UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

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

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-UBC_1986_A1 S72.pdf [ 11.94MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0097309.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0097309-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0097309-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0097309-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0097309-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0097309-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0097309-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

THE NIHILISM  MASK AND  THE  IN THE NOVELS  HAMMER: OF MISHIMA  YUKIO  By  ROY  STARRS  B.A.,  The U n i v e r s i t y  of British  Columbia,  1971  M.A.,  The U n i v e r s i t y  of British  Columbia,  1980  FULFILLMENT  OF  A  THESIS THE  SUBMITTED IN P A R T I A L REQUIREMENTS DOCTOR OF  FOR  THE DEGREE  OF  PHILOSOPHY  in THE  F A C U L T Y OF GRADUATE  (Department  We  accept this to  THE  of Asian  thesis  OF  August, '©  Studies)  as conforming  the required  UNIVERSITY  STUDIES  standard  B R I T I S H COLUMBIA 1986  Roy S t a r r s ,  1986  In p r e s e n t i n g requirements  this thesis f o r an  of  British  it  freely available  agree that for  that  Library  s h a l l make  for reference  and  study.  I  f o r extensive copying of  h i s or  be  her  g r a n t e d by  shall  not  be  The  University  Asian of  1956 Main Mall V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  )E-6  (3/81)  Oct.7,  1986  Studies  British  of  further this  Columbia  thesis  head o f  this  my  It is thesis  a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my  permission.  Department o f  the  representatives.  copying or p u b l i c a t i o n  f i n a n c i a l gain  University  the  s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may  understood  the  the  I agree that  permission by  f u l f i l m e n t of  advanced degree at  Columbia,  department o r for  in partial  written  ABSTRACT  T h i s t h e s i s o f f e r s an a n a l y s i s of some of the major novels of Mishima Yukio i n the l i g h t of t h e i r u n d e r l y i n g n i h i l i s t world-view.  There are p r i m a r i l y t h r e e  different  l e v e l s to the a n a l y s i s : p h i l o s o p h i c a l , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and m o r a l / p o l i t i c a l , to each of which a chapter i s In the treatment  devoted.  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 a e s t h e t i c consequences of the n i h i l i s m i n Mishima's a r t of f i c t i o n . i s a l s o made to place Mishima, as a " n i h i l i s t i n the i n t e r n a t i o n a l context of the n i h i l i s t  attempt  w r i t e r " , withliterary/philo-  s o p h i c a l t r a d i t i o n , a t r a d i t i o n whose o r i g i n s may back to mid-nineteenth-century  An  be t r a c e d  Europe.  The a n a l y s i s centres on what are, i n the w r i t e r ' s view, Mishima's three major w o r k s — w h i c h a l s o r e p r e s e n t , c o i n c i d e n t a l l y , the three separate decades of h i s l i t e r a r y c a r e e r : Conf e s s i o n s of a Mask (Kamen no kokuhaku, 1949), The the Golden P a v i l i o n ( K i n k a k u j i , 1956) (Ho jo no umi,  and The  Temple of  Sea of  Fertility  1965-70), a t o t a l of s i x n o v e l s , s i n c e the  work i s a t e t r a l o g y .  The  study aims not to p r o v i d e an  latter  all-in-  c l u s i v e survey of Mishima's c a r e e r but to p e n e t r a t e to the v e r y core of h i s i n s p i r a t i o n through important  an i n - d e p t h study of h i s most  works.  Chapter  One,  "The  T r a g i c Mask", begins 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 of the r e l a t i o n between p h i l o s o p h y and  the n o v e l ,  i i i  or  ideas  and  the  "philosophical then  given  of  philosophy offers of  expression  his  use  of of  general logy,  then  "nihilist novels.  psychology  or  are  from  to  and  paying of  main works  particular  structural  confers  on t h e  Behind  the  Mask",  "nihilist  novels,  the  terms  form  opens  the which  with  n i h i l i s m and  of  explicitly found  own " n i h i l i s t  Adlerian  and  a psycho-  Mishima's  which characterize  i n Freudian,  to  discipline  "fictional", is  tensions  then  attention  psychology"  whether  author's  central  in  which  is  novels.  a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the  whose  chapter  nothingness"  the  apparently  analysed  a description  the  r e l a t i o n between  h i s major more  three  the  own his "autoto  be  psychothis  peculiarly  terms. Three,  consideration terms  the  active/passive  Chapter  in  his  to  Void  an e x p r e s s i o n of  The  Japanese  and  proceeds  Each of  primarily logy".  "The  psychology"  biographical"  each of  philosophy  Two,  taxonomy of  taxonomy,  main body of  philosophy,  d i s c u s s i o n of  and  The  novels,  this  Chapter  this  i n "experiences  the  a brief  a philosophic novelist  is nihilism. of  offers  Using  Mishima as  nihilist  climaxes  and  novel".  an a n a l y s i s  their  its  novel,  of  of  the  Nietzsche  "Hammer t o  nihilist "active  down t o  Mask",  morality  nihilist"  own r i g h t - w i n g  terrorist  violence  extremism  place him  with  and p o l i t i c s ,  a  general  especially  t r a d i t i o n w h i c h may  20th c e n t u r y  Mishima's  opens  f a s c i s m and and h i s  squarely  in  be  terrorism.  glorification  this  traced  "active  of  nihilist"  moral/political was  also  tradition.  continually  side  i n d a n g e r o f b e i n g u n d e r m i n e d by h i s  "passive  nihilist"  action.  The r e s u l t a n t  of  But h i s " a c t i v e n i h i l i s t "  side,  h i s sense o f the f u t i l i t y  tensions  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 a l l  are found to form the o f h i s major  novels.  basis  V  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  Abstract  i i  Acknowledgements  v i  Introduction Chapter Notes  Two:  Three:  11 87  Behind  Two  Hammer  to Chapter  Mask  One  The V o i d  t o Chapter  Chapter Notes  The T r a g i c  to Chapter  Chapter Notes  One:  1  Three  t h e Mask  93 159  t o Mask  165 224  Conclusion  230  Bibliography  237  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would like to express my heart-felt thanks to my supervisor, Professor John Howes, for his warm encouragement 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 ( ^  ,  1925-70)  is probably  the first modern Japanese novelist to have gained a genuinely international reputation. That i s , 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 countries. 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 critical study of his work, Mishima ou La vision du vide. That a popular American film was based on the l i f e 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 unprecedented phenomenon for a Japanese writer. The curious fact i s , 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 possessed 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 t e r 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 f e 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 suicide by ritual disembowelment and decapitation after a failed attempt at a coup d'ltat. And, indeed, many cynics have suggested that his suicide was merely the last and most spectacular of his self-publicity stunts—a final desperate attempt to revive his flagging popularity. If that was, in fact, its purpose, 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, it 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 if i t were his last "theatrical performance"—continues to be the object of a somewhat morbid fascination, as well as the subject of lively debate among "Mishima critics", 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 trivial details headed in no particular d i rection, and apt to be cut short at any arbitrary moment. Mishima '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 admittedly this is part of i t . Mishima's novels have a clearer structure—a structure as clear, in fact, as a logical syllogism—and they always seem to be brought to a neat and resounding 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 Mishima' 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 iconoclasm 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 nihilist 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 determination on his face, as if he were indeed the last human embodiment of the Japanese warrior tradition. All 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 airforce 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 question 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 f e 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 nihilist 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 revealed 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 nihilist, and also described at least one of his novels as "a study in n i h i l 2 ism". And various critics have noted some of the nihilist 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 literary/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 systematic 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 element" 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 respect for the "aesthetic integrity" of Mishima's novels—even if those novels continue to seem flawed in many other ways. Needless to say, the present work aims to be- the abovementioned study. It has seemed best to concentrate the analysis on what, in my view, are Mishima s "three major works"— which represent, coincidentally, the three separate decades of his career, the 'forties, 'fifties and 'sixties: Confessions of a Mask ( 1 9 4 9 ) , The Temple of the Golden Pavilion ( 1 9 5 6 ) and The Sea of Fertility ( 1 9 6 5 - 7 0 ) . 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 i h i l istic elements would be to risk a monotonous redundancy. And I doubt that any reader will have trouble "extrapolating" our 1  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 philosophical, 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" i s , 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 Introduction Notes  1.  M a r g u e r i t e Yourcenar, Mishima  Gallimard, 2.  3.  4.  Tosho  1974),  Keene,  1981),  Miyoshi,  Noguchi  1968), 5.  i n Donald  Kodansha,  Masao  Calif.,  La  vision  du  vide  (Paris:  1980).  Quoted  (Tokyo:  ou  Appreciations  of Japanese  Culture  p.216.  Accomplices of  Silence  (Berkeley:  Univ.  of  p.158.  Takehiko, Mishima  Y u k i o no  sekai  (Tokyo:  Kodansha,  p.117.  Sadoya  Shigenobu,  sensho, Agata  nihirizumu John  1981),  Ibuki, (Tokyo: Nathan,  Mishima  Yukio n i okeru  seiyo  (Tokyo:  pp.65-9.  Mishima  Yukio  San'ichi Mishima  r o n : Sumerogi  shobo,  1974),  (Boston: L i t t l e ,  no  kamen  to  pp.63-120. Brown,  1974),  pp.174-5.  11 Chapter  The  1.  Introduction:  A.  Philosophy  The  has  often  raging is  that  value  ideas  by  extreme view,  be  called  very  in  the  critical  worthwhile  are  any  study  Rene  former  novel  and even  At  one  aesthetic At  which  a l l ,  discussions  since  factors, the  and  other  the " n o v e l - a s - c r i t i c i s m - o f - l i f e "  novel worth of  major  of  critical  its  salt  provides  philosophical method,  The  issues. Theory  W e l l e k and A u s t i n Warren a r g u e  view,  of  extreme  r e l a t i o n at  "inartistic".  and  philosophy—  "novel-as-fine-art" view,  be c a l l e d  classic  (1942),  still  controversy,  the  that  the  source of  i s based on p u r e l y  might  Literature, of  r e l a t i o n between l i t e r a t u r e and  interpretations  their  Novelist  between  nature  which i n s i s t s  favor  the  c a n be a n y  a novel  their  significant  a Philosophic  among n o v e l i s t s a n d c r i t i c s .  i s what  In  of  formally,  there  of  Mask  Novel  been a f e r t i l e  what might  the  and the  more  debate,  denies  Tragic  Mishima as  precise nature  ideas—or,  One  and e x p r e s s  "which treat  regret  that  largely  there  a l i t e r a r y work  of  are  as  2 though  it  analysis what  they  were of  the  call  a philosophical tract." i n t e l l e c t u a l content the  of  They  as opposed  to  which,  according to  the them,  "intrinsic  all  a l i t e r a r y work  " e x t r i n s i c approach to  ture",  subsume  study  the of  study  of  under litera-  literature",  i n c l u d e s a n a l y s e s of  such things  as  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 philosophy 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 this  debate.  raised great  on t h e s i d e  often  included  of  modern  times:  Lawrence, thrives  among  Philistine  cannot  against  voice  some  Dostoevsky,  10  dealt  that  and  Camus,  the "middlebrow  get r i dof the f u r t i v e  of the  ephemeral"  ideas",  respected  He h e l d  years  (1899-1977).  i n "great  Thomas Mann,  and K a z a n t z a k i s . and t h a t  Nabokov  o f t h e most  entered  of recent  the "second-rate  w r i t e r s " who  these  Pasternak  on i d e a s "  powerful  novelist, Vladimir  thundered  of "puffed-up  he  t h e most  also  o f t h e " n o v e l - a s - f i n e - a r t " was  Russo-American  Nabokov works  Perhaps  p r a c t i s i n g n o v e l i s t s have  and  novelists  Sartre,  that  D.H.  "mediocrity  o r the upper  feeling  that  a  book,  11 to  be g r e a t ,  witty  j i b e s might  lectual cism, of  s o many  mean  harmful  his  one f i n d s obviously  entirely  that  from  brilliant  with being  such  h i s own  ideas,  the f i r s t  rank  stylist.  a writer,  that  h i s w o r k may  a n d no  but this  or that  does  ideas are also  d i d not prevent  i s always  give  value  despite  the danger,  the impression  of  substance".  distinguished (1912-  dismissal  the aesthetic  as a n o v e l i s t ,  There  criti-  And one m i g h t  d i s t a s t e f o r ideas  as a  McCarthy  judge  as a work o f a r t .  and  C e r t a i n l y he i s  of i t s ideas,  c a n do w i t h o u t  achieving  " a l l style  Mary  on t h e b a s i s  intel-  h i s wholesale  novelists.  one cannot  Nabokov's  to the  literature  to accept  gifts  Another is  that  Though  antidote  o f much m o d e r n  important  a novel  whether  ideas".  as a s a l u t a r y  i t hard  to i t s nature  question Nabokov  i n great  serve  i n asserting  a novel  not  deal  pretentiousness  still  correct of  must  n o v e l i s t who ), though  has entered  she stands  the debate  i n the  opposite  14  camp t o  Nabokov.  In  that,  "being  of  novel  in  good  tals'.  the  her  Ideas  and the  my p l a c e a n d t i m e ,  A novel  o l d way,  that  has  any  I  more  ideas  in  Novel  cannot than  it  I  (1980)  she  philosophize can write  stamps  laments  itself  in  'we  as  a  mor-  dated;  12 there  is  no  escape  from  historical  dimension  nineteenth  century,  that  into  law".  the  debate,  McCarthy  introduces  pointing  out  that  an  in  the  13  "intellectual What  the  "classic  and e x p o s i t o r y  s p e l l e d the  death  of  James,  according to T.S. 15  idea ist  could violate doctrine  with to  the  point  ideas  out  has  this  that  i n which shy  the  continental the  course,  this  continental closely general  of  the  on the  is  between  who  and a b s t r u s e  philosophy  as  the  no  this  the  is  i n modern  fails  largely  the  literary  modern-  incompatible  novel  still  Teutonic  analysts,  instance)  many o f quite  and  philosophize  manner.^  for  follows  s h o u l d be more  to  of  philosophy,  coincidental.  concerned with it  dare  an  situation  Anglo-American  entirely  literature),  literature  i s ,  this  Henry  so f i n e  What M c C a r t h y  that  (existentialism,  (being  of  philosophical speculation,  metaphysicians,  i s not  ascendancy  i  "immense".  capaciousness,  European continent  the  was  the  Anglo-American  novel.  study  novel,  novels  "inartistic"—that  traditional  parallel  the  a mind  began the  situation  literary  continental  "had  resembles  abstract  themes  Eliot,  excellent  obtains  of  the  Indeed,  away f r o m  most  was  much b e t t e r .  a split  who  in  quality  prejudice;  respect  ideas,  were  of  Intellectual  Thus  ideas  i n her  fared  to  it".  aesthetic  Anglo-Saxon  in  novel  component"  this  receptivity who,  the  of  period"  the  And,  of  Since is  more  same  naturally  p h i l o s o p h i c a l . And,  that as  15 we shall see, it 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 kankakuha) such as Kawabata Yasunari and Yokomitsu Riichi, whose novels were devoid of ideas but remarkable for their experiments in modernist style.  17  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 will 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  nature  of  reality.  Robbe-Grillet,  argues  (Pour un nouveau new  form  of  The  this  roman,  novel  the  continuing  model  the  novel  outmoded  unconditional plots, episode the  toward  image  of  use  of  while  with  the  novelist,  in his  For  advocating  a New  the  of  the  him,  it  tense  and the  the  passions,  reflects of  coherent,  the  third  an  narra-  person, linear  tended  continuous,  a  Balzacian  impulse of  a conclusion, etc.—everything  for  He  "bourgeois",  t e c h n i c a l elements  past  of  Novel  need  c h r o n o l o g i c a l development,  trajectory  a stable,  Alain  a modern w o r l d - v i e w .  according to  the  of  French  well,  popularity  "All  adoption  regular  1963),  because,  philosophy:  tive—systematic  point  consonant  deplores of  contemporary  each to  impose  unequivocal,  18 entirely novels,  decipherable universe". of  course,  the  anything  but  entirely  decipherable".  detective B.  dies  story,  upon  reader's  "stable,  image  moral  reality.  of  causation are  any  either might  as he  if or  begin  B.  to  nature  of  tional  notions  were had  reality. of  It time  were  the  and  some  be n o n e  smoothly.  happened?  is  be  will  suddenly  novelist  question  may  into  to  the But  novelist's  exactly  B.'s  at  in a  to  a l l  what  to  if,  his  without in  might  think  at  least, about  such a s s a u l t s upon  sense  laws  later  assumptions  causation that  and  the  conventional  Or,  popular  cocktail  shock  reader  g o i n g mad!  is  unequivocal,  reappear  The  own  presented  a simple example:  "in order";  functioning  nothing the  there is  universe  arsenic  there  Robbe-Grillet's  continuous,  take  puts  it,  Everything  explanation,  novel  To  sense but  of  the  coherent,  when A .  drinking  of  In  the  he the  conven-  Robbe-Grillet—who  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, if at a l l , only to those novels which are in some way actively philosophical, 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-Grillet s 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 resorting 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" y kind which deserves to be considered 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  1  19  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 f e , their novels would present a narrower and less accurate image of l i f e without them. The discussions may be carried on either in the narrator's voice, the voice of a "spokesman" character, or the voices of characters 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 organized 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 "discus20  sion novel", which presents conflicting philosophical views without ever resolving them, is Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, in which the debates between Naphta and Settembrini, as McCarthy says, "oppose nihilistic Jesuitry to progressive athe21  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 philosophical 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 philosophy and his fiction is not necessarily exact. Given the unconscious processes at work in any true act of artistic creation, 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 i s , in fact, quite easy to imagine that the novel says something more or something quite different. 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 category, i t will 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 occasionally, also, in the implicit and mimetic senses. Nihilism, the central philosophy of Mishima's novels, i n 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 f e , as an experience which the characters must suffer through, and as the very nature of reality. No other world-view besides this nihilistic one is permitted.. Even when other philosophies, such as Buddhism or neo-Confucianism, are made use of, they are interpreted in a nihilistic way. Because the nihilistic philosophy is so all-pervasive in these novels, no clear line can be drawn between their "philosophic" 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 will be more on the aesthetic effects of the nihilistic philosophy, to the extent that these can be isolated, than on the philosophy per se. This is not primarily a study of Mishima 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  published  when, his  over  last  there  novel  were,  a  sure  an  "tragic the  from  the  Temple  ism  i s presented  of  the  gical  form,  even,  i t seems,  positive  1949),  Golden  less  no  illusions  most  Its  i t may  was  the  last  he  seems  to  to  i t the  seemed this  be  have  scene  the  appropriate As  expect,  an a  of  begin  Mishima  "last  November  the  of  present once  such  the  and  as  nihil-  psycholo-  Sea  rare of  Fertil-  reader  nihilism  least  is being  sentimental of  testament",  since i t  does  nihil-  suicide.  point  25th,  Mishima's  plea-  expressions  this  scene  himself  the  work  the  of  committing  emphasized  of  presented  overtones,  The  however,  bleakest,  before  Mask  overcome—a  possibility  his  of  s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , and  work,  a l l Mishima's  expression  part  philosophical  last  i s the  wrote  i t is  middle-period  tetralogy,  as  a  ( K i n k a k u j i , 1956)  his  day  his  intense masochistic  i t s being  the  of  of  strongly erotic  In  By  h i s death,  to  Confessions  as  the  nonetheless,  "style"  romanticism,  tetralogy's final  powerful  scene.  of  purposely  of  i n the  to  manuscript  suicide,  might  complex  regarded  t h i n g he  date  Since  of  we  with  about  uncompromising  and  most  1965-70)  final  i n the  as  Pavilion  i n Mishima.  permitted  and  as  some p r o m i s e  umi,  overcome.  handed  s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e and  no  ism,  such  victim.  i n a more  with  note  of  (Hojo  and  novel  obviously derives role  magazine,  committed  d e s t i n y " and  hero  he  school  some c h a n g e s  early  kokuhaku,  The  ity  later,  promptly  course,  in a  youthful, narcissistic  hero's since  of  story  years  and  In  (Kamen n o  first  thirty  nihilism.  with  his  by  Indeed,  affixing  1970. give  the  nihilism,  clearest i t  an  has  study  with  analysis  said,  h i s novels  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 nihilist 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 nihilist epiphany, then the aesthetic functions of the novel's nihilist philosophy 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 cultural 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 philosophical 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 as  A.  The  Experience  1.  The  final  scene of  the  The  final  scene of  The  1971)  brings  tetralogy,  to  the  of  Nothing:  merely  always  A playwright  down t h e  curtain with.a  finale".  appears  to  His  have  theatrical  date  seems  have  wanted  a man o f ous  to  the  some c l u e  to  And he w i l l The the  hills  kura  the  great  last  to  Satoko,  an e n t i r e  liked  dramatic  flourish,  a  the to  least  case of  end of  link  the  the  final  two:  lies  at  the  in part,  life  testament  very  whole  final to  ring  traditional  by  in  final  25th, the  expecting of  By he  testament  pay to  this  A  close find  1970,  same  fact,  as a w r i t e r .  naturally  heart  a  imitating art.  tetralogy, his  gosui,  career.  he  scene,  as seri-  attenin  writer's  it work.  disappointed.  Nara.  in a l l  the  but  but  a novelist,  ij.nal  Abbess  (Tennin  his  tetralogy's  outside  Angel  to  will  be  the  importance  then,  not  Fertility  a single novel  Mishima,  what  Novels  s p e c t a c u l a r s u i c i d e on November  scene t r a n s p i r e s  who a p p e a r s visit  of  Sea o f  of  merely  as w e l l as  action with his  student  tion  Decay  impulse—a unique  this  Mishima's  tetralogy  been i n s p i r e d , at  affixing to  The  of  a tetralogy  attached  scenes.  "grand  Philosophy  a c l o s e not  and not  Mishima had  Core  of  four this  heroine  at  the  Gesshu Temple,  Honda S h i g e k u n i , novels  the  a nunnery  only  of  the  tetralogy,  nunnery,  who  i s none  of  the  first  novel  of  character  has  other the  in  come than  to Aya-  tetralogy,  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 f e 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 cleansing 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  suspects  being  t a i n t e d by  with  that  Kiyoaki.  she i s o n l y  the scandal  then  ingly  But Honda  ed,  shallow.  all  persuades  and n o t o n l y  novel,  Ying  now  which  I f so, i f she s t i l l  considerations,  Abbess  obviously  him t o doubt Kiyoaki  enveloped  had  ignorance,  surrounded  i s guided  by  that  but also  Kiyoaki Isao,  such  kind  the hero  i n a mist  avoid  affair worldly  i s disappoint-  o f shock.  had ever  of the third,  to  her  her "enlightenment"  i s i n f o r another  Chan, t h e h e r o i n e  seem  pretending  even  of the  and Honda  The  existsecond  himself—  of unreality:  "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 h e a v y m i s t , a n d 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 with t h e A b b e s s was h a l f a d r e a m , H o n d a c r i e d o u t , a s 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 disappearing as p r e c i p i t o u s l y as b r e a t h d o e s f r o m a l a c q u e r t r a y . 23 The  Abbess's  the  "lesson"  has  said  temple's ness the  i s now  of the garden.  i s led like  south  a vision  garden,  shrilling As  sunshine.  The  of c i c a d a s — a the narrator  r e i n f o r c e d , as i t were,  Stunned  t o h i m , Honda  and b l a z i n g  silence.  "lesson"  s i l e n c e by what  an automaton  of absolute only  sound  tells  into  sound  which  t o view  stillness,  she  the empti-  i s a monotonous  only  us: "there  by  intensifies  was  nothing  one:  the  i n this  24 garden" ing  (kono niwa  n i wa. n a n i m o n a i ) .  a p p a r i t i o n , Honda's  final  thought  a p l a c e o f no memories, o f n o t h i n g n a n i m o n a i t o k o r o e , j i b u n wa k i t e  Gazing i s that  upon t h i s  dizzy-  h e h a s come " t o  a t a l l " ( K i o k u mo s h i m a t t a t o Honda  nakereba 25 wa o m o t t a ) .  26  2.  The At  a  nihilist first  strongly  sight,  Buddhist  enlightenment all,  and  Buddhist  provoke  and  tenor,  the  temple  as  of  the  especially  seem  r e p r e s e n t e d by  first  introduced to  of  this  o r d e a l might even  The  Honda's  of  a  as  nun  the  Buddhist  easily  study  a  temple,  agents  with  of  be  Buddhism,  Only")  temple.  Buddhism  Buddhist  Buddhist  ("Consciousness and  have  Buddhist  i t might  years  Abbess of  are  consonant  Furthermore,  form  a  to a  experience, these  entirely  very  seem  suggest  place at  involved  Yuishiki  this  scene  perhaps  garden.  form  dhism  final  agents  culmination of the  the  It takes  nothingness.  of  of  and  primary  i n Honda might  philosophy taken  Honda's  experience.  after a  implications  Bud-  Honda  young  was  man,  as  26 recounted with an His  the  study  struggles  Temple above  first  novel  reincarnations  in-depth  counted  no  i n the  to  of  Dawn  then  Yuishiki  i n the  these  third  ( A k a t s u k i no  a l l i s the  self,  the  doctrine  what  the  tetralogy.  K i y o a k i l e d him,  comprehend  in detail of  of  of  of  of  the  1970).  anatman,  "no  The  Yuishiki  force,  the  a l a y a v i j n a n a or  alaya  consciousness  which  the  Yuishiki  answer  is a  seems  to  be:  "storehouse  "stream  scriptures  of  him  I f man  lifetime  has  after  l i f e -  impersonal  karmic 27 consciousness". This  no-self"  compare  reThe  puzzles  self".  an  are  tetralogy,  What  to  reincarnation.  abstruse doctrines  i s reincarnated through  time?  encounters  i n middle-age,  t e a c h i n g s on  volume  tera,  His  to  a  (muga n o  torrent  of  nagare)  28  water,  29 never  the  waterfall always  same  from  i s one  associated  of  minute the  with  to minute.  Thus  main m o t i f s r u n n i n g the  reincarnations  the  image  through of  the  Kiyoaki.  of  a  tetralogy,  Honda's final experience at the Buddhist temple is certainly, as we have seen, an experience of "no-self"—of the unreality of his own self as well as of the selves of the i n carnations of "Kiyoaki". It is also an experience,of the unreality 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 redeeming 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 Buddhist, 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 first, 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 existence 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 reality 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 f e , the ultimate  28 r e a s o n of e x i s t e n c e , and t h e norm of t h i n g s m u l t i f a r i ous and m u l t i t u d i n o u s , i t has 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 be d e s i g n a t e d by a n y d e t e r m i n a t i v e t e r m s , it r e f u s e s t o be 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? For i t i s an a b s o l u t e u n i t y , and 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 , and c o n d i t i o n a l . 30 The not  to  experience  be  In  a very  ei  has  of  mu o r n o t h i n g n e s s  confused with real  said  sense,  in his  the n i h i l i s t  indeed,  excellent  they  experience  are  study,  i n Buddhism, of  is  nothingness.  opposites.  Zen  then,  As A n d o  and A m e r i c a n  Sho-  Transcen-  dentalism : T h e b e s t way 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 come 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 , because the Mind of "Mu" i s t h a t w h i c h d o e s n o t a b i d e anywhere f i x e d l y : w h i c h i s one 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 But lar  how  is  experience  nihilistic? tree  by  its  emotional  tone  Glicksberg in  more  modern W e s t e r n  "nihilist  One  may  judge  it  has  on t h e  whether  extreme  points  i s only  the n i h i l i s t  negative,  i n the  there  effect of  to  nothingness—say,  fruit.  the  or  of  Surely  i e n c e d by  variably  the non-Buddhist  out  of  in his  denies himself  the  particu-  Buddhistic  s a f e way:  to  the  nature  what  of  judge is  or  the exper-  person experiencing i t .  mild  despair  The  any  one  of  nothingness  form of or  comprehensive  literature,  whether  Honda's—is  experience  i n the  form  judge  a vague  terror. study  Literature  of  r e l i g i o u s promises  As of  is  in-  disquiet Charles  nihilism  Nihilism, that  The  the  could  32 rescue  him from  the  bottomless  pit  of  despair...."  And,  again:  The 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 the d i a l e c t i c of n o t h i n g n e s s . I f he 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 end of e x i s t e n c e , t h e n he c a n n o t be s u s t a i n e d , l i k e t h e h u m a n i s t , by t h e  29 c o n s t r u c t i v e r o l e he 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 order of s o c i e t y . This encounter with n o t h i n g ness forms the c r u x of n i h i l i s t l i t e r a t u r e . . . . 33 And the  it  is  nihilist  an e n c o u n t e r ,  "trapped  concludes Glicksberg,  which  in a spiritual cul-de-sac",  leaves  suffering  3A from  a "life-negating  subject,  Helmut  not  that  only  dementia".  Thielicke,  but  that  by  his  own n o t h i n g n e s s ;  by  the  breakdown,  his  loss  of  and  say  that  down o f  the  world'."  3 5  In perience  the  the  assertor  the  is  decay And  is  at  authority  the  nihil,  oppressed terms,  point  he  the  and is  world'  contrast  nothingness  to  and  the  this,  always  the  produces  as  Suzuki  Buddhist  afflicted  anticipate  of  the  satori  a positive Daisetsu  no-  [Ich-Zerfall ]  we may  breakdown  is  oppressed  an e s s e n t i a l c o n n e c t i o n between  'objective  the  "decisive point  'self-world',  this  on  the  break-  'self-  or  ex-  emotional  has  described  a " f e e l i n g of exaltat on": 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 due to the f a c t t h a t i t i s the b r e a k i n g - u p of the r e s t r i c t i o n i m p o s e d on one as an i n d i v i d u a l b e i n g , and t h i s b r e a k i n g - u p i s n o t a mere 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 one 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 means 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 . The 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 , which c h a r a c t e r i z e s a l l our f u n c t i o n s of c o n s c i o u s n e s s , i s t h a t of r e s t r i c t i o n and d e p e n d e n c e . . . . To 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 make o n e f e e l a b o v e a l l things intensely exalted. 36 If  mind  his  the  vacuum,  himself  of  and p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t a t e — o r , it,  the  that  in psychiatric  centre.  there  absolute of  asserts  nihilism asserts  thing,  Another  we e x a m i n e  these  Honda's  descriptions  of  final the  experience  Buddhist  while  experience  keeping of  in  nothing-  30 ness on the one hand, and the nihilist experience of nothingness 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 liberation. 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: it 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 Bildungsroman or "education novel", then the education which Honda receives is not so much in Buddhist philosophy as in nihilism. This becomes a l l the more clear if we trace the course of his "education". 3. a.  Nihilist elements throughout the tetralogy  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 adventure 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 rate, 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 o p e n n e s s 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 This  i s not  the  bitterly  elegaic  Japanese  environment  of  the  moral  suggested the  occurs Keiko  by  here  by  to  stands  the  death  he  the  "felt  showing  her  how  39 despoiled".  