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Thread: Kara no Kyoukai - Epilogue [Translation]

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    Kara no Kyoukai - Epilogue [Translation]

    "Why?"

    --Wanted to do it for several years. For "fun." To produce a translation which satisfied me as far as style and clarity are concerned.

    "Have you succeeded in doing that?"

    --No. But I tried.

    "Who is to blame?"

    --I thank Petrikow and Leo for proofreading and comments.

    "I disagree with your translation of [x]."

    --Good. I welcome judgement. I have included the Japanese text alongside to make it all the easier for you to criticise me. By all means go right ahead.

    "Why is it in the fanfics section??"

    --Don't ask stupid questions. Go complain at the mods if you want it moved.

    I want to read the translation without massive gaps between sections!

    Bhūtakoṭi

    Snow in the city. In four years none heavier. In March, midwinter. Biting frost. By day and by night, fresh falls of rock crystal. The streets retrieved a quiet archaic deadness.

    Midnight, then.

    Outside was no-one. Meagre lamplight against a veil of snow. A white-painted dark. But he went out; he chose to. For a walk, let us say. No goal especially in mind. He had nothing more than a presentiment. He followed it. He followed it through the city, through floes of piling snow. In hand a black umbrella.

    And at last she indeed was there. Four years ago, then as now. Just such a snowblown, vacant night. The girl in the kimono had stood there. She gazed vaguely into the dark. Then as now, he greeted her frankly. A friend. And she heard him, turned her head. She smiled.

    —It's been a while, Kokutou.

    Back then he had not recognised her. Nor indeed now. But she, it seemed, had always known who he was. And a gentle smile came to her face.



    —It's been a while, Kokutou.

    Ryougi Shiki was her name. But the tone she now took was unfamiliar. Who stood here was neither the Shiki he knew, nor the other he had known, but another still, altogether unknowable.

    —It is you, then.

    A pause.

    —Somehow I thought it would be. Is Shiki - asleep, then?

    —She is. Right now it's just me and you.

    She smiled. Flawless, incarnate, feminine smile. He questioned her.

    —And who are you?

    —I am I. Neither this Shiki nor that. I am simply I, the inmost reach of a hollow heart. Or maybe just the hollow heart itself.

    Her hand to her chest. Her eyes closed.

    Once, she had told him:

    Accept everything, and you'll never be hurt. Whatever disagrees with you, whatever is hateful to you, whatever you won't acknowledge - simply accept it all, without the slightest resistance, and you'll never be hurt.

    But it's just the same the other way.

    Reject everything, and you can only be hurt. Whatever agrees with you, whatever you like, whatever you acknowledge - simply reject it all, without the slightest consent, and you can only be hurt.

    That was how she, and he, had been. The two of them. Their way of life.


    —A heart that only affirms and denies is isolated because it is complete. Wouldn't you agree? Unsullied monochrome will never fade, because its colours never mix. They remain always the same.

    —Thus the two of them. I would liken she and he each to an extremity, opposite poles on a single foundation. Between them, nothing. And within that nothing? I.

    —I see, he said. You're between the two. Then I'm not sure how I should address you. I guess you're "Shiki" as well?

    His puzzled demeanour - amused her.

    —No. Ryougi Shiki is just what I've been named. Though I'm glad if that's enough to have you call me Shiki. That alone makes it worth having waited this long.

    As she said this, smiling, she seemed neither decisively childlike nor adult.



    They spoke of meaningless things. He talked, like always. She was happy to listen. Their relation was the same always. Only, in truth, she was not. She alone differed. She came to realise that difference, which cut between them. And to despair that there could be no intermixture.

    —Tell me. Four years ago. Shiki has no memory of it, does she?

    Suddenly he had to know. At long last he had to. He had met Shiki in high school, but when he did he knew at once that he had met her somewhere before. He'd told her of this. She had denied it.

    —She doesn't. I am not the same as them. He and she stood side-by-side, as it were, and could know each other well. I do not. I could not be so percieved by them. Shiki won't remember tonight, either.

    I see, he whispered. That's too bad.

    Four years ago. March 1995. He met her.

    Really a very trivial thing. It was his last night of middle school. Snow was falling. He had been on the the way home, this very road. He had caught sight of her. A lone girl standing in the road, looking vaguely up to the sky. He had passed her by, gone home. But later, trying to sleep, he'd suddenly remembered that girl. So he'd stepped out for a walk. And when he found that she'd been standing there all that time, he spoke to her. Good evening, he'd said, easily as one would to an old friend. But only for the snow had been so beautiful.

    No doubt he'd just been lonely himself.



    —Kokutou. There is something I'd ask of you. And I'm sorry to say that that is to be the extent of our conversation. It is the only reason I am here.

    She looked at him. Her eyes far older than she seemed.

    —What is it that you want?

    Such a vague question he couldn't even begin to answer. Her expression was vacant, machinelike.

    —Your wish, Kokutou. Tell me it. I can grant most human wishes. And Shiki seems to like you, so - what's mine by right is yours.

