No Longer Human – Osamu Dazai

No Longer Human

Behind ballads of an orphaned heart,
Lay poetic trance of a love’s facade.
Dreads the ghostly art within hazy shades,
Human shame in comic masquerades.
Inebriated words coughing in notebooks
Empty sake bottles in curls of smoke,
Vice or virtue, the gullible spirit brags
Diabolical tales of a death mask.
“Everything passes”, cried the blue cradle
Slept, the wings of a fallen angel.

A solitary word blissfully prances from the anxious mind, fears the disintegration of its syllables; the distorted enunciation of its vowels, as it cautiously reaches at the tip of the tongue. The blooming word panicked by the stuttering mouth, bit by bit retreats in to the gloomy interiors of the mind where it will forever be sheltered, far from being judged by bullies and societal predators. A soft smile then becomes the sole redeemer of communication; a polite garb of inner festering trepidation. Alienation juxtaposes human “normalcy” and societal chaos in a silent sanctuary of individuality. Confrontations between personal wraith and societal norms arise, begging to fit in the human world. Human beings are a daunting race walking on a tight rope of the “survival of fittest” cryptogram amalgamating the belligerence of existence in the ugliness of societal wasteland where basic human depravity tumbles in the depths of existential despair.


“My life has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live a life of a human being…”

To live a life of a human being; what is it may I ask? The vision to live through one’s eyes or the obligation to exist through borrowed dreams? Is it to ideally march along with hypocrisy, duplicity, deception and the staunch societal dogma veiled behind a multifaceted mask conceding to the guidelines of human race. ? Does life become a shameless ruffian when one questions the truth behind the worldly sentiments? The clueless boy in the pictures failed to grasp the intricacies of human life. Horror and alienation that ran from through his childhood into the complexities of adulthood peeked through his clowning masquerades. A smile he thought would wipe all his trepidation and give him a homely asylum in a world that was bizarre and hellish. The “ghost pictures” screamed through the tinted strokes, rebelled the obligatory academia of a civil servant; a premonition of its owner’s potential caricature. The prostitutes that serenaded him at night were a respite from the vulgarity of love. “To fall” or “to be fallen”, were farcical words in the sense of morality and loyalty for love and yet complacent as an appendage of detached relationships. The suicidal waves of the soundless ocean were a home away from home. “Love flies out the window when poverty comes in the door”, he would proudly say as he sketched cartoons on a sheets of paper , unearthing moments of human warmth from alienation and despair ; the three lonely copper coins stiffening in his palm trying to apprehend the impoverished surroundings spiralling into tragic dissolution. “The dream of going on bicycles to see a waterfall framed in summer leaves” floated in the alcoholic fortification and in the defiled remains of Yoshiko’s trustfulness. Yozo was searching for the beauty that had somehow nastily escaped from the compassion of human connection. The veracity of the ‘ghostly’ art that had once saved his adolescence, the flamboyant imagination of the very art had crippled his adulthood


“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……”

“Social outcasts” is a preposterous terminology. Who decides its legitimacy? Who rewrites and deciphers the codes of classification? The word “outcast” is highly subjective in its entirety. If you ask ‘irrationality’ it would pinpoint ‘rationality’ as an outcast. To an illegitimate child, the legitimate one is a pariah; to insanity it is the realms of sanity; to the traces of dishonesty it is the advent of honesty; to trustfulness, betrayal is a sin; to imperfection it is perfection that is a recluse and to the morphine filled syringe, the glistening wine bottles are a social outcast. It is a game of endless antonyms. If one views the bigger picture, the world is full of social pariahs. In a superficial world crammed with recreational performers donning masks of assorted sizes and colours; Yozo’s acceptance of himself belonging to the socially recluse class struck a chord in my heart. I could finally comprehend the friendliness displayed by Yozo to the comparably designated populace. Each and every person that touched the core of Yozo’s life was a social pariah in their own struggling ways. Every one of them, be it Takeichi ,Horiki, Yoshiko, Tsuneko, the lady at the bar, the prostitutes or the peculiar Flatfish, all were battling various oddities and societal consciousness to be qualified as a noteworthy human being. After all, we all are outsiders to a few others in some or the other way. Even God is a social pariah to an atheist, isn’t it?


“The incomprehensibility of society is the incomprehensibility of the individual. The ocean is not society; it is the individual.”

In this melancholic metaphorical quest of ‘what it takes to be termed as disqualified human’; the elegant Shishōsetsu literary piece is a semi-biographical sketch painting the undertones of existentialism in a portrait of alienation and societal crippling in the pursuit to achieve the solidarity of human subsistence. The greyish brush stokes of Yozo’s “ghost pictures” highlights Dazai’s life predicament with the incomprehensibility of the Japanese society and his personal familial position. Japan at large, along with his populace was standing on the brink of old and new cultural transformations. The state of affairs was stuck in between two diverse worlds where the country’s populace was adjusting in the cultural and personage pandemonium of adhering to the societal standards, yet finding ways to defy an unsympathetic societal doctrine. The individual becomes a society where in order to survive; one must adhere to the means of trickery and amateur dramatics shuffling between the societal chaos and normalization of basic humanity. It is known that sometimes lunacy is the only path to redeeming honesty, but with lunacy came the crime of rejection and abnormality. The weak are dispersed through suicidal suffrage in an impenetrable societal wilderness where child-like simplicity becomes a vice and livelihood becomes a sin punishable by the boisterousness of survival. The numerous societal boffins may critique the confounded life of Yozo comparing the inadequacies to the disposal tendencies of lethargy of an addict immersed in drug laced alcoholic trenches dangling on suicidal optimism as the ultimate salvage. Nevertheless, Yozo to me was a lost angel who could not find a path to walk along with the superficiality and convoluted nuances of humankind. Through all literary embellishment of euphemistic idioms and the utilitarian rationalities used to conciliate Yozo’s conundrum, Oba Yozo was worthy of love even with all his shortcomings. Reading, Dazai’s sombre yet gratifying prose consumed my sensibilities into scrutinizing Yozo and the world around him. How and when does a human being reach a stage where not only does the essence of his individuality vanishes amongst the darkest terrains of societal dogmas, but is terrified of its very own species? The definitive truth of human race, eventually “everything passes”, and so do the societal ghosts extant in self-punishing madness.

4/5****

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