Language fails. Deleuze says, summarizing Spinoza, “the only question that we don’t even know [savons] what a body is capable of, we prattle on about the soul and the mind and we don’t know what a body can do.” After an early life devoted to the word, Yukio Mishima turned to the body, to discover what a body was capable of, as an actor, as a body builder. An actor instrumentalizes the body, in service to language sometimes, but really gestures toward something more. A body builder counts - reps, sets, weights - to break the body in order to strengthen it, to gesture towards something more. The fetish, per Freud, emerges when a desiring subject fails to reconcile reproductive impulses, replacing the object of desire with a symbol. The fetish becomes not merely a substitute for the phallus, but something more. The “healthy” drive towards procreation, towards life, becomes an erotic impulse towards death. The image, the symbol, the gesture, the body, confront the limitations of language. The body, of course, also fails. The gesture remains. Violence, like eroticism, does not speak. When Mishima spoke to the soldiers at the military base before his ritual suicide, they couldn’t hear him.
“I cherished a romantic impulse toward death. . . . It remained for me some day to achieve something, to destroy something. That was where the steel came in. . . . The goal of my life was to acquire all the various attributes of the warrior. . . . Body and spirit had never blended. . . . Somewhere, there must be a higher principle that manages to bring the two together and reconcile them. That principle, it occurred to me, was death.” Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel
Galerie Pepe is pleased to present Echoes of Mishima a three-person exhibition of Japanese artists Go Mishima, Sadao Hasegawa and Tamotsu Yato. September 21st - November 4th, 2023