Yukio Mishima 14 January 1925 - 25 November 1970
November 25, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

"There's something very shabby about a noble grave... Political power and the power of wealth result in splendid graves. Really impressive graves, you know. Such creatures never had any imagination while they lived, and quite naturally their graves don't leave any room for imagination either. But noble people live only on the imaginations of themselves and others, and so they leave graves like this one which inevitably stir one's imagination. And this I find even more wretched. Such people, you see, are obliged even after they are dead to continue begging people to use their power of imagination." - Yukio Mishima via Kashiwagi in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. On this, the anniversary of Mishima's transformation into a headless god, a collection of video links.

The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima.
A speech with English subtitles.
Yukio Mishima vs. Tokyo University Zenkyoutou on 13 May 1969.
BBC production titled The Case of Yukio Mishima.
Mishima on bodybuilding.

... and a single essay: "I Cut Off the Head of Yukio Mishima" by John-Ivan Palmer.
posted by eccnineten (11 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I remember seeing those pictures of Mishima and his head disciple/lover--or, rather, the pictures of their decapitated heads--in Life magazine as a kid. That freaked my shit right out, I tell you what.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:04 AM on November 25, 2008

[His grandmother] famously did not allow Mishima to venture into the sunlight, to engage in any kind of sport or to play with other boys; he spent much of his time alone or with female cousins and their dolls.

His father, a man with a taste for military discipline, employed such tactics as holding the young boy up to the side of a speeding train; he also raided Mishima's room for evidence of an "effeminate" interest in literature and often ripped up the boy's manuscripts.

Well, I certainly don't see any reason for him to have turned out into a nationalist, ritual-suiciding nutjob.
posted by DU at 7:22 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Schrader's Mishima (with its Philip Glass soundtrack) is also one of the best movies ever made.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 AM on November 25, 2008

I love Yukio Mishima. He was god damn insane. I also love this post. Thank you.
posted by absalom at 7:43 AM on November 25, 2008

Man, it seems like every time I log on the front page has yet another post about nationalistic , , homosexual bodybuilder-playwrights who commit ritual suicide by having their lover cut their head off. Sheesh!
posted by The Whelk at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nice post.
posted by bardic at 9:13 AM on November 25, 2008

From The New York Review of Books Letters to the Editor: A reader's response to Gore Vidal's critical essay about Mishima, "Mr. Japan" (unfortunately not available for free online), along with Mr. Vidal's characteristically withering reply.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

thanks eccnineten, that was an interesting story.

thanks Atom Eyes, that was also interesting. It's funny to see someone as smart as Vidal acting so childishly. Saying that Mishima is third rate in English also shows that in some areas Vidal is an idiot.

I'd also like to second the recommendation for the Paul Schrader movie. It's how I got into Mishima.

coincidently I'm half way through Afraid to Die which is a lot of fun.
posted by sineater at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2008

I read Temple of the Golden Pavilion at an impressionable age and it hasn't left me since. Fantastic writer whose own life overshadowed his art.

Don't forget he also "acted" in films.
posted by cazoo at 1:53 PM on November 25, 2008

Mishima's obsession with death reminded me of this great essay, which was linked ihere somewhere awhile back; Zen and the Art of Divebombing, or The Dark Side of the Tao
posted by afu at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2008

Great post.
posted by alexwoods at 7:58 AM on November 26, 2008

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