After succumbing to the torturous assault of UV rays from reading the pdf version of Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima a couple of weeks ago, I finally resumed reading it in paperback form after acquiring a copy from an online bookstore. It is a pleasure reading a book in all its materiality. Thank god for online bookstores.
While waiting for that book to fall on my hands, I read Jose Dalisay’s Killing Time in a Warm Place, a very finely-written novel, my first Dalisay actually. Here, in a semi-autobiographical slur, Dalisay tells of his youth as a son from the province, eventually going through adolescence amid the storm of Martial Law. Noel Bulaong, the protagonist, becomes a radical involved in the underground movement until his adulthood wherein he fell into the humdrum routine of middle-class pessimism. I was quite disappointed with how the story went, for it lost its intensity toward the end, becoming a self-aware confesionario, ‘forgive-me-for-I-have-sinned’ bourgeois apology. I tend to forgive these kinds of literary sensibilities, but the promising writing gave way to all-too-defensive ruminations.
I bought Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom for P10 at Booksale. Believe me, that P10 must have been spent on more profitable ventures. Fromm’s intellectual experiment just didn’t hit the spot for me. The book sounds a conspiracy theory book.
I also read Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, something that a friend of mine caught him surprised, saying that the book is a very popular book among bookish teenagers and he assumed that I have already read it. I really enjoyed it. Salinger really knows what goes in the mind of disturbed teenagers, bookish or not.
I caught Rius’ Cuba for Beginners, a funny little book on the history of Cuba and the continuing struggle of the Cuban people against the threats of US imperialism and its domestic problems. I read it for about an hour and a half. Then I reread it about three times more.
Going back to Mishima’s Runaway Horses, I am slowly having a new reading of Mishima. Previously, I am quite content to read him as a staunch nationalist and defender of Japan’s cultural and political heritage. But now, in the middle mark of Runaway Horses, it seems to me that he is ‘parodying’ (forgive me for I cannot find the proper word) his own characters. Isao, the main character of this novel, wanted to bring about a Restoration of power to the Emperor by staging an uprising that will assassinate the leading propagators of corruption, namely, the industrialists, the bankers, and their local cohorts. But Mishima also reveals the crack in Isao’s character. It seems as if Isao is only using this uprising as the perfect moment for him to die with purity and honor. While his convictions are sincere, Isao’s personal fantasy comingles with these convictions. It seems to me, at this point in time, that Mishima himself is not actually a nationalist but is merely a man who laments the end of the heroic age, where the prospect of death is greeted not with absurdity but with pure, unadulterated resolve. Mishima’s dismay of capitalism, seems to rooted in his nostalgic and ideal concept of nation. Bah, I gotta read on.