The Double Scission of Mishima Yukio: Limits and Anxieties in the Autofictional Machine


As an author, a figure, and as an author who relied on figurations of himself as a primary device, Mishima Yukio (1925–1970) has existed in a complex relationship to criticism and literary history. Criticism of Mishima's work and life has often taken for granted the network of configurations, referrals, and affective structures set up by Mishima himself, and thus more often than not participates in the continuation and concretization of the Mishima myth. I argue that Taiyô to tetsu (Sun and Steel, 1968) contains a glimpse into the construction of this discursive machine, and that this work has largely been misread as what it purports to be: a kind of autobiography. Instead, Taiyô to tetsu is itself a reproduction schema for the project at its center: the careful correlation of Mishima the historical figure and Mishima as self-figured in his work. The theorizations of subjectivation, visuality, and collectivity in the text trace this project through its formation. By explicitly setting up this machine in his text, Mishima carefully ensured that even oppositional readings of his work would be co-opted into service on behalf of the discourse of his own myth. After drawing out the theoretical structures of Taiyô to tetsu, I conclude by suggesting that in terms of its relation to criticism and literary history, Mishima's project and the problematic posed by it closely parallels the question of the emperor-system (tennôsei) and its own problems of cultural representation.