s a o ' s S h i n t o m e n t o r . L i k e N i e t z s c h e , i n f a c t , K a i d o v i e w s B u d d h i s m a s t h e p r i n c i p a l h i s t o r i c a l f o r m o f p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m , a n i n s i d -i o u s a n t i - l i f e p h i l o s o p h y w h i c h t e a c h e s men t o p a c i f y t h e i r a g g r e s s i v e i n s t i n c t s r a t h e r t h a n t o i n d u l g e t h e m , a n d w h i c h t h u s " d e p r i v e d t h e J a p a n e s e o f t h e i r o r i g i n a l Y a m a t o s p i r i t , 1 1 8 a n d t h e i r m a n l i n e s s " . M a s u g i K a i d o ' s d i s l i k e o f B u d d h i s m w a s f a m o u s . S i n c e h e b e l o n g e d t o t h e A t s u t a n e s c h o o l [ o f S h i n t o ] t h i s w a s n a t u r a l , a n d h e d e n o u n c e d t h e B u d d h a a n d B u d d h i s m t o h i s s t u d e n t s e x a c t l y i n A t s u t a n e ' s w o r d s . He d e s p i s e d a n d r i d i c u l e d B u d d h i s m b e c a u s e i t d i d n o t a f f i r m l i f e , a n d t h u s a l s o d i d n o t a f f i r m o n e ' s g r e a t d u t y t o d i e [ f o r t h e E m p e r o r ] ; a n d , a g a i n , b e c a u s e B u d d h i s m d i d n o t m a k e c o n t a c t w i t h t h e " l i f e o f t h e s p i r i t " a n d t h u s n e v e r a r r i v e d a t t h e I m p e r i a l W a y , t h e t r u e w a y i n w h i c h " l i f e " a t t a i n s " c o h e s i o n " . T h e i d e a o f k a r m a i t s e l f w a s a p h i l -o s o p h y o f e v i l w h i c h r e d u c e d e v e r y t h i n g t o n i h i l i s m . 119 K a i d o ' s " k a r m a " , o f c o u r s e , p l a y s t h e same r o l e a s N i e t z -s c h e ' s " b a d c o n s c i e n c e " : i t i n h i b i t s men f r o m a c t i n g o u t t h e i r a g g r e s s i v e i n s t i n c t s . A s K a i d o h i m s e l f c l a i m s : " . . . m e n ' s m i n d s 120 w e r e made e f f e m i n a t e b y t h e B u d d h i s t t a l e s o f k a r m a " . T h e f a c t t h a t K a i d o ' s v i e w o f B u d d h i s m i s a c t u a l l y M i s h i m a ' s i s c o n f i r m e d b y w h a t h a p p e n s t o H o n d a o v e r t h e c o u r s e o f t h e f i n a l t w o n o v e l s : 151 Kaido's contention that Buddhism is a "philosophy of evil" which reduces "everything to nihilism" exactly foretells what wil l become of Honda because of his experience of Buddhism and of the land of its origin, India. Having been "corrupted" by these experiences, he is unable to feel any enthusiasm for Japan's war effort, even after the excitement of the "victory" at Pearl Harbor: ...when the vision of Benares arose before him, every kind of brilliant heroism lost its lustre. Perhaps the mystery of reincarnation had paralyzed his. spirit, robbed him.of his courage, convinced .him of the nullity of a l l action—and- finally, made him use a l l his phil-osophy only to serve his self-love? 121 And the ful l extent of his "corruption" becomes evident in post-war Japan. Though always a passive observer rather than a participant in l i fe , in his younger days the object of his observation was at least an admirable one, whether the ro-mantic adventures of Kiyoaki or the heroic adventures of Isao. But now he becomes a pit i ful caricature of himself; he loses a l l his former dignity as an observer of noble or beautiful things and becomes a mere voyeur, spying on lovers through a peep-hole or from behind a bush in a public park. His final experience of Buddhism demoralizes him even further, and the tetralogy ends, as we have seen, with his mood of passive nihi l ist despair. Honda, then, may be said to pay dearly for his passivity, a passivity only deepened by his contacts with Hindu-Buddhist spirituality. At the same time that he serves as a "bad example", though, he also serves as the author's mouthpiece, and thus is 152 made completely aware of the reason for his suffering. Honda, in fact, gives ful l expression to the anti-psychological, anti-subjective view of the self which was the final outcome of Mishima's lifelong struggle with the active/passive psychologi-cal dialectic. Though Honda plays the role of the principal "passive" character throughout the tetralogy, he is by no means given the kind of rich interior l i fe enjoyed by the Confessions' protagonist—or even by Mizoguchi. Indeed, he carefully steers clear of the "Pandora's box" of the psyche. Though he seems to accept the Buddhist doctrine that the small, personal self is unreal, he does not seem to feel any counterbalancing com-pulsion to search within for a larger, cosmic Self or "Buddha-nature" which might f i l l the resulting vacuum. Indeed, his search for knowledge throughout the tetralogy is rigidly ex-ternal : he travels to India and Thailand, studies Hindu and Buddhist philosophy in an academic way, but never makes any serious attempt to practise the kind of introspection Hindu/ Buddhist teachers recomme i . Even his final "enlightenment" comes from an external source: he does not discover for himself that "al l is illusion"; the Abbess tells him so. Which inevita-bly raises the question: why should he believe her? The scene is thus not as convincing psychologically as i t might have been. Honda's "anti-subjectivity" emerges also in his rejection of psychoanalysis—again in great contrast to the Confessions' protagonist, whose whole purpose is to "psychoanalyze" himself, 153 in the hope of finding some therapeutic relief from his inner conflicts. Honda repudiates, for instance, the psychoanalyti-cal notiom that the analysis of one's dreams can lead to self-discovery: "Of course, Honda had read various of the Viennese psychoanalysts' books on dreams, but i t was hard for him to 1 2 2 accept the theory that one really wished to betray oneself." In his denial of the unconscious, of the deeper self that is expressed in dreams, one may sense his fear of depths, of any-thing not visible to the naked eye—for he is , after a l l , the "objective" observer par excellence. If he cannot see something, he refuses to believe in its existence. In the tetralogy as a whole, dreams function mainly as a linking device between the various novels: Kiyoaki, for instance, dreams that he wil l meet 123 Honda again "under the waterfall" in his next l i f e ; Isao, in turn, dreams that he wil l be reincarnated as a Thai princess. Thus dreams have only an "external" meaning; they do not reveal anything about a deeper, hidden self. That Honda's own sense of self becomes progressively "ob-jectified" as he ages is made clear in an important passage of the tetralogy's final volume, in which he also acknowledges the reason for his "failure" in l i fe : When he thought that self-consciousness had to do only with the self, Honda was s t i l l young. He was s t i l l young when he called "self-consciousness" only that consciousness of a substance like a black, spiny sea urchin floating in the transparent cask of the self. "Always churning, like a violent current." While he had learned that in India, i t had taken him thirty years of daily l i fe to actually realize its truth. As he grew older, self-consciousness became conscious-ness of time.... Minute by minute, second by second, with what a faint consciousness of existence did people slip through a never-returning time. With age one learnt 154 f o r the f i r s t time that there was a d e n s i t y , even an i n t o x i c a t i o n , contained i n each drop. The b e a u t i -f u l drops of time, l i k e the t h i c k drops of a wine brought out f o r a s p e c i a l o c c a s i o n . . . . And time was being l o s t as blood i s l o s t . A l l o l d men s h r i v e l l e d up and d i e d . As payment f o r having f a i l e d to stop time i n that wonderful p e r i o d when, though the person h i m s e l f d i d not know i t , the r i c h blood was causing a r i c h i n t o x i c a t i o n . That was i t . Old men l e a r n t that time h e l d i n t o x i c a -t i o n s . But a l r e a d y when they l e a r n t t h i s there was not enough l i q u o r l e f t to cause i n t o x i c a t i o n . Why had he not t r i e d to stop time? 125 Here the o b j e c t i v i t y of the s e l f , i t s t o t a l i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with "time", i s shown to be the b a s i s of that other Mishima doc-t r i n e , the n e c e s s i t y of an e a r l y s u i c i d e . The s e l f takes on r e a l i t y only by a c t i n g out a r o l e i n h i s t o r y , which i s time on a mass s c a l e . Thus i t i s f r u i t l e s s to t r y to f i n d some abso l u t e , unchanging i d e n t i t y by examining the "substance l i k e a b l a c k , spiny sea u r c h i n f l o a t i n g i n the transparent cask of the s e l f " . One can a t t a i n only a b r i e f , g l o r i o u s selfhood by a c t i n g while s t i l l endowed with the energy and courage of youth, and by c u t -t i n g o f f the flow of t i m e — o f o n e s e l f , i n other w o r d s — a t t h i s p o i n t so that i t may remain i n t a c t and f i x e d f o r e v e r i n the na-t i o n a l memory. The h e r o i c Isao, of course, achieves t h i s k i n d of "immortal" s e l f h o o d . But Honda does not r e a l i z e a l l t h i s u n t i l too l a t e : h i s time, l i k e h i s blood, has almost a l l dripped away; he no longer has enough of i t to make a f i t o f f e r i n g to the gods. The d e s p a i r that overwhelms him i n o l d age comes from h i s r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t , because of h i s p a s s i v i t y , he has never achieved r e a l s e l f h o o d . The other example of the e v i l e f f e c t s of p a s s i v i t y o f f e r e d by the t e t r a l o g y i s Toru, the "hero" of the f i n a l n o v e l . As s e v e r a l c r i t i c s have p o i n t e d , Toru a c t u a l l y may be regarded 155 as Honda's "double", so close are the two in their "decadence" or passive nihilism. The main difference is that, whereas it takes Honda the whole of a long lifetime to manifest fully the evil effects of his passivity, Toru already reveals these at an early age. The reason is no doubt that this particular "observer" has been an observer of the sea—he works at a sig-nal station on the Izu beach—and he has been palpably infected with its "evil". The sea here serves a double symbolic function: as suggested by the tetralogy's t i t le , i t is a symbol of the nauseous fecundity of the life-force, the ceaseless round of birth and death which Honda glimpsed at Benares: Toru again focussed his lens on the beach. As they became charged, l i t t l e by l i t t l e , with the even-ing shadows, the waves became hard and impenetrable. The light was stained more and more by an evil wil l [akui], and the colour of the underside of the waves took on a sader, gloomier tone. Yes. Toru thought that, as they crashed ashore, the waves were an open embodiment of death itself . When he thought so, somehow they began to seem so. They were mouths open wide at the moment of death. From the rows of bared white teeth, numberless threads of white saliva were extracted, and the mouths, agape in agony, were beginning to gasp. Dyed purple in the twilight, earth was a cyanotic l ip . Death suddenly plunged into the wide-open mouth of the dying sea. As i t repeatedly revealed numberless deaths in this open way, the sea was like a policeman who hur-riedly picked up corpses and hid them from public view.127 But the sea also symbolizes the equally "nauseous" depths of the psyche, the dreaded unconscious, which the young Honda perceived as "a substance like a black, spiny sea urchin float-128 ing in the transparent cask of the self". Thus Toru too, gazing through his telescope, suddenly is overcome by the sense that he has caught a glimpse of something forbidden, something which exists in the depths not only of the sea but of his own 156 mind: At that moment Toru's telescope picked up something i t should not have. He felt that a separate world suddenly appeared in the wide-open mouth of the tormented wave. It was not likely that he would see an hallucination, so what he saw must have been real. But he did not know what i t was. Perhaps i t was something like a pattern accidentally drawn by microbes in the sea. The light which flashed in the dark interior opened up a separate world, but he was sure that he remembered having glimpsed this at some time—perhaps i t had something to do with incalculably distant memories. If he had lived a past l i fe , perhaps i t was that. Anyway, Toru did not know what connection i t had to that thing he always tried to see one step beyond the clear horizon. If i t was a tangle of various seaweeds, dancing as they were sucked up into the belly of the breaking wave, then perhaps the world depicted in that moment was a minature of the slimey pink and purple creases and irregularities of the dis-gusting and nauseating depths of the sea. 129 Toru's ultimate fate, like Honda's, seems an ironic punish-ment for his passivity: he goes blind after a failed suicide attempt, and thus loses his only means of relating with the world: his eyes. Unlike The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Sea of Fer-t i l i t y has no single character who embodies the active/passive dialectic in his own psyche; thus its characters tend to be more static than dynamic. The dialectic is "divided" between an act-ive and a, passive group of characters, but this scheme works well only in the first two novels. Here the "active" characters, Kiyoaki and Isao, though too "flat" to be of much interest psychologically, at least are "active" enough, the first as a lover and the second as a terrorist, to counterbalance Honda's passivity. Neither is retrained by fear of "karma" or "bad conscience"; both are innocent of a l l subjectivity or psychological depth, and thus, in both cases, the 157 wil l to act is not impeded by any sense of inner conflict: Kiyoaki acts freely upon his sexual instincts, as Isao on his aggressive instincts. Of course, they pay for their impetu-osity by dying young, whereas the more cautious, calculating Honda lives to a ripe old age. But there can be no doubt as to which of these fates the author considers preferable: age for Mishima is not merely an aesthetic crime but a moral one, because a man's ability to act is undermined by age as surely as his physical beauty. Even Isao's father, for instance, who supposedly shares his son's patriotic ideals, lays himself open to the world's corruption by failing to take action and achieve a glorious death while s t i l l young. Thus he is shown as a middle-aged man accepting bribes from the corrupt capital-ist Kurahara, Isao's enemy, and later he even betrays his own son to the authorities. Though the contrast between Honda and the "tragic heroes" of the first two novels is thus a strong one, in the final two novels there is a marked decline even in this kind of "dramatic tension". No doubt this accounts for much of the conspicuous drop in quality over the tetralogy's latter half, which many 130 critics have remarked upon. The Thai princess who is meant to be the "heroine" of the third novel, The Temple of Dawn, is an insubstantial figure whose only distinction seems to be her sexual promiscuity—and she makes an unheroic exit after being bitten by a snake. Honda's relations with her are sporadic and seem lacking in any real significance. Similarly Toru, the protagonist of the final novel, is , as we have seen, too 158 much like Honda himself to function as the "active" term of the novel's psychological equation. Thus it cannot be said that the scheme of dividing the active/passive dialectic between two opposing groups of char-acters succeeds for the tetralogy as a whole. On the one hand, a character who is either a l l "active" or a l l "passive" tends to be a flat character. On the other, hand, Mishima was unable to maintain even this kind of antithesis over the course of four novels. Perhaps he felt obliged to introduce some variety into the four reincarnated "heroes", and the only way he could do this was to make them more passive. Thus, for instance, by turning the stalwart Isao, the epitome of active masculinity, into the lecherous Thai princess, the epitome of passive femin-inity, he certainly introduces a startling reversal, but he also upsets the larger active/passive balance between Honda and the "heroes". It seems, then, that Mishima paid dearly in aesthetic terms for his latter-day "rejection" of psychology. Despite the considerable sophisti ition of its philosophic argument, and of the fictional structure based on that argument, on the level of its character-psychology The Sea of Fertility gives one an undeniable impression of superficiality. In this sense this most ambitious of Mishima's works, the work obviously intended as the crowning achievement of his career, is , unfor-tunately, much inferior to the two earlier works discussed in this chapter. 159 C h a p t e r Two  N o t e s 1. F r i e d r i c h N i e t z s c h e , The W i l l t o Power, t r . W a l t e r Kaufmann and R.J. H o l l i n g d a l e (New Y o r k : Random House, 1967), p.318. 2. On t h i s p o i n t see J o h a n Goudsblom, N i h i l i s m and C u l t u r e ( O x f o r d : B a s i l B l a c k w e l l , 1980), p.33. 3. C h a r l e s I . G l i c k s b e r g , The L i t e r a t u r e o f N i h i l i s m ( L e w i s -b u r g : B u c k n e l l U n i v . , 1975), p.27. 4. W i l l i a m S h a k e s p e a r e , Hamlet, I I I , i , 56. 5. G l i c k s b e r g , p.25. 6. The Poems o f S t . J o h n o f t h e C r o s s , t r . Roy C a m p b e l l (New Y o r k : G r o s s e t and D u n l a p , 1967), p.13. 7. M a i r e J a a n u s K u r r i k , L i t e r a t u r e and N e g a t i o n (New Y o r k : C o l u m b i a U n i v . P r e s s , 1 9 7 0 ) , p.9. 8. Helmut T h i e l i c k e , N i h i l i s m , t r . J o h n D o b e r s t e i n (New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row, 1961), p.115. 9. i b i d . 10. B a r u c h Hochman, C h a r a c t e r i n L i t e r a t u r e ( I t h a c a : C o r n e l l U n i v . , 1985), pp.13-14. 11. Quoted i n G l i c k s b e r g , p.9. 12. R o l a n d S t r o m b e r g , E u r o p e a n I n t e l l e c t u a l H i s t o r y S i n c e 1789 (New Y o r k : A p p l e t o n - C e n t u r y - C r o f t s , 1 9 6 8 ) , pp.156-57, p r o v i d e s a good summary o f t h e ways i n w h i c h N i e t z s c h e may be r e g a r d e d as a p r e c u r s o r o f F r e u d . 13. M i s h i m a Y u k i o , " S h i n f a s h i z u m u r o n " , i n S h o s e t s u k a no k y u k a ( T o k y o : S h i n c h o s h a , 1982), p.173. 14. W i l l i a m S i b l e y , The S h i g a Hero ( C h i c a g o : U n i v . o f C h i c a g o , 1 9 7 9 ) , p.35. 15. Quoted i n D o n a l d Keene, A p p r e c i a t i o n s o f J a p a n e s e C u l t u r e ( T o k y o : Kodansha, 1981), p.216. 16. N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o , i n "Mishima Y u k i o no s a k u h i n o yomu", i n Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u t o k y o z a i no k e n k y u ( J u l y , 1981); pp.31-2. 17. D o n a l d Keene, Dawn t o t h e West (New Y o r k : A l f r e d Knopf, 1 9 8 4 ) , p.1202. 18. i b i d . 160 19. See John N a t h a n , M i s h i ma ( B o s t o n : L i t t l e , Brown, 1974), pp.169-70. 20. Keene, A p p r e c i a t i o n s , p.217. 21. Quoted i n H e n r y S c o t t S t o k e s , The L i f e and D e a t h o f Y u k i o  M i s h i m a (New Y o r k : B a l l a n t i n e , 1974), p.116. 22. See t h e b i o g r a p h i e s by N a t h a n and S c o t t S t o k e s , r e f e r r e d t o a b o v e . 23. On t h e N i p p o n Roman-ha see E t o J u n , "An U n d e r c u r r e n t i n Modern J a p a n e s e L i t e r a t u r e " , i n The J o u r n a l o f A s i a n S t u d i e s ( v o l . X X I I I , no.3, May 1964), pp.443-4. 24. N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o , M i s h i m a Y u k i o no s e k a i ( T o k y o : Kodansha, 1968), p.108. 25. Quoted i n N a t h a n , p.78. 26. S c o t t S t o k e s , p.52. 27. Takeo D o i , The Anatomy o f Dependence, t r . J o h n B e s t e r ( T o k y o : Kodansha, 1973), p.15. 28. o p . c i t . , p.103. 29. o p . c i t . , p.20. 30. o p . c i t . , p.156. 31. o p . c i t . , p.57. 32. o p . c i t . , pp.59-60. 33. o p . c i t . , pp.83-4. 34. On t h e c o n c e p t o f t h e l y r i c a l n o v e l , see R a l p h Freedman, The L y r i c a l N o v e l ( P r i n c e t o n : P r i n c e t o n U n i v . , 1 9 6 3 ) , e s p e c i a l l y pp.1-17. 35. Quoted i n Nathan, p.94. 36. N o g u c h i , M i s h i m a Y u k i o no s e k a i , p.108. 37. M i s h i m a Y u k i o _Zenshu [ h e r e a f t e r MYZ] (Tokyo: S h i n c h o s h a , 1973), v o l . 3 , p.192. My own t r a n s l a t i o n , - b u t f o r t h e c o n v e n i -ence o f E n g l i s h r e a d e r s , I s h a l l a l s o r e f e r t o t h e c u r r e n t Eng-l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s , t h u s : ( C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Mask, t r . M e r e d i t h Weatherby, New Y o r k : New D i r e c t i o n s , 1958, p . 4 1 ) . 38. Sigmund F r e u d , " T h r e e C o n t r i b u t i o n s t o t h e T h e o r y o f Sex", i n T h e B a s i c W r i t i n g s o f Sigmund F r e u d , t r . A.A. B r i l l (New Y o r k : Random House, 1938), pp.553-4. 