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Journal of No. 118


October 6th, 2012

Spring Snow, by Yukio Mishima @ 12:01 pm

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You know those people who are just drama magnets? Even when it's negative, they seem to live just for emotion and they make conscious and maybe unconscious decisions to up the voltage? I try to stay away from these people, and avoid getting sucked into their drama maelstrom. The main character of Spring Snow is just such a person, so it's hard to enjoy a novel about a person you want nothing to do with.

Nevertheless, there is a lot to enjoy in the story, and the ideas, and the writing, and I do appreciate the capital-R Romantic vibe that permeates most of the book. But sometimes, when you're so super-romantic, you're not romantic any more... you're just a jerk. And some of the ideas in the book make me unavoidably think these are the signs that the author is working himself up into his own romantic frenzy that turned him into a jerk:

"A bit earlier," he began, "I said something very odd. I mean about thinking of the picture from the Russo-Japanese War while you were telling me about you and Miss Satoko. I wondered why that came to me, and now that I've given it a little more thought, I have an answer. The age of glorious wars ended with the Meiji era. Today, all the stories of past wars have sunk to the level of those edifying accounts we hear from middle-aged noncoms in the military science department or the boasts of farmers around a hot stove. There isn't much chance now to die on the battlefield.
"But now that the old wars are finished, a new kind of war has just begun; this is the era for the war of emotion. The kind of war no one can see, only feel — a war, therefore, that the dull and insensitive won’t even notice. But it’s begun in earnest. The young men who have been chosen to wage it have already begun to fight. And you’re one of them — there’s no doubt about that. And just as in the old wars, there will be casualties in the war of emotion, I think. It’s the fate of our age — and you’re one of our representatives. So what about it then? You’re fully resolved to die in this new war, am I right?”

It's also interesting to see the lurid ad copy on the paperback: "A passionate and erotic story of young love." I mean, the erotic content is a pretty small percentage by weight in a 375 page book, and there's probably more not-very-subliminal passages of men admiring other men's hairless bare chests than there are of kimono-ripping. Heck, there's a great deal more Hosso Buddhism than humpin' and pumpin'.
 
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Journal of No. 118