Yukio Mishima
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Yukio Mishima (Japan, 1925) (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Kinkaku-ji/ The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1956) is about an obsession, a love/hate relationship that can be satisfied only with an act of destruction. But it also a description of a soul torn between good and evil, between kindness and cruelty. Gentle feelings are often followed by brutal scenes or cynical discussions. To complicate matters there is an underlying theme of mystification: nothing is what it appears to be. Mizoguchi, the lonely stuttering son of a Zen priest, grows up at the beginning of World War II in a village dreaming of his father's temple in the big city, the Golden Temple that he has never seen. Infatuated with a girl named Uiko, he witnesses her helping a deserter and then betraying him and then being killed by him. Mizoguchi is disappointed when his ill father finally takes him to the Golden Temple to introduce him to the Superior. But, upon returning to the village, Mizoguchi begins dreaming again of the temple. When his father dies of his illness, Mizoguchi does not feel sorrow but gladly joins the temple. He meets another acolyte, Tsurukawa, a good boy. When Japan is being bombed by the USA, Mizoguchi becomes convinced that the millenary temple will be destroyed. Instead it is never bombed. The most exciting thing to happen is that one day Mizoguchi and Tsurukawa see a woman give her breast's milk to a soldier, a gesture that they cannot explain.
The war ends with the defeat of Japan, an event for which the Superior gives a cryptic lecture based on a koan involving a cat. The boy is now obsessed with becoming the next Superior of the temple and his manners seem to work well, ingratiating him to the Superior. One day Mizoguchi witnesses a sadistic USA soldier abusing a pregnant prostitute, and obeys the soldier when he invites him to step on her belly. The cruelty exites him. The Superior decides to send him to a prestigious university to complete his studies. His fellow acolyte Tsurukawa is sent to the same university by his family. However, the prostitute comes to the temple for ask for compensation for the act that caused her miscarriage. Everybody now knows what terrible thing Mizoguchi did, but the Superior does not say a single word to him, letting him agonize in his fear of a punishment that never comes. Mizoguchi does not even know whether the Superior believed the prostitute or not, whether he believes he's innocent or guilty of the alleged misdeed. Mizoguchi enters the university and meets another lonely kid, Kashiwagi, who is the opposite of Tsurukawa: a clubfeet deformity made him cynical, arrogant and cruel. In a long monologue Kashiwagi explains how he lost his virginity: a beautiful girl fell in love with his deformity but he felt impotent and rejoiced in rejecting her; but then he got excited by an elderly gullable widow who believed his lie (that Buddha appeared to his mother and promised nirvana to the woman who worshipped his clubfeet). This monologue itself is basically a koan about love. Kashiwagi's brutal nihilism becomes the new influence on Mizoguchi, counterbalancing and overpowering Tsurukawa's good influence.
One day Kashiwagi takes Mizoguchi to an excursion with two girls, a cute one whom he is pursuing and a plump one. The plump girl tells Mizoguchi the story of a girl who fell in love with an officer, got pregnant, lost the child and gave her milk to the officer before he left for war, never to return again. This was the scene that Mizoguchi witnessed towards the end of the war. (A koan solved). Mizoguchi cannot make love to the plump girl because the temple appears to him, but Kashiwagi succeeds in seducing the cute girl. The news reaches tham that Tsurukawa has died in a car accident.
After mourning Tsurukawa for one year, Mizoguchi falls again under the influence of Kashiwagi's nihilism. Kashiwagi introduces him to the widow of the soldier, to whom Kashiwagi has made love already. She taught him how to make flower arrangements. She congratulates Kashiwagi for a flower arrangement he has made of some flowers stolen by Mizoguchi for him, but Kashiwagi replies replies that now he doesn't need her anymore. She runs away humiliated. Mizoguchi follows her and tries to console her by telling her the story of how he fell in love with her the first time he saw her giving milk to that soldier. She offers him the same breast, but the Golden Temple appears again paralyzing him again.
One day Mizoguchi spots the Superior with a geisha. The Superior has an angry reaction but then ignores him. Determined to get more than silence, Mizoguchi purchases a photo of the girl and leaves it inside the newspaper that he personally delivers to the Superior every morning, so that there will be no doubt who did it. The Superior does not react, but one day Mizoguchi finds the photo in his room. The two were playing a psychological game again. Mizoguchi realizes that his dream of becoming the next Superior of the temple is rapidly vanishing. He begins neglecting the university until the Superior has to tell him that he withdraws his support for his nomination. Mizoguchi borrows money from Kashiwagi and leaves the temple. He decides to head in the direction that a fortune teller advised against. On the train he hears passengers criticizing the temple and accusing the Superior of corruption. When he reaches the sea, he is overwhelmed by the desire to burn down the Golden Temple. Brought back by a police officer to the temple, Mizoguchi is more determined than ever to burn it down. Kashiwagi tells the Superior of Mizoguchi's debt. The Superior pays, but Mizoguchi's reputation keeps plunging. Kashiwagi tells Mizoguchi that Tsurukawa was his friend too. In fact, he has a whole bundle of letters from the dead acolyte. Kashiwagi is convinced that Tsurukawa committed suicide.
Mizoguchi spends the university fees to go with prostitutes, knowing that the punishment will be expulsion from the temple. He hears of the Korean war and fears that the world is about to end. He hurries up and sets fire to the temple before it's too late. He had planned to poison himself but then decides that he wants to live.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )