Download ronaldweinland.info The poignant and fascinating story of a young man who is caught between the breakup of the traditions of a northern Japanese aristocratic. 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 .
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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. PDF | The economic, political, and psychological devastation of the World from Japan - No Longer Human () by Osamu Dazai, and one. 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 .
Furuya's adaptation of No Longer Human takes place nearly seventy years after Dazai's original. Set in modern day Tokyo, Dazai's tale details the life of a young man originally from a well-off family from Japan's far north. Yozo Oba is a troubled soul incapable of revealing his true self to others. A weak constitution and the lingering trauma from some abuse administered by a relative forces him to uphold a facade of hollow jocularity since high school. The series is composed of three parts, referred to in the novel as "memorandums," which chronicle the life of Oba from his teens to late twenties. The comic is narrated by the artist, Furuya himself, making appearances at the start of each volume.
Ask him to come here at once. I got one of the menservants to bang at random on the keys of the piano our house was well equipped with most amenities even though we were in the country , and I made everyone roar with laughter b y cavorting in a wild Indian dance to his hit and miss tune. My brother took a flashbulb photograph' of m e performing my dance. When the picture was developed you could see my peepee through the opening between the two handkerchiefs w h i c h served for a loincloth, and this too occasioned much merriment.
It was perhaps to be accounted a triumph which surpassed my own ex- pectations. I became a n adept in the exploits of Dr. Nonsentius and Dr. Know- itall, and was intimately acquainted with all manner of spooky stories, tales of adventure, collections of jokes, songs and the like.
I was never short of material for the absurd stories I solemnly related t o make t h e members of m y family laugh. But what of my schooling? I was well on the way to winning respect. But the idea of being respected used to intimidate me exces- sively. My definition of a "respected" man was one who had succeeded almost completely in hoodwinking people, but who was finally seen through by some omniscient, omnipotent person who ruined him and made him suffer a shame worse than death.
Even sup- posing I could deceive most human beings into respect- ing me, one of them would know t h e truth, and sooner or later other human beings would learn from him. What would be the wrath and vengeance of those who realized how they had been tricked! That was a hair- raising thought.
I acquired my reputation at school less because I was the son of a rich family than because, in the vulgar parlance, I had "brains. Dur- ing recitation time at school I would draw cartoons and in the recess periods I made the other children in the class laugh with the explanations to my draw- ings.
In the composition class I wrote nothing but funny stories. My teacher admonished me, but that didn't make me stop, for I knew that he secretly en- joyed my stories. One day I submitted a story written in a particularly doleful style recounting how when I was taken by my mother on the train to Tokyo, I had made water in a spittoon in the corridor.
But at the time I had not been ignorant that it was a spit- toon; I deliberately made my blunder, pretending a childish innocence.
I was so sure that the teacher would laugh that I stealthily followed him to the staff room. As soon as he left the classroom the teacher pulled out my composition from the stack written by my classmates. H e began t o read as he walked down the hall, and was soon snickering. H e went into the staff room and a minute or so later—was it w h e n he finished it? I watched h i m press my paper on the other teachers. I felt very pleased with myself.
A mischievous little i m p. I had succeeded in escaping from being respected. My report card was all A's except for deportment, where it was never better than a C or a D. This too was a source of great amusement to my family.
My true nature, however, was one diametrically opposed to the role of a mischievous i m p. Already by that time I had been taught a lamentable thing b y the maids and menservants; I was being corrupted. I now think that to perpetrate such a thing on a small child is the ugliest, vilest, crudest crime a human being can commit. But I endured it. I even felt as if it enabled me to see one more particular aspect of human beings.
I smiled in my weakness. If I had formed the habit of telling the truth I might perhaps have been able to confide unabashedly to my father or mother about the crime, but I could not folly understand even my own parents. To appeal for help to any human being —I could expect nothing from that expedient. Sup- posing I complained to my father or my mother, or to the police, the government—I wondered if in the end I would not be argued into silence by someone in good graces with the world, by the excuses of which the world approved.
It is only too obvious that favoritism inevitably exists: So I said nothing of the truth. Some perhaps will deride me. When did you become a Christian anyway?
There was something that happened when I was a small boy. A celebrated figure of the political party to which my father belonged had come to deliver a speech in our town, and I had been taken by the servants to the theatre to hear him. The house was packed. Everybody i n town who was especially friendly to my father was present and enthusiastically applauding. When t h e speech was over t h e audience filtered out in threes and fives into the night.
As they set out for home on t h e snow-covered roads they were scathingly commenting on the meeting. I could dis- tinguish among the voices those of my father's closest friends complaining i n tones almost of anger about h o w inept my father's opening remarks had been, and h o w difficult it was to make head or tail out of the great man's address.
Even the servants, when asked b y my mother about the meeting, an- swered as if it were their spontaneous thought, that it h a d been really interesting. These were the self- same servants w h o had been bitterly complaining on the way home that political meetings are the most boring thing in the world.
This, however, is only a minor example. I am convinced that human life is filled with many pure, happy, serene examples of insincerity, truly splendid of their kind—of people deceiving one another with- out strangely enough any wounds being inflicted, of people who seem unaware even that they are de- ceiving one another. But I have no special interest in instances of mutual deception.
I myself spent the whole day long deceiving human beings with my clowning. I have not been able to work up much con- cern over the morality prescribed in textbooks of ethics under such names as "righteousness. Human beings never did teach me that abstruse secret. In short, I believe that the reason why I did not tell anyone about that loathesome crime perpetrated on me by the servants was not because of distrust for human beings, nor of course because of Christian leanings, but because the human beings around me had rigorously sealed me off from the world of trust or distrust.
Even my parents at times displayed at- titudes which were hard for me to understand. I also have the impression that many women have been able, instinctively, to sniff out this loneliness of mine, which I confided to no one, and this in later years was to become one of the causes of my being taken advantage of in so many ways.
Women found in me a man who could keep a love secret. Every April when the new school year was about to begin these trees would dis- play their dazzling blossoms and their moist brown leaves against the blue of the sea. Soon a snowstorm of blossoms would scatter innumerable petals into the water, flecking the surface with points of white which the waves carried back to the shore. Stylized cherry blossoms flowered even on the badge of the regulation school cap and on the buttons of our uniforms.
A distant relative of mine had a house nearby, which was one reason why my father had especially selected for me this school of cherry blossoms by the sea. I was left in the care of the family, whose house was so close to the school that even after the morning bell had rung I could still make it to my class in time if I ran. That was the kind of lazy student I was, but I nevertheless managed, thanks to my accustomed antics, to win popularity with my schoolmates.
This was my first experience living in a strange town. I found it far more agreeable than my native place. One might attribute this, perhaps, to the fact that my clowning had by this time become so much a part of me that it was no longer such a strain to trick others.
I wonder, though, if it was not due instead to the incontestable difference in the problem in- volved in performing before one's own family and strangers, or in one's own town and elsewhere. This problem exists no matter how great a genius one may be. An actor dreads most the audience in his home town; I imagine the greatest actor in the world would be quite paralyzed in a room where all his family and relatives were gathered to watch him.
I h a d moreover been quite a success. It was inconceivable that so talented an actor would fail away from home. The fear of human beings continued to writhe in my breast—I am not sure whether more or less intensely than before—but m y acting talents h a d un- questionably matured. I could always convulse the classroom with laughter, and even as t h e teacher pro- tested what a good class it would be if only I were not in it, h e would be laughing behind his hand.
At a word from me even the military drill instructor, whose more usual idiom was a barbarous, thunderous roar, would burst into helpless laughter. Just when I had begun to relax m y guard a bit, fairly confident that I had succeeded by now in con- cealing completely my true identity, I was stabbed in the back, quite unexpectedly. The assailant, like most people w h o stab in the back, bordered on being a simpleton—the puniest boy in the class, whose scrof- ulous face and floppy jacket with sleeves too long for him was complemented by a total lack of profi- ciency in his studies and by such clumsiness in military drill and physical training that he was perpetually designated as an "onlooker.
Deliberately assuming as solemn a face as I could muster, I lunged overhead at the bar, shouting with the effort. I missed the bar and sailed on as if I were making a broad jump, landing with a thud in the sand on the scat of my pants. This failure was entirely premeditated, but everybody burst out laughing, exactly as I had planned. I got to m y feet with a rueful smile and was brushing the Hand from my pants when Takeichi, who had crept up from somewhere behind, poked me in the back.
H e mur- mured, "You did it on purpose. I might have guessed that someone would detect that I had deliberately unused the bar, but that Takeichi should have been the one came as a bolt from the blue. I felt as if I h a d seen the world before me burst in an instant into the rag- ing flames of hell.
It was all I could do to suppress a wild shriek of terror. T h e ensuing days were imprinted with my anxiety and dread. I continued on the surface making every- body laugh with my miserable clowning, but n o w and then painful sighs escaped my lips.
Whatever I did Takeichi would see through it, and I was sure he would soon start spreading the word to everyone he saw. If it were possible, I felt, I would like to keep a twenty-four hours a day surveillance over Takeichi, never stirring from him, morning, noon or night, to make sure that he did not divulge the secret. I brooded over what I should do: I would de- vote the hours spent with h i m to persuading h i m that my antics were not "on purpose" but the genuine article; if thing9 went well I would like to become his inseparable friend; but if this proved utterly im- possible, I had no choice but to pray for his death.
Typically enough, t h e one thing that never occurred to me was to kill him. During the course of my life I have wished innumerable times that I might meet with a violent death, but I have never once desired to kill anybody.
I thought that in killing a dreaded adversary I might actually be bringing h i m happiness. In order to win over Takeichi I clothed my face in the gentle beguiling smile of the false Christian.
