Kaneko places a high value on opposition: “to oppose/ Is the only fine thing in life.” Yet he pushes opposition to such an extreme that it becomes absurd: “I ride my horse facing its buttocks.” What exactly is he trying to tell us here?
In my youth
I was opposed to school.
And now, again,
I’m opposed to work.
Above all it is health
And righteousness that I hate the most.
There’s nothing so cruel to man
As health and honesty.
Of course I’m opposed to ‘the Japanese spirit’
And duty and human feeling make me vomit.
I’m against any government anywhere
And show my bum to authors’ and artists’ circles.
When I’m asked for what I was born,
Without scruple, I’ll reply, ‘To oppose.’
When I’m in the east
I want to go to the west.
I fasten my coat at the left, my shoes right and left.
My hakama I wear back to front and I ride a horse facing its buttocks.
What everyone else hates I like
And my greatest hate of all is people feeling the same.
This I believe: to oppose
Is the only fine thing in life.
To oppose is to live.
To oppose is to get a grip on the very self.
by Mitsuharu Kaneko (1895-1975)