Mishima Yukio interview (english subtitles) (press cc button)

Uploaded by mukatsukuyoo on 14.02.2011

Am I afraid to die? If I get sick, I will be afraid.
And I mostly hate the idea of getting sick with cancer, it's terrifying to even think about it.
Yukio Mishima is a representative writer of the post-war period of Japan that has been nominated for a Nobel prize.
After publishing "Hanazakari no Mori" at the age of 19,
"Confessions of a Mask", "The sound of Waves", "The Temple of the Golden Pavillion"
his books were published and dramatized numerous times.
Besides literature, he was also active in many other fields like kendo, filming and body building.
While in high school he worked in a factory because of the labor mobilization.
And then the war ended.
The experiences of those times influenced greatly his later life.
About the scenery of the end of World War II
At the end of the war, when I heard the imperial edict, I was at a relative's house.
Due to evacuation, my family had moved away from the city.
As far as the imperial edict is concerned,
to me it was nothing more than a strange blank feeling, beyond excitement.
It was not necessarily something that was anticipated.
Where was the world that I lived until now heading and how would it change,
that was too strange for me to bear.
So when the war ended, when we lost the war, although that world was expected to collapse,
the trees, the green around me was still bathing in the strong light of summer.
And I saw that, while living in a normal family. I had my family's faces around me,
we had a low dining table, our everyday life,
I thought that all this was really very strange.
But the young academic scholars were saying
"Our time has come, now begins the new time of intellectual reconstruction".
In other words, it may sound as an exaggeration, but it was a situation where people danced out of joy.
When I was 20, the military authorities and their extreme power ended up experiencing a destructive defeat.
At first it looks like for the next 20 years an era of peace and safety followed.
In the long run that was thanks to Japan's industrialization,
but spiritually there wasn't anything worth to be called intellectual reconstruction.
Now (1965) I am 41, as one who had faced the end of war in my 20s,
one of my aims was to think of how would my life unfold from then on.
I think that the fierce sunlight of the summer of 15/8, that kept shining on the trees -and still does-
a sunlight that inside the boundaries of that point of time didn't change a bit, will always exist in my heart.
Death in our times
Rilke has written that modern people cannot die romantically,
"They die in a hospital room like a bee in a cell"
In today's death, be it death by illness of by traffic accident, there is no drama.
We live at times where the so called heroic death doesn't exist.
I remember a book called "Hagakure" of the 18th century,
it's a famous book about discovering facts like "bushidou means to die".
That era was similar to the present. People had woken up from the dream of the Sengoku era.
The warriors trained in the path of budou, but there was no such thing as "glorious death in the battlefield".
There was corruption and expense-accounts,
and the so called today "IVY-group" also existed between the samurai of that era. ( IVY=devotees of classic American collegiate style of the early 70's)
It was then that the writer of "Hagakure" kept tirelessly explaining that you have to choose death before all,
while he himself lived a long life and died on a tatami.( tatami = traditional japanese flooring)
So even though he was a bushi (=warrior), he kept living while picturing death in his heart.
unable to catch the chance to die.
Today's young people also seek for thrill.
It's not that the fear concerning the time of one's death does not exist,
but there is no tension about the fact that death is the presupposition of life.
So while at work, maybe it's the boredom of life...
It's only natural to feel some vileness in the fact that people only live for themselves.
Life is a strange thing. People are not strong enough to live and die for their own sake only.
People usually think of some ideal, some cause.
So they soon grow tired of just living for their own sake.
And it is certain that when it comes to death they need a cause.
This is what was once called "a noble cause".
To die for a noble cause is the most splendid, heroic way to die.
But now, there is no such thing as "a noble cause".
It is due to the system of democracy, democracy needs no such thing as "a noble cause", so it's only natural that it does not exist.
So if you do not acknowledge in your heart the values that surpass yourself,
you are in a psychological state where your sole existence is meaningless.
About his own death
(during the war)The knowledge that death was possibly near, was a happier state of mind compared to the present.
and although it is strange, not only can I see those thoughts in my memories as something beautiful,
but also people become oddly happy at times like that.
And the happiness we desire now is to live,
it is the happiness of our family, the happiness of leisure, amusement.
but there is no such happiness as "It is certain that I will die"
So when somebody asks me if I am afraid to die,
If I get sick, I will be afraid of death. I mostly hate the idea of getting sick with cancer, it's terrifying to even think about it.
All the more because I think that I want to die for something honorable, for a cause,
-but it's the wrong era - in the end, I think that I will die like the writer of "Hagakure",
on a tatami, having lived a life full of those kinds of thoughts.
But 4 years later Mishima took his own life.
His last tetralogy was "The abudant Sea".
In the end there is a description that resembles the scenery Mishima saw at the end of the war:
"The garden bathes silent in the sun of the high-noon of summer."
And just before that: "There is nothing in this garden, no memories, nothing."
The scenery he saw the day the war ended may be an important key to deeply understand the literature of Mishima
People die for some reason, this is "the noble cause".
Writer : Yukio Mishima (1925-1970)