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for its quantity but also for its thematic diversity. Nevertheless, the
Mishima that matters—the Mishima driven by an aesthetic of death as
both the ultimate sexual experience and the supreme realization of beauty
—is fully adumbrated in Confessions of a Mask. In his subsequent writing,
Mishima gave probably the most artistic and memorable expression to
this aesthetic in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji). Published
serially in 1956, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion was inspired by the
burning six years earlier of the fourteenth-century Golden Pavilion (or
Temple) by an unbalanced Zen acolyte. The acolyte of Mishima’s novel,
Mizoguchi, is a young man, rendered inarticulate by a stutter, who
enters into the service of the Golden Pavilion during World War II.
When he had first been shown the Pavilion by his father on a visit to
Kyoto, Mizaguchi had been disappointed to discover that it was “merely
a small, dark, old, three-storied building.” But after he returned home
he found that
the Golden Temple, which had disappointed me so greatly at first sight,
began to revivify its beauty within me day after day, until in the end it became
a more beautiful Golden Temple than it had been before I saw it. I could not
say wherein this beauty lay. It seemed that what had been nurtured in my
dreams had become real and could now, in turn, serve as an impulse for further dreams.
Now I no longer pursued the illusion of a Golden Temple in nature and in
the objects that surrounded me. Gradually the Golden Temple came to exist
more deeply and more solidly within me.51 Mizoguchi fixes on the Golden Pavilion as an ideal of externalized beauty
and, at the same time, identifies it with the beauty he feels within himself but cannot bring out because of his speech impediment. All goes
reasonably well as long as the war continues, because the danger of the
Pavilion’s possible destruction by bombing balances Mizoguchi’s always
threatened interior world of beauty. But, when the war ends, there is an
abrupt and terrible change in the relationship between the building and
the acolyte: Culture in the Present Age 341 . . . from the moment that...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13