    —Now tell me. What do you wish for?

    She held out her hand. Her gaze was clear, transparent, infinitely deep. A gaze that took in all, to the utmost. Inhuman, somehow godlike.

    I wonder, he said. He thought about it, just a little. He met her gaze. No, it wasn't that he didn't want anything. Nor that he didn't believe her.

    Nothing, he answered. I don't need it.

    She closed her eyes. Ah. A long sigh, as if immensely disappointed. Though not without a tinge of affectionate relief.

    —Yes. That should have been obvious.

    She turned her gaze away from him. To the long bright dark of the sky.

    —You're really not Shiki.

    He said it so pitifully. She did not deny it. She nodded her head.

    —I wonder, Kokutou. Where do you think a "personality" exists?

    From nowhere, that simple, unaffected question. As casual as asking after tomorrow's weather. There was a feeling of hollowness to the words, as if she hadn't the slightest concern for whatever answer he might give. But all the same. His hand to his chin; he thought about it.

    —Well, I don't really know. Someone's "personality", that's their mind, isn't it. Their intellect. So I guess I'd say it's inside their head.

    Inside the head: in short, the brain. Where the intellect resides. He said as much. She shook her head.

    —There was a magus once who said: the soul resides in the brain. The fleshly body is just a prosthetic; really you could keep a brain alive in a vat, wired up to some dream or simulation, and it'd make no difference. Here you endorse the same view. That the personality, in sum, is inside the head.

    —But that is not the case.

    —Take yourself, for example, Kokutou. You are a human being, you are a personality, you are a soul. What is it that gives you, as such, your definite shape? Two things. Intellect, in which your life's peregrinations pile up, and flesh, the notional hollow husk. True, the brain bears the intellect. It gives rise to the intellect. But the brain by itself does not produce a "personality" expressive of what you are.

    —You may say that the brain could at least "subsist" by itself. But that's all. We are fleshly, embodied creatures, and it is only because we are that we can recognise ourselves as "selves" to begin with. The personality, the individual character that you are - it grew up as one with the flesh. Those who make a friend of their body surely come to bear sociable personalities, while those who don't become gloomy and introverted. A personality could develop as pure intellect, but such a personality would not reflect upon itself; it would have no sense of itself, and it would mature, if that's the right word, into something quite unlike a human being. In the end it would amount to nothing more than a calculating mechanism, which can't really be called a "personality" at all.

    —A "person" like that who became nothing but a brain would have to create a new personality befitting their new self. They would have to discard the organic, bodily consciousness, and take the restricted, brain-bound, intellectual consciousness as their ultimate foundation.

    —You see, it is not the case that you simply have the intellect here, the flesh there, on the same level so to speak.

    —The flesh is there first, and intellect arises out of it. Is borne out of it.

    —The flesh, we may say, becomes the basis of the intellect. It does not itself "have" an intellect. The flesh simply "is." But the flesh does have a personality, a will, of a kind. It grows up as one with, and gives birth to, the intellect. That - is what I am.

    Ah, he said. He'd heard it somewhere before, hadn't he. That the human being is composed of three different things. Mind and soul, to which is added the fleshly body. Supposing, then, that the mind resides in the brain, and the soul in the body. That makes her - what? Shiki's essence. Her true character. A personality, "the body", with nothing of Shiki's heart.

    Gently, she nodded her head. Ryougi Shiki did.

    —Basically, that's how it is.

    —"I" am not a personality borne of the intellect. I am the personality of the flesh as such.

    —Ultimately, Shiki - he and she could exchange with one another because they held my currency in common. A single foundation governed them both. That is "Ryougi Shiki." You know Ryougi is liangyi, so it stands to reason that two liangyi together make a taiji, doesn't it? That is me. I am that which takes the shape of the taiji, its circular outline.

    —They were my creations. Each of them an "I" of the same order as myself. Or, no; since they each possessed a will, an inclination of their own, you could say they were of a higher order than myself. Even if they were different personalities, their lines of thought were one in that they were both essentially the good and evil within "Ryougi Shiki." They originated from me, and concluded with me. Had they not, their differing inclinations should never have been able to coexist.

    She giggled. The gaze that now fell across him was more than ever cold and fatal.

    —I don't fully understand, he said. You're saying that you are the original pattern, the original model of which Shiki and SHIKI are both derivatives.

    —Correct. I am the essence of Ryougi Shiki. The essence which does not appear. Since the fleshly body is indeed unable to "think," and since that is all I am, under normal circumstances I would simply have rotted away in that thoughtless state without ever rising to the surface. Essentially I am just " ". And that which is " " can have neither intellect nor significance. Normally.

    —But I was born a Ryougi, which is not a normal circumstance. The members of the Ryougi family bestowed an intellect upon me. Upon that hollow, thoughtless thing. They had plans for their daughter: they wanted to make Ryougi Shiki into an all-capable human being. So they tried to inculcate her with various personalities, and in the course of that they awakened me. The "original pattern", as you said, of her intellect. As the ground for everything that came afterward, I then created Shiki