Editorial Reviews. Review. "The novel has a timeless quality: The struggle of the individual to fit No Longer Human - Kindle edition by Osamu Dazai. Download . The poignant and fascinating story of a young man who is caught between the breakup of the traditions of a northern Japanese aristocratic family and the impact . PDF | The economic, political, and psychological devastation of the World from Japan - No Longer Human () by Osamu Dazai, and one.
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Download homeranking.info When the State No Longer Kills: International Human Rights Norms and Abolition of Capital Punishment (Suny Series in Human Rights). Read more. 3 4 One aspect of The Setting Sun puzzled many readers, however, and may puzzle others in Dazai's second novel No Longer Human:1 the role of Western.
I was in the dark; at times I made indiscreet mistakes which brought me painful wounds. Practical troubles. Under Horiki's tutelage I also began to frequent the pawnshops. Ju6t as I was about to rush outside, I noticed Takeichi hovering dejectedly in the entrance way. I secretly affirmed this self.
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Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. From then on whenever a Harold Lloyd movie came to town I went to see it and secretly studied his expressions.
One autumn evening as I was lying in bed reading a book, the older of my cousins—I always called her Sister—suddenly darted into my room quick as a bird, and collapsed over my bed. She whispered through her tears, "Yozo, you'll help me, I know. I know you will. Let's run away from this terrible house together. Oh, help me, please.
This was not the first time that a woman had put on such a scene before me, and Sister's excessively emotional words did not surprise me much. I felt instead a certain boredom at their banality and emptiness. I slipped out of bed, went to my desk and picked up a persimmon.
I peeled it and offered Sister a section. She ate it, still sobbing, and said, "Have you any interesting books? Lend me something. Long personal experience had taught me that when a woman suddenly bursts into hysterics, the way to restore her spirits is to give her something sweet. Her younger sister, Setchan, would even bring friends to my room, and in my usual fashion I amused them all with perfect impartiality.
As soon as a friend had left Setchan would tell me disagreeable things about her, inevitably concluding, "She's a bad girl. You must be careful of her. This, however, by no means implies that Takei- chi's compliment, "Womenll fall for you" had as yet been realized. I was merely the Harold Lloyd of North- east Japan. Not for some years would Takeichi's silly statement come palpitatingly alive, metamorphosed into a sinister prophecy.
Takeichi made one other important gift to me. One day he came to my room to play. He was waving a brightly colored picture which he proudly displayed. I was startled. That instant, as I could not help feeling in later years, determined my path of escape. I knew what Takeichi was showing me. When we were children the French Impressionist School was very popular in Japan, and our first introduction to an appreciation of Western painting most often began with such works. T h e paintings of van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Renoir were familiar even to students at country schools, mainly through photo- graphic reproductions.
I myself had seen quite a few colored photographs of van Gogh's paintings. His brushwork and the vividness of his colors h a d in- trigued me, but I had never imagined his pictures to be of ghosts. I took from my bookshelf a volume of Modigliani reproductions, and showed Takeichi the familiar nudes with skin the color of burnished copper.
Do you suppose they're ghosts t o o? There are some people whose dread of human beings is so morbid that they reach a point where they yearn to see with their o w n eyes monsters of ever more horrible shapes.
And the more nervous they are —the quicker to take fright—the more violent they pray that every storm will be. And they did not fob people ofif with clowning; they did their best to depict these monsters just as they had appeared.
Takcichi was right: These, I thought, would be my friends in the future. I was so excited I could have wept. I'm going to paint pic- tures of ghosts and devils and horses out of hell. Ever since elementary school days I enjoyed draw- ing and looking at pictures. But my pictures failed to win the reputation among my fellow students that my comic stories did.
I have never had the least trust in the opinions of human beings, and my stories represented to me nothing more than the clown's gesture of greeting to his audience; they enraptured all of my teachers but for me they were devoid of the slightest interest.
Only to my paintings, to the depic- tion of the object my cartoons were something else again did I devote any real efforts of my original though childish style. I sought to model my techniques on those of the Impressionist School, but my pictures remained flat as paper cutouts, and seemed to oflfer no promise of ever developing into anything. But Takeichi's words made me aware that my mental at- titude towards painting had been completely mistaken. What superficiality—and what stupidity—there is in trying to depict in a pretty manner things which one has thought pretty.
The masters through their sub- jective perceptions created beauty out of trivialities. They d i d not hide their interest even in things which were nauseatingly ugly, but soaked themselves in the pleasure of depicting them.
In other words, they seemed not to rely in the least on the misconceptions of others. Now that I had been initiated by Takeichi into these root secrets of the art of painting, I began to do a few self-portraits, taking care that they not be seen b y my female visitors. T h e pictures I drew were so heart-rending as to stupefy even myself. Here was the true self I had so desperately hidden. I had smiled cheerfully; I had made others laugh; but this was the harrowing reality.
