Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima I read a novella with a collection of three stories by Yukio Mishima. The first story was called “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea,” the second was called “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion”, and the third was “Confessions of a Mask.” I would enjoy talking about each of these books individually, however I have far too little room for discussions of a such a great feat of writing. Instead I will point out the under lying themes that manifest themselves in each story very clearly. The most prominent and head motif was of the hero myth. Every culture honors a form of hero, and although not many realize that heroes are not always people hero myths often fall onto the shoulders of leaders who focus the same kind of energy.

Each story has a hero character. Even thought they have done heroic things it shows a sad side to being a hero. It also tells us that heroes to some are villains to others. In Donald Duck, he is looking for a true hero, a north star to follow to the promised land of his own culture where he can be proud of being Chinese. The important thing is he found it, but not in one person, in everyone. As I pointed out before sometimes heroes are not people.

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Like the mandate of heaven, thats not really a hero, or is it? It focused the heroic qualities onto one person, a leader. Although each Empire rose and fell it shows that they were popular with the people. And to the people they were heroes. Just like Donald, he found his hero in the community. Each hero in Yukios book meets a grotesque fate, or has an impassable quirk that only lets his heroic qualities shine on very few.

Frederick Douglass was his own hero, and he knew that and he exploited it. Ultima had many heroic leadership qualities. Even Tenorio, the one who whooped a bunch of men into killing Ultima, he was able to do it which must say something, even if he is an anti-hero. Another less present theme that ran through almost everything was something I call, “Lost, but yet always found”. Perhaps you dont realize it at first, but whatever someone is looking for on a quest is almost always within them.

This motif melds with change because the whole quest is to bring out the lost qualities people never knew they had. In the book “Temple Of The Golden Pavillion.” the main characters whole life revolves around the golden temple. That was all he spoke of, that was all his father spoke of before he died. When his father dies Yukio goes and lives as an acolyte in the temple with the other monks. The main character thinks of himself as ugly, and always clung to the golden temple as something of beauty.

He hoped the beauty would reflect of of him as well. When he saw the temple which was actualy drab and samll he felt betrayed. I thought it was odd as well, but if you look at the title, “Temple Of The Golden Pavillion.” It says golden Pavillion, not golden temple. Again it changed the character, time brought out beauty within the one who thought he was ugly, and his journey changed from seeing just the temple sa beautiful to the whole, as beautiful. Donald Duks idol was Fred Astaire. Fred can olny do so much, but still he clung to the image.

Donald Duk changed to. He realized he didnt want to be Fred Astaire, he realized he wanted to be Donald Duk. The simple concept Lost, but yet always found is an often over looked aspect of writing. Yukio was a quiet man. He was disciplined and had his own small community who believed heavily in martial arts and personal physique. Although he was rejected for the army, he always found a hero within himself.

And something which is reflected in his writing is in 1970 on television in front of thousands of people, committed sepukku. (Seppuku is taking the small sword that accompanies a katana, shoving it straight through your intestines then up to your sternum.) Many thought this because he was deathly afraid of getting old, but I still believe after reading his books and contemplating his person that he did it because his own image of a hero could never meet a happy end.