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Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Yukio Mishima

Haruki Murakami is clearly popular and sales of his new book, 1Q84, will hit the roof because of huge demand. It is therefore abundantly clear that Murakami is a writer who appeals to millions of people throughout the world. However, one of the most iconic food chains in America is equally popular for different reasons but in a sense you do have a connection.

The connection is banality but an enjoyment all the same and both the American iconic food chain and Murakami are in huge demand but sometimes it is difficult to understand why they stand out against other options.

In truth, this world is complex and often contradictory beyond reasoning. After all, the Dalai Lama is a man of peace but was sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA). This certainly doesn’t fit the imagination but the $1.7 million dollars a year in the 1960s and early 1970s certainly helped to boost his profile.

However, in the world of reality and unreality, then the Dalai Lama being sponsored by the CIA does make sense.  After all, the United States spends vast sums of money on redeveloping Afghanistan and propping up the Karzai regime and many soldiers have died for “freedom” and fighting for their country.  However, all apostates from Islam to Christianity face the death penalty in Afghanistan and clearly the Dalai Lama would have difficulty in building a Buddhist temple.

This may appear to be getting away from the point but actually it is meant to be getting nearer.  Therefore, while the appeal of Murakami continues to grow and nobody can doubt this based on sales, it still doesn’t hide the banality of Murakami compared with Yukio Mishima.

It is not only the placid nature of Murakami’s writing when compared with Mishima but also the richness, passion and mystery of Mishima which pales the other author into oblivion.  Yes, it is factual that intellect means little if people ignore and if the individual can’t connect but Murakami certainly can connect despite his lack of creativity.

It must be remembered that Leon Trotsky was an intellect unlike Joseph Stalin but we all know that an ice pick awaited Trotsky while Stalin manipulated power control mechanisms.  Therefore, just like many great artists who lived in poverty and died in debt or with little money to their name (their art today costs untold sums of money), intellect and genius didn’t spare Trotsky and countless artists who struggled to survive.

Therefore, reality and unreality is very difficult to define with so much chaos. However, the passion of Mishima is rare even if this passion turned against “the self” and ultimately led to his brutal death which he desired.

In Mishima’s novel, Runaway Horses, he writes on page 236 that “Isao’s young lips had yet touched no other lips, and he brushed them delicately against the petals of this withered lily with all the exquisite sensitivity that they possessed.”

“Here is the source of my purity, the warrant for my purity,” he told himself. “I am certain that it is here. When the time comes for me to turn my sword against myself, lilies will surely rise from the morning dew and open their petals to the rising sun. Their scent will purify the stench of my blood. So be it! How can I have any more doubts?”

This passion is what made Mishima special and the fact that he had high intellect is secondary because without this creative spark then his novels would still be of high quality, just like Murakami, but they wouldn’t stand out or hit a raw nerve.

Also, while Mishima is tainted by “progressive liberals” for being too nationalistic it is ironic that many of the same “progressive liberals” will revere the Dalai Lama.  However, Mishima had no CIA closet or links with an organization which sometimes went to extremes via covert and bloody operations.

Michael Backman in The Age commented that “The government set up in exile in India and, at least until the 1970s, received $US 1.7 million a year from the CIA.”

“The money was to pay for guerilla operations against the Chinese, notwithstanding the Dalai Lama’s public stance in support of non-violence, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.”

“The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA’s payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US 15,000 a month ($US 180,000 a year).”

“The funds were paid to him personally, but he used all or most of them for Tibetan government-in-exile activities, principally to fund offices in New York and Geneva, and to lobby internationally.”

Therefore, whatever the failings of Mishima and his nationalist leanings which are reviled by “progressive liberals,” at least you see and feel the “real” Mishima unlike the closet of the Dalai Lama.

In literary terms Murakami is “progressive” and unlike Mishima he doesn’t veer to the right-wing mindset. However, the image of Murakami suits the style that he writes and unlike the “CIA closet” of the Dalai Lama, you don’t have any bombshells within his books and this is what is so disappointing.

Yes, books by Murakami appeal to vast numbers of people and clearly he thinks deeply about his writing. However, I fail to see a spark or “a bigger picture” but maybe Murakami is correct on this point because it could be that all “bigger pictures” are illusions.