I disliked the thought that I might suddenly be subjected to their suspicious vigilance, when once the nightmarish reality under the clowning was detected. On the other hand, I was equally afraid that they might not recog- nize my true self when they saw it, but imagine that it was just some new twist to my clowning—occasion for additional snickers. This would have been most painful of all.
I therefore h i d the pictures in the back of my cupboard. In school drawing classes I also kept secret my "ghost-style" techniques and continued to paint as before i n the conventional idiom of pretty things. To Takeichi and to h i m alone I could display m y easily wounded sensibilities, and I did not hesitate now to show him m y self-portraits.
He was very en- thusiastic, and I painted two or three more, plus a picture of a ghost, earning from Takeichi the predic- tion, "You'll be a great painter some day. On my forehead were imprinted the two prophecies uttered b y half-wit Takeichi: I wanted to enter an art school, but my father put me into college, intending eventually to make a civil servant out of me.
At my father's suggestion I took the college entrance examinations a year early and I passed. By this time I was really quite weary of my high school by the sea and the cherry blossoms. Once in Tokyo I immediately began life in a dormitory, but the squalor and violence appalled me.
This time I was in no mood for clowning; I got the doctor to certify that my lungs were affected. I left the dormi- tory and went to live in my father's, town house in Ueno. Communal living had proved quite impossible for me. It gave m e chills just to hear such words as "the ardor of youth" or "youthful pride": I could not by any stretch of the imagination soak myself in "college spirit.
When the Diet was not in session my father spent only a week or two of the month at the house. While he was away there would be just three of us in the rather imposing mansion—an elderly couple who looked after the premises and myself. I frequently cut classes, but not because I felt like sightseeing in Tokyo. Instead I would spend whole days in the house reading and painting. When my father was in town I set out for school promptly every morning, although sometimes I actually went to an urt class given by a painter in Hongo, and practiced sketching for three or four hours at a time with h i m.
Having been able to escape from the college dormitory I felt rather cynically—this may have been my own bias—that I was now in a rather special position. Even if I attended lectures it was more l i k e an auditor than a regular student. Attending classes became all t h e more tedious. I h a d gone through elementary and high schools and was now in college without ever having been able to understand what was meant b y school spirit. I never even tried to learn the school songs.
Before long a student at t h e art class was to initiate m e into the mysteries of drink, cigarettes, prostitutes, pawnshops and left-wing thought.
A strange combination, but it actually happened that way. This student's n a m e was Masao Horiki. He h a d been born in downtown Tokyo, was six years older than myself, and was a graduate of a private art school.
Having no atelier at home, he used to attend the art class I frequented, where he was supposedly continu- i n g his study of oil painting.
You're my guest! This marked the be- ginning of our friendship. That bashful smile—that's the special mark of the promising artist. Now, as a pledge of our friendship - b o t t o m s u p! You mustn't fall for him, now. I'm sorry to say it, but ever since he appeared in our art class, I've only been the second handsomest. Horiki was swarthy, but his features were regular and, most unusual for an art student, he always wore a neat suit and a conservative necktie. His hair was pomaded and parted in the middle.
The surroundings were unfamiliar to me. I kept folding and unfolding my arms nervously, and my smiles now were really bashful. In the course of drink- ing two or three glasses of beer, however, I began to feel a strange lightness of liberation. They're useless. Schools are all useless. T h e teachers who immerse themselves in Nature! The teachers who show profound sympathy for Nature!
I was thinking, "He's a fool and his paintings are rubbish, but he might be a good person for me to go out with. N o less than myself, though i n a different way, he was entirely removed from the activi- ties of the human beings of the world. We were of one species if only in that we were both disoriented.
At the same time there was a basic difference in u s: I despised him as one fit only for amusement, a man with whom I associated for that sole purpose. At times I even felt ashamed of our friendship. But in the end, as the result of going out with him, even Horiki proved too strong for m e. To tell the truth, when I first came to the city, I was afraid to board a streetcar because of the conductor; I was afraid to enter t h e Kabuki Theatre for fear of the usherettes standing along the sides of the red-carpeted staircase at the main entrance; I was afraid to go into a restaurant because I was intimidated by the waiters furtively hovering behind m e waiting for my plate to be emptied.
Most of all I dreaded paying a bill—my awkwardness when I handed over the money after buying something did not arise from any stinginess, but from excessive tension, excessive embarrassment, excessive uneasiness and apprehension. My eyes would swim in my head, and the whole world grow dark before me, so that I felt half out of my mind.
There was no question of bargaining—not only did I often forget to pick up my change, but I quite fre- quently forgot to take home the things I had pur- chased. It was quite impossible for me to make my way around Tokyo by myself. I had no choice but to spend whole days at a time lolling about the house. So I turned my money over to Horiki and the two of us went out together. He was a great bargainer and—this perhaps earned him the ranking of expert in pleasure-seeking—he displayed unusual proficiency in spending minimal sums of money with maximum effect.
