Thursday, June 09, 2016

Confessions of a Mask - Yukio Mishima

A few days ago I read Yukio Mishima's 'Confessions of a Mask'. The story is about a young male who grows up in Japan on the eve of the second worldwar. It is beautifully written, but definitely not for me and not because it is very strange.

 Confessions of a Mask, Yukio Mishima, sonoko, kochan, Kamen no Kokuhaku (假面の告白?), book cover
First edition (Japanese) (Source: Wikipedia)


For some reason it ended up on my femdom reading list. I'm not exactly sure why. Most likely it was this interview with Miss Chloé Savage.

Kochan, the main character, struggles with fantasies of men, beauty and violence. Women are of no interest to him, the closest he comes is platonic love - of sorts. It all is highly puzzling to him. Still it awakens some form of submission in him:

"The trousers of my uniform trembled at the honor of serving as her pillow."
"not a sexual feeling, but somehow simply an extremely luxurious pleasure"

Both are from a scene where he and his favorite cousin are alone:

"After a time my aunts went into an inner room, leaving Sumiko and me alone in the parlor. We remained just as we were, seated side by side on a sofa, saying nothing. Our heads were still buzzing with the bustle of the station platform. I felt unusually weary.

"Oh, I'm tired," she said, giving a little yawn. She lifted her white hand wearily and tapped her mouth lightly several times with her white fingers, as though performing some superstitious ritual. "Aren't you tired too, Kochan?"

For some unknown reason, as she said this she covered her face with both sleeves of her kimono and buried it with a plop upon my thigh. Then, rolling her cheek slowly against my trousers, she turned her face up and remained motionless for a time.

The trousers of my uniform trembled at the honor of serving as her pillow. The fragrance of her perfume and powder confused me. I looked upon her unmoving profile as she lay there with her tired, clear eyes wide open; I was at a loss. . . .

That is all that happened. And yet I never forgot the feeling of that luxurious weight pressing for a moment upon my thigh. It was not a sexual feeling, but somehow simply an extremely luxurious pleasure, like that feeling produced by the weight of a decoration hanging on the breast."

Sonoko

"But, to my perplexity, my instinct was forced to recognize a different quality in Sonoko alone. This gave me a profound, bashful feeling of being unworthy of Sonoko, and yet it was not a feeling of servile inferiority."

What their relationship - or even love perhaps - exactly means to him remains unclear, but during the war Kochan falls in love with Sonoko. Yet their first kiss means absolutely nothing to him - simply impossible. Everybody expects them to get married but he cannot and soon afterwards she marries someone else.

After a while they start having secret encounters. Just two friends talking in a cafe. She is forever his dream girl. The first time they met, she wondered wouldn't it be beautiful if we die right now. That strange obsession with death is part of what attracts him. At the end of the book he has come to fear that their secret encounters may have led her on a destructive path from which there is no escape.

The best part of the book is where the main character reminisces about love, life, passion and absurdity.

"But then another thought occurred to me: if we grant that human passion has the power to rise above all absurdity, how can it be argued that it does not have the power to rise above the absurdities of passion itself?"

After which he explains his love - strange and confusing as it is - for Sonoko so beautiful:

"...my soul still belonged to Sonoko"

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