It may well be that 1Q84 by Murakami is very special but given past novels, I hesitate to believe that he can break free and reach a new height.  Therefore, while it is difficult to put Mishima’s book down it is equally difficult to believe that a fresh book by Murakami will be unique based on past novels.

In an earlier article I wrote about Mishima I state that “The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel, Confessions of a Mask.”  Now Mishima was building up to be a man of strength and the Nietzsche “ubermensch” was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima.” 

Further down in the same article I comment that “The boy from Tokyo was enigmatic and had a raw passion and sadly the passion of Mishima is missing today and maybe this is where his genius belongs.”

“In Mishima, you can imagine the energy of the past and where the individual is visionary; therefore, the failings in his life, like the failings of all people; must be brushed aside because to ignore Mishima’s writing is to ignore a potent force within the literary energy of Japan.”

“Mishima, unlike the majority of writers, transcended the nation he belonged to because his writing hits a raw nerve within the “inner soul” and he will continue to be read by millions of people all over the world.”

Of course individuals are different and the energy of Mishima and the self-destructive nature of his thinking is rare, to say the least.  Therefore, while Murakami connects with millions of people all over the world, which is amazing by itself, it mainly applies to a mindset based on commonality and un-uniqueness.

Mishima, however, can be felt in the fervor of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the communist take-over in China, the disillusioned in all societies who see a crumbling indigenous culture being swept away by globalization and a growing monoculture.

The first aspect, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the communist take-over in China, was based on self-made illusions and both events unleashed suffering, brutality, and mass persecution, especially in the early stages.

However, the second aspect, fearing the destructive nature of globalization, a growing monoculture, societies disconnecting with past history and culture, is more understandable, irrespective if people disagree.

It is easy to visualize, even if incorrectly, cosmopolitans and “progressive liberals” championing a writer from a different culture. After all, what could be more hip and internationalist?

Yet with Mishima, you feel “the shadow” and “the marginalized” and his books can appeal to people on many different grounds.  Not only this, Mishima’s writing style is on a different wavelength when compared to Murakami.

Turning back to the Dalai Lama and taking money from the CIA and relating this to this article, then unlike the reality and unreality of life, the action by the Dalai Lama was all too real.  The unreality about the Dalai Lama is the myth behind the hidden agenda.

Mishima equals complexity, intrigue, creativity, and chaos. However, Murakami represents normality, safety, and predictability but he is a writer who appeals because he delves deeply into the reality of the characters he writes about. The Dalai Lama represents “unreality” because the picture is clearly not the real image which is being provided. Despite this, it could be argued that his realistic approach serves the Tibetans well because CIA funding enabled the Tibetan cause to become known but it shatters the “peace myth” about the Dalai Lama.

It could be that the over-hype about Murakami is correct and that I am mistaken and maybe I am just an ignorant individual? However, the passion and spark of Mishima was potent, irrespective if people welcomed or liked his thinking.  Therefore, the unreality of the Dalai Lama’s image which based his CIA funding on reality is the best way to sum up the popularity of Murakami – that is, I fail to see what makes him stand out unlike the genius of Mishima.  Dalai Lama and CIA    Dalai Lama and CIA cloak   Video of Dalai Lama and CIA – Yukio Mishima Cyber Museum   – Tribute to Yukio Mishima    – Yukio Mishima 

Haruki Murakami  Haruki Murakam i   


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Yukio Mishima: articulate, genius, nationalist and the perfect death

Yukio Mishima: articulate, genius, nationalist and the perfect death

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima stated “If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death?  No death may be called futile.” This comment is poignant because for many people who have never read Mishima, or read his work deeply; then his death looms over his reality or unreality because either he freed himself or ultimately gave into mere illusions?

In truth, where do you start when you write about Mishima?  Also, does a critic have to claim that you know about the subject matter from the inner work of the individual you are writing about?  Or can the images and reflections represent a greater depth of knowledge based on snapshots and the images of the last moments of Mishima?

After all, millions of Buddhists and Christians have read sacred books but history tells us that Zen Buddhism supported nationalism to the hilt in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. Therefore, the Buddhist temples of Kyoto in the last century welcomed the slaughter of Chinese innocents.  Similarly, the aborigines in Australia will ask where was the Christian love and peace?