He gave me a practical educa- tion: He also explained that beef with rice or skewered chicken —the sort of dishes you can get at a roadside stand— are cheap but nourishing. He guaranteed that nothing got you drunker quicker than brandy.
At any rate, as far as the bill was concerned he never caused me to feel the least anxiety or fear. Another thing which saved me when with Horiki was that he was completely uninterested in what his listener might be thinking, and could pour forth a continuous stream of nonsensical chatter twenty-tyur hours a day, in whichever direction the eruption of his "passions" led him.
It may have been that his passions consisted in ignoring the feelings of his lis- tener. His loquacity ensured that there would be absolutely no danger of our falling into uncomfortable silences when our pleasures had fatigued us.
Now, however, that stupid Horiki quite without realizing it was playing the part of the clown, and I was under no obligation to make appropriate answers. It sufficed if I merely let the stream of his words flow through my ears and, once in a while, commented with a smile, "Not really!
I came even to feel that if I had to sell every last possession to obtain these means of escape, it would be well worth it. I never could think of prostitutes as human be- ' ings or even as women. They seemed more like im- beciles or lunatics. But in their arms I felt absolute security.
I could sleep soundly. It was pathetic how utterly devoid of greed they really were. And perhaps because they felt for me something like an affinity for their kind, these prostitutes always showed me a natural friendliness which never became oppressive. Friendliness with no ulterior motive, friendliness stripped of high-pressure salesmanship, for someone who might never come again.
Some nights I saw these imbecile, lunatic prostitutes with the halo of Mary. This was a quite unexpected by-product of my experience, but gradually it became more manifest, until Horiki pointed it out, to ray amazement and consternation. I had, quite objectively speaking, passed through an apprenticeship in women at the hands of prostitutes, and I had of late become quite adept. The severest apprenticeship in women, they say, is with prostitutes, and that makes it the most effective.
The odor of the "lady-killer" had come to permeate me, and women not only prostitutes in- stinctively detected it and flocked to me. This obscene and inglorious atmosphere was the "bonus" I re- ceived, and it was apparently far more noticeable than the recuperative effects of my apprenticeship.
Horiki informed me of it half as a compliment, I suppose, but it struck a painful chord in me. I re- membered now clumsily written letters from bar girls; and the general's daughter, a girl of twenty, whose house was next to mine, and w h o every morning when I went to school was always hovering around her gate, all dressed u p for no apparent reason; and the waitress at the steak restaurant who, even when I didn't say a word.
With all of them I had been extremely negative and the stories had gone no further, remaining undeveloped frag- ments. But it was an undeniable fact, and not just some foolish delusion on my part, that there lingered about me an atmosphere which could send women into sentimental reveries.
It caused me a bitterness akin to shame to have this pointed out by someone like Horiki; at the same time I suddenly lost all interest in prostitutes. To show off his "modernity" I can't think of any other reason Horiki also took me one day to a secret Communist meeting. I don't remember exactly what it was called—a "Reading Society," I think. A secret Communist meeting may have been for Horiki just one more of the sights of Tokyo.
Everything h e said seemed exceedingly obvious, and undoubtedly true, but I felt sure that something more obscure, more frightening lurked in the hearts of human beings. Greed did not cover it, nor did vanity. Nor was it simply a combination of lust and greed. I wasn't sure what it was, but I felt that there was something inexplicable at the bottom of human society which was not reducible to economics.
Ter- rified as I was by this weird element, I assented to materialism as naturally as water finding its own level. But materialism could not free me from my dread of human beings; I could not feel the joy of hope a man experiences when h e opens h i s eyes on young leaves.
Nevertheless I regularly attended the meetings of the Reading Society. I found it uproariously amus- ing to see my "comrades," their faces tense as though they were discussing matters of life and death, ab- sorbed i n the study of theories so elementary they were on t h e order of "one and one makes two. That was why, I imagine, the oppressive atmosphere of t h e group gradually re- laxed. I came to be so popular that I was considered indispensable at the meetings. These simple people perhaps fancied that I was just as simple as they—an optimistic, laughter-loving comrade—but if such was their view, I was deceiving them completely.
Yet I attended every single meeting and performed for them my full repertory of farce. I did it because I liked to, because those people pleased me—and not necessarily because we were linked by any common affection derived from Marx. I found the thought faintly pleasur- able. Or rather, I felt at ease with it. What frightened me was the logic of the world; in it lay the foretaste of something incalculably powerful.
Its mechanism was incomprehensible, and I could not possibly remain closeted in that windowless, bone-chilling room. Though outside lay the sea of irrationality, it was far more agreeable to swim in its waters until presently I drowned. People talk of "social outcasts. If ever I meet someone society has designated as an outcast, I in- variably feci affection for him, an emotion which carries me away in melting tenderness.
People also talk of a "criminal consciousness. People also commonly speak of the "wound of a guilty con- science. The agonies I have suffered night after night have made for a hell com- posed of an infinite diversity of tortures, hut—though this is a very strange way to put it—the wound has gradually become dearer to m e than my own flesh and blood, and I have thought its pain to he the emotion of the wound as it lived or even its murmur of affection.
For Buch a person as myself the atmosphere of an underground movement was curiously soothing and agreeable. What appealed to me, in other words, was not so much its basic aims as its personality. The movement served Horiki merely as a pretext for idi- otic banter. The only meeting he attended was the one where he introduced me. He gave as his reason for not coming again the stupid joke that Marxists should study not only the productive aspects of so- ciety but the consumptive ones.
At any rate the con- sumptive aspects were the only ones w e observed together. When I think back on it now, in those days there were Marxists of every variety. I am sure that if the true believers in Marxism had discovered what Horiki and I were really in- terested in, they would have been furious with us, and driven us out immediately as vile traitors. Strange to say, however, neither Horiki nor I ever came close to being expelled.
On the contrary, I felt so much more relaxed in this irrational world than in the world of rational gentlemen that I was able to do what was expected of me in a "sound" manner. I was therefore considered a promising comrade and entrusted with various jobs fraught with a ludicrous degree of secrecy. As a matter of fact, I never once refused any of their jobs. Curiously docile, I performed whatever they asked of me with such unruffled assurance that the "dogs" that was the name by which the comrades referred to the police suspected nothing, and I was never so much as picked up for questioning.
Smiling, making others smile, I punctiliously acquitted myself of all their "dangerous missions. I felt at the time that if I should become a party member and got caught, not even the prospect of spending the rest of my life in prison would bother me: Even when my father and I were living in the same house, he was kept so busy receiving guests or going out that sometimes three or four days elapsed without our seeing each other.
This, however, did not make his presence any the less oppressive and intimidating. I was just thinking without as yet daring to propose it how I would like to leave the house and find lodgings elsewhere, when I learned from our old caretaker that my father apparently intended to sell the house. Father's term of office as a member of the Diet would soon expire and—doubtless for many reasons— he seemed to have no intention of standing for election again.
Perhaps I do not pretend to understand my father's thoughts any better than those of a stranger he had decided to build a retreat somewhere at home. At any rate, the house was sold before long and I moved to a gloomy room in an old lodging house in Hongo where I was immediately beset by financial worries.
My father h a d been giving me a fixed allowance for spending money each month. It would disappear in two or three days' time, but there had always been cigarettes, liquor and fruit in the house, and other things—books, stationery, and anything in the way of clothing—could be charged at shops in the neigh- borhood.
As long as it was one of the shops my father patronized it made no difference even if I left the place without offering so m u c h as a word of expla- nation. Then suddenly I was thrown on my own in lodgings, and had to make ends meet on the allowance doled out each month from home.
I was quite at my wit's end. The allowance disappeared in the customary two or three days, and I would be almost wild with fright and despair. I sent off barrages of telegrams begging for money of my father, my brothers and my sisters by turns. In the wake of the telegrams went letters giving details. The facts as stated in the letters were absurd fabrications without exception. Under Horiki's tutelage I also began to frequent the pawnshops. Despite everything I was chronically short of money.
And I was incapable of living all by myself in those lodgings where I didn't know a soul. It terrified me to sit b y myself quietly in my room. I felt frightened, as if I might be set upon or struck by someone at any moment. I would rush outside either to help in the activities of the movement or to make the round of the bars with Horiki, drinking cheap sake wherever we went.
I almost completely neglected both my school work and my painting.
Then in November of my second year in college I got involved in a love suicide with a married woman older than myself. This changed everything. I had stopped attending classes and no longer devoted a minute of study to my courses; amazingly enough I seemed nevertheless to be able to give sensible answers in the examinations, and I managed somehow to keep my family under the delusion that all was well.
But my poor attendance finally caused the school to send my father a confidential report. My elder brother, acting on behalf of my father, there- upon addressed me a long, sternly phrased letter, warning me to change my ways. I had been chosen leader of all the Marxist student action groups in t h e schools of central Tokyo. I raced about here and there "maintaining liaison. I remember now that it had a delicate blade hardly strong enough to sharpen a pencil. My fondest wish was to drink myself into a sound stupor, but I hadn't the money.
Requests for m y services came from the party so frequently that I scarcely had time to catch my breath. A sickly b o d y like mine wasn't up to such frantic activity. My only reason all along for helping the group had been m y fascination with its irrationality, and to become so horribly involved was a quite unforeseen consequence of my joke.
I felt secretly like telling the group, "This isn't my business. Why don't you get a regular party man to do i t? I escaped, but it gave me n o pleasure: I decided to kill myself. There were at that time three women who showed me special affection. One of them was the landlord's daughter at my lodging house. It's so noisy downstairs with my sister and my little brother that I can't collect my thoughts enough to write a letter.
