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MIMETIC SADISM IN THE FICTION OF YUKIO MISHIMA Jerry Piven New York University Mishima Yukio (1925-1970) was one ofthe mostenigmatic authors of the 20th century. Novelist, playwright, actor, exhibiionist —his novels are rife with homoerotic and violent imagery, while his fanatical and nihilistic philosophy calls for a return to a Samurai ethos. Mishima thus attained infamy in Japan and in the West, as his shocking novels inspired hordes ofyoung Japanese into a cult ofMishima worship, while critics who acknowledge his genius are still nervous about his sadistic homosexuality and his suicide. Mishima's works are suffused with erotic bloodshed and misogyny, and Mishima finally ended his life by ritually disemboweling himself. I will make the case that Mishima was incessantly plagued by torturous mimetic frustrations, and that his final act of spilling his blood and intestines can be interpreted as the result of mimetic hatred against his rivals. I also argue that Mishima was fundamentally schizoidal; in Girardian terms, a man whose hypocrisy for the sakeofdesire rendered him an exhibitionistic maskdisguisingmimetic rage and fear. Having previously written about Mishima from a psychoanalytic perspective, I believe that a Girardian approach would often yield drastically different interpretations of identical biographical and literary materials. ' 1I initially wrote on Mishima for several diagnostic assignments at my psychoanalytic institute, the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP). After considering the psychoanalytic and Girardian approaches, I expanded these original essays using identical material to determine whetherthe interpretations orconclusions would differ; I was struck by the way the same details could provide both remarkable congruences and vast divergences ofperspective. Read side by side, one can find compatible conclusions, but one also finds perceptions ofthe same details that would be difficultto conceive or articulate 70Jeremy Piven Mimesis, misogyny, and maculacy Kimitake Hiraoka was a frail, sickly child before he became the muscular and exhibitionistic novelist Yukio Mishima. His brutal and helpless childhood inaugurated his mimetic complexes: his need to escape the suffocating and diseased environment of his grandmother, his rivalry with her, and his mimetic ideal ofbeauty and muscular invulnerability. Mishima was an unhealthy youth, taken from the arms of his mother before he was two months old, and confined to the sickroom of his grandmother for the first twelve years ofhis life. Under the auspices ofhis tyrannical and ostensively psychotic grandmother, Mishima lived in the dark, could play only female friends (becausetheywere deemed harmless), and could eat only gentle foods. He thus lived an imprisoned life away from his parents, amid the excrescences of his sick and hysterical grandmother until adolescence, when his father "reclaimed him." Mishima later rebelled against this sickly nature, sculpting himself into a statuesque ideal of masculine beauty. He became obsessed with martial arts and the eroticism ofhis own engraved body. His fiction and philosophy were permeated by misogyny, glorification ofGrecian male sexuality and aesthetics, and the repudiation ofanything weak or feminine. He finally killed himselfbefore age could wither his masculine beauty. Mishima's fiction prominently features protagonists who mirror his sickly youth. The autobiographical Confessions of a Mask (Kamen no Kokuhaku) describes the homoerotic development ofthis frail child. Such fraiIcharacters inMishima'sfiction arealwaysdrawneroticallytobeautiful males as both mimetic rivals and models. The narrator of Confessions describes his sexual attraction to a sewage collector, a "ladler of excrement"(8). Thehandsomemanwith "ruddycheeks" and "shiningeyes" fascinates the narrator, and he is filled with desire lookingathistightjeans. using psychoanalytic perspectives andjargon. Two ofthe original essays will be published inthePsychoanalyticReview in comingmonths: "PhallicNarcissism, Anal Sadism, and Oral Discord: The Case ofYukio Mishima (part I)," and "Narcissistic Revenge and Suicide: The Case ofYukio Mishima (part H)." I am currently translating these articles for publication in Japan. I included a brief discussion of Mishima in the introduction to Psychological Undercurrents ofHistory (Piven and Lawton, eds.), to explore the complex methodological and psychological dynamics of the field of psychohistory. A commentary on Mishima's traumaticchildhood entitled "The Pathology ofGenius," will appearin aforthcomingedition ofTapestry: TheJournalofHistoricalMotivations andtheSocialFabric, and afinal article, "Voyeurism and Rage in The Sailor Who Fellfrom Grace with the Sea," will appear in Psychological Undercurrents ofHistory, Volume II (2002). Mimetic Sadism in the Fiction ofYukio Mishima71 The narrator thus emerges into a burgeoning homosexuality, but he also fantasizes about dying dramatically. His...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1930-1200
Print ISSN
1075-7201
Pages
pp. 69-89
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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