Master Video Series (Part 3, Terminal Alliance)



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The second principle of mastery is that of Terminal Alliance, meaning togetherness-in-death, from which we can explore the further concepts of tightness, accusation, and inner violence.

Sub-Concept 1. Tightness

The master trains his followers toward a state of extreme tightness. He binds them to exist in supremely rigid circles, feasting at the same table, sleeping in the same quarters, his disciples laced together in webs of mortal harmony. They are taught that their individual lives hang in the balance of one another; they rise in victory along the same axis of glory, just as they bleed and extinguish on the same plane of defeat.

The tighter the sect grows, the angrier it becomes…by night and by day, they turn more exclusive, intolerant, unforgiving. Thus they form a ring of great distemper; the smallest agitations to their world-view open a gateway to wrath; they learn to invoke fury at the slightest trespass, as everything becomes punishable to the maximum limit. This is the paradox of their simultaneous power and their fragility, a power that indeed emanates from the fact that they are always on the verge of breaking.

Example 1. Yukio Mishima

The Japanese writer Yukio Mishima was born in 1925 in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, ultimately becoming one of the most complex and legendary authors of the past century. From his earliest upbringing though, Mishima was subjected to quite dark psychological tendencies: on one side, an aristocratic grandmother who for years never allowed him to enter sunlight, and on the other a militaristic father who would often hold his young son before speeding trains only to wrench him back from the tracks at the last moment. It was against this cruel backdrop that Mishima began envisioning his first literary works, controversial manuscripts composed in total secrecy. With an instinctive genius like no other, his writing quickly developed an intense fixation with death and self-annihilation, territories of experience that would play themselves out in all his later texts.

Sub-Concept 2. Accusation

The master renounces all predecessors. He accuses all who came before him of being impostors or cowards. History is therefore irrelevant and even poisonous, its pages filled with those who lied or those who trembled and therefore did not go far enough. Thus every authentic master believes that he is the final master, the whirlwind of the ultimate itself. They are the culmination that will make right all the failures of past pretenders.

Example 2. Yukio Mishima (continued)

Yukio Mishima would rapidly become a central player of the intellectual and artistic scene of post-war Japanese society. His charm and eloquence was unparalleled, and his brilliance in both thought and style was known throughout the highest cultural circles. What was unknown, however, was that over time Mishima had developed a severe fascination with the old existential codes of the samurai, and had trained himself in martial arts, swordfighting, and the strict philosophy of Bushido. It was at this time that he also began recruiting devout students to his outlook, and formed a small underground warrior militia named the Tatenokai (meaning “shield society”). He trained the members of this forbidden organization on private grounds, made them swear vows of allegiance, and taught them that their mission was to forever protect the divine essence of the emperor. Nevertheless, he also instructed them that the reigning Japanese emperor was an illegitimate ruler, a mere human deceiver, and that he must be overthrown in order to restore the purity of the imperial throne.

Sub-Concept 3. Inner Violence

The master believes that the inner violence of his movement will supersede the outer violence of the false societies that gather in the centers of power. To do this, to unleash the violence of the sect against the violence of the human world, he trains his followers to believe in the collective force of the “we”–and one must beware the alarming vibration of this word, those who no longer say I but only we, for this means that the one has already become many, a storm that foresees many, has many marching behind it and many waiting in ambush ahead. They advance as a black cloud, carried forward by their disastrous intimacy. This logic of the pack, the swarm, the cell.

Example 3. Yukio Mishima (Final)

On November 25, 1970 Yushio Mikima and four of his Tatenokai warriors entered the main camp of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. They barricaded the base from all sides as Mishima himself ascended the stairs to a balcony overlooking thousands of soldiers. He then delivered a speech condemning the corruption of the current Emperor and inciting them to immediate revolution, after which Mishima then re-entered the commandant’s office behind him and committed ritual seppuku (an ancient practice of self-disembowelment). A specific member of the Tatenokai society had been chosen to then behead his master in traditional form, but failed to properly perform the task several times before himself falling to his knees and assigning another to finish the beheading on them both. It was done, and this bewildering event, whose motives and origins remain shrouded in obscurity, is still known in Japan as the Mishima jiken (meaning the Mishima Incident) to this day. As an intriguing side-note, though, it was later discovered that the great writer Mishima had planned this occasion for years, dreamed of it with meticulous theatrical intricacy, down to the very death poem that he inscribed and apparently read right before the moment of his suicide. A vision of terminal alliance.

Author: Jason Mohaghegh
Video Editor: Ghazal Zamani
Video Credits [Materials Included]: Larbi Cherkaoui (red series, mixed on skin, 2014,; Anish Kapoor. Leviathan. Paris, 2011; Chiharu Shiota. “The Key in the Hand.” Venice Biennale 2015.  Japan Pavilion. (Video by Sergey Khodakovskiy. Video: “The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima” – 1985 – BBC – Arena (documentary). Score: Max Richter. “Embers”.