Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murakami: Iranian Revolution, Nationalism and Liberal Monoculture

| |

Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murakami: Iranian Revolution, Nationalism and  Liberal Monoculture

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Haruki Murakami and Yukio Mishima provide insights into two different worlds, irrespective if this applies to religion, fiction, peace, corruption, nationalism and a whole array of different and complex areas. If two words were used called “banality” and “genius” to describe these two individuals, then clearly people would have very different opinions about where the “labels” belong. However, in Buddhism, whereby the “ism” is vague and pandering to sensitivities, where does the truth begin and end? Likewise, does the truth exist?

However, in the world of Mishima you do have “truth,” “conviction” and “real love” which for him was embedded within his nationalist yearnings. Of course, “nationalism” is extremely complex because like any thought process it is extremely expansive and vague at the same time. Yet, for Mishima it appeared to belong within his soul because this conviction would ultimately lead to his death. This “raw emotion” and “love” is outside the boundaries of Murakami and nearly all writers.

Murakami is a million miles away from Mishima when it comes to thinking, style and motivation. Internationally, Murakami is extremely popular because many of his books like IQ84 have won international acclaim. Despite this, in the world of Mishima, he appears to have moved away from his roots in accordance with the thought patterns of Mishima. After all, the so-called “progressive nature” of Murakami is based within elitist concepts which feel more at home within monocultures and allegedly more liberal values.

In this sense, Murakami belongs to the age of “defeat” whereby endless barriers which created so much creativity are now being demolished by the pursuit of “the liberal monoculture,” which is chipping away relentlessly at so many cultures. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 unleashed many competing forces but in time the conservative Shia clerics would emerge victorious. It was these clerics, irrespective if people supported or opposed, which crushed the French Revolution and Russian Revolution within their counter-revolution. This is where the divergence between Murakami and Mishima can be felt despite both individuals being outside the Iranian Revolution.

Murakami fits well within the world of literature because he is a continuation whereby the writer lacks real meaning. With Mishima he moves beyond the word whereby “action” and “love” abounds within the need to preserve a precious identity, which is being devoured by the onset of modernity and liberalism. The world of multi-cultural values, materialism, destroying the “old books of religion” and crushing rich traditions in order to pander to political correctness, is now in vogue. This is the world of Murakami which Mishima feared because Japan, the United Kingdom, and so many nations, have changed within such a short space of time that only “the ghosts” remain which link the past

It appears that the world of Murakami is winning because “the old world is being crushed” endlessly, whereby institutions which provided a bedrock for over a thousand years have just been thrown out of the window. Of course, in distant Iran, and now encroaching once more within the Sunni Muslim world, a new conservatism is emerging which is challenging the world of “liberal monoculture.” This world is also outside of Mishima because the “liberal monoculture” and the “Salafi monoculture” are equally destructive because both forces impinge on the indigenous culture. Therefore, while the Iranian Revolution belongs to the world of Iran, whereby the Persian and Zoroastrian legacy maintains a rich independence, despite the ethnic mosaic of Iran; the “Salafi” and “liberal” monocultures desire to crush the independence and indigenous cultures of other nations.

Mishima states in Runaway Horses (page 236) that “Here is the source of my purity, the warrant for my purity,” he told himself. “I am certain that it is here. When the time comes for me to turn my sword against myself, lilies will surely rise from the morning dew and open their petals to the rising sun. Their scent will purify the stench of my blood. So be it! How can I have any more doubts?”

This passion was felt by Shia Muslims who sacrificed themselves against Iraq during the brutal Iran-Iraq war. The raw religious fervor meets with the words and deeds of Mishima who would also sacrifice himself but without a major political force to back-up his convictions. Therefore, while the Basij fused their religious fervor alongside the indigenous patriotism of Iran in accordance with the ruling clerics – Mishima spoke out in the same manner and acted upon his convictions despite battling against the forces of modernity in Japan.

It is this raw passion which takes Mishima to new heights whereby writers like Murakami and others can only write. Indeed, in the later stages of Mishima’s life even “the word” became a feminist and liberal enemy because the “man of steel” was now moving towards his “true conviction.” This meant that Mishima, just like the Basij, but in a completely different setting, was fighting for a counter revolution in order to protect society from decay and familiarity.

The man of “banality,” Murakami, is still a genius within the world he belongs to because he managed to rise above so many others who failed. Murakami is also a deep thinker within the world that suits him. Also, he connects with his readership because he belongs to the “changing sands” which are eating away at the “old world.”

In another article that I wrote about Mishima I comment that “The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel, Confessions of a Mask.”  Now Mishima was building up to be a man of strength and the Nietzsche “ubermensch” was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima.”

I also state that “Mishima, however, can be felt in the fervor of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the communist take-over in China, the disillusioned in all societies who see a crumbling indigenous culture being swept away by globalization and a growing monoculture.”

“The first aspect, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the communist take-over in China, was based on self-made illusions because both events unleashed suffering, brutality, and mass persecution, especially in the early stages.”

“However, the second aspect, fearing the destructive nature of globalization, a growing monoculture, societies disconnecting with past history and culture, is more understandable, irrespective if people disagree.”

It may well be that Murakami and “the liberal monoculture” will win out across large parts of the earth. Also, it may well be that the “Salafi monoculture” will dominate in parts of the Sunni Muslim world and encroach on the non-Muslim and non-Salafi Muslim world. However, in the heart of Mishima – but for very different reasons – the world of the Iranian Revolution and the uniqueness of the indigenous culture of Iran is what appeals to the heart of Mishima. In other words, Mishima saw the sacredness of powerful indigenous cultures irrespective of faith which needed to survive by a counter revolution. Yet, unlike Iran, he was an outsider whereby his thinking was going against the grain. Despite this, and all his weaknesses, Mishima had a raw energy which remains outside the boundaries of Murakami because he belongs to the counter revolution and the need to preserve indigenous culture.

Mishima belongs to the uniqueness of culture which can be found in the rich diversity of indigenous thought patterns. This richness can fuse with various concepts in order to counteract against the flows of modernity and a liberal monoculture which seeks to crush conservatism and self-identity. Murakami belongs to this “self-crushing world” along with the majority of authors. Therefore, while the crushing modernity of Murakami will keep on churning out similar types of writers, all with their own identities but trapped within modern convention; the Mishima’s of this world are hard to find and getting rarer.


Yukio Mishima Cyber Museum


Tribute to Yukio Mishima

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mishima.htm     – Yukio Mishima


Haruki Murakami

http://www.murakami.ch/main_4.html   Haruki Murakami



Comments are closed