Yukio Mishima and The Necessity of Anti-Tragic Vitality


Yukio Mishima with Japanese sword Yukio Mishima, author and warrior.

“According to my definition of tragedy,” says Yukio Mishima in his Sun and Steel, “the tragic pathos is born when the perfectly average sensibility momentarily takes unto itself a privileged nobility that keeps others at a distance…”

It seems that, for Mishima to participate in a scenario or, indeed, lifestyle that we might consider mythic and archetypal requires developing the particular attitude of heroism. The “noble” cannot be one who observes, or watches on television and merely comments or rants, especially in whatever political rhetoric is en vogue.
Words can create the tragic myth, but “[i]t is necessary… that the ‘privileged nobility’ find its basis strictly in a kind of physical courage,” says Mishima. “The elements of intoxication and superhuman clarity in the tragic are born when the average sensibility, endowed with a given physical strength, encounter that type of privileged moment especially designed…

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