Tokyo Damage Report

oe’s DEATH OF A POLITICAL YOUTH part three

(if you're just tuning in, parts one and two are down the page)

Since I’d joined the Imperial Way Party, this was the first time I’d ever heard of, and understood, the real ambitions behind it. And in that moment, I not only learned the truth of politics, but also I felt as if I’d gained a new mentor. More even than President Sakagibara, I felt that my new idol was the uyoku Program itself, in its ideal form.

With the Program as my mentor, I would commit even more of my flesh and blood to the cause. I would become a more pure human – following not a fallible, flesh-and-blood leader such as Sakagibara but a pure concept. By making an idol of the Program, I could contact it directly, in a way I could never directly contact The Emperor!  Sakagibara was no longer necessary.  Like a disciple who has read all the world’s religions, yet can not settle on one church, I was drifting. In my faith, I wished to contact God directly, with no barrier or church between myself and Him. Of course, this God was The Emperor!

So to me, Brother C. was the ultimately desirable, pure Uyoku Human. In this capacity, he sat at the God / Emperor’s knee: a man with vast capabilities and cunning. I wanted to reach out my hand for his tutelage, become close comrades, and perfect our learning of the uyoku arts. To this end, I resolved to ask about him, and try to learn more about him, before approaching him directly. More importantly: what did he think of me when I first joined? And how about right now?  At any rate, Brother C. was an entirely different kind of person than the cartoonish, cookie-cutter uyoku that made up our unit.

Brother C’s real name was Anzai Shigeru. He was thirty-five years old. At the war’s end, he was forced to quit school and was sent to the font lines: a real member of the War Generation. He had an air about him that set him apart from the other Party leaders.

His favorite book was “Listen to the Voices from the Sea”. This book had been edited by leftists, which by itself was enough to set Anzai Shigeru apart from the rest of the Party leadership.

So, to us very young members, it was difficult to comprehend what he was doing in our group. We gave him respect, but kept our distance.  But even as we kept our distance, we couldn’t help wondering what this eccentric leader was up to.

He was of average height, but enormously fat, with gigantic shoulders and a low center of gravity. Furthermore, he seemed to project his strength out in front of him as he walked, pacing slowly with an air of barely controlled savagery. His skin was dark and rough, making him a perfect “Bull in human form.”  From behind very thick glasses, his big right eye would glare ferociously at nothing, while his big left eye was so myopic that its use seemed to strain the fish-eye-lens of the glasses to the breaking point from over-use.  

His rough face resembled nothing more than a giant, over-fed chameleon, if such a creature could exist. However, it had a certain charisma. Seeing him read a newspaper was frightening: cross-eyed though he was, the way he would intensely and painfully control his eyes, switching between them to devour the paper’s contents. . . . it made me feel like, what if he can read me as well, so easily? What if he can see right through me, to the deep truths in my soul? I’d be really in trouble!

Furthermore, in much the same way, when he studied one’s face, one would feel as if a heavy weight had been placed on one’s chest, constricting it, and one would realize that one’s everyday lifestyle was very frivolous, insincere, and light-hearted, and one would start sweating profusely. In our weekly magazine, it was reported that Shigeru was the most politically extreme man in the organization, but it was also whispered among the elderly Party officials:

 “That fellow could, any day now, decide to switch his allegiance to the left wing or the communists. He’s not concerned with the problems of today’s Japan – he’s still obsessed with his childhood friends from the “Taken-Out-Of-School-And-Forced-To-Fight-Batallion”  who all died in the war. Surely after all that, he must hate His Highness The Emperor a little bit, mustn’t he? There have even been rumors that he was planning to commit ritual suicide in front of the Imperial Palace!”

Eventually, Shigeru and I had become friendly, and I noticed that he was paying careful attention to my activities on the battlefield in front of the Diet building. He watched me with glowering, pained eyes that seemed to stick to me wherever I went. Then he bellowed his “tough love” at me:

“Hey! You’re acting like a rabid dog! Knock it off! I know you’re a courageous fighter, but you done worked yourself up until you get hysterical like a girl! You’re charging at ‘em again and again like one of those crazy women back in the Middle Ages, the whatchamacallem’s – the ones possessed by the Devil! – oh yeah, witches! You know what happens to witches?! They put ‘em on trial and hang ‘em!!!!”

“If it happened that The Emperor was the Devil, then I’d gladly be a modern-day witch or a possessed person,” I thought to myself. “Then after my misdeeds, I’d have to go back to Party Headquarters and do the Shuubatsu (Shinto exorcism)!” I indulged in these light-hearted, mischievous imaginings as I returned to the battle.

One day, Shigeru and I were assigned to make a ‘pilgrimage’ of sorts: we were to go corporations and ask them to donate money. We’d walk around and receive 5,000 yen from a certain commodities trading company, and 10,000 yen from a certain paper pulp company. I suppose that is how we were going to finance our activities for summer.

As always, Shigeru had a copy of “Listen to the Voices From the Sea” tucked in his pocket. We were riding the train, holding onto the luggage shelf for support. Shigeru took the book out and used the luggage shelf as a sort of book-stand. I peered over his shoulder as he read a poem which he had circled in bright red ink. I saw his lips moving as he read it over and over. This continued for some four stops, until his lips trembled and were beaded with sweat. Feeling like a  immature child who has been excluded from an activity, I began to read the poem myself, uneasily:

O you sorrowful demons who defend our country
That terrible night in the rolling Spring thunder
Again you pick up your bayonets
From so far away, can you hear us yelling?
This one got shot in the brain, spilling all over
That one got shot in the chest, ripping apart
Your voices as you staggered and screamed
Thudded into my chest dimly
And pound still in my drenched and clammy forehead.

This Shigeru fellow definitely was that rare animal: an uyoku who didn’t care about The Emperor. But, I realized, he was no less full of valor, passion, and chivalry for it. But, even though I could only experience supreme bliss by drinking from the cup of Imperial love, I wasn’t offended. Instead, I thought to myself: “Isn’t it strange that a “war generation” fellow like Shigeru and a “post-war Seventeen” like myself can be in the same group? And yet in the end, it’s probably better that he doesn’t worship The Emperor. This way I’ve got Him all to myself. If I had to share Him with Shigeru, I’d probably get jealous!”

When I was at Party Headquarters, I began to work closely with Shigeru.  And often we would be alone in a room. I began to feel that the storm of President Sakagibara was losing its power, the wind dying down, the waters of the lake calming, the sand of hysteria gradually settling down. Eventually, every last drop of passion had evaporated, and I ceased wishing to behold a holy vision of the ancient and wizened body of The Emperor.

Instead, I decided to give Him a new home in my young, vital flesh: the fresh body of Seventeen!  I would worship the Idea of The Emperor, a  ‘Pure Internal Emperor’, who would live inside me always! This way, Shigeru wouldn’t look down on me for idolizing the physical Emperor, and furthermore, I wouldn’t be troubled by those ghosts of Shigeru’s dead comrades who still cursed the physical Emperor.

My forehead ceased to oscillate between drenched and clammy. In my co-habitation with Shigeru at headquarters, I began to know feelings of freedom, affection, and what it meant to be a grown-up. I continued to hear rumors that Shigeru was fed up with Sakagibara’s indecisiveness and was about to defect from the Party, and I swore with fresh resolve that if he left, I would go with him.

President Sakagibara and the other elders were away, preparing our strategy for the upcoming elections, and thus people at headquarters were losing their energy and direction. I, however, spent all day sitting in front of the Imperial Portrait, praying, feeling the emotional bliss. At night, I fell to sleep with the same triumphant exhaustion which I used to feel after masturbating ten times in one day, in my former life.  Only, this time, the night-terrors did not come to poison my nocturnal world.
 

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