This start-up Swedish clothing company that sells tees of a far-right nature and that supports a traditional Catholic website and forum that I read on a regular basis offers a Yukio Mishima shirt that I find particularly striking. The shirt reads: Fighter for a Lost Position; it features his head juxtaposed with a cherry blossom. Below are the following words from his work Runaway Horses: “Perfect purity is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood.”
Mishima fought for a lost position. Though one of the most influential and popular post-war writers in Japan, he wanted Japan to turn away from what he saw as the West’s corrosive materialistic and democratic influence and return to what he believed to be the true spirit of Japan: the samurai spirit that pledges its allegiance to the emperor. Mishima’s method of attack: Western-influenced novels, plays, and short stories.
Yes, the man was off-kilter. Anybody truly interested in his life can easily find any number of biographical entries and pictures. His defiant last stand and flamboyant suicide can and perhaps should be seen as his final work of art, not so much a political statement. Of course, as a Catholic I cannot condone suicide. (Okay, now that such is out of the way…) What I can condone and do condone about Mishima is that he, in his more lucid moments, must have known that he was fighting a battle against the tides of modernity that he could not possibly have won and that he would only provoke more laughter than anything else. Even to this today, the people of Japan are reluctant to talk about Mishima. Yet. Yet he continued to fight.
These are the only men that truly interest me. The men who know that they will not win in any great or dramatic way. Their lives will be characterized by one ostensible failure after another. However, they will continue to fight for lost positions–those positions that have been jettisoned, not because they are inherently unworthy positions, but because most people today are unworthy to hold and to fight for such positions.