14 January 2010

he could not escape the feeling

Honda sat cross-legged in the sand staring out at the waters of the bay. Though the sea was calm, its rolling waves fascinated him. As he watched, the crest of the sea seemed to be level with his eyes. How strange, he thought, that it should come to an abrupt end and give way to the land right in front of him.
  He kept pouring dry sand from one palm to the other. When he had spilled a good part of it in the process, he reached down automatically and began again with a fresh handful, his thoughts completely taken up with the sea.
  It ended a few feet from where he sat. The sea, broad and vast, with all its mighty force, ended right there before his eyes. Be it the edge of time or space, there is nothing so awe-inspiring as a border. To be here at this place with his three companions, at this marvelous border between land and sea, struck him as being very similar to being alive as one age was ending and another beginning, like being part of a great moment in history. And then too the tide of their own era, in which he and Kiyaoki lived, also had to have an appointed time to ebb, a shore on which to break, a limit beyond which it could not go.
  The sea ended right there before his eyes. As he watched the final surge of each wave as it drained into the sand, the final thrust of mighty power that had come down through countless centuries, he was struck by the pathos of it all. At that very point, a grand pan-oceanic enterprise that spanned the world went awry and ended in annihilation.
  But still, he thought, this final frustration was a gentle soothing one. A small, lacy frill, the wave's last farewell, escaped from disintegration at the last moment before merging into the glistening wet sand as the wave itself withdrew, and vanished into the sea.
  Starting a good way out in the offing at a point where the whitecaps thinned out, the incoming waves went through four or five stages, each of which was visible at any given moment—a swelling, a cresting, a breaking, the dissolution of its force and an ebbing—a constantly recurring process.
  The breaking wave let out an angry roar as it showed its smooth, dark green belly. The roar tailed off to a cry and the cry to a whisper. The charging line of huge white stallions yielded place to a line of smaller ones until the furious horses gradually disappeared altogether, leaving nothing but those last imprints of pounding hooves on the beach.
  Two remnants, streaming in from left and right, collided roughly, spread like a fan, and sank into the bright mirror of the sand's surface. At that moment, the reflection in the mirror came to life, catching the next white-crested wave just as it was about to come crashing down, a sharp vertical image that sparkled like a row of icicles.
  Beyond the ebb, where other waves kept rolling in one after the other, none of them formed smooth white crests. They charged at full power again and again, aiming for their goal with determination. But when Honda looked out to see in the distance he could not escape the feeling that the apparent strength of these waves that beat upon the shore was really no more than a diluted, weakened, final dispersion.
  The farther out one looked, the darker the color of the water, until it finally became a deep blue-green. It was as if the innocuous ingredients of the offshore water became more and more condensed by the increasing pressure of the water as it got deeper, its green intensified over and over again to produce an eternal blue-green substance, pure and impenetrable as fine jade, that extended to the horizon. Though the sea might seem vast and deep, this substance was the very stuff of the ocean. Something that was crystallized into blue beyond the shallow, frivolous overlapping of the waves—that was the sea.

Yukio Mishimia, Spring Snow (1990: 222-24)