And,  polluted  car  with  the  not  i n the or  a  of  of  most  this  Honda  fumes  but  might  destroy spot  though her  had  the  correlative  the  even,  whole  takes  that  "the  the  pine  trees  friend  buoyant  a i r was  looked  scenes  her  been v u l g a r i z e d  find  of  his  i n taking  as  of  a l l such  dreamy,  they  and  of  when Honda  Mio;  this  graveyard,  of  significant  at  indeed,  objective  themselves—and  grove  scenic  that  d e c l i n e of  automobile  fourth novel,  he  the  telling  the  only  tetralogy  that  Japanese  The  pine  that  as  image  i n the  visit  time  i s sounded  civilization.  earlier  there,  note  d e c l i n e of  approaching  Japanese  first  on  mood  and terribly  the  point  40 of  dying".  been  What  crassly  stalls, symbol  commercialized;  which of  i s even worse  sell  not  only  Americanization,  i s that  souvenirs  (Mishima's  to  pictures  taken  out  even The  merely of  as  bothering site a  of  Mio  famous  t h e t e t r a l o g y , as  (Hagoromo),  from  to  look  but  Coca-Cola.  Japanese  their  sacred  i t is cluttered  working-class have  the  that  And  snobbery  i n front  of  with  crowds  the  which  of  vulgar  here)  famous  pose  pine,  with-  at i t .  spot  site the  souvenir  evident  the  has  omnipresent  is symbolically significant,  beauty  site  but,  of final  the  w i t h i n the No  novel  play,  specific  Robe  derives  in fact,  of  not  context  Feathers  its title.  In  33  this famous play a fisherman•steals an angel's robe of feathers 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 l e of the fourth novel), symptoms of physical and psychological deterioration 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 junior 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 important 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 nihilist world-view. At any rate, i t forms a major element in the nihilism of the tetralogy. 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 physical 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 survival 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, unbeknownst 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 extreme 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 proletarian lovers in city parks. The evil which lurks beneath the surface of passive "detached observation" itself is unmasked for what it 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 nihilist world-view, however, 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 admirable 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 f e itself as a process of ineluctable decay—given time, everything ends badly. Thus the great irony of the work's t i t l e : the "sea of fertility" turns out to be a mirage; the nihilist discovers that l i f e i s , 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 nihilist 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 essentially 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 nihilist 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 cheapness of l i f e 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, everything 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 reality, floated through the sky. Benares. It was a carpet so ugly i t was splendid. One thousand five hundred temples, temples of love with scarlet pillars on which a l 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 in loud 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 , the dying, the dead, c h i l d r e n covered 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 mother's b r e a s t . . . . 44 In himself felt  the midst that  they  Benares  of a l l these horrors,  "since  would  h i s eyes  never  suffered  had seen  be h e a l e d .  from  a holy  Honda  such  confesses to  a n e x t r e m i t y , he  I t was a s i f t h e w h o l e o f  leprosy,  a n d as i f Honda's  vision 45  itself It  had a l s o  been  contaminated  i s as i f , i n f a c t ,  reality  by t h i s  has f i n a l l y  passive  o b s e r v e r ; he i s no l o n g e r s e c u r e  lectual  detachment.  cation;  he h a s been  The  practical  ingly his is  evident  return  looking  forever  effects  of this  from  India,  Perhaps robbed all  action....  philosophy  only  Perhaps,  the Pacific  contact  passive  nihilist,  of heroic  Benares  outside  thoughts.  Both  heroism  intel-  he h a s  avoseen.  increas-  Soon  after  o f Benares  lost  their  had paralysed  arose lustre.  his spirit,  In other  seen,  into  nothingness  thus  world-view.  a  actions but  at the Yuishiki  and Buddhism  the n i h i l i s t  words,  has turned him i n t o  of heroic  His descent  Hinduism  of  i t h a d made h i m u s e a l l h i s 46  and Hinduism  a s we h a v e  to reinforce  of  and c o n v i n c e d him o f t h e n u l l i t y  finally,  India  by what  "when t h e v i s i o n  incapable not only  and ends,  Nara.  tetralogy  with  on t h e  War b e g i n s , b u t H o n d a  to serve h i s s e l f - l o v e ? "  Honda's  even  i n h i s pose  of the tetralogy.  of reincarnation  him o f h i s courage,  revenge  i s no l o n g e r a h a r m l e s s  him, a l l kinds o f b r i l l i a n t the mystery  disease."  " c o n t a m i n a t i o n " become  i n the remainder  home  taken  "contaminated"  completely uninterested:  before  at  Mere  incurable  begins temple  a r e used  i nthe  39 Besides this Hindu-Buddhist strain in Honda's thought, another important current in his intellectual l i f e 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 will moved history" "But, from a long-term perspective, the will 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 will functioned as w i 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 w i l l . Thus, the Western philosophy of will could not arise without the recognition of 'chance'." 48 The young Honda's arguments in favor of an iron-clad determinism, 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 experience, in the second novel, Runaway Horses, of the utter futility of the heroic Isao's efforts to impose his will 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 nihilistic, 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 v e . . . . History knew this. Among the things human beings produced, history was the most inhuman. Because i t generalized a l l human w i 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 i h i l ism from his very first major novel, Confessions of a Mask (1949).  4.  The aesthetic function of the work's nihilist philosophy  a.  structure  With a tetralogy such as The Sea of Fertility, 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 life of a new protagonist—three heroes and one heroine. At the same time, these protagonists are not entirely "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 f a i l to provide enough cohesive force  41  by  itself,  the of  shape  however, of  the  Over abstract  of  or what  namely,  a s we h a v e  of  four  end.  It  phic  argument  diversity,  48),  Japanese  digressive  functions  is  the  a new  called  i n the  to  The  have  l e v e l of  the  work's  Makioka tended  of  waki,  its  Sisters  toward  of  more  nihilism,  the  this  great  tight,  course  able, into  length  yuki,  1943-  organized,  least,  the  of  monogatari,  By w r i t i n g at  and  well-inte-  (Genji  a loosely  the  philoso-  i n a work  (Sasame  structured  discipline  a  thematic  over  of  Genji  M i s h i m a was  formal  a  role  c o n c l u s i o n at  force  despite  Tale  the  characters,  and r e f r e s h i n g v i r t u e  From The  in  action.  i n a reasonably  e p i s o d i c r de o f  and  is  a powerful  tetralogy,  philosophical novels,  troduce  to  through  held together  novels  provided  who p l a y s  c a r e f u l l y developed  primarily  century)  theatre  on the  and b r o u g h t  literature.  11th  style  seen,  that  No  is  c e n t r a l p h i l o s o p h i c argument  structure—a rare  Japanese early  is  is  Shigekuni,  l i n k i n g s through  agent  its  novels  very  grated  these  integrative  which, the  i n the  and commentator  and above  structure:  l i n k i n g thread  c h a r a c t e r Honda  deuteragonist  an observer  a stronger  Westernto  native  in-  tra-  dition. And, should  be n o t e d  over  other  this  fact  by  s i n c e the  of  tetralogy  that  its  seems t o  demolishing the  its  whole  a philosophical novel,  p h i l o s o p h i c a l argument  unifying have  is  agents.  The  escaped those myth of  full  critics  takes  it  precedence  significance who a r g u e  r e i n c a r n a t i o n at  the  of  that,  end  of  42  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 reincarnation 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 personal 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 nihilist 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 nihilist novel. Destruction is the ultimate nihilist action—indeed, the only mode of true self-expression available to the nihilist. The nihilist 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  43  doubt this is why, in the present work, Mishima's alter ego, Honda, is so fascinated by the Hindu god and goddess of des52 truction, Shiva and Kali. At any rate, this destructive impulse 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 nihilist 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 universal, 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 written 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, as  but  even  Kawabata  shima,  he  a  writer  Yasunari  had  of  more  lacked  "abandoned  purely  buntai  the  will  fictional  because, to  works  according  interpret  the  such  to  Mi-  world  so  54 entirely". modern  The  Japanese  (1862-1922), acquired  only  had a  It  style that 56 ings.  Mishima  philosophy, cend  what  novel  as  pressed  on  grity  of  effects  the  as  his  clear,  then,  considered usually  his  of  give  be  been  novels  consistent  level  to  and  model  the  have  Sea  of  i t s overall structure also  evident  philosophical  third the  novel  to  also  attained,  da.  Although himself  of  narrative for he  given  on  before  a  such give  of  course,  instance,  by  the  function  him. a  and  own  as a but  in  writ-  to  trans-  the  Japanese  He  was  de-  s t y l e which The  may of  be  those  The  noted,  the  features. abound  objective effect  treatment  the  viewpoint  character,  of  narrator;  that  is  inte-  but  which  same  of  observed  detached, the  ex-  effects  art.  been  narrative  had  nihilist  particular stylistic  voice,  the  work  already  tetralogy  i s generally  a  wished  buntai,  as  has  more  to  Ogai  ideas  his  world-view.  discussions the  i n much o f  Fertility,  i t s functioning  Mori  "masculine"  l i m i t a t i o n s of  objective  i n The  cerebral,  Mishima  written  would  was  among  i n Germany  expression  that  this  philosophical  unemotional,  i t is  tone  not  took  to  view,  some y e a r s  expounding  to  he  are  Explicit in  Ogai's  determination,  every  for  novels  that a  for  his  i t had  termined  this  was  using  lived  taste  fiction?"'  By  exception  n o v e l i s t s , i n Mishima's  who  there  conspicuous  of he  is Hon-  is  reserved  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 life but to present an "objective" world-view through the medium of his life-experiences. And, particularly since this worldview is nihilistic, it 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 narrative voice describes i t a l l with a kind of ruthless detachment, as in the description of him as a puppet-like automaton immediately 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, distancing tone of the very last sentence of the tetralogy: "The 58  hushed garden basked in the high-noon sun of summer." The nihilist vision behind the narrative viewpoint also produces strong tones of irony and satire, often in a typically Mishimaesque aphoristic style. Particular scorn is reserved for portraits 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  46  he made,  the  B a r o n mumbled  it  in  the  English  manner,  with  an  59 expressionless These  heavily  verge  on bad  as  this  in  women  5.  at  face,  taste  ironic, and  no  one h e a r d  bitingly  cruelty  of  him".  satiric  where  caricature portrait  tones  Westerners  a group  of  begin  are  to  involved,  elderly  Western  a garden party: E l d e r l y W e s t e r n women, o b l i v i o u s t o t h e f a c t t h a t their d r e s s e s were u n f a s t e n e d b e h i n d t h e m , swung t h e i r w i d e h i p s and e m i t t e d s h r i l l l a u g h s . In t h e i r h o l l o w , p i e r c i n g e y e s were 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 one knew n o t w h e r e . They spoke 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 mouths so w i d e one c o u l d see t h e i r t o n sils. And t h e y immersed 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 shameless enthusiasm. With t h e i r crimson 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 up s m a l l , thin s a n d w i c h e s , two o r t h r e e a t a t i m e . S u d d e n l y one o f them t u r n e d t o Honda a n d , a f t e r i n f o r m i n g h i m t h a t she h e r s e l f had been d i v o r c e d t h r e e t i m e s , asked i f Japanese d i v o r c e d a l o t t o o . 60  Critical  evaluation  ist  philosophy  The  tetralogy,  nihilism  with  velistic  technique.  there  a definite  is  so t h a t  of  then,  consummate  the  may  be  skill,  And,  work  said using  as L i o n e l  aesthetic  in  the  to  light  argue  every  the  aspect  T r i l l i n g has  pleasure  to  of  be h a d  its  nihil-  case of  its  pointed from  for noout,  seeing 61  a  case w e l l  But  what  have,  argued,  bearing  once  whether  does  this  identified,  r a i s e d r e g a r d i n g the The f u n d a m e n t a l  in  literature  central  on t h e  or  argument  questions  in of  philosophy. the  tetralogy  which c r i t i c s  work's l i t e r a r y value? c r i t i c a l problems of the  tetralogy  have  relate  47  mainly  to  is  brute  the  on the  its  use  the  problem  doctrine of  of  of  of  idea  of  reincarnation.  credibility.  reincarnation  To  was n o  base doubt  the  age  the  Hamamatsu Chunagon  monogatari  the  work which  inspired Mishima's  use  present  s e c u l a r age  an e s o t e r i c the  religious  outset.  because novels  This  many o f seem t o  is  the rest  how r e i n c a r n a t i o n strained the  by  three  same  the  The  heroine  is  seems  likely  concept  will  untoward  incarnations  fated  to  die  at  Or  the  way  third  novel  remembers  said  problem  is  How  readily  each reader  to  some  partly,  extent  of  of  moles  the  twenty,  course,  accepts on h i s  extent  writer,  and w i t h i n  the  of  use  the  o n how what  on the  convincingly context.  supernatural  in  by  Few the  the  four  reencounters  their  the  left  following Thai  of  arm-  a  as  are  Gothic  the  Japanese.  psychology. occurences makeup—say,  But  readers  predeter-  a  hand v e r s u s  they  or  p r i n c e s s of  reader  other.  of  is  discovering  incarnations  one  from  Fertility  credibility  own p s y c h o l o g i c a l  "suspension  disbelief"  link  the such  i n which each hero if  one  on  Sea of  such supernatural  for  a great  as  in  interpretation  under  i n which the  " s c i e n t i f i c - m i n d e d n e s s " on the  to  way  but  many r e a d e r s  naive  Kiyoaki,  century),  based  i n w h i c h Honda  his  of  in  idea,  The  reader's  her- p r e v i o u s  The  depends  of  three  be  schedule.  The  manner  same may  appropriate  coincidences which  functions.  of  work  a novel  with  there  a literary  (eleventh  this  alienate  on a p a r t i c u l a r l y  birthmark  mined  that  especially true  fortuitous  later  telltale  pits!  it  of  Firstly,  his  it  capacity  also  presented would  stories  of  depends by  object a  the to  Henry  48  James or an Edgar Allen Poe: these writers take care to establish 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": it aims to give an objective, realistic portrait of three-quarters of a century of modern Japanese history and, beyond that, of the nature of reality itself. Thus Mishima, in using elements of the supernatural in such a work, is faced with a special 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 critic has even suggested that Mishima himself, by the third novel, "may have grown uncertain about or perhaps 63  bored with the whole idea of transmigration". This leads to another major critical problem: the unevenness 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 r s t ) , 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 i n herent in the novel of ideas. In view of the almost universal critical distaste the work has inspired, i t is ironic that Mi65  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 foundation for the others. Thus the long disquisitions on the various 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 tetralogy. 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 philosonow 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 nihilist 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 symbolically or metaphorically, in support of the work's central nihilist argument. Thus their literal truth is easily disposed of by the final scene, in which Honda realizes that his acceptance  50  of  reincarnation  the  continuity  naive  but  beyond  illusion.  experienced sion  as a l i t e r a l  of  But  death the  so v i v i d l y  human  inescapable round  central  part  of  the  same n i h i l i s t  "eternal  recurrence"^  of  the  The  series,  account this inate  is  not  tetralogy  osophy. a  it  the  and the  philosophy.  In of  carnation,  no-self  scene  of  the  its  novel,  a writer  Biblical  tetralogy,  inspired  Mishima with  pleaded  with  Magic  Mountain,  enjoy  its  Joseph  his  twice:  been  the  out  being  a  and  the  One  also one  the  does  is  other  cannot the  desire  readers "Only  to  to  Yuishiki  the  ideas  experience  read h i s  so c a n one  m u s i c a l a s s o c i a t i o n of  ideas.  part  of  into  im-  of  rein-  the  final  and  penetrate  first  whose  perhaps  tetralogy,  magnum o p u s ,  The  its  nothingness.  own  really  illum-  full  (1933-43),  his  of  illuminate  understand  write  phil-  philosophy  novels  Brothers  novel  between  whom M i s h i m a m u c h a d m i r e d , and H i s  of  take  work  a  with  but  world-as-illusion until Honda's  v i -  given  third  must  its  as  as  idea  a single novel  only  a  meaningless  overloaded  such.  of  nightmare  remains  i l l u m i n a t i o n at  Not  but  and the  Thomas M a n n ,  once  mutual  as  d i s c u s s i o n s of  fourth  his  treadmill,  single  for  judged  particular,  plications  has  form  reincarnation,  f i n a l message,  to  it  novels.  novels  of  Benares,  Dawn i s n o t  s h o u l d be  other  ego,  and d e a t h — t h i s  fair  and a t t a c k  other  i n the  i m p l i c a t i o n s as N i e t z s c h e ' s  quite  process of  the  Honda a t  life  least  truth  as an e t e r n a l  of  Temple of  and  at  a personal  tetralogy's  much t h e  Thus  of  symbolic  by  existence  fact,  time,  The and the  51 reader l e a r n s the thematic m a t e r i a l ; he i s then i n a p o s i t i o n to read the symbolic and a l l u s i v e formulas both forwards and 68 backwards." The of  The point might be urged  j u s t as s t r o n g l y f o r  Sea of F e r t i l i t y , s i n c e i t i s composed with the same k i n d "musical a s s o c i a t i o n of i d e a s " , the same k i n d o f Wagnerian  s t r u c t u r e of l e i t m o t i f s , as i s Mann's great n o v e l .  (And Wag-  ner's own t e t r a l o g y of music-dramas, The Ring of the Nibelungs [1854-74], by the way, may be regarded as the s t r u c t u r a l type of a l l such works.)  arche-  At any r a t e , one wonders how much of  the o b j e c t i o n t o the p h i l o s o p h i c content of Mishima's t e t r a l o g y i s merely  the f i r s t r e a c t i o n 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 :  1.  The f i n a l  Confessions of a Mask  scene  Though The Sea of F e r t i l i t y was w r i t t e n i n the l a t e ties,  'six-  at the end of Mishima's c a r e e r , and Confessions of a Mask  was w r i t t e n i n the l a t e  'forties,  j u s t as h i s c a r e e r was g e t t i n g  under way, there are s i g n i f i c a n t p o i n t s of s i m i l a r i t y between t h e i r f i n a l scenes.  The Confessions a l s o ends with a devasta-  t i n g s a t o r i by the viewpoint c h a r a c t e r , an experience of nothingness which p r e c i p i t a t e s the c o l l a p s e of the e l a b o r a t e s t r u c t u r e of i l l u s i o n that he has laboured to e r e c t the n o v e l . ing  throughout  I t i s another c l e a r example of the n o v e l i s t  apply-  "hammer to mask", though i n t h i s case i t i s not a mask of  52 religious malcy".  doctrine During  the  gonist/narrator, ego  than  edly  even  for  her  the  priate  mood f o r  same way  The  Sea o f  as  the  named  that  he m i g h t  to  the  Confessions,  transparently desperately Thus  love  to  and has her.  In  the  Coca-Cola),  which thus  sets  did  the  of  alter his  managed last  dance-hall,  of  experience  prota-  half-heart-  even  degeneracy  final  nor-  disguise  the  the  of  the  he has been  Sonoko,  of  Mishima's  a low-class American-style  symptom  "mask  postwar the  nothingness,  desecrated landscape around  Japan  appro-  in  much  Nara  in  Fertility.  Instead  of  soon becomes sute  i s much more  omnipresent  the  of  a girl  Mishima a prime  (again  half  convention,  from h i m s e l f .  convince himself takes  social  has been t r y i n g  courting  s c e n e he  of  latter  who  i s Honda,  homosexuality,  to  but  torso  dancing w i t h Sonoko,  lost  of  i n rapt  though,  contemplation  a half-naked  young  tough  of  the  protagonist  the m u s c u l a r ,  with  a peony  hir-  tattooed  69  on h i s  chest.  assailed have  get  is  tion. talks  back  into  a fight  into  him,  by  sadistic,  him since boyhood:  the  Suddenly to  "attacked  k i n d of  splendid torso,  ried  of  the  troubled  would his  by  He  with  and h i s  the  the  gang,  protagonist  the  these  and  young  a dagger  which  man  would  pierce  c o r p s e w o u l d be  protagonist's f a n t a s i e s when  experiences  soon  fantasies  half-naked  blood-soaked  of  desire"  homo-erotic  a rival  dance-hall for  snapped out  sexual  car-  delectaSonoko'  a devastating  moment  self-realization: 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 by a c r u e l f o r c e . As i f a t h u n d e r b o l t h a d s t r u c k  two and  53 cleaved apart a l i v i n g tree. I heard the m i s e r a b l e c o l l a p s e of the s t r u c t u r e I had been 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 had seen the i n s t a n t w h e n my e x i s t e n c e was t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o some k i n d o f terrible "non-being". 70 2.  may  The  nihilist  i m p l i c a t i o n s of  The  experience  seem s t r i c t l y  Sea of  Fertility  Honda i s  doubt  in  The  ist  of the  Confessions  of  these  of  the  only  already the  his  of  his  individual to  same  that  ontological  and  of  the  through  the  But  but  of  the  world  in  general.  use  the  the  prop,  for  structures mind,  bring  protagonist  creates  desire  of  the  world  of  his  normal of  out of  of  are  them c r a s h i n g down. experience  of  as Honda's  In  "terrible " p l a c e of  exists as  desire  for  Confessions, of  masculinity.  illusion  the  Just  his  the  own w o r l d  ideal-  nothing  storybook Since  strictly  a psychological experience  function  delineated  protagonist/narrator.  metempsychosis  The  dimension:  i s more c l e a r l y  Buddhism.  of  Confessions  w h i c h ends  own u n r e a l i t y  known,  so t h e  protagonist/narrator's the  his  the  philosophically idealist:  v i s i o n of  elaborate  suffices  serves  of  largely  mind  immortality,  out  a definite  Yuishiki  Sonoko as h i s  romance  ness  of  of  Honda b u i l d s  using  a l s o has  Fertility,  is  outside  personal  w h i c h ends  ontological dimension  Sea of  scene  p s y c h o l o g i c a l , whereas  e v e r y o n e he h a s  philosophy  here  nothingness  convinced not  unreality No  of  the  this  of  both  products nothing-  sense  the  non-being" no m e m o r i e s ,  of  71 nothing of  the  at  a l l " .  world  viewpoint  of  Both the  character.  bring  novel, And  about  which these  is  the  precipitous  the  mental  c o l l a p s e s form  collapse  c r e a t i o n of the  the  climactic  54  finales of both novels. This is what gives to Mishima's endings their theatrical flair. 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 nihilist'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 Fertility: As I stood up, I stole another look at the chairs in the sun. The group had apparently gone to dance, leaving 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 ruthless, overpowering force. This is the other side to Mishima's philosophic idealism: a vision of the brutal,, insentient objectivity of the world, and of the nothingness at the centre of that world, a nothingness perceived as malevolent because ultimately it undermines and destroys everything that is good in human l i f e , 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 predestina73  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  linked  with  each  other  i n the  overwhelming  majority  of  homo-  75 sexuals, there  especially congenital  really  is  the  point  ist  i s claiming  such  is that,  a  and  therefore  Both  his  homosexuality  the  young  mantically, feels  to as  Roman m a r t y r , By  an  phy  almost  in  the  Mishima  ing  "tragic  the  his  hero, to  act  and  able from  his  to  mask" t o  the  novel,  through  no  This  of  his  his  own.  upon  him  enables  victim  or,  more  and  explains  why  not  only  but  tortured  f i g u r e of  i s able  to  legerdemain, psychology  he  in  nihilism  worn upon h i s  the  identify  juggling the  serve  debut  as  a  an  ro-  young  his  his  the  with  other,  deterministic philosophy  be  of  inflicted  itself.  protagon-  fault  fault  were  homosexual",  the  no  not  innocent  make h i s  his  "congenital  or  an  the  of  Whether  through  sadism  as  Sebastian,  hand  of  life-force  himself  wondrous  fashion  him.  philoso-  the  young  narcissism very  appeal-  autobiograph-  novelist. The  tiny"  cosmic  are  regarding iveness fested  of to  Because sure  and  tragic  St.  i s thus  to  sadistic  attracted  one  and  ical  see a  sexually  of  purposes  a  i s homosexual  also  malevolence author  the  he  own,  by  phenonmenon as  for  that  homosexuals".  implications  already his  first  another me  in  what  early  experience, male:  the  excrement  that  evident  of  form  is a  called  protagonist's  i n the at  novel,  four,  "The  fact  of  night-soil  a  symbol to  the  me  of  then  that  of  "tragic  w h e n he  the  erotic  remarks attract-  this  was  man  is  'allegorical'.  And  because  the  earth.  was  the  first  des-  malevolent  mani-  love  I of  am the  76 Earth  Mother."  S i m i l a r l y , when,  at  the  age  of  four  also,  he  57  is told that a beautiful knight in a picture which bewitches him is actually a girl 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 f e , 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 first chapter, though, when the protagonist is made to feel a "joy close to terror" 78  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 nihilist i t is both a negative and a malevolent power. As the portable shrine, the omikoshi, comes into view, he is f i l l e d with a "confused feeling of uneasiness": Around the omikoshi there hung an atmosphere of venomous 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 brilliantly the essence of Mishima's world-view—or, at least, of the world-view presented 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 nothingness is clearly nihilistic. As in the case of Honda's experience of nothingness, in fact, we may judge its true character by the effect it 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 i n toxicated expressions "both startled and distressed me, f i l l i n g 81  my heart with limitless suffering". This is not to say, of course, that Shintoism is a nihilistic religion, any more than Buddhism i s ; 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 context of this novel, Shintoism functions as a nihilist 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 homosexual 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 82  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 stran8 3  gled and then sliced up like a side of beef, to be eaten. The self-disgust which even our young nihilist 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 normalcy" 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 nihilistic determinism, the mask through which he utters these very "confessions" . 4. The novel as argument: the aesthetic functions of the work's nihilist philosophy Perhaps because the Confessions is a single novel rather  60  than  a tetralogy,  therein on t h e the  meaning  meaning  work  more of  on the  is  and p e r h a p s  of  a single  the  lives  of  organized  along  the  c l e a r l y than  this  of  because  The  argument—a  Sea o f  the  author  l i f e — h i s own—rather  a group  of  l i n e s of  fictional  Fertility.  The  d e t e r m i n i s t i c view  of  basic  the  we h a v e  early  ual  awakening  ies  of  the  no  ganized  somewhat  it  as  the  protagonist, Thus is  the  given  shall  him,  the  it  this at  manner  the  of  for  it  appearance,  procedure.  its  to at  That  a potentially  organize  them  into  of  of  school:  the  the  the  like  it  is  present  the  It  is  rather  for  is  or-  the  the  evi-  it  the  may  other  blamelessness of  the  defense".  misleading;  it  mea.  century—has  following  novelist  infinite  ser-  wrote  For  On  as sex-  a  life-force,  "case  vita  of  the  his  English/French/Russian  least, i s ,  law  of  as  the  of  when M i s h i m a  prosecution".  pro  the  memories  a legal brief.  title  concerning characters,  then  of  presents  anyway, up  from  the  an a p o l o g i a  it  time  malevolence  "case  the  proposition  leading proposition.  the  may b e r e g a r d e d  known  together  details  of  novel—or,  the  ductive  i n the  evidence  r e a l l y more  we h a v e  of  and  argument  presented,  marshalled together  graduated  " c o n f e s s i o n s " of  The as  just  presents  for  support  he h a d  be r e g a r d e d hand,  in  are  coincidence that,  novel,  dence  which follow  "proofs"  perhaps  novel,  characters,  origins  sado-masochistic homosexuality—is i n the  than  a philosophic  protagonist's seen,  meditates  has  number  novel  usually  a primarily seemed t o of  facts  settings  and p l o t s  an o v e r a l l  narrative  that  inmar-  and interest  structure,  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 details of the novel as so much evidence in support of this argument, would probably have seemed an excessively a r t i f i c i a l procedure, fatal to the novel's lifelikeness or verisimilitude. Dickens may have set out, in Bleak House ( 1 8 5 3 ) , 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 beginning 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 a r t i f i c i a l i t y , of the novel as something more like a "case history" than a "slice of l i f e " , 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 ichroman we have grown so accustomed to"?^ In an essay on the methodology of his own novels, Mishima  62  points  to  in  development  the  even  the  the  importance  very  of  first  of  the  the  critical,  8 5 i n general.  novel  modern  oppositional  Western novel,  He  Don  spirit  notes  that  Quixote  (1605), 86  "was In  born the  or  a  context  assume the  from  this  criticism  of  i t s own  critical,  dominant  form  "J-novel".  of  the  because,  novel,  i t seems  to  dition  (kokuhaku  ive"  procedure  ese ical  the  of  The and  same way  tique  of In  Teruhiko,  in  very  new oo  1949,  setsu. according  to  on  the  to  what  other  at  shi-shosestsu  Quixote of  to  was  chivalric  what  novel that,  was  the  above  the  its  regarded  product  is  "anti-  another  "deductthe  Japan-  autobiographas  both  tradition, of  tra-  and  a  a in  cri-  romance. the  overwhelming  gave  readers  i n those  writer  from  a  d i s c u s s i o n on  explain  the  both  an  being  least  the  of  as  c o n s t i t u t e s an be  what  "confessional"  hand,  confound  to  shi-shosetsu  critique  Tsuge,  autobiographical,  the  thus  Japanese  Further,  a  may  suggests  for a  regarded as  too  shi-shosetsu  "confessional novel"  purposely  round-table  which  the  Confessions  Don  trying  i n regard  hand,  much w i t h i n  or  of  one  be  romances",  Confessions  novel,  could  the  ) but,  tradition  1981  originality ance  as  the a  a  work  very  shosetsu 87  seems  chivalric the  Japanese  on  expectations  novel.  product  fall  shi-shosetsu  reader's  tradition,  modern  shi-shosestsu",  for  earlier  oppositional role,  Indeed,  term  of  simply  on  days, not  to  Confessions, impression its first i t was write  a l l distinguished this  shi-shosetsu, objectivity  even of  Tsuge of  appear-  something a  shi-sho-  work,  though  i t  i t s point  of  was view:  63  the  dispassionate  psyche,even  way  applying  i n which  the  to himself,  narrator  at  times,  dissects the  his  own  scientific  89 theories  o f modern  agreeing  with Tsuge  viewpoint,  sees  metaphysical tor's  on  this  larger: novel,  the  not  terms:  merely  then  The  Temple  symbolizes a  decade  ity,  more  from  postwar  earlier,  narrowly,  as  Japanese  essential  way  out  of  own  the  word,  struggle  consistent  world-view.  merely  man's  for is may no say,  one  instance, secondary be  as to  regarded  means  life,  as  as  a  "metaphor"  Pavilion,  In h i s book had  also  "metaphor" of 91  the  i n which  the  stuttering  written  the  hero's  later  homosexualalienation  i s that a  a  points  apology  of  symbol out,  of  the  point.  Gide's  Corydon  (1924).  argument  the  life  use  created and  image  of  itself.  Thus,  hero's  homosexuality  Though  the Confessions  hero  f o r homosexuality per  an  from  to  objective  i n t e n d e d as  f o r the  On  t o have,  language  a universal,  I t i s not as  i t seems  structure  express  but  Confessions differs  apology  central  in a  Mishima  viewed  an  novel's  something  the hero's  on  but  of  r e m o r s e " — j u s t as,  Golden 90  larger  i t s narra-  i s used  n o v e l ' s main an  simply about  in  society.  