The True Fundamental of the Body is Nothing but the Body Itself

‘The “I” with which I shall occupy myself will not be the “I” that relates back strictly to myself, but something else, some residue, that remains after all the other words I have uttered have flowed back into me, something that neither relates back nor flows back.

As I pondered the nature of that “I,” I was driven to the conclusion that the “I” in question corresponded precisely with the physical space that I occupied. What I was seeking, in short, was a language of the body.

Interestingly enough, my stubborn refusal to perceive the body was itself due to a beautiful misconception in my idea of what the body was. I did not know that a man’s body never shows itself as “existence.” But as I saw things, it ought to have made itself apparent, clearly and unequivocally, as existence.

When I was small, I would watch the young men parade the portable shrine through the streets at the local shrine festival. They were intoxicated with their task, and their expressions were of an indescribable abandon, their faces averted; some of them even rested the backs of their necks against the shafts of the shrine they shouldered, so that their eyes gazed up at the heavens. And my mind was much troubled by the riddle of what it was that those eyes reflected.

As to the nature of the intoxicating vision that I detected in all this violent physical stress, my imagination provided no clue. For many a month, therefore, the enigma continued to occupy my mind; it was only much later, after I had begun to learn the language of the flesh, that I undertook to help in shouldering a portable shrine, and was at last able to solve the puzzle that had plagued me since infancy. They were simply looking at the sky. In their eyes there was no vision: only the reflection of the blue and absolute skies of early autumn.’

Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel, translated by John Bester.

‘The theology of Mazdaism, the doctrine of bodies regained after the last judgement, in Christianism, Tertullian’s small book De Carne Christi, all of these have been fundamentals which have underlain my present thinking. I do not believe in essences devoid of flesh. There, as on other occasions, I discovered once more the thinking of Nietzsche, who had once claimed that the Greeks were profound through being superficial. Indeed, the glory of the sensual world is not, except perhaps as  a marginal note, the radiance of the trans-sensual world, and the true fundamental of the body is nothing but the body itself. What justifies appearance is not essence. In contrast to Goethe, I do not believe that the justification of the world is its symbolic nature, but its overwhelming literalness. To say that flowers redeem themselves by their smell is just as inane as saying that the soul struggles, miserable, imprisoned and condemned, when the body knows the pleasure of another body. Since our life is a consequence of words we use, what is difficult to express in words is difficult to express in life as well. Nietzsche has said that the surest way to do something wrong is to do it consciously…We know more by living than by thinking, because the inner acts (including those of a physiological nature) – ignored by our awareness, which plays its own part in the continuation of our lives – are all more replete with intelligence than the acts which become words in the process of assuming the world through awareness…I, for one, still live today in the horizon of that mutation which would eventually allow man to think of the world and himself in such terms as those in which, when it does not rebel against its own fundamentals (as in cancer), our organism thinks of its life.’

Horia-Roman Patapievici, Flying Against the Arrow: An Intellectual in Ceausescu’s Romania.




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