Osamu Dazai’s The Setting Sun gave me a foriegn sort of feeling inside, like I felt different, not in a something is about to happen way, exactly. Different when you’re yourself playing at being someone else? I wish I could match my heartbeat with its pulse and my impulses as I lapsed into its rhythm. I was creeped out. I was in awe. The best I can do is that it was the kind of foriegness that Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy had. I mean, it isn’t a fantasy in the genre sense of the word. But
The book jacket says that Kazuko is “a young aristocrat who deliberately abandons her class”. Well, what class was left? They don’t have any money. I think it is more embracing those fantasy feelings inside that make you feel like something could happen in those moments when you try to know yourself (keep yourself?). She met her brother’s drinking buddy, a writer Mr. Uehara, six years before.
“One day six years ago a faint pale rainbow formed in my breast. It was not love or passion, but the colors of the rainbow have deepened and intensified as time has gone by. Never once have I lost it from sight. The rainbow that spans the sky when it clears after a shower soon fades away, but the rainbow in a person’s heart does not seem to disappear that way. Please ask him. I wonder what he really thinks of me. I wonder if he has thought of me as of a rainbow in the sky after a shower. And has it already faded away? If it has, I must erase my own rainbow. But unless I first erase my life, the rainbow in my breast will not fade away.”
I’m inclined to believe it is one of those loves that could as easily have not happened at all as it had started. That’s kinda why I liked it. I could be basing that on my own “loves” that were a lot of talking myself into and build ups grown out of wanting something to be there. Blindnesses… Because of that, I can picture the rainbow and feel its shape. It is colorless because it is blind.
“At this moment, as I stood on the verge of tears, the words “realism” and “romanticism” welled up within me. I have no sense of realism. And that this very fact might be what permits me to go on living sends cold chills through my whole body.”
Twelve years have passed and I have yet to progress a step beyond the Sarashina Diary stage. What in the world have I been doing all this time? I have never felt myself drawn toward revolution, and I have not even known love. The older and wiser heads of the world have always described revolution and love to us as the two most foolish and loathsome of human activities. Before the war, even during the war, we were convinced of it. Since the defeat, however, we no longer trust the older and wiser heads and have come to feel that the opposite of whatever they say is the truth about life. Revolution and love are in fact the best, most pleasurable things in the world, and we realize it is precisely because they are so good that the older and wiser heads have spitefully fobbed off on us their sour grapes of a lie. This I want to believe implicitly: Man was born for love and revolution.”
“I want to believe”
“I must go on living. And, though it may be childish of me, I can’t go on in simple compliance. From now on I must struggle with the world. I thought that Mother might well be the last of those who can end their lives beautifully and sadly, struggling with no one, neither hating nor betraying anyone. In the world to come there will be no room for such people. The dying are beautiful, but to live, to survive- those things somehow seem hideous and contaminated with blood.”
Kazuko’s relationship with her depressed mother seems to be a mirror image of my own with my mom, like exact opposites in feeling as flip sides. My side has worms and Kazuko’s side has snakes (like the snake omens her mama fears, maybe). Kazuko values the beautiful uselessness of her mother (the natural aristocrat), craves her love, admires the defeat as she resolves to not do what the “victims” (her mother, brother and love Mr. Uehara) all give into (giving up, rather). It was kinda creepy feeling to me that she worshipped her mother as if she were a doll or on a stage screen instead of someone to depend on.
When the room became faintly light, I stared at the face of the man sleeping beside me. It was the face of a man soon to die. It was an exhausted face. The face of a victim. A precious victim.”
“The revolution is far from taking place. It needs more, many more valuable, unfortunate victims. In the present world, the most beautiful thing is a victim.”
What use is the figures and ideals? Start a revolution without a Jesus love. Victims. Huh. I love Kazuko for doing something, no matter where the love came from (throwing herself blindness, girlish fantasies, whatever). Staying the same as helplessness is only as glamorous as staring at a picture. You can’t take it with you. My point, I guess, is that her mama never fought for anything. Kazuko may have loved the victims but I love the revolution. They’ll leave you alone every time, those victims.
Little girls forever… What is that foriegn feeling, anyway?