I strolled everywhere with him, my arm lightly around his scrawny shoulders, my head tilted affectionately towards him. I frequently would invite him in honeyed, cajoling tones to come and play in the house where I was lodging. But instead of an answer h e al- ways gave m e only blank stares in return. One day after school was let out—it must have b e e n in the early summer—there was a sudden down- pour. Ju6t as I was about to rush outside, I noticed Takeichi hovering dejectedly in the entrance way.
I said, "Let's go. I'll lend you my umbrella. W h e n we arrived home I nuked my aunt to dry our jackets. I had succeeded in luring Takeichi to m y room. The household consisted of my aunt, a woman in h e r fifties, and my two cousins, the older of whom was a tall, frail, bespectacled girl of about thirty she h a d been married at one time but was later separated , and the younger a short, round-faced girl who looked fresh out of high school.
The ground floor of the house was given over to a shop where small quantities of stationery supplies and sporting goods were offered for sale, but the principal source of income wag the rent from the five or six tenements built by my late uncle. Takeichi, standing haplessly in my room, said, "My ears hurt.
The lobes seemed filled to the bursting with pus. I simulated an exaggerated concern. It must hurt. Takeichi lay on the floor with his head on my lap, and I painstakingly swabbed his ears. Even Takeichi seemed not to be aware of the hypocrisy, the scheming, behind my actions.
Far from it—his comment as he lay there with his head pillowed in my lap was, " bet lots of women will fall for you!
This, I was to learn in later years, was a kind of demoniacal prophecy, more horrible than Takeichi could have realized. Once these expressions put in an appearance, no matter how solemn the place, the silent cathedrals of melancholy crumble, leaving nothing but an im- pression of fatuousness. It is curious, but the cathe- drals of melancholy are not necessarily demolished if one can replace the vulgar "What a messy business it is to be fallen for" by the more literary "What un- easiness lies in being loved.
No, to speak in those terms of the atmosphere engendered by so vulgar an expression as "to fall for" is to betray a precocity of sentiment not even worthy of the dialogue of the romantic lead in a musical comedy; I certainly was not moved by the farcical, self-satisfied emotions suggested b y the phrase "to have a faint inkling.
In m y immediate family women outnum- bered the men, and many of my cousins were girls. There was also the maidservant of the "crime. Never- theless, it was with very much the sensation of tread- ing on thin ice that I associated with these girls.
I could almost never guess their motives. I was in the dark; at times I made indiscreet mistakes which brought me painful wounds.
These wounds, unlike the scars from the lashing a man might give, cut in- wards very deep, like an internal hemorrhage, bring- ing intense discomfort. Once inflicted it was extremely hard to recover from such wounds. Women sleep so soundly t h e y seem to b e dead.
W h o knows? Women may l i v e in order to sleep. These and various other generalizations were products of an observation of women 6ince boyhood days, but m y conclusion was that though women appear to belong to the same species as man, they are actually quite different creatures, and these incomprehensible, insidious beings have, fantastic as it seems, always looked after me.
In m y case such an expression as "to b e fallen for" or even "to b e loved" is not in the least appropriate; perhaps it describes the situation more accurately to say that I was "looked after. When I played the jester men did not go on laughing indefinitely. I knew that if I got carried away by m y success in entertaining a man and overdid the role, m y comedy would fall flat, and I was always careful to quit at a suitable place.
Women, on the other hand, have no sense of modera- tion. No matter how long I went on with my antics they would ask for more, and I would become ex- hausted responding to their insatiable demands for encores. They really laugh an amazing amount of the time.
I suppose one can say that women stuff them- selves with far more pleasures than men. Their knock on my door, no matter how often it came, never failed to startle me so that I almost jumped in fright. I would launch into some silly story, miles removed from what I was thinking. Put them on.
Here, take these glasses. The clown meekly put on the older girl's glasses. My cousins were convulsed with laughter. Exactly like Harold Lloyd. I stood up. They laughed all the harder. 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 downloading 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. Later, he falls into a relationship with a young and naive woman who wants him to stop drinking. He is eventually confined to a mental institution and, upon release, moves to an isolated place, concluding the story with numb self-reflection after profound despair.
Movie[ edit ] Ningen Shikkaku was adapted to film in , the th anniversary of Dazai's birth. The film was directed by Genjiro Arato , the producer responsible for the award-winning Zigeunerweisen in Filming started in July, and it was released on February 20, Still, his life spirals toward self-destruction. Actress Satomi Ishihara 22 plays one of the several women in his life, and the only one he marries. The film was marketed outside Japan under the title Fallen Angel.
Movie is directed by photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa. Anime film[ edit ] A new 3D film adaptation titled Human Lost has been announced. Fuminori Kizaki is directing the film at Polygon Pictures , and Katsuyuki Motohiro is serving as executive director. It is set to premiere in Q4 An English edition was published by Vertical, Inc.