Osamu Dazai

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I kept my melancholy and my agitation hidden, careful lest any trace should be left exposed. I feigned an innocent optimism; I gradually perfected myself in the role of the farcical eccentric.
The injection mademe forget how weak my body was, and I applied myself energetically to my cartoon.

Osamu Dazai (太宰 治), (June 19, 1909 – June 13, 1948) was a Japanese author who is considered one of the foremost fiction writers of 20th-century Japan. A number of his most popular works, such as The Setting Sun (Shayō) and No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku), are considered modern-day classics in Japan. With a semi-autobiographical style and transparency into his personal life, Dazai’s stories have intrigued the minds of many readers. His books also bring about awareness to a number of important topics such as human nature, mental illness, social relationships, and postwar Japan.

Quotes[edit]

Society. I felt as though even I were beginning at last to acquire some vague notion of what it meant. It is a struggle between one individual to another, a then-and-there struggle, in which the immediately triumph is everything.
He could only consider me as the living corpse of a would-be suicide, a person dead to shame, an idiot ghost.
Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness. Everything passes. That is the one and only thing that I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell. Everything passes.

No Longer Human[edit]

  • The weak fear happiness itself. They can harm themselves on cotton wool. Sometimes they are wounded even by happiness.
  • I have always shook with fright before human beings. Unable as I was to feel the least particle of confidence in my ability to speak and act like a human being, I kept my solitary agonies locked in my breast. I kept my melancholy and my agitation hidden, careful lest any trace should be left exposed. I feigned an innocent optimism; I gradually perfected myself in the role of the farcical eccentric.
    • The First Notebook'
  • As long as I can make them laugh, it doesn’t matter how, I’ll be alright. If I succeed in that, the human beings probably won’t mind it too much if I remain outside their lives. The one thing I must avoid is becoming offensive in their eyes: I shall be nothing, the wind, the sky.
    • The First Notebook
  • There are some people whose dread of human beings is so morbid that they reach a point where they yearn to see with their own eyes monsters of ever more horrible shapes. And the more nervous they are-the quicker to take fright-the more violent they pray that every storm will be … Painters who have had this mentality, after repeated wounds and intimidations at the hands of the apparitions called human beings, have often come to believe in phantasms-they plainly saw monsters in broad daylight, in the midst of nature. And they did not fob people off with clowning; they did their best to depict these monsters just as they had appeared. Takeichi was right: they had dared to paint pictures of devils.
    • The Second Notebook
  • People talk of “social outcasts.” The words apparently denote the miserable losers of the world, the vicious ones, but I feel as though I have been a “social outcast” from the moment I was born. If ever I meet someone society has designated as an outcast, I invariably feel affection for him, an emotion which carries me away in melting tenderness.
    • The Second Notebook
  • Whenever I was asked what I wanted my first impulse was to answer "Nothing." The thought went through my mind that it didn't make any difference, that nothing was going to make me happy.
    • Third Notebook: Part One
  • Though I have always made it my practice to be pleasant to everybody, I have not once actually experienced friendship. I have only the most painful recollections of my various acquaintances with the exception of such companions in pleasure as Horiki. I have frantically played the clown in order to disentangle myself from these painful relationships, only to wear myself out as a result. Even now it comes as a shock if by chance I notice in the street a face resembling someone I know however slightly, and I am at once seized by a shivering violent enough to make me dizzy. I know that I am liked by other people, but I seem to be deficient in the faculty to love others. (I should add that I have very strong doubts as to whether even human beings really possess this faculty.) It was hardly to be expected that someone like myself could ever develop any close friends—besides, I lacked even the ability to pay visits. The front door of another person’s house terrified me more than the gate of Inferno in the Divine Comedy, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I really felt I could detect within the door the presence of a horrible dragon-like monster writhing there with a dank, raw smell.
    • The Third Notebook: Part One
  • I was frightened even by God. I could not believe in his love, only his punishment. Faith. That, I felt, was the act of facing the tribunal of justice with one's head bowed to receive the scourge of God. I could believe in hell, but it was impossible for me to believe in the existence of heaven.
    • The Third Notebook: Part One
  • Society. I felt as though even I were beginning at last to acquire some vague notion of what it meant. It is a struggle between one individual to another, a then-and-there struggle, in which the immediately triumph is everything. ‘Human beings never submit to human beings.’ Even slaves practice their mean retaliations. Human beings cannot conceive of any mean retaliations. Human beings cannot conceive of any means of survival except of a single then-and-there contest. They speak of duty to one’s country and such like things, but the object of their effort is invariably the individual, and, even once the individual’s needs have been met, again the individual comes in. The incomprehensibility of society is the incomprehensibility of the individual. The ocean is not society; it is individuals. This is how I managed to gain a modicum of freedom from my terror of the illusion of the ocean called the world. I learned to behave rather aggressively, without the endless anxious worrying I knew before, responding as it were to the needs of the moment.
    • Third Notebook: Part One
  • He could only consider me as the living corpse of a would-be suicide, a person dead to shame, an idiot ghost.
    • Third Notebook: Part Two
  • "Virtue and vice are concepts invented by human beings, words for morality which human beings arbitrarily devise."
    • Third Notebook: Part Two
  • “For someone like myself in whom the ability to trust others is so cracked and broken that I am wretchedly timid and am forever trying to read the expression on people's faces.”
    • The Third Notebook: Part Two
  • Unhappiness. There are all kinds of unhappy people in the world. I suppose it would be no exaggeration to say that the world is composed entirely of unhappy people. But those people can fight their unhappiness with society fairly and squarly, and society for its part easily understands and sympathizes with such struggles. My unhappiness stemmed entirely from my own vices, and I had no way of fighting anybody.
    • The Third Notebook: Part Two
  • Without a flicker of hesitatoin I inejected the morphine into my arm. My insecurity, frefulness and timidity were swept away completely; I turned into an expansively optimistic and fluent talker. The injection mademe forget how weak my body was, and I applied myself energetically to my cartoon.
    • The Third Notebook: Part Two
  • I thought, “I want to die. I want to die more than ever before. There’s no chance now of a recovery. No matter what sort of thing I do, no matter what I do, it’s sure to be a failure, just a final coating applied to my shame. That dream of going on bicycles to see a waterfall framed in summer leaves—it was not for the likes of me. All that can happen now is that one foul, humiliating sin will be piled on another, and my sufferings will become only the more acute. I want to die. I must die. Living itself is the source of sin.
    • The Third Notebook:Part Two
  • My unhappiness was the unhappiness of a person who could not say no. I had been intimidated by the fear that if I declined something offered me, a yawning crevice would open between the other person's heart and myself which could never be mended through all eternity.
    • The Third Notebook: Part Two
  • Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness. Everything passes. That is the one and only thing that I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell. Everything passes.
    • The Third Notebook: Part Two
  • This year I am twenty-seven. My hair has become much greyer. Most people would take me for over forty.
    • Final Setence
  • I am convinced that human life is filled with many pure, happy, serene examples of insincerity, truly splendid of their kind-of people deceiving one another without (strangely enough) any wounds being inflicted, of people who seem unaware even that they are deceiving one another.
  • Mine has been a life of much shame. I can't even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being.
  • For someone like myself in whom the ability to trust others is so cracked and broken that I am wretchedly timid and am forever trying to read the expression on people's faces.
  • Is it not true that no two human beings understand anything whatsoever about each other, that those who consider themselves bosom friends may be utterly mistaken about their fellow and, failing to realize this sad truth throughout a lifetime, weep when they read in the newspapers about his death?

External links[edit]

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