161 39. o p . c i t . , p.623. 40. o p . c i t . , p.560. 41. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.173. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 1 5 ) . 42. F r e u d , B a s i c W r i t i n g s , p.580. 43. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.168. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 8 ) . 44. F r e u d , B a s i c W r i t i n g s , p.597. 45. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.166. ( C o n f e s s i o n s pp.5-6) 46. o p . c i t . , p.181. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 2 4 - 5 ) . 47. o p . c i t . , p.182. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 2 7 ) . 48. o p . c i t . , pp.174-6. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 1 6 - 1 8 ) . 49. o p . c i t . , p.189. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 3 7 ) . 50. i b i d . 51. o p . c i t . , p.206. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 6 1 ) . 52. o p . c i t . , p.197. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 4 9 ) . 53. o p . c i t . , p.198. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 5 0 ) . 54. F r e u d , B a s i c W r i t i n g s , pp.566-7. 55. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.210. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 6 6 ) . 56. o p . c i t . , p.211. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 6 8 ) . 57. o p . c i t . , p.211-2. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 6 9 ) . 58. F r e u d , B a s i c W r i t i n g s , p.570. 59. See S c o t t S t o k e s , pp.25-45. 60. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.213. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 7 0 ) . 61. o p . c i t . , pp.219-20. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 7 9 - 8 0 ) . 62. o p . c i t . , p.220. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 8 0 ) . 63. o p . c i t . , pp.224-6. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 8 5 - 9 ) . 64. o p . c i t . , p.219. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 7 9 ) . 65. Q u o t e d i n W e l l e k and Warren, T h e o r y o f L i t e r a t u r e , p.82. 66. W.H. Auden, C o l l e c t e d S h o r t e r Poems (New Y o r k : V i n t a g e , 1 975), p.142. 67. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.171. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 1 2 ) . 68. o p . c i t . , p.350. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 2 5 3 ) . 69. i b i d . 70. E r i c h Fromm, D.T. S u z u k i and R i c h a r d D e M a r t i n o , Zen Buddhism  and P s y c h o a n a l y s i s (New Y o r k : H a r p e r and B r o t h e r s , 1 9 6 0 ) , p.139. 162 71. Wm. T h e o d o r e de B a r y e t . a l . , ed. S o u r c e s o f C h i n e s e  T r a d i t i o n (New Y o r k : C o l u m b i a U n i v . , 1 9 6 4 ) , p.193. 72. See Makoto Ueda, Modern J a p a n e s e W r i t e r s and t h e N a t u r e o f L i t e r a t u r e ( S t a n f o r d : S t a n f o r d U n i v . , 1976), pp.234-5. 73. D o i , p.24. 74. o p . c i t . , 118-20. 75. o p . c i t . , p.19. 76. o p . c i t . , p.32. 77. o p . c i t . , pp.104-9. 78. o p . c i t . , p.130. 79. o p . c i t . , pp.94-5. 80. See M i s h i m a , On Ha g a k u r e , t r . K a t h r y n S p a r l i n g (Tokyo: C h a r l e s T u t t l e , 1978), p.83. 81. D o i , p.95. 82. N o g u c h i , M i s h i m a Y u k i o no s e k a i , p.108. 83. L i o n e l T r i l l i n g , " A r t and N e u r o s i s " , i n The L i b e r a l I m a g i n -a t i o n , p.163. 84. i b i d . 85. T.S. E l i o t , The Complete Poems and P l a y s (New Y o r k : H a r -c o u r t , B r a c e and W o r l d , 1 9 7 1 ) , p.3. 86. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.201. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 5 4 ) . 87. op. c i t . , pp.224-5. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 8 7 ) . 88. See R.J. H o l l i n g d a l e , N i e t z s c h e : The Man and H i s P h i l o s o -phy ( B a t o n Rouge: L o u i s i a n a S t a t e U n i v . , 1965), pp.250-8. 89. R a i n e r M a r i a R i l k e , The D u i n o E l e g i e s (New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row, 1972), p.35. 90. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.292. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p p . 1 7 8 - 9 ) . 91. M a s u j i I b u s e , B l a c k R a i n , t r . J o h n B e s t e r ( T o k y o : Kodansha, 1 9 7 0 ) , pp.296-7. 92. MYZ v o l . 3 , p.186. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 3 3 ) . 93. o p . c i t . , pp.322-3. ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p . 2 1 8 ) . 94. Masao M i y o s h i , A c c o m p l i c e s o f S i l e n c e ( B e r k e l e y : U n i v . o f C a l i f . , 1974), p.160. 95. A l f r e d A d l e r , The I n d i v i d u a l P s y c h o l o g y o f A l f r e d A d l e r , ed. H e i n z and Rowena A n s b a c h e r (New Y o r k : B a s i c Books, 1956), p.71. 96. o p . c i t . , p . I l l . 163 97. A l f r e d A d l e r , The P r a c t i s e and T h e o r y o f I n d i v i d u a l P s y c h o l -ogy^ t r . P. R a d i n (London: R o u t l e d g e and Kegan P a u l , 1923), p. 21. 98. o p . c i t . , pp.21-2. 99. M i s h i m a Y u k i o Shu [ h e r e a f t e r MYS] (Tokyo: S h u e i s h a , 1966), p.224. My own t r a n s l a t i o n . F o r p u b l i s h e d E n g l i s h v e r s i o n , s e e : The Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n , t r . I v a n M o r r i s (New Y o r k : B e r k l e y , 1971), p.23. 100. N o g u c h i , Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i , p.14. 101. A d l e r , P r a c t i s e and T h e o r y , p.19. 102. MYS p.224. (Temple, p . 2 3 ) . 103. A d l e r , P r a c t i s e and T h e o r y , p.22. 104. MYS p.229. (Temple, p . 3 0 ) . 105. A d l e r , P r a c t i s e and T h e o r y , p.22. 106. o p . c i t . , p.13. 107. MYS p.226. (Temple, p . 2 6 ) . 108. o p . c i t . , pp.271-2. (Temple, p . 9 7 ) . 109. o p . c i t . , pp.224-5. (Temple, p . 2 4 ) . 110. A d l e r , P r a c t i s e and T h e o r y , p.6. 111. o p . c i t . , p.7. 112. o p . c i t . , p.288. 113. N i e t z s c h e , The B i r t h o f T r a g e d y and The G e n e a l o g y o f M o r a l s , t r . F r a n c i s G o l f f i n g (New Y o r k : D o u b l e d a y , 1956), pp.217-8. 114. N i e t z s c h e , Beyond Good and E v i l , t r . M a r i a n n e Cowan ( C h i c a g o : Henry R e g n e r y , 1955), pp.202-3. 115. N i e t z s c h e , G e n e a l o g y , pp.174-5. 116. See Goudsblom, N i h i l i s m and C u l t u r e , p.12. 117. F o r an e x c e l l e n t c r i t i c a l b i o g r a p h y o f N i e t z s c h e , see H o l l i n g d a l e 1 s N i e t z s c h e , r e f e r r e d t o above. 118. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , p.634. (Runaway H o r s e s , t r . M i c h a e l G a l l a g h e r , New Y o r k , P o c k e t Books, 1975, p . 2 4 2 ) . 119. o p . c i t , p.633. (Runaway H o r s e s , p p . 2 4 0 - 1 ) . 120. i b i d . (Runaway H o r s e s , p . 2 4 1 ) . 121. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.114. (The Temple o f Dawn, t r . E. D a l e Saun-d e r s and C e c i l i a Segawa S e i g l e , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p . 9 4 ) . 164 122. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.453. (The Decay o f t h e A n g e l , t r . Edward S e i d e n s t i c k e r , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p . 8 3 ) . 123. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , p.394. ( S p r i n g Snow, t r . M i c h a e l G a l l a g h e r , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, p.376). 124. MYZ v o l . 1 8 , pp.732-8. (Runaway H o r s e s , p p . 3 3 8 - 4 4 ) . 125. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.484. (Decay o f t h e A n g e l , p . 1 1 0 ) . 126. See "Mishima Y u k i o no s a k u h i n o yomu", i n Kokubungaku  k a i s h a k u t o k y o z a i no k e n k y u ( J u l y , 1981), p.36. 127. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.464. (Decay o f t h e A n g e l , p p . 9 1 - 2 ) . 128. MYZ v o l . 1 9 , p.484. (Decay o f t h e A n g e l , p . 1 1 0 ) . 129. o p . c i t . , pp.464-5. (Decay o f the A n g e l , p . 9 2 ) . 130. See, f o r i n s t a n c e , t h e Kokubungaku z a d a n k a i r e f e r r e d t o i n n o t e 126, pp.32-3, o r Keene, Dawn t o t h e West, pp.1209-15. 165 Chapter Three Hammer to Mask I. Introduction: Nihilism, Morality and Politics In order to establish the affinities between Mishima's moral/political thinking and the wider nihil ist moral/political tradition, we must first examine that tradition. If the notions of a "nihilist philosophy" and a "nihilist psychology" seem paradoxical, in view of nihilism's anti-philo-sophical and anti-psychological bias, the idea of a "nihilist morality" must seem completely contradictory. Nihilism would seem by definition indifferent i f not actually hostile to al l moral values. One recalls, for instance, Nietzsche's notoriety as an "antichrist", his vituperative attack on Christian humanism as a "slave morality". Whether we regard him as a moralist or an anti-moralist, though, Nietzsche s t i l l was centrally concerned with moral issues. The moral focus of his principal works is evident in their very t it les: Beyond Good and Evil, On the Gen-ealogy of Morals, The Will to Power, and even Thus Spoke Zara-thustra—which, as its t i t le suggests, aims to be a kind of quasi-religious counter-gospel of a "new morality". Nietzsche himself was well aware of the logical inconsistency of his position as a "nihilist moralist", but since, with him, the demands of l i fe took precedence over the demands of logic, he was quite willing to sacrifice the latter for the sake of the former. Confronted by what Johan Goudsblom calls the "nihilist problematic", which he defines as the "complex of the urge for truth, the loss of truth and moral uncertainty", Nietzsche 166 r e a d i l y o p t e d t o " r i d h i m s e l f o f t h e u r g e f o r t r u t h " and t h u s f r e e h i m s e l f f o r l i f e — i r r a t i o n a l , m e a n i n g l e s s b u t g l o r i o u s l i f e , w h i c h , t o him, was e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e w i l l - t o - p o w e r when u n i n h i b i t e d by a " s l a v e m o r a l i t y " 1 S i n c e , i n N i e t z s c h e ' s v i e w , t h e "man who r e f l e c t s more d e e p l y knows t h a t he i s always wrong, 2 no m a t t e r how he a c t s and j u d g e s " , t h e man who wants t o l i v e an a c t i v e l i f e had b e t t e r n o t c o n c e r n h i m s e l f t o o much w i t h 3 c o n s i d e r a t i o n s o f "good and e v i l " . The "deed i s e v e r y t h i n g " . I t was o u t o f h i s s t r u g g l e w i t h t h e " n i h i l i s t p r o b l e m a t i c " , and i n an a t t e m p t t o r e s o l v e t h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i n h i s n i h i l i s t m o r a l system, t h a t N i e t z s c h e d e v e l o p e d h i s c o n c e p t s o f " a c t i v e " and " p a s s i v e " n i h i l i s m . He d e f i n e s t h e s e two p o l a r i t i e s i n t h e n o t a t i o n - f o r m o f h i s posthumous work, The W i l l t o Power (Der W i l l e z u r Macht, 1901): N i h i l i s m . I t may be two t h i n g s : — A. N i h i l i s m as a s i g n o f enhanced s p i r i t u a l s t r e n g t h : a c t i v e N i h i l i s m . B. N i h i l i s m as a s i g n o f t h e c o l l a p s e and d e c l i n e o f s p i r i t u a l s t r e n g t h : p a s s i v e N i h i l i s m . [emphases i n t h e o r i g i n a l ] ~~4" N i h i l i s m , he c o n t i n u e s , " r e a c h e s i t s maximum o f r e l a t i v e s t r e n g t h , as a p o w e r f u l d e s t r u c t i v e f o r c e , i n t h e f o r m o f a c t i v e N i h i l i s m " ? On t h e o t h e r hand: I t s o p p o s i t e would be weary N i h i l i s m , w h i c h no l o n g e r a t t a c k s : i t s most renowned form b e i n g Buddhism: as p a s s i v e N i h i l i s m , a s i g n o f weakness... t h e s y n t h e s i s o f v a l u e s and g o a l s (upon w h i c h e v e r y s t r o n g c u l t u r e s t a n d s ) decomposes, and t h e d i f f e r e n t v a l u e s c o n t e n d w i t h one a n o t h e r : D i s i n t e g r a t i o n , t h e n e v e r y t h i n g w h i c h i s r e l i e v i n g , w h i c h heals7 b e c a l m s , o r s t u p e f i e s , s t e p s i n t o t h e f o r e g r o u n d u n d e r t h e c o v e r o f v a r i o u s d i s g u i s e s , e i t h e r r e l i g i o u s , m o r a l , p o l i t i c a l o r a e s t h e t i c , e t c . [emphases i n t h e o r i g i n a l ] 6 And, i n a n o t h e r p a s s a g e , N i e t z s c h e e m p h a s i z e s f u r t h e r t h e 167 aggressive, destructive—and illogical—character of active nihilism: Nihilism is not only a meditating over the "in vain!" —not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one's shoulder to the plough; one destroys. This, i f you wi l l , is i l logical; but the Nihilist does not believe in the necessity of being logical . . . . It is the condition of strong minds and wills; and to these i t is impossible to be satisfied with the negation of judgment: the negation by deeds proceeds from their nature. Annihilation by che reason-ing faculty seconds annihilation by the hand. [emphases in the original] 7 Thus Nietzsche envisioned a solution to the "nihilist pro-blematic" mainly in moral—or anti-moral—terms. European c iv i -lization could escape the blight of passive nihilism which, according to Nietzsche, was about to descend upon i t , only by a transcendence or "transvaluation" of a l l its traditional, instinct-inhibiting moral values: All attempts made to escape Nihilism, which do not con-sist in transvaluing the values that have prevailed hitherto, only make the matter worse: they complicate the problem. 8 The social/political danger of any attempt at a "practical" application of nihil ist moral principles might seem obvious. Prior to Nietzsche, though, when nihilism first appeared as a social/political movement in mid-nineteenth century Russia, its tone was rather mild by modern standards, and its goals often quite "constructive". The early Russian nihilists were not, for the most part, hardened cynics who believed in nothing. On the contrary, as Ronald Hingley points out, "they mostly believed passionately in something, i f only in a hotch-potch involving revolution, the Russian peasant, Chernyshevsky, some kind of Socialism, the idea of progress, science, materialism 168 and so on". The l i t e r a r y p r o t o t y p e o f t h e s e " g e n t l e m e n n i h i l -i s t s " was Yevgeny B a z a r o v , t h e h e r o o f T u r g e n e v ' s F a t h e r s and  C h i l d r e n ( O t t s y i d y e t i , 1861), who i s s i m p l y one o f t h o s e t y p i c a l p o s t - D a r w i n i a n s c i e n t i f i c m a t e r i a l i s t s f o r whom, as D.S. M i r s k y s a y s , " t h e d i s s e c t i o n o f f r o g s was t h e m y s t i c a l 10 r i t e o f D a r w i n i a n n a t u r a l i s m and a n t i - s p i r i t u a l i s m " . B a z a -r o v ' s f r i e n d A r k a d y d e f i n e s a n i h i l i s t m o d e s t l y as "a p e r s o n who does n o t t a k e any p r i n c i p l e f o r g r a n t e d , however much t h a t 11 p r i n c i p l e may be r e v e r e d " . And, d e s p i t e h i s r a d i c a l s c e p t i -c i s m , B a z a r o v p r o v e s , i n t h e end, t h a t h i s h e a r t i s " i n t h e r i g h t p l a c e " — b y f a l l i n g i n l o v e w i t h a k i n d - h e a r t e d woman and by d y i n g a n o b l e d e a t h . But t h i s " t a m e n e s s " o r " g e n t i l i t y " o f t h e R u s s i a n n i h i l -i s t s , w hether i n r e a l i t y o r i n f i c t i o n , d i d n o t l a s t l o n g . I t seems t h a t , as a l l m o r a l i n h i b i t i o n s a r e p r o g r e s s i v e l y e r o d e d by n i h i l i s t s c e p t i c i s m , " d e s t r u c t i o n f o r a c a u s e " soon t u r n s i n t o " d e s t r u c t i o n f o r i t s own s a k e " . On t h i s p o i n t C h a r l e s G l i c k s b e r g c o n c u r s w i t h L e w i s Mumford: " t h e c u l t o f n i h i l i s m t e n d s s w i f t l y t o grow i n t a c u l t o f v i o l e n c e and t e r r o r on 12 t h e p o l i t i c a l s c e n e , ' e x p r e s s i n g a t o t a l contempt f o r l i f e ' " . C e r t a i n l y t h e h i s t o r y o f R u s s i a n n i h i l i s m seems t o b e a r t h i s o u t . W i t h i n e i g h t y e a r s o f t h e p u b l i c a t i o n o f T u r g e n e v ' s g r e a t n o v e l , t h e n o t o r i o u s S e r g e y Nechayev had committed t h e 13 " f i r s t N i h i l i s t murder o f i m p o r t a n c e " , and t h u s i n s p i r e d ano-t h e r g r e a t " n i h i l i s t " n o v e l , D o s t o e v s k y ' s D e v i l s (Besy, 1873) — t h o u g h , u n d e r s t a n d a b l y , D o s t o e v s k y t o o k a much h a r d e r l i n e t o w a r d s t h e n i h i l i s t s t h a n had T u r g e n e v . Nechayev a l r e a d y 1 6 9 r e p r e s e n t s w h a t m i g h t b e r e g a r d e d a s a c t i v e n i h i l i s m i n i t s u l t i m a t e p h a s e , i n w h i c h v i o l e n c e a n d d e s t r u c t i o n a r e v a l u e d f o r t h e i r own s a k e . T h e e a r l i e r n i h i l i s t s , a s R o n a l d H i n g l e y w r i t e s : . . . p r e a c h e d d e s t r u c t i o n o f t e n e n o u g h , b u t c h i e f l y a s a m e a n s t o a n e n d , t h e n e c e s s a r y p r e l u d e t o some d i m l y c o n c e i v e d , b u t f e r v e n t l y d e s i r e d n e w o r d e r . S t i l l , o n e o f t e n s e e m s t o d i s c e r n a p o w e r f u l d e a t h - w i s h b e a t i n g b e h i n d t h e h i g h - m i n d e d s e n t i m e n t s w i t h w h i c h t h e y r a t i o n a l i z e d s u c h u r g e s . I n N e c h a y e v ' s c a s e t h i s d e a t h - w i s h ( d e a t h f o r o t h e r s r a t h e r t h a n h i m s e l f ) w a s o p e n l y p r e a c h e d a n d e f f e c t i v e l y p r a c t i s e d . No o n e w e n t f u r t h e r i n u r g i n g d e s t r u c t i o n f o r i t s own s a k e w i t h o u t a n y n o n s e n s e a b o u t c r e a t i n g a b e t t e r w o r l d . N e c h a y e v e x p l i c i t l y c l a i m e d t o h a v e ' a n e n t i r e l y n e g a t i v e p l a n . . . t o t a l a n n i h i l a t i o n ' . T h i s f o r m u l a , r e p e a t e d a d n a u s e a m w i t h m i n o r v a r i a t i o n s , m o r e o r l e s s m a k e s u p h i s m e s s a g e t o t h e w o r l d . 14 T o c o n v e y some s e n s e o f t h e t e n o r o f N e c h a y e v ' s t h i n k i n g , o n e c o u l d d o n o b e t t e r t h a n t o q u o t e f r o m h i s C a t e c h i s m o f a R e v o l u t i o n a r y : D a y a n d n i g h t h e [ t h e r e v o l u t i o n a r y ] m u s t h a v e o n l y o n e t h o u g h t , o n e a i m : p i t i l e s s d e s t r u c t i o n . He p u r -s u e s h i s a i m c o l d l y a n d r e l e n t l e s s l y , a n d m u s t b e p r e p a r e d t o p e r i s h h i m s e l f , a s a l s o t o d e s t r o y w i t h h i s own h a n d s a n y o n e who s t a n d s i n h i s w a y . 