It would have been so much simpler if I just lay there and pretended not to be aware of her, but the girl's looks betrayed only too plainly that she wanted me to talk, and though I had not the least desire to utter a word, I would display my usual spirit of passive service: I would turn over on my belly with a grunt and, puffing on a cigarette, begin, "I'm told that some men heat their bath water by burning the love letters they get from women.
It must be you. Use mine next time! Letter, indeed! What a transparent pretext that was. I'm sure she was writing the alphabet or the days of the week and the months.
I thought up an errand for her to do. I'm over-exhausted. My face is burning so I can't sleep. I'm sorry. A n d about the money. Don't worry about the money. I was w e l l aware that it never offends a woman to be asked t o do an errand; they are delighted if some man deigns to ask them a favor.
The second girl interested in me was a "comrade," a student in a teacher's training college. My activities in the movement obliged me, distasteful as it was, to see her every day. Even after the arrangements for the day's j o b had been completed, she doggedly tagged along after me. She bought me presents, seem- ingly at random, and offered t h e m with the words, "I wish you would think of me as your real sister. I was afraid of angering her, and my only thought was to temporize somehow and put h e r off.
As a result, I spent more and more time dancing attendance on that ugly, disagreeable girl. I tried to look happy when I was with her, and made her laugh with my jokes. One summer evening she simply wouldn't leave m e. In the hope of persuading her to go I kissed her when we came to a dark place along the street. She became uncon- trollably, shamefully excited. She hailed a taxi and took m e to the little room the movement secretly rented in an office building.
There we spent the whole night in a wild tumult. T h e circumstances were such that I had n o way of avoiding the landlord's daughter or this "comrade. Before I knew what was happening, my chronic lack of assurance had driven m e willy-nilly into desperate attempts to ingratiate myself with both of them. It was just as if I were bound to them by some ancient debt.
It was at this same period that I became the unexpected beneficiary of t h e kindness of a waitress in one of those big cafes on the Cinza. After just one meeting I was so tied by gratitude to her that worry and e m p t y fears paralyzed me.
Inwardly I was no less suspicious than before of the assurance and the violence of human beings, but on the surface I had learned bit by bit the art of meeting people with a straight face—no, that's not true: I have never been able to meet anyone without an accompaniment of painful smiles, the buffoonery of defeat. What I had ac- quired was the technique of stammering somehow, almost in a daze, the necessary small talk. Was this a product of my activities on behalf of the movement?
Or of women? Or liquor? Perhaps it was chiefly being hard up for cash that perfected this skill. I felt afraid no matter where I was. I wondered if the best way to obtain some surcease from t h i s relentless feeling might not be to lose myself in t h e world of some big cafe where I would be rubbed against by crowds of drunken guests, waitresses and porters.
With this thought in my mind, I went o n e day alone to a cafe on the Ginza. I said with a smile to the hostess who sat be- side me, "All I've got is ten yen. Consider yourself warned. It was strange how she calmed m y agitation w i t h those few words.
I felt, rather, as if being next to her in itself made it unnecessary to worry. I drank the liquor. She did not intimidate me, and I felt no obligation to perform my clownish antics for her.
I drank in silence, not bothering to hide the taciturnity and gloominess which were my true nature. She put various appetizers on the table in front of me. I'll have a drink too. I was waiting at a sushi stall back of the Cinza for Tsuneko that, as I recall, was her name, but the memory is too blurred for me to be sure: I am the sort of person who can forget even the name of the woman with whom he attempted suicide to get off from work.
The sushi I was eating had nothing to recommend it. Why, when I have forgotten her name, should I be able to remember so clearly how bad the sushi tasted? And I can recall with absolute clarity the close-cropped head of the old man—his face was like a snake's— wagging from side to side as he made the sushi, trying to create the illusion that he was a real expert.
Now, when her name and even h e r face are fading from my memory, for m e to be able to remember that old man's face so accurately I could draw it, is surely a proof of h o w bad the sushi was and how it chilled and distressed m e. I should add that even w h e n I have been taken to restaurants famous for sushi I have never enjoyed it much.
Tsuneko was living in a room she rented on the second floor of a carpenter's house. I lay on the floor sipping tea, propping my cheek with one hand as if I h a d a horrible toothache. I took no pains to hide my habitual gloom. Oddly enough, she seemed to like seeing me lie there that way. She gave me the impression of standing completely isolated; an icy storm whipped around her, leaving only dead leaves careening wildly down.
As we lay there together, she told me that she was two years older than I, and that she came from Hiroshima. He used to be a barber in Hiroshima, but we ran away to Tokyo together at the end of last year.
My husband couldn't find a decent job in Tokyo. The next thing I knew he was picked u p for swindling someone, and now he's in jail. I've been going to the prison every day, but beginning tomorrow I'm not going any more. It may b e because women are so inept at telling a story that is, because they place the emphasis in the wrong places , or for some other reason.
