Celebration Day — fourteen / Yukio Mishima

In 1925, on this day, January 14, the novelist Yukio Mishima was born as Kimitake Hiroaka, in Nagazumi-cho 2-chome, Yotsuya-ku, Tokyo City, Tokyo Prefecture, Empire of Japan

In 1982, a Cutty Sark ad with a portrait of Philip Glass caught my eye. In his hand he held a bunch of music notes, and in the added text was noted that while in the beginning his work was rejected in music circles, today he is respected, and even some rock fans follow him. That made me wonder. On the same day I spotted information on a concert of the Philip Glass Ensemble at Carnegie hall, and bought tickets.

I recall my shock; knew nothing anywhere close to that; and a dedicated interest for minimal music began. After I moved to Boston, the film Mishima came to the theaters. Of Yukio Mishima I knew nothing either but the music score was by Glass, and, although I did not approve of all his music ideas, this I wanted to see and hear. This gave birth to a new admiration in the life and work of the Japanese writer, who became one of my very first reasons, next to Akira Kurosawa, for wanting to visit Japan.

Mishima was a troubled soul. Does a troubled soul lead to a more vibrant, aggressive existence, or does the vibrancy of an existence troubles a soul? — I wonder. Yet, it is this two-way cycle what made Mishima a lyrical and physical poet, a conservative and liberated thinker, a challenger to any society, a relevant critic, a victim of life, and a hero beyond life.

Yukio Mishima 1925-1970

He was a highly sensitive creative human, living in the complexity of the Japanese spirit and culture. A flame might have started at birth, reinforced, or made volatile by things he was unable to understand, perhaps from day one. It was common for him to recite memories of his birth in detail. As long as it happened amongst family, everyone would laugh and embrace his spirit. When he told the story in the presence of guests, his grandmother would angrily send him to his room.

Emotionally and existentially, there were several pulses boiling — sexual identity, Shintoism, nationalism, family. How does such vibrant individual maintain dynamic without overreaching existence? 

Today I celebrate him as thinker, patriot, intellectual and spiritual challenger, instigator for love and culture. His dedication to the sacredness and dignity to the Emperor of Japan, led him to overtake a military base with his militia on November 25 of 1970, after having delivered the script for his last book to his publisher. He saw a danger in Japan’s developments under their constitution of 1947, as a sure fall into western materialism, and a rootless society, losing their cultural and national essence. Having failed in his mission, he committed seppuku.

“Mishima’s life was dedicated to a return of the spirit of the samurai and a belief in Yamamoto Jōchō’s book Hagakure, which is partly the 17th-century bible of samurai morality whereby life is transfigured by death, and the notion of a warrior who is also an intellectual and a literary figure as well as a spiritual crusader, a priest who kills, is paramount.”

Jonathan Bowden, in a lecture given in London on December 10, 2011 — published in Counter-Currents. / Bowden (1962–2012) was a British novelist, playwright, painter, essayist, and orator.

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