15 O f c o u r s e , i t i s n o t a l w a y s e a s y t o d i s t i n g u i s h b e t w e e n m u r d e r f o r i t s o w n s a k e a n d m u r d e r f o r a " g o o d c a u s e " , o r b e t w e e n a n a c t i v e n i h i l i s t a n d a " b o n a f i d e " r e v o l u t i o n a r y . No d o u b t t h e v i c t i m h a r d l y c a r e s w h e t h e r h i s m u r d e r e r " s i n c e r e -l y b e l i e v e s " h e i s p e r f o r m i n g a u s e f u l s e r v i c e , o r h e l p i n g t o u s h e r i n a new U t o p i a . A t a n y r a t e , t o t h e R u s s i a n e s t a b l i s h -m e n t o f t h e l a t e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , a n d t o t h e E u r o p e a n e s t a -b l i s h m e n t a t l a r g e , t h e r a s h o f b o m b i n g s , a s s a s s i n a t i o n s a n d o t h e r t e r r o r i s t a c t s w h i c h t r o u b l e d t h e i r a g e a s much a s o u r s 1 7 0 w e r e a l l i d e n t i f i e d a s t h e h a n d i w o r k o f " n i h i l i s t s " , a n d , t o t h e m o r e l i t e r a t e a m o n g t h e m , p e r h a p s s e e m e d t o c o n f i r m N i e t z -s c h e ' s d i r e ' p r o p h e s i e s a b o u t t h e i m m i n e n t d e c l i n e o f E u r o p e a n c i v i l i z a t i o n . T h e e v e n t w h i c h H i n g l e y d e s c r i b e s a s " t h e m o s t s p e c t a c u l a r c o u p o f t h e R u s s i a n N i h i l i s t m o v e m e n t " ^ o c c u r r e d i n 1 8 8 1 : t h e a s s a s s i n a t i o n o f t h e T s a r h i m s e l f . W h a t m i g h t b e r e g a r d e d a s t h e " r e v e r s e s i d e " o f a c t i v e n i h i l i s m — t h e t u r n i n g o f o n e ' s d e s t r u c t i v e u r g e s a g a i n s t o n e -s e l f — a l s o f l o u r i s h e d a m o n g t h e R u s s i a n n i h i l i s t s . I n D o s t o e v -s k y ' s D e v i l s t h e n i h i l i s t K i r i l o v a r g u e s t h a t s u i c i d e i s t h e 18 s u p r e m e e x p r e s s i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l f r e e d o m — a s e n t i m e n t M i s h i m a w a s t o e c h o , a s we s h a l l s e e — a n d t h e l a t e r R u s s i a n n o v e l i s t A r t z y b a s h e v — a n i h i l i s t h i m s e l f , u n l i k e D o s t o e v s k y — - e v e n w e n t 19 s o f a r a s t o e s p o u s e t h e d e s i r a b i l i t y o f u n i v e r s a l s u i c i d e . T h o u g h i n t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y n i h i l i s m w a s t h u s a s s o c i -a t e d m a i n l y w i t h e x t r e m e l e f t - w i n g c a u s e s , i n t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y i t h a s come t o b e a s s o c i a t e d m o r e w i t h t h e o p p o s i t e e n d o f t h e p o l i t i c a l s p e c t r u m — a f a c t w h i c h some h a v e a s c r i b e d t o N i e t z s c h e ' s i n f l u e n c e . N i e t z s c h e h i m s e l f , o f c o u r s e , was t o o m u c h o f a " p o e t a n d d r e a m e r " t o t a k e m u c h i n t e r e s t i n p r a c t i c a l p o l i t i c s , a n d i t s h o u l d b e n o t e d t h a t h e e x p r e s s e d g r e a t c o n t e m p t f o r t h e a r r o g a n c e a n d n a r r o w - m i n d e d n e s s o f t h e G e r m a n r i g h t w i n g , a n d p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r t h e a n t i - S e m i t i s m 20 t h a t w a s a l r e a d y g a i n i n g g r o u n d i n t h e l a t e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y . N o n e t h e l e s s , h e d i d f e e l , l i k e M i s h i m a , a n i n s t i n c t i v e a n t i p a -t h y t o w a r d s d e m o c r a c y , s o c i a l i s m o r a n y o t h e r f o r m o f " h u m a n i s m " w h i c h s o u g h t t o e l e v a t e t h e " m a s s e s " o v e r t h e e l i t e , a n d h e 171 l i s t e d s u c h t e n d e n c i e s a m o n g t h e c o n t e m p o r a r y " c a u s e s o f n i h i l i s m " ( i e . , o f p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m ) : T h e i n f e r i o r s p e c i e s ( " h e r d " , " m a s s " , " s o c i e t y " ) i s f o r g e t t i n g m o d e s t y , a n d i n f l a t e s i t s n e e d s i n t o c o s m i c a n d m e t a p h y s i c a l v a l u e s . I n t h i s w a y a l l l i f e i s v u l -g a r i s e d : f o r i n a s m u c h a s t h e m a s s o f m a n k i n d r u l e s , i t t y r a n n i s e s o v e r t h e e x c e p t i o n s , s o t h a t t h e s e l o s e t h e i r b e l i e f i n t h e m s e l v e s a n d b e c o m e N i h i l i s t s . [ e m p h a s e s i n o r i g i n a l ] 2 1 I t m u s t b e a d m i t t e d t o o t h a t t h e r e w e r e c e r t a i n d a n g e r s i n h e r e n t i n N i e t z s c h e ' s e l e v a t i o n o f t h e a c t i v e n i h i l i s t ' s w i l l - t o - p o w e r " b e y o n d g o o d a n d e v i l " . T h i s w a s a d o c t r i n e w h i c h r e a d i l y l e n t i t s e l f t o u s e — o r a b u s e — b y men who i g n o r e d t h e g e n t l e r a n d m o r e s u b t l e a s p e c t s o f N i e t z s c h e ' s t h o u g h t : s u c h a s , f o r i n s t a n c e , t h a t t h e t r u e " s u p e r m a n " w a s t h e man 22 who c o n q u e r e d h i m s e l f . N i e t z s c h e , o f c o u r s e , c o u l d n o t h a v e f o r e s e e n t h a t t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y f a s c i s t s , N a z i s a n d a s s o r t e d o t h e r p o l i t i c a l t e r r o r i s t s w o u l d i n v o k e h i s name t o e n d o w t h e i r c r i m e s w i t h a n a u r a o f i n t e l l e c t u a l r e s p e c t a b i l i t y . B u t i t i s a n u n f o r t u n a t e h i s t o r i c a l f a c t t h a t n o t o n l y N i e t z -s c h e ' s s i s t e r b u t a l s o some o f h i s l e a d i n g " d i s c i p l e s " — i n c l u d -i n g e v e n t h e m o s t e m i n e n t , M a r t i n H e i d e g g e r , f o r a t i m e — l e n t t h e i r s u p p o r t t o H i t l e r , a n d H i t l e r r e p a i d t h e f a v o r b y e r e c t i n g a k i n d o f s h r i n e t o N i e t z s c h e — s o g r u e s o m e a r c h i t e c t u r a l l y t h a t 23 o n e w i t d u b b e d i t " W a g n e r ' s r e v e n g e " . A t a n y r a t e , w h e t h e r c u l p a b l e o r n o t , N i e t z s c h e , a s t h e " p h i l o s o p h e r o f n i h i l i s m " , h a s o f t e n b e e n s i n g l e d o u t a s a c a u s a l f a c t o r i n t h e r i s e o f N a z i i s m . One G e r m a n s c h o l a r o f t h e ' t h i r t i e s , i n f a c t , d e s -c r i b e d t h e r e c e n t N a z i a s s u m p t i o n o f p o w e r a s t h e " r e v o l u t i o n o f n i h i l i s m " , a n d e x p l a i n e d c l e a r l y how i t s t y p i c a l l y t e r r o r i s t 172 emphasis on "direct action" was related to its nihil ist phil-osophy/psychology : Direct action is defined as "direct integration by means of corporativism, militarism, and myth"; this is to replace democracy and parliamentarism. But the true significance of direct action lies in its assign-ment of the central place in its policy to violence, which i t then surrounds with a special philosophical interpretation of reality. Briefly this philosophical system amounts to the belief that the use of violence in a supreme effort liberates creative moral forces in human society which lead to social and national renewal. ... Violence, says Sorel, is the basic force in l i fe . When a l l other standards have been unmasked by scepti-cism of a l l doctrines, reason itself is robbed of a l l force. The anti-intellectual attitude of "dynamism" is not mere chance but the necessary outcome of an entire absence of standards. Man, i t holds, is not a logical being, not a creature guided by reason or in-telligence, but a creature following his instincts and impulses, like any other animal. Consequently reason cannot provide a basis for a social order or a pol i t i -cal system. The barbaric element of violence... is the one element that can change a social order.... Hostil-ity to the things of the spirit, indifference to truth, indifference to the ethical conceptions of morality, honor, and equity—all the things that arouse the indig-nation of the ordinary citizen in Germany and abroad against certain National Socialist measures—are not excrescences but the logical and inevitable outcome of the National Socialist philosophy, of the doctrine of violence. 24 The fact that Hermann Rauschning wrote these words in the mid "thirties perhaps explains the mildness of his term, "cer-tain National Socialist measures". Needless to say, subsequent history more than confirmed his analysis of the underlying philosophy of Naziism, its readiness to resort to "the barbaric element of violence". Though Rauschning does not mention Nietz-sche by name, there could have been no doubt in the minds of his readers as to who was the main philosophical source in Germany of the doctrine that "the use of violence in a supreme 173 e f f o r t l i b e r a t e s c r e a t i v e m o r a l f o r c e s " . Hannah A r e n d t i s n o t so r e t i c e n t : i n h e r 1969 s t u d y , On V i o l e n c e , she s t a t e s u n e q u i -v o c a l l y t h a t " t o b e l i e v e i n v i o l e n c e as a l i f e - p r o m o t i n g f o r c e 25 i s a t l e a s t as o l d as N i e t z s c h e " . To t h o s e who w o u l d o b j e c t t h a t t h e N a z i s were " s i n c e r e " n a t i o n a l i s t s , however m i s g u i d e d , r a t h e r t h a n n i h i l i s t s c y n i c a l l y u s i n g n a t i o n a l i s m t o d i s g u i s e t h e i r d e s t r u c t i v e ends, one might q u o t e one Ludwig K l a g e s , who once b o a s t e d t h a t t h e N a z i s were 2 6 w o r k i n g " f o r t h e e x t i n c t i o n o f mankind". A c t u a l l y Helmut T h i e -l i c k e , i n h i s s e m i n a l s t u d y o f n i h i l i s m , d i s p o s e s o f t h i s ob-j e c t i o n w i t h g r e a t c o g e n c y : . . . N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m q u i t e e m p h a t i c a l l y d i d n o t t h i n k o f i t s e l f as a r e v o l u t i o n o f n i h i l i s m . On t h e c o n t r a r y , i t a f f i r m e d c e r t a i n a b s o l u t e s . F o r i n s t a n c e , i t made th e p e o p l e ( V o l k ) t h e a b s o l u t e l y n o r m a t i v e c o u r t o f a p p e a l f o r a l l e t h i c s ("What i s good f o r my p e o p l e i s good") and d e c l a r e d t h e b i o l o g i c a l b a s e s o f h i s t o r y t o be t h e one c o n s t a n t , a b i d i n g , and a b s o l u t e q u a n t i t y . I t was t h e r e f o r e i n c o m p l e t e a c c o r d w i t h t h e b a s i c p r i n c i p l e o f a l l " i s m s " i n t h a t i t made an a b s o l u t e o f c e r t a i n a s p e c t s o f c r e a t i o n . I f , t h e n , we d e c l a r e w i t h r e g a r d t o s u c h a movement t h a t i t i s n i h i l i s t i c , we a r e s a y i n g n o t o n l y t h a t what i t c a l l s an a b s o l u t e i s a p s e u d o - a b s o l u t e , a p r a g m a t i c c o m p o s i t i o n , b u t a l s o t h a t t h e r e s p o n s i b l e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f t h e movement a r e q u i t e aware t h a t t h i s i s what i t i s — w i t h o u t , however, b e t r a y i n g t h e s e c r e t . I n t h i s c a s e we speak o f a c a m o u f l a g e d o r " c i p h e r e d n i h i l i s m . " I f we may u s e r e c e n t German h i s t o r y as an i l l u s t r a t i o n , t h i s means t h a t t h e r e a l l y d e d i c a t e d N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t s knew v e r y w e l l t h a t " p e o p l e and r a c e " a r e n o t t h e u l t i -mate f o r c e s o f r e a l i t y . Nor d i d t h e y r e a l l y b e l i e v e i n t h e i d e a o f p e r s o n a l i t y w h i c h i s c o n n e c t e d w i t h and e m phasized i n t h e F u h r e r - p r i n c i p l e . F o r a l l mass l e a d -e r s a r e v e r y d e f i n i t e l y c y n i c s and d e s p i s e r s o f human-i t y , s i n c e t h e mass i s a f t e r a l l o n l y a c o n g l o m e r a t i o n o f d i s c o n n e c t e d and d e p e r s o n a l i z e d i n d i v i d u a l s . 27 A l b e r t Camus no d o u b t e x a g g e r a t e d somewhat when he c o u n t e d N i e t z s c h e among t h e t h r e e " e v i l g e n i u s e s " who c r e a t e d modern 174 Europe (the other two being Hegel and Marx), but i t does seem to have been a short step from Nietzsche's glorification of power and action to the Nazi's glorification of violence. II• Nihilism in Mishima's Morality and Politics I have gone to such lengths to establish the "nihilist genealogy" of Naziism—and of fascism in general—not to dis-credit Nietzsche but to demonstrate that Mishima's own espousal of extreme right-wing.causes, and his readiness to use violence in support of these, places him squarely within the "mainstream" of twentieth-century political nihilism. Indeed, i f Mishima's ultranationalism is viewed only within a strictly Japanese context, i t may seem an unaccountable anomaly: what could be more eccentric or even quixotic than his struggle to restore the emperor's "deity"? The great majority of postwar Japanese writers and intellectuals identified themselves as liberal de-mocrats, socialists or communists, and thus welcomed the spread of democracy, the "Peace Constitution", the de-deification of the emperor, and the rele6ation of the military to the status of a "self-defense force". In his perception of a l l these "reforms" as inimical to the "Japanese spirit", Mishima found himself alone. And his "eccentricity" was given vociferous and perhaps hyperbolic expression in his novels. In the second novel of The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, for instance, Isao fears that his assassin's wil l might be weakened by the "poison" of Western humanism: Watching [Sawa], Isao realized that, before he could throw himself so wholeheartedly into their project, i t 1 7 5 would p r o b a b l y b e . n e c e s s a r y f o r him t o jump o v e r any number o f r i v e r s . Among t h e s e t h e d a r k s t r e a m o f t h e d r e g s o f humanism [ n i n g e n - s h u g i no k a s u ] , w h i c h f l o w e d c e a s e l e s s l y l i k e some p o i s o n o u s d T s c h a r g e from a f a c t o r y u p s t r e a m . B e h o l d : t h e b r i l l i a n t l i g h t s o f t h e f a c t o r y o f t h e West E u r o p e a n s p i r i t [ S e i o s e i s h i n ] , o p e r a t i n g day and n i g h t . The p o l l u t i o n f r o m t h a t f a c t o r y d e n i -g r a t e d t h e n o b l e w i l l t o murder [ s u k o na s a t s u i ] , and b l i g h t e d t h e g r e e n o f t h e [ s a c r e d ShintTo] s a k a k i l e a v e s . 29 T h e r e can be no d o u b t t h a t I s a o ' s s e n t i m e n t s h e r e were a l s o t h e a u t h o r ' s own. To c o n f i r m t h i s f a c t one need o n l y r e f e r t o t h e numerous m o r a l / p o l i t i c a l e s s a y s and m a n i f e s t o e s M i s h i m a wrote o v e r t h e l a s t d e c a d e o f h i s l i f e — u p t o t h e v e r y " l a s t t e s t a m e n t " he i s s u e d b e f o r e c o m m i t t i n g s u i c i d e . A c o n s t a n t theme o f t h e s e w r i t i n g s i s t h e p e r n i c i o u s i n f l u e n c e w h i c h West-e r n l i b e r a l - d e m o c r a t i c humanism has e x e r t e d on t h e " J a p a n e s e s p i r i t " . I n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e S t u d y o f A c t i o n (Kodo gaku  nyumon, 1970), f o r i n s t a n c e , he speaks o f t h e " s p i r i t u a l d e a t h " w h i c h has overcome t h e J a p a n e s e s i n c e t h e end o f t h e war: E x t e n d i n g t h e l i f e o f t h e body c a n n o t be c o n s i d e r e d t h e same as e x t e n d i n g t h e l i f e o f t h e s p i r i t . The l i f e -r e v e r i n g humanism upon w h i c h o u r p o s t w a r democracy i s f o u n d e d a d v o c a t e s t h e s a f e t y o f o n l y t h e body and does n o t i n q u i r e i n t o t h e l i f e o r d e a t h o f t h e s p i r i t . 30 In t h e same e s s a y , M i s h i m a s i m i l a r l y c r i t i c i z e s t h e "New L e f t " f o r b e i n g t a i n t e d w i t h t h e same " l i f e - r e v e r i n g humanism" as t h e l i b e r a l d e m o c r a t s , and f o r t h e i r c o n s e q u e n t i n c a p a c i t y t o t a k e v i o l e n t r e v o l u t i o n a r y a c t i o n i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l e f t i s t / n i h i l i s t manner. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , he e x p r e s s e s t h i s i n terms o f h i s f a m i l i a r a c t i v e / p a s s i v e d i a l e c t i c : "...no l o n g e r p o s s e s s i n g t h e a c t i v e n i h i l i s m t h a t once s u s t a i n e d i t , [ t h e New L e f t ] w i l l 31 have t o d r i f t r a t h e r i n t o p a s s i v e o p t i m i s m " . To combat t h e p e r n i c i o u s i n f l u e n c e o f t h i s p r e s e n t "age o f l a n g u i d p e a c e " , t h e n , M i s h i m a t r i e d t o r e k i n d l e " t h e d y i n g 176 embers o f Japan's w a r r i o r s p i r i t " , as he s a i d on t h e f i r s t a n n i v e r s a r y o f t h e f o u n d i n g o f h i s p r i v a t e army, t h e " S h i e l d 32 S o c i e t y " ( t a t e no k a i ) . A c c o r d i n g t o P a u l W i l k i n s o n i n h i s The New F a s c i s t s ( 1 9 8 1 ) : W i t h i t s emphases on b l i n d o b e d i e n c e , m i l i t a r y d i s c i -p l i n e and w a r r i o r - v i r t u e s , M i s h i m a ' s S h i e l d S o c i e t y was a r e p l i c a o f t h e J a p a n e s e s e c r e t s o c i e t i e s o f t h e 1930s and t h e f a s c i s t i c German F r e i K o r p s o f t h e i n t e r -War p e r i o d . 33 T h i s i s p e r h a p s a s l i g h t e x a g g e r a t i o n — i n t h e i r f a n c y d r e s s u n i f o r m s and w i t h t h e i r i n n o c e n t , b o y i s h f a c e s , M i s h i m a ' s " t r o o p s " l o o k e d more l i k e " t o y s o l d i e r s " t h a n h a r d e n e d ' t h i r t i e s ' f a s c i s t s , and h a r d l y p o s e d much o f a t h r e a t t o anyone. Nonethe-l e s s , M i s h i m a h i m s e l f p r o b a b l y would have a p p r e c i a t e d t h e com-p a r i s o n — a n d t h e i m p l i e d c o m p l i m e n t o f b e i n g t a k e n so s e r i o u s l y . And he p r o v e d on h i s l a s t day t h a t he was n o t m e r e l y " p l a y i n g s o l d i e r " , as many o f h i s l i t e r a r y f r i e n d s s u s p e c t e d : he was r e a d y t o k i l l and be k i l l e d . Thus Mishima n o t o n l y w r o t e about what he p e r c e i v e d as t h e m o r a l c h o i c e between a c t i v e and p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m : he a c t e d upon i t i n h i s own l i f e . U n d e n i a b l y o u r knowledge o f t h i s f a c t g i v e s a n added p i q u a n c y t o t h o s e p a s s a g e s o f h i s n o v e l s i n w h i c h t h i s a l l - i m p o r t a n t m o r a l c h o i c e i s e i t h e r d e s c r i b e d o r d i s c u s s e d . Such, f o r i n s t a n c e , i s t h e p a s s a g e i n w h i c h Honda m e d i t a t e s on t h e meaning o f I s a o ' s d e a t h : I f one w i s h e d t o s u r v i v e , one must n o t c l i n g t o p u r i t y as I s a o had done. One must n o t c u t o n e s e l f o f f from a l l avenues o f r e t r e a t ; one must n o t r e j e c t e v e r y t h i n g . N o t h i n g c o m p e l l e d Honda t o r e f l e c t on t h e q u e s t i o n o f what was t h e p u r e , g e n u i n e J a p a n [ j u n s u i na N i p p o n ] so much as I s a o ' s d e a t h . Was i t n o t so t h a t t h e r e was no way t o r e a l l y l i v e t o g e t h e r w i t h " J a p a n " o t h e r t h a n by r e j e c t i n g e v e r y t h i n g , by r e j e c t i n g and n e g a t i n g even 177 t h e whole o f p r e s e n t - d a y J a p a n and t h e J a p a n e s e p e o p l e , by t h i s most d i f f i c u l t way o f l i v i n g — a n d , u l t i m a t e l y , by k i l l i n g someone and t h e n c o m m i t t i n g s u i c i d e ? E v e r y -one was a f r a i d t o say s o , but had n o t I s a o p r o v e d i t w i t h h i s whole l i f e ? Come t o t h i n k o f i t , i n t h e p u r e s t e l e m e n t o f a r a c e t h e r e was a l w a y s t h e s m e l l o f b l o o d and t h e shadow o f b a r b a r i s m . U n l i k e S p a i n , w h i c h p r e s e r v e d i t s n a t i o n a l s p o r t o f b u l l f i g h t i n g d e s p i t e t h e p r o t e s t s o f a n i m a l -l o v e r s t h r o u g h o u t t h e w o r l d , J a p a n w i s h e d t o wipe out a l l i t s " b a r b a r i c c u s t o m s " by t h e c i v i l i z a t i o n and e n l i g h t e n m e n t o f t h e M e i j i p e r i o d [ 1 8 6 8 - 1 9 1 2 ] . The r e s u l t was t h a t t h e l i v e l i e s t , p u r e s t s p i r i t o f t h e r a c e was d r i v e n u n d e r g r o u n d , o c c a s i o n a l l y t o e r u p t w i t h v i o l e n t f o r c e , and t h u s t o become s o m e t h i n g w h i c h p e o p l e f e a r e d more and more as t a b o o . 34 H e r e , t h e n , M i s h i m a p r e d i c a t e s t h e n e e d f o r a c t i v e n i h i l i s m on h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f t h e s p e c i a l c h a r a c t e r o f t h e J a p a n e s e p e o p l e — m u c h , i t must be a d m i t t e d , i n t h e same v e i n as t h o s e N a z i s who r h a p s o d i z e d o v e r t h e " s u p e r i o r a g g r e s s i v i t y " o f the "German F o l k " . M i s h i m a c o n c u r s w i t h N i e t z s c h e , t o o , t h a t t h e J a p a n e s e must be c o u n t e d among t h o s e " n o b l e r a c e s " whose b l o o d -l u s t must be p e r i o d i c a l l y s a t i s f i e d f o r t h e sake o f t h e i r " s p i r -i t u a l " h e a l t h . The p o i n t i s d r i v e n home i n The Sea o f F e r t i l i t y by t h e c o n t r a s t between t h e a g g r e s s i v e s p i r i t o f t h e kendo team, who s u p p o s e d l y r e p r e s e n t t h e " r e a l J a p a n " , and t h e g e n t l e , p a s s i v e s p i r i t o f t h e T h a i p r i n c e s , who, one s u p p o s e s , r e p r e s e n t t h e " e f f e t e n e s s " and " d e c a d e n c e " o f a t r o p i c a l c o u n t r y whose c u l t u r e has been t h o r o u g h l y " c o r r u p t e d " by B u d d h i s t " p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m " : ...Honda f e a r e d t h a t t h e p r i n c e s ' memories o f J a p a n , e v e n i f t h e p a s s a g e o f t i m e had i n c r e a s e d t h e i r s e n s e o f n o s t a l g i a , c e r t a i n l y were n o t good. What had made them f e e l i l l a t e a s e i n J a p a n was t h e i r i s o l a t i o n , t h e i r l a c k o f f l u e n c y i n t h e l a n g u a g e , t h e d i f f e r e n c e i n manners and c u stoms, and a l s o , p r o b a b l y , t h e t h e f t o f t h e i r r i n g and t h e d e a t h o f P r i n c e s s J i n J a n . But what had u l t i m a t e l y a l i e n a t e d them was what a l s o i s o l a t e d n o t o n l y o r d i n a r y y o u t h l i k e Honda and K i y o a k i b u t a l s o 178 t h e l i b e r a l h u m a n i t a r i a n y o u t h [ j i y u na j i n d o - s h u g i -t e k i na s e i n e n ] o f t h e S h i r a k a b a - h a [TTterary g r o u p ] : t h a t iEHreatening " s p i r i t o f t h e kendo team". P e r h a p s t h e p r i n c e s t h e m s e l v e s were v a g u e l y aware t h a t t h e r e a l J a p a n [ h o n t o no N i p p o n ] , u n f o r t u n a t e l y , e x i s t e d o n l y w e a k l y among t E e i r f r i e n d s , and f a r more s t r o n g l y among t h e i r e n e m i e s . T h a t u n c o m p r o m i s i n g J a p a n , h a u g h t y as a young w a r r i o r i n s c a r l e t - b r a i d e d armor, and, more-o v e r , t h a t J a p a n as q u i c k as a boy t o t a k e o f f e n s e , a boy who c h a l l e n g e d p e o p l e b e f o r e t h e y r i d i c u l e d him, and c h a r g e d t o h i s d e a t h b e f o r e t h e y s l i g h t e d him. 35 The e x p r e s s i o n , " t h e r e a l J a p a n " , o c c u r r e d a g a i n , s i g n i f i -c a n t l y enough, i n M i s h i m a ' s " f i n a l a d d r e s s " t o members o f t h e S e l f - D e f e n s e F o r c e , i n w h i c h he e x h o r t e d them t o " r i s e t o g e t h e r " w i t h him and d i e t o g e t h e r i n o r d e r t o " r e t u r n J a p a n t o h e r t r u e f o r m " : t h a t i s , w i t h a " l e g i t i m a t e " I m p e r i a l Army. F o r t h e " r e a l J a p a n , t h e r e a l J a p a n e s e , and t h e r e a l b u s h i [ w a r r i o r ] 36 s p i r i t e x i s t nowhere e l s e b u t i n t h e S e l f - D e f e n s e F o r c e s " . 37 Or, a t l e a s t , so M i s h i m a "dreamed", b u t , as i t t u r n e d o u t , none o f them a c c e p t e d h i s i n v i t a t i o n , d e s p i t e t h e e l o q u e n c e o f h i s a l t e r n a t e l y s c o r n f u l and l y r i c a l r h e t o r i c : What k i n d o f an army i s i t t h a t has no h i g h e r v a l u e t h a n l i f e ? R i g h t now we w i l l show y o u t h a t t h e r e i s a v a l u e h i g h e r t h a n r e v e r e n c e f o r l i f e . I t i s n e i t h e r f r e e d o m n o r democracy. I t i s J a p a n . J a p a n , t h e c o u n t r y whose h i s t o r y and t r a d i t i o n s we l o v e . I s t h e r e no one who w i l l d i e by h u r l i n g h i s body a g a i n s t t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n w h i c h has m u t i l a t e d h e r ? I f t h e r e i s , l e t us r i s e t o g e t h e r e v e n now, and l e t us d i e t o g e t h e r . I t i s i n t h e f e r v e n t hope t h a t y o u who a r e pure i n s p i r i t w i l l once a g a i n be men and t r u e b u s h i t h a t we have r e s o r t e d t o t h i s a c t . 36 Of c o u r s e , i t i s h i g h l y u n l i k e l y t h a t M i s h i m a h i m s e l f r e a l l y e x p e c t e d t o w i n " i n s t a n t c o n v e r t s " t o h i s c a u s e by t h i s model " r e v o l u t i o n a r y " s p e e c h , o r t o l e a d a r e a l l y e f f e c t i v e r e b e l l i o n a g a i n s t J a p a n ' s " l i b e r a l d e m o c r a t i c " government. I n d e e d , t h e v e r y f u t i l i t y o f t h e whole a f f a i r made o f i t a 179 n i h i l i s t a c t i o n p a r e x c e l l e n c e , and thu s a much " t r u e r " a c t o f " s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n " t h a n a n y t h i n g more " e f f e c t i v e " would have been. I n t h i s r e s p e c t i t r e s e m b l e d t h e e q u a l l y " f u t i l e " a c t i o n o f I s a o — a n d even M i z o g u c h i ' s a c t o f a r s o n . As Mishima h i m s e l f e x p l a i n e d i n I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e Study o f A c t i o n : From t h e t i m e o f t h e e a r l y Showa d i s o r d e r s up t o t h e p r e s e n t , d e l i b e r a t e a c t i o n s o f t h e J a p a n e s e have i n c l u d e d v a r i o u s i m p o r t a n t m y s t e r i o u s e l e m e n t s w h i c h w e s t e r n e r s c o u l d n o t have a t t e m p t e d o r even i m a g i n e d . And i n t h o s e p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n s o f t h e J a p a n e s e t h e r e c a n be s e e n many s t r i k i n g examples c o m p l e t e l y c o n t r a r y t o r e a s o n and i n t e l l e c t , o f u n a c c o u n t a b l e e x p l o s i o n s and b e h a v i o r r e s o r t e d t o w i t h f u l l acknowledgment o f i t s i n e f f e c t i v e -n e s s . Why do J a p a n e s e u n d e r t a k e p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n w h i c h t h e y know t o be f u t i l e ? Y e t i f an a c t has r e a l l y p a s s e d t h e t e s t o f n i h i l i s m , t h e n e v e n t h o u g h t o t a l l y i n e f f e c t i v e , i t s h o u l d s u r p r i s e no one. I c a n e v e n p r e d i c t t h a t f r o m now on, t o t h e e x t e n t t h a t t h e a c t i o n p r i n c i p l e s o f Yang-ming Thought a r e imbedded i n t h e J a p a n e s e s p i r i t , p e r p l e x i n g p o l i t i c a l phenomena w h i c h a r e i n c o m p r e h e n s i -b l e t o f o r e i g n e r s w i l l c o n t i n u e t o c r o p up i n J a p a n . 38 In t h e same e s s a y M i s h i m a p a s s i o n a t e l y a d v o c a t e s a r e t u r n t o "Yang-ming T h o u g h t " (yomei-gaku) as an a n t i d o t e t o t h e " p o i -s o n " o f W e s t e r n humanism, w a r n i n g t h a t : "We n e v e r r e a l l y u n d e r -s t o o d t h e m o r a l b a s i s o f t h e b a t t l e when we f o u g h t a g a i n s t t h e 39 w e s t . " But what does he mean by "Wang-ming Th o u g h t " ? He a d m i r e s , o f c o u r s e , t h e t e a c h i n g o f t h e n e o - C o n f u c i a n p h i l o s o -p h e r on t h e n e c e s s i t y o f u n i t i n g " t h o u g h t and a c t i o n " , b u t what r e a l l y i n s p i r e s him i s t h e example o f an " a c t i v i s t " Yang-ming s c h o l a r s u c h as O s h i o H e i h a c h i r o (1793-1837), who com m i t t e d s u i c i d e a f t e r t h e f a i l u r e o f a r e b e l l i o n he l e d on b e h a l f o f f a m i n e v i c t i m s . What M i s h i m a a d m i r e s a b o u t s u c h a man i s h i s w i l l i n g n e s s t o a c t - — a n d t o s t a k e h i s l i f e on h i s a c t i o n s — d e s -p i t e h i s r e a l i z a t i o n o f t h e f u t i l i t y o f t h o s e a c t i o n s . I n t h i s 180 sense, claims Mishima somewhat a h i s t o r i c a l l y , the Yang-ming " r e v o l u t i o n a r y a c t i v i s t s " were not only "mystics" but " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t s " : R e v o l u t i o n i s a c t i o n . Because a c t i o n o f t e n leads one c l o s e to death, once a person has l e f t the contempla-t i v e l i f e and entered the world of a c t i o n , i t i s human nature that he must be e n t h r a l l e d by both the n i h i l i s m he f e e l s i n the face of death and a f a t e f u l mysticism. In my o p i n i o n , the way to the M e i j i R e s t o r a t i o n was prepared by N a t i o n a l Learning as mysticism and Yang-Ming Thought as a c t i v e n i h i l i s m . The A p o l l o n i a n Na-t i o n a l L e a r n i n g of Motoori Norinaga was d i s t i l l e d by the passage of time i n t o the m y s t i c a l l y o r i e n t e d a c t i o n philosophy of such men as H i r a t a Atsutane and Hayashi Oen, and Atsutane's Shinto s t u d i e s then f o s t e r e d the passionate a c t i v i s m of the M e i j i R e s t o r a t i o n s h i s h i [ r o y a l i s t s ] . 40 [emphases mine] We may see c l e a r l y i n t h i s passage how Mishima views even h i s own n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n through the lens of h i s Nietzschean/ n i h i l i s t world-view. S i m i l a r l y i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n to the  Hagakure (Hagakure nyumon, 1967), he presents the samurai m o r a l i s t , Yamamoto Jocho (1659-1719), as an a c t i v e or "manly" n i h i l i s t who knew that a c t i o n was f u t i l e and human beings mere puppets, but who, nonetheless, exhorted samurai to " d i e a f a n -a t i c ' s death''^ 1 Jocho's n i h i l i s m c r eates a world of extremes. Although Jocho e x t o l s human energy and pure a c t i o n , he sees as f u t i l e the f i n a l products. 42 And, again: Jocho f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r s to t h i s l i f e as a puppet e x i s t -ence, to human beings as marionettes. At the very core of h i s p e r s o n a l i t y i s a deep, p e n e t r a t i n g and yet manly " n i h i l i s m " [ i n E n g l i s h ] . He s c r u t i n i z e s each moment to e x t r a c t the meaning of l i f e , but at heart he i s convinced that l i f e i t s e l f i s nothing more than a dream. 43 I t may seem i r o n i c that the u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s t Mishima, who so v o c i f e r o u s l y d e plored the " p e r n i c i o u s " i n f l u e n c e of the West 181 on Japan, should interpret the intellectual history of his own country in such transparently Western terms In the pas-sage on National Learning and Yang-Ming Thought quoted above, for instance, in Nietzschean dialectical terms, as a contest between active and passive nihilisms, or Apollonian intellect-ual order as opposed to Dionysian passionate chaos. But, actu-ally, Mishima never rejected the whole of Western culture: what he rejected was the democratic, liberal/humanitarian strain of that culture, the strain which—unfortunately from his perspec-tive—had become dominant in the postwar period in both Japan and the West, as a direct historical consequence of the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War Two. Since he associated that strain mainly with England and the United States, we can thus understand the anti-English, anti-American motif running through much of his work—especially the final tetralogy. The "deca-dence" or "demoralization" of postwar Japan is , as we have seen, associated with its "Americanization"—symbolized, not very originally, by the omnipresence of Coca-Cola—and the cruellest satiric portrait in the work, as already quoted, is that of a group of vulgar and even grotesque American women. But Mishima also reserves particular scorn for native "turncoats" such as the Anglophile Baron Shinkawa, whom Isao plans to assassinate for his "sins". There was another strain of Western culture, though, which Mishima found much more to his taste: what we might consider the "underside" of our culture, as represented by such a diverse gallery of "diabolical" characters as the Marquis de Sade, 182 Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Raymond Radiguet, Jean Genet—and Hitler. Mishima found this whole rogue's gallery "fascinating", and he wrote about them a l l ^ Similarly, on a political level, he was not so adverse to Japan's wartime alliance with the Western fascist states as he was to her post-war alliance with the Western liberal democracies. The former alliance, in his view, did not compel the "real Japan" to sup-press her "true nature". On the contrary, i t encouraged her to return to her "primitive" mythological roots: far from es-pousing a "sentimental" internationalism, fascism placed great emphasis on the mystique of an individual—and superior—"war-rior" race. Thus the Sea of Fertility narrator waxes quite lyical about the Axis Alliance, and, at the same time, under-scores his point by noting that Honda, the decadent intellect-ual, did not share this "romantic" view: The Tripartite Alliance between Japan, Germany and Italy angered one section of the Japanese national-ists (Nippon-shugi no hitotachi), and the francophiles and anglomaniacs, but of course i t pleased the great majority of people who liked the West and who liked Europe, and even the old-fashioned pan-Asianists (ajia-shugi-sha). The marriage was not with Hitler but with the German forests, not with Mussolini but with the Roman pantheon. It was an alliance of German myth-ology, Roman mythology and the Kojiki [Record of Ancient Matters, an early eighth-century compilation of Japanese myths], a friendship between the manly, beautiful, pagan gods of East and West. 4 5 There are, of course, historical as well as philosophical and psychological reasons for Mishima's "fascist sympathies". The most impressionable time of his youth was spent during the almost hysterical "war fever" of the heyday of the Axis Alliance —and one might say that Mishima remained true at heart to that 183 alliance for the rest of his l i fe , almost as i f i t were closely associated in his mind with the "ideals" of his youth. Indeed, the first major cultural influence on him had come from exactly such a nationalist "romanticism" as that expressed in the above passage. As a precocious teenaged writer during the war he was "adopted" by the "Japan Romantic School" (Nippon Roman-ha), a group of l iterati who were "nationalist romantics" in the nine-teenth-century German style, fanatic patriots who believed them-selves to be members of the "superior race" as much as did the Nazis—and who were every bit as nihi l ist. As Eto Jun has said: They believed in the value of destruction and ultimately in self-destruction. They valued 'purity of sentiment', though they never defined this; and they called for 'preservation of the nation' by purging selfish party politicians and zaibatsu [business] leaders. They believed that self-destruction would be followed by reincarnation, linked mysteriously with the benevolence of the Emperor. The Japanese, they considered, were superior to a l l other peoples. 46 Eto's description of the Roman-ha's "plan of action": assas-sination of "selfish party politicians and zaibatsu leaders", to be followed by suicide and reincarnation, "linked mysteri-ously with the benevolence of the Emperor", sounds, of course, like a plot-outline of Runaway Horses, the second novel of the tetralogy. More than two decades after the end of the war, Mi-shima was thus s t i l l "paying homage" to the Roman-ha's "ideals". In the Confessions of a Mask too, when Mishima's alter ego de-clares his "sensuous" acceptance of the "creed of death" that 47 was in vogue during the war, he is no doubt referring to the "creed" of the Nippon Roman-ha. Another crucial early influence was certainly Mishima's 1 father, Hiraoka Azusa, a fanatic devotee of H i t l e r and the Nazis. In a l e t t e r to a friend written i n 1941, when he was sixteen years old, Mishima complained of his father: "He harp 4 8 on one string only: Nazis, Nazis, Nazis." But, i n another l e t t e r to the same frie n d , he admits that, almost against his w i l l , he also became "interested" i n th i s subject: My^father pressed me with books about the Nazis doing t h i s , the Nazis doing that; and so I began reading on such books i n his presence, as a kind of camouflage. But gradually I became interested, and began reading essays on the Jewish problem and on Japanism by choia 49 [emphasis i n the o r i g i n a l ] Mishima's " i n t e r e s t " i n the Nazis would stay with him: i n 1968 he wrote a play with the provocative t i t l e , My_ Friend H i t l e r (Waga tomo Hi t t o r a ) . The play describes—with, as John Nathan says, "a certain admiration for Adolf's adroitness"--the way i n which the Fiihrer eliminated his more r a d i c a l "friend: the Brownshirts, on the "night of the long knives" of 1934, and thus—with an irony Mishima could r e l i s h — w a s able to present himself as almost a "middle-of-the-road" l i b e r a l . With some mock-bravado, Mishima boasted i n the program notes d i s t r i b u t e d to the audience that the play was an " e v i l hymn to the danger-51 ous hero H i t l e r , from the dangerous thinker Mishima". Though he professed to " d i s l i k e " H i t l e r , s t i l l he admitted that he was 52 "fascinated" by him. Of course, much of this i s Mishima's role-playing as the enfant t e r r i b l e of the Japanese l i t e r a r y world, a role he was eager to play not only because he enjoyed shocking the sensi-t i v i t i e s of more "conventional-minded" l e f t i s t or liberal-human i t a r i a n i n t e l l e c t u a l s but also because his self-image as a 1 8 5 " d a n g e r o u s t h i n k e r " e n h a n c e d h i s m a c h i s m o a u r a . A n d , b e c a u s e o f i t s v e r y " e c c e n t r i c i t y " , h i s " f a s c i s m " , i f s u c h i t may b e c a l l e d , a l s o f u n c t i o n e d a s a n e x c e l l e n t d e v i c e f o r a t t r a c t i n g a t t e n t i o n . M i s h i m a w a s a l w a y s h u n g r y f o r a t t e n t i o n , a n d i t may b e s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t t h e p e r i o d o f h i s r i g h t e s t a c t i v i s m — t h e ' s i x t i e s , t h e l a s t d e c a d e o f h i s l i f e — w a s a l s o t h e p e r i o d o f a m a r k e d d e c l i n e i n h i s p o p u l a r i t y , b e g i n n i n g w i t h t h e i m -m e n s e c r i t i c a l f a i l u r e o f K y o k o ' s H o u s e ( K y o k o n o i e , 1 9 5 9 ) , a m a s s i v e n o v e l h e h a d i n t e n d e d a s h i s magnum o p u s . B u t c e r t a i n l y t h e r e w e r e d e e p e r r e a s o n s f o r M i s h i m a ' s a t t r a c t i o n t o t h e e x t r e m e r i g h t w i n g . When v i e w e d w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f h i s n i h i l i s m , i n f a c t , h i s " c o n v e r s i o n " t o u l t r a -n a t i o n a l i s t p o l i t i c s i n h i s l a t e r y e a r s s e e m s b u t a " n a t u r a l p r o g r e s s i o n " . T h i s i s a p o i n t w h i c h s e e m s t o h a v e e s c a p e d M i s h i m a ' s b e s t E n g l i s h - l a n g u a g e b i o g r a p h e r , J o h n N a t h a n . L i k e 5 3 some J a p a n e s e c r i t i c s a l s o , N a t h a n p e r c e i v e s a n a n t i t h e t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n M i s h i m a ' s " n i h i l i s m " o n t h e o n e s i d e a n d h i s " u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s t f a i t h " o n t h e o t h e r . N e e d l e s s t o s a y , s u c h a v i e w b e t r a y s a n i g n o r a n c e n o t o n l y o f n i h i l i s m b u t o f m o d e r n E u r o p e a n h i s t o r y . N a t h a n n o t e s t h a t , i n 1 9 6 0 , M i s h i m a , i n s p e c u l a t i n g o n t h e r e a s o n w h y t h e c r o w d s w h i c h b e s i e g e d t h e J a p a n e s e P r i m e M i n i s t e r ' s r e s i d e n c e h a t e d h i m s o , c o n c l u d e d t h a t : " T h e y h a t e h i m b e c a u s e h e i s a l i t t l e , l i t t l e n i h i l i s t . . . . He b e l i e v e s i n n o t h i n g , a n d t h o u g h h e may t h i n k h e h a s c o n v i c t i o n s , t h e mob k n o w s i n t u i t i v e l y t h a t h e i s u n a b l e t o b e l i e v e i n h i s p o l i t i c a l p r i n c i p l e s . " A n d , a t t h e same t i m e , 54 M i s h i m a h a d c o n f e s s e d : " I am a l s o a n i h i l i s t . " N a t h a n 186 c o n c l u d e s : T h e s e a r e n o t t h e words o f a man w i t h p o l i t i c a l c o n -v i c t i o n s . Y e t by 1968 M i s h i m a was p r o m i s i n g h i s f r i e n d s t h a t he would " d i e w i t h sword i n hand" i n t h e b a t t l e w i t h t h e L e f t a t t h e n e x t r e n e w a l o f t h e s e c u r i t y t r e a t y i n 1970. By 1968, t h a t i s , he had become ( o r a t l e a s t was s o u n d i n g v e r y much l i k e ) an u l t r a n a t i o n -a l i s t . What e n a b l e d ( o r d r o v e ) t h e c o n f e s s e d n i h i l i s t i n t h i s s h o r t s p a c e o f y e a r s t o a c q u i r e f a i t h ? 55 As Nathan s e e s i t , t h e n , d u r i n g t h e l a s t d e c a d e o f h i s l i f e M i s h i m a s u d d e n l y underwent some s o r t o f m i r a c u l o u s " c o n v e r s i o n " , o r , f o r some m y s t e r i o u s r e a s o n , t o o k a p o l i t i c a l " l e a p o f f a i t h " — a n d t h i s f r e e d him f o r e v e r f r o m h i s e r s t w h i l e n i h i l i s m . I n o t h e r words, h i s e x t r e m e - r i g h t p o l i t i c s were n o t a " n a t u r a l o u t g r o w t h " o f h i s n i h i l i s m b u t a r e a c t i o n a g a i n s t n i h i l i s m i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f " f a i t h " . One m i g h t o b j e c t t o t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l i m p r o b a b i l i t y o f t h i s v i e w : i s i t l i k e l y t h a t a man whose p s y c h e had been so d e e p l y p e r m e a t e d w i t h n i h i l i s m s i n c e h i s c h i l d h o o d — a s h i s w r i t i n g s s h o w — w o u l d s u d d e n l y " a c q u i r e f a i t h " and f r e e h i m s e l f o f t h a t n i h i l i s m i n t h e l a s t few y e a r s o f h i s l i f e — i n d e e d , j u s t b e f o r e he c ommitted s u i c i d e ? But, a c t u a l l y , one need n o t p u r s u e t h e i s s u e e v e n t h a t f a r . Nathan's " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " i s b a s e d n o t o n l y on a m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f M i s h i m a ' s n i h i l i s m b u t on a m i s r e a d i n g o f what M i s h i m a h i m s e l f , s a i d . What Mishima s a i d was t h a t Prime M i n i s t e r K i s h i was a " l i t t l e , l i t t l e n i h i l -i s t " — i n o t h e r words, a p a s s i v e n i h i l i s t , a n i h i l i s t who cowered i n h i s o f f i c i a l r e s i d e n c e , a f r a i d t o t a k e a c t i o n a g a i n s t t h e crowds who were p r o t e s t i n g a g a i n s t t h e 1960 s e c u r i t y t r e a t y w i t h t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . I f K i s h i had t a k e n s t r o n g a c t i o n — i f , f o r i n s t a n c e , he had c a l l e d on t h e S e l f D e f e n s e F o r c e t o a t t a c k 187 t h e l e f t i s t p r o t e s t e r s — t h e n e v e n t s m i g h t h a v e t u r n e d o u t m o r e t o M i s h i m a ' s l i k i n g : p e r h a p s a f u l l - s c a l e r e v o l u t i o n w h i c h w o u l d h a v e l e f t t h e m i l i t a r y i n c h a r g e . B u t K i s h i was a p e t t y , p a s s i v e n i h i l i s t , a n d s o i n c a p a b l e o f s u c h r u t h l e s s n e s s . M i s h i -m a , i n f a c t , d r i v e s t h i s p o i n t home b y c o m p a r i n g h i m t o a m o r e " a c t i v e " n i h i l i s t — H i t l e r — i n a c o n t i n u a t i o n o f t h e a b o v e r e -m a r k s w h i c h N a t h a n n e g l e c t s t o q u o t e : " W h i l e o n e h a t e s a t i n y n i h i l i s t , o n e may a c c e p t a n i h i l i s t o n t h e g r a n d s c a l e s u c h a s 5 6 H i t l e r . " S i m i l a r l y , i n t h e e s s a y s h e w r o t e l a t e r i n t h e d e -c a d e , a s we h a v e s e e n , M i s h i m a d e p i c t e d s u c h o f h i s " h e r o e s " a s t h e s a m u r a i m o r a l i s t , Y a m a m o t o J o c h o , a n d t h e Y a n g - m i n g a c t i v i s t , O s h i o H e i h a c h i r o , a s t h o r o u g h l y a d m i r a b l e " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t s " . I n . e s p o u s i n g r i g h t - w i n g a c t i v i s m d u r i n g t h e l a s t f e w y e a r s o f h i s l i f e , t h e n , M i s h i m a w a s n o t t a k i n g a " l e a p o f f a i t h " b e y o n d h i s n i h i l i s m ; h e w a s s i m p l y " g r a d u a t i n g " f r o m o n e f o r m o f n i h i l i s m t o a n o t h e r . I n d o i n g s o , h e w a s f o l l o w i n g i n t h e f o o t s t e p s o f m a n y W e s t e r n n i h i l i s t s b e f o r e h i m — a s h e h i m s e l f w a s w e l l a w a r e . I n h i s e s s a y , " A New T h e o r y o f F a s c i s m " ( S h i n f a s s h i z u m u -r o n , 1 9 5 9 ) , M i s h i m a c l a i m s t h a t " i t w a s e a s i e r f o r f a s c i s m t o m a k e u s e o f t h e f o l l o w e r s o f N i e t z s c h e t h a n o f d r u g a d d i c t s " 5 ^ a n d t h a t : " O n e t r e n d o f t h e s o - c a l l e d a c t i v e n i h i l i s m [ n o d o -58 t e k i n i h i r i z u m u ] w a s t o w a r d s f a s c i s m . " A n d h e e x p l a i n s t h e n i h i l i s t ' s a t t r a c t i o n t o w a r d s f a s c i s m i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l a n d e v e n m o r a l t e r m s . A s i n t h e Y a n g - m i n g p h i l o s o p h y , i n f a s c i s m " t h o u g h t a n d a c t i o n a r e a l w a y s i n s e p a r a b l e ; f a s c i s m d o e s n o t 59 r e s p e c t t h o u g h t w h i c h i s n o t t r a n s f e r r e d i n t o a c t i o n " . i n 1 8 8 thus sanctioning action as the highest value, fascism promised "salvation" to the nihi l ists, who felt the normal human need for action but who had lost faith in the traditional moral grounds for action: If "they do not respect thoughts that are not turned into actions", human beings, who cannot stop thinking, must always act—any kind of action wil l suffice. In this sense, fascism brought relief [sukui] to the n ih i l -ists, just like the cure for a kind of psychic disease. 60 Though the parallels between the European "active n ih i l -ist 's" embrace of fascism and Mishima's own embrace of Japanese ultranationalism seem obvious—in both cases out of a desperate need for an "action philosophy"—in the same essay he wittily makes light of those leftist critics who call him a "fascist": I developed an interest in fascism because certain leftist magazines called me a fascist. Generally, leftists think that "fascist" is the worst thing they can call anyone, so, i f we translate this word into everyday language, i t means something like "idiot" or "nincompoop". Even so, this was the f irst time I'd been called any kind of " . . . i s t " , so i t tickled my vanity a l i t t l e . A friend of mine who is even more bad-mouthed than the Communists said to me: "Up to now you were no more than a pederast so, in being called a fascist, you've graduated to being an ist for the first time—and that's something." 61 I would by no means argue that Mishima must necessarily be labelled a "fascist"—or even a "Nazi-sympathizer". Though undoubtedly he sympathized with the general world-view of the European fascists and Nazis—and with their military-machismo style—just as surely his sensibilities were offended by their "excesses". Despite a l l his nihil ist bluster, his "tough-guy" pose, and what we might call his cultivation of the "machismo of evil", Mishima was, after a l l , a man of some intellectual 189 and a e s t h e t i c r e f i n e m e n t , and t h u s c o u l d n e v e r be a t o t a l n i h i l i s t i n h i s m o r a l judgements.. T h e r e were l i m i t s t o t h e l e v e l o f v i o l e n c e even he would t o l e r a t e ; he d i d r e c o g n i z e c e r t a i n minimum s t a n d a r d s o f c i v i l i z e d b e h a v i o r . P erhaps most s i g n i f i c a n t l y , he f e l t t h a t t e r r o r i s t s s h o u l d be c a r e -f u l l y s e l e c t i v e i n t h e i r c h o i c e o f v i c t i m s . T h u s , f o r i n s t a n c e , he condemned t h e young r i g h t i s t who had a t t a c k e d t h e w i f e and maid o f t h e Chuo K o r o n p r e s i d e n t i n 1960, b e c a u s e t h e l a t t e r had p u b l i s h e d a s t o r y c o n s i d e r e d i n s u l t i n g t o t h e I m p e r i a l F a m i l y . S p e a k i n g t o a s t u d e n t a u d i e n c e i n 1968, Mishima r e m a r k e d : "Komori [ t h e young r i g h t i s t ] o f t h e Chuo K o r o n I n c i d e n t was bad b u s i n e s s . The w o r s t t h i n g i s a t t a c k i n g women and c h i l d r e n . One o f t h e s p l e n d i d t h i n g s about t h e young o f f i c e r s i n t h e F e b r u a r y 26 [1936] R e b e l l i o n was t h a t t h e y d i d n ' t harm any women o r c h i l d r e n . " 62 We s h o u l d n o t e , t h o u g h , t h a t t h e un s p o k e n i m p l i c a t i o n h e r e , t h e " o t h e r s i d e " t o what M i s h i m a i s s a y i n g , i s t h a t , t h o u g h i n d i s c r i m i n a t e k i l l i n g i s wrong, s e l e c t i v e k i l l i n g i s q u i t e p e r m i s s i b l e . W h i l e "one o f t h e s p e n d i d t h i n g s " a b o u t t h e young r e b e l o f f i c e r s o f t h e 1930's was t h a t t h e y r e f r a i n e d from k i l l -i n g women and c h i l d r e n , a n o t h e r o f t h e " s p l e n d i d t h i n g s " , p r e -sumably, was t h a t t h e y d i d k i l l c e r t a i n " c o r r u p t " members o f t h e E s t a b l i s h m e n t — j u s t as Mi s h i m a ' s h e r o , I s a o , does i n Run-away H o r s e s . W h i l e I would n o t a r g u e , t h e n , t h a t M i s h i m a s h o u l d be p l a c e d on t h e same m o r a l l e v e l as t h e E u r o p e a n f a s c i s t s and N a z i s , what I would a r g u e i s t h a t , as much as i n t h e i r c a s e , h i s p o l i t i c s were an e x p r e s s i o n o f h i s n i h i l i s m . T h i s i s t r u e , 190 first and foremost, because of the centrality of violence in his politics. What distinguishes him in this regard from those hard-core "active nihi l ists", the fascists and Nazis, is some-thing more like an aesthetic than a moral scrupulosity: he does not condemn political murder per se, but his traditional sense of chivalry would exempt women and children from being " legit i -mate" targets—since, in a traditional society, they have no power anyway, and therefore no place in the murderous political power-struggle. But there is no doubt that Mishima s t i l l be-lieves, along with the fascists and Nazis, in the all-importance of "direct action"; in other words, he believes, to quote Her-mann Rauschning's summary of Nazi doctrine again, that "the use of violence in a supreme effort liberates creative moral forces 6 3 in human society which lead to social and national renewal". And he also shares the anti-intellectualism of the Nazis, what Rauschning calls their "anti-intellectual attitude of 'dynamism'", which he attributes to their nihil ist conception of man: Man...is not a logical being, not a creature guided by reason or intelligence, but a creature following his instincts and impulses, like any other animal. Conse-quently, reason cannot provide a basis for a social order or a political system. The barbaric element of violence... is the one element that can change a social order.... 64 The theme of "man as puppet" is central also to Mishima's nihilism. And, as with the Nazis, what would replace reason as the guiding force of his political system would be a "mysti-cism" of race, a national mythology centred, in his case, not on a Fiihrer or a Puce but on the Tenno, the Japanese Emperor. To put i t bluntly: a l l violence would be sanctioned in the name of the Emperor. Since there would be no need to resort to "reason" to justify action, men would no longer be trapped by passive nihilism—as always happened when they began to reason. One may see this illustrated clearly in the tetralogy, in which violence is definitely glorified at the expense of reason. A man of reason such as Honda—a lawyer of a l l things—uses his reason only for self-justification; like every other "intellect-ual" who appears in Mishima's novels, he is a passive nihi l ist : his intellectual prowess makes him a cynic and a coward. Only a "pure" young man such as Isao, an intellectual innocent, is capable of the "heroic" acts of murder and suicide. Indeed, i t would be difficult to say what Mishima really, hoped to accomplish by his political activism beyond a general increase in the level of violence. Certainly his "emperor-wor-ship" was no more than a private fantasy, which had nothing to do, for instance, with the real Japanese Emperor, Hirohito— who, as a matter of fact, had no desire to be worshipped. In-deed, Mishima had once got into trouble with the more realistic "emperor-worshippers" for criticizing Hirohito on the grounds that he had betrayed the heroic war-dead by renouncing his d i -vine status^5 Though he denounced the 'thirties' rightist Kita Ikki for trying to make use of the Emperor for his own social-reformist ends, one might charge Mishima with much the same thing—albeit to serve the ends not of social reform but of active nihilism. And what were those ends? Certainly not social improve-ment, not the betterment of the lives of the "masses", for whom 192 Mishima cared nothing. As Noguchi Takehiko has pointed out, in this respect Mishima differed fundamentally from the young rebel officers of the 'thirties whom he idolized: most of them came from impoverished farming villages and had ample reasons for their grudge against the Establishment. But Mishima chose to downplay these social motives; they seemed to vulgarize what were otherwise the young officer's "pure" acts of violence. To the "haughty" Mishima, writes Noguchi, "such facts seemed to have been somewhat suspect, vulgarly seditious, and more 6 7 suited to an agitprop novel"—and thus he almost entirely ex-cluded them from Runaway Horses. The novel's narrator tells us that Isao explained nothing to his recruits: there need be no social/reformist justifications; their only "general plan" would be to "resolve on action, no matter what kind of action", since "everything that was evil" in the world "approved of one's 6 8 impotence [muryoku] and inactivity [mui]". Isao's "moral code", then, is based on the simple nihil ist dialectic: action is good, passivity is evil . And, of course, hidden behind this is ano-ther nihil ist code: death Is preferable to l i fe . The Marxist crit ics, of course, have had a "field day" with Mishima; for them he has been almost a "dream come true", the most convenient of whipping boys, the very epitome of a l l the "bourgeois decadence" they had always been talking about. If they had invented him themselves, they could not have de-signed a more archetypal—or caricature—opponent: scion of a privileged, upper-bourgeois family, completely lacking a "so-cial concience", but "playing" at revolution merely to gratify h i s n i h i l i s t / n a r c i s s i s t i m p u l s e s — o r , m o r e s i n i s t e r l y , r e s o r t -i n g t o f a s c i s m t o s h o r e u p t h e d e c l i n i n g p r i v i l e g e s o f h i s c l a s s . A d m i t t e d l y , M i s h i m a p r o v i d e d t h e M a r x i s t s w i t h s o m u c h a m m u n i -t i o n a g a i n s t h i m s e l f t h a t i t w o u l d b e d i f f i c u l t t o d e f e n d h i m e x c e p t i n t h e u s u a l r a t h e r l a m e w a y o n e d e f e n d s " d i s r e p u t a b l e " w r i t e r s : h e i s a n a r t i s t a n d s h o u l d b e v a l u e d a s s u c h ; h i s p o l i -t i c s n e e d n o t b e t a k e n s e r i o u s l y a s p o l i t i c s , b u t o n l y f o r t h e " a e s t h e t i c " u s e h e m a k e s o f t h e m i n h i s w o r k s . O f c o u r s e , t h e w r i t e r h i m s e l f m i g h t o b j e c t t o s u c h a " d e f e n s e " , s i n c e i t s u n -s p o k e n i m p l i c a t i o n i s t h a t h e i s a k i n d o f i d i o t - s a v a n t who s h o u l d n o t b e e x p e c t e d t o f u n c t i o n r e s p o n s i b l y i n t h e " r e a l w o r l d " . A n d i n M i s h i m a ' s c a s e t h e r e i s a n a d d e d c o m p l i c a t i o n : h e d i d f i n a l l y t r e s p a s s i n t o t h e " r e a l w o r l d " , a n d n o t w i t h p e n b u t w i t h s w o r d i n h a n d . A t a n y r a t e , i f M i s h i m a c a n b e s a i d t o h a v e h o p e d f o r a n y c o n c r e t e , p o s i t i v e r e s u l t f r o m h i s r i g h t i s t a c t i v i s m — b e y o n d t h e r e a l i z a t i o n o f a p r i v a t e f a n t a s y — i t was t o " e n h a n c e t h e s p i r i t u a l s t r e n g t h " o f J a p a n e s e m e n — t o u s e t h e p h r a s e i n w h i c h 69 N i e t z s c h e d e f i n e d t h e p r i m a r y a i m o f a c t i v e n i h i l i s m — b y m a k i n g t h e i r l i v e s m o r e " m a n l y " , m o r e d a n g e r o u s — a n d m o r e v i o l e n t . W h e n h e a r g u e s t h a t t h e E m p e r o r i s t h e i n d i s p e n s i b l e c o r n e r -s t o n e o f J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e — " t h e E m p e r o r a s c u l t u r a l c o n c e p t " [ b u n k a - g a i n e n t o s h i t e n o t e n n o ]1® a s h e s a y s i n h i s l a t e e s s a y , '_'Qn.:the D e f e n s e o f C u l t u r e " ( B u n k a b o e i r o n , 1 9 6 9 ) — w h a t h e m e a n s b y " J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e " i s n o t j u s t s u c h t h i n g s a s t h e t e a c e r e m o n y a n d f l o w e r a r r a n g e m e n t ; w h a t h e m e a n s a b o v e a l l i s t h e s a m u r a i w a r r i o r c o d e o f B u s h i d o . , t h e c o d e a c c o r d i n g t o w h i c h 194 o n e r e s o l v e s a l l m o r a l c o n f l i c t s " b y c h o o s i n g i m m e d i a t e d e a t h " . I t i s t h e d i v i n e E m p e r o r who s a n c t i f i e s t h i s c o d e — a n d , i n d e e d , who e n a b l e s t h e w a r r i o r t o d i e h a p p i l y . D u r i n g t h e P a c i f i c War a f t e r a l l , a l l g o o d J a p a n e s e s o l d i e r s w e r e e x p e c t e d t o d i e s h o u t i n g : " T e n n o H e i k a b a n z a i ! " ( " L o n g l i v e H i s M a j e s t y t h e E m -p e r o r ! " ) W i t h o u t t h e d i v i n e E m p e r o r , t h e J a p a n e s e w a r r i o r w o u l d h a v e n o t h i n g t o d i e f o r . M i s h i m a w h o l e h e a r t e d l y a c c e p t e d R u t h B e n e d i c t ' s c h a r a c t e r -i z a t i o n o f J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e a s h a v i n g " t w o s i d e s " , o n e p e a c e f u l a n d t h e o t h e r w a r l i k e , s y m b o l i z e d b y t h e " c h r y s a n t h e m u m " a n d 72 t h e " s w o r d " . A n d h e f e l t t h a t t h e " s w o r d " s i d e h a d b e e n i n -c r e a s i n g l y n e g l e c t e d i n m o d e r n t i m e s — a n d e v e n i n t h e p e a c e f u l T o k u g a w a p e r i o d w h i c h p r e c e d e d m o d e r n t i m e s , w h e n , h e b e l i e v e d , t h e " f e m i n i z a t i o n " o f t h e J a p a n e s e m a l e h a d b e g u n . A s h e s a y s i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e H a g a k u r e : . . . w e a r e c o n s t a n t l y b e i n g t o l d o f t h e f e m i n i z a t i o n o f J a p a n e s e m a l e s t o d a y — i t i s i n e v i t a b l y s e e n a s t h e r e -s u l t o f t h e i n f l u e n c e o f A m e r i c a n d e m o c r a c y , " l a d i e s f i r s t " , a n d s o f o r t h — b u t t h i s p h e n o m e n o n t o o i s n o t u n k n o w n i n o u r p a s t . W h e n , b r e a k i n g a w a y f r o m t h e r o u g h - a n d - t u m b l e m a s c u l i n i t y o f a n a t i o n a t w a r , t h e T o k u g a w a b a k u f u h a d s e c u r e l y e s t a b l i s h e d i t s h e g e m o n y a s a p e a c e f u l r e g i m e , t h e f e m i n i z a t i o n o f J a p a n e s e m a l e s i m m e d i a t e l y b e g a n . 73 I t f o l l o w s f r o m t h i s , o f c o u r s e , t h a t i n o r d e r t o r e v e r s e t h e p r o c e s s , i n o r d e r t o " r e m a s c u l i n i z e " t h e J a p a n e s e m a l e , t h e n a t i o n w i l l h a v e t o b e c o m e m o r e w a r l i k e . O v e r t h e p a s t c e n t u r y t h e p r o c e s s o f " f e m i n i z a t i o n " h a s o n l y w o r s e n e d . I n R u n a w a y  H o r s e s t h e n a r r a t o r s p e a k s o f t h e " s p i r i t u a l m a s s a c r e " ( s e i s h i n  t e k i g y a k u s a t s u ) ^ t h a t h a d b e e n c o m m i t t e d b y t h e M e i j i g o v e r n -m e n t i n 1 8 7 6 w h e n i t b a n n e d t h e w e a r i n g o f s w o r d s . T h i s s y m b o l 195 "castration" of the most manly of Japanese men—the samurai— was repeated on an even larger scale by the "emasculation" of the Imperial Army after its humiliating defeat in the Pacific War: its reduction to the farcical status of a "self-defense force"—as Mishima lamented in his "final statement" to members of this force on the day of his death?5 Being "condemned" for-ever to play the contradictory role of a "pacifist army", the flower of Japanese manhood (as Mishima conceived the military to be) were no longer allowed to be "real men"—aggressive, dangerous, quick to defend their honor with their lives—they were like tigers with their fangs and claws removed. One may see from a l l this that Mishima's "politics" are obviously an expression on a wider, social level of the same kind of "masculine protest" we already saw functioning on the narrower, personal level of his psychology—and the psychology of his fictional alter egos. And the "masculine protest" itself , as we have also seen, is the psychological expression par excel-lence of what is known in Nietzsche's philosophy as "active nihilism". In Mishima's view, Japan as a whole had suffered the same kind of "feminization" or "emasculation" in its modern history as he himself had suffered in his childhood;thus the "socio /polit ical" cure he recommended for the "spiritual malaise" of the entire country was essentially the same as the "cure" he had applied to himself: in a word, study kendo; acquire the old "kendo-team spirit". With Japan once again a nation of swords-men instead of Toyota salesmen, the Emperor and the Imperial Army would naturally be restored to their rightful position. 