In any case, I have always turned them a deaf ear. It amazes and astonishes me that I have never once heard a woman make this simple statement. This woman did not say, "I feel so unhappy" in so many words, but something like a silent current of misery an inch wide flowed over the surface of her body.
When I lay next to her my body was enveloped in her current, which mingled w i t h my own harsher current of gloom like a "withered leaf settling to rest on the stones at the bottom of a pool.
The use of so bold a word, affirma- tively, without hesitation, will not, I imagine, recur in these notebooks. In the morning, when I woke and got out of bed, I was again the shallow poseur of a clown. The weak fear happiness itself. They can harm themselves on cotton wool. Sometimes they are wounded even by happiness.
I was impatient to leave her while things still stood the same, before I got wounded, and I spread my usual smokescreen of farce. It doesn't mean that when a man's money runs out he's shaken off by women. When he runs out of money, he naturally is in the dumps. He's no good for anything. The strength goes out of his laugh, he becomes strangely soured. Finally, in desperation, he shakes off the woman.
The proverb means that when a man becomes half-mad, he will shake and shake and shake until he's free of a woman. You'll find that explanation given in the Kanazawa Dictionary, more's the pity. It isn't too hard for me to understand that feeling myself! I was trying to get away quickly that morning, without so much as washing my face, for I was sure that to stay any longer would be useless and dangerous.
Then I came out with that crazy pronouncement on "love flying out the window," which was later to produce unexpected complications. After leaving her my happiness grew fainter every day that went by. It frightened me even that I had accepted a moment's kindness: I felt I had imposed horrible bonds on myself.
Grad- ually even the mundane fact that Tsuneko had paid the bill at the cafe began to weigh on me, and I felt as though she was just another threatening woman, like the girl at my lodging house, or the girl from the teacher's training college.
Even at the distance which separated us, Tsuneko intimidated me constantly. Besides, I was intolerably afraid that if I met again a woman I h a d once slept with, I might suddenly burst into a flaming rage.
It was m y nature to be very timid about meeting people anyway, and so I finally chose the expedient of keeping a safe distance from the Ginza. T h i s timidity of nature was n o trickery on m y part. Women do not bring to bear so much as a particle of connection between what they do after going to bed and what they do on rising in the morning; they go on living with their world success- fully divided in two, as if total oblivion had inter- vened. My trouble was that I could not yet successfully cope with this extraordinary phenomenon.
At the end of November I went drinking with Horiki at a cheap bar in Kanda. W e had already run out of money, but he kept badgering me. Finally—and this was because I was drunker and bolder than usual—I said, "All right. I'll take y o u to the land of dreams. Don't be surprised at what you see. Wine, women and song. The two of us got on a streetcar. Horiki said in high spirits, "I'm starved for a woman tonight. Is it all right to kiss t h e hostess? Horiki knew it, and h e deliberately labored the point.
I'm going to kiss her. I'm going to kiss whichever hostess sits next to me. All right? I'm starved for a woman. Horiki and I sat down at a vacant booth facing each other. Tsuneko and another hostess immediately hurried over. The other girl sat next t o me, and Tsuneko plopped herself down beside Horiki.
Tsuneko was going to be kissed in another few minutes. It wasn't that I regretted losing her. I have never had the faintest craving for possessions. Once in a while, it is true, I have experienced a vague sense of regret at losing something, but never strongly enough to affirm positively or to contest with others my rights of possession.
This was so true of me that some years later I even watched in silence when my own wife was violated. I have tried insofar as possible to avoid getting involved in the sordid complications of human beings. I have been afraid of being sucked down into their bottomless whirlpool.
Tsuneko and I were lovers of just one night. She did not belong to me. It was un- likely that I would pretend to so imperious an emotion as "regret. It was because I felt sorry for Tsuneko, sorry that she should be obliged to accept Horiki's savage kisses while I watched. Once she h a d been defiled by Horiki she would no doubt have to leave m e. But my ardor was not positive enough for me to stop Tsuneko.
I experienced an instant of shock at her unhappiness; I thought, "It's all over now. I looked from Horiki to Tsuneko. I grinned.
He forced a smile. I haven't got any money. I felt I wanted to drink till I drowned in it. Tsuneko was in the eyes of the world unworthy even of a drunkard's kiss, a wretched woman who smelled of poverty. Astonishingly, in- credibly enough, this realization struck me with the force of a thunderbolt. I drank more that night than ever before in my life, more.
Yes, just as Horiki had said, she really was a tired, poverty-stricken woman and nothing more. But this thought itself was accompanied by a welling-up of a feeling of comradeship for this fellow-sufferer from poverty. The clash between rich and poor is a hack- neyed enough subject, but I am now convinced that it really is one of the eternal themes of drama. I felt pity for Tsuneko; for the first time in my life I was conscious of a positive if feeble movement of love in my heart.
