What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed.
Suddenly the full long wail of a ship's horn surged through the open window and flooded the dim room - a cry of boundless, dark, demanding grief; pitch-black and glabrous as a whale's back and burdened with all the passions of the tides, the memory of voyages beyond counting, the joys, the humiliations: the sea was screaming. Full of the glitter and the frenzy of night, the horn thundered in, conveying from the distant offing, from the dead center of the sea, a thirst for the dark nectar in the little room.
The only real flesh was the flesh that existed in his imagination. Since, therefore, he regarded the flesh as an ideal abstraction, rather than as a physical fact, he had relied on his spiritual strength to subjugate it.
The Imperial Concubine was fully aware of her own beauty, and she tended to be attracted by any force, such as religion, that treated her beauty and her high rank as things of no value.
So young and so lethargic! As though he had been born to sit and stare like this. Ever since Kiyoaki had confided in him, Shigekuni, who would have been bright and confident, as befitted such an able young man, had undergone a change. Or rather, the friendship between him and Kiyoaki had undergone a strange reversal. For years, each of them had been extremely careful to intrude in no way on the personal life of the other. But now, just three days before, Kiyoaki had suddenly come to him and, like a newly cured patient transmitting his disease to someone else, had passed on to his friend the virus of introspection. It had taken hold so readily that Honda's disposition now seemed a far better host to it than Kiyoaki's. The first major symptom of the disease was a vague sense of apprehension.
A feeling of liberation should contain a bracing feeling of negation, in which liberation itself is not negated. In the moment a captive lion steps out of his cage, he possesses a wider world than the lion who has known only the wilds. While he was in captivity, there were only two worlds to him; the world of the cage, and the world outside the cage. Now he is free. He roars. He attacks people. He eats them. yet he is not satisfied, for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage. Etsuko however, had in her heart not the slightest interest in these matters. Her soul knew nothing but affirmation.
Amid the moon and the stars, amid the clouds of the night, amid the hills which bordered on the sky with their magnificent silhouette of pointed cedars, amid the speckled patches of the moon, amid the temple buildings that emerged sparkling white out of the surrounding darkness - amid all this, I was intoxicated by the pellucid beauty of Uiko's treachery.
However, as words become particularized, and as men begin - in however small a way - to use them in personal, arbitrary ways, so their transformation into art begins.
The blossoms seem unusually lovely this year. There were none of the scarlet-and-white-striped curtains that are set up among the blossoming trees so invariably that one has to come to think of them as the attire of cherry blossoms; there were no bustling tea-stalls, no holiday crowds of flower-viewers, no one hawking balloons and toy windmills; instead there were only the cherry trees blossoming undisturbed among the evergreens, making one feel as though he were seeing the naked bodies of the blossoms. Nature's free bounty and useless extravagance had never appeared so fantastically beautiful as it did this spring. I had an uncomfortable suspicion that Nature had come to reconquer the earth for herself.
For everything sacred has the substance of dreams and memories, and so we experience the miracle of what is separated from us by time or distance suddenly being made tangible.
Thus in a single phrase I can define the great illusion concerning 'love' in this world. It is the effort to join reality with the apparition.
They had laid the tender, down-ruffled little bird on a platter and appeared now to be pondering a way to eat out its heart without causing it distress.
Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.
Only through the group, I realised — through sharing the suffering of the group — could the body reach that height of existence that the individual alone could never attain. And for the body to reach that level at which the divine might be glimpsed, a dissolution of individuality was necessary. The tragic quality of the group was also necessary, the quality that constantly raised the group out of the abandon and torpor into which it was prone to lapse, leading it to an ever-mounting shared suffering and so to death, which was the ultimate suffering. The group must be open to death — which meant, of course, that it must be a community of warriors.
And it seemed increasingly obvious that the world would have to topple if he was to attain the glory that was rightfully his. They were consubstantial: glory and the capsized world.
She did not know it, but she was actually in despair at the poverty of human emotions. Was it not irrational that there was nothing to do except weep when ten people died, just as one wept for but a single person?
Reiko had not kept a diary and was now denied the pleasure of assiduously rereading her record of the happiness of the past few months and consigning each page to the fire as she did so.- Death in Midsummer and Other Stories
How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at age thirty-eight! His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression. And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more than a fragile barrier separates him from his youth. He is forever hearing with the utmost clarity the sounds of this neighboring domain, but there is no way to penetrate the barrier.Honda felt that his youth had ended with the death of Kiyoaki Matsugae. At that moment something real within him, something that had burned with a vibrant brilliance, suddenly ceased to be.Now, late at night, when Honda grew weary of his legal drafts, he would pick up the dream journal that Kiyoaki had left him and turn over its pages.(...)Since then eighteen years had passed. The border between dream and memory had grown indistinct in Honda’s mind. Because the words contained in this journal, his only souvenir of his friend, had been traced there by Kiyoaki’s own hand, it had profound significance for Honda. These dreams, left like a handful of gold dust in a winnowing pan, were charged with wonder.As time went by, the dreams and the reality took on equal worth among Honda’s diverse memories. What had actually occurred was in the process of merging with what could have occurred. As reality rapidly gave way to dreams, the past seemed very much like the future.When he was young, there had been only one reality, and the future had seemed to stretch before him, swelling with immense possibilities. But as he grew older, reality seemed to take many forms, and it was the past that seemed refracted into innumerable possibilities. Since each of these was linked with its own reality, the line distinguishing dream and reality became all the more obscure. His memories were in constant flux, and had taken on the aspect of a dream.
I felt as though I owned the whole world. And little wonder, because at no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny , as when we are busy with preparations for it. After that, there remains only the journey itself, which is nothing but the process through which we lose our ownership of it. This is what makes travel so utterly fruitless.
Because the fact of not being understood by other people had become my only real source of pride, I was never confronted by any impulse to express things and to make others understand something that I knew.
The instant that the blade tore open his flesh, the bright disk of the sun soared up and exploded behind his eyelids.
…Her desire was close to that of the person who drowns himself; he does not necessarily covet death so much as what comes after the drowning—something different from what he had before, at least a different world.
When I arrived at the house in the suburbs that night I seriously contemplated suicide for the first time in my life. But as I thought about it, the idea became exceedingly tiresome, and I finally decided it would be a ludicrous business. I had an inherent dislike of admitting defeat. Moreover, I told myself, there's no need for me to take such decisive action myself, not when I'm surrounded by such a bountiful harvest of death—death in an air raid, death at one's post of duty, death in the military service, death on the battlefield, death from being run over, death from disease—surely my name has already been entered in the list for one of these: a criminal who has been sentenced to death does not commit suicide. No—no matter how I considered, the season was not auspicious for suicide. Instead I was waiting for something to do me the favor of killing me. And this, in the final analysis, is the same as to say that I was waiting for something to do me the favor of keeping me alive.
To put it in a rather vulgar way, I had been dreaming about love in the firm belief that I could not be loved, but at the final stage I had substituted desire for love and felt a sort of relief. But in the end I had understood that desire itself demanded for its fulfillment that I should forget about the conditions of my existence, and that I should abandon what for me constituted the only barrier to love, namely the belief that I could not be loved. I had always thought of desire as being something clearer than it really is, and I had not realized that it required people to see themselves in a slightly dreamlike, unreal way.
Do I, then, belong to the heavens?Why, if not so, should the heavensFix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare,Luring me on, and my mind, higherEver higher, up into the sky,Drawing me ceaselessly upTo heights far, far above the human?Why, when balance has been strictly studiedAnd flight calculated with the best of reasonTill no aberrant element should, by rights, remain-Why, still, should the lust for ascensionSeem, in itself, so close to madness?Nothing is that can satify me;Earthly novelty is too soon dulled;I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable,Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence.Why do these rays of reason destroy me?Villages below and meandering streamsGrow tolerable as our distance grows.Why do they plead, approve, lure meWith promise that I may love the humanIf only it is seen, thus, from afar-Although the goal could never have been love, Nor, had it been, could I ever haveBelonged to the heavens?I have not envied the bird its freedomNor have I longed for the ease of Nature,Driven by naught save this strange yearningFor the higher, and the closer, to plunge myselfInto the deep sky's blue, so contraryTo all organic joys, so farFrom pleasures of superiority But higher, and higher,Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescenceOf waxen wings.Or do I then Belong, after all, to the earth?Why, if not so, should the earthShow such swiftness to encompass my fall?Granting no space to think or feel,Why did the soft, indolent earth thusGreet me with the shock of steel plate?Did the soft earth thus turn to steelOnly to show me my own softness?That Nature might bring home to meThat to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things,More natural by far than that improbable passion?Is the blue of the sky then a dream?Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged,On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxicationAchieved for a moment by waxen wings?And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me?To punish me for not believing in myself Or for believing too much;Too earger to know where lay my allegianceOr vainly assuming that already I knew all;For wanting to fly offTo the unknownOr the known:Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?
So far as feelings were concerned, there was no discrepancy between the very finest feeling in this world and the very worst; that their effect was the same; that no visible difference existed between murderous intent and feelings of deep compassion.
An ugliness unfurled in the moonlight and soft shadow and suffused the whole world. If I were an amoeba, he thought, with an infinitesimal body, I could defeat ugliness. A man isn’t tiny or giant enough to defeat anything.
A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn't even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality.
Kazu, now that she thought of it, realized that for all her headstrong temperament, she had never loved a man younger than herself. A young man has such a surplus of spiritual and physical gifts that he is likely to be cocksure of himself, particularly when dealing with an older woman, and there is no telling how swelled up with self-importance he may become. Besides, Kazu felt a physical repugnance for youth. A woman is more keenly aware than a man of the shocking disharmony between a young man's spiritual and physical qualities, and Kazu had never met a young man who wore his youth well. She was moreover repelled by the sleekness of a young man's skin.
This time, Fusako was able to express herself with fluency and candor. The bold letters she had been writing week after week had granted her an unexpected new freedom.
Count Ayakura’s abstraction persisted. He believed that only a vulgar mentality was willing to acknowledge the possibility of catastrophe. He felt that taking naps was much more beneficial than confronting catastrophes. However precipitous the future might seem, he learned from the game of kemari that the ball must always come down. There was no call for consternation. Grief and rage, along with other outbursts of passion, were mistakes easily committed by a mind lacking in refinement. And the Count was certainly not a man who lacked refinement.Just let matters slide. How much better to accept each sweet drop of the honey that was Time, than to stoop to the vulgarity latent in every decision. However grave the matter at hand might be, if one neglected it for long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and someone else would emerge as an ally. Such was Count Ayakura’s version of political theory.
Again, there were maidens who cherished the firm belief that he had come from the sea. Because within his breast could be heard the roaring of the sea. Because in the pupils of his eyes there lingered the mysterious and eternal horizon that the sea leaves as a keepsake deep in the eyes of all who are born at the seaside and forced to depart from it. Because his signs were sultry like the tidal breezes of full summer, fragrant with the smell of seaweed cast upon the shore.
Might it have been nothing but life itself? Life; this limitless complex sea, filled with assorted flotsam, brimming with capricious, violent, and yet eternally transparent blues and greens.