196 Insofar, then, as Mishima's ultranationalism was not of the "conventional" sort but an expression of his nihilism; in-sofar as he espoused it not out of any newly acquired "faith" but as a ready-made "justification" of his "blood-lust", then certainly i t falls within the mainstream of twentieth-century nihil ist politics, which includes Naziism and fascism. In his "New Theory of Fascism", Mishima tries to dissociate himself— and the wartime Japanese nationalists—from the European fas-cists by pointing to what he sees as some crucial differences: Japanese nationalism was not based on a systematic, man-made philosophy such as that of fascism but on emperor-worship; i t did not appeal to the intelligentsia as fascism appealed to 7 6 many European nihil ists, and, finally: The genesis of fascism is inseparably linked to the spiritual conditions of Europe from the latter part of the nineteenth century to the beginning of this century. And the fascist leaders themselves were definite nihi l ists. Nothing could be further than -j-, fascism from the optimism of the Japanese right-wing. Though he grants that the Japanese ultranationalists were as racist as the fascists, he contends that racism is only a "secondary phenomenon" of fascism: "What the Japanese right wing had in common with fascism was mainly this secondary 7 8 aspect", and this is simply because "racism is the easiest 7 9 weapon to use"—presumably, to arouse the masses. But Mishima's attempts here to befuddle those leftist critics who would associate him with the fascists are some-what disingenuous. While there may be a cultural or stylistic difference between pledging blind obedience to a tenno on the one hand and a fvihrer or a duce on the other, for the nihi l ist b o t h t h e s e " a c t s o f s u b m i s s i o n " may be made t o s e r v e t h e same p u r p o s e : f o r g i n g a whole p o p u l a c e i n t o one mass e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e n a t i o n a l w i l l - t o - p o w e r . As A l b e r t Camus once s a i d o f t h e h e r o o f h i s own n o v e l , The F a l l (La C h u t e , 1956): "as a good 80 modern n i h i l i s t , he e x a l t s s e r v i t u d e " . M i s h i m a ' s own e x a l t a -t i o n o f b l i n d s e r v i t u d e t o t h e Emperor as d e i t y c e r t a i n l y f i t s t h i s n i h i l i s t p a t t e r n ; and, on t h e o t h e r hand, t h e E u r o p e a n n i h i l i s t ' s e x a l t a t i o n o f b l i n d s u b m i s s i o n t o a H i t l e r o r a M u s s o l i n i as p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s o f t h e n a t i o n a l w i l l - t o - p o w e r was e v e r y b i t as " s u p r a r a t i o n a l " o r " m y s t i c a l " as emperor-w o r s h i p . I t may seem p a r a d o x i c a l t h a t a n i h i l i s t s h o u l d " e x a l t s e r v i t u d e " : one u s u a l l y i m a g i n e s a n i h i l i s t as an e g o t i s t b e n t o n l y on t h e s a t i s f a c t i o n o f h i s p e r s o n a l w i l l - t o - p o w e r — o r , i n M i s h i m a ' s c a s e , as a n a r c i s s i s t c o n c e r n e d o n l y w i t h h i s own s e l f - g l o r i f i c a t i o n . B u t , o f c o u r s e , t h e r e a l n i h i l i s t s " e x a l t s e r v i t u d e " o n l y f o r o t h e r s , n o t f o r t h e m s e l v e s ; a l l o f t h e i r p s e u d o - m y s t i c a l n a t i o n a l i s m i s m e r e l y a d e v i c e f o r m a n i p u l a t i n g o t h e r p e o p l e , e s p e c i a l l y t h e d e s p i s e d "masses". As Helmut T h i e l i c k e p o i n t s out i n t h e p a s s a g e q u o t e d e a r l i e r : . . . t h e r e a l l y d e d i c a t e d N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t s knew v e r y w e l l t h a t " p e o p l e and r a c e " a r e n o t t h e u l t i m a t e f o r c e s o f r e a l i t y . Nor d i d t h e y r e a l l y b e l i e v e i n t h e i d e a o f p e r s o n a l i t y w h i c h i s c o n n e c t e d w i t h and e m p h a s i z e d i n t h e F u h r e r p r i n c i p l e . F o r a l l mass l e a d e r s a r e v e r y d e f i n i t e l y c y n i c s and d e s p i s e r s o f h u m a n i t y . . . . 81 T h i e l i c k e r e f e r s t o t h e n i h i l i s m o f s u c h p e o p l e as "camou-f l a g e d " o r " c i p h e r e d " ; i n o t h e r words, t h e i r n i h i l i s m i s "masked' by t h e i r u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s m and F u h r e r - w o r s h i p . As f o r M i s h i m a , t h e r e c a n be no doubt t h a t he was a l s o a " c y n i c and d e s p i s e r o f h u m a n i t y " — h i s n o v e l s a r e r i f e w i t h m i s a n t h r o p y . And we a l s o 198 know that, since early childhood, he was extremely adept at hiding his "true self" behind a variety of masks. Could i t be that his ultranationalism and emperor-worship were only the last of these masks—a "heroic" mask now rather than the "mask of conventionality" he had felt obliged to wear in his youth, a mask more pleasing to his ego and more consonant with his "aesthetics of blood and metaphysics of death", but a mask nonetheless, because fashioned out of a "faith" he did not possess? Certainly, for instance, there were limits to his "submission" to the Emperor. When i t came to an actual clash between the Emperor's wil l and his own—as in the question of imperial divinity—there can be no doubt as to whose will took precedence: Mishima did not hesitate to try to "correct" the imperial w i l l . While he may have been accurate in his portrait of the typical Japanese ultranationalist as a non-intellectual "optimist" with a simple faith in the Emperor rather than a sophisticated, systematic world-view, he himself was about as diametrically opposite to such a "simple, non-intellectual optimist" as one could in gine. Furthermore, he definitely did possess a world-view every bit as "sophisticated" and "systematic" as that of the European fascists—and, indeed, i t was essentially the same world-view: that of nihilism. As for his "faith" in the Emperor, and its relation to that nihil ist world-view, this is a more complex and ambiguous question—the "sincerity" of a professed faith is never easy to measure. But i t seems to me that Mishima provides a clear answer to that question in his final tetralogy. 199 I I I . M o r a l / P o l i t i c a l N i h i l i s m i n M i s h i m a ' s N o v e l s Though t h e f i r s t two o f t h e t h r e e m a j o r M i s h i m a works I have d e a l t w i t h a r e l a r g e l y " a p o l i t i c a l " , n o n e t h e l e s s t h e y a r e c e n t r a l l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e m o r a l p r o b l e m s o f w i l l and a c t i o n , and t h u s p r e p a r e t h e way f o r M i s h i m a ' s l a t e r " r e s o l u t i o n " o f t h e s e p r o b l e m s i n p o l i t i c a l t e r m s . C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Mask makes a m o r a l p r o b l e m , most o b v i o u s -l y , o u t o f t h e n a r r a t o r ' s h o m o s e x u a l i t y , and t h e sado-masochism w h i c h a c c o m p a n i e s i t . When t h e n o v e l was f i r s t p u b l i s h e d , i n 1949, i t was p r a i s e d by t h e c r i t i c s as a " d a r i n g c o n f e s s i o n " i n t h e " n a t u r a l i s t " t r a d i t i o n o f Tayama K a t a i : a f r a n k e x p o s e 8 2 o f t h e a u t h o r ' s s e x - l i f e . A number o f J a p a n e s e c r i t i c s have r e g a r d e d t h e n o v e l ' s u n u s u a l " f r a n k n e s s " as made p o s s i b l e b y — and symptomatic o f — t h e g e n e r a l " r e l a x a t i o n " o f m o r a l s t a n d a r d s i n t h e immediate p o s t w a r p e r i o d — o r what T a s a k a Ko r e f e r s t o 8 3 as a "momentary l a p s e i n s e x u a l t a b o o s " . More g e n e r a l l y , t h e " a l i e n a t i o n " o f t h e h o m o s e x u a l h e r o has been t h o u g h t t o r e f l e c t t h e a l i e n a t i o n o f p o s t w a r J a p a n e s e y o u t h as a whole, t h e i r " n i h i l i s t mood" a f t e r t h e a p p a r e n t v i t i a t i o n o f a l l t r a d i t i o n a l v a l u e s w i t h t h e i r c o u n t r y ' s d e f e a t . I n t h i s s e n s e , t h e young M i s h i m a may even be s a i d t o have o c c u p i e d t h e p o s i t i o n o f " m o r a l spokesman" o f t h e new p o s t w a r g e n e r a t i o n , i n much t h e same way a s , s a y , S a r t r e and Camus d i d a t a b o u t t h e same t i m e i n F r a n c e . M i s h i m a ' s c o n t e m p o r a r y , M i y o s h i Y u k i o , f o r i n s t a n c e , r e m i n i s c e d as f o l l o w s i n 1981 a b o u t t h e i m p a c t t h e C o n f e s s i o n s had on h i s g e n e r a t i o n when i t was f i r s t p u b l i s h e d : R e a d i n g i t a t t h a t t i m e , o u r g e n e r a t i o n u n d e r s t o o d v e r y w e l l t h a t t h e h o m o s e x u a l i t y had a s y m b o l i c meaning. 200 I n s h o r t , d u r i n g t h e war we had been t a u g h t about t h e Emperor as a p e r s o n a l god and we b e l i e v e d i t , b u t a f t e r t h e d e f e a t a l l v a l u e s were r e v e r s e d and a new r e a l i t y began. I n t h i s s e n s e we a l l f e l t l i k e d e m o b i l i z e d s o l d i e r s . But d e m o b i l i z e d s o l d i e r s r e t u r n t o t h e i r homes and we had none t o r e t u r n t o . We were i n sudden-l y new c o n d i t i o n s , and we c o n t i n u a l l y f e l t a l i e n a t e d f r o m t h o s e c o n d i t i o n s . . . . M i s h i m a and I a r e ab o u t t h e same g e n e r a t i o n ; t h e P a c i f i c War s t a r t e d when we were i n M i d d l e S c h o o l . F o r o u r k i n d o f g e n e r a t i o n , t h e r e l a t i o n between r e a l i t y and n o r m a l c y c a n n o t be main-t a i n e d , so we c a n u n d e r s t a n d h o m o s e x u a l i t y as a meta-phor o f t h e e f f o r t t o form a r e l a t i o n w i t h r e a l i t y , o f a k i n d o f c o n n e c t e d / n o n - c o n n e c t e d r e l a t i o n w i t h r e a l i t y . 84 I t i s e n t i r e l y a p p r o p r i a t e , t h e n , t h a t Umehara T a k e s h i , e d i t o r o f N i h i l i s m ( N i h i r i z u m u , 1968), a volume o f s t o r i e s and e s s a y s by su c h p o s t w a r " n i h i l i s t s " as D a z a i Osamu, I s h i k a w a J u n , T a k e d a T a i j u n and S a k a g u c h i Ango, c r e d i t s M i s h i m a w i t h b e i n g t h e f i r s t one t o r e c o g n i z e t h e n i h i l i s t p h i l o s o p h i c a l and m o r a l i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h e p o s t w a r J a p a n e s e v e r s i o n o f t h e " d e a t h o f G o d " — t h e Emperor's r e n u n c i a t i o n o f h i s d i v i n i t y : T h i s c o l l a p s e o f t h e godhead o f t h e Emperor was r e a l l y a m e t a p h y s i c a l k i n d o f e v e n t [ k e i j i j o g a k u - t e k i j i k e n ] i n J a p a n . M i s h i m a Y u k i o was t h e one who n o t i c e d t h i s — t h o u g h r a t h e r a l o n g t i m e a f t e r t h e e v e n t i t s e l f . U n l i k e S a k a g u c h i [Ango] o r t h e s c h o l a r s d e m o b i l i z e d a f t e r t h e war, he had n o t s t a k e d h i s l i f e on t h e Emper-o r and t h e n e x p e r i e n c e d n i h i l i s m when t h e i m p e r i a l s y s -tem c o l l a p s e d . R a t h e r he was a t h i n k e r a b o u t t h e r e a l -i t y o f t h e c o n f u s i o n o f v a l u e s a f t e r t h e d e f e a t . Some-t h i n g was m i s s i n g i n peace and democracy. I n t e n s e e n -t h u s i a s m was l a c k i n g , and t h u s M i s h i m a l o n g e d f o r h i s p a s t i n w h i c h t h i s e n t h u s i a s m and f a i t h e x i s t e d . D i d n o t f a i t h i n t h e Emperor e x i s t e x a c t l y as t h i s k i n d o f e n t h u s i a s m and f a i t h some t w e n t y y e a r s b e f o r e ? He de-pended on t h e r e a l i t y o f t h e e x i s t e n c e o f t h i s k i n d o f god, and c r i t i c i z e d t h e c o r r u p t i o n o f t h o s e p e o p l e who had l o s t t h i s god. And Mi s h i m a c r i t i c i z e d t h e human emperor, a s k i n g w h e t h e r i t was n o t a b r e a c h o f f a i t h f o r a god t o c o n f e s s t h a t he was n o t a god. 85 The M i s h i m a o f whom Umehara i s s p e a k i n g h e r e i s , o f c o u r s e , t h e M i s h i m a o f t h e 1960's, two d e c a d e s a f t e r t h e p u b l i c a t i o n o f 201 the Confessions. It was not until the 'sixties that he began to explicitly discuss the "metaphysical" or "nihilist" import of the Emperor's renunciation of his godhead. Nevertheless, as Miyoshi testifies, already in the Confessions Mishima had captured the general nihi l ist mood produced by the sudden post-war collapse of the traditional system of values—the "corner-stone" of which was the Emperor. At the same time that the Confessions is redolent of "post-war nihilism", though, there is also a strange conventionality— and even harshness—about some of the narrator's moral judge-ments, especially in regard to his own homosexuality. There is a great contrast in this respect between this early work and the two later works I have discussed, which are morally uncon-ventional to say the least. The contrast seems a l l the greater when we realize that the "sins" of the Confessions' narrator are more "in thought than in deed", whereas Mizoguchi and Isao commit actual acts of violence and destruction which, nonethe-less, the author seems to exonerate. But, of course, there are legitimate aesthetic reasons for these moral incongruities. The young confessor, for instance, has a point to drive home by his apparent self-castigations. A crit ic such as Moriyasu Ribun, in fact, suspects that these judgements are purposely exaggerated: for example, the narrator's description of his homosexual urges as an "evil decadence" (jaaku na daraku) and the "most malignant form of degeneration" (ichiban akushitsu 8 6 no taihai). Moriyasu argues that, given Mishima's experience of the aristocratic boarding school, the Gakushuin, he could 2 0 2 n o t r e a l l y have b e l i e v e d i n t h e s e e x a g g e r a t e d e p i t h e t s : I n t h e d o r m i t o r y o f t h e G a k u s h u i n i n t h e prewar p e r i o d , where boys o f t h e p r i v i l e g e d c l a s s e s l i v e d , homosexual i n c i d e n t s were commonplace, so ev e n i f t h e " I " [ o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s ] i s n o t Mi s h i m a h i m s e l f , t h e r e were p r o b a -y many s u c h boys a r o u n d him. So I do n o t t h i n k M i -shima r e a l l y f e l t , as i s e m p h a s i z e d so r e p e a t e d l y i n t h e n o v e l , t h a t h o m o s e x u a l i t y was s u c h an e x t r a o r d i n a r -i l y s h a m e f u l t h i n g as t o be a " c u r s e d . . . s p e c i a l c i r c u m -s t a n c e " o r an " u n u s u a l . . . s e x u a l p e r v e r s i o n " . 87 M o r i y a s u s u s p e c t s t h a t t h e s e " e x a g g e r a t i o n s " e n a b l e M i s h i -ma t o d r a m a t i z e h i m s e l f by d o n n i n g t h e "mask" o f a " ' c h r o n i c 88 c a s e ' o f t h e age". N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o s i m i l a r l y a r g u e s t h a t M i s h i m a ' s d o n n i n g o f t h e "mask o f a s e x u a l d e v i a n t " was an ex-ample o f h i s " a g g r e s s i v e o p p o r t u n i s m " — i n o t h e r words, a c a s e o f " p a i n t i n g h i m s e l f b l a c k " so as t o b l e n d i n w i t h a d a r k age: . . . t h i s p o s t w a r " a g e " o f d i s o r d e r and c o n f u s i o n , o f t h e c o l l a p s e o f s o c i a l t a b o o s , o f an u n p r e c e d e n t e d r e v e r s a l o f v a l u e s , was what made t h e s e " c o n f e s s i o n s " p o s s i b l e . I am n o t s a y i n g t h a t M i s h i m a , by c h o o s i n g t h i s f o r m o f s c a n d a l o u s c o n f e s s i o n s , and l e a v i n g h i s " n i h i l i s t i c a e s t h e t i c s " i n t h e b a c k g r o u n d , was i n g r a t i a t i n g h i m s e l f w i t h t h e p o s t w a r l i t e r a r y w o r l d . But i t c a n n o t be d o u b t e d t h a t , i n t h i s age when w i l d , a m o r a l , a n a r c h i s t -i c e n e r g i e s were l e t l o o s e — a n age o f b u r n t r u i n s , t r amps, w h o l e s a l e s e l l i n g , women o f t h e n i g h t , t h e b l a c k m a r k e t , b u r g l a r s e t c . — t h i s n o v e l i n w h i c h a p p e a r , shaded, s h o c k i n g s u b j e c t m a t t e r and e x p l i c i t l a n g u a g e o f s e l f - a n a l y s i s , c o n f o r m s t o t h e k i n d o f l a n g u a g e and s u b j e c t m a t t e r f a v o r e d by t h e s o - c a l l e d t a s t e o f t h e age, and has t h e i n t e n t i o n o f t r y i n g t o a d j u s t i t s e l f t o t h e age. I n M i s h i m a ' s own words: " T r u l y I s l e p t t o g e t h e r w i t h t h a t age. No m a t t e r what pose I assumed o f b e i n g a g a i n s t t h e age, s t i l l I s l e p t w i t h i t . " So M i s h i m a ' s o p p o r t u n i s m was s k i l l f u l l y a g g r e s s i v e . P u t -t i n g on t h e "mask" o f a s e x u a l d e v i a n t , w h i c h seems l i k e h i s unmasked f a c e , he went o u t i n t o t h e w o r l d . " c o n f e s s i n g " h o n e s t l y t h a t he c o u l d n o t a d j u s t t o t h e p o s t w a r " e v e r y d a y l i f e " . W h i l e p e o p l e were l o o k i n g a t t h i s m o n s t r o u s a p p a r i t i o n , t r y i n g t o d e c i d e w hether t o b e l i e v e i n i t o r n o t , Mi s h i m a g a i n e d h i s r i g h t f u l p o s i -t i o n i n t h e p o s t w a r l i t e r a r y w o r l d . 89 W h i l e t h e r e i s no d o u b t t h a t M i s h i m a was a s k i l l f u l and p e r s i s t e n t s e l f - p u b l i c i s t — a n d two d e c a d e s l a t e r he would 203 "paint himself black" in another way, politically rather than morally, just at a time, as in the late 'forties, when he was beginning to suffer from "public neglect"—nonetheless i t seems to me that there is also a more important reason—and one more integral to the novel—for his unaccustomed "moralism" and "negative self-definition". As I pointed out earlier, his central nihil ist argument is served by this, his view of him-self as "victim" of a terrible and inescapable fate. And this is also why he does not try to "base a new morality" on his homosexuality, as Noguchi points out: The Mishima who wrote the Confessions is definitely not the Andre Gide who wrote Corydon. To use Sartre's argument in denouncing Baudelaire, the hero, "I", does not aim to base a new morality and logic on the reality of his homosexuality, but always assigns a minus sign to his own "character" as i t is . "I" is the kind of person who says: "It didn't matter to me whether the war was lost or won. I wanted only to be reborn as something else." He is the type of person who regards himself as an unusual person or a heretic; to put i t in Sartre's terms, he tries to adapt himself negatively to a society governed by the morality of others7 he entrusts the establishment of his coordinating axis to others, he asserts the power of his own existence by that minus image of himself. I'm not trying to censure Mr. Mishima by saying this, and I'm not looking down on the Confessions. I'm only trying to explain that Mishima does not call in this novel for the social rehabilitation of sexual deviants. 90 The fact that Mishima could not simply "live with" his homosexuality, his "feminization" and his "passivity", the fact that he could not simply adopt a Gide-like attitude of tolerant acceptance and even vindication, was, of course, the source of a l l that was to follow: a lifetime of overcompensa-tion and "masculine protest". As Moriyasu points out, most men write their autobiography at a mature age, out of a nostal-gic "looking back", but the Confessions, being written by a 2 0 4 t w e n t y - f o u r - y e a r - o l d , n a t u r a l l y a l s o h a s a s t r o n g e l e m e n t o f 91 " l o o k i n g f o r w a r d " . A l r e a d y i n t h e C o n f e s s i o n s we d i s c o v e r t h e r o o t s o f h i s d e s i r e t o b e " r e b o r n a s s o m e t h i n g e l s e " . B u t , a s y e t , h e d o e s n o t s e e m t o h a v e d e v e l o p e d a n y e f f e c t i v e " p l a n o f a c t i o n " t o r e a l i z e t h i s a m b i t i o n . T h e o n l y " a c t i o n " h e s e e m s a b l e t o t a k e t o e n g a g e w i t h t h e " o u t e r " o r " r e a l " w o r l d i s t o d o n a m a s k . A n d t h i s l e a d s t o w h a t we m i g h t r e g a r d a s t h e s e -c o n d m a j o r m o r a l p r o b l e m o f t h e n o v e l : t h e n a r r a t o r ' s m a s k -w e a r i n g . T h e n a r r a t o r ' s f i r s t c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f " m a s k - w e a r i n g " o c c u r s e a r l y i n t h e n o v e l w h e n t h e e x p e c t a t i o n s o f h i s g i r l c o u s i n s c o m p e l h i m t o p l a y t h e r o l e o f a " n o r m a l " b o y who e n j o y s s u c h 92 t h i n g s a s w a r - g a m e s . T h i s , we m i g h t s a y , i s s t i l l a n " i n n o -c e n t " k i n d o f m a s k - w e a r i n g , i n t h a t i t i s d o n e s i m p l y o u t o f a d e s i r e t o p l e a s e o t h e r s a n d t h e " d e c e p t i o n " i n v o l v e d c a u s e s n o h a r m . " I n n o c e n t " a s i t i s , t h o u g h , i t s t i l l h a b i t u a t e s t h e n a r r a t o r t o t h e a c t o f m a s k - w e a r i n g i t s e l f , a s t h e o n l y s a t i s -f a c t o r y w a y h e c a n r e l a t e w i t h o t h e r s a n d w i n t h e i r a c c e p t a n c e . T h u s i t p r e p a r e s t h e w a y o r h i s l a t e r , m o r e s i n i s t e r a n d h a r m -f u l m a s k - w e a r i n g a s a " n o r m a l m a l e " i n h i s r e l a t i o n s w i t h w o m e n . A s M o r i y a s u n o t e s , h e s e e m s t o f e e l " a t r i u m p h a n t j o y i n d e -9 3 c e i v i n g w o m e n " . I n d e e d , h e e v e n i m a g i n e s h i m s e l f a s a k i n d o f " D o n J u a n " who e n t i c e s women t o f a l l i n l o v e w i t h h i m , o n l y t o a b a n d o n t h e m l a t e r — t h o u g h e v e n h e r e a l i z e s t h e s a d i r o n y o f t h i s " i l l u s i o n " , c o n s i d e r i n g h i s s e x u a l i m p o t e n c e w i t h 94 w o m e n . A s M o r i y a s u p o i n t s o u t , t h o u g h , t h e r e i s a m a r k e d i n -c o n g r u i t y b e t w e e n h i s s u p p o s e d e x t r e m e m o r a l s e n s i t i v i t y i n 205 regard to his homosexuality on the one hand, and his noticeable lack of such sensitivity in his treatment of women on the oth-95 er. And, of course, this reinforces the impression that the former is an "exaggeration" for the sake of the novel's central argument. But, as a number of critics have pointed out, there is a far larger significance to the narrator's mask-wearing than merely his moral insensitivity, or the delight he takes in deceiving women. And this has obvious relevance to the whole of Mishima's l i fe and work. Tsuge Teruhiko has made the inter-esting suggestion that Mishima's compulsive "mask-wearing" is somehow related to his social background: The "mask" of "Confessions of a Mask" is a word with very deep levels of meaning; i.T so, is i t not true that Mishima was a writer who concealed his true intentions (honne) throughout his life? Because of his upbringing, belonging to the wartime literary school, and his edu-cation at Gakushuin, where surface appearance (tatemae) was so important—anyway, he hid his true intentions. 96 It was for this reason, concludes Tsuge, that Mishima wrote the Confessions from such an "objective" point of view: since he felt compelled to "hide his true intentions", he could not bear to write of himself in the usual, all-revealing, " in-timate" manner of the traditional Japanese "I-novelist" (shi-shosetsuka)?^ While Tsuge is no doubt correct in asserting that the Jap-anese upper classes are extremely sensitive to tatemae or sur-face appearances, this is , in fact, a concern which pervades a l l levels of Japanese society—to a degree perhaps unique among world cultures. To fully understand Mishima's l i fe and 206 work, both of which so often involve the kind of role-playing and mask-wearing which seem, to Western readers especially, superficial and even narcissistic, certainly one must take into account this all-importance of "face" and surface appear-ance—and thus of "mask"—in Japanese culture as a whole. But, important as this cultural factor undoubtedly is , there is another factor which, i t seems to me, is of even deeper significance: namely, Mishima's own nihilism. Japan-ese society may encourage mask-wearing, but Mishima's mask-wearing is obviously necessitated by something deeper than social convention. Since childhood he seems to have developed a "desperate dependency" on the mask, as i f he felt that, with-out i t , he would be nothing. Since "the mask is a l l " , he clings to i t as desperately as a drowning man might cling to a piece of wood—for, indeed, he feels that, without this single token of his identity, he might well drown in the underlying chaos of his psyche. Thus, as Tasaka K6 asserts, in the Confessions we must 98 regard the narrator's mask as "itself his true face" (sugao), since, i f we try to look for his true face behind the mask, we wil l find, not a clear, fully-formed face but a "sea of confu-99 sion, formless inner desires and abstract passions...." But, as Noguchi Takehiko points out, the reader is easily deceived by Mishima's "game of masks": The reader thinks he can see, in this novel, the un-painted face of Mishima Yukio confessing the "naked truth" with his mask removed.... But what the reader sees as Mishima's unpainted face is really another mask made exactly to resemble him. Behind this mask which exactly resembles the real thing, which is lonely 207 b u t s e n s u o u s , a n d w h i c h i s s t a m p e d w i t h t h e s e a l o f a s e x u a l d e v i a n t , p r o b a b l y — t h o u g h n o - o n e c a n p e r c e i v e t h i s — t h e r e l i e s h i d d e n a M e d u s a - l i k e f a c e f u l l o f a n a t h e m a a n d h o s t i l i t y t o w a r d s p o s t w a r s o c i e t y . O r , r a t h e r , p e r h a p s t h e r e i s n o t e v e n a n y f a c e a t a l l . F i r s t o f a l l , a f a c e i s u n n e c e s s a r y f o r t h a t " a b s t r a c t p a s s i o n " w h i c h f o r m s t h e e s s e n c e o f M i s h i m a ; we m i g h t s a y t h a t a l l t h a t i s n e e d e d i s a n e x p r e s s i o n f u l l o f r a p t u r e f l o a t i n g i n m i d - a i r . T h u s M i s h i m a ' s c o n f e s s i o n s a r e i m p o s s i b l e w i t h o u t a m a s k . E a r l i e r I d e s c r i b e d M i s h i m a ' s l i t e r a r y p o r t r a i t a s a t w o - s i d e d f a c e , o n e s i d e t u r n e d t o w a r d s l i f e a n d t h e o t h e r t o w a r d s d e a t h . B u t w h a t we s e e a s h i s " u n p a i n t e d f a c e " i s p r o b a b l y n o n e o t h e r t h a n t h e g o d o f d e a t h . B e c a u s e t h e f a c e t u r n e d t o w a r d s l i f e i s a l w a y s c o v e r e d w i t h some k i n d o f m a s k . 100 [ e m p h a s i s i n o r i g i n a l ] I n N i e t z s c h e ' s t e r m s , M i s h i m a ' s m a s k i s t h u s a n A p o l l o n i a n " o r d e r i n g p r i n c i p l e " w h i c h p r o t e c t s h i m a g a i n s t b o t h t h e i n n e r c h a o s o f h i s own p s y c h e a n d t h e o u t e r c h a o s o f t h e w o r l d a r o u n d h i m — o r o f " l i f e " i n g e n e r a l . T h i s i s w h y , i n t h e C o n f e s s i o n s , t h e n a r r a t o r d o n s h i s " m a s k o f n o r m a l c y " n o t o n l y t o e s t a b l i s h a d e c e p t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h S o n o k o — w h o , a s T a s a k a K o s a y s 1 ^ 1 r e p r e s e n t s woman a n d t h e r e f o r e l i f e i t s e l f — b u t a l s o t o e s t a -b l i s h a d e c e p t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h i m s e l f , t o d e c e i v e , s o t o s p e a k , h i s own i n n e r d e m o n s . I n t h i s r e s p e c t , t h e m o r a l p r o b l e m o f t h e n a r r a t o r ' s m a s k -w e a r i n g r e l a t e s d i r e c t l y t o t h e t h i r d a n d m o s t i m p o r t a n t m o r a l p r o b l . o f t h e n o v e l , w h i c h i s p r e s e n t e d b y h i s d e t e r m i n i s m . I f , a f t e r a l l , t h e n a r r a t o r w e r e c o n v i n c e d t h a t h e c o u l d e f f e c t some r e a l , s u b s t a n t i a l c h a n g e i n h i s " n a t u r e " a s a h o m o s e x u a l , t h e n h e w o u l d n o t f e e l t h e n e e d a l w a y s t o h i d e b e h i n d m a s k s . B u t h e i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t h i s h o m o s e x u a l i t y i s " f a t e d " a n d t h e r e f o r e i n e s c a p a b l e — a n d , a s we h a v e s e e n , t h i s s e e m s c o n f i r m e d b y t h e n o v e l ' s e n d i n g . S i n c e h e i s u n w i l l i n g s i m p l y t o a c c e p t h i s h o m o s e x u a l i t y , w h a t c h o i c e h a s h e b u t t o r e s o r t t o m a s k s t o 208 " h i d e i t " b o t h f r o m h i m s e l f and from o t h e r s ? The l a t e r M i s h i m a o f c o u r s e , would f i n d more " a c t i v e " ways t o t r y t o r e s i s t h i s " d e s t i n y " — t h o u g h we may s u s p e c t t h a t e v e n h i s l a t e r " a c t i v i -t i e s " were b u t a n o t h e r v a r i e t y o f m ask-wearing. N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e d e t e r m i n i s m o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s , i t s d e n i a l o f t h e p o s s i b i l -i t y o f e f f e c t i v e m o r a l a c t i o n , makes t h i s work seem, e s p e c i a l l y i n c o n t r a s t t o M i s h i m a ' s l a t e r works, an e x p r e s s i o n o f " p u r e " , u n a d u l t e r a t e d p a s s i v e n i h i l i s m . Thus a c r i t i c s u c h as M a t s u -moto T o r u c r i t i c i z e s t h e n o v e l f o r i t s l a c k o f " t e n s i o n " be-c a u s e o f t h e " p a s s i v e a t t i t u d e " t h e n a r r a t o r a d o p t s towards 102 t h e p r o b l e m o f h i s h o m o s e x u a l i t y . And he a t t r i b u t e s t h i s p a s s i v i t y t o t h e " s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e (amasa) o f t h e young M i s h i m a ' 103 t h i n k i n g " . I n d e e d , M i s h i m a h i m s e l f , as Tsuge T e r u h i k o p o i n t s o u t , l a t e r came t o v i e w t h e i n t r o s p e c t i v e , s e l f - d i s s e c t i n g k i n d 104 o f w r i t i n g o f t h e C o n f e s s i o n s as t h e "woman's way". I n o t h e r words, t o j u d g e f r o m t h i s e a r l y n o v e l i t seems t h a t M i s h i m a had n o t y e t d i s c o v e r e d , a t t h e t i m e o f i t s w r i t i n g t h e " e s c a p e r o u t e " o f a c t i v e n i h i l i s m ; he had n o t y e t embarked upon a f u l l - f l e d g e d " m a s c u l i n e p r o t e s t " . H i s t o t a l " p a s s i v i t y " i s most c o n s p i c u o u s i n h i s a t t i t u d e t o w a r d s t h e war: he i s c o n -t e n t t o r e m a i n a p a s s i v e s p e c t a t o r , p r o t e c t e d f r o m r e a l d a n g e r by h i s u p p e r - c l a s s s t a t u s . As N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o r e m a r k s , t h e r e i s an "odd, u n e v e n match" between t h i s M i s h i m a , who seems c o n -c e r n e d o n l y w i t h h i s own s u r v i v a l and who i s d e f i n i t e l y t h e o p p o s i t e o f an " a g g r e s s i v e w a r - l o v e r " , and t h e M i s h i m a o f t h e ' s i x t i e s , who, i n The V o i c e s o f t h e H e r o i c S p i r i t s ( E i r e i no koe, 1966), "makes t h e k a m i - k a z e f i g h t e r s s i n g an anthem o f 209 105 d e a t h " . Or, t o add an e v e n more s t r i k i n g c o n t r a s t , t h e r e i s q u i t e a d i f f e r e n c e between t h e C o n f e s s i o n s ' n a r r a t o r ' s " p a s s i v e r e s i s t a n c e " t o w a r d s h i s f a t e as homosexual and L t . Takeyama's " a c t i v e a c c e p t a n c e " o f h i s f a t e as s u i c i d e i n a n o t h e r Mishima work o f t h e ' s i x t i e s , " P a t r i o t i s m " (Yukoku, 1960). As Sadoya S h i g e n o b u p o i n t s o u t , by t h i s t i m e he was t r y i n g t o " l i n k what N i e t z s c h e spoke o f as ' l o v e o f f a t e ' [amor f a t i ] w i t h t h e pure l o v e o f L t . Takeyama and h i s w i f e " ^ ^ t h e h i g h e s t e x p r e s s i o n o f w h i c h i s t h e i r m u t u a l s u i c i d e . I n o t h e r words, by t h e ' s i x -t i e s M i s h i m a had d i s c o v e r e d a c t i v e n i h i l i s m . The f i r s t s i g n i f i c a n t e x p r e s s i o n o f h i s a c t i v e n i h i l i s m , t h o u g h , came s e v e r a l y e a r s b e f o r e h i s f i n a l " u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s t " d e c a d e , i n t h e u n c o n v e n t i o n a l f o r m o f h i s 1956 n o v e l , The Tem-p l e o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n . The p r i n c i p a l m o r a l / a e s t h e t i c p r o -blem M i s h i m a f a c e d i n w r i t i n g t h i s n o v e l was, o f c o u r s e , t h e p r o b l e m o f how t o " j u s t i f y " M i z o g u c h i ' s a c t o f a r s o n , and, i n the. p r o c e s s , t o make o f t h i s "mad monk" a s y m p a t h e t i c c h a r a c t e r . A number o f l e a d i n g c r i t i c s seem t o have f e l t t h a t M i s h i m a f a i l e d t o s o l v e t h i s p r o b l e m . A f t e r a l l , as N o g u c h i T a k e h i k o p o i n t s o u t , t o b u r n down t h e famous g o l d e n p a v i l i o n was " q u i t e 107 a c r i m e a g a i n s t p u b l i c m o r a l s " . Nakamura M i t s u o a c c u s e d M i s h i m a o f a l a c k o f m o r a l s e r i o u s n e s s i n t u r n i n g "an o u t r a g e -ous c r i m i n a l a c t " i n t o a "young a r i s t o c r a t ' s i n t e l l e c t u a l 108 p r a n k " . K o b a y a s h i H i d e o o p i n e d t h a t M i s h i m a s h o u l d have " k i l l e d o f f " M i z o g u c h i a t t h e e n d — n o d o u b t v i e w i n g t h e d e a t h p e n a l t y as t h e o n l y f i t t i n g p u nishment f o r s u c h a h e i n o u s 109 o f f e n s e a g a i n s t J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e . K o b a y a s h i a l s o compared 210 the novel unfavorably with Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment11^ and certainly i t is true that there is an important moral difference between the two novels: whereas Dostoevsky clearly condemns Raskolnikov1s nihil ist justifications for his act of murder, Mishima seems to condone Mizoguchi's nihil ist just i f i -cations for his act of cultural sabotage. Given the author's nose-thumbing attitude, then, and the cultural significance of the crime itself, i t is easy to understand why some of Japan's leading "men of culture" found the novel offensive. Needless to say, Mishima took great pleasure in offending the literary establishment—while simultaneously, of course, benefitting from its recognition. And, as the following passage from his essay, "What Is a Novel?" (Shosetsu to wa nani ka, 1970), shows, he also enjoyed playing the role of a "dangerous thinker" in morality as in politics, a Nietzsche-style prophet of "new values", values which, no doubt, would be "beyond good and evil" : Nothing stimulates the novelist's imagination more, challenges his ability more, and inspires his creative urge more, than a crime that seems indefensible in the light of ordinary morality. In such a case, the novel-ist takes pride in his courage to render a different verdict, though the rest of the world may condemn him. Perhaps the criminal, in his unrepentant pride, is the harbinger of hitherto unknown values. In any case, a novel reveals its uniquely ethical nature at a crisis like this one. I l l In the case of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the "ethics" are unique indeed. They can be understood fully, in fact, only within the context of Mishima's active/passive n i -hi l ist dialectic. Mizoguchi's act of arson is "justified" most obviously as an act of self-liberation, but this does not mean, as one might be tempted to conclude, that i t is an entirely solipsistic action, without any kind of redeeming "social significance", such as pertains to the politically-motivated acts of violence committed by Mishima's later heroes, the 'thirties' terrorists. Despite Kobayashi Hideo's criticism that the work was not a "real novel" because i t lacked meaning-ful interpersonal relationships and relationships between the 112 hero and society, such relationships do, in fact, exist, and, within the context of the novel itself, are "meaningful" enough to function as more subtle justifications of the hero's action. If the whole novel were analysed as a series of such " just i f i -cations", certainly one would have to take into account not only Mizoguchi's own "liberation" but also the repercussions of his action on people around him and on society at large. From a strictly nihi l ist point of view, of course, no act of violence or destruction need be justified. To quote Hermann Rauschning again, the nihil ist view is that "the use of violence in a supreme effort liberates creative moral forces 113 in human society which l c i to social and national renewal". Nevertheless, even i f a nihil ist novelist subscribes to this "doctrine of violence" himself—as Mishima undoubtedly did—he must expect strenuous resistance to i t from most of his readers. Thus he is confronted by a diff icult, perhaps impossible, task in "reader persuasion". And what makes it even more dif-ficult is that, whatever "arguments" he uses, they a l l circle back in the end to the original nihil ist argument: that violence is its own justification. In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion too, Mishima's "justifications" of Mizoguchi's act of arson are a l l variations of this central theme. The way the reader finally judges Mizoguchi's act of arson also determines, of course, the way he finally judges Mizoguchi himself. Trying to make Mizoguchi a "sympathetic character" was perhaps the most difficult of Mishima's problems. Indeed, i t may have been an insurmountable one. If the novel fails conspicuously in any area, i t is probably here. The only readers one can imagine "identifying" with Mizoguchi are those with similar destructive or pyromaniac urges. He is not only "evil" but takes pride in being evil—as, for instance, in the sense of power he feels in deceiving his Superior or in tramp-ling on the prostitute's stomach. True enough, as Noguchi Takehiko points out, Mizoguchi possesses his own peculiar kind of moral fastidiousness: he wil l trample on a pregnant prostitute but wil l not flatter the Superior to gain advance-11A ment, to inherit the temple for himself. In other words, he possesses his own kind of stubborn, fanatic pride, the pride of a frustrated idealist who feels himself "too good for the world", but this is hardly enough to endear him with the reader. Perhaps the best that can be said of Mizoguchi has been said by Miyoshi Masao: he is a "philosopher of beauty with 11 brill iant insights, though admittedly nihi l ist ic and perverse". Which is to say: his appeal is a l l intellectual. One might argue that this is enough, that reader/hero identification is unnecessary in a "philosophic novel". But, quite apart from any consideration of the resultant loss in the novel's emotional 213 power, the point is that, i f readers do not identify—or, at least, "sympathize"—with the hero, they are less likely to accept the author's justifications—however intellectually impressive—for the hero's "unconventional" behavior. To refer again to Crime and Punishment, for instance, by the end of the novel we are prepared to forgive Raskolnikov everything only because Dostoevsky has succeeded in making us identify with him in such an intimate and moving way. The crucial differ-ence probably lies in Raskolnikov's essential humility—once free of the madness of his "Napoleon complex". Perhaps i t is only natural that we are able to forgive evil followed by re-morse, but not evil followed by a smug self-complacency. Thus i t is unlikely that many readers will find themselves moved by Mizoguchi's final resolution "to live". Mishima is somewhat more successful, i t seems to me, in the "justifications" he adduces from Mizoguchi's relations with the other main characters. Basically, the technique is to show the hero surrounded by such a quagmire of passive nihilism that any form of action—even an act of destruction—is welcomed as a refreshing change, and seems even to promise some "purifica-tion" of the moral atmosphere. Indeed, the "terrible beauty" of the final conflagration may be seen to take on a symbolic tenor in this respect: in a world of unremitting darkness, i t at least provides some momentary light. More specifically, the act of arson may be seen as Mizoguchi's "moral protest" against the evils of passivity as he has experienced them since childhood: not only his own passivity, but the passivity 214 of his father who did nothing about his wife's infidelity, the passivity of Uiko, who betrayed her lover to the police, the passivity of his friend, Tsurukawa, who committed suicide be-cause of a disappointment in love, and, above a l l , the passive nihilism of Kashiwagi and of the Zen Superior. The precise nature of Mizoguchi's relation with Kashiwagi— and of Kashiwagi's role in the novel as a whole—has been the subject of much debate. Is he merely a "double" or is he in some ways Mizoguchi's opposite? To what extent is he Mishima's own "mouthpiece"? Noguchi Takehiko, for instance, takes the extreme view that both characters are "parts of the same person", 116 who is none other than Mishima himself. Tsuge Teruhiko, on the other hand, sees Kashiwagi as a more extreme nihil ist than Mizoguchi, and thus as a necessary catalyst of the action, a Mephistopheles who eggs Mizoguchi on to commit his act of arson. What Tsuge forgets, though, is that Mizoguchi is almost prevented from taking action by Kashiwagi's passive nihil ist doctrine that knowledge, not action, is the only thing that 117 counts in the world. While the two characters do share the same nihil ist world-view, they differ significantly in the way they react to this world-view. The important point is that Mizoguchi grows beyond Kashiwagi: he reverses the latter's scheme of values, restoring action to its "rightful" place, above knowledge. If Kashiwagi is a Mephistophelean tempter, what he tempts Mizoguchi towards is not destructive action but inaction, passive nihilism. In other words, he represents 215 "evil" from the perspective not of conventional morality but of active nihilism. As Noguchi points out, Kashiwagi belongs to the same "line" of Mishima characters as Seiichiro in Kyoko's House and Toru in The Decay of the Angel, an "ironist, a man 118 who reflects on everything ironically". In a l l of Mishima's novels, the sense of irony possessed by sophisticated intellects functions as a primary force of passive nihilism: like an intel -lectual acid, i t corrodes the will to act. How can a man who views everything ironically, after a l l , be made to follow Jo-119 cho's advise to "die a fanatic's death"? Certainly not Kashiwagi. Mizoguchi, though, s t i l l has enough of the "fanatic" in him to stake his l i fe on the destruction of the golden pavilion. The Zen Superior, too, belongs in the same camp as Kashi-wagi. He represents a l l the "evils" of "Buddhist passive nihi-lism" as diagnosed by both Nietzsche and Mishima. One may see this clearly in the attitude of "passive non-resistance" he takes towards Mizoguchi's own "evil"; much to the latter's chagrin, he makes no attempt to punish or even to rebuke his wayward charge. Similarly, when Mizoguchi confronts him with the fact of his affairs with geisha, the Superior "shows his true colors" by responding that i t a l l "amounts to nothing" 120 and is "meaningless". The effects of such passive nihilism are evident in his body, mind and spirit: he has a feminine 121 body, soft and fleshly; he is compared by Mizoguchi to a "living corpse", s t i l l glowing with health but void of a l l • • 122 spirit, a n c j . his "powerlessness" or lack of wil l power is 216 123 repeatedly emphasized. His absolute passivity, and the aura of profound "evil" which this produces, is well expressed by his posture during his last appearance in the novel: a posture of animal-like crouching, signifying his abject submission to 1 ?h al l the "evil" in the world. A great contrast to the Superior is formed by another Zen priest, Zenkai, who appears in the final chapter of the novel. He is as masculine, strong-willed and powerful a figure as the Superior is feminine, weak-willed and impotent. He seems to represent the "real" tradition of Rinzai Zen, the active, vigor-ous and, apparently, sometimes even violent tradition expressed by the various koan used throughout the novel. Along with these koan, in fact, he provides the primary impetus which spurs Mizoguchi on to action. It is easy to understand why Mishima felt attracted to the "masculine" form of Zen which Zenkai represents: from a nihil ist point of view, Rinzai Zen could be regarded as an active nihil ist "masculine protest" against the traditional passivity of most other forms of Budd-hism. Whereas Soto Zen, for instance, practised only "quiet sitting", Rinzai Zen encouraged active contests of wit among monks and masters over mystical conundrums or koan, and these were often accompanied by screams, shouts, beatings and other forms of "violent" behavior. The koan which figure prominently in Mishima's novel—"When you meet the Buddha, k i l l the Buddha", and "Nansen k i l l s the cat"—seem to exemplify this "violent" side of Rinzai Zen and, at least to the nihil ist mind, might seem to offer some justification for violence. As Donald Keene 217 points out, Mizoguchi identifies himself with Nansen, the "des — 125 troyer and liberator". And, indeed, his action does seem to have something in common with the great iconoclastic tradition of Zen: for instance, the burning of sutras to show one's "non-dependency on words". Since the above "violent" koan are usu-ally interpreted as purely symbolic—i.e., not as actually con-doning violence but as enjoining spiritual freedom—it could be argued that Mizoguchi's action likewise should be interpreted in a similarly symbolic way: as an "object lesson" in nothing-ness, a rebuke to a l l those "decadent" modern-day monks who are much too attached to the beauty of that mere material object, the golden pavilion. Viewed from this "higher" pers-pective, so to speak, Mizoguchi's act of arson might be seen as an eminently "moral" action. But what prevents most readers from accepting his action in this purely symbolic way, of course, is the brute historic fact that the destruction of the pavilion actually happened. This, perhaps, is the inevitable disadvan-tage Mishima must suffer for "grounding" his novel in an actual historic event. Since, in The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, Mishima aimed to create a vast and diverse panorama of over sixty years of Japanese history, i t is hardly surprising that the work does not centre on a single moral problem such as the Confessions' narrator's homosexuality or Mizoguchi's act of arson. Never-theless, the work does centre on the same general moral issues of free wil l and the need for action, and, as in The Temple of  the Golden Pavilion, there is a disposition of "passive" and 218 " a c t i v e " natures among the work's v a r i o u s c h a r a c t e r s : the goodness of an a c t i v e nature being e x e m p l i f i e d p r i m a r i l y by Isao, and the e v i l of a pas s i v e nature by Honda and Toru. One might t h i n k t h a t , with the second volume of the t e t r a l o g y , Run-away Horses, Mishima had f i n a l l y s olved h i s problem of "reader p e r s u a s i o n " . I t was h a r d l y p o s s i b l e to argue, a f t e r a l l , t h a t Mizoguchi was a c t i n g " i n defense of Japanese c u l t u r e " i n burn-i n g down the golden p a v i l i o n ; h i s a c t i o n could only be " j u s t i -f i e d " , i f at a l l , on a symbolic l e v e l . But what of the a c t i o n s of a ' t h i r t i e s ' t e r r o r i s t s such as Isao? His a c t i o n s supposedly are taken " i n defense of the Emperor", and the Emperor, accord-i n g to Mishima, was the very "source and guarantor of Japanese 126 c u l t u r e " . But i s t h i s enough to convince a modern Japanese r e a d e r — n o t to mention a Western r e a d e r — o f the " j u s t i c e " of Isao's murder of the "un-Japanese" c a p i t a l i s t , Kurahara, osten-s i b l y f o r h i s " p r o f a n a t i o n " of the major i m p e r i a l shrine at Ise? At l e a s t one p e r c e p t i v e Japanese c r i t i c , Noguchi Take-h i k o , t h i n k s not. To the quest i o n as to what " c o n d i t i o n s " are necessary to " l e g i t i m a t e a c t s of t e r r o r i s m i n a n o v e l " , Noguchi answers that there are two: f i r s t , "the author must convince the reader of the emotional p u r i t y s u s t a i n i n g the b e l i e f s of the p r o t a g o n i s t " ; second, he must persuade the reader to see "a c e r t a i n p o e t i c 127 j u s t i c e i n the death of the t e r r o r i s t ' s v i c t i m " . Noguchi f e e l s t h a t Mishima succeeds i n f u l f i l l i n g the f i r s t c o n d i t i o n , but f a i l s i n the second. The reason he f a i l s , concludes Noguchi, i s that he n e g l e c t s t o p r o v i d e I s a o w i t h s u f f i c i e n t m o t i v a t i o n . U n l i k e many o f t h e r e a l ' t h i r t i e s ' t e r r o r i s t s , I s a o i s n o t t h e o f f s p r i n g o f an i m p o v e r i s h e d r u r a l f a m i l y s u c h as were o f t e n f o r c e d t o s e l l t h e i r d a u g h t e r s i n t o p r o s t i t u t i o n . And y e t , s a y s N o g u c h i , " t h i s p o v e r t y n o t o n l y was t h e immediate c a u s e o f t h e t e r r o r i s t a c t s o f t h e e a r l y Showa y e a r s , i t a l s o s h o u l d have p r o v i d e d t h e p e r f e c t l e g i t i m i z a t i o n f o r t h e t e r r o r i s t a s p i r a t i o n s o f 128 h i s young h e r o " . Why, t h e n , d i d M i s h i m a c o n s c i o u s l y r e j e c t f o r h i s n o v e l t h i s "ready-made" j u s t i f i c a t i o n ? To have done s o , i t seems, would have been t o d e t r a c t f r o m t h e " p u r i t y " o f I s a o ' s m o t i v e s i n M i s h i m a ' s e y e s , and t o t u r n h i s own work i n t o 129 some k i n d o f v u l g a r " a g i t p r o p n o v e l " . As N o g u c h i s a y s , I s a o ' s " m o t i v e s f o r t u r n i n g t o t e r r o r i s m do n o t s p r i n g f r o m any s i m p l e s e n s e o f s o c i a l j u s t i c e b u t a r e , p e r f o r c e , c o n c e p t u a l . Or r a -t h e r , f o r him i t i s f i r s t and f o r e m o s t a m a t t e r o f l o y a l t y and 130 p a t r i o t i s m . " But i t i s an odd form o f " l o y a l t y and p a t r i o t -i s m " . As N o g u c h i h i m s e l f p o i n t s o u t , I s a o and h i s f o l l o w e r s c a r e n o t h i n g f o r what w i l l become o f t h e i r c o u n t r y a f t e r t h e i r 131 a c t s o f v i o l e n c e . The o n l y t h i n g t h e y seem t o r e a l l y c a r e a b o u t i s t h e i r own " s p i r i t u a l s a l v a t i o n " i n an age o f d e c a d e n c e , 132 and t h i s i s t o be a c h i e v e d by " p u r e a c t i o n s " . The " p u r i t y " o f an a c t i o n , i t seems, is-;determined by t h e d e g r e e t o w h i c h i t i s u n m o t i v a t e d by c o n s i d e r a t i o n s o f p e r s o n a l o r s o c i a l b e t t e r -ment: t h u s I s a o does n o t b o t h e r t o e x p l a i n t o h i s f o l l o w e r s why t h e y must a c t ; i n an age o f d e c a d e n t p a s s i v i t y , a c t i o n i s i t s 133 own j u s t i f i c a t i o n . I s a o ' s a c t o f murder i s , i n f a c t , e s s e n -t i a l l y u n m o t i v a t e d . K u r a h a r a ' s a b s u r d " c r i m e " o f s i t t i n g on 220 a s a c r e d s a k a k i s p r i g i s o f f e r e d as o n l y t h e f l i m s i e s t j u s t i -f i c a t i o n — a n o b v i o u s m a t t e r o f tatemae o n l y . T h e r e i s a s t r a n g e a i r o f u n r e a l i t y about t h e murder scene i t s e l f , i n f a c t : t h e v i c t i m does n o t c r y o u t o r make any p r o t e s t ; he a c c e p t s I s a o ' s k n i f e u n c o m p l a i n i n g l y , w i t h a " r e l a x e d " f a c e , as i f f e e l i n g no 134 p a i n . What r e a l l y i n t e r e s t s M i s h i m a i s t h e s u b s e q u e n t s c e n e o f I s a o ' s seppuku. He l i n g e r s o v e r t h i s i n l o v i n g d e t a i l , and t h e f i n a l " e x p l o s i o n " w h i c h o c c u r s a f t e r I s a o p l u n g e s t h e k n i f e i n t o h i s abdomen r e s e m b l e s n o t h i n g so much as a s e x u a l o r g a s m — a l b e i t one w i t h t h e "sun-god emperor" as h i s p a r t n e r . I s a o ' s " p u r e a c t i o n s " a r e p e r f o r m e d , o f c o u r s e , " i n t h e name o f t h e Emperor", b u t i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o see h i s emperor-w o r s h i p as a n y t h i n g more t h a n , a t b e s t , a p r i v a t e f a n t a s y w i t h -o u t any r e l a t i o n t o t h e r e a l Emperor, o r , a t w o r s t , a t h i n v e n e e r o f " n o b i l i t y " a p p l i e d t o h i s v i o l e n t u r g e s . And one's s c e p t i c i s m on t h i s s c o r e seems j u s t i f i e d by what o c c u r s t h r o u g h -o u t t h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e t e t r a l o g y . I t b e g i n s t o seem, t h e n , t h a t I s a o i s n o t so remote f r o m t h e " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t " , M i z o g u -c h i , as he f i r s t a p p e a r e d t o be. F o r t h e d u r a t i o n o f Runaway H o r s e s , o f c o u r s e , M i s h i m a m a i n t a i n s t h e m y s t i c a l " f i c t i o n " o f I s a o ' s " u n i o n " w i t h t h e d i v i n e Emperor, as s y m b o l i z e d t h r o u g h o u t by t h e sun. D u r i n g h i s t r i a l I s a o d e l i v e r s a paean t o t h e sun as t h e " t r u e image 135 o f H i s S a c r e d M a j e s t y " and, as he commits seppuku i n t h e n o v e l ' s f i n a l s c e n e , he seems t o a c h i e v e , a t l a s t , t h e l o n g -d e s i r e d m y s t i c a l u n i o n w i t h t h i s f a n t a s y "sun/emperor". But i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g — a n d p e r h a p s s i g n i f i c a n t — t o n o t e t h a t when 2 2 1 the sun again appears in the very last scene of the tetralogy, to "punctuate" Honda's experience of nothingness, i t is no longer the "divinized" or anthropomorphized imperial sun but merely the ordinary, impersonal sun of a hot summer's day— which, with its ruthless and unrelenting heat, seems only to reinforce the temple garden's "message" of the indifference i f not hostility to man of the whole universe. The all-powerful, benevolent Emperor, fountainhead of the national culture and of amae, seems to have vanished into thin air along with a l l the other "illusory" identities of the tetralogy. He is as conspicuously absent from this final scene as is Nietzsche's famous "dead God" from the novels of modern Western nihil ists. And, indeed, the whole atmosphere of the final scene is one of such uncompromising nihilism that any expression therein of a simple "faith in the Emperor" would seem an absurd incongruity. If this is Mishima's "final statement", i t is a nihil ist state-ment pure and simple. Judging by the tetralogy's conclusion, then, a l l of the ultranationalist "justifications" for violent action turn out to have been as illusory as Honda's belief in personal rein-carnation. Indeed, when one surveys the tetralogy as a whole, one is surprised to discover to what extent its "passive" ele-ments outweigh and overwhelm its "active" ones. If Mishima's new-found "masculinity" and "active nihilism" had become an authentic part of his being—rather than simply another of his "masks"—why was he not able to express i t more successfully in his last major work, a work obviously meant to be his crowning achievement and "last testament" to the world? His original scheme seems to have been to balance the four active "protagonists" against the one passive "deuteragonist", Honda, who appears in a l l four novels. But, of the four protagonists, only Isao is a pure "man of action". Kiyoaki, the sensitive romantic who dies for his love, though "pure" in his idealism, is hardly very "active"; and Ying Chan and Toru are every bit as "passive nihil ist" as Honda. It begins to seem, then, that Mishima's "natural" and fundamental world-view remained, until the end, that of a passive nihi l ist . Despite a l l the studied machismo of his later years—and his supposed emperor-worship—he was never really able to escape from the passive nihilism and determinism of the young narrator of Confessions of a Mask. All the rest was mere mask-wearing, and required a great effort of the wi l l . The final scene of The Sea of Fertility is his last "hammer-blow" as a nihi l ist , and i t shatters a l l of his masks, includ-ing even his most cherished one: that of Mishima the ultrana-tionalist and emperor-worshiper. Thus one feels compelled to agree with Umehara Takeshi, who accused Mishima of "fabricating his own death-of-god crisis in order to "validate" his nihilism Things Mishima has written recently express the n ih i l -ism of a human being who has lost his god. But did that god ever really exist as Mishima said he did? .I do not think that Mishima himself formerly believed in that kind of god. In the writer's plan to try to fabri cate, in an age of no gods, a god which is the most difficult to believe in, I think one sees too much falsity. That is rather no more than a fabricated god of a not very deep theory of values and logic. 136 Indeed, one need only read an early Mishima story such as " S o r r e l " (Sukampo, 1938) t o d i s c o v e r t h a t h i s n i h i l i s m l o n g p r e d a t e d t h e Emperor's " f a l l f r o m d i v i n i t y " , and t h a t t h i s e a r l y n i h i l i s m , a l r e a d y o f t h e " d e a t h and b l o o d and n i g h t " v a r i e t y , had f a r d e e p e r r o o t s i n h i s p s y c h e t h a n c o u l d be p l a n t e d — o r u p r o o t e d — b y any mere p o l i t i c a l i d e o l o g y . The t r u t h i s t h a t , from a N i e t z s c h e a n p o i n t o f v i e w , M i s h i m a ' s " a c t i v e n i h i l i s m " was a l w a y s a sham. What i t l a c k e d so c o n s p c u o u s l y was N i e t z s c h e ' s e c s t a t i c , h a l f - c r a z y j o i e de v i v r e , h i s " D i o n y s i a n " f r e n z y , h i s d e s p e r a t e need t o " j u s t i f y " l i f e a t a l l c o s t s — e v e n a t t h e c o s t o f a c c e p t i n g v i o l e n c e as a n e c e s s a r y p a r t o f l i f e . What M i s h i m a wanted t o " j u s t i f y " was n o t l i f e b u t d e a t h . He was as e s s e n t i a l l y n e g a t i v e i n s p i r i t as N i e t z s c h e was e s s e n t i a l l y p o s i t i v e . H i s r e a l m o t i v e i n e x a l t i n g v i o l e n c e and a c t i v e n i h i l i s m was n o t b e c a u s e t h e s e were " l i f e - e n h a n c i n g " , as N i e t z s c h e t h o u g h t , b u t b e c a u s e t h e y l e d t o d e a t h . I n h i s g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f t h e L i e b e s t o d , i n f a c t — a s i n t h e " e r o t i c s u i c i d e s " o f I s a o and o f L t . Takeyama and h i s w i f e i n t h e s t o r y , " P a t r i o t i s m " — M i s h i m a was much c l o s e r t o N i e t z s c h e ' s arch-enemy Wagner, whom N i e t z s c h e c o n s i d e r e d a " d e c a d e n t " r o m a n t i c and p a s s i v e n i h i l i s t n o n p a r e i l . Thus Sadoya S h i g e n o b u i s q u i t e m i s t a k e n when he s a y s o f M i s h i m a ' s own s u i c i d e t h a t i t was " e x a c t l y a ceremony o f t h e extreme f o r m o f N i e t z s c h e a n n i h i l i s m by means o f kappuku ( d i s e m b o w e l -137 ment) and k a i s h a k u ( d e c a p i t a t i o n ) " . N i e t z s c h e would have wanted n o t h i n g t o do w i t h s u c h a "ceremony". Nor was i t a "ceremony" i n t h e t r u e s a m u r a i s p i r i t o f seppuku. I t was, i n f a c t , a r i t u a l d i s t i n c t l y M i s h i m a ' s own: t h e r i t u a l o f a p a s s n i h i l i s t d i s g u i s e d by t h e mask o f an a c t i v e n i h i l i s t as he embraced d e a t h . 224 C h a p t e r T h r e e  Notes 1. J o h a n Goudsblom, N i h i l i s m and C u l t u r e ( O x f o r d : B a s i l B l a c k -w e l l , 1980), p.36. 2. Quoted i n Goudsblom, p.33. 3. Quoted i n R . J . H o l l i n g d a l e , N i e t z s c h e : t h e Man and H i s  P h i l o s o p h y ( B a t o n Rouge: L o u i s i a n a S t a t e U n i v . , 1965), p.219. 4. F r i e d r i c h N i e t z s c h e , The Complete Works o f F r i e d r i c h  N i e t z s c h e , ed. O s c a r L e v y , v o l . 14, The W i l l t o Power (New Y o r k : R u s s e l l & R u s s e l l , 1964), p.21. 5. i b i d . 6. o p . c i t . , pp.21-2. 7. o p . c i t . , p.22. 8. o p . c i t . , p.24. 9. R o n a l d H i n g l e y , N i h i l i s t s : R u s s i a n R a d i c a l s and R e v o l u t i o n -a r i e s i n t h e R e i g n o f A l e x a n d e r I I (1855-81) (New Y o r k : D e l a c o r t e P r e s s , 1969), p.57. 10. D.S. M i r s k y , A H i s t o r y o f R u s s i a n L i t e r a t u r e (New York: V i n t a g e Books, 1958), p.196. 11. I v a n T u r g e n e v , F a t h e r s and Sons, t r . Rosemary Edmonds (Harmondsworth: P e n g u i n Books, 1965), p.94. 12. C h a r l e s G l i c k s b e r g , The L i t e r a t u r e o f N i h i l i s m ( L e w i s b u r g : B u c k n e l l U n i v . , 1975), pp.14-5. 13. H i n g l e y , p.58. 14. o p . c i t . , p.57. 15. o p . c i t . , p.58. 16. o p . c i t . , pp.80-89. 17. o p . c i t . , p.13. 18. F y o d o r D o s t o y e v s k y , The D e v i l s , t r . D a v i d M a g a r s h a c k (Harmondsworth: P e n g u i n Books, 1953) 19. G l i c k s b e r g , p.103. 20. H o l l i n g d a l e , pp.211-5. 21. W i l l t o Power, p.23. 22. H o l l i n g d a l e , pp.196-7. 23. o p . c i t . , p.290, f . 2 . 225 24. Hermann R a u s c h n i n g , The R e v o l u t i o n o f N i h i l i s m (New Y o r k : Arno P r e s s , 1972), pp.27-8. 25. Hannah A r e n d t , On V i o l e n c e (New Y o r k : H a r c o u r t B r a c e J o v a -n o v i c h , 1969), p.74. 26. Quoted i n P a u l W i l k i n s o n , The New F a s c i s t s (London: Pan Books, 1981), p . l . 27. Helmut T h i e l i c k e , N i h i l i s m , t r . J o h n D o b e r s t e i n (New Yo r k : H a r p e r & Row, 1961), pp.32-3. 28. A l b e r t Camus, L y r i c a l and C r i t i c a l E s s a y s (New Yo r k : A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1969), p.354. 29. M i s h i m a Y u k i o Zenshu [ h e r e a f t e r M.Y.Z.], (Tokyo: S h i n c h o -sha , 1973-76), v o l . 1 8 , p.685. A l l t r a n s l a t i o n s f r o m J a p a n e s e my own u n l e s s o t h e r w i s e s p e c i f i e d , b u t , f o r r e a d e r s who would l i k e t o r e f e r t o t h e p u b l i s h e d E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s o f Mi s h i m a ' s n o v e l s , I a l s o g i v e page r e f e r e n c e s t o t h e p a p e r b a c k e d i t i o n s o f t h e s e , i n b r a c k e t s , as f o l l o w s : (Runaway H o r s e s , t r . M i c h a e l G a l l a g h e r , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, 1975, pp.291-2) 30. M i s h i m a Y u k i o , "Yang-Ming Thought as R e v o l u t i o n a r y P h i l o -s o p h y", i n The J a p a n I n t e r p r e t e r ( v o l . V I I , N o . l , W i n t e r 1971), t r . H a r r i s I . M a r t i n , p.84. 31. op. c i t . , p.82. 32. op. c i t . , p.78. 33. New F a s c i s t s , p.90. 34. M.Y.Z., v o l . 1 9 , p.34. (The Temple o f Dawn, t r . E . D a l e S a u n d e r s and C e c i l i a Segawa S e i g l e , New Y o r k : P o c k e t Books, p.23.) 35. M.Y.Z., v o l . 1 9 , p.33. (Temple o f Dawn, p.22) 36. J a p a n I n t e r p r e t e r , p.74. 37. i b i d . 38. o p . c i t . , p.85. 39. o p . c i t . , p.86. 40. o p . c i t . , p.81. 41. Y u k i o M i s h i m a , On Hagakure (Tokyo: C h a r l e s E. T u t t l e , 1978) , t r . i K a t h r y n S p a r l i n g , p.83. 42. i b i d . 43. o p . c i t . , p.52. 44. See, f o r i n s t a n c e , h i s e s s a y on Genet i n S h o s e t s u k a no 226 k y u k a (Tokyo: S h i n c h o s h a , 1982) and h i s e s s a y on O s c a r W i l d e i n Appro no s a k a z u k i (Tokyo: S h i n c h o s h a , 1982). 45. M.Y.Z. 19, p.29. (Temple o f Dawn, p.18) 46. Quoted i n Hen r y S c o t t S t o k e s , The L i f e and D e a t h o f Y u k i o  M i s h i m a (New Y o r k : B a l l a n t i n e Books, 1 9 7 4 ) , pp.86-7. 47. M.Y.Z. 3, p.255. ( C o n f e s s i o n s o f a Mask, t r . 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