I vomited. I passed out. When I woke Tsuneko was sitting by my pillow. I had been sleeping in her room on the second floor of the carpenter's house. Were you serious? You didn't come any more. What a complicated busi- ness it is, love and poverty. Suppose I work for you? Wouldn't that be all right? Towards dawn she pronounced for the first time the word "death. I consented easily to her proposal. Nevertheless I was still unable to persuade myself fully of the reality of this resolution to die.
Somehow there lurked an element of make-believe. The two of us spent that morning wandering around Asakusa. We went into a lunch stand and drank a glass of milk. She said, "You pay this time. It was less shame than horror that assaulted m e at that moment.
I suddenly saw before my eyes m y room in the lodging house, abso- lutely empty save for m y school uniform and the bedding—a bleak cell devoid of any object which might be pawned. My only other possessions were the kimono and coat I w a s wearing. These were the hard facts. I perceived w i t h clarity that I could not go on living. A s I stood there hesitating, she got up and looked inside my wallet.
It was painful as only the voice of the first woman I had ever loved could be painful. T h i s was a humiliation more strange than any I had tasted before, a humiliation I could not live with. I suppose I had still not managed to extricate myself from the part of the rich man's son. It was then I myself de- termined, this time as a reality, to kill myself. W e threw ourselves into the sea at Kamakura that night.
She untied her sash, saying she had borrowed it from a friend at the cafe, and left it folded neatly on a rock. I removed my coat and put it in the same spot. We entered the water together. She died. I was saved. My father's name also had some news value. I was confined in a hospital on the coast. A relative came from h o m e to see me and take care of necessary arrangements. Before he left he informed me that my father and all the rest of my family were so enraged that I might easily be disowned once and for all.
Such matters did not concern m e ; I thought instead of the dead Tsuneko, and, longing for her, I wept. Of all the people I had ever known, that miserable Tsuneko really was the only one I loved. A long letter which consisted of a string of fifty stanzas came from the girl at my lodging house. Fifty stanzas, each o n e beginning with the incredible words, "Please live on for me. They discovered at the hospital that my left lung was affected.
This was most fortunate for m e: Late that night the old policeman standing night duty in the room next to mine softly opened the door. Come here, next to the fire. I feigned an air of utter dejection. My jailor, despising me as a mere child w h o wouldn't know the difference, acted exactly as if he were charged with the investigation.
No doubt he was secretly hoping to while away the long autumn evening by extracting from me a con- fession in the nature of a pornographic story. I guessed his intent at once, and it was all I could do to re- strain the impulse to burst out laughing in his face. I made u p a confession absurd enough to satisfy— more or less—his prurient curiosity. I've got a pretty good idea now. We always take it into consideration when a prisoner answers everything honestly.
I hope y o u will do what you can to help me. In t h e morning I was called before the police chief. T h i s time it was the real examination. As soon as I opened the door and entered his office, t h e police chief said, "There's a handsome lad for you! It wasn't your fault, I can see. Your mother's to blame for having brought such a handsome boy into the world.
His words caught me off-guard, and made me as wretched as if I had been born de- formed, with a red macula covering half my face. After he finished his questioning, he filled out a form to send to the district attorney's office.
He commented as he wrote, "You mustn't neglect your health that way. You've been coughing blood, haven't you? The handkerchief was spattered with blood, but it was not blood from my throat. The night before I had been picking at a pimple under my ear, and the blood was from that pimple.
Realiz- ing at once that it would be to my advantage not to reveal the truth, I lowered my eyes and sanctimoni- ously murmured, "Yea. There must be someone, isn't there, who will guarantee you or offer bail?
He was a short-set man of forty, a bachelor and a henchman of my father's. I had also always thought of him as "Flatfish. I found it and called him. I asked if he would mind coming to Yokohama. Flatfish's tone when he answered was unrecognizably officious, but he agreed in the end to be my guarantor. I went back to the custody room. The police chief's loud voice reached m e as he barked out to the policeman, "Hey, somebody disinfect the tele- phone receiver. He's been coughing blood, yon know.
I was allowed to hide the rope under my coat when we went outside, but the young policeman gripped the end of the rope firmly. We went to Yoko- hama on the streetcar. The experience hadn't upset me in the least. I missed the custody room in the police station and even the old policeman. What, I wonder, makes me that way? When they tied me up as a criminal I actually felt relieved—a calm, relaxed feeling. Even now as I write down my recollections of those days I feel a really expansive, agreeable sensation.
But among m y otherwise nostalgic memories there is one harrowing disaster which I shall never be able to forget and which even now causes m e to break out into a cold sweat. He was a man of about forty, with an intelligent calm about h i m which I am tempted to call "honest good looks" in contrast to m y own alleged good looks which, even if true, certainly are tainted w i t h lewdness.
H e seemed so simple and straightforward that I let down my guard completely. I was listlessly recounting my story when suddenly I was seized with another fit of coughing. I took out my handkerchief. The blood stains caught my eye, and with ignoble opportunism I thought that this cough might also prove useful.