Noguchi the  but  novel's  shi-shosestsu;  buntai: to  the  a  Noguchi a  of  while  be  conventional shi-shosetsu  Mishima's  n o v e l was  his alienation.  over  The  the  objectivity  i n psychological  "existential of  Takehiko,  i t would  the homosexuality the hero's  Noguchi  unusual  i f the  homosexuality,  actually  a  psychology.  himself, s e — i n  contrary,  v e r y much d e p e n d s  on  the  the  i t is  by  manner  force  a negative  of  of, the  view  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 associating 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 class92 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 Confessions , then, is also, in a sense, deceptive. While the narrator 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 malevolent 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 "climactic" scene of his masturbation by the seashore. Here he becomes sexually aroused by identifying himself with St. Sebastian, 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 "'tragedy in the most sensuous meaning of the word", the non-masochistic reader may wonder exactly what that meaning i s , 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 nihilist 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 1  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 trivial events for no better reason than that they actually happened to him. Edward Seidensticker, for instance, describes the typical Japanese I-novel as an "unformed 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 i s , in fact, shaped with such precise discipline that each detail of the work relates 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 chronologically as in many aui. biographical novels; there is a definite inner logic to their arrangement, since each represents a further progression in the argument. And this form of narrative 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 without resorting to a conventional plot-line. The way Mishima  67  accomplished using  his  to a  of  that this  which  was  own l i f e  argument, think  this  it  of  as  put,  C.  The  Nihilist  1.  The  final the  (Kinkakuji, an a c t  of  one  the  of  or  one  scene of  arson.  Mizoguchi Zen  his  It  carefully  to  The  action  the  of  certain  one  may  psychological  uses  effectiveness  from  of  the  Golden  Pavilion  ordinary  stray  the  act  of  treasures  the  arson:  of  is  more  pyromaniac  Pavilion  he b o a s t s  commits  he b u r n s  Japan,  a  down  five-hun-  foliated  in  gold.  outrageous  is  that  but  a monk a t  pavilion belongs.  Indeed,  Golden  narrator/protagonist,  p a v i l i o n which  which the  planned.  its  Temple  Temple  seem a l l  some  Whatever  a  novel The  i s no  of  by  view.  architectural  i s not  temple  the  approach,  support  unsavory  gainsay  of  Mizoguchi,  dred-and-fifty-year-old What makes  the  cannot  scene of  1956),  great  of  point  in  determinism.  as A e s t h e t e :  final  a "deductive"  a "case history"  argument,  is  taking  nihilistic  strictly aesthetic  In  by  And  about  his  this:  the  very  action "I  want  is my  95 scrupulous bles  all  mosquito them  attention  the  flammable  netting,  one n i g h t ,  living  quarters  detail  along with over  an a t t a c k  to  changes  to  not  his  to  materials  meditation  itation, them,  to  of  mind  that  he  bundles  golden  remorse about  stealthily of  straw,  pavilion. but  of  He  assem-  owns—mattress,  cushion—and  three  the  be r e c o g n i z e d . "  inertia,  destroying  himself  carries  from  After  quilts,  his  some  he  sets  along  hesfire with  68  the  pavilion,  ple.  Far  settles  and  from  then  escapes  feeling  down f o r a  to  remorse,  smoke a f t e r  a  he  mountain feels  his  job  north  "just  of  like  i s done:  his  tem-  a man  who  I wanted  to  96 live".  An  The  unusually  structure of  shima ' s most than  The  novel  whole  regarded  actual that In  the  who so  destroys  talents  place, a  i t seems  imagination. ma ' s u s e have the as  of  been  nihilistic writer,  a  the  bare  own  intellect The  whole  brief,  by  turning  gent  of  definite  bones;  In  with  mood  the him  nihilist.  he  and  had  choice  have and  of  is  of  piece to  Japanese  flesh  them  this to  say,  inspired and  out  though,  mad  one:  his  of  his  own Mishi-  ingenious.  was, was  with  i t is  particular  symbolized  he  monk  course,  even  youth  But  may  action—an  material—a  and  Fertility.  "non-fiction" novel.  importantly  luck.  of  a c t i o n , and  i s not  i n c i d e n t which  of  Sea  why  or  Mi-  pronouncedly  f u l l - b l o w n from  skillful  postwar  Pavilion,  final  an  sprung  most  this  indeed,  Mishima  into By  This  The  novel!  for  given  the  To  so  well  Mishima only  power  of  his  imagination.  novel, way  place.  "documentary"  material  provided  or  p e c u l i a r world-view  Secondly, this  Golden  the  treasure—was  to  Mishima  i s e v e n more  towards"  Mishima's  his  the  interpretation  a  cultural  for a  Confessions  1950—took  i s merely  of  novel,  the  Mishima's  suited to that  of  ending  Temple  is "written  of  work  first  well  that  as  event  the  The  accomplished  "optical"  be  positive  an the  c o n s i s t s of  puts  aesthete final  flesh who  scene  on  this  "fleshing  Mizoguchi's  is also  out".  bones  is  a  highly  i n t e l l i -  i t becomes  clear,  in  fact,  69  that  his  aestheticism is  the  source  nihilism  which a l i e n a t e s  him  from  his  stuttering,  important ment the  and  equation  on w h i c h final  the  scene:  prevents in  the  whole  him  novel,  his  nihilism,  the  world,  as  from  taking  action.  and  structure  "Nothingness  of  the  is  was  passive  symbolized The  philosophical  based,  the  a  is  that  structure  a l l -  argu-  given  of  by  in  this  97 beauty."  (Kyomu ga k o n o  attraction tion  of  sucks  the  pavilion  nothingness;  the  aesthete  Mizoguchi's  (and  even  is  beauty  force. from  the  act. of  grip  The  this  the  mistake  one  last of  no  da.)  on M i z o g u c h i  is  thus  a void  Mishima's?)  its  unique,  the  struggle  a n d be  has  pavilion,  and needs  time. the  pausing It  for  i s now  pavilion's  c a n he free in  a moment  to  admire  he has and  malevolent  his  feels  incomprehensibility  of  the  golden  had  troubled  in  the  past,  And  his  the  final  "the  pavilion's  scene.  materials  match, its  to  resolution  he  makes  beauty  v i s i o n of  that  himself  live—and  the  the  In  world-view,  flammable  set  vortex,  release  to  attrac-  act.  a l l his to  beauty  to  in  only  that  a  evident  the  me s o m u c h  will  fatal  the  sinister,  involved  assembled  like  The  paranoid, a  pavilion  nothingness  his  if  as u l t i m a t e l y  Mizoguchi  of  which,  him of  philosophical dialectic is  the  ness  is  kozo d a t t a  i n and d r a i n s  psychological  After inside  beauty  destroying  of  no  exerts  perceived  O n l y by  bi  the  for nothing-  problem beauty,  w a s now h a l f w a y  of which 98  solved".  " s o l u t i o n " i s as f o l l o w s : . . . i f one e x a m i n e d t h e b e a u t y o f t h e [pavilion's] d e t a i l s , one 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 , was 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 one 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 of the beauty of the next d e t a i l . T h e 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 uneasiness. T h i s was b e c a u s e , w h i l e i t d r e a m t 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 o n t o t h e n e x t b e a u t y , an unknown b e a u t y . Each h i n t of 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 became, s o t o s p e a k , t h e t h e m e 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 . Nothingness was the s t r u c t u r e of t h i s beauty. Thus, the i n c o m p l e t i o n of the d e t a i l s of the p a v i l i o n ' s beauty naturally 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 structure, made o f t h e t h i n n e s t l u m b e r , 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 pendant t r e m b l i n g i n the wind.99 Mizoguchi's  final  experience  undermine  him  i n the  Honda  the  protagonist of  and  by  "violent  fatigue"  he  i s about  to  Kashiwagi  had  t a k e told  same way  and 1  a  ^  101 knowledge".  To  was  no  i t out  to  act  similar  of  the  have  imagined  the  is of  world  overcome the  deed  was  was  "Action  to  undermine  his nihilist  the  physically.  He  futility  what  changed  threatens  experiences  Confessions.  remembers  "what  but  need  the  sense  He  him:  as  of nothingness  action friend  not  action  enough;  f o r me  there  now  is  102 no  more  than  a kind  Ironically, as  superfluity."  Mizoguchi  i n Nietzsche's eyes,  transformed a  of  Zen  meet  into  a  the  Buddha,  stirring,  but  Mizoguchi  is  heresy  "manly" a c t i v e  e x h o r t a t i o n , which the  i s rescued  kill  easily  includes  the  Buddha!"  misconstrued,  of  from  what  Mishima's  passive nihilism,  nihilist, the  i s , in  by  famous The  words  on  h i s memory  line:  effect the  and  "When of  of you  these  unbalanced  electrifying:  T h e w o r d s s n a p p e d me o u t o f t h e p o w e r l e s s n e s s I h a d fallen into. S u d d e n l y my w h o l e b o d y o v e r f l o w e d w i t h power. W h i c h i s t o s a y : o n e p a r t o f my m i n d 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 s o o n h a d 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 n e w - f o u n d p o w e r h a d n o f e a r o f meaninglessness. 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 m u s t do i t . 104  71 Whereupon he dashes to the Golden Pavilion and, for the first time in his l i f e , achieves a satisfying act of self-expression. 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 Fertility: relief or catharsis versus devastation, life-affirmation versus life-negation. Whereas the two previous characters were overcome by nothingness, Mizoguchi overcomes nothingness, ironically, by an act of destruction. Thus, as we have seen, he decides against suicide, escapes to a nearby 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 i s t . His act of destruction may hardly be regarded as a "positive" act. Rather he becomes an "active" instead of a "passive" nihilist, 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 nihilist dialectic throughout the novel The dialectical tension between active and passive nihilism, so clearly expressed in the final scene of the novel, is adumbrated in various forms from the very beginning. The key  72 incident  of  frustrated Uiko, with  the  first  attempt  expresses her  to  the  beauty  chapter, make  same  as he  i n the  early  morning,  waiting  When f i n a l l y  she a p p e a r s ,  but  himself  finds  nihilism, even  of  contact  already  he h i d e s  he  is  with  with  for  her  he r u n s  Mizoguchi's  a neighboring  After  darkness  suddenly  which renders  instance,  tension.  Pavilion, one  for  becoming  the  beauty  by  the  s i d e of  to  ride  out  to  overcome  by  of  the  her.  only  of  Golden  road bicycle.  She  a wave o f  him i n c a p a b l e not  obsessed the  on h e r  stop  by  as  girl,  stops,  passive  acting  but  speaking: 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 . Will, d e s i r e — e v e r y t h i n g became s t o n e . The o u t e r w o r l d a g a i n t o o k on 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 me, 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 . The "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 , and r a n a l o n g a r o a d s t i l l shrouded i n dawn d a r k n e s s up 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 furious speed. In the r o o f s of the v i l l a g e houses, whose 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 dawn l i g h t , i n the b l a c k grove of t r e e s , i n the b l a c k peak of 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 was, to a t e r r i b l e degree, a complete l a c k of meaning. 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 iiuw, 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 was 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 me. 106  Standing utter  me,  a word,  as  he  •C  A  if  dodging  Later  A  helplessly in front  when M i z o g u c h i fantasies Kashiwagi.  a  on a g i r l  scorn:  "She  even  to  cycled  round  stone."  novel  finds  unable  ,,107  +•  This  Uiko,  i s h u m i l i a t e d by h e r  •  i n the  of  this  himself provided  time,  scene unable by  though,  is to  repeated act  out  his nihilist the  agent  of  i n another his  form  lustful  Mephistopheles, passive  nihilism  73 is  not  an e x p e r i e n c e  Pavilion  itself,  of  general  a vision  of  meaninglessness  which renders  but  the  him even  Golden  sexually  108 impotent. thus  not  And only  prefigures of  the  his  fact  a grave  after  echoes  being  forced  on h i m ,  a man o f is  the  the  full  thus  placing  his  of  topsy-turvy  of  presents  his  first  action.  And  the  of  his  of  into  for  the  evil  Uiko  at  this  least  final  to  of  does  capable  child  a compromising  triumph it  only  as  scene,  feels  trample  on  his  Though  since prove of  it  was he,  action.  but  in  a fledging his  And  the  also  action  amplifies  he  that  position.  the  nihilism  he  repercussions  values,  also  pride  action,  an unborn  scene  but  own p a s s i v e  strange  soldier  The  itself.  his  incident  nihilist  important  very  for  with  novel's  pavilion  considerable  Superior  world  the  the  is  murder  scorn.  i n d u c i n g an a b o r t i o n .  nevertheless  the  i n the  perceives  "credit"  world,  with  experience  an American  a c t i o n which has only  of  accounts  by  inner  world—not  sense  power  stomach,  take  reacts  earlier  Mizoguchi  forced  cannot  girl  experience,  affliction  girlfriend's  it  later  that  the  his  life-negating  The as  again  outer the  In  the  thus  re-  man  of  unaccustomed  power: 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 was c o m m i t t e d , had not f e l t l i k e a c r i m e , t h a t a c t i o n of t r a m p l i n g on the 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 . This 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 because of i t . The 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 emit, 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 the eyes. The g l i t t e r o f e v i l . Yes. E v e n i f i t was 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 awareness t h a t I had committed e v i l . That awaren e s s was 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 lawyer 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 novelist 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 instrument may itself seem highly paradoxical, considering his n i h 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 i h i l ist, the power-hungry Ubermensch. Mizoguchi, pitiable figure that he i s , 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 nihilist moral hero. 3. Critical evaluation of the work in the light of its nihilist 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 produced some confusions between l i f e and art in the critical reaction to The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The danger arises when critics f a 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 action provoked is transferred to Mishima, who seems in his novel to justify the burning of national treasures as a form of "selfexpression". Needless to say, moral outrage is not the state of mind most conducive to a fair estimation of the novel's aesthetic 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 M i z o g u c h i ' s i n s o u c i a n t ,  tude a f t e r  he has  t o see him  punished—by  Western  critic,  c a u s e he  remorse  at least  truction  prefer  i f n o t by d e a t h .  D o n a l d Keene, on t h e o t h e r hand, p e r h a p s  treasures,  i s quite w i l l i n g  and e v e n a r g u e s t h a t :  cess that  atti-  p e r f o r m e d h i s a c t o f a r s o n , and would  i s c a p a b l e o f a more d e t a c h e d a t t i t u d e  ese n a t i o n a l issue,  self-congratulatory  be-  towards  Japan-  to overlook the  moral  " I t i s a measure o f M i s h i m a ' s  he p e r s u a d e d r e a d e r s t h a t of a p r i c e l e s s  A  suc-  a d e p l o r a b l e e v e n t — t h e des-  work o f a r t — w a s  justifiable  i n terms  113 of the l i b e r a t i o n  o f one man."  sides being false  ( t h e above J a p a n e s e  obviously  were n o t so e a s i l y  naive c o n f u s i o n of the r e a l symbolic be  said  use of i t .  The  to " j u s t i f y "  Keene's c l a i m , critics,  though,  for instance,  " p e r s u a d e d " ) , i s b a s e d on t h e same i n c i d e n t w i t h Mishima's  fictional,  Temple o f t h e G o l d e n P a v i l i o n  the a c t u a l  a c t o f a r s o n o f 1950  cannot  f o r the  simple r e a s o n that Mizoguchi i s not Hayashi, the a c t u a l ist,  b u t an a l t e r  ego  o f Mishima  himself,  ion i s given a symbolic, p h i l o s o p h i c a l yashi ' s action,  apparently  be-  committed  arson-  and M i z o g u c h i ' s  s i g n i f i c a n c e which "on  i m p u l s e " , i n no  actHaway  114 possessed. Pavilion,  I f Mishima  h i m s e l f had  to the  Golden  t h e n p e r h a p s h i s n o v e l c o u l d r e a s o n a b l y be r e g a r d e d  as an " a p o l o g y f o r a r s o n " .  But  s i n c e he was  t h e most a r d e n t d e f e n d e r o f J a p a n e s e of h i s generation, fense o f the f i r i n g literal.  set f i r e  perhaps  i t would  of c u l t u r a l  culture be  safer  treasures  i n "real among t h e  life" writers  t o r e g a r d h i s de-  as more s y m b o l i c t h a n  77  Incidentally, erful,  inevitable  confusion.  The  actual  tragedy  this  it  by  becomes  most  tragic,  since tragedies  a rather as  his  to  a success story supreme  A more culpability  put  to  is  it  tions that  of  this  the  its  novel  115 means". connected  the  what  istically—that  i s ,  triumph  novel  the  too  thus  characters.  One by  not  later  novel  made  than  neglects of  the  Miyoshi  that:  have  its  is  so. moral level  presenta-  who  most  "What h a p p e n e d  only  it  it  psychological  Masao, the  is  described  strongest  by  work  this  on t h e  the  of  this  course,  exclusively  consequentiality  comes  to  but  of  over  opposite  better  of  as  context  admittedly be  "pow-  art/life  active  death  would  irony  of  a  regarded  the  the  ending—and,  in  i s made  hero's  as  same  within  Although  against  By w h i c h h e m e a n s with  the  and  "evades  novel  doubt  conclusion is  functions  argument  but  the  live.  achievement charge  of  of  a happy  serious  was n o  Japanese,  it,  with  that  1950  end w i t h  p h i l o s o p h i c a l argument,  realization  of  novel's  resolution  o d d way  Mishima's  of  The  the  a l s o based on the  a symbol  nihilism.  with  is  event  passive  ends  d e s c r i p t i o n of  tragedy"  a national novel  Keene's  charges subtle  earlier  thematically,  not  is  novel-  historically, psychologically,  or  116 causally." reader ever  is  To g i v e n no  acquired  am n o t given  illustrate his idea  Temple  origins  simply  Miyoshi  how a r o u g h - h e w n  and  Mizoguchi's education,  disregards  the  job  light  of  aesthetics but of  it  is  even  feasible  in  the  his  the  Mizoguchi "I  'incredible', that  appear 117  or  that  sensibility:  am a r g u i n g making  notes  monk l i k e  such a s o p h i s t i c a t e d a e s t h e t i c  i n s i s t i n g that his  of  point,  background."  The  Golden  probable  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 Mizoguchi. Of course the novel does not offer a realistic psychological portrait of the pyromaniac as aesthete—the very idea seems ludicrous. In demanding that it do so, Miyoshi, an expert 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 nihilist universe of such modern philosophical fiction human psychology is not always made to appear "probable or even feasible" in the light of the character's background. Characters ofter* are offered more as symbols than as literal human beings. Thus Mizoguchi may be taken as a symbol of the passive nihilist struggling to become an active nihilist, and most of the other characters of the novel may likewise be taken as symbolic active or passive nihilists, or, as Ueda Makoto 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 philosophic 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 equation. But neither are they full 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 psychological 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 occasions that he was capable of greater psychological range—most  80  conspicuously, in After the Banquet (Utage no ato, 1 9 6 0 ) , 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 nihilist 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 i s , not historical120  ly, psychologically, or causally." Here Miyoshi betrays the same prejudice against ideas as "extra-literary" or "inartistic" 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"? Surely 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 critic would do better to celebrate what it i s , and to point out the significance of Mishima's  81 achievement, especially within the Japanese context. The Temple 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 nihilist 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 dramatic interest rare in a work which also engages in such a weighty philosophical discourse. This was no small achievement, 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 s k i l l at revealing in an indirect manner, by means of conversations, the personalities, temperaments and outlook on life 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 nihilist 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.  Conclusion Nihilism  tury  West,  thought,  originally  threatening  nihilism  a product  and c o n t i n u e s as a major  metaphysics  its  was  t o undermine  and m o r a l i t y  use o f such  force  i n modern  the t r a d i t i o n a l  o f Western  h a s some d i s t i n c t l y  of the nineteenth-cen-  theology,  civilization.  Western  elements,  Nietzschean dualistic  Western  Mishima's  especially i n  concepts  as a c t i v e  passive  nihilism  and t h e A p o l l o n i a n  and D i o n y s i a n  Mishima  was  strongly  to Nietzsche's idea  nihilist and of  also  superman,  attracted  t h e man  of iron  will,  beyond  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 the cult  tragic his  o f t h e body  hero.  But Mishima  nihilism  all,  within  an extreme  sidered  a  and o f t h e Greek also  h i s own  Japanese  nationalist,  "foreign"  Hagakure  (Hagakure  Tokugawa  samurai  Thus,  1967),  moralist,  to find  good  of the  and  paganism,  o f man  as a  was  He w a s ,  loath  f o r instance, Jocho,  as an  after  t o be  i n h i s Introduction  Yamamoto  evil,  precedents f o r  tradition.  and no doubt  thinker. nyumon,  liked  principles.  o f Greek  concept  and  con-  to the  he d e p i c t s  the  admirable  122 "active mei-gaku form  nihilist".  And he d e a l s  and those  revolutionaries  of neo-Confucianism,  sought  out n i h i l i s t i c  and  i n the Yuishiki  may  be  of  some  thought,  such  elements  school,  quasi-nihilistic and t o Japanese  anachronistic  t o r e g a r d them  i n a similar influenced  as Oshio  i n Shintoism.  Also,  he  i n Zen  While  there  traditional  modes  i n general,  as " n i h i l i s t "  Yo-  militant  especially  aspects to these culture  by t h i s  Heihachiro.  i n Buddhism,  and even  way w i t h  i t i s obviously  i n t h e modern  sense  83  of  the  refers  term. to  of  different  The  simple  was  e s s e n t i a l l y Western, him to  affinities  suspect, with  idea  nothingness,  reality  than  for  that  instance, of  the  idea.  enabled his  Buddhist  a completely  nihilist  view  The  still  other  fact  of  write with  matter  is  and  it  Western-style traditional  he d o e s  modern  the  have  Japanese  that was  Mishima's  exactly  world-  this  which  philosophical novels.  Japanese  strong  thinkers  affinities  novelists,  may  in his  who w e r e  also  While  thus  be  nihilism Western-  influenced. The 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 Futabatei Shimei, tance5/^in f a c t , imbibed nineteenth-century Russian n i h i l i s m directly of  from  this  may  1886-89), novelist  be  its  source,  translating  seen i n h i s  a study  novel,  in nihilist  whom M i s h i m a a d m i r e d  disciplined influenced  style  he  by German  The  Turgenev, Drifting  malaise. above  Mori  and wrote  the  Cloud  Ogai,  a l l others,  consciously imitated, literature  and  was  effects  (Ukigumo,  the  Japanese  and whose also  spare  strongly  philosophical  and 12  historical  stories  Indeed,  we s u r v e y  erature, dark  if  if  we f i n d not  whose  that  actually  themes  the  s e r i o u s modern  view  of  life  it  This  applies  the  nihilistic.  though,  expressed  as M i s h i m a ' s ,  and  aestheticism.  In  by no means  is  in  Kawabata  an i s o l a t e d  words,  with  phenomenon,  also whose  is to  Mishi-  nihilism,  even  terms  traditional  n i h i l i s m per  a n d may  l i t -  certainly  philosophical  an e x q u i s i t e  Mishima's  nihilistic.  Japanese  presents  Yasunari,  such e x p l i c i t  tempered  other  the  of  and p a t r o n ,  not  approach  whole  ma ' s " t e a c h e r " is  often  be  se  taken  is to  84  represent a fairly common mood in modern Japanese literature, if in a rather extreme form. But what is definitely uncommon is the manner in which he articulates this mood, the philosophical 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 worldview 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 nihilist philosophy. In each of the three cases examined here, a somewhat different aspect of the nihilist 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 exemplary 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  reasoned  argument.  Actually, philosophical text  of  a better novelist  of  here,  unfortunately, The  first  two  of  shef,  is  who  present  offer  much c l o s e r t o  actually  the  s u c h as  writes  But,  of  of  briefest  be  a nihilist  these  viewpoint; nihilists.  Russian n o v e l i s t , (U  the  Mishima,  a nihilist to  the  n i h i l i s m was  unlike  Breaking-Point  out  con-  but  especially in  profess  later  the  use  literature,  who  literature,  only  from  the  could also provide  literary  write  nihilist  p l a c i n g him i n  comparative to  characters  i n a novel  1911-12),  do n o t  M i s h i m a as a  This  Turgenev and D o s t o e v s k y .  merely  Mishima  am a b l e  Russian  Russian novelists  they  in  significant  nineteenth-century  novels  study  I  of  be h a d by  literature.  a fascinating  summary. in  would  modern Western  basis  understanding  Artzyba-  poslednei  point  of  cherty,  view,  ad-  124 vocating On  nothing the  nihilist in  that  ent to  have  chose  to  through  That  than  hand,  he makes no  give the  German there  to  write  an  course,  it  may h a v e  write  for  to  his  form Mann,  of  the  Hesse  certain unresolved  "anti-novel" and  b e e n more  consist-  originally,  tensions  involved  he  seen,  philosophic novel, and,  seemed  Rather  a s we h a v e  from  setting  but Mishima 125  writing.  nihilism,  European  Robbe-Grillet  character  such novels,  experimental  later  and  plot,  conventional  were  Beckett  of  Of  of  from  elements  expression  tradition  Sartre,  attempt  h i s n i h i l i s m to talent  suicide!  Mishima d i f f e r s  real  conventional  little  universal  s u c h as  been expunged. with  the  other  novelists  which a l l have  less  in  Goethe. in  this  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 Fertility. But if, as a nihilist, 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 if a l l supports are suddenly removed—which recur throughout his major novels.  87  Chapter  One  Notes  1.  On  the notion  Mary  McCarthy,  Jovanovich, Henry  that  Ideas  1980),  and  p.14,  Rene  (New  York,  3.  op.cit.,  pp.5-6.  4.  op.cit.,  p.123.  5.  Lionel  Trilling,  day,  1950),  p.279.  6.  op.cit.,  pp.285-6.  7.  op.cit.,  p.283.  8.  Vladimir  Nabokov,  1981),  Wellek  the Novel  (New  where  attributes  she  Warren,  H a r c o u r t , 1956),  p.110.  and  York:  see,  for  Harcourt  instance, Brace  the notion  to  10.  op.cit. ,  p.66.  11.  op.cit. ,  p.41.  12.  McCarthy,  13.  op.cit. ,  p.31.  14.  op.cit.,  p.62.  15.  Quoted  16.  For  see  John  a  For  Showa  p.42  Forum  Alain  1965),  I m a g i n a t i o n (New  (New  York:  York:  3rd  McGraw-Hill,  p.3.  House, of  see  shobo,  of  this  split  Introduction 1969),  to 20th  philosophy  Century Philosophy  pp.5-14.  t h e s e two  Odagiri  i n modern  opposing tendencies i n  Susumu,  Showa b u n g a k u  no  early  seiritsu  1965).  Robbe-Grillet,  For a  New  Novel  (New  York:  Grove,  p.32.  Stephen  D.  Ross,  Literature  Appleton-Century-Crofts,  1969),  and  P h i l o s o p h y (New  p.217.  ed.  Double-  p.54.  summary  account  Keiso  of Literature,  p.119.  K a p p e l , An  literature  (Tokyo:  and  Ideas,  concise  an  Liberal  Strong Opinions  i n McCarthy,  F.  (Toronto:  The  Theory  p.54.  op.cit.,  19.  "inartistic"  Austin  p.41  and  9.  18.  are  James.  2.  17.  ideas  York:  88  20.  McCarthy,  21.  o p . c i t . , p.21.  22.  Quoted  Nature  Ideas, p.24.  i n Makoto  of Literature  Ueda,  Modern  (Stanford:  Japanese  Stanford  Writers  Univ.  and t h e  Press,  1976),  p.250. 23.  Mishima  1973-76), my  vol.19,  own u n l e s s  like  trans.  [hereafter  p.646.  give  page  i n brackets,  Edward  G.  MYZ]  A l l translations  to the published  I also  these,  zenshu  otherwise specified  to refer  novels, of  Yukio  from  Shinchosha,  the Japanese  b u t , f o r r e a d e r s who  English  references  as f o l l o w s :  Seidensticker,  (Tokyo:  translations  of  t o the paperback (The Decay  New  York:  would Mishima s 1  editions  of the Angel,  Pocket  Books,  1975,  p.246.) 24.  MYZ,  25.  ibid.~  26.  MYZ,  New  York:  27.  MYZ,  Saunders 1975,  vol.19,  p.647.  vol.18,  p.40.  Pocket  Books,  vol.19,  (Decay,  (Spring  (The Temple  Segawa  MYZ  vol.19,  p.135.  29.  MYZ  vol.19,  pp.132-3.  30.  Rev. Soyen  Samuel  Weiser,  Shaku,  Michael  o f Dawn,  trans.  Gallagher,  Seigle,  New  York:  Pocket  E. Dale Books,  (Dawn,  Sermons  pp.111-2).  o f a B u d d h i s t Abbot  Zen and American  I. Glicksberg,  Bucknell  Univ.,  33.  op.cit.,  34.  o p . c i t . , p.19.  35.  Helmut  1961),  p.114).  (New  York:  T r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m (Tokyo:  1970), p.34.  Charles  burg:  (Dawn,  1971), p.98.  S h o e i Ando,  Hokuseido, 32.  trans.  p.111).  28.  31.  Snow,  1975, p . 2 7 ) .  p.132.  and C e c i l i a  p.247).  The L i t e r a t u r e  of Nihilism  (Lewis-  1975), p.40.  p.18.  Thielicke,  Nihilism  (New Y o r k :  Harper  and  Row,  p.54.  36.  Daisetsu  (New  York:  37.  MYZ  Teitaro  Samuel  vol.19,  Suzuki,  Weiser, p.647.  Essays  i n Zen Buddhism,  1971), p.38. (Decay,  p.247).  2nd  series,  89  38.  MYZ  vol.19,  pp.630-31.  39.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.426.  (Decay,  p.60).  p.484.  (Decay,  p.110).  40.  p.232).  ibid.  41.  MYZ  42.  Takeda  in  (Decay,  vol.19,  Mishima  43.  K a t s u h i k o and Yukio  (Tokyo:  Mishima Kawade,  Yukio, 1975),  " B u n g a k u wa  ibid. MYZ  vol.19,  p.70.  (Dawn,  pp.54-5).  45.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.78.  (Dawn,  p.62).  46.  MYZ  v o l v 1 9 , p.114.  (Dawn,  p.94).  47.  MYZ  vol.18,  p.110.  (Spring  Snow,  p.93).  48.  MYZ  vol.18,  p.113.  (Spring  Snow,  p.95).  49.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.617.  (Decay,  p.221).  50.  For  an  "Strangely Joseph  elaboration Shaped  For  with  Miyoshi  of  this  (Tokyo:  instance,  Tsuge  53.  Mishima, kyuka  56.  vol.19,  of For  Takehiko  Culture See  shoin,  no  Bowring,  no  Culture,  ed.  1963).  and  Matsumoto  Toru,  in  kenkyu  ( v o l . 26,  no.9,  July,  Hasegawa  1982),  and  hoho",  63).  i n Shosetsuka  pp.156-8.  Accomplices of  Silence  (Berkeley,  p.95.  Mori  Izumi,  (Dawn, p . 4 8  s h o s e t s u no  study of  (Cambridge:  1970),  p.79.  Miyoshi,  1974),  excellent  John  and  Shinchosha,  i n Masao  Calif., an  p.63  "Watakushi  (Tokyo:  Quoted  Richard ese  i n Japanese  pp.31-7.  MYZ  Univ.  Seidensticker,  Teruhiko i n a round-table discussion  Yukio, Noguchi  52.  54.  see Edward  Sophia Univ.,  Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u t o k y o z a i 1981),  point  Novels", i n Studies  Roggendorf  51.  55.  ka",  p.144.  44.  no  kukyo  Ogai's  Ogai  and  Cambridge ed.,  "literature  of  ideas"  the M o d e r n i z a t i o n of  Univ.  Mishima  Press,  1979),  Yukio kenkyu  p.9.  57.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.646.  (Decay,  p.246).  58.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.647.  (Decay,  p.247.  59.  MYZ  vol.18,  p.136.  (Spring  Snow,  60.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.292.  (Dawn,  p.252).  p.119).  see  Japan-  pp.125-94.  (Tokyo:  Ubun  90  61.  Trilling,  62.  See above Kokubungaku  63.  Seidensticker,  (Tokyo: 64.  Liberal  Kodansha,  Imagination, zadankai  "Sea o f F e r t i l i t y " ,  1979),  See above  zadankai,  Fiction  (New Y o r k :  West:  pp.281-2.  In This  Country,  Japan  p.143. p.33 a n d D o n a l d Holt,  Rinehard  Keene,  Dawn t o t h e  and Winston, 1984),  p.1210. 65.  Keene,  66.  See above  67.  See P i e r r e  nal  Dawn,  Return",  Delta,  p.1210.  zadankai,  Klossowski,  i n T h e New  1977),  p.33 a n d Keene, "Nietzsche's  Nietzsche,  Dawn,  Experience  ed. David  Thomas  (New  York:  69.  MYZ  dith  Weatherby  70.  MYZ  vol.3,  71.  MYZ  vol.19 ,  72.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.352.  (Confessions,  p.254).  73.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.173.  (Confessions,  p.14).  74.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.173.  (Confessions,  p.15) .  75.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.192.  (Confessions,  p.41).  76.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.168.  (Confessions,  p.8) .  77.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.171.  ' "onf e s s i o n s , p . 1 2 ) .  78.  MYZ  vol.3,  p . 1.85.  (Confessions,  p.30).  79.  MYZ  vol.3,  p. 185.  (Confessions,  p.31) .  80.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.186.  (Confessions,  p.32).  81.  MYZ v o l . 3 ,  p.186.  (Confessions,  p.33) .  82.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.229.  (Confessions,  p.92) .  83.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.230.  (Confessions,  p.94).  84.  Quoted i n John  85.  Allison  of the Eter(New Y o r k :  pp.107-20.  68.  p.94  p.1210.  Mann, T h e M a g i c M o u n t a i n , t r a n s . Vintage,  vol.3,  1969),  pp.349- 50. (New  York:  p.350. p.647.  p.723. (Confessions New  Directions,  (Confessions, (Decay,  o f a Mask, t r a n s .  Mere-  1 9 5 8 ) , p .252) .  pp.252-3).  p.247).  Nathan, Mishima (Boston:  •  Mishima, Shosetsuka  H.T. L o w e - P o r t e r  no k y u k a ,  p.154.  Little,  B r o w n , 1974  91  87.  See  Eto Jun,  ture",  i n The  1964),  p.435.  88. 89.  See  "An  U n d e r c u r r e n t i n Modern  Journal  above  of Asian  Kokubungaku  Studies,  zadankai,  Japanese  vol.XXIII,  Litera-  no.3  (May,  p.7.  ibid.  90.  op.cit.,  91.  Noguchi  1968),  pp.8-9. Takehiko, Mishima  Y u k i o no  sekai  (Tokyo:  Kodansha,  p.108.  92.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.230.  93.  MYZ  vol.19,  94.  Seidensticker,  95.  Mishima  p.114.  Yukio  no.82,  (Tokyo:  Golden  Pavilion,  (Confessions, (Decay,  "Strangely Shu  trans.  p.94).  Shaped  (hereafter  Shueisha,  p.94).  1966),  Novels",  MYS),  p.382.  Ivan Morris,  New  p.217.  i n Nihon (The  bungaku  Temple  York:  of  Berkley,  p.272). 96.  MYS,  P- 3 9 1 .  97.  MYS,  P- 3 8 6 .  98.  ibid •  99.  MYS,  PP .386- 7.  100.  MYS,  P- 3 8 7 .  101.  ibid •  102.  ibid  103.  MYS,  P- 3 8 8 .  104.  MYS,  PP .388- 9.  105.  MYS,  P- 3 9 1 .  (Temple,  p.285).  106.  MYS,  P- 2 2 8 .  (Temple,  p.29).  107.  MYS,  P- 2 2 9 .  (Temple,  p.30).  108.  MYS,  PP .302- 3.  109.  MYS,  P- 2 7 6 .  110.  Quoted  i n Ueda,  111.  Quoted  i n Miyoshi,  112.  Quoted  i n above  113.  Keene,  Dawn,  114.  Kokubungaku  115.  Miyoshi,  (Temple, (Temple,  p.278).  (Temple,  (Temple,  (Temple,  *  p.285).  p.386).  p.279).  p.280).  (Temple,  p.281).  (Temple,  (Temple,  (Temple, Modern  p.281).  pp.144-5).  p.106). Japanese  Writers,  pp.258-9.  A c c o m p l i c e s , p.161.  Kokubungaku  p.1196. zadankai,  Accomplices,  p.18. p.160.  zadankai,  p.22.  zenshu,  the 1971,  92  116.  ibid.  117.  ibid.  118.  Ueda,  119.  Mishima,  Berkley,  Modern  Miyoshi,  121.  Quoted  Kodansha, 122.  Dower  t h e Banquet,  i n Keene,  1978),  trans,  Donald  Keene  (New  York:  Appreciations  of Japanese  Culture  (Tokyo:  Kathryn Sparling  (Tokyo:  p.215. on Hagakure,  p.52 a n d  example  i n Monumenta  pp.83-4.  Nipponica  See G l i c k s b e r g ,  125.  On  point  trans..  i s "Delusion"  124.  this  p.223.  A c c o m p l i c e s , p.160.  1981),  A good  Writers,  p.5.  Yukio Mishima  Tuttle, 123.  After  1971),  120.  Japanese  25  Literature  see Keene,  (MosS,  1911),  (Autumn,  1970).  of Nihilism,  Dawn,  p.1204.  trans.  pp.103-15.  J.W.  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 nihilist himself, and 2. the nihilist view of psychology. 1. Firstly, nihilism may be regarded as in itself a particular psychological state, subject, of course, to diverse definitions, but characterized in general by an extremely sceptical and negative mental attitude and a mood either of bleak despair or of profound indifference—the despair of someone for whom l i f e 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 nihilist such as Mishima's hero, Mizoguchi, experiences 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 nihilist moods, which are entirely negative. The paradoxical quality of the keynote mood of n i h i l ism—"the pathos of 'in vain'"—was well captured by Nietzsche in his famous definition of a nihilist: A nihilist 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 nihil i s t s ' pathos—at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists. 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 historically inevitable consequence of the loss of authority by JudeoChristian civilization, he wished to hasten the process in the hope that, the sooner the nihilist "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 "meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness". Nietzsche sought to cure himself 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 nihilistic. 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 w i 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 i h i l istic attitude in Shakespeare—his plays are full 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 nihilist world-view than King Lear? Nietzsche, though, was the first to give systematic expression to the philosophy and psychology of nihilism, including 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 reason 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 nihilist 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 nihilist idea of the nothingness of the external world, there is a superficial resemblance between this idea of inner nothingness and certain Buddhist/Christian mystical concepts of the inner void. But, again, the two ideas are 5  96 not  to  they  be  confused,  because,  refer  to  entirely  experience  of  the  cal  rapture—nor  it  void  energy,  such a s ,  like  John of  the  in  the  poems  As  his  English  are  songs  height of  of  of  for  Cross  translator  "the  soul  perfection,  poet/saint  hardly by  Roy  Or,  points  " b e a t i f i c nothingness  an uprush  Campbell at  the  where  of  night  has  union  the all  expression of  the  God  commentator  the  poems  at  by  the  the on  road  the  mystica  s o u l was  to  soul".  these  Christian unio that  mysti-  mystic  arrived  with  by  positive  said,  having  as a n o t h e r  out,  nihilist  a Christian  own " d a r k  is  The  such e x q u i s i t e  in rapture  terms,  characterized  instance,  his  which  i n emotional  experiences.  gives  followed  s p i r i t u a l negation"^  Spanish a  that  is  followed  creative St.  least  different  inner is  at  is  is  'forgot-  ten'"! In to  the  say,  licke  there  is  once more:  asserts  the  himself  is  in  nihilist  experience  nothing "The  vacuum,  inner void, To  decisive point  the  terms,  the  "beatific".  nihil,  o p p r e s s e d and  psychiatric  of  he  the  is  not  his  o p p r e s s e d by  Helmut  only  nothing,  a f f l i c t e d by is  quote  but  own the  needless  that the  Thienihilism  assertor  nothingness; breakdown,  the  o  decay  of  again, self  his  'self-world',  nihilism  is  "leads  'unselfed',  a representation  of  to  his the  loss  or  the  destruction  in Kierkegaard's a thing  of  centre." of  sense,  an e n e r g y ,  the  And,  self.  and becomes  with  all  the  The merely conse-  9  quences The ization"  of  s e l f - a n n i h i l a t i o n that  consequences or  even  of  this  w h a t we m i g h t  "dehumanization"  of  involves." call  the  this  self,  "depersonal-  this  transmogri-  97 fication course, whole  other  the  plainly  of  ation,  of  modern  anomie hand  self  literature.  traditional  a l l but  vanished  ing  on t h i s  latter  from  trend,  Character  in  On  and a b s u r d i t y  the  study,  a "thing  and a b u n d a n t l y  has  cious  into  or  an energy",  evidence  the  one  aesthetic the  throughout  hand  h a v e become  are,  themes  the  of  commonplace;  element  of  in Literature,  alien-  on  the  character  s e r i o u s modern n o v e l .  B a r u c h Hochman,  of  in his  Comment-  perspica-  remarks:  C h a r a c t e r has not f a r e d w e l l i n our c e n t u r y . . . . Over the past f i f t y years the c h a r a c t e r s of l i t e r a t u r e h a v e , i n the works o f our most i n n o v a t i v e w r i t e r s , o f t e n been reduced to schematic a n g u l a r i t y , vapid o r d i n a r i n e s s , or a l l e g o r i c a l i n a n i t y . The g r e a t w r i t e r s of e a r l y modernism f u l f i l l e d the Romantic program of i n d i v i d u a l i s m and c r e a t e d a g a l l e r y of unprecedentedly complex c h a r a c t e r s , but t h e i r h e i r s have d e l i b e r a t e l y s u b o r d i n a t e d the r o l e of c h a r a c t e r i n t h e i r work. And t h e y have done so w i t h t h e c o n v i c t i o n that n e i t h e r l i f e nor l i t e r a t u r e can e f f e c t i v e l y accommodate 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 , , and 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 emb o d i e d human 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 Samuel 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 theme beyond the b l a b b i f i c a t i o n of language, i t i s the emptying out of the s e l f and the l o s s of i t s m e a n i n g . And i f p o s t m o d e r n i s m h a s a r a n g e of bugaboos t h a t i t a t t a c k s as f i c t i v e , c h a r a c t e r as a s u b s t a n t i a l r e a l i t y i s not the l e a s t of them. Postmodernist w r i t e r s not o n l y c h a l l e n g e the cogency of c h a r a c t e r as a c a t e g o r y but a c t i v e l y work t o d i s m a n t l e i t as an o p e r a t i v e element i n t h e i r s t o r i e s . 10 Of  course,  erosion  of  But  social  as  the  or  antagonism  societies,  se i s not  towards  factors—the the  the  the  undermining  the  and r e a l i t y  of  only  character  of  cause of  i n the  modern  w h i c h Hochman  s u p p r e s s i o n of  i n c r e a s i n g dominance  technologies, stability  per  and i n t e l l e c t u a l phenomena  contributing  mass  nihilism  of  individuality life  by  by  novel. lists by  impersonal  t r a d i t i o n a l humanist  character  this  such modern  ideas  of  notions  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, if not actually n i h i l i s t i c , 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 unconscious animal instinct than by conscious morality or reason. Freud's later quasi-metaphysical doctrine of the "death i n stinct", the so-called "nirvana principle", first expounded in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), seems especially nihilistic in tenor. Mishima himself, in fact, seemed to regard Freudian psychology as one of the two major twentiethcentury 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  Just  as,  for  instance,  William Sibley  speaks of  the  "Shiga  14 hero",  a thinly  appears  i n a l l h i s major  "Mishima hero", nihilism, aspects other the  who  a n d who  of  works,  incorporates  of  own  himself parts  into  among  sake  of  of  the  author  s o a l s o we m i g h t  within his  "nihilistic"  character  psychological reality Sometimes  ego  do  of  Mishima employs  several different several different variety.  The  psychology  generally  expedient  parts  most  various  they  of  lack  charact-  "fracturing"  and a p p o r t i o n i n g  characters—one  the  Though  central nihilist  the  of  Mishima's  psychology.  appear,  these  who  speak  i s b a s i c a l l y a spokesman of  Mishima's  varieties  ers.  the  disguised alter  these  presumes,  c o n s p i c u o u s example  of  for this 15  occurs  in  the  w o r k he r e f e r r e d  Kyoko's  House  ( K y o k o no  divides  himself  into  tivity,  a boxer  action,  ie,  four  also  be  logy:  has  pointed  parts:  seen to  Kiyoaki  be r e p e a t e d  representing  Chan n a r c i s s i s t i c  i n w h i c h he  in  the  of  heroes  sensitivity,  self-awareness  nihilism",  supposedly  As  four of  sensi-  self-awareness  wisdom.  pattern  of  representing  narcissistic  worldly  this  "study  a painter  an a c t o r  out,  as h i s  1959),  and a businessman n i h i l i s t i c Takehiko  to  Noguchi  "types"  the  may  final  Isao a c t i o n ,  and T o r u n i h i l i s t i c  tetra-  Ying worldly  16 wisdom.  But  introduce  psychological variety?  suggest,  the  does  this  resulting  "types"  rather  This  particularly  is  wooden  than  characters  kind  of  self-fragmentation As  characters  complex, true  such as  of  are  Mishima's often  full-blooded the  "man  I s a o who  of  do n o t  own  really categories  over-simplified  human  beings.  action"  types,  really  partake  flat, of  100 the author's psychology but are merely idealized icons representing 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 nihilist psychology. As Donald Keene remarks of the four heroes of Kyoko s House, for instance "the four men seem curiously uniform in outlook, in no way suggesting (as Mishima had intended) that they stand for a 1  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, i s , as we have seen, implicit in other of his works—which achieved greater critical 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 psychology underlying most of his major novels, which are similarl  101 pervaded by nihilist states of emotion, as much as by n i h i l ist patterns of thought and behavior. Given, then, this uniformity of the psychology of Mishima 's novels, and its close affinity with the author's own psychology, the "biographical" approach to critical analysis, the search for life/work parallels, an approach favored so predominantly by Japanese critics, seems particularly appropriate in Mishima's case, as i t does in the case of the mainstream 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 fascinating 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 i v 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 convention-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 life.) 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 psychological 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 i h i l ism. If, on the other hand, we were historically inclined, we might point to Mishima's affiliations with the Japan Romantic School (Nippon Roman-ha) during the war, a group of mystical ultranationalists whose creed that death and destruction were the highest values in l i f e certainly qualified them to be regarded as active nihilists, as much so as their German allies, those Nazis who Lked to regard themselves as nihilist 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 Noguchi Takehiko pointed out in his seminal study of Mishima, the strange young man with his "aesthetics of blood" and his "metaphysics 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 f e Mishima romanticized those glorydays 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 postwar 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 emperor'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 European nihilism—the removal of the cornerstone of a l l traditional 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 if 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 obvious 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 delineate 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 relevance. And this is fortunate. An author's life is "openended", 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 critical" doctrine on the strict separation of "life" and "work", nor to deny that acquaintance with an author's psychology or l i f e 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 f e , even to regard the two as interchangeable—as Henry Scott Stokes does, for i n stance, when he uses the Confessions as primary biographical 26 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 f e . One must proceed on the assumption that the author has provided, within 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 i s , 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, antisubjective 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 applicable, 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 pressurecooker 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 characteristics 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 individual 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 Mishima 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 Jap31  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 impractical, 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, it seems more likely that the emperor's renunciation 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 middleground 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 certain impersonality and objectivity of tone. In the Confessions , 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 outside of the Marquis de Sade or, more recently, Jean Genet have revealed their fantasy-lives with more devastating honesty. 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 brilliantly successful—the work made him famous literally 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 establish, as a play of creative tensions, between classical form and decadent-romantic content, Apollonian order and Dionysian chaos. Though a critic such as Noguchi Takehiko tries to downplay 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 philosophical level. The question of which came first—the psychology or the philosophy—is perhaps a "chicken and egg" question, 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 competent 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, regardless 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 Hirschfeld 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 overwhelming majority of homosexuals, especially congenital homosexuals, the homosexual and the sadistic urges are inextricably linked,. ) 37 Hirschfeld was a late nineteenth-century German sex pathologist who, along with Krafft-Ebing and a number of other German 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 acknowledged ^ 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 full explanation for the origin of inversion, i t has revealed the psychic mechanism of its genesis and has 3  112  essentially enriched the problems in question. In a l 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 i s , 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 f e the mechanism 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 entire 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 sumtotal 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 confirmation 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 particularly, 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, grandmother took me from my mother's arms when T was fortynine 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 c o n s t i t u t i o n and a l s o that I might l e a r n bad thing's, grandmother forbade me to play with the l o c a 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 c o u s i n , who expects him to a c t l i k e a boy, he already  f e e l s o b l i g e d to  wear a "mask" of m a s c u l i n i t y — t o pretend,  f o r i n s t a n c e , to  enjoy war-games—and recognizes  already that " i t was e x a c t l y  what people saw as my true s e l f that was r e a l l y It  i s h a r d l y s u r p r i s i n g , then, that the boy, r a i s e d i n  t h i s e x c l u s i v e l y , o p p r e s s i v e l y feminine tifies  playacting"^  atmosphere, both iden-  s t r o n g l y with women—as r e v e a l e d most  when he dresses  conspicuously  up as the female performer Tenkatsu--and har-  bors a romantic l o n g i n g f o r m e n — e s p e c i a l l y c l a s s men who represent i d e a l of a r i s t o c r a t i c  the opposite  those "rough", low-  extreme to h i s grandmother's  gentility.  His abnormal intimacy with h i s grandmother continues his  until  t w e l t h year, when h i s f a t h e r " f i n a l l y reached the b e l a t e d 49  d e c i s i o n to c l a i m me back i n t o h i s own household".  When  t h i s happens, h i s grandmother a c t s f o r a l l the world l i k e a jilted  lover: Grandmother embraced my photograph day and n i g h t , weeping p r o f u s e l y , 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 t h i r t e e n I had a s i x t y y e a r - o l d l o v e r who loved me with a w i l d , i n o r d i n a t e passion. 50  The  effeminacy, p a s s i v i t y and paranoia  so i n e v i t a b l y pro-  duced i n the p r o t a g o n i s t by h i s b i z a r r e childhood a l l come to the f o r e i n the f i r s t great e r o t i c experience when he " f a l l s  of h i s l i f e , 51  i n l o v e " with h i s v i r i l e o l d e r classmate, Omi.  115 But the ambiguity of his feelings about playing the passive, feminine role in relation to the older, stronger boy is evident 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 phal54  lie 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" The protagonist's contradictory feelings 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" ^ 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 55  5  116 active, dominant male. This willful, power-hungry aspect of his psychology also shows itself in his sadistic fantasies, culminating in the imagined act of dining on his fellow classmate. 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 f e . 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 i s , according to some authors, a remnant of cannibalistic lust—that i s , a participation of the domination apparatus.... The most striking peculiarity of this perversion lies in the fact that its active and passive forms are regularly 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 simultaneously 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, active/passive dialectic of Mishima's pathological sexuality , the psychological coordinate, if not the psychological source, of his lifelong obsession with the active/passive dialectic of philosophic nihilism. His entire life 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 w i l l , the sickly, effeminate boy turned himself into a muscle-bound warrior who, on the last day of his  117 l i f e , wielded his samurai sword to inflict wounds on some of the highest-ranking officers of the Japanese Self-Defense Force-, before dying himself like a traditional hero, by seppu59  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 Fertility, 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 nihilistic 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 increase 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 moment of rejection of Omi's amae, he has already begun to rebel against his role as the junior partner, the passive admirer. This willful 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 another 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 constitution 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 protagonist's psychology over the hunger for love. He is quite prepared 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 himself 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-  119  tionship with Omi: what he rejects so fiercely about his homosexuality 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 sexualis—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 symboli c a l l y than literally 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 position 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 girl beside him, Sonoko, as he fantasizes about a half-naked young tough. The whole episode of his real-life 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 detachment—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 masturbation. 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 63  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 sadistic fantasies—of his "murder theatre" and of his cannibalistic 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 will 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 f u l 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 phantasies into a new kind of reality, and men concede them a justification as valuable reflections of actual l i f e . Thus by a certain path he actually becomes the hero, king, creator, favourite he desired to be, without the circuitous path of creating real alterations in the outer world. 65 We might note, though, that as Mishima aged he became dissatisfied 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 perform 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 fantasies. "For poetry makes nothing happen...." as W.H. Auden 66 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 uneasy 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 encountered in my.life, and i t seemed a cruel one, especially on the 6 7  sweet fantasies I had cherished about his death." Already, 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, masochistic 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 threatening 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 psychological level, with the void behind the mask. Thus, when the protagonist's "true self" reveals itself at the end of the Confes6 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 if he had opened up a Pandora's box of disturbances to his delicate mental stability—and, it 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 exaggeratedly "virile" 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 nihilist 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 psychological elements more than on others, is taken into account. The view of life as a contest of active and passive, male and female, yin/yang priciples i s , 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 first 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 understandable, of course, as an overcompensation for the excessive passivity induced in him by his childhood. But, had he consulted 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, if 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 practise of sitting meditation (zazen), especially in Dogen Zenji's more passive form of "just sitting" (shikan-taza). In consciously 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 meditator 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-spiritual—or anti-psychological—as he aged. In his final work, as  126  we  shall  the  see,  passive  rupt.  passivity  characters,  Action,  ultimately  on  the  On  water  attraction  and  Golden water fire  is a of  the  may  active  of  the  Nihon  level,  understood of  principle.  the  for instance,  of  was  the  i f i t is  Isao's  moral  fear  also  first  of  of  the  terms:  principle account  comes  cor-  even  i n yin/yang  passive  a l l evil;  thoroughly  Temple  following  but  of  hero's  (as i n The  The  ( 7 2 0 ) , one  like  Mishima  also  symbol  become  a man  fire  be  source  is idealized;  the  c e n t u r y B.C.),  shoki  the  Toru,  i t enhances  universe,  (second  and  as  towards  traditional  the  Tzu  to  symbolic  Pavilion)  creation nan  a  Honda  o t h e r hand,  meaningless,  stature.  i s regarded  from  and  of  the  the Huai-  used  as  a preface  works  on  Japanese  history: A f t e r a long time the hot f o r c e of the accumulated 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 force 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 the moon. 71 It for  writers"  would ing, be  is significant, which  too,  Mishima  that  once  be  made  f o r the w r i t e r ' s  but  none  at  no  zazen  or  i n the  imagined, physical  a l l for his spiritual  any  of  the  ideal  other  "training  elaborate  and  provisions  intellectual  training—-there  spiritual  camp  disciplines  train-  would advocated  72 in  East  to  the  or  of  I n h i s own  cultivation  glected cle  West.  o f h i s body  h i s psyche. a  man  sophisticated spiritual  who  As  a  was  but  a  Mishima  and  result,  possessed  intellect  levels  life  his intellect, he  presented the  splendid who,  pitifully  devoted  on  physique  the  immature.  and  much but  psychological Physical  he  odd a  effort ne-  specta-  highly and  strength,  127 after a l l , does not equal overall well-being—nor does knowledge equal wisdom. In the end, of course, he paid a high price for his immaturity, in terms not only of his l i f e but also of his work. What the great novelists of the past communicated 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 f e - l i k e characters. Psychological 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 checking 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 independent self, costs him dearly in psychological terms. His sadistic 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 (nameru) 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 particular, the struggle becomes a matter of l i f e or death). 76 It is clear from this, then, that the Mishima protagonist's sadistic and cannibalistic fantasies are an expression both of a frustrated desire for amae and of the resultant paranoid 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-dependent on his mother's amae fears strangers because he knows they will 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 f e , 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 78 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, however much he resents i t . As Doi points out, Western individualism was based on the "myth" of free w i l l , and now that this myth seems to have been undermined by Marx, Nietzche and Freud—in other words, by nihilist 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 incite81  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 "confession 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 terror 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 protagonist'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, life 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 external. 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 masturbation 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 distinct 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 real84  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 history" or a dry philosophical argument in favor of nihilist determinism. A novel, after a l l , cannot live by argument alone; i t needs an emotional as well as an intellectual component. In the Confessions, i t is mainly fear which plays this role: i t is the natural and necessary emotional concomitant of the determinist nihilist 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 ironically evening  entitled,  i s spread  "Love  Song  out against  of J . Alfred  the sky/Like  Prufrock":  "...the  a patient etherized  85 upon  a table".  tional ary of  But nature  Japanese  mind God  literature.  nature  occupies  i n the t r a d i t i o n a l  Western  God, i t i s v i e w e d  Mishima  protagonist's view  force  anese  of  source  as s a c r e d  of salvation.  as  literthat  l i k e the Thus t h e  as a f r i g h t e n i n g ,  startling  tradi-  Japanese  literary mind—and,  of nature  seems p a r t i c u l a r l y  natural  features  f o r instance,  could  lyrical  emotions  Mishima  protagonist  negative. elevated  hiding sea  as a  almost  soul  and o r i g i n a l  malevo-  i n a  Jap-  context. Such  sea,  i s the very  In the t r a d i t i o n a l  a position  Western  lent  lyricism  albeit  prior  of the urban  to masturbating perception  they  scene".  and the  on t o evoke  arouse  seems " l i k e 86  before  blossoms  Japanese  on snow-covered  t o h i m t h e snow  paranoid,  decapitating  down  cherry  be c o u n t e d  the feelings  looks  t h e wounds  just  always  i n the t r a d i t i o n a l  As he train,  a s snow,  positive  w r i t e r , but i n the are  entirely  Tokyo  from  a filthy  an  bandage  Or, as he watches t h e  i t , he h a s a  o f a n " a t t a c k i n g " wave  brilliant, as a  self-  guillotine:  S o o n s o m e t h i n g awoke a n d r o s e up w i t h i n [ t h e w a v e ' s ] green hood. T h e wave r o s e u p a f t e r t h a t , a n d r e v e a l e d the 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 , about t o s t r i k e t h e beach. This dark-blue guillotine 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 b a c k o f t h e w a v e , s e e t h i n g a n d 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 h e a d , m e a n w h i l e r e f l e c t i n g the u n e a r t h l y blue o f the sky, a pure blue such as i s r e f l e c t e d i n t h e e y e s o f a man a b o u t t o d i e . 87 This i s the l i t e r a r y equivalent of the controlled hysteria one  feels  i n the music  o f , say, Tchaikovsky  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 nihilists" who expressed the death-wish of an aging civilization. Nietzsche's favorite target was, of course, Richard Wagner, whose musicdramas were full of scenes of Liebestod which, to Nietzsche, were the very epitome of the decadent passive nihilist desire to escape from the tensions of l i f e 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 f e . And not only is their n i h 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 prodigality of nature is perceived as a threatening, invasive and even  135 malevolent  power:  Nature's f r e e bounty and w a s t e f u l extravagance 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 a s t h i s s p r i n g . I had the unpleasant s u s p i c i o n t h a t n a t u r e h a d come t o reconquer the earth. For the b r i l l i a n c e of this spring was n o t a common t h i n g . The y e l l o w o f t h e rape b l o s s o m s , 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 the c h e r r y - t r e e t r u n k s , t h e canopy o f heavy blossoms w h i c h w e i g h e d t h e b r a n c h e s down, somehow a l l o f t h e s e w e r e r e f l e c t e d i n my e y e s a s t h e b r i l l i a n c e o f c o l o u r s charged with malevolence (akui). I t was, s o t o s p e a k , a bonfire of colours. 90 Admittedly the  Mishima  the of  i s a war-time  protagonist's  conquerable rator  this  even  i n Black  reappearance Hiroshima,  (Kuroi  we  with  ame,  of nature's  then  b u t i f we  r e a c t i o n to nature's  i n war-time,  Rain  vision,  that  1966),  power  realize  even  that  fertility,  o f Ibuse who  compare  Masuji's  gratefully  after  unnar-  welcomes  the devastation  the Mishima  protagonist's 9  paranoia The nature of  me,  seen,  summer  filling  whereas  most  after  sinister  my  heart  perceptions  o f which  infinite  would  welcome  a war i s o v e r ,  any "normal"  o f young  "both  startled 92  suffering".  would  participating  and u n d i s g u i s e d  as  we  intoxication  and  distressed  Similarly,  a r e t u r n to peace-time  the protagonist  even  men  of  vision  person  f o r i n s t a n c e , he r e g a r d s ,  licentious  with  and t h r e a t e n i n g  What  spirits  festival,  the sight  people  else.  high  as " t h e most  the world",  the protagonist's  situation.  