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  • Writer's pictureNathan Nicolau

Mishima—A Life in Four Chapters: An Essay in Four Paragraphs

While rewatching the film for the third time, my wife came in during one of my favorite scenes: a flashback sequence where Mishima reminisces on his troubled past as the voiceover reads from Mishima’s Sun and Steel before transitioning to a theatrical adaptation of The Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

The subtitles read, “In my earliest years, I realized life consisted of two contradictory elements: one was words, which could change the world. The other was the world itself, which had nothing to do with words. For the average person, the body precedes language.”

My wife—who knew enough Japanese to have a basic conversation—looked puzzled. “He said none of that,” she blurted. “He was talking about his aunt. He said obasan.”

A translation error in Mishima’s work? A creative decision from the enigmatic Schrader? Is my love for the movie clouding its message? The body precedes language.

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