I added a couple of extra, exaggerated coughs for good measure and, m y mouth still covered by the handkerchief, I glanced at the district at- torney's face. The next instant h e asked with his quiet smile, "Was that real? It was worse, I am sure, even than when in high school I was plummeted into hell by that stupid Takeichi tapping me on the back and saying, "You did it on purpose. Some- times I have even thought that I should have pre- ferred to be sentenced to ten years imprisonment rather than meet with such gentle contempt from the district attorney.
I felt utterly wretched as I sat on a bench in the corridor outside the district attorney's office waiting for the arrival of my guarantor, Flat- fish.
I could see through the tall windows behind my bench the evening sky glowing in the sunset. Seagulls were flying by in a line which somehow suggested the curve of a woman's body.
The inglorious prophecy that women would fall for me turned out just as he said, but the happy one, that I should certainly become a great artist, failed to materialize.
I never managed to become anything more im- pressive than an unknown, second-rate cartoonist employed by the cheapest magazines.
I gathered that minute sums of money were remitted from home every month for my support, never directly to me, but secretly, to Flatfish. They apparently were sent by my brothers without my father's knowledge. That was all—every other connection with home was severed. Flatfish was invariably in a bad humor; even if I smiled to make myself agreeable, he would never return the smile. The change in him was so extraordinary as to inspire me with thoughts of how contemptible—or rather, how comic—human beings are who can metamorphize themselves as simply and effortlessly as they turn over their hands.
Flatfish seemed to be keeping an eye on me, as if I were very likely to commit suicide—he must have thought there was some danger I might throw myself into the sea after the woman—and he sternly forbade me to leave the house. Unable to drink or to smoke, I spent my whole days from the moment I got up until I went to bed trapped in my cubicle of a room, with nothing but old magazines to read.
I was lead- ing the life of a half-wit, and I had quite lost even the energy to think of suicide. Flatfish's house was near the Okubo Medical School. The shop itself was a long, narrow affair, the dusty interior of which contained nothing but shelf after shelf of useless junk. Needless to say, Flatfish did not depend for a living on the sale of this rubbish; he apparently made his money by performing such services as transferring possession of the secret property of one client to another—to avoid taxes.
Flatfish almost never waited in the shop. Usually he set out early in the morning in a great hurry, his face set in a scowl, leaving a boy of seventeen to look after the shop in his absence. Whenever this boy had noth- ing better to do, he used to play catch in the street with the children of the neighborhood. He seemed to consider the parasite living on the second floor a simpleton if not an outright lunatic. He used even to address me lectures in the manner of an older and wiser head.
Never having been able to argue with anybody, I submissively listened to his words, a weary though admiring expression on my face. However, there was undoubtedly some- thing strangely fish-like about the boy's eyes, leading me to wonder if the gossip might not be true. But if this were the case, this father and son led a re- markably cheerless existence. Sometimes, late at night, they would order noodles from a neighborhood shop—just for the two of them, without inviting m e —and they ate in silence, not exchanging so much as a word.
The hoy almost always prepared the food in Flatfish's house, and three times a day he would carry on a separate tray meals for the parasite on the second floor. Flatfish and the boy ate their meals in the dank little room under the stairs, so hurriedly that I could hear the clatter of plates. One evening towards the end of March Flatfish— had he enjoyed some unexpected financial success? The host him- self was impressed b y the unwonted delicacy of sliced tuna, and in his admiring delight h e expansively offered a little sake even to his listless hanger-on.
I suddenly became nostalgic for the days when I used to go from bar to bar drinking, and even for Horiki. I yearned with such desperation for "free- dom" that I became weak and tearful. Ever since coming to this house I h a d lacked all incentive even to play the clown; I had merely lain prostrate under the contemptuous glances of Flat- fish and the boy.
Flatfish himself seemed disinclined to indulge in long, heart-to-heart talks, and for m y part no desire stirred within me to run after him with complaints. Flatfish pursued his discourse. So, you see, your rehabilitation depends entirely on yourself. If you mend your ways and bring m e your problems—seriously, I mean—I will cer- tainly see what I can do to h e l p you. I have always been baffled by these precautions so strict as to be useless, and by the intensely irritating little ma- neuvers surrounding them.
In the end I have felt past caring; I have laughed them away with my clowning, or surrendered to them abjectly with a silent nod of the head, in the attitude of defeat. In later years I came to realize that if Flatfish had at the time presented me with a simple statement of the facts, there would have been no untoward consequences. But as a result of his unnecessary pre- cautions, or rather, of the incomprehensible vanity and love of appearances of the people of the world, I was subjected to a most dismal set of experiences.
How much better things would have been if only Flatfish had said something like this, "I'd like you to enter a school beginning in the April term. Your family has decided to send you a more adequate allowance once you have entered school. If I had been told that, I should probably have done what Flatfish asked. But thanks to hia intolerably prudent, circumlocutions manner of speech, I only felt irritable, and this caused the whole course of my life to be altered.
What do you yourself want to do n o w?