ASIA212Varley

And his own child was being born the thought danced

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Unformatted text preview: n Pavilion as the embodiment of the highest beauty (in contrast to the beauty that Mizoguchi imagines is within him) that must “die” to realize its finest potential. Mishima committed suicide with another member of his private army, known as the Shield Society (Tate no Kai), on November 25, 1970, at the headquarters of the Japan Self-Defense Force in Tokyo after exhorting a hastily assembled group of its members to join him in smashing the liberal postwar constitutional structure and restoring, in the name of the emperor, a Japan of “true men and samurai.”53 It is difficult to take seriously the radically right-wing politics Mishima espoused in his last years, especially in view of the fact that for most of his life he had been notably apolitical. It seems far more likely, as suggested earlier, that he conceived these politics as a necessary part of the staging for the glorious and beautiful death he so ardently desired. Also part of the staging was delivery to his publisher on the day he had chosen to die of the final 342 Culture in the Present Age installment of his last novel, the massive tetralogy entitled The Sea of Fertility. Set in the twentieth century and based on the theme of reincarnation through several generations of the soul of a young Japanese aristocrat, The Sea of Fertility was obviously intended by Mishima to confirm his stature as one of the world’s great writers. But to many critics it confirms, instead, the sad fact that Mishima’s best writing had been done years earlier. As Marleigh Ryan observes, “In [the tetralogy’s] more than 1,400 pages of plots and subplots, births and rebirths, violence and sickness, we have a repetition of virtually every theme Mishima used in his earlier novels. From peepholes to ritual suicide, we have been through it all before, and we remain curiously unmoved.”54 Mishima’s delvings into the wellsprings of human behavior was characteristically Japanese at least insofar as he limited himself generally to the particularities of his own psyche (however abnormal) as the...
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