Confessions of a mask- The misunderstood sensibility

I have just finished reading a book by a Japanese author called Yukio Mishima. It resembles a diary and it is about a young boy’s life until early adulthood. What makes it interesting is the style of writing characterized by a very high and strange type of sensibility. The main character which is also the narrator seems like an ordinary child until he reaches his first sexual stimulus.

The book’s cover is a painting of a young Saint Sebastian crucified on a dying flower instead of a cross or temple column (as he is most often portrayed). This painting’s themes become his first arousal material and remain like that his entire life.

I really appreciate how this book explores the hidden layers of intense sensibility and that’s why I chose to talk about it.

The themes that the protagonist discovers in the painting of Saint Sebastian are the eroticism of the male body sadistically combined with his wounds. From this initial inspiration, he starts to have homosexual fantasies which reach a climax through the stabbing of their subject.

As he grows, the young hero discovers his acute need for introspection and analysis which both boost his intelligence. But this makes him crave for normal human interaction and normal teenager experiences, like the love of a girl, or the pleasure of simple things. His weird sexual appetite isolates him even more, given to the few boys crushes he has in high school which he fantasies about them being stabbed or somehow dying in the field of duty.

This guy is very weird and, even more hurtful, he realizes how strange he actually is and that makes him uncomfortable around both sexes. Men attract him in a strange way, while women leave him with no emotion whatsoever, except for one which he begins to care for in a spiritual way.

I find this interesting because I have always associated sensibility with high intelligence or with exceptions from the human norms. I have read a couple of books written from a gay man’s perspective and I even have some friends. I’ve always seen them as someone with a very intense emotional intelligence. It is like some of us are born with more acute receptors of reality and because of that, those people reach new areas of exploration for the consciousness.

I can extrapolate this to other ways in which people with unique sensibility invest their energy. Some of them make art, but really strange art that horrifies or amazes. Some of them have made some of the most successful movies, with weird scripts or imagery. Tim Burton’s lifetime work is a great example for both of them. He might have been isolated or oppressed as a child, but once he found the channel to express his art, we all came to appreciate it. A well known American fantasy-horror author comes to mind, H.P. Lovecraft, who spent most of his childhood in a dark shed. He also had a crazy mother. The reality he described is not only horrific but mesmerizing in it’s uniqueness, like the shapes of Cthulu Island’s temples.


Indian mythology and contemporary enlightenment stories also speak about true perception, which involves raising your receptivity. The misunderstood sensibility of some great introverts is very similar to this receptivity that prophets talk about as being the main way to unravel a deeper connection with the Universe.



I thought about this for some days now and I keep on finding new ways of applying this sensibility to ordinary day to day activities, uncovering the spectacular in the common. I think this is the stuff of genius in everyone and all of us should try to explore our sensibilities in order to find our path. In the meanwhile, try reading Yukio Mishima’s book, “Confessions of a mask”.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


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