distorts—and intensifies—his  everything  as t h e i n n o c e n t  a Shinto  malcy  colours  of course,  practically  have in  f e a r which  also,  regard in  i s b y n o means n e c e s s i t a t e d b y t h e w a r - t i m e  perceives  nor-  something  i n this:  F o r me, a n d f o r me a l o n e , w h a t t h i s m e a n t 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 "everyday 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 been fooled into believing that "everyday l i f e " would whether I liked i t or not.  which, also, I had always would never come—already begin tomorrow for me. too, 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 passage quoted above, for instance, at the same time that one feels the narrator's very real fear, one also feels his enjoyment 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 coincidence, one of Mishima's favorite authors—his delight in his own contradictoriness, a contradictoriness which seems inherent 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 general critical opinion—strictly in terms of its psychology i t may seem to f a 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 literal portrait 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 undoubtedly possessed. The novel might then have gained in "psychological 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 literal 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 problem 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, Mizoguchi also proves capable of psychological development, evolving 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 i s , 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, i n 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 96  psychology—not, as with Freud, the sex-drive or libido. From this Adler developed a psychological system of "inferiority-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 will 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 97  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 overcompensate 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 exaggerated submissiveness of the neurotically-disposed individual, the feeling of weakness, of inferiority protected by hyper-sensitiveness, the realization of actual futility, 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 girl 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 extensively nourished by our social l i f e , 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 life may be seen as an ever more exaggerated "masculine protest" against his "feminization" 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 himself 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 a l 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 t e 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 literally "pushed aside" after his pathetic attempt to make contact with Uiko—part of whose name, significantly, means "activity" (ui ) as opposed to "inactivity" (mui jflfe, ^ ) ) , an antithesis made frequent use of in Zen Buddhist philosophy: "She cycled round .me, as though s  104  she were dodging.a stone." Thus Mizoguchi's rejection 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 futility" as one of the feelings which are "gathered together into a feeling of femininity"T^ 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 restlessness as a child, his craving for action, his playing of roles, the pitting of his strength against that of others, his 5  143  anticipatory  pictures  of  the  future  and  his physical  as  well  106 as  mental  preparations."  "masculine  protest"  his  s c h o o l , an  and  i s surrounded  tain  his  which male of  officer by  from  potency—and  the  begins  jealousy.  dangles  same k i n d  tagonist  feels  [emphasis early:  cadet  Mizoguchi's  when a y o u n g  from  younger  mine]  a  naval  admirers,  hero  engineering school,  Mizoguchi  cannot  He  becomes  obsessed  with  the  cadet's  waist—a  traditional  he of  covets "penis  towards  the  short  i t for himself, with envy" which  visits  the  a  consword  symbol  of  suggestion  Confessions'  pro-  Omi:  I w a n t e d my p r i d e t o b e s o m e t h i n g v i s i b l e s o t h a t , n o m a t t e r who l o o k e d a t i t , t h e y w o u l d know i t was mine. F o r i n s t a n c e , the s h o r t - s w o r d which hung from 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 . This short-sword, which a l l t h e s t u d e n t s w e r e 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 ornament. 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 future  Buddhist  passive who  role  expects  venge  by  to  repeat  later,  enough  to  not  to  to  he  strange  soon  on the  doubt  him the the  as  than  burying  "beautiful  a  a w a r r i o r — a man a hero  is a  much  black  as  larger  i t .  (Note  he  that the  i n a more  the  he  will  that  "man"  he  golden  is  pavil-  decided his  desire  way.)  also  i n performing  he  i s not  frustrating  positive  recadet's  which  S u p e r i o r has  same p s y c h i c m e c h a n i s m feels  the  the  takes  of  proves  with  successor, thus  pavilion  since  with  himself,  behavior  scale:  beauty,  i t only after his  scabbard"  p a t t e r n of  object of  " j o y " Mizoguchi  such  for his country—Mizoguchi  destroy  destroys  accept  of  course,  but  to  "possess" No  of  possess  enough too,  die  d e f a c i n g the This,  ion  rather  i n wartime  sword.  "man"  priest  accounts  h i s most  for  the  sadistic  144  act a  of  the  pregnant  novel:  prostitute.  passive,  since i t  American  soldier.  But  deep  women he  Thus to  i n harmony  with  need w i t h i n  him.  most  desired,  he  i n general  finds  that  "masculine"  the  In  i s done  once he b e g i n s  quite  he  trampling  with its  in  his  initial  perform  impetus  the  Having  the  initial  act,  by an a c t  of  woman's  body  to  the  act  is  command  of  "sense  indeed,  been r e j e c t e d by  able  stomach  of  he r e a l i z e s  own w i l l — a n d ,  i s now  on t h e  submission to  Mizoguchi*s  his  boots  assert  his  aggression—and, passively  an  disharmony".  that  it  is  satisfies  Uiko,  the  dominion to  of  his  "responds"  some  woman  over delight,  to  his  action:  The 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 on 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 woman's s t o m a c h , t h i s i s her breast. I had never imagined t h a t another p e r son's f l e s h could respond with such e l a s t i c i t y , l i k e a ball. 108 The this the  author  himself  is  perfectly  active/passive dynamic, way  they  function  is  well  and h i s  aware  of  the  penetrating  revealed  i n the  two  poles  insight  following  of  into passage:  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 two 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 loved d e s c r i p t i o n s of t y r a n t s i n h i s t o r y . I f I were 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 me. T h e r e w o u l d be n o n e e d t o justif 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 alone would j u s t i f y every k i n d of c r u e l t y . I enjoyed i m a g i n i n g , o n t h e o n e h a n d , how I w o u l d p u n i s h , o n e a f t e r the o t h e r , t h o s e t e a c h e r s and 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 the i n n e r r e a l m , possessed of 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 of i n e r a d i c a b l e drawback, should t h i n k of h i m s e l f as a s e c r e t l y c h o s e n one? Somewhere i n t h i s w o r l d ,  145 I felt, did not  a mission awaited know w h a t i t was.  Mizoguchi's  me-—though 109  I-myself  m e s s i a n i c — o r megalomaniac—sense  sion"  corresponds  goal,  an  attempt  t o what at  a  Adler  planned  calls  final  the  of h i s  neurotic's  compensation"  still  "mis-  "imagined  for his  feel-  110 ings  of  inferiority.  this  takes  logical tion"  i s the  point  is  In Mizoguchi's  burning  of view,  of  the  the  case  pavilion  precise  form  the  but,  of  ultimate from  the  a  form  psycho-  "final  compensa-  irrelevant: W h e t h e r 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 ; w h e t h e r h e 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 m u s t show o b e i s a n c e , w h e t h e r 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 a n d s p u r r e d o n b y h i s l o n g i n g f o r s u p e r i o r i t y , the thought of h i s g o d l i k e n e s s , the 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 . In h i s p u r e l y o p t i o n a l c h o i c e of p r o f e s s i o n the 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 exaggerated 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 experiences i n s u i c i d e a triumph over a l l o b s t a c l e s . In 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 line, 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 o n t h e o t h e r h a n d p r e f e r , f o r c e d b y 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 m o d e s t y . Ill  Awkward stuttering control one He  of can  make  ineffectual  introvert  over the  and  an  most  in his relations  Mizoguchi  object"—not highly  i t h i s own  destroying  it—and  "masculine  protest"  by of  just  prized and doing any  naturally  of  seeks  object,  objet d'art  assert so  any  he  achieves  people,  rather of  i n the  h i s power  Mishima's  with  over the  heroes.  to  course, whole  of  i t only  the  "gain but Japan. by  most s p e c t a c u l a r His  action  is  146  thus  " j u s t i f i e d " as  nihilist isfied  philosophy;  by  By  the  final  referring  corroborate a  the  psychological  vincing tains It  much  by  and,  indeed,  t o A d l e r ' s "ego  fact  that  portrait  c h a r a c t e r worthy  tensions  and  has  of  as  both  of  depth  which,  while  then,  sketched,  of remarkable  most  undergoing  Dostoevsky,  contradictions,  which,  demands  psychology",  Mishima  in a l l i t s details—and  is a  the  psychology  by  his  are  sat-  conflagration.  i t s c o n s i s t e n c y even  unity"  his neurotic  i t never  and  in  we  may  Mizoguchi,  reality,  con-  i m p o r t a n t l y , maindynamic  development.  for, despite great  loses  according to A d l e r , accounts  that  inner  "integrated  f o r the  "tremendous 112  effect  e x e r t e d upon us  Mishima  accomplishes  active/passive  by  this  by  psychological  from  the  core  IV.  The  N i h i l i s t ' s Vacant  Sea  of  In  Dostoevsky's  o f h i s own  Fertility  Towards  a  skillful  personages".  And  manipulation of  dialectic  transposed,  an  i t seems,  psyche. Self:  the  Anti-Psychology  of  the  Tetralogy  Genealogy  of  1887),  N i e t z s c h e d i s c u s s e s what  origin  of  Morals he  (Zur Genealogie  c o n s i d e r s t o have  der been  Moral, the  "bad•conscience":  I t a k e b a d c o n s c i e n c e t o be a d e e p - s e a t e d m a l a d y t o w h i c h man succumbed under the p r e s s u r e o f the 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 h i m o n e a n d f o r a l l a s o c i a b l e a n d p a c i f i c creature. J u s t as happened i n t h e c a s e o f t h o s e sea c r e a t u r e s who w e r e f o r c e d t o b e c o m e l a n d a n i m a l s i n order to survive, these semi-animals, h a p p i l y adapted 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 adventure, 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 found a l l t h e i r i n s t i n c t s devalued, unhinged.... A l l i n s t i n c t s that are not allowed f r e e p l a y t u r n inward.  147 T h i s i s what I c a l l man'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 the s o i l f o r t h e growth of what i s l a t e r c a l l e d man'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 meager a n d t e n u o u s , was 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 was curtailed. The f o r m i d a b l e b u l w a r k s by means o f w h i c h the p o l i t y p r o t e c t e d i t s e l f against the ancient 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 was one o f t h e s t r o n g e s t o f t h e s e bulwarks) caused those w i l d , extravagant i n s t i n c t s to t u r n i n upon man. H o s t i l i t y , c r u e l t y , the d e l i g h t i n persecution, r a i d s , excitement, destruction a l l turned against their begetter. L a c k i n g e x t e r n a l enemies and r e s i s t a n c e s , and c o n f i n e d w i t h i n an o p p r e s s i v e narrown 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 beast h u r l i n g i t s e l f a g a i n s t the bars of i t s cage. This languisher, devoured 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 an a d v e n t u r e , a t o r t u r e chamber, an i n s e c u r e and dangerous 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 and d e s 1 p e r a t e p r i s o n e r , became 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 " .  that of  The  gist  all  psychological  man's  human  natural  being's  will  turn  This  is  later as  this  conflict  instincts with  an i d e a w h i c h ,  psychologists.  Freud advocated  "social  in  check,  von  for Gut  "master"  und  not  the  desert",  was  Bose,  1886)  he  which would  the  a healthy  taken  of  up  if  outlet,  the  they  consequences.  a g a i n by  many  psychologist  such  cultivation seemed  is  suppression  a "superego" of to  to  keep  a sense feel  i n Beyond  Good and  advocates  an  allow  then,  "civilization";  a later  himself and,  by  of  psychological  whereas  Adler  rhetoric,  a result  cultivation  or  of  allowed  course,  But,  morality  is  disastrous  Nietzsche  the  piece  instincts  are  of  the  interest",  "nostalgia seits  magnificent  aggressive  inwards,  instincts  or  of  a  the  of  strong  Evil  (Jen-  "aristocratic"  "self-glorification" 114  and  free  expression  "loathsome sented  by  ticated",  sight modern he  of  of  will  perversion,  man,  opposes  the  whose an  to  dwarfishness,  "savage  image  of  power.  And,  against  degeneracy"  i n s t i n c t s " have been  those  fearsome  but  the pre"domes-  admirable  148  "noble —and the  r a c e s " who  gave  a m o n g whom h e  "Japanese  full  vent  includes,  no  to  their  doubt  aggressive  to  Mishima's  instincts satisfaction,  nobility":  Once 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 ity. They r e v e r t to the i n n o c e n c e of 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 , and t o r t u r e , j u b i l a n t and a t peace w i t h t h e m s e l v e s as t h o u g h t h e y had c o m m i t t e d a f r a t e r n i t y prank—convinced, moreover, that the poets for a long 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 praise. Deep 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 the b e a s t of p r e y , bent on s p o i l and c o n q u e s t . This h i d d e n u r g e h a s t o be s a t i s f i e d f r o m t i m e t o t i m e , the beast l e t loose i n the w i l d e r n e s s . T h i s goes as w e l l f o r t h e Roman, A r a b i a n , German, J a p a n e s e n o b i l i t y as f o r the Homeric heroes and the S c a n d i n a v i a n v i k i n g s . 1 1 5 Nietzsche's ization his  of  the  advocacy  essentially  opposition  "blond  of  to  beast",  "active  "bad  formed,  nihilism",  life-affirming  c o n s c i e n c e " , and h i s of  course,  w h i c h he  philosophy,  in  the  ideal-  basis  c o n c e i v e d as  contrast  to  of  an  the  life-  116 denial  of  cations with  "passive nihilism".  of  here  this are  view  the  I  seems  the  what he  or  to  be  the  fabrication  and t h a t  the  pure  chology"  feels  consider  saying  calls  entirely  peoples  moral  of  "man o f  is  "man's  a "civilized",  action"  produced  this  itself—both  the  s c i e n c e and  of  peace  to  " c u r e " us  of  the  d i s e a s e of  and p a s s i v i t y ; of  political  what  I  am  only  psychology.  kind  of  is  by  phenomena  and a c t i v i t y  an e v i l have  depth, almost  freer  Thus it  the  brief,  society,  stronger,  subjectivity. the  In  "decadent"  civilization,  war  world",  impli-  concerned  psychological  interior  for  a symptom  later;  that  no need  is  and  s t r i c t l y psychological implications.  what N i e t z s c h e "soul",  shall  The  "psy-  studies— by-product power  149  Whether or not Nietzsche's ideas t e l l us anything about psychology in general, certainly they do t e l l us much about his own psychology. While this is not the place for an i n depth psychological portrait of this complex and tragic man who, as if in ironic comment on his own doctrine of "self-glorification", ended up a raving megalomaniac, nevertheless it is an interesting—and perhaps significant—fact that the psychology of the "father" of modern nihilism shares many features with the psychology of a latter-day nihilist 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 constitution, and nervous in temperament, so that, again like Mishima, he had ample opportunity to develop a massive inferiority complex 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 idealization of "martial" virtues and the "warrior" spirit. But, of  150  course, in  fantasy  sche's tone in  that  for  the  way  point.  man t r y i n g  he u n d e r s t a n d s cruelty,  of  the  tetralogy  p r i n c i p a l h i s t o r i c a l form  aggressive thus and  their  Nietzsche,  philosophy  the  Japanese  to  In  the  Nietz-  shrill  "masculinity" be  asserted:  destruction—or,  in  of  Nietzsche's  by  Masugi  fact,  of  in  than of  to  their  is  Kaido,  Kaido  views  men t o  indulge  Buddhism an  pacify  them,  expressed Isao's  passive n i h i l i s m ,  which teaches  instincts rather  "deprived  assert his  reminiscent  as  anti-life  over-compensating  nihilism.  mentor.  ious  to  masculinity  Shinto the  Like  were  o n e may d e t e c t  aggression,  active  strongly  second novel  Both  "deficiencies" in reality.  in Mishima's,  through  A position the  as  violence,  words,  the  perceived  a "feminized" only  through  in  exactly  writings,  of  other  is  their  and  o r i g i n a l Yamato  insid-  which spirit,  118 manliness".  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 was f a m o u s . Since 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 was n a t u r a l , and he d e n o u n c e d t h e Buddha and B u d d h i s m t o his students e x a c t l y i n Atsutane's words. He d e s p i s e d and r i d i c u l e d Buddhism because i t d i d n o t a f f i r m life, and thus a l s o d i d not a f f i r m o n e ' s g r e a t d u t y to d i e [for the Emperor]; and, a g a i n , because Buddhism d i d not make 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 Way, t h e t r u e way i n w h i c h " l i f e " attains "cohesion". T h e i d e a o f k a r m a i t s e l f was a p h i l osophy of e v i l which reduced e v e r y t h i n g to n i h i l i s m . 119 Kaido's sche's  "bad  aggressive  "karma",  of  course,  conscience": instincts.  it  As  plays  the  same r o l e  i n h i b i t s men f r o m  Kaido  himself  as  Nietz-  a c t i n g out  claims:  "...men's  their minds  120 were  made  that  Kaido's  by  effeminate view  what happens  to  of  by  the  Buddhist  Buddhism  Honda  over  is the  tales  of  karma".  actually Mishima's course  of  the  is  final  The  fact  confirmed two  novels:  151 Kaido's contention that Buddhism is a "philosophy of evil" which reduces "everything to nihilism" exactly foretells what will 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 philosophy only to serve his self-love? 121 And the full extent of his "corruption" becomes evident in post-war Japan. Though always a passive observer rather than a participant in l i f e , in his younger days the object of his observation was at least an admirable one, whether the romantic adventures of Kiyoaki or the heroic adventures of Isao. But now he becomes a pitiful 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 nihilist 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 full expression to the anti-psychological, antisubjective view of the self which was the final outcome of Mishima's lifelong struggle with the active/passive psychological 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 life 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 compulsion to search within for a larger, cosmic Self or "Buddhanature" which might f i l l the resulting vacuum. Indeed, his search for knowledge throughout the tetralogy is rigidly external : 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 "all is illusion"; the Abbess tells him so. Which inevitably 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 selfdiscovery: "Of course, Honda had read various of the Viennese psychoanalysts' books on dreams, but i t was hard for him to  122  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 anything not visible to the naked eye—for he i s , 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 will meet 123  Honda again "under the waterfall" in his next l i f e ; Isao, in turn, dreams that he will 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 "objectified" 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 f e : 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 f e to actually realize its truth. As he grew older, self-consciousness became consciousness 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 t i m e t h a t t h e r e was a d e n s i t y , e v e n an i n t o x i c a t i o n , c o n t a i n e d i n e a c h d r o p . The b e a u t i f u l d r o p s o f t i m e , l i k e t h e t h i c k d r o p s o f a wine b r o u g h t out f o r a s p e c i a l o c c a s i o n . . . . And t i m e was b e i n g l o s t as b l o o d i s l o s t . A l l o l d men shrivelled up and d i e d . As payment f o r h a v i n g f a i l e d t o s t o p t i m e i n t h a t w o n d e r f u l p e r i o d when, t h o u g h the p e r s o n h i m s e l f d i d n o t know i t , the r i c h b l o o d was c a u s i n g a rich intoxication. T h a t was i t . O l d men l e a r n t t h a t t i m e h e l d i n t o x i c a tions. But a l r e a d y when t h e y l e a r n t t h i s t h e r e was n o t enough l i q u o r l e f t t o c a u s e 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 t h e with  objectivity  " t i m e " , i s shown t o be  trine,  t h e n e c e s s i t y o f an  reality  o n l y by  a mass s c a l e . unchanging spiny One  can  ting  a c t i n g out  i d e n t i t y by  attain  point  so  tional  flow  that  the  memory.  The  examining  until  too  away; he  late: no  gods.  h i s time,  l o n g e r has The  despair  from h i s r e a l i z a t i o n never achieved The by  the  several  other  real  some  like  on  a  by  and  fixed  of course,  h i s blood,  black, self".  acting  while by  cut-  words—at  this  f o r e v e r i n the achieves realize  has  this  na-  kind  a l l this  almost a l l dripped  i t t o make a f i t o f f e r i n g  t h a t overwhelms him  on  absolute,  cask of the  i n other  Honda does n o t  enough o f  i n o l d age  t h a t , because of h i s p a s s i v i t y ,  to  comes he  has  selfhood.  example o f t h e  t e t r a l o g y i s Toru, critics  oneself,  like  takes  c o u r a g e o f y o u t h , and  remain i n t a c t  But  "substance  glorious selfhood  Isao,  self  to t r y to f i n d  transparent  e n e r g y and  of "immortal" selfhood.  The  Mishima doc-  i n h i s t o r y , which i s time  the  i n the  heroic  identification  basis of that other  a role  of t i m e — o f  i t may  i t s total  early suicide.  only a b r i e f ,  endowed w i t h o f f the  the  self,  Thus i t i s f r u i t l e s s  sea u r c h i n f l o a t i n g  still  the  of the  the  have p o i n t e d ,  evil  effects  " h e r o " o f the  of p a s s i v i t y final  T o r u a c t u a l l y may  novel. be  offered As  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 signal 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 l e , 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 evening shadows, the waves became hard and impenetrable. The light was stained more and more by an evil will [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 i p . 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 hurriedly 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 float128  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 f e , 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 disgusting and nauseating depths of the sea. 129  Toru's ultimate fate, like Honda's, seems an ironic punishment 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 Fert 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 active 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 will 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 impetuosity 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 capitalist 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, i s , 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 characters 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 femininity, 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, i s , unfortunately, much inferior to the two earlier works discussed in this chapter.  159 Chapter  Two  Notes  1.  Friedrich  and  R.J.  2.  On  3.  Hollingdale this  (Oxford:  point  Basil  Charles  burg:  Nietzsche,  Univ.,  William  5.  Glicksberg,  6.  The  (New  York:  Grosset  7.  Maire  Jaanus  Harper  Univ.  9.  and  Johan  1967),  Nihilism  Kaufmann  p.318.  and  Culture  p.33. Literature  of N i h i l i s m  (Lewis-  p.27.  Hamlet,  I I I , i , 56.  p.25.  of  St. John and  the Cross,  Dunlap,  Kurrik,  Press,  of  1967),  Literature  1970),  Campbell  p.13. and  Negation  (New  York:  p.9.  Nihilism,  1961),  t r . Roy  t r . John  Doberstein  (New  York:  p.115.  ibid.  10.  Baruch  Univ.,  Hochman,  1985),  Character  Quoted  i n Glicksberg,  12.  Roland  Stromberg,  (New  York:  good  as 13.  a  14.  of  t h e ways  precursor  of  Freud.  15.  16. in 17.  18.  "Shin  Sibley,  The  i n Donald  Kodansha,  Noguchi  1968),  i n which  History  Since  pp.156-57,  Nietzsche  may  be  1789  provides regarded  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  kyuka  p.173.  S h i g a Hero  Keene,  (Chicago: Univ.  1981),  Takehiko,  Appreciations  of  Chicago,  Donald  Keene,  p.1202.  ibid.  of Japanese  Culture  p.216.  i n "Mishima  Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u t o k y o z a i  1984),  Cornell  p.35.  Quoted  (Tokyo:  Yukio,  Shinchosha, 1982),  William  1979),  Intellectual  Appleton-Century-Crofts,  Mishima  (Ithaca:  p.9.  European  summary  (Tokyo:  in Literature  pp.13-14.  11.  a  The  t r . Walter  House,  Goudsblom,  1975),  Thielicke, Row,  t o Power,  Random  1980),  Shakespeare,  Poems  Helmut  see  Will  York:  Blackwell,  4.  8.  (New  I. Glicksberg,  Bucknell  Columbia  The  Y u k i o no no  Dawn t o t h e W e s t  kenkyu (New  sakuhin o (July,  York:  yomu",  1981);  Alfred  pp.31-2.  Knopf,  160 19.  See  John  Nathan,  M i s h i ma  (Boston: L i t t l e ,  Brown,  1974),  pp.169-70. 20.  Keene,  Appreciations,  p.217.  21.  Quoted  i n Henry  S t o k e s , The  Mishima 22.  (New  See  to  York:  Scott  Ballantine,  the b i o g r a p h i e s  by  Life  1974),  Nathan  and  Death  of  Yukio  p.116.  and  Scott  Stokes,  referred  above.  23.  On  Modern  the Nippon Japanese  (vol.XXIII, 24.  1968),  May  Eto Jun,  i n The  1964),  "An  Undercurrent i n  Journal  of Asian  Studies  pp.443-4.  Takehiko, Mishima  Y u k i o no  sekai  (Tokyo:  Kodansha,  p.108.  25.  Quoted  26.  Scott  Stokes,  27.  Takeo  D o i , The  (Tokyo:  i n Nathan,  Kodansha,  p.78.  p.52. Anatomy  1973),  28.  op.cit.,  p.103.  29.  op.cit.,  p.20.  30.  op.cit.,  p.156.  31.  op.cit.,  p.57.  32.  op.cit.,  pp.59-60.  33.  op.cit.,  pp.83-4.  34.  On  The  see  Literature",  no.3,  Noguchi  Roman-ha  the  concept  Lyrical  Novel  o f Dependence,  t r . John  Bester  p.15.  of the  lyrical  (Princeton:  novel,  Princeton  see  Ralph  Univ.,  Freedman,  1963),  especially  pp.1-17. 35.  Quoted  36.  Noguchi,  37.  Mishima  1973),  i n Nathan, Mishima  p.192.  ence  of  lish  translations,  38. i  n  T  English  New  Sigmund h  e  Random  Basic  Yukio  Y u k i o _Zenshu  vol.3,  Weatherby,  p.94.  My  readers, thus:  York:  New  House,  1938),  of  sekai,  [hereafter own  p.108. MYZ]  (Tokyo:  t r a n s l a t i o n , - but  I shall  also  (Confessions Directions,  Freud, "Three Writings  no  refer  Contributions  Sigmund  pp.553-4.  f o r the  to the  o f a Mask, 1958,  Freud,  Shinchosha, conveni-  current  Eng-  t r . Meredith  p.41).  to the t r . A.A.  Theory Brill  of (New  Sex", York:  161  39.  op.cit.,  40.  o p . c i t . , p.560.  41.  MYZ  42.  Freud,  43.  MYZ  44.  Freud,  45.  MYZ  46.  op.cit.,  p.181.  (Confessions,  pp.24-5).  47.  op.cit.,  p.182.  (Confessions,  p.27).  48.  op.cit.,  pp.174-6.  49.  op.cit.,  p.189.  (Confessions,  p.37).  50.  p.623.  vol.3,  p.173.  Basic  vol.3,  (Confessions,  Writings,  p.168.  Basic  vol.3,  p.15).  p.580.  (Confessions, p.8).  Writings,  p.166.  p.597.  (Confessions  pp.5-6)  (Confessions,  pp.16-18).  ibid.  51.  op.cit.,  p.206.  (Confessions,  p.61).  52.  op.cit.,  p.197.  (Confessions,  p.49).  53.  op.cit.,  p.198.  (Confessions,  p.50).  54.  Freud,  55.  MYZ  56.  op.cit.,  p.211.  57.  op.cit.,  p.211-2.  58.  Freud,  59.  See S c o t t  60.  MYZ  61.  op.cit.,  pp.219-20.  62.  op.cit.,  p.220.  63.  op.cit.,  pp.224-6.  64.  op.cit.,  p.219.  65.  Quoted  66.  W.H.  1975),  Basic  vol.3,  p.210.  Basic  (Confessions,  p.68). p.69).  p.570.  pp.25-45.  p.213.  Auden,  p.66).  (Confessions,  Writings,  i n Wellek  pp.566-7.  (Confessions,  Stokes,  vol.3,  (Confessions,  p.70).  (Confessions,  (Confessions,  p.80).  (Confessions,  (Confessions, and Warren,  Collected  pp.79-80).  pp.85-9).  p.79).  Theory  Shorter  Poems  of Literature, (New Y o r k :  p.82.  Vintage,  p.142.  67.  MYZ  68.  op.cit.,  vol.3,  69.  ibid.  70.  Erich  and  Writings,  p.171.  p.350.  Fromm,  Psychoanalysis  D.T.  (Confessions, (Confessions,  Suzuki  (New Y o r k :  p.12).  p.253).  and Richard Harper  DeMartino,  and B r o t h e r s ,  Zen Buddhism  1960),  p.139.  162 71.  Wm.  Theodore  Tradition 72. of  de B a r y  (New Y o r k :  See Makoto Literature  Univ.,  Modern  Japanese  Ueda,  (Stanford:  D o i , p.24.  74.  op.cit.,  75.  op.cit.,  p.19.  76.  op.cit.,  p.32.  77.  op.cit.,  pp.104-9.  78.  op.cit.,  p.130.  79.  op.cit.,  pp.94-5.  80.  See Mishima, Tuttle,  D o i , p.95.  82.  Noguchi,  83.  Lionel  84.  Stanford  On H a g a k u r e ,  1978),  Mishima  Trilling,  Writers  Univ.,  and the Nature  1976),  pp.234-5.  t r . Kathryn  Sparling  (Tokyo:  p.83.  Y u k i o no s e k a i ,  p.108.  " A r t and N e u r o s i s " ,  i n The L i b e r a l  Imagin-  p.163.  T.S. E l i o t ,  court,  Brace  The Complete  and World,  vol.3,  p.201.  1971),  86.  MYZ  87.  op. c i t . ,  88.  See R . J . H o l l i n g d a l e , ( B a t o n Rouge:  89.  Rainer Maria  and  Row,  1972),  p.35.  90.  MYZ  vol.3,  p.292.  91.  Masuji Ibuse,  1970),  MYZ  93.  op.cit.,  94.  Masao M i y o s h i ,  95.  (New Y o r k :  Har-  p.3. p.54).  Nietzsche: State  The Duino  p.87).  T h e Man  Univ.,  1965),  Elegies  (Confessions,  and H i s P h i l o s o pp.250-8.  (New Y o r k :  Harper  pp.178-9).  B l a c k R a i n , t r .John  Bester  (Tokyo:  Kodansha,  pp.296-7.  92.  Calif.,  and Plays  (Confessions,  Louisiana Rilke,  Poems  (Confessions,  pp.224-5.  phy  vol.3,  1974),  Alfred Heinz  p.186.  pp.322-3.  (Confessions,  p.33).  (Confessions,  p.218).  Accomplices of Silence  Adler,  The I n d i v i d u a l  a n d Rowena A n s b a c h e r  op.cit.,  (Berkeley:  Univ. of  p.160.  p.71. 96.  p.193.  ibid.  85.  ed.  1964),  of Chinese  118-20.  81.  ation,  ed. Sources  Columbia  73.  Charles  et.al.,  p.Ill.  Psychology of A l f r e d  (New Y o r k :  Basic  Books,  Adler, 1956),  163  97.  Alfred  Adler,  ogy^  t r . P.  Radin  98.  op.cit.,  99.  Mishima  p.224. The  My  Berkley,  Practise  (London:  and  Theory  Routledge  and  Yukio  Shu  [hereafter  translation.  of the  1971),  Golden  For  MYS]  Pavilion,  Kokubungaku  102.  MYS  103.  Adler,  104.  MYS  105.  Adler,  106.  op.cit.,  107.  MYS  108.  op.cit.,  pp.271-2.  (Temple,  p.97).  109.  op.cit.,  pp.224-5.  (Temple,  p.24).  110.  Adler,  111.  op.cit.,  p.7.  112.  op.cit.,  p.288.  113.  Nietzsche,  Practise  p.224.  p.229.  p.226.  English  1966),  version, (New  see:  York:  p.14.  p.23). p.22.  Theory,  (Temple,  The  and  p.22.  1955),  Goudsblom,  117.  For  an  Theory,  York:  Good  The  Doubleday,  and  Evil,  Genealogy  1956),  of Morals,  pp.217-8.  t r . Marianne  Cowan  (Chicago:  pp.174-5.  Nihilism  and  critical  Nietzsche,  vol.18,  p.634.  Pocket  Books,  p.633.  and  pp.202-3.  Genealogy,  excellent  p.6.  of Tragedy  (New  Beyond  See  p.26).  Birth  Golffing  116.  Culture,  referred  to  1975,  p.242).  (Runaway  Horses,  op.cit,  120.  ibid.  121.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.114.  (The  ders  and  Cecilia  Segawa  Seigle,  see  above.  (Runaway H o r s e s ,  (Runaway H o r s e s ,  p.12.  biography of Nietzsche,  119.  p.94).  Shueisha,  p.30).  and  Practise  Regnery,  York,  p. 21.  p.13.  Nietzsche,  New  1923),  p.19.  Theory,  (Temple,  Nietzsche,  MYZ  Theory,  and  Practise  Hollingdale s  zadankai,  (Temple,  115.  118.  and  Practise  1  Psychol-  p.23.  Adler,  Henry  Paul,  t r . Ivan Morris  101.  114.  Kegan  published  Noguchi,  Francis  Individual  (Tokyo:  100.  tr.  of  pp.21-2.  own  Temple  The  t r . Michael  Gallagher,  pp.240-1).  p.241). Temple New  o f Dawn, t r . E . York:  Pocket  Dale  Books,  Saun-  1975,  164  122.  MYZ  vol.19,  Seidensticker, 123. New  MYZ York:  p.453.  New  York:  vol.18,  p.394.  Pocket  Books,  (The Decay o f t h e A n g e l , Pocket (Spring  t r . Edward  Books, 1975, p . 8 3 ) . Snow,  t r . Michael  Gallagher,  1975, p.376).  124.  MYZ  vol.18,  pp.732-8.  125.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.484.  126.  See "Mishima Y u k i o  (Runaway  (Decay  pp.338-44).  of the Angel,  no s a k u h i n  o yomu",  i n Kokubungaku  to kyozai  1 2 7 . MYZ  vol.19,  p.464.  (Decay  o f the Angel,  128.  MYZ  vol.19,  p.484.  (Decay  of the Angel,  p.110).  129.  op.cit.,  pp.464-5.  (Decay  o f the Angel,  p.92).  130.  See, f o r i n s t a n c e ,  note  126, pp.32-3,  (July,  p.110).  kaishaku  in  no k e n k y u  Horses,  1981), p.36.  t h e Kokubungaku  o r Keene,  Dawn  pp.91-2).  zadankai  t o t h e West,  referred  to  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 nihilist 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-philosophical 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 all 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 titles: Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, The Will to Power, and even Thus Spoke Zarathustra—which, as its t i t l e 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 life 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  readily free  opted  himself  life,  the  "man  " r i d himself  of  the  for l i f e — i r r a t i o n a l ,  which,  uninhibited  to  to by  who  him, a  was  equivalent to  more  for truth"  meaningless  "slave morality"  reflects  urge  deeply  the  Since,  1  knows  but  and  thus  glorious  will-to-power  when  i n Nietzsche's  t h a t he  view,  i s always  wrong,  2 no  matter  how  he  an  active  life  acts  had  and  judges",  b e t t e r not  the  concern  man  who  himself  wants too  to  much  live with 3  considerations It and  was  i n an  moral  of  out  of  attempt  system,  that  "good his to  and  evil".  The  struggle with  r e s o l v e the  Nietzsche  "deed  the  is  everything".  "nihilist  problematic",  contradictions in his  developed  his  concepts  of  nihilist "active"  and  "passive" nihilism.  He  defines  these  two  polarities  the  notation-form  posthumous  work,  The  Will  (Der  of  his  to  in  Power  Nihilism. I t may be two t h i n g s : — W i l l e zur Macht, 1901): A. N i h i l i s m as a s i g n o f e n h a n c e d s p i r i t u a l strength: active Nihilism. 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 spiritual strength: passive Nihilism. [emphases i n t h e o r i g i n a l ] ~~4" Nihilism,  strength, Nihilism"?  as  a On  he  continues,  powerful the  other  "reaches  i t s maximum  destructive force,  i n the  of  relative  form  of  active  hand:  I t s o p p o s i t e w o u l d be w e a r y 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 of weakness... the s y n t h e s i s of 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 the d i f f e r e n t v a l u e s contend 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 the foreground under the cover of 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 , moral, p o l i t i c a l or a e s t h e t i c , etc. [emphases i n t h e o r i g i n a l ] 6 And,  i n another  passage,  Nietzsche  emphasizes  further  the  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 w i l l , is illogical; 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 reasoning faculty seconds annihilation by the hand. [emphases in the original] 7 Thus Nietzsche envisioned a solution to the "nihilist problematic" mainly in moral—or anti-moral—terms. European c i v 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 consist 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 nihilist 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, if 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".  ists"  was Y e v g e n y  Children  (Ottsy  typical D.S.  The l i t e r a r y Bazarov,  i dyeti,  post-Darwinian  Mirsky  prototype  says,  t h e hero  1861),  o f these  "gentlemen  o f Turgenev's  who i s s i m p l y  scientific  "the dissection  F a t h e r s and  one o f those  materialists of frogs  nihil-  f o r whom, a s  was t h e m y s t i c a l  10 rite  o f Darwinian  rov' s friend who  does  Arkady  not take  principle  Bazarov  right  place"—by  dying  any p r i n c i p l e 11  proves,  modestly  f o r granted,  Baza-  as "a person  h o w e v e r much  And, d e s p i t e h i s r a d i c a l  i n the end, that  falling  a noble  But  defines a nihilist  may b e r e v e r e d " .  cism,  by  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 " .  i n love with  h i s heart  scepti-  i s " i n the  a k i n d - h e a r t e d woman a n d  death.  this  "tameness"  or "gentility"  of the Russian  ists,  whether  i nreality  or i n fiction,  d i d not last  seems  that,  by  nihilist  into  as a l l moral scepticism,  "destruction  Glicksberg tends  concurs  swiftly  that  inhibitions "destruction  t o grow  Lewis  int  It  eroded  f o r a cause"  turns  On t h i s  Mumford:  a cult  long.  are progressively  f o r i t s own s a k e " . with  nihil-  soon  point  "the cult  of violence  Charles  of nihilism  and t e r r o r  on 12  the  political  Certainly  scene,  'expressing a total  the history  of Russian  out.  Within eight  great  n o v e l , t h e n o t o r i o u s Sergey  "first ther  Nihilist  great  —though, towards  years  murder  "nihilist"  nihilism  seems  of the publication Nechayev 13  o f importance",  than  Dostoevsky  took  had Turgenev.  of  for life'".  t o bear  this  Turgenev's  had committed t h e  and thus  n o v e l , Dostoevsky's  understandably,  then i h i l i s t s  contempt  inspired  ano-  Devils  (Besy, 1873)  a much  harder  Nechayev  line  already  169  represents ultimate for  what m i g h t  phase,  their  be r e g a r d e d  as a c t i v e  i n which violence  own s a k e .  The  nihilism  and d e s t r u c t i o n  earlier nihilists,  in  are  its  valued  as Ronald  Hingley  writes: . . . 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 as 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 new o r d e r . Still, one o f t e n seems 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 beating behind the high-minded sentiments with which they r a t i o n a l i z e d such urges. In Nechayev's case t h i s death-wish (death f o r others r a t h e r t h a n h i m s e l f ) was 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 practised. 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 better world. Nechayev e x p l i c i t l y c l a i m e d to have 'an e n t i r e l y negative 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 ad nauseam w i t h m i n o r v a r i a t i o n s , more o r l e s s makes up h i s message t o t h e w o r l d . 14 To one  convey  some  c o u l d do no  sense of  better  than  the to  tenor  quote  of  from  Nechayev's his  thinking,  Catechism of  a  Revolutionary: Day 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 one t h o u g h t , one 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 sues 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 must be p r e p a r e d t o p e r i s h h i m s e l f , as 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 Of murder  course, for  between  its  doubt  the  ly  b e l i e v e s " he  not  sake  the  blishment  at  always  victim hardly is  late  terrorist  At  nineteenth  acts  the  for  distinguish  a "good fide"  cares whether a useful  any  rate,  century,  rash of  which  to  and a "bona  performing  large,  easy  and murder  nihilist  i n a new U t o p i a .  ment o f  other  is  own  an a c t i v e  No  usher  it  the  and  their  to  or  revolutionary.  h i s murderer  bombings,  troubled  cause",  service,  to  between  or  Russian the  "sincere-  helping  to  establish-  European  esta-  assassinations  and  age  ours  a s much a s  170  were the  all  i d e n t i f i e d as  more  sche's  literate  spectacular 1881:  The  the  about  the  the  the  imminent  and,  confirm  d e c l i n e of  d e s c r i b e s as  of  the  as  the  one's  nihilist  Tsar  Nietz-  "the  most  occurred  himself.  "reverse  destructive  the  to  European  Russian N i h i l i s t movement"^  f l o u r i s h e d among  Devils  "nihilists",  seemed t o  which Hingley  be r e g a r d e d  turning  of  perhaps  a s s a s s i n a t i o n of  nihilism—the self—also  handiwork  them,  event  coup of  What m i g h t  sky's  among  dire' prophesies  civilization.  in  the  side" urges  of  against  Russian n i h i l i s t s .  K i r i l o v argues  that  active  In  one-  Dostoev-  suicide is  the  18 supreme was  to  e x p r e s s i o n of echo,  a s we s h a l l  Artzybashev—a so  far  as  to  nihilist espouse  Though i n the ated  mainly with  century end of to  it  has  the  much o f  practical great German  right  for  wing,  century  be  and dreamer"  the  nihilism  fact  it  to  in  was the  with  himself, take  thus  opposite ascribed  course,  much i n t e r e s t that  the  associ-  twentieth  the  of  went 19  suicide.  he  was  in  expressed  and n a r r o w - m i n d e d n e s s  and p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r  Mishima  novelist  w h i c h some h a v e  s h o u l d be n o t e d  arrogance  Russian  universal  causes,  Nietzsche  sentiment  Dostoevsky—-even  a s s o c i a t e d more  spectrum—a  and  later  unlike  left-wing  influence.  politics,  —a  d e s i r a b i l i t y of  extreme  a "poet  contempt  himself,  the  come t o  freedom  see—and the  nineteenth  political  Nietzsche's  too  individual  of  the  anti-Semitism 20  that  was  already  Nonetheless, thy  towards  which  sought  g a i n i n g ground  he d i d  feel,  democracy, to  elevate  like  i n the Mishima,  socialism the  o r any  late  nineteenth  an i n s t i n c t i v e other  "masses" over  the  form  of  elite,  century. antipa"humanism"  and  he  171 listed  such tendencies  nihilism"  (ie.,  of  among  passive  the  contemporary  "causes  of  nihilism):  The 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 modesty, and i n f l a t e s i t s needs i n t o cosmic and m e t a p h y s i c a l v a l u e s . I n t h i s way 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 as t h e mass 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 , so 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 and become N i h i l i s t s . [emphases i n o r i g i n a l ] 21 It  must  inherent  be a d m i t t e d  in Nietzsche's  will-to-power  "beyond  which r e a d i l y  lent  the  gentler  such a s ,  good  there of  to  use—or aspects  that  the  were  the  and e v i l " .  subtle  instance,  that  elevation  itself  and more  for  too  certain  active  This  of  true  nihilist's  was  abuse—by  dangers  a  doctrine  men who  Nietzsche's  "superman"  ignored  thought:  was  the  man  22 who  conquered  foreseen  himself.  that  twentieth-century  other  political  their  crimes with  But  it  is  sche's ing  their  the  of  wit  has  it  or not,  Naziism.  of  to  shrine  often  cribed  most  dubbed  culpable  an aura  an u n f o r t u n a t e  support  a kind one  terrorists  s i s t e r but  even  Nietzsche,  the  been One  Hitler,  and  Martin  Nietzsche—so  Nietzsche,  German  his  as  Nazi  explained  that  assorted  to  not  repaid  At  for the  endow  only  Nietz-  of  any  'thirties, power  c l e a r l y how  its  time—lent  favor  by  rate,  "philosopher  the  a  erecting  architecturally  a causal factor  assumption  have  respectability.  gruesome 23  the  s c h o l a r of  and  name  Heidegger,  revenge". as  c o u l d not  leading " d i s c i p l e s " — i n c l u d -  and H i t l e r  "Wagner's  his  intellectual  some o f  eminent,  to  invoke  h i s t o r i c a l fact  s i n g l e d out  recent  nihilism",  also  course,  f a s c i s t s , Nazis  would of  of  as  of  in in the  that  whether nihilism",  the  rise  fact,  of  des-  "revolution  typically  terrorist  172 emphasis on "direct action" was related to its nihilist philosophy/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 assignment 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 f e . When a l l other standards have been unmasked by scepticism 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 intelligence, but a creature following his instincts and impulses, like any other animal. Consequently reason cannot provide a basis for a social order or a p o l i t i cal system. The barbaric element of violence... is the one element that can change a social order.... Hostility 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 indignation 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, "certain 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 Nietzsche 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  effort so  liberates creative  r e t i c e n t : i n her  vocally  that  "to  1969  moral  forces".  study,  believe  On  Hannah  Violence,  in violence  as  a  she  Arendt  is  states  unequi-  life-promoting  not  force  25 is  at  l e a s t as To  those  nationalists,  old who  nationalism  quote  one  licke, jection  Ludwig  "for i n his with  the  Nietzsche".  would  however  using  working  as  to  object  that  misguided, disguise  Klages,  who  seminal great  study  rather  their once  e x t i n c t i o n of of  the  Nazis than  were  nihilists  destructive  boasted that 2 6  mankind".  "sincere"  ends, the  one  Nazis  Actually  n i h i l i s m , disposes  cynically might were  Helmut  of  this  Thieob-  cogency:  ...National Socialism quite emphatically d i d not think 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 contrary, i t affirmed certain absolutes. F o r i n s t a n c e , i t made the people (Volk) the a b s o l u t e l y n o r m a t i v e c o u r t of a p p e a l f o r a l l e t h i c s ("What i s g o o d 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 quantity. I t was t h e r e f o r e i n complete a c c o r d w i t h the 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 a n a b s o l u t e of c e r t a i n aspects of 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 m o v e m e n t 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 pragmatic c o m p o s i t i o n , but a l s o t h a t the responsible 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 , h o w e v e r , b e t r a y i n g the secret. I n t h i s c a s e we s p e a k o f a c a m o u f l a g e d o r "ciphered n i h i l i s m . " I f we may use r e c e n t German h i s t o r y as an illustration, 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 Socialists 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 ultimate 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 the i d e a of p e r s o n a l i t y which i s connected w i t h and emphasized i n the 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 a n d d e s p i s e r s o f humani 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 of disconnected and d e p e r s o n a l i z e d individuals. 27 A l b e r t Camus n o d o u b t e x a g g e r a t e d s o m e w h a t when h e counted Nietzsche  among  the  three  "evil  geniuses"  who  created  modern  174  Europe (the other two being Hegel and Marx), but it 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 discredit 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, if 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 democrats, socialists or communists, and thus welcomed the spread of democracy, the "Peace Constitution", the de-deification of the emperor, and the rele ation 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 6  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 will might be weakened by the "poison" of Western humanism: Watching [Sawa], Isao realized that, before he could throw himself so wholeheartedly into their project, it  175  w o u l d p r o b a b l y b e . n e c e s s a r y f o r h i m t o jump o v e r a n y 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 h u m a n i s m [ 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 f r o m a f a c t o r y upstream. Behold: the b r i l l i a n t l i g h t s of the 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 S h i n t T o ] s a k a k i l e a v e s . 29 There  can  be  no  doubt  the  author's  own.  the  numerous  moral/political  wrote  over  the  testament" theme ern  of  he  To  that  last  these  confirm this  decade  issued  writings  nyumon, which  In h i s 1970),  has  and  committing  i s the  one  humanism  has  Japanese  to  Study  speaks since  of  also  refer  to  Mishima  very A  "last  constant  influence on  were  only  the  suicide.  exerted  the  need  here  manifestoes  pernicious  f o r i n s t a n c e , he the  fact  essays  Introduction to  overcome  sentiments  of h i s l i f e — u p  before  liberal-democratic  spirit".  Isao's  which  the  West-  "Japanese  Action  (Kodo  of  the  "spiritual  the  end  of  the  gaku  death"  war:  E x t e n d i n g t h e l i f e o f t h e b o d y c a n n o t be c o n s i d e r e d t h e same a s 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 lifer e v e r i n g humanism upon which our postwar democracy i s founded a d v o c a t e s the s a f e t y o f o n l y the body and does not i n q u i r e i n t o the l i f e or death of the s p i r i t . 30 In Left"  the  same  tainted  liberal  democrats,  the  to  take  nihilist  violent  familiar  the  active  To  combat  that  rather the  peace",  into  action he  once  criticizes  consequent  i n the  "...no  this  leftist/  i n terms  of  longer possessing Left]  will  31 optimism".  influence  Mishima  humanism"  traditional  expresses  "New  incapacity  s u s t a i n e d i t , [ t h e New  passive  the  "life-revering  dialectic:  pernicious then,  same  for their  Significantly,  nihilism  drift  similarly  the  and  active/passive  to  languid  with  revolutionary  manner.  his  of  Mishima  f o r being  as  have  essay,  tried  of  this  present  to rekindle  "the  "age dying  176  embers  of  Japan's  anniversary Society" The  New  of  warrior  the  (tate  spirit",  founding 32 kai).  no  Fascists  of  as  he  said  his private  According  to  on  the  first  army,  the  "Shield  Paul  Wilkinson  in his  (1981):  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 discip 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 This  i s perhaps  uniforms  and  "troops"  looked  fascists, less,  with  and  parison—and And  he  ready  to Thus  the  moral  upon  on  his  as  many  of  kill  and  be  Mishima choice  this  an  added  innocent,  like  "toy  posed  not  last  of  much  his  day  of  a  than  of he  friends  'thirties'  anyone.  appreciated taken  not  dress  Mishima's  hardened  to  being was  fancy  the  so  merely  suspected:  Nonethecom-  seriously. "playing he  was  killed. only  between  piquancy  wrote  active  life.  Isao's  that  have  their  faces,  threat  would  literary  about and  to  those  choice  what  passive  Undeniably  f o r i n s t a n c e , i s the  meaning  boyish  soldiers"  probably  a l l - i m p o r t a n t moral  Such,  exaggeration—in  i m p l i e d compliment  i t i n h i s own  gives  the  himself  proved  soldier",  more  the  slight  their  hardly  Mishima  a  our  passages i s either  passage  he  perceived  nihilism:  knowledge of  of  acted  this  his novels  described or  i n which  he  as  in  fact which  discussed.  Honda m e d i t a t e s  on  death:  I f o n e w i s h e d t o s u r v i v e , one m u s t n o t c l i n g t o p u r i t y as I s a o had done. One m u s t n o t c u t o n e s e l f o f f f r o m a l l a v e n u e s 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 w h a t 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 n a N i p p o n ] s o much as I s a o ' s d e a t h . Was i t n o t s o 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 b y 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 e v e n  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 , b y t h i s m o s t d i f f i c u l t way of 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 ? Everyo n e was a f r a i d t o say so, but had n o t I s a o p r o v e d i t with 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 barbarism. U n l i k e Spain, which preserved i t s national s p o r t of b u l l f i g h t i n g d e s p i t e the p r o t e s t s of a n i m a l l o v e r s t h r o u g h o u t the w o r l d , Japan wished 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 enlightenment of the M e i j i p e r i o d [1868-1912]. The r e s u l t was t h a t the l i v e l i e s t , p u r e s t s p i r i t of the 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 with 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 Here, on  his  then,  perception  people—much, Nazis  who  of  rhapsodized Folk".  Japanese  must  must  be  by  contrast  between  team,  who  passive the  spirit  of  "effeteness"  culture  has  been  the and  "superior  among  those  point  supposedly  the  with  periodically The  need  i n the  concurs  counted  health.  the  admitted,  over  itual"  the  special character  be  Mishima be  predicates  the  i t must  "German  lust  Mishima  is driven  home  aggressive  Thai  the  princes,  "decadence"  thoroughly  of  the  a  as  too,  sake  i n The  those  that  whose  of Sea  the the blood-  their of  "spir-  Fertility  of  the  kendo  Japan",  and  the  one  supposes,  tropical  "corrupted"  Japanese  races"  spirit  who,  nihilism  a g g r e s s i v i t y " of  the  "real  active  same v e i n  "noble for  represent  of  Nietzsche,  satisfied  the  for  by  country  Buddhist  gentle, represent  whose  "passive  nihilism": ...Honda f e a r e d t h a t t h e p r i n c e s ' m e m o r i e s 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 sense o f n o s t a l g i a , c e r t a i n l y were not good. What h a d made t h e m f e e l i l l a t e a s e i n J a p a n was their isolation, t h e i r l a c k of f l u e n c y i n the language, the d i f f e r e n c e i n manners and c u s t o m s , and a l s o , p r o b a b l y , the t h e f t o f t h e i r r i n g and the d e a t h o f P r i n c e s s J i n J a n . But w h a t h a d u l t i m a t e l y a l i e n a t e d t h e m 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 jindo-shugit 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 group]: t h a t iEHreatening " s p i r i t o f t h e k e n d o team". Perhaps 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 , a n d f a r m o r e s t r o n g l y among their enemies. 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, moreo 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 b o y who challenged people before they 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 cantly  expression,  enough,  Force,  with  die  form": "real  and  that  spirit  together  the  exist  a  real  nowhere  Japan",  "final  i n which  i s , with  Japan,  real  i n Mishima's  Self-Defense him  "the  he  occurred  address"  exhorted  i n order  to  to  them  else  but  and  the  i n the  real  signifi-  members to  of  "rise  " r e t u r n Japan  " l e g i t i m a t e " Imperial Japanese,  again,  Army. bushi  the  together"  to  her  For  true  the  [warrior] 36 Forces".  Self-Defense  37 Or,  at  none of  of  his  least, them  so  Mishima  accepted  alternately  his  "dreamed",  but,  invitation,  scornful  and  as  i t turned  despite  lyrical  the  out,  eloquence  rhetoric:  What k i n d o f a n a r m y i s i t t h a t h a s n o h i g h e r v a l u e than 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 value higher than reverence f o r l i f e . It i s n e i t h e r freedom nor democracy. I t i s Japan. 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 love. I s t h e r e no o n e who w i l l d i e b y h u r l i n g h i s body a g a i n s t the 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 her? I f t h e r e i s , l e t u s r i s e t o g e t h e r e v e n now, and l e t us die together. I t i s i n the f e r v e n t hope t h a t you who a r e p u r e i n s p i r i t w i l l o n c e a g a i n b e men and t r u e b u s h i t h a t we h a v e r e s o r t e d t o t h i s a c t . 36 Of really this  course, expected  model  rebellion Indeed,  i t is highly unlikely to  win  "instant  converts"  " r e v o l u t i o n a r y " speech, against  the  very  Japan's futility  "liberal of  the  that  or  to  Mishima to  his  lead  a  democratic"  whole  affair  himself  cause really  by effective  government. made o f  i t a  179 nihilist  action  par excellence,  "self-expression" been. of  In this  Isao—and  explained  than  a much  "truer"  a n y t h i n g more " e f f e c t i v e "  respect  even  and thus  i t resembled  Mizoguchi's  i n Introduction  the equally  a c t of arson.  t o t h e Study  of  would  act of have  "futile"  As M i s h i m a  action himself  Action:  F r o m 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 u p t o t h e present, d e l i b e r a t e a c t i o n s o f t h e Japanese have i n c l u d e d v a r i o u s important mysterious elements which westerners c o u l d n o t have attempted o r even imagined. 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 e x a m p l e s 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 ness. Why d o 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 b e f u t i l e ? Y e t i f an a c t has r e a l l y passed the t e s t o f n i h i l i s m , then even though t o t a l l y ineffective, i t s h o u l d s u r p r i s e no one. I can even p r e d i c t that f r o m now o n , 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 of Yang-ming Thought a r e imbedded i n t h e J a p a n e s e spirit, 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 ble 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 u p i n J a p a n . 38 In to  t h e same  "Yang-ming  son"  essay  Mishima  Thought"  passionately  (yomei-gaku) as an a n t i d o t e  o f Western humanism, warning  stood  the moral  basis  advocates  that:  of the b a t t l e  "We  never  when we  a  return  to the "poireally  fought  under-  against  the  39 west."  B u t what  admires, pher  of course,  inspires  scholar  such  suicide  after  famine  b y "Wang-ming T h o u g h t " ?  of uniting  "thought  him i s t h e example  as O s h i o  Heihachiro  the f a i l u r e  victims.  willingness  h e mean  the teaching of the neo-Confucian  on the n e c e s s i t y  really  pite  does  What  to act-—and  his realization  o f an " a c t i v i s t "  (1793-1837),  of a rebellion  Mishima  admires  to stake  and a c t i o n " ,  about  his life  of the f u t i l i t y  he  who  He  philosob u t what  Yang-ming committed  l e d on b e h a l f o f such  a man  i s his  on h i s a c t i o n s — d e s -  of those  actions.  In  this  180 sense,  c l a i m s Mishima  somewhat a h i s t o r i c a l l y ,  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 "active  the  Yang-  o n l y " m y s t i c s " but  nihilists": Revolution i s action. Because a c t i o n o f t e n l e a d s one c l o s e t o d e a t h , once a p e r s o n has l e f t t h e c o n t e m p l a t i v e l i f e and e n t e r e d t h e w o r l d o f a c t i o n , i t i s human n a t u r e t h a t he must be e n t h r a l l e d by b o t h t h e n i h i l i s m he f e e l s i n t h e f a c e o f d e a t h and a f a t e f u l m y s t i c i s m . In my o p i n i o n , t h e way t o the M e i j i R e s t o r a t i o n was p r e p a r e d by N a t i o n a l L e a r n i n g as m y s t i c i s m and YangMing 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 Nat i o n a l L e a r n i n g o f M o t o o r i N o r i n a g a was d i s t i l l e d by the passage o f 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 p h i l o s o p h y o f s u c h men as H i r a t a A t s u t a n e and H a y a s h i Oen, and A t s u t a n e ' s S h i n t o s t u d i e s t h e n f o s t e r e d the p a s s i o n a t e 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 [royalists]. 40 [emphases mine]  We his  may  own  see c l e a r l y  i n this  native tradition  p a s s a g e how  through  world-view.  Hagakure  (Hagakure nyumon, 1967), he p r e s e n t s Yamamoto J o c h o  nihilist  who  puppets,  b u t who,  atic's  knew t h a t  death''^  even  the l e n s of h i s N i e t z s c h e a n /  nihilist  moralist,  Similarly  Mishima views  i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n to the  samurai  (1659-1719), as an a c t i v e  a c t i o n was  futile  nonetheless, exhorted  and  the  or  "manly"  human b e i n g s  samurai  mere  to "die a fan-  1  Jocho's n i h i l i s m c r e a t e s a world of extremes. Although J o c h o e x t o l s human e n e r g y and p u r e a c t i o n , he s e e s as f u t i l e the f i n a l p r o d u c t s . 42 And,  again:  J o c h o f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r s t o t h i s l i f e as a puppet e x i s t ence, t o human b e i n g s as m a r i o n e t t e s . At t h e v e r y c o r e o f 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 y e t 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 e a c h moment t o e x t r a c t t h e meaning o f l i f e , b u t a t h e a r t he i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t l i f e i t s e l f i s n o t h i n g more t h a n a dream. 43 It  may  seem i r o n i c  so v o c i f e r o u s l y  that  the u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s t  Mishima,  d e p l o r e d the " p e r n i c i o u s " i n f l u e n c e  who  o f t h e West  181  on Japan, should interpret the intellectual history of his own country in such transparently Western terms In the passage 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 intellectual order as opposed to Dionysian passionate chaos. But, actually, 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 perspective—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 "decadence" or "demoralization" of postwar Japan i s , 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 postwar alliance with the Western liberal democracies. The former alliance, in his view, did not compel the "real Japan" to suppress her "true nature". On the contrary, i t encouraged her to return to her "primitive" mythological roots: far from espousing a "sentimental" internationalism, fascism placed great emphasis on the mystique of an individual—and superior—"warrior" race. Thus the Sea of Fertility narrator waxes quite lyical about the Axis Alliance, and, at the same time, underscores his point by noting that Honda, the decadent intellectual, did not share this "romantic" view: The Tripartite Alliance between Japan, Germany and Italy angered one section of the Japanese nationalists (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 (ajiashugi-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 mythology, 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 f e , almost as if 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 literati who were "nationalist romantics" in the nineteenth-century German style, fanatic patriots who believed themselves to be members of the "superior race" as much as did the Nazis—and who were every bit as nihilist. 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": assassination of "selfish party politicians and zaibatsu leaders", to be followed by suicide and reincarnation, "linked mysteriously 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, Mishima 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 declares 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  f a t h e r , Hiraoka Azusa, a f a n a t i c devotee o f H i t l e r and the Nazis.  In a l e t t e r to a f r i e n d w r i t t e n i n 1941, when he was  s i x t e e n years o l d , Mishima complained of h i s f a t h e r : "He harp 48  on one s t r i n g only: Nazis, Nazis, N a z i s . "  But, i n another  l e t t e r t o the same f r i e n d , he admits t h a t , almost a g a i n s t h i s w i l l , he a l s o became " i n t e r e s t e d " i n t h i s s u b j e c t : My^father pressed me with books about the Nazis doing t h i s , the Nazis doing t h a t ; and so I began r e a d i n g on such books i n h i s presence, as a k i n d of camouflage. But g r a d u a l l y I became i n t e r e s t e d , and began reading essays on the Jewish problem and on Japanism by c h o i a 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 p l a y with the p r o v o c a t i v e t i t l e , Hitler  (Waga tomo H i t t o r a ) .  My_ F r i e n d  The p l a y d e s c r i b e s — w i t h , as John  Nathan says, "a c e r t a i n admiration  for Adolf's adroitness"--  the way i n which the Fiihrer e l i m i n a t e d h i s more r a d i c a l the Brownshirts, thus—with  "friend:  on the "night of the long k n i v e s " of 1934, and  an i r o n y Mishima could r e l i s h — w a s  h i m s e l f as almost a "middle-of-the-road" mock-bravado, Mishima boasted  able t o present  liberal.  i n the program notes  With some distributed  to the audience that the play was an " e v i l hymn to the danger51  ous hero H i t l e r , from the dangerous t h i n k e r Mishima". he p r o f e s s e d to " d i s l i k e " H i t l e r , s t i l l he admitted  Though  that he was  52  " f a s c i n a t e d " by him. Of course, much of t h i s i s Mishima's r o l e - p l a y i n g as the enfant t e r r i b l e of the Japanese l i t e r a r y world, eager to p l a y not only because he enjoyed t i v i t i e s of more "conventional-minded"  a r o l e he was  shocking  leftist  the s e n s i -  or liberal-human  i t a r i a n i n t e l l e c t u a l s but a l s o because h i s self-image as a  185 "dangerous of  its  thinker"  very  called,  "eccentricity",  also  attention.  functioned  be  significant  the  'sixties, a marked  mense  the  decline  critical  a massive But  novel  the  of  he had  certainly  there  to  context  his nihilism,  nationalist  hungry  of  his  Kyoko's  extreme  of  wing. his  politics in his  later  years  Mishima's  English-language  best  a point  for  seems  period  the  im-  1959),  Mishima's  but  to  biographer,  it  opus.  within  "conversion"  w h i c h seems  the  ie,  When v i e w e d  fact,  be  activism—  with  (Kyoko no  reasons  and  also  beginning  may  attracting  rightest  in  is  for  his  a s h i s magnum  right  This  device  attention,  House  because  such i t  life—was  deeper  progression".  if  And,  for  popularity,  were  aura.  "fascism",  intended  attraction of  the  machismo  period  decade  in his  failure  his  always  that last  his  as an e x c e l l e n t  M i s h i m a was  may  of  enhanced  to a  have  the  ultra-  "natural escaped  John Nathan.  Like  53 some J a p a n e s e relationship his  modern  betrays  that:  faith"  He  believes  convictions,  the  believe  in his  Mishima  had  on t h e  r e a s o n why  in nothing, mob k n o w s  political "I  only  the  is  and  principles."  one  side to  and  say,  n i h i l i s m but in  1960,  of  Mishima,  which besieged  him  a little,  intuitively  am a l s o  of  crowds  though  antithetical  Needless  that,  residence hated  h i m b e c a u s e he  confessed:  not  an  on the  other.  Nathan notes  Minister's  "They hate  "nihilism"  an i g n o r a n c e  s p e c u l a t i n g on the Prime  Nathan perceives  Mishima's  European h i s t o r y .  Japanese  ...  between  also,  "ultranationalist  such a view  in  critics  so,  concluded  little  h e may  the  nihilist.  think  he  has  that  he  is  unable  to  And,  at  the 54  same  time,  a nihilist."  Nathan  186  concludes: T h e s e a r e n o t t h e w o r d s o f a man w i t h p o l i t i c a l convictions. Y e t b y 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 w o u l d " d i e w i t h s w o r d i n h a n d " i n t h e b a t t l e w i t h the L e f t at the next renewal of the s e c u r i t y t r e a t y i n 1970. By 1 9 6 8 , t h a t i s , he h a d 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 ) a n u l t r a n a t i o n alist. 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 nihilist i n t h i s short space of years to a c q u i r e f a i t h ? 55 As  Nathan  Mishima or,  suddenly  this  other  words,  outgrowth" the  this  not  view:  i s t " — i n his  crowds  for  a  suddenly  on  Prime  reaction  last  "acquire few  of  suicide? that  what  passive  faith" In  "natural nihilism  protesting against States. had  If Kishi  called  on  the  had  and  in  of  a  one  to  "little,  take  the had  taken  Self  himself  need  little who  against  security strong  Defense  nihilism  What  nihilist  action  1960  his  "interpretation"  Mishima's  a  so  life—indeed,  himself,said. was  been  free  actually,  nihilist,  afraid  his  Nathan's  Mishima  who  i n s t a n c e , he  of  childhood—as  of  But,  far.  Minister Kishi a  psyche  faith"  years  residence,  United  whose  since his  official  the  a  against  life  "conversion",  "leap  were n o t  a misunderstanding  words,  were  political  his  his erstwhile nihilism.  a man  nihilism  i s s u e even  other  a  of  psychological improbability of  that  committed  only  that  took  decade  miraculous  politics  but  the  i n the  a misreading  was  to  with  nihilism  the  of  last  "faith".  show—would  he  the  sort  f o r e v e r from  his nihilism  permeated  not  some  reason,  is i t likely  before  on  with  of  during  extreme-right  object  based  said  his  might  pursue  but  him  One  that  just  freed  of  writings  in  underwent  direction  deeply  is  i t , then,  f o r some m y s t e r i o u s  —and  of  sees  Mishima nihilcowered the  treaty action—if,  Force  to  attack  187 the to  leftist  protesters—then  Mishima's  would  have  passive ma,  left  the  nihilist,  in  fact,  "active" marks  liking:  events  perhaps  drives  so  in  charge.  incapable  this  have  point  of  home  But  nihilist,  o n e may  accept  out  to  a  petty,  such r u t h l e s s n e s s .  by  quote:  a nihilist  more  which  K i s h i was  comparing  n i h i l i s t — H i t l e r — i n a continuation  which Nathan n e g l e c t s  turned  a full-scale revolution  military  and  might  of  "While  on the  him to the  one  a  more  above  hates  grand  Mishi-  re-  a  tiny  s c a l e s u c h as  56 Hitler." cade, as  Similarly,  a s we h a v e  the  in  seen,  Oshio  e s s a y s he w r o t e  Mishima depicted  samurai m o r a l i s t ,  activist,  the  as  In. e s p o u s i n g r i g h t - w i n g  few  his  faith" one in  beyond  form the  of  In  teki  his  his  1959),  that:  then,  nihilism;  n i h i l i s m to of  was w e l l  make u s e o f and  life,  footsteps  himself  ron,  of  another.  many W e s t e r n  "A  New  Theory  Mishima claims that  "One  followers trend  nihirizumu]  was  of  of  "active  taking  the  so,  h e was  before  last  a "leap  "graduating"  nihilists  the  towards towards  even moral  terms.  in  and a c t i o n a r e  the  "it  Fascism"  following he  was  easier than  of  fascism."  for drug  fasshizumufascism  addicts"5^  nihilism  And  he  [nodo-  explains  fascism in psychological Yang-ming  always  philosophy,  inseparable;  to  in  the  and fascism  f a s c i s m does  not  59 respect  thought  of  from  him—as  (Shin  so-called active 58  attraction As  of  Nietzsche  nihilist's  "thought  Yang-ming  activism during  doing  de-  "heroes"  admirable  simply In  his  the  M i s h i m a was n o t h e was  i n the  aware.  essay,  the  and  thoroughly  nihilists". years  such of  Yamamoto J o c h o ,  Heihachiro,  later  which  is  not  transferred  into  action".  i  n  188  thus sanctioning action as the highest value, fascism promised "salvation" to the nihilists, 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 will suffice. In this sense, fascism brought relief [sukui] to the n i h i l ists, just like the cure for a kind of psychic disease. 60 Though the parallels between the European "active n i h 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 first 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 nihilist 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  aesthetic  nihilist level  minimum  maid  even  he would  standards  published  Family.  a story  Speaking  never  There  were  that  choice  total  limits  behavior.  tothe  Perhaps  terrorists  should  of victims.  Thus,  who h a d a t t a c k e d  president  insulting  audience  be  care-  f o r instance,  the wife  i n 1960, b e c a u s e  considered  to a student  be a  t o l e r a t e ; he d i d r e c o g n i z e  rightist  Koron  could  of civilized  he f e l t  t h e young  o f t h e Chuo  and thus  judgements..  selective i n their  condemned  had  moral  significantly,  fully he  i n his  of violence  certain most  refinement,  and  the latter  to the  Imperial  i n 1968, Mishima  remarked: " K o m o r i [ t h e y o u n g 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 business. T h e 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 a b o u t t h e y o u n g o f f i c e r s i n t h e F e b r u a r y 26 [ 1 9 3 6 ] R e b e l l i o n was t h a t t h e y d i d n ' t h a r m a n y women o r c h i l d r e n . " 62 We the  should  "other  side"  indiscriminate permissible. rebel ing  away  though,  t o what  killing While  officers  t h e unspoken i s saying,  they  was t h a t  another d i dk i l l  implication  i s that,  selective killing  "one o f t h e s p e n d i d  Establishment—just  things"  they  hero,  i s quite  refrained  certain "corrupt"  as Mishima's  though  about  of the "splendid  Isao,  here,  t h e young from  things",  k i l l pre-  members o f does  i n Run-  Horses. While  I would  not argue,  placed  o n t h e same m o r a l  Nazis,  what  his  Mishima  o f t h e 1930's  was t h a t  that  i s wrong,  women a n d c h i l d r e n ,  sumably, the  note,  politics  I would were  argue  then,  level  Mishima  as t h e European  i s that,  an e x p r e s s i o n  that  should  be  f a s c i s t s and  a s much a s i n t h e i r  of h i snihilism.  This  case, i s true,  190 first and foremost, because of the centrality of violence in his politics. What distinguishes him in this regard from those hard-core "active nihilists", the fascists and Nazis, is something 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 "legitimate" 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 believes, along with the fascists and Nazis, in the all-importance of "direct action"; in other words, he believes, to quote Hermann Rauschning's summary of Nazi doctrine again, that "the use of violence in a supreme effort liberates creative moral forces 63 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 nihilist 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. Consequently, 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 "mysticism" 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 "intellectual" who appears in Mishima's novels, he is a passive nihilist: 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-worship" 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. Indeed, 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^ Though he denounced the 'thirties' rightist Kita Ikki for trying to make use of the Emperor for his own socialreformist ends, one might charge Mishima with much the same thing—albeit to serve the ends not of social reform but of active nihilism. 5  And what were those ends? Certainly not social improvement, 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 excluded 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 nihilist dialectic: action is good, passivity is evil. And, of course, hidden behind this is another nihilist code: death Is preferable to l i f e . The Marxist critics, 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 designed a more archetypal—or caricature—opponent: scion of a privileged, upper-bourgeois family, completely lacking a "social concience", but "playing" at revolution merely to gratify  his  n i h i l i s t / n a r c i s s i s t impulses—or,  ing  to  fascism to  Admittedly, tion  in  writers: tics  himself  the he  is  "aesthetic"  that  an a r t i s t be  taken  himself  spoken  implication is  should not  but  did  might  with  any  concrete,  to  to he  to  defends  works.  a kind  is  ammuni-  defend  poli-  only  for  the  course,  the  since i t s  un-  idiot-savant in  an added  "real world",  him  his  Of  responsibly  case there the  of  class.  such;  but  such a " d e f e n s e " , is  his  "disreputable"  as  politics,  in his  function  into  s o much  be d i f f i c u l t one  of  resort-  the  who "real  complication:  and not  with  pen  hand.  rate,  if  positive  realization  spiritual  that  with  s h o u l d be v a l u e d  them  object  trespass in  would  l a m e way  of  i n Mishima's  sword  Marxists  s e r i o u s l y as  expected  finally  At  the  be  And  it  sinisterly,  declining privileges  the  and  u s e he makes  writer  he  the  usual rather  need not  world".  up  Mishima provided  against  except  shore  more  M i s h i m a c a n be  result  of  from h i s  a private  strength"  of  s a i d to rightist  fantasy—it  Japanese  have  hoped  for  any  activism—beyond  was  men—to use  to the  "enhance phrase  the  in  which  69 Nietzsche their  l i v e s more  When h e stone  defined  of  argues  that  by  ceremony  the  aim of  more  no  active  nihilism—by  dangerous—and  Emperor i s  culture—"the  toshite  '_'Qn.:the D e f e n s e  primary  "manly",  Japanese  [bunka-gainen  means  the  the  cultural in his  1969)—what  (Bunka b o e i  ron,  "Japanese  culture"  i s not  such t h i n g s  samurai warrior  arrangement;  code of  Bushido.,  concept"  says  Culture"  flower  corner-  as he  of  and  violent.  indispensible  Emperor as  tenno]1®  more  just  w h a t h e means the  making  late  as  he  the  above a l l  code a c c o r d i n g to  essay,  tea  is  which  the  194  one It  resolves is  who  the  divine  enables  after  a l l moral  the  c o n f l i c t s "by  E m p e r o r who warrior  to  sanctifies this  die happily.  a l l , a l l good Japanese  shouting:  "Tenno Heika  peror!")  Without  would have  the  nothing  banzai!"  die  of  and  other  the  Japanese  culture  warlike,  the  His  indeed,  Pacific to  die  Majesty  Japanese  War  the  Em-  warrior  for.  Mishima wholeheartedly ization  Emperor,  the  expected  ("Long l i v e  death".  code—and,  During  s o l d i e r s were  divine  to  choosing immediate  accepted Ruth B e n e d i c t ' s as h a v i n g  symbolized  by  "two the  sides",  character-  one  peaceful  "chrysanthemum"  and  72 the  "sword".  creasingly  And he  neglected  felt  that  i n modern  the  "sword"  times—and  Tokugawa p e r i o d w h i c h p r e c e d e d modern the in  "feminization" his  It the  follows  process,  the  from  Japanese  have  to  times,  in  the  when,  peaceful  he  male had b e g u n .  to  of  gyakusatsu)^  ment  in  when  that  believed,  As he  speaks that  it  i n order  " r e m a s c u l i n i z e " the  "feminization"  teki  course,  become more w a r l i k e .  narrator  1876  this,  i n order  process of  Horses  the  even  in-  says  I n t r o d u c t i o n to the Hagakure: . . . w e are c o n s t a n t l y being t o l d of the f e m i n i z a t i o n of J a p a n e s e males t o d a y — i t i s i n e v i t a b l y s e e n as t h e r e s u l t of the i n f l u e n c e of American democracy, " l a d i e s f i r s t " , and so f o r t h — b u t t h i s phenomenon t o o i s n o t unknown i n our p a s t . When, b r e a k i n g away f r o m t h e rough-and-tumble m a s c u l i n i t y of a n a t i o n at war, the Tokugawa 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 hegemony as a p e a c e f u l r e g i m e , the f e m i n i z a t i o n o f Japanese males immediately began. 73  nation will the  of  s i d e had been  of  Japanese  Over  the  worsened.  past  only  the  " s p i r i t u a l massacre"  the  wearing  of  the  swords.  reverse male,  has  had been c o m m i t t e d by  banned  to  In  the  century  Runaway (seishin  Meiji This  governsymbol  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? Being "condemned" forever 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 excellence 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 /political" 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 swordsmen instead of Toyota salesmen, the Emperor and the Imperial Army would naturally be restored to their rightful position. 5  196 Insofar, then, as Mishima's ultranationalism was not of the "conventional" sort but an expression of his nihilism; insofar 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 nihilist 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 fascists 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 nihilists, 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 nihilists. 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 79  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 somewhat 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 nihilist  both  these  purpose: the  "acts  forging a  national  hero  of  of  his  submission" whole  populace  will-to-power. own  novel,  may  The  As  be  made  into  one  Albert  Fall  (La  to  serve  mass  Camus  Chute,  the  same  expression  once  said  1956):  "as  of  of a  the  good  80 modern n i h i l i s t , tion  of  blind  this  nihilist  nihilist's  he  exalts  servitude pattern;  servitude".  to  the  and,  e x a l t a t i o n of  Emperor  on  the  blind  p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s of  was  b i t as  " s u p r a r a t i o n a l " or  I t may  seem  one  only  satisfaction  on  the  Mishima's  usually  case,  as  servitude"  only  pseudo-mystical other  people,  Thielicke  imagines of  his  a narcissist  self-glorification.  the  paradoxical  servitude":  But,  of  that a  the  i s merely  in  the  despised passage  European  Hitler  or  a  will-to-power as  as  emperorshould  an  only  "exalt  egotist  real  with  device  bent  for  in  own "exalt  a l l of  "masses".  quoted  his  nihilists  themselves; a  fits  will-to-power—or,  concerned  for  a  exalta-  certainly  nihilist  personal  nationalism  out  a  nihilist  not  points  to  own  the  "mystical"  course,  the  hand,  national  for others,  especially  deity  submission  as  worship.  as  other  Mussolini every  Mishima's  their  manipulating  As  Helmut  earlier:  . . . 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 of 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 emphasized i n the Fuhrer 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 Thielicke flaged" by  their  there of  or  can  r e f e r s to  "ciphered";  the  i n other  u l t r a n a t i o n a l i s m and be  no  doubt  humanity"—his  nihilism  that  novels  he  are  words,  of  such  their  people  as  nihilism  Fuhrer-worship. "cynic  As  for  was  also  a  and  rife  with  misanthropy.  is  "camou"masked'  Mishima,  despiser And  we  also  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 will 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 nihilist 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 III.  Moral/Political Though  have  dealt  centrally and  thus  these  the  first  with  are  of  i n Mishima's the  the moral  the n a r r a t o r ' s  1949,  i t was  i t .  praised  the " n a t u r a l i s t "  Mishima  works  I  nonetheless they  problems  of w i l l  later  and  are  action,  "resolution"  of  terms. a moral  problem,  h o m o s e x u a l i t y , and  When t h e n o v e l by  Novels  major  f o r Mishima's  o f a Mask makes  accompanies  three  "apolitical",  in political  which  in  of  largely  p r e p a r e t h e way  problems  out  two  concerned with  Confessions ly,  Nihilism  the  critics  tradition  the  was  first  a  "daring  as  most o b v i o u s -  o f Tayama K a t a i :  sado-masochism published,  a  in  confession" frank  expose  82 of  the author's s e x - l i f e .  regarded and  the novel's  symptomatic  in  the  as  a  "momentary  "alienation" the  alienation  "nihilist values Mishima "moral  may  their even  the  said  as,  France.  say,  Sartre  Mishima's  r e m i n i s c e d as f o l l o w s had on h i s g e n e r a t i o n Reading well  i t at  that  More been  y o u t h as  apparent v i t i a t i o n  country's be  h e r o has  defeat.  t o have  and  In t h i s  occupied  postwar  that  time, our  to  to  the  reflect  their  the  young of  i n much the  impact the published: a  refers  a l l traditional  Yukio,  generation  the h o m o s e x u a l i t y had  standards  the p o s i t i o n  Miyoshi  by—  generally,  sense,  generation,  i n 1981 a b o u t t h e w h e n i t was f i r s t  Ko  a whole, of  have  possible  thought  Camus d i d a t a b o u t  contemporary,  critics  of moral  what T a s a k a 83  taboos".  Japanese  s p o k e s m a n " o f t h e new  same way in  i n sexual  of postwar  a s made  "relaxation"  period—or  the homosexual  mood" a f t e r  with  general  postwar  lapse  of  of Japanese  unusual "frankness"  of—the  immediate  A number  same for  the time  instance,  Confessions  understood  symbolic  meaning.  very  200  I n s h o r t , d u r i n g t h e w a r we h a d b e e n t a u g h t a b o u t t h e E m p e r o r a s a p e r s o n a l g o d a n d 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 w e r e r e v e r s e d a n d 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 soldiers. 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 a n d we h a d n o n e t o r e t u r n t o . We w e r e i n s u d d e n l y new c o n d i t i o n s , a n d we c o n t i n u a l l y f e l t alienated from those c o n d i t i o n s . . . . Mishima and I a r e about 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 w e r e in Middle School. For our kind of generation, the r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n r e a l i t y and n o r m a l c y c a n n o t be m a i n t a i n e d , s o 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 metaphor 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 kind of connected/non-connected r e l a t i o n with r e a l i t y . 84 It  i s entirely  appropriate,  editor  of Nihilism  essays  by such  Takeda  T a i j u n and Sakaguchi  the  first  postwar  of the postwar  Emperor's  1968),  "nihilists"  one t o r e c o g n i z e  implications God"—the  (Nihirizumu,  then,  Ango,  that  a volume  as D a z a i credits  the n i h i l i s t Japanese  Umehara  Takeshi,  of stories  Osamu,  Mishima  and  Ishikawa with  philosophical  Jun,  being and moral  v e r s i o n of the "death  of  renunciation of h i s divinity:  T h i s c o l l a p s e o f t h e g o d h e a d o f t h e E m p e r o r was r e a l l y a metaphysical k i n d o f event [ k e i j i j o g a k u - t e k i j i k e n ] i n Japan. M i s h i m a Y u k i o was t h e o n e 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 long time a f t e r the event itself. Unlike Sakaguchi [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 h a d n o t s t a k e d h i s l i f e on t h e Empero r a n d 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 h e was a t h i n k e r a b o u t t h e r e a l i t y of the confusion of values after the defeat. Somet h i n g was m i s s i n g i n p e a c e a n d d e m o c r a c y . Intense ent h u s i a s m was l a c k i n g , a n d t h u s M i s h i m a l o n g e d f o r h i s past i n which t h i s enthusiasm and f a i t h e x i s t e d . Did not 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 a n d f a i t h some t w e n t y y e a r s b e f o r e ? He d e 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 g o d , a n d 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 h a d l o s t t h i s g o d . A n d M i s h i m a c r i t i c i z e d t h e human e m p e r o r , 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 g o d t o c o n f e s s t h a t h e was n o t a g o d . 85 The the  Mishima  Mishima  o f whom U m e h a r a  o f t h e 1960's,  i s speaking  two d e c a d e s  after  here  i s , of  course,  the publication  of  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 nihilist mood produced by the sudden postwar collapse of the traditional system of values—the "cornerstone" of which was the Emperor. At the same time that the Confessions is redolent of "postwar nihilism", though, there is also a strange conventionality— and even harshness—about some of the narrator's moral judgements, 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 unconventional 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, nonetheless, 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 critic 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 86 no taihai). Moriyasu argues that, given Mishima's experience of the aristocratic boarding school, the Gakushuin, he could  202  not  really  have  believed  i n these  exaggerated  epithets:  In t h e dormitory o f the Gakushuin i n the 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 e v e n i f t h e " I " [ o f t h e Confessions] i s n o t M i 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 b o y s a r o u n d h i m . So I d o n o t t h i n k M i shima r e a l l y f e l t , as i s emphasized 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 a n 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 circums t a n c e " o r an " u n u s u a l . . . sexual p e r v e r s i o n " . 87 Moriyasu ma  suspects  to dramatize  that  himself  these  by d o n n i n g  "exaggerations"  enable  t h e "mask" o f a  Mishi-  "'chronic  88 case'  o f the age".  Mishima's ample of  donning  Noguchi  o f t h e "mask  of h i s "aggressive  "painting  Takehiko  himself  similarly  of a sexual  opportunism"—in  black"  so as t o b l e n d  argues  deviant" other  was  words,  i n with  that an exa  case  a dark age:  . . . t h i s postwar "age" 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 taboos, o f an unprecedented r e v e r s a l o f v a l u e s , was w h a t 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 , b y c h o o s i n g t h i s form o f scandalous 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 himself with the postwar l i t e r a r y world. B u t 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 a g e 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 burnt r u i n s , t r a m p s , 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 black market, b u r g l a r s e t c . — t h i s novel i n which appear, shaded, shocking s u b j e c t matter and e x p l i c i t language of s e l f - a n a l y s i s , conforms t o t h e k i n d o f language 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 h a s 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 itself to the age. I n M i s h i m a ' s own w o r d s : " T r u l y I s l e p t together with that age. No m a t t e r w h a t p o s e I a s s u m e d of being a g a i n s t t h e age, s t i l l I s l e p t with 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 . Putt i n g o n 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 postwar "everyday 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 monstrous a p p a r i t i o n , t r y i n g t o decide whether t o b e l i e v e i n i t o r n o t , Mishima gained h i s r i g h t f u l p o s i t i o n i n the postwar l i t e r a r y world. 89 While persistent  there  i s no d o u b t  that  Mishima  s e l f - p u b l i c i s t — a n d two d e c a d e s  was  a  later  skillful he  would  and  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 nihilist argument is served by this, his view of himself 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 i s . "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 o t h e r s 7 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 overcompensation and "masculine protest". As Moriyasu points out, most men write their autobiography at a mature age, out of a nostalgic "looking back", but the Confessions, being written by a  204  twenty-four-year-old,  naturally  a l s o has  a strong  element  of  91 "looking the  forward".  roots  of  his  as  yet,  of  a c t i o n " to  able  he does  to  take  cond major  desire not  this  moral  the  Confessions  "reborn  as  ambition. the  leads  to  of  The  "outer"  any  novel:  discover  or  But, "plan  " a c t i o n " he  "real"  the  else".  effective  only  w h a t we m i g h t  the  we  something  have developed  with  problem  in  be  this  engage  And  to  seem t o  realize to  don a mask.  Already  world  regard  as  narrator's  seems  is  to  the  se-  mask-  wearing. The early  narrator's  i n the  novel  compel him to things cent"  first when  play  the 92  a desire  of  to  no h a r m .  to  of  mask-wearing,  please  the  others  he  act  factory  way  Thus  prepares  it  expectations  This,  "Innocent"  narrator  the role  as w a r - g a m e s . kind  consciousness of  as of  ful  mask-wearing  As  Moriyasu notes,  and  it  way  the  i s ,  with or  seems  boy is  is  done  it  it  others  feel  an  more  in his "a  such "inno-  out  involved  of  causes  habituates the  only  and w i n t h e i r  later,  cousins  simply  as  occurs  enjoys  still  still  itself,  girl  who  "deception"  male"  to  his  say,  though,  his  as a " n o r m a l he  that  mask-wearing  can r e l a t e the  in  of  a "normal"  we m i g h t  "mask-wearing"  the  satis-  acceptance.  s i n i s t e r and  relations  triumphant  harm-  with  joy  in  women. de-  93 ceiving  women".  Indeed,  of  "Don  Juan"  e n t i c e s women t o  to  abandon  of  this  who  them  he  even  later—though  "illusion",  imagines himself fall  in  love  e v e n he r e a l i z e s  considering his  sexual  as a  with the  him,  sad  impotence  kind only  irony  with  94 women. congruity  As  Moriyasu  between  his  points  out,  supposed  though,  extreme  there  moral  is  a marked  sensitivity  in  in-  205 regard to his homosexuality on the one hand, and his noticeable lack of such sensitivity in his treatment of women on the oth95 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 f e and work. Tsuge Teruhiko has made the interesting 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 education 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, "intimate" manner of the traditional Japanese "I-novelist" (shishosetsuka)?^ While Tsuge is no doubt correct in asserting that the Japanese upper classes are extremely sensitive to tatemae or surface appearances, this i s , 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 f e 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 appearance—and thus of "mask"—in Japanese culture as a whole. But, important as this cultural factor undoubtedly is, there is another factor which, it seems to me, is of even deeper significance: namely, Mishima's own nihilism. Japanese society may encourage mask-wearing, but Mishima's maskwearing 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, without i t , he would be nothing. Since "the mask is a l l " , he clings to it 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 will find, not a clear, fully-formed face but a "sea of confu99  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 unpainted 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  but s e n s u o u s , and w h i c h i s stamped w i t h t h e s e a l of a sexual d e v i a n t , probably—though no-one can perceive t h i s — t h e r e l i e s hidden a Medusa-like face f u l l of anathema and h o s t i l i t y towards p o s t w a r s o c i e t y . Or, r a t h e r , p e r h a p s t h e r e i s not even any f a c e a t a l l . F i r s t of a l l , a face i s unnecessary for that "abstract p a s s i o n " which forms the essence of M i s h i m a ; we m i g h t say t h a t a l l t h a t i s needed i s an e x p r e s s i o n f u l l of rapture floating i n mid-air. Thus M i s h i m a ' s c o n f e s s i o n s are i m p o s s i b l e w i t h o u t a mask. Earlier I described M i s h i m a ' s l i t e r a r y p o r t r a i t as a t w o - s i d e d f a c e , one s i d e t u r n e d towards l i f e and the o t h e r towards 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 none o t h e r t h a n t h e god of d e a t h . Because the face 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 of mask. 100 [emphasis i n o r i g i n a l ] In  Nietzsche's  "ordering chaos  of  him—or the  his of  represents  the  own  substantial  is  convinced  were  that  ending.  homosexuality,  need  moral to  the  inner  world  i s why,  in  the  Confessions,  not  only  to  as Tasaka  Ko  says1^  to  esta-  also  himself,  deceive,  to  around  establish  itself—but  problem  the  third  convinced  that  "nature"  always  to  a s we h a v e S i n c e he  seen,  of  the  so  narrator's  and most  by h i s  important  determinism.  he  1  to  hide is  "fated"  this  seems  is unwilling  c h o i c e h a s he b u t  simply to  and  moral  some  real,  he  But  he  therefore  confirmed  by  to  his  resort  accept to  masks  probl.  after  then  behind masks.  mask-  If,  could effect  as a h o m o s e x u a l ,  his homosexuality  what  both the  presented  in his  the  inescapable—and, novel's  the  directly  change  Apollonian  demons.  which i s  feel  life  an  of  Sonoko—who,  relationship with  narrator  would not  of  thus  chaos  normalcy"  respect,  novel,  outer  his  "mask  is  him a g a i n s t  This  inner  relates  mask  in general.  relationship with  this  the  and the  woman a n d t h e r e f o r e  his  wearing  all,  dons  a deceptive  In  of  own p s y c h e  "life"  a deceptive  speak,  Mishima's  p r i n c i p l e " which protects  narrator  blish  terms,  to  the  208  "hide of  it"  both  from  c o u r s e , would  find  "destiny"—though ties"  were  but  determinism  ity  of  Toru  cause the  of  the  moral  passive  criticizes the  passivity  to  the  103 thinking". later  "active"  others? ways  suspect that  came  later  even  his later  action,  seem,  makes  this  works,  an  nihilism.  Thus  to view  the  critic  the n a r r a t o r And  he  (amasa)  himself,  as  such  of  possibilespecially  of  "pure",  as  Matsu-  "tension"  adopts  the  Tsuge  be-  towards  attributes  of  introspective,  "activi-  the  expression  for i t s lack  attitude"  Mishima  a  work  his  Nevertheless, of  later  Mishima  to t r y to r e s i s t  Confessions, i t s denial  "self-indulgence  Indeed,  The  of mask-wearing.  the novel  "passive  from  102 of h i s homosexuality.  problem  out,  may  to Mishima's  unadulterated moto  of  effective  contrast  we  more  and  another v a r i e t y  the  in  himself  this  young  Mishima'  Teruhiko  points  self-dissecting  kind  104 of  writing In  that the  "escape a  C o n f e s s i o n s as  had  route"  conspicuous  to remain  a  to  not  full-fledged  most  tent  the  o t h e r words,  Mishima  upon is  of  judge  of active  spectator,  is  an  only  opposite 'sixties, koe,  who,  1966),  survival  "aggressive i n The  "makes  at  the he  and  the kami-kaze  i t seems  of  not  His  total  i t s writing  yet  "passivity"  t h e war: from  embarked  he  is  real  remarks,  Mishima,  who  who  the Heroic fighters  is definitely  Spirits sing  an  there  seems  the Mishima  con-  danger  Takehiko  w a r - l o v e r " , and  Voices of  novel  time  protected  this  way".  had  towards  Noguchi  match" between  w i t h h i s own  o f an  As  early  protest".  in his attitude  his upper-class status.  cerned  this  nihilism;  "masculine  passive  uneven  from  "woman's  yet discovered,  by  "odd,  the  con-  the of  (Eirei anthem  the no of  209 105 death". quite  a  Or,  to  add  difference  resistance"  towards  acceptance"  work  the  points  Nietzsche  spoke  love of  of  is their  Mishima The  had  first  though,  came  decade,  i n the  ple blem  of  the  problem  of  A  as  number  of  failed  to  points  out,  to  'love  to  and  i n another  fate'  was  trying  the  highest  suicide.  other  In  active  of  before  final  "justify"  his  form The  of  this  novel  problem. down t h e  Sadoya  "link  with  what  the  pure  expression by  the  'six-  After famous  novel,  of  of  course,  arson,  sympathetic felt  all,  The  Tem-  moral/aesthetic  act  to have  nihilism,  "ultranationalist"  was,  monk" a  seem  to  active  1956  principal  "mad  Mishima  As  words,  his  his  Mizoguchi's  this  "passive  nihilism.  expression  in writing  make o f  he  is  Takeyama's  1960).  his wife"^^  Pavilion.  burn  as  suicide  Lt.  fati]  unconventional  this  and  [amor  significant  to  narrator's  homosexual  time  of  leading critics  solve  as  this  discovered  faced  contrast, there  Confessions'  fate  several years  how  the. p r o c e s s ,  by  mutual  Golden  Mishima  fate  striking  " P a t r i o t i s m " (Yukoku,  out, of  more  the  of h i s  L t . Takeyama  which  ties  his  'sixties,  Shigenobu  even  between  "active of  an  as  that  pavilion  Nakamura  Mitsuo  the  and,  in  character.  Mishima  Noguchi  golden  pro-  Takehiko was  "quite  107 a  crime  Mishima ous  against of  public  a  lack  of  criminal  act"  into  morals".  moral a  seriousness  "young  accused  i n t u r n i n g "an  aristocrat's  outrage-  intellectual  108 prank".  Kobayashi  Hideo  "killed  o f f " Mizoguchi  penalty  as  offense  against  the  only  at  opined the  fitting  Japanese  that  end—no  Mishima doubt  should  viewing  have  the  death  punishment f o r such a heinous 109 culture. Kobayashi a l s o compared  210  the novel unfavorably with Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment ^ and certainly i t is true that there is an important moral difference between the two novels: whereas Dostoevsky clearly condemns Raskolnikov s nihilist justifications for his act of murder, Mishima seems to condone Mizoguchi's nihilist j u s t 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": 11  1  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 novelist 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 hilist 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 it is an entirely solipsistic action, without any kind of redeeming "social significance", such as pertains to the politicallymotivated 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 meaningful 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 " j u s t 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 nihilist point of view, of course, no act of violence or destruction need be justified. To quote Hermann Rauschning again, the nihilist 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 if a nihilist 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 difficult, perhaps impossible, task in "reader persuasion". And what makes it even more difficult is that, whatever "arguments" he uses, they a l l circle back in the end to the original nihilist 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 trampling on the prostitute's stomach. True enough, as Noguchi Takehiko points out, Mizoguchi possesses his own peculiar kind of moral fastidiousness: he will trample on a pregnant prostitute but will not flatter the Superior to gain advance11A  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  brilliant insights, though admittedly nihilistic 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, if 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 difference 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 remorse, 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, it 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 "purification" 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 because 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 nihilist 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 nihilist doctrine that knowledge, not action, is the only thing that 117  counts in the world. While the two characters do share the same nihilist 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 intellectual acid, i t corrodes the will to act. How can a man who views everything ironically, after a l l , be made to follow Jo119  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 life on the destruction of the golden pavilion. The Zen Superior, too, belongs in the same camp as Kashiwagi. He represents a l l the "evils" of "Buddhist passive nihilism" 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 it 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 • •  spirit,  122 anc  j. his "powerlessness" or lack of will 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  a l 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, vigorous 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 nihilist point of view, Rinzai Zen could be regarded as an active nihilist "masculine protest" against the traditional passivity of most other forms of Buddhism. 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 nihilist 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 "nondependency on words". Since the above "violent" koan are usually interpreted as purely symbolic—i.e., not as actually condoning 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 nothingness, 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" perspective, 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 disadvantage 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. Nevertheless, the work does centre on the same general moral issues of free will 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 t h e work's v a r i o u s  g o o d n e s s o f an a c t i v e n a t u r e Isao,  and t h e e v i l  might  think that, with  being  of a passive  exemplified  nature  p r i m a r i l y by  by Honda and T o r u .  One  t h e s e c o n d volume o f t h e t e t r a l o g y , Run-  away H o r s e s , M i s h i m a had f i n a l l y persuasion".  characters: the  I t was h a r d l y  s o l v e d h i s problem o f "reader  p o s s i b l e t o argue, a f t e r  all,  that  M i z o g u c h i was a c t i n g " i n d e f e n s e o f J a p a n e s e c u l t u r e " i n b u r n i n g down t h e g o l d e n p a v i l i o n ; fied",  i f at a l l ,  'thirties'  h i s action could  on a s y m b o l i c  terrorists  level.  s u c h as I s a o ?  o n l y be  But what o f t h e a c t i o n s o f a  His actions  supposedly  are  t a k e n " i n d e f e n s e o f t h e Emperor", and t h e Emperor,  ing  t o M i s h i m a , was t h e v e r y  "source  "justi-  and g u a r a n t o r  accord-  o f Japanese  126 culture".  But i s t h i s  reader—not Isao's  enough t o c o n v i n c e  t o mention a Western r e a d e r — o f  a modern J a p a n e s e the " j u s t i c e " of  murder o f t h e " u n - J a p a n e s e " c a p i t a l i s t ,  Kurahara,  osten-  sibly  f o r h i s " p r o f a n a t i o n " o f t h e major i m p e r i a l s h r i n e a t  Ise?  At l e a s t  hiko,  thinks not. To  the question  "legitimate there the  one p e r c e p t i v e  acts  feels but  p u r i t y sustaining the b e l i e f s  t h a t Mishima succeeds  The  to that  the reader of  of the protagonist";  t o s e e "a c e r t a i n p o e t i c 127  i n the death of the t e r r o r i s t ' s  fails  Take-  N o g u c h i answers  " t h e a u t h o r must c o n v i n c e  s e c o n d , he must p e r s u a d e t h e r e a d e r justice  Noguchi  as t o what " c o n d i t i o n s " a r e n e c e s s a r y  of terrorism i n a novel",  a r e two: f i r s t ,  emotional  Japanese c r i t i c ,  victim".  in fulfilling  the f i r s t  Noguchi condition,  i n the second. reason  he f a i l s ,  concludes  N o g u c h i , i s t h a t he n e g l e c t s  to  provide  the an  real  Isao  with  'thirties'  impoverished  their  daughters  "this  poverty  acts the  of  the  into  not  motivation.  terrorists,  rural  Isao  f a m i l y such  was  the  legitimization  were And  i t also  f o r the  the  says  cause  should  terrorist  of  offspring  often forced  yet,  immediate  Showa y e a r s ,  U n l i k e many  i s not  as  prostitution.  only  early  perfect  sufficient  of  to  sell  Noguchi,  of  the  have  terrorist  provided  aspirations  of  128 his  young  for  his novel  this  so,  i t seems,  would  Isao's  hero".  motives  some k i n d  of  Why,  then,  d i d Mishima  "ready-made" have  been  i n Mishima's  vulgar  justification?  to  detract  eyes,  from  and t o 129  "motives  f o r turning to  terrorism  sense  of  social  but  ther,  f o r him  i t is first  are,  and  do  To the  turn his  "agitprop novel".  justice  consciously reject  As not  have  "purity"  of  own  into  Noguchi  spring  work  says,  from  any  perforce, conceptual.  foremost  a matter  odd  of  of  done  Isao's simple  Or  ra-  loyalty  and  130 patriotism." ism". care  As  But  Noguchi  i t i s an  himself points  form out,  "loyalty  Isao  and  and  patriot-  his followers  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 their 131 acts of v i o l e n c e . T h e 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 a n a g e o f d e c a d e n c e , 132 and  nothing  this  i s to  of  an  action,  is  unmotivated  ment: they  own  thus must  be  by  "pure  actions".  considerations of  does  not  bother  i n an 133  age  of  justification.  tially  by  i t seems, is-;determined by  Isao act;  achieved  unmotivated.  Isao's  to  Kurahara's  degree  personal explain  decadent  act  the  The  or  of murder absurd  to  which i t  social  to h i s  passivity,  "purity"  followers  action  i s , i n fact,  "crime"  of  betterwhy  is its  essen-  sitting  on  220 a  sacred  sakaki  fication—an air  of  obvious  unreality  victim knife  sprig  does  not  is offered matter  about cry  the  out  uncomplainingly,  of  as  tatemae  murder  or  only  with  a  flimsiest  only.  scene  make a n y  the  There  itself,  protest;  justi-  is a  strange  i n fact:  he  accepts  " r e l a x e d " f a c e , as  the Isao's  i f feeling  no  134 pain. of  What  Isao's  the  seppuku.  final  into  his  albeit  name  really  abdomen  one  with  "pure  of  Emperor",  the  out  relation  any  veneer  of  Isao  chi,  as  the  the  Isao  Sacred  of so  final  desired  mystical union  it  scene,  he  orgasm—  partner.  emperor-  at  best,  Emperor, to  to  at  fantasy  worst,  a  urges.  by  what  I t begins  the  his  private  or,  justified  "active  thin  And  one's  occurs  to  with-  through-  seem,  nihilist",  then, Mizogu-  be.  Runaway  Horses,  and, seems  to  as to  this  i s i n t e r e s t i n g — a n d perhaps  of  of  Isao's  throughout  paean  with  a  his violent  from  symbolized  novel's  sexual  see  remote  Majesty"  his  a  knife  to  tetralogy.  delivers a 135  as  as  the  i t is difficult  mystical "fiction" as  much  plunges  and  " i n the  seems  appeared  Isao  detail,  course,  applied  the  i n loving  scene  of  real  score  so  subsequent  performed,  than,  duration of  Emperor,  trial  His  this  first  the  maintains  of  on  i s not  he  For  divine  to  remainder  that  more  "nobility"  scepticism the  anything  this  emperor"  are  i s the  after  nothing  actions" but  over  occurs  "sun-god  Isao's  Mishima  lingers  resembles the  as  his  He  " e x p l o s i o n " which  worship  out  interests  the  he  course, "union"  by  sun  the as  commits  achieve, fantasy  at  Mishima with  sun.  the  the  During  "true  seppuku last,  image  in  the  the long-  "sun/emperor".  significant—to  note  that  But when  221  the sun again appears in the very last scene of the tetralogy, to "punctuate" Honda's experience of nothingness, it 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 nihilists. 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 nihilist statement 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 reincarnation. Indeed, when one surveys the tetralogy as a whole, one is surprised to discover to what extent its "passive" elements 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 nihilist" as Honda. It begins to seem, then, that Mishima's "natural" and fundamental world-view remained, until the end, that of a passive nihilist. 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 w i l l . The final scene of The Sea of Fertility is his last "hammerblow" as a nihilist, and i t shatters a l l of his masks, including even his most cherished one: that of Mishima the ultranationalist 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 i h 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  "Sorrel"  (Sukampo,  predated  the Emperor's  early  nihilism,  variety,  already  i s that,  from  nihilism"  cuously  was  at  not as  life  part  were led  sham.  ecstatic,  at the cost What  He was  "decadent"  Sadoya  Shigenobu  suicide  form  romantic  that  nihilism  Mishima's  joie  consp  vivre, life  to "justify"  His real was  i n spirit  not because  these  but because  of the Liebestod,  they  i n fact  and o f L t . Takeyama and  nihilist when h e  was  much  closer  considered  nonpareil. says  " e x a c t l y a ceremony b y means  was  motive i n  W a g n e r , whom N i e t z s c h e  nihilism  so  de  negative  thought,  o f Isao  i s quite mistaken  of Nietzschean  The  to " j u s t i f y "  wanted  positive.  and p a s s i v e  i t was  be  ideology.  "Patriotism"—Mishima  arch-enemy  could  i t lacked  need  this  o f a c c e p t i n g v i o l e n c e as a Mishima  suicides"  i n the story,  than  half-crazy  In h i s g l o r i f i c a t i o n  Nietzsche's  What  long  and n i g h t "  o f view,  as e s s e n t i a l l y  essentially  i n the "erotic wife  own  point  " l i f e - e n h a n c i n g " , as N i e t z s c h e  — a s  to  i n h i s psyche  a  v i o l e n c e and a c t i v e  to death.  his  always  and t h a t  and b l o o d  any mere p o l i t i c a l  of l i f e .  was  his nihilism  divinity",  frenzy, h i s desperate  but death.  Nietzsche  exalting  a  was  a l l costs—even  necessary  roots  a Nietzschean  Nietzsche's  "Dionysian"  from  of the "death  uprooted—by  "active  his  "fall  had f a r deeper  planted—or truth  1938) t o d i s c o v e r t h a t  Thus  of Mishima's  o f the extreme  o f kappuku  (disembowel-  137 ment) a n d k a i s h a k u wanted  nothing  "ceremony" fact,  embraced  t o do w i t h  i n the true  a ritual  nihilist  (decapitation)". such  samurai  distinctly  death.  a "ceremony". spirit  Mishima's  d i s g u i s e d b y t h e mask  Nietzsche  would  N o r was  o f seppuku.  own:  i t a  I t was, i n  the r i t u a l  o f an a c t i v e  have  nihilist  of a  pass  as he  224 Chapter  Three  Notes  1.  Johan  well,  Goudsblom,  1980),  Nihilism  Quoted  i n Goudsblom,  3.  Quoted  i n R.J.  4.  Friedrich  Russell 5.  &  ed.  Oscar  Russell,  1964),  Basil  Black-  State  Complete  v o l . 14,  Univ.,  Works  The  t h e Man  Will  and  1965),  of  His p.219.  Friedrich  t o Power  (New  York:  p.21.  ibid. pp.21-2.  7.  op.cit.,  p.22.  8.  op.cit.,  p.24.  9.  Ronald  aries  Hingley,  i n the Reign  Press,  1969),  D.S.  Vintage  of Alexander  Mirsky, A  Books,  Bucknell  History  1958),  Ivan Turgenev,  Charles  Nihilists:  Russian Radicals II  (1855-81)  and  (New  Revolution-  York:  Delacorte  p.57.  (Harmondsworth: 12.  The  Levy,  op.cit.,  11.  Nietzsche:  Louisiana  Nietzsche,  6.  10.  (Oxford:  p.33.  Hollingdale,  ( B a t o n Rouge:  Nietzsche,  Culture  p.36.  2.  Philosophy  and  Fathers  1975),  Hingley,  p.58.  14.  op.cit.,  p.57.  15.  op.cit.,  p.58.  16.  op.cit.,  pp.80-89.  17.  op.cit.,  p.13.  18.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky,  19.  Glicksberg,  20.  Hollingdale,  21.  Will  22.  Hollingdale,  23.  op.cit.,  The  The  pp.211-5. p.23.  pp.196-7.  p.290,  Sons, 1965),  t r . Rosemary  Edmonds  p.94.  Literature  Devils,  Books,  p.103.  t o Power,  York:  of Nihilism  (Lewisburg:  pp.14-5.  13.  Penguin  and  Books,  Glicksberg,  (Harmondsworth:  (New  p.196.  Penguin  Univ.,  of Russian Literature  f.2.  1953)  t r . David  Magarshack  225  24.  Hermann R a u s c h n i n g ,  Arno  Press,  25.  Hannah A r e n d t ,  novich, 26.  1972),  27.  28.  & Row,  1961),  Camus,  A. K n o p f ,  Mishima  sha,  1973-76),  these,  Lyrical  Jova-  Fascists  (London: Pan  vol.18,  give  New  York:  Yukio,  i n The Japan  Harris  Doberstein  (New Y o r k :  and C r i t i c a l  Essays  (New  York:  [hereafter  p.685.  page  Books,  translations  t o t h e paperback (Runaway  Japanese  Horses,  of  would Mishima's  editions t r . Michael  1975, pp.291-2)  Thought  Interpreter  from  Shincho-  b u t , f o r r e a d e r s who  English  as f o l l o w s :  "Yang-Ming  (Tokyo:  A l l translations  references  Pocket  M.Y.Z.],  as R e v o l u t i o n a r y  (vol.VII,  No.l, Winter  Philo1971),  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  34.  M.Y.Z., v o l . 1 9 ,  Saunders  t r . John  p.354.  Zenshu  i n brackets,  Mishima  sophy", tr.  Harcourt Brace  pp.32-3.  to the published  I also  Gallagher, 30.  T h e New  otherwise specified,  to refer  novels, of  (New Y o r k :  Nihilism,  1969),  Yukio  own u n l e s s  like  Wilkinson,  Thielicke,  29.  my  On V i o l e n c e  1981), p . l .  Albert  Alfred  (New Y o r k :  pp.27-8.  i n Paul  Helmut  Harper  of Nihilism  1969), p.74.  Quoted  Books,  The R e v o l u t i o n  F a s c i s t s , p.90. p.34. (The Temple  o f Dawn, t r . E . D a l e  and C e c i l i a  Segawa  Seigle,  New  York:  Pocket  35.  M.Y.Z., v o l . 1 9 ,  p.33.  (Temple  o f Dawn, p . 2 2 )  36.  Japan  37.  ibid.  Books,  p.23.)  I n t e r p r e t e r , p.74.  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.  Yukio Mishima,  tr.iKathryn  On H a g a k u r e  (Tokyo:  Charles  E. T u t t l e ,  S p a r l i n g , p.83.  42.  ibid.  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  1978) ,  226  kyuka in  (Tokyo:  Appro  Shinchosha,  no s a k a z u k i  (Tokyo:  45.  M.Y.Z.  19, p . 2 9 .  46.  Quoted  i n Henry  Mishima 47.  (New Y o r k :  M.Y.Z.  Weatherby, 48.  Quoted  Shinchosha,  (Temple  Scott  York:  i n John  Wilde  o f Dawn, p . 1 8 )  Books,  (Confessions  Mishima  and Death  1974),  of Yukio  pp.86-7.  o f a Mask,  New D i r e c t i o n s , Nathan,  on Oscar  1982).  S t o k e s , The L i f e  Ballantine  3, p . 2 5 5 . New  1982) and h i s e s s a y  t r . Meredith  1958, p.127). (Boston: L i t t l e ,  Brown,  1974),  p. 43. 49.  o p . c i t . , p.37.  50.  op.cit.,  p.253.  51.  op.cit.,  p.252.  52.  ibid.  53. gi  See, f o r i n s t a n c e , no kamen  Agata  to nihirizumu  Ibuki,  (Tokyo:  Mishima  San'ichi  Yukio  shobo,  ron:  Sumero-  1974),  pp.63-  120. 54.  Nathan,  55 .  op.cit.,  56.  Quoted  57.  Mishima  (Tokyo:  p.174. p.175.  i n Scott Yukio,  Shinchosha,  Stokes, Shin  p.206.  fasshizumu  1982),  Also, ron,  ibid.  59.  ibid.  60.  o p . c i t . , p.174.  61.  op.cit.,  62.  Quoted  63.  Rauschning,  64.  o p . c i t . , p.28.  65.  See  66.  Noguchi  tics  and  Politics  of Ultranationalism  Japanese  Studies,  10:2, 1984, pp. 438-40.  Nathan,  M.Y.Z.  69.  Will  70.  M.Y.Z.  no  kyuka  p.185.  pp.27-8.  p.211.  Takehiko,  68.  i n Shosetsuka  pp.64-5.  p.168.  i n Nathan,  op.cit.,  i n Agata  p.173.  58.  67.  partly,  "Mishima  Yukio  and K i t a  I k k i :: T h e A e s t h e -  i n Japan", i n Journal  p.439.  18, p . 5 8 9 .  (Runaway H o r s e s ,  t o Power, p.21. 33, p.397.  pp.197-8.)  of  227  71.  Hagakure, p.99.  72.  See S c o t t  73.  Hagakure, p.18.  74.  M.Y.Z.  75.  Japan  76.  Shin  77.  op.cit.,  p.174.  78.  op.cit.,  p.175.  79.  op.cit.,  p.174.  80.  Lyrical  81.  Thielicke,  82.  Moriyasu  kenkyu,  Stokes, p.6.  18, p.589.  (Runaway  Horses,  p.197.)  I n t e r p r e t e r , p.74. fasshizumu  r o n , p.172.  and C r i t i c a l  Essays,  p.364.  pp.32-3.  Ribun,  "Kamen n o k o k u h a k u r o n " , i n M i s h i m a  e d s . Hasegawa  Izumi  et a l . ,  (Tokyo:  Ubun  Shoin,  Yukio 1970),  p.236. 83.  Tasaka  84.  Miyoshi  Ko, M i s h i m a Y u k i o Yukio,  r o n (Tokyo:  i n the zadankai,  o yomu", i n K o k u b u n g a k u  kaishaku  Futosha,  1970), p.22.  "Mishima Yukio  to kyozai  no  no k e n k y u  sakuhin  (July,  1981),  p.10. 85.  Umehara  Takeshi,  ed., Nihirizurou  (Chikuma Shobo,  1968),  p.24. 86.  Moriyasu,  87.  op.cit.,  88. 89.  p.241. p.244.  ibid. Noguchi  1968),  Takehiko,  no s e k a i  (Tokyo:  pp.117-8.  90.  op.cit.,  91.  Moriyasu,  92.  M.Y.Z.  93.  Moriyasu,  94.  M.Y.Z.  95.  Moriyasu,  96.  Tsuge Teruhiko,  97.  Mishima Yukio  pp.103-4. p.238.  3, p . 1 8 2 .  ( C o n f e s s i o n s , p.27)  p.245.  3, p . 3 1 8 .  (Confessions,  pp.212-3.)  p.245. i n above  ibid.  98.  Tasaka, p.26.  99.  o p . c i t . , p.27.  100.  Noguchi,  Sekai,  pp.110-1.  zadankai, p.7.  Kodansha,  228 101.  Tasaka,  102.  Matsumoto  103.  op.cit.,  104.  Tsuge,  105.  Noguchi,  106.  Sadoya  Tosho  Mishima  108.  Quoted  p.19.  zadankai,  zadankai,  Mishima  sensho,  of  i n above  p.12.  1981),  p.112.  Yukio n i okeru  seiyo  zadankai,  1974),  p.16.  Accomplices of  Silence  Quoted  110.  Miyoshi,  111.  Quoted  ture  of  112.  Miyoshi,  113.  Rauschning,  114.  Noguchi,  i n above  115.  Miyoshi,  Accomplices,  116.  Noguchi,  i n above  117.  M.Y.Z. 1 0 ,  Ivan  Morris,  118.  Noguchi,  119.  Hagakure,  120.  M.Y. Z.  10,  p.187.  (Golden  Pavilion,  p . 197) .  121.  M.Y. Z.  10,  p.176.  (Golden  Pavilion,  p. 187) .  122.  M.Y. Z.  10,  p.187.  (Golden  Pavilion,  p . 197) .  123.  M.Y. Z.  10,  eg.,  124.  M.Y. Z.  10,  p p . 2 4 8 - 9.  125.  Donald  Keene,  Kodansha,  zadankai,  Accomplices,  i n Makoto  1976),  the  Na-  pp.258-9.  p.21.  p.20.  Temple  Berkley,  of  1959,  zadankai,  the  Golden  Pavilion, t r .  p.279). pp.23-4.  p.69.  1981),  p . 205  &  p.248.  (Golden  Appreciations  (Golden P a v i l i o n ,  127.  op.cit.,  p.438.  128.  op.cit.,  p.439^  ibid. p.440.  Yukio  and  p.217  P a v i l i o n , pp.258-9).  of Japanese  Culture  Kita  p.452.  p.215.  "Mishima  op.cit.,  Univ.,  and  p.160.  (The  above  Writers  pp.27-8.  zadankai,  York:  Noguchi,  130.  Stanford  zadankai,  p.269.  Japanese  p.161.  Revolution,  126.  129.  Modern  (Stanford:  i n the  p.22.  p.161.  Ueda,  Accomplices,  New  (Berkeley:  p.161.  109.  Literature  (Tokyo:  p.168.  i n Masao M i y o s h i ,  i n above  sekai,  Mishima  i n above  Calif.,  p.9.  Y u k i o no  Shigenobu,  Noguchi,  ron,  p.15.  i n above  107.  Univ.  Toru,  Yukio  Ikki",  (Tokyo:  &  258)  229 131.  ibid.  132.  M.Y. Z.  18,  p.788.  (Runaway  Horses,  p.391).  133.  M.Y. Z.  18,  p.589.  (Runaway  Horses,  pp.197-8).  134.  M.Y. Z.  18,  p p . 8 1 2 - 3.  135.  M.Y. Z.  18,  p.787.  136.  Umehara,  137.  Sadoya,  (Runaway  Nihirizumu, Mishima  (Runaway H o r s e s ,  Yukio  Horses,  pp.415-6).  p.391).  p.25. n i okeru  seiyo,  p.66.  230  Conclusion As a nihilist writer Mishima may be placed within an international intellectual tradition whose origins lie in midnineteenth-century Europe.  Of the two kinds of novelists con-  cerned with nihilism—those who write about nihilism, such as Dostoevsky, and those who write out of nihilism, such as Samuel Beckett, Mishima belongs to the latter kind.  Unlike Beck-  ett and other European nihilist novelists of the twentieth century, though, Mishima did not experiment with "anti-novel" forms to express his nihilism.  He was as aesthetically con-  servative as he was intellectually radical. Judged by the standards of Robbe-Grillet and other French "new novelists", his aesthetic practise is inconsistent with his world-view. Though completely without faith in the traditional "bourgeois humanist" model of an orderly, meaningful universe in which human beings exist as distinct individuals making rational moral choices through the exercise of free w i l l , nonetheless he continues to employ an aesthetic form based on that very world-view: the well-made novel of chronologically ordered, syllogistic plots, distinct, recognizable characters and settings (which never "disorient" the reader), and articulate, rational arguments. It may be urged in Mishima's favor that, though his novels are "oases of order", he is well aware of the desert which lies just beyond, the chaos and nothingness which continually encroach upon the borders, and sometimes he "lets it in". He  231 creates the illusion of character only to "unmask" i t ; he creates the illusion of faith only to undermine i t ; he is s t i l l the small boy of whom it was observed that he enjoyed building huge towers of blocks only to knock them down again. In this sense Mishima does resemble the Western novelist he most admired, Thomas Mann, who once confessed that, since he lacked the experimental talents of a Joyce or a Kafka, he could be "original" only by infusing the traditional forms he used with his "modern" sense of irony. Mishima's "irony" is of a more extreme and violent variety than Mann's—the irony of a nihilist. A good example of Mishima's brand of irony is what happens to Honda at the end of the tetralogy: visiting a Buddhist temple in the hope of receiving some psychological reassurance or even spiritual purification before his death, he receives instead a nihilist "hammer blow" which destroys his belief in everything that has made his l i f e meaningful. From an aesthetic point of view, i t is important to note that this "hammer blow" destroys not only Honda's belief in reincarnation, but also the whole elaborate structure of the tetralogy itself, which is based on reincarnation. Some readers may feel i r r i t a ted by Mishima's "Indian giver" strategy here—first giving us the idea, then taking i t away—but certainly this is one legitimate mode of nihilist writing: because, as much as, say, Beckett's bleak landscapes populated by anonymous characters, it effectively communicates a powerful sense of nothingness. While Beckett's is completely an "art of emptiness", so to speak, Mishima's is an art of "form and emptiness", or an art  232 which demonstrates the "emptiness of form". Actually there is a long tradition of such art in literature, though perhaps more in theatre than in the novel. The "gesture" with which Mishima makes everyone and everything vanish at the end of the tetralogy is a theatrical gesture, similar in kind to Prospero's "gesture" towards the end of The Tempest: Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were a l l spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, a l l which i t inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our l i t t l e l i f e Is rounded with a sleep. (Act IV Scene.I) Such "vanishing acts", though, are probably easier to carry off in the theatre than in the novel. The theatre is more obviously an "art of masks", and theatre-goers do not seem to mind being reminded of this fact—perhaps because the actors stand before them "in the flesh", and so at least are "substantial" in a physical sense. The characters of a novel, though, possess no such actual physical presence, and thus the novelist has a more difficult task from the beginning in convincing his readers of their "substantiality". Once he succeeds in doing so, he risks alienating his readers if he then proceeds to demonstrate that " a l l is illusion". His readers are apt to feel that their imaginations have been "violated", that they have been "taken for a ride". One might be tempted to conclude, then, that, because of his penchant or need to play "games of masks" with his characters, Mishima's genius  233 was more suited to the theatre, as some critics have suggested. But this fails to take into account one all-important factor: what might be called Mishima's "autobiographical impetus" as a writer. Theatre is too "public" an art to support the kind of intimate self-revelations which were as necessary a part of Mishima's writing as of the writing of the traditional Japanese "I-novelists" (shi-shosetsuka). For Mishima's nihilism was not merely a "philosophical system", an intellectual construct which could be conveniently transposed onto his novels as a structural framework; his n i h i l ism was rooted in the depths of his psyche, so that his need to give vent to it was a deep psychic need. This is most evident in his early work, Confessions of a Mask, which clearly reveals the origins of his nihilism in his homosexuality, sadomasochism, the psychic resistance or "masculine protest" which his homosexuality arouses in him, and, finally, the deterministic view he takes when his "protest" fails. That Mishima's "primary inspiration" as a writer was his need to give expression to these personal psychic conflicts is revealed by the fact that he was never again able to write with such power as he did in the Confessions, his most closely autobiographical work. But even such later works as The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and The Sea of Fertility may also be seen as an expression, albeit more "objectified", of the same psychic tensions, which, in nihilist terms, take the form of an active/ passive dialectic. This basic active/passive dialectic is also "translated" into some of the many other "dichotomies" which  234  obsess Mishima throughout his novels: male/female, young/old. physical/intellectual, beautiful/ugly, idealistic/cynical, innocent/decadent. Thus, paradoxically, at the same time that Mishima's nihilism militates against his formal structures, i t also serves as the underlying formal principle of those structures. In Confessions of a Mask, it is the narrator's nihilist determinism which impels him to wear his "mask of normalcy", and it is also his nihilist determinism which finally strips away that mask. In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, we see this process "objectified" by the symbolic artist-figure, Mizoguchi: his "aesthetics of nothingness" are what attract and bind him to the "illusory structure" of the pavilion, and also what impel him to destroy the pavilion. In The Sea of Fertility Honda's "Buddhistic" passive nihilism attracts him to another kind of "illusory structure", that of reincarnation, viewed explicitly as the Asian parallel to Nietzsche's "eternal recurrence". But it is also his nihilism, of course, which finally undermines this structure. On the other hand, Isao's active n i h i l ism motivates him to embrace a mystical ultranationalist ideology, but this also is proven illusory by the tetralogy's final passive nihilist "epiphany". As one ponders on the problem of Mishima's nihilism, and the nihilism of other writers, there are moments when nihilism seems inimical to everything literature stands for: the celebration of life and of humanity, a joie de vivre which, despite many sorrows, never succumbs to despair. At other times, it  seems that nihilism is the natural condition—or, at least, a natural temptation—of the literary mind. A writer, after a l l creates people and places ex nihilo and thus may be tempted to see nothingness as the "reverse side" of a l l creation. A puppet-master, he may be tempted to see even "real" human beings as puppets. A dreamer, he may be tempted to see a l l l i f e as a dream. This temptation of what might be called "the writer as demigod or enchanter" is perhaps best expressed by Shakespeare in the above-quoted passage. Here the "sense of unreality" takes on a gentle, poetic, dream-like quality, but there are also passages in Shakespeare which give i t a harsher, more "nihilistic" expression. As, for instance: As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; They k i l l us for their sport. (King Lear, IV, i , 36) Or: Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (Macbeth, V, v, 17) But obviously any writer who yields entirely to the "nihi ist temptation" will cease to write. Mishima, in fact, seemed to come close to this in his later years, and his last works perhaps suffer from the fact that he now had more "faith" in the importance of body-building and sword-play than in the importance of writing. Nihilism in its extreme form is anticreative; one might say that i t becomes " a l l hammer and no mask". Many writers in our century have played a dangerous game of flirtation with the void, and some of these have, in  236  fact, lost their will to create. Throughout the three decades of his writing career, Mishima performed a delicate balancing act between his "hammer" and his "mask". But his urge to use the hammer, i t seems, grew stronger and stronger, until finally he used i t on himself.  237  Bibliography  Adler,  Alfred.  ed.  The  Heinz  and  Individual  Psychology  Rowena A n s b a c h e r .  of Alfred  New  York:  Adler,  Basic  Books,  1956. _" trans. Agata  P.  Practise  Radin.  Shoei  San'ichi  ovich, Auden,  Yukio  and  ron:  » Zen  and  e T-^'J^ E M i ^ J On  Individual  Routledge  shobo •  Hannah.  of  Kegan  1  9  7  0  Psychology, Paul,  Sumerogi  no  1923. kamen  b>Ml'K/  #£Z>fo§fr  >  Arendt,  Theory  Mishima  n i h i r i z u m u / ^ fe  Tokyo:  and  London:  $fcf$X  Ibuki. to  Ando  The  1974.  American  Transcendentalism.  Tokyo:  Hokuseidoshoten  «  Violence.  New  York:  Harcourt  Brace  Jovan-  1969.  W.H.  Collected  S h o r t e r Poems.  New  York:  Vintage  Press,  1975. Bowring,  Richard.  Culture. Campbell, New  Doi  Bary,  Roy, York:  Wm.  trans.  G r a s s e t and Lyrical  Theodore,  and  Poems  York:  Takeo.  The  Anatomy  the  of  Dunlap, Critical  et.al.,  New  Kodansha,  and  Cambridge  The  tion.  Tokyo:  Ogai  Cambridge:  Camus, A l b e r t . de  Mori  Columbia  ed. Univ.  Modernization of Univ.  St. John  of  1979. the  Cross.  1967. Essays. Sources  of  Press,  of Dependence, 1973.  Press,  Japanese  trans.  Chinese  Tradi-  1964. John  Bester.  238 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor.  The D e v i l s , t r a n s . David Magarshack.  Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1953. E l i o t , T.S.  The Complete Poems and P l a y s .  New York:  Harcourt,  Brace and World, 1971. Eto Jun. The  "An Undercurrent  i n Modern Japanese L i t e r a t u r e " .  J o u r n a l of Asian S t u d i e s , v o l . x x i i i , no.3 (May, 1964).  Freedman, Ralph.  The L y r i c a l Novel.  Princeton: Princeton  Univ.  Press, 1963. Freud,  Sigmund.  The Basic W r i t i n g s of Sigmund Freud,  A.A. B r i l l .  New York: Random House, 1938.  Fromm, E r i c h and Suzuki, D a i s e t s u . alysis.  trans.  Zen Buddhism and Psychoan-  New York: Harper and B r o t h e r s , 1960.  G l i c k s b e r g , Charles I .  The L i t e r a t u r e of N i h i l i s m .  Lewisburg:  B u c k n e l l Univ. Press, 1975. Goudsblom, Johan.  N i h i l i s m and C u l t u r e .  Oxford:  Basil  Black-  w e l l , 1980. Hasegawa Izumi. #%JK>#f%J°^y°  :  Hingley, Ronald.  Mishima Yukio kenkyu. *~ j ^ - - ^ j  •  ^ ^ ^ " 1 ' ]  u  b  u  n  s  h  o  i  n  &  '  1  9  7  °-  N i h i l i s t s : Russian 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 the Reign of Alexander I I (1855-81).  New York:  D e l a c o r t e Press, 1969. Hochman, Baruch.  Character i n L i t e r a t u r e .  Ithaca: C o r n e l l  Univ. Press, 1985. H o l l i n g d a l e , R.J.  N i e t z s c h e : The Man and His Philosophy.  Rouge: L o u i s i a n a State Univ. Ibuse M a s u j i . ffi jjC. Bester.  f$^-  Baton  Press, 1965.  Black Rain.  Tokyo: Kodansha, 1970.  uj^j > t r a n s . John  239 Kappel,  John  F.  Toronto: Keene,  An  Forum  Donald.  hard  and  Return".  Delta,  The  York:  ^  McCarthy,  Mirsky,  Mishima  New  Experience  Nietzsche,  Tokyo:  York:  Holt,  ed.  J  ?)  and  Mountain,  Press,  of  David  the  Eternal  Allison.  Negation.  trans.  tf&tyV-  £  g  $1%  r  New  York:  H.T.  Lowe-Porter.  Yukio  no  sakuhin  ffrfo j  '^jfc-Sls*  o  yomu".  Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u  to  t . & U f t « f f l %  J  1981).  A  Books,  Ideas  and  the  Novel.  New  York:  Harcourt  1980.  History  of  Russian  Literature.  New  York:  Vin-  1958.  Yukio.  V ^ ^ ^ y ^ ^ j  Mishima .  36  vols.  Yukio  Tokyo:  J^j  Zenshu  Shinchosha  1973-76.  Tokyo:  New  1969.  "Mishima  Jovanovich,  *  Rine-  1970.  ^jk  •£L /7V.'  D.S.  tage  Culture.  Fiction.  Literature  Vintage  Mary.  Brace  New  Magic  k y o z a i no kenkyu (July,  West:  Press,  Toru.  fb  Japanese  1977.  Univ.  Mann, T h o m a s .  Matsumoto  Philosophy.  1984.  Jaanus.  Columbia  Century  1969.  "Nietzsche's  I n The  Maire  New  the  Winston,  Pierre.  York:  20th.  1981.  Dawn t o  Klossowski,  Kurrik,  House,  Appreciations of  Kodansha, '  Introduction to  Shosetsuka Shinchosha  no  k y u k a . ;}  J^f $ f l * # k  F  \^ ,  ^ 1982.  J[%J$*{  j  240  Aporo Tokyo:  On  *  Miypshi  Tokyo:  Harris  Masae.  Miyoshi  E.  Thought  Martin.  j  1982. , trans.  Charles  "Yang-Ming  (Winter,  Calif.  ,  Hagakure.^  Sparling.  np.l,  "J'fjV'l^J ^  sakazuki.  Shinchosha,  *  trans.  no  Tuttle  as  The  Co.,  Kathryn  1978.  Revelutipnary Philpspphy",  Japan  Interpreter,  vel.vii,  1971).  Acccmplices of  Press,  Silence.  Berkeley:  Univ.  of  1974.  Yukio.  "Mishima  Yukio  no  sakuhin o  yomu"  Kokubungaku k a i s h a k u t o  kySzal no kenkyu (July, Moriyasu %  1981)  ^^"^^.^1  Ribun.  QjJ  I  ed. Ubun Nabpkpv,  | i f | K t M 4 f j  r  M  i  Hasegawa  J£/  shpin  n  h  i  m  a  Y  u  k  i  kokuhaku  ^nkyu  o  J^yST")1]  Izumi  $L  3£<§f  Vladimir.  s  "Kamen n o  ,  r  ron". '  ^  J f L  "^SlO fejf^  et.al.  Tokyp:  1970.  Strong Opinions.  New  York:  McGraw-Hill,  1981. Nathan,  John.  Nietzsche, ed.  Mishima.  Friedrich.  Oscar '  trans.  Levy.  The  * Chicago:  Beyond Henry  The New  Birth  Francis  Bpstpn:  Little,  Complete York:  Golffing. Good  and  Regnery,  Works  Russell  of Tragedy New Evil, 1955.  Brewn,  and  of Friedrich  and  The  York: trans.  1974.  Russell,  Genealogy Doubleday, Marianne  Nietzsche, 1964.  of Morals, 1956. Cowan.  241  '  The  Will  Hollingdale. Noguchi  t o Power,  New  Takehiko.  IJ3  ^  %?Jfc. *\ •  Mishima  Rauschning, Arno  and  Jay  Robbe-Grillet, New Ross,  Stephen  s  Revolution  The  Duino  e  i  7  Wilson.  Grove D.  New  York:  F o r a New Press,  in  Univ.  , Edward  "Sea  and  1985.  York:  trans.  Novel,  and  Stephen Row,  trans.  Gar-  1972.  Richard  Howard.  Philosophy.  New  York:  Apple-  Yukio n i  i^f  T  o  k  y °  okeru  :  T  6  s  h  o  1981.  "Strangely  Shaped  ed.  Roggendorf.  Joseph  of F e r t i l i t y " .  1979.  Soyen.  Sermons  Novels".  In  Tokyo:  Studies Sophia  of a  In This  Buddhist Abbot.  Country, Japan.  New  York:  Tokyo:  Samuel  1971.  William.  Press,  New  1979.  fcj  1963.  Kodansha,  Sibley,  G.  Culture,  Press,  Weiser,  »  of N i h i l i s m .  Mishima  |Mtf  *  1968.  t #1>-  $jfj # 3  Harper  i -  Japanese  ,  $^7\L  j^]  ^  1969.  r  Seidensticker,  l ^ j ^ ^ t ^ . %  r  sekai.  1965.  Literature  ^tb  5  Y u k i o no  Elegies,  Shigenobu.  sensho  Shaku  Shuppan  The  ton-Century-Crofts, Sadoya  Ikki.  R.J.  1967.  Kodansha  to Kita  Fukumura  Alain.  York:  House,  and  1972.  Rainer Maria.  mey  W a l t e r Kaufman  Mishima  Tokyo:  Yukio  Hermann.  Press,  Random  $  . ^ ~ J  Tokyo:  Rilke,  York:  trans.  The  Shiga Hero.  Chicago: Univ.  of  Chicago  242  Stokes,  Henry  New  York:  Stromberg, New Suzuki,  Roland.  York:  Tasaka  Mishima  Trilling,  of Yukio  Yukio  ka". r  Mishima.  History  Since  1789.  l^L  ^^2^.j  2nd.  series.  $L  Yukio  ^ - f e j ^ f c ^  # J X  Tokyo:  Kawade  shobo,  1975. Yukio  /jf  ron.  ,  Nihilism.The  Mishima  l3 ^  Mishima Futosha  Buddhism,  1971.  P  .$_.j§3 >  Helmut.  i n Zen  and  kukyo  Lionel.  day;,  Essays  $\  Ko.  Thielicke,  Death  Intellectual  Weiser,  If  Tokyo:  Tsuge  European  Samuel  " B u n g a k u wa  %  and  1974.  Teitaro.  Katsuhiko  7%  Life  A p p l e t o n - C e n t u r y - C r o f t s , 1968.  Daisetsu  In  The  Ballantine,  York:  New Takeda  Scott.  New  Liberal  1970.  York:  Harper  Imagination.  and  New  Row,  York:  1961. Double-  1950.  ^^k- ^j(L>ft/  Teruhiko.  "Mishima  Y u k i o no  sakuhin o  yomu' lbungaku  kaishaku to kyozai  $ £ t 3 & i i < 0 & \ ^ j Turgenev,  Ivan.  Ueda Makoto.  Wellek, New  Stanford:  T a k e s h i . jj&  Chikuma Rene  shobo and  York:  Wilkinson,  Sons,  ffi  J$2-  Harcourt,  Paul.  The  New  Rosemary  and  Austin.  Edmonds,  Univ.  the Nature  Press,  ,  of  Lit-  1976.  Nihirizumu. ^ b - ' J ^ X  i^L^^f^)  Warren,  ^  1965.  Writers  Stanford  '""  1981).  trans.  Books,  Modern Japanese  erature . Umehara  Penguin  kenkyu  (July,  F a t h e r s and  Harmondsworth:  no  j  1968.  Theory  of  Literature.  1956. Fascists.  London:  Pan  Books,  1981.  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items