Friday, 12 November 2010


Extract from Yukio Mishima, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion:

When a stutterer is struggling desperately to utter his first sound, he is like a little bird that is trying to extricate itself from thick lime. When finally he manages to free himself, it is too late. To be sure, there are times when the reality of the outer world seems to have been waiting for me, folding its arms as it were, while I was struggling to free myself. But the reality that is waiting for me is not a fresh reality. When finally I reach the outer world after all my efforts, all that I find is a reality that has instantly changed color and gone out of focus - a reality that has lost the freshness that I had considered fitting for myself, and that gives off a half-putrid odor.
As can easily be imagined, a youth like myself came to entertain two opposing forms of power wishes. In history I enjoyed the descriptions of tyrants. I saw myself as a stuttering, taciturn tyrant; my retainers would hang on every expression that passed over my face and would live both day and night in fear and trembling of me. There is no need to justify my cruelty in clear, smooth words. My taciturnity alone was sufficient to justify every manner of cruelty. On the one hand I enjoyed imagining how one by one I would wreak punishment on my teachers and schoolmates who daily tormented me; on the other hand, I fancied myself as a great artist, endowed with the clearest vision - a veritable sovereign of the inner world. My outer appearance was poor, but in this way my inner world became richer than anyone else's. Was it not natural that a young boy who suffered from an indelible drawback like mine should have to come to think that he was a secretly chosen being? I felt as though somewhere in this world a mission awaited me of which I myself still knew nothing.

(Translated by Ivan Morris)

No comments: