Shizuko finds out that Osamu is reading No Longer Human, Dazai’s last work.
Shizuko: Dazai? Why Dazai?
Osamu: Everyone’s reading him.
Shizuko: For what? He was so negative. All he talked about was dying. He’s dead.
Osamu: I can relate to his ideas. When he writes something like “The cold half pint of milk I drank each morning was the only thing that gave me a certain peculiar sense of the joy in life.” Dark, yes, but funny too.
Shizuko: Are you sure you’re not just identifying with him because you live only a hundred meters from where he drowned?
Osamu: Geography’s a factor, mm. But mainly I feel my life has no depth, no direction.
Young people identifying with Dazai Osamu? That one so driven to self-destruction could write so clearly and powerfully. And influence a generation fifty years later.
Have Japanese young people lost their sense of mission? Where has their sense of purpose in life gone? Can a limping economy and rising unemployment cripple the national identity?
Ironical that the Tamagawa Josui is scarcely a foot deep much of the time.