Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui
Va-t-il nous déchirer avec un coup d’aile ivre
Ce lac dur oublié que hante sous le givre
Le transparent glacier des vols qui n’ont pas fui !

Un cygne d’autrefois se souvient que c’est lui
Magnifique mais qui sans espoir se délivre
Pour n’avoir pas chanté la région où vivre
Quand du stérile hiver a resplendi l’ennui.

Tout son col secouera cette blanche agonie
Par l’espace infligée à l’oiseau qui le nie,
Mais non l’horreur du sol où le plumage est pris.

Fantôme qu’à ce lieu son pur éclat assigne,
Il s’immobilise au songe froid de mépris
Que vêt parmi l’exil inutile le Cygne.

Stéphane Mallarmé Le cygne



My grandfather told me that he had seen Osamu Dazai at a literary gathering before his death. My grandfather and Dazai were at the same university. However, my grandfather was poor, so his method of admission was different from that of Dazai and his friends. My grandfather was a brilliant man at the time, so much so that the state paid for him. Such was my grandfather’s desire to become a poet.

He seemed particularly fond of Mallarmé and was confident that he was Mallarmé’s successor because he was glittery. In this context, he seems to have once attended a meeting where Osamu Dazai was present. From his point of view, Dazai at that time looked like an idiot. Nevertheless, those around Dazai listened to him happily. When such Dazai discussed Mallarmé, my grandfather’s heart could not contain his anger. The writer he likes is told in a distorted way by someone he dislikes, but that person is better able to publish a book. My grandfather told me about this reality.If anything, feelings have left more of an impression on me than my grandfather’s words. This is because he, who spoke calmly about everything, was unusually excited and spoke of the scene as if it were right in front of him. I thought I could see a little of the scene of those days, the elated gathering of unknown writers and revolutionaries in a small, cramped room. My grandfather disgraced the gathering as a wayward affair, but he told me. ‘He talks about the boring things in the world in a funny way. People find it fun to be together with that. That sounds like you. Why don’t you become a writer? Because I never had that talent.”

At the time, I was in primary school and didn’t know much about Mallarmé or Dazai. In his study, Mallarmé and Valéry were on a bookshelf with a glass door like a sanctuary, and it was forbidden to open it. “If you want them, I’ll give you money for them,” he used to say. But I had a hunch about what kind of literature he liked.When I then went straight into law and psychology, which I did not do immediately, my grandfather said. ‘Don’t forget. Poetry is the greatest. But I didn’t listen. Inwardly, I instinctively wanted to surpass my grandfather’s bright glittering.


When I was a student, psychology’s ‘unconscious’ was already oriented towards denial. The unconscious does not exist’ and the epistemology of the unconscious in phenomenology, in the midst of Jaspers’ scathing critique of Freud, worked to expand own horizons as much as possible.

I also wrote a dissertation on the collective unconscious as a student, it was like looking verge of death ‘fact’. After finishing one novel that drew on this experience, I moved my thoughts to the phenomenology of philosophy. Jung’s psychotherapy was confession, clarification, education and transformation, but it is probably self-evident how psychotherapy was formulated, since today we are mostly not told about such things. I won’t say much on this point, which touches on medical practice too much, But I don’t know whether the domain of the subconscious can be totally denied. In this article, I will talk a little about the chaos that is the influence behind the human phenomenon.

This time, A friend asked me to chat with him about the death of a family member. It was just that, but it made me remember my grandfather. It did not always have my grandfather in my consciousness. Neither Dazai nor Mallarmé had been touched by anything in the vicinity before or after that. Yet I remembered. I looked again at what my grandfather had told me, that Dazai had talked about Mallarmé, and I found a mention of Mallarmé in a story entitled Das gemeine.

Das Gemeine (The Commonplace) was German, so I was late to realise that it was related to Mallarmé, a French writer. Besides, Osamu Dazai is more prominent in other novels. Nevertheless, Dazai was certainly unusual in Das Gemeine in appearing himself as ‘Osamu Dazai’. It is uncertain whether his grandfather heard about the draft at the time. My recollections were consistent, although there was no evidence. I had a good time while searching for Mallarmé and Dazai Osamu. Tracing the attachments of the deceased, whose generations and values were far apart, was like following the traces of their souls.

 Remembering the deceased may not be all that can be immediately recalled. Takehiko Fukunaga’s chapter on love in his book ‘An Attempt at Love’ was an illustration regarding ‘blind spots’. Blind spots in life are not something that can be explained in academic terms. Thus, they are always in places where we are not conscious of them due to human subtleties.

As a child, my grandfather was from a family so poor that they did not even have electricity. In this situation, he went almost exclusively on scholarship to places where he was invited to attend meetings of Dazai and revolutionaries. The gatherings there was a silly affair for the rich and trivial for busy students like my grandfather. He said that those gatherings were all dreaming, fruitless, and a joke. But did my grandfather really think it was trivial, or was there something else besides consciousness? Otherwise, would he have said to me, “Why don’t you become a writer?”


Jung and Freud emphasized ‘confession’ in psychotherapy. This is because people who are highly conscious speak reasonably well in their ‘explanations’ but do not ‘confess’. Confession is very difficult. There are not many such occasions. Too much unconscious bias can also lead to assumptions.

But questioning the unconscious, like metaphor, is going out of date. My grandfather’s statement did not show any purpose, it was simply a coincidence. I am sure of it, but I was a little girl when I said I would ‘take it back’ from Das gemeine – the commonplace – and if you look at me now, it is as if I had just lived for it. This story is a ‘confession’ that consciousness did not suppress.

For why, I was never able to ask my grandfather the truth about whether he liked Mallarmé and poetry or not. No one in the family knew. Surely they would not have understood it even if it had been told to them. And yet, the story of Mallarmé and my grandfather’s upbringing, and why Dazai didn’t like him just by talking about Mallarmé, is the only story that comes to light. Mallarmé tried to live by poetry, even without God.

Mallarmé was discouraged from committing suicide thanks to his poetry, but his views and beliefs on life and death were the exact opposite of Dazai’s. First, Mallarmé is difficult to understand and is considered difficult to visualize unless one has a good understanding of French. The Japanese translation of Mallarmé’s poems is difficult to imagine. The French book of Mallarmé seemed to have been given to my grandfather by the church. He also seemed to have read the Bible that was given to him with it, but my grandfather was not a Christian. 

He then said – what I find myself thinking there is no God does not coincide with the world. On the contrary, thinking that there is a God is also not in agreement with the world. He said that it is ” fault ” only to talk about the world in terms of what you absolutely think. He taught that one should always be aware of contradictions, even if they are religious or non-religious. Only poetry and literature can speak of ‘the world’. 

We live in constant contradiction.

There is no way of knowing exactly what my grandfather was thinking, but Mallarmé’s ‘swan sonnets’ reflected his soul: that the human world is empty, an existence that returns to nothing, and that even if it is godless and empty, there is ‘a beauty that exists without fail’. Whether it was hope or certainty, my grandfather seemed to believe in an existence that emerged from the concepts of absence and nothingness. It is not confined to images or language, but makes our hearts beat faster. 

Given the historical background of my grandfather’s time, I think it was a mystery that he saw while living in poverty and wartime: The reality, which could not easily believe in God or miracles. 

When the once shining swan fades away, being sadly aware why in the poem it was perceived as if it had broken the ice powerfully, the strength to be kept alive by the emotional image of the swan.

  How does it make sense for an absent object to flap its wings.


Recently I was considering the Tale of the Heike. The world in sound, narrated by the biwa priest, does not make the meaning of language clear. In the world conveyed by sound, the characters forget that the dead are dead and the world of ‘sight’ expands. The Tale of the Heike is also a requiem to heal the souls of the dead, and one’s own soul, by listening to others’ stories. In today’s age of only directness, there are very few people who can get this story. People who do not know that their perceptions are limited are weak. Those who may believe in the possibility that even if they do not understand now, they will be capable of understanding later are strong. Mallarmé’s poem ‘The Swan sonnet’ would collapse as a poem if translated directly into Japanese, so I have drawn on my own interpretation. 

I am not familiar with Mallarmé due to the circumstances, but I took the opportunity to translate the poems in a hurry. I think I was able to do it this time because of the poets surrounding Mallarmé, the literary and philosophical paths, and the various experiences. The people I wanted to show the translation to will never see it, but it will be a requiem for the dead, left to those who are still alive. With an icy confession, that even in a place that is only an end, like a place of exile, life becomes a strong wish and a requiem, as the Cygnus shines. And in our hearts.



 My friend’s father died. So I was asked to chat about it, but it didn’t immediately spring to mind. But then I remembered my dead grandfather, if this is what you call unconsciousness. It was about my grandfather meeting the writer Osamu Dazai. In Japan, there is a story called The Tale of the Heike. That story is a great long story, a mixture of actual history and fantasy. The story is told by a blind monk. By doing so, he requiems the souls that are dead and the souls that are listening. Looking at oneself from a completely unrelated story is like Mallarmé’s poem ‘The Swan’. 

Poems about absence made my heart leap.


The tale of the Heike



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