Adolf Hitler had a respect for Islam because Mohammed gave the go ahead to enslave non-Muslims during Islamic jihad and then enforce power by enforcing Sharia Islamic law.  For Hitler, Christianity was weak, but unlike the followers of Buddhism and Christianity who may do misdeeds based on hypocrisy; at least Islam was frank because it justified holy wars throughout the Koran and Hadiths.

Therefore, maybe it is better to look at snapshots and then formulate ideas because Mishima certainly did this.  After all, nationalism like all ideologies is based on myths and ignoring history and reality. 

Given this, my snapshot of Mishima is based on his death because the snapshots of history ran deep in his blood but ultimately he was clutching at straws.  After all, his death did not shake up Japan or return the country to an isolated Edo period where the sense of Japan did not exist.

Yes, an isolated Japan but like ideologies this is part mythical because the Shimazu daimyo was trading with and invading Ryukyu (Okinawa).  At the same time the complete Japanization of the north was ongoing and soon the Ainu would melt into the Japanese bloodline and linguistic colonial reality. 

The final moments of Mishima is all about drama because his actions were futile but he died a death that he desired but did it have the beauty that he perceived it to be?

I presume for those fleeting minutes and seconds before the self-induced demise of Mishima that his mind and spirit were in ecstasy.  Yet soon an articulate nationalist would be no more and cause and effects came to zilch because Westernization continued albeit tinged within the Japanese psyche. 

In Mishima’s short memoir, “Sun and Steel,” it is clear that his obsession during the last ten years was writing and bodybuilding.  This book was published in 1968 and it reflected the psyche of Mishima who fused the pen with physical training and concepts of the “new Japan” betraying the “old and glorified Japan.”

The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel, Confessions of a Mask.”  Now Mishima was building up to be a man of strength and the Nietzsche “ubermensch” was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima. 

Mishima focused on moving away from his literary genius and delving into a world of “body and action.”  However, if, like claimed, he desired to break free and distance himself from the “power of the word” by building himself up to be a “warrior” in his worldview then he failed. 

For the last poignant days of his life were based on the “power of words” and “ideas” which came from an inner passion where confusion, nationalism, attention seeking and a man of steel, were fused into a death that he glorified but ultimately achieved little.

Mishima also highlighted the duality which he constantly struggled with.  He stated that Many people will express disbelief that such a process could already be at work in a person’s earliest years. But that, beyond doubt, is what happened to me personally, thereby laying the ground for two contradictory tendencies within myself. One was the determination to press ahead loyally with the corrosive function of words, and to make that my life’s work. The other was the desire to encounter reality in some field where words should play no part at all.”

It is clear that Mishima’s duality must have caused enormous anxiety and I am not trying to underestimate the power that Mishima had because if you watch video footage of his “illusionary uprising” then you can see a passion and spirit which is difficult to find. 

Maybe Mishima was merely battling against himself?  Or maybe the ego had overtaken reality or possibly “the drug of life” was fused with “the drug of a glorified death?”  Whatever was really going on in his mind he certainly believed in himself too much and the nationalist connection he desired fell away because the latest Hollywood film was too irresistible for the masses of Japanese people.   

Mishima had a duality complex because he had little time for so-called intellectuals but he revered men of action and in his mindset this applied to famous samurais, strong military leaders and people who sacrificed themselves.  This pulled at his soul because his literacy prowess was seen to be weakness but how could he express and inspire others without “words of passion?”

Mishima’s obsessive physical training meant that he was creating a warrior from within but warriors who sacrificed themselves had something to sacrifice.  Mishima had nothing to sacrifice because his actions were not only futile but based on an illusionary world that he had created.

Most of Japan’s literary clique in the 1960s was on the left and the nature of his books focused on militaristic thought patterns and nationalism.  

Mishima focused on Bunburyodo and a death which appeared to his ego.  Therefore, “The Sea of Fertility” which was a four book set was started and the first part, “Spring Snow” was completed in 1966.

The following year he began training at a Japanese military base and his private army was formed.  Mishima was now entering the final years of his life and it was all focused on a noble ending he desired.

Mishima in 1969 in Runaway Horses states “How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at the age of thirty-eight!  His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression.  And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more than a fragile barrier separates him from his youth.  He is forever hearing with the utmost clarity the sounds of this neighboring domain, but there is no way to penetrate the barrier.”

