How Yukio Mishima Influenced Countless Designers


” EFinally, Mishima comes out of the university domain, we breathe! enthused Dominique Palmé, the great Japanese writer’s translator for Gallimard. Mangas, video games, cinema, photography… The Forum des Images, in Paris, brings together all forms of visual art to demonstrate what is – for connoisseurs – obvious: the importance, the influence of Yukio Mishima on d innumerable creators, all disciplines combined.

So we can listen to lectures on kabuki theater or the figure of the samurai, see adaptations by Benoît Jacquot (The School of Flesh) and Nagisa Oshima (Furyō)admire the photos (signed by Eikô Hosoe) of the bodybuilt and eroticized writer, and reflect on the representation of sadomasochistic heroes in a current of Japanese video games called yaoi… Dominique Palmé – who will be one of the guests of the round table Nouvelles translations, new readings, October 28 (7:30 p.m.) – sheds light on the many faces of this Mishima man of images.

Point : the program of the Forum des Images is abundant… In the image of the artist Mishima?

Dominique Palme : Well yes ! We always sum up Mishima to his suicide, and suddenly we perceive him as a tragic author… when we don’t catalog him as a homosexual neo-fascist! But Mishima goes far beyond all labels, he escapes definition. His stature as an artist is such that he must be considered even beyond his literary work alone. This work is a real kaleidoscope. First look at the diversity of genres: he was a poet, playwright, literary critic, novelist…

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He wrote travelogues, he made a film (yukoku, 1966), which the Forum will show. He posed for the nude photos of Hosoe and for the famous Saint Sebastian the body pierced with arrows from Shinoyama. Mishima also greatly influenced the creator of butoh dance, Tatsumi Hijikata. His stage debut in Tokyo in 1959, in a work inspired byForbidden loves by Mishima, scandalized the public: the dancer slaughtered a live rooster on stage! A real “performance” at a time when this term did not yet exist in contemporary art.

You mentioned his political color, his neo-fascism… How do you analyze Mishima’s positions on this plan?

As a literary critic – and he was the best of his generation – Mishima put aside politics and defended the talent of his peers. As the far right pursues Schichiro Fukazawa, author adapted to the cinema by Immamura, in the film The Ballad of Narayama, (Palme d’or at Cannes in 1983), and that a young nationalist even tries to assassinate one of his publishers, Mishima defends him. Same thing with Akiyuki Nosaka, the author of Tomb of the Fireflies (adapted by Isao Takahata for a masterpiece of animated cinema in 1988), who was a leftist. Mishima praised one of his works by saying, “It’s beautiful like a midday sun above a garbage dump…” I believe that the two men, despite their diametrically opposed political views, appreciated very much. The fact remains that a few years before his death, Mishima switches to ultranationalism. You can see it clearly in his film. yukokuwhich can be translated as “Patriotism”.

It is a film that exalts the action of young officers who, in 1936, want to restore Emperor Hirohito’s right to decide on military aggression. Their coup is a failure, they are condemned to death and the young officer commits suicide. Under Mishima’s pen and under his camera, this death takes on another dimension. We find there his obsession with the erotic pleasure that one would reach when one kills oneself… this curiosity for what the body in agony can feel. And in 1970, five or six years later, he kills himself spectacularly that we know.

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How to explain its influence on so many creators?

What struck me while translating Confessions of a Mask, it is the constant presence of his body. A body that he begins by hating: as a child, as a teenager, he finds himself skinny, he is often ill. And then during his first trip to the West, he was overwhelmed in Greece by the sculptures of Apollo. He decides to shape his body like a work of art. From there, he practices boxing, bodybuilding, he does karate, kendo. There is something surprisingly modern about this view of himself as part of his art. He practices autofiction before anyone else. And then Mishima is above all an ironist: he carries the scalpel of his irony on himself: this makes his work radically modern.

“Japan, Mishima and I – a subversive portrait of our times? », until January 15, at the Forum des images. www.forumdesimages.fr. Indoors The sailor who left the sea (1976) by Lewis John Carlino, based on the novel by Yukio Mishima, version restored by Carlotta Films.


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How Yukio Mishima Influenced Countless Designers