After reading Osamu Dazai’s work titled “No Longer Human”, or more directly translated from its original Japanese title, “Disqualified from being human”, it left me in a rather sombre mood.
To not feel human despite being biologically human is not something that is all that far-fetched to me. I’m sure I’m not alone with these sentiments. There are countless times in our lives in which we would feel isolated and lonely despite living and breathing in an “overcrowded” society. Or rather, the swarms of “normal” people going about their daily lives drowns us in the sense of isolation. Both those who serve as nothing more than replaceable cogs in the machine that is the human society as well as those who fail to be as productive as those “cogs in the machine” and thus do not feel like part of the human society. There are many times where we are left to feel that we do not meet the requirements to be human based on the standards shown to us by those productive and seemingly “shining” people in society.
No longer human is about an individual who doesn’t understand the way society works. Or more accurately how “society,” thinks. Every individual around him always seems to be beating around the bush, never outwardly showing their true intentions. This makes him uncomfortable as he never knows how to deal with others as a result. In the end, he resorts to playing the clown, laughing off any ambiguity and shoving it aside.
Honestly speaking, his solution is the same as the one I adopted just a year back (except for the fact that I don’t go to such lengths as he did to play the clown). I used to fear human interaction more than anything.
What do others think of me? Should I say this? Will it offend them? Is it insightful? Will they be bored? How should I behave? What is socially acceptable? What is the image of myself that I want to portray to others? What is the best image to portray?
Such questions had always filled my mind resulting in constant anxiety whenever I was forced into a social interaction I could not escape from.
Ever since I moved into my bunks with my friends in national service, I’ve become much less of a worrywart and simply learnt to care less about such trivial things. I laugh off anything and everything and don’t take anything particularly seriously. If someone scolds me or insults me, I take it seriously if they are seriously saying it. If they do it a humorous manner, I laugh it off and play along. In the end, laughing and smiling have become my weapons to ward off the fear of social interactions. The two of them combined can make any social interactions simple… Unless the person you have to interact with is of far higher authority than yourself. In which case for me, are those of much higher rank than myself. For those, I just nod my head in agreement for the most part and stand out as little as possible.
Whether or not it is the right thing to do, shoving aside personal opinions and thoughts aside in hopes to maintain a good relationship with others, I do not know. Well for one such as myself who does not really have strong opinions or thoughts on most things, I’m not exactly shoving aside my personal wants and more of just going with the flow because I don’t have the ambition of a “healthy human being”.
The lack of desire to do anything… has sometimes made me question whether I qualified as a human. Humans are known to be greedy and aim for self-satisfaction after all. To resolve this issue, I am grateful for anime that gave me an identity. It gave me an identity of a person who can want. Thanks to anime, I often feel the urge to purchase things and go for events based around anime. It made me feel like I was living for something. A stupid sentiment that gets thrown around often but honestly, not that far from reality. With no ultimate purpose or meaning to strive for, all one can do is indulge in whatever they take pleasure in. For the main character in No Longer Human, it just so happened to be, in my opinion, more “sinful” pleasures.
As much as I understand and feel for a lot of the main character’s thoughts, many of his actions are things I know I would never do, perhaps due to my personality. Either that or it’s because my situation isn’t as bad as his and I do not actively seek out ways to organise and understand my feelings through actions but instead look for solutions internally without really trying anything. In a sense, I’m moving forward less but from what I’ve read, moving forward only resulted in the main character feeling less and less like a human.
No longer human is about one who has fallen so low and committed many “socially unacceptable” deeds that he’s “disqualified from being human”. It was a good read for me, mainly due to the fact that I quite like these sorts of books that make me feel deeply about the sorrows of living.
If you’re interested in No Longer Human, you can visit BookDepository.
I purchased mine from BookDepository as well since it was cheaper than in bookstores near me thanks to their books always being at a discounted price and with free shipping.