Archive for the 'Literature' Category

36 Views of Mishima Yukio (7) – James K. Vincent

Mishima 7
While Mishima Yukio is known outside of Japan primarily as a « gay » writer, enshrined along with Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust on a ceiling mural depicting famous « gays and lesbians » at the Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library, within Japan, he is remembered primarily for his anachronistic devotion to right-wing politics and aesthetics. Mishima Yukio’s two reputations thus constitute a conflation of both homosexual and fascist « tendencies. » It is a conflation which may seem contradictory to anyone with a knowledge of the brutal repression of homosexuals under European fascist regimes, but which nonetheless seems to subtend much of our understanding of both terms, both in Japan and elsewhere. […] Indeed it seems fair to say that historical fascism itself was, among other things, a chilling example of a desperate homosocial order driven to extreme measures to shore up its own identity. Queer studies teaches us that identity and subjectivity, regardless of sexual orientation, are always already in crisis. Faced with this reality we have two choices : either to disavow it through a paranoid projection onto minorities and women, or to embrace it as an opportunity to recognize that all of our identities are formed through a process of promiscuous « identification. » Perhaps it would be wise to take a hint from the famously homofascist Mishima, and remember not just « All Japanese » but all of us, « are Perverse. »

(quoted from James Keith Vincent, Mishima Yukio : Everyone’s Favorite Homofascist)

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36 Views of Mishima Yukio (6) – Henry Scott Stokes

Mishima Yukio 6
12. November 1970
– Abendessen mit Mishima. Er war in äußerst aggressiver Stimmung. Charmant wie immer, doch Anfälle von starker Aggression. Meinte, ich könne ebensogut meine Koffer packen und nach Hause fahren, da “kein Ausländer Japan je verstehen wird”. Ich finde, er geht etwas zu weit. In gewisser Weise wird kein Japaner den Westen je “verstehen”. Also was soll das? Der Mann ist ein Perfektionist. […] Er ging auch seltsam kritisch mit westlichen Gelehrten zu Gericht und ihren Studien über Japan, bestand darauf und blickte mir dabei fest in die Augen, daß die Gelehrten die “dunkle” Seite japanischer Tradition vernachlässigen und sich lediglich mit den “sanften” Aspekten japanischer Kultur befassen. Warum ist er in letzter Zeit so unhöflich? Und wo bleibt sein Sinn für Humor?

(zit. nach: Henry Scott Stokes, Yukio Mishima. Leben und Tod. Aus dem Amerikan. übertr. v. Traudl Kurz-Perlinger. München, 1986)

36 Views of Mishima Yukio (5) – Ian Buruma

Mishima Yukio
The European manners that Mishima often affected were typical of the old upper class. His samurai fantasies were not necessarily a contradiction to this. He wanted to remain an aristocrat, a knight of a special brotherhood in a vulgar age. Being Japanese, the only tradition of knighthood he could fall back upon was The Way of the Samurai, as expressed in such flamboyant works as Hagakure. […] But let us not be conned into thinking that he stood for more than himself. It would be best to concentrate on his books as works of art, not as props for grand statements about the authors life and death […] I do think most Japanese are right in regarding Mishima’s seppuku as little more than the pathetic act of a very gifted buffoon.

(quoted from Ian Buruma, The Missionary and the Libertine. Love and War in East and West. London, et al.: 1996)

36 Views of Mishima Yukio (4) – John Nathan

Mishima Yukio
Mishima’s crowd gathered every week for parties at the Latin quarter or at private homes in Karuizawa, a fashionable resort several hours north of the city which had not been bombed. There was a lot of drinking and, in the American style, promiscuity. Mishima neither drank nor smoked at the time; certainly he was not promiscuous, not yet, never in a circle like this. But he did accomodate himself by taking dancing lessons in the summer of 1946. Perhaps, as he always maintained, Mishima truly loved to dance. Or perhaps the “zest” for his dancing he began to display as early as 1946 was one of his earliest simulations of normalcy. I have seen Mishima “lose himself” to the Monkey or the Watsui in the mid-sixties, and it was like watching a studied imitation of a dancer; he always looked horrifyingly sober, though clearly his movements and expressions were intended to create the effect not merely of spontaneity but enthrallment. In any case, he was a bad dancer, uncoordinated and apparently deaf to music. In 1946 and 1947, when he was still a wan, emaciated figure, his jitterbug must have been a sight to behold.

(quoted from: John Nathan, Mishima. A Biography, Da Capo Press, 2000)

Edward Seidensticker, R.I.P.

TOKYO – Edward Seidensticker, a leading scholar and translator of Japanese literature including the epic “Tale of Genji,” has died in Tokyo. He was 86. Seidensticker died on Sunday after slipping into a coma from a head injury suffered in April, Tetsumi Yamaguchi, a longtime associate and caregiver, told the Associated Press Tuesday. more…

Read a simple, but heartfelt obituary at Neo-Literati. I, too, remember Seidensticker chiefly for his (sometimes criticized, but) beautiful translation of Kawabata’s Snow Country. His life’s work will not be forgotten.

UPDATE: Read another thoughtful post on Seidensticker’s death at Nagaijin.

36 Views of Mishima Yukio (3) – Takahashi Kazumi

Mishima Yukio 3
Wie unterschiedlich unsere Standpunkte auch waren- darin, wie wir unser Interesse bestimmten Dingen der Wirklichkeit zuwandten, oder welches von den unzähligen Phänomen wir in den Brennpunkt rückten, fühlte ich doch eine seltsame Nähe zu Mishima. Ihm gegenüber empfand ich jenes besondere Gefühl, das man nur einem rivalisierenden Gegner gegenüber hat…
Eine andere meiner Reaktionen auf diesen Zwischenfall stand im Zusammenhang mit den fortgesetzten Kämpfen der Studentenbewegung… Es waren zweifellos die Campus-Kampfkomitees, die Mishima bisher stets in die Enge getrieben hatten. Doch sein allzu bewusster Tod, seine Todesart, warf nun einige grundsätzliche Fragen auf, und die Person, die sie stellte, forderte plötzlich die gesamte Studentenbewegung, die diese Fragen letztlich nicht beantworten konnte, aufs schärfste heraus.

(aus: Nami, 1971, 1/2; dt. Übers. zit. nach Siegfried Schaarschmidt u. Michiko Mae: Japanische Literatur der Gegenwart, München et al., 1990)

36 Views of Mishima Yukio (2) – Paul Lewell

Mishima Yukio 2
No Japanese person in the twentieth century, with the possible exception of the emperor himself, has achieved such fame in the West as Mishima Yukio… His spectacular suicide in 1970 continues to identify him in the popular imagination as representing everything that is different, strange and inexplicable about Japan… The truth about Mishima Yukio is therefore obscured by the sensationalism that accompanies the films, books, and articles about him

(Paul Lewell: Modern Japanese Novelists. A Biographical Dictionary. New York, et al., 1993)


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