Mishima, who was born in 1925, was very young during World War Two but he could serve near the end of the war but he was excused.  This must have haunted the “man of steel” and his friend, Hasuda, a fellow writer stated “I believe one should die young in his age” and Hasuda was true to his word because he committed suicide.

Given the nature of Mishima’s demise then clearly the war was not based on a youthful hero and defender of his country.  Added to this, his friend committed suicide and maybe Mishima wanted redemption or maybe he was caught up in the psyche of the culture he understood.

It appears that homosexuality may also have eaten away at Mishima and Confessions of a Mask (1949) deals with inner emotions and passion.  However, if Mishima knew history well then many samurai believed that homosexuality was the purest sex and many a leader of Japan in the pre-Edo period and Edo period had male concubines.

Therefore, was Mishima ashamed of the Christian ethics which entered Japan after the Meiji Restoration (1868)?  If not, then many “men of steel” of old Japan had homosexual relationships and this is to be understood in the light of reality. 

After all, loyalty was to the daimyo ruler and fellow samurai and compassion was weakness because of the nature of life.  Not surprisingly, strong male bonding took hold within the samurai psyche and this cultural reality was the opposite to the image of homosexuality in modern day Japan which is perceived to be weak.

Wakashudo had various ways of initiating young boys in “old Japan” and within the mindset of the samurai system then women were seen to be feminizing men and weakening their spirit.  The Wakashudo system was often abused by the Buddhist clergy for sexual gratification in past history. However, the samurai system was based on creating “a learning process under their code of ethics” which would install loyalty, strong bond, and in times of hardship samurai warriors would remain united within the upbringing that they knew.

Mishima, with pumping iron and with well honed martial art skills, was now becoming the “man of steel” but this was tainted with feminine poses fused with the martyrdom of death. 

He posed gladly in front of the camera and images of St. Sebastian being killed by many arrows or a samurai invoking ritual suicide all played to his psyche and being.   Mishima’s world was both real and surreal and his power and strength fused together with a feminine nature buried within his soul.

Mishima stated that The most appropriate type of daily life for me was a day-by-day world destruction; peace was the most difficult and abnormal state to live in.”

Therefore, November 25, 1970, was the embodiment of what Mishima had become and suicidal visions and his illusionary world was to erupt into a violent ending.  However, true to Mishima it was a violent and chaotic ending within a planned structure because he laid plans for the aftermath.

He had built up this day for years but now the time for acting was over, well partly, because he was still acting in the world of “ego.” In his illusionary world the “self” would act collectively “with strength” and generate “a spirit” and “fuse” this with his dream of a glorified death.

Yet, he was not a soldier, after all he had lied in order to not fight for Japan; therefore, the nationalist rhetoric was just that and November 25 was more about “personal redemption” and ending the “duality within his soul.”

The man of words would die in “a paradise of extreme pain” because the final cut to behead him was not clean and several attempts were made.  After all, he was no soldier, he was no samurai, and neither were his loyal followers. The final act is evidence that “dreamers” were just that; therefore, the ending was not the beautiful image of serenity but instead a scene of “foolish hell and self made folly.”

Mishima’s illusionary world could not change anything and he, like everyone, can’t re-write history.  Yes, people after him can re-write history and maybe this was the history that Mishima followed?

Despite this, Mishima was a literary genius and he had a spirit and ego which is beyond most people.  His power rested within “the internal demons that he struggled with” and a culture which glorifies self sacrifice. However, Mishima had nothing to sacrifice because the final events of his life did not shake Japan and it was more like “egoism” based on “unreality.”

Yet, the work of Mishima is very special and in the twentieth century he belongs alongside the greatest of international writers.

The boy from Tokyo was enigmatic and had a raw passion and sadly the passion of Mishima is missing today and maybe this is where his “genius belongs.”

In Mishima, you can imagine the energy of the past and where the individual is visionary; therefore, the failings in his life, like the failings of all people; must be brushed aside because to ignore Mishima’s writing is to ignore a potent force within the literary energy of Japan.

Mishima, unlike the majority of writers, transcended the nation he belonged to because his writing hits a raw nerve within the “inner soul” and he will continue to be read by millions of people all over the world.  – Yukio Mishima Cyber Museum  – Tribute to Yukio Mishima  – Yukio Mishima   – Yukio Mishima  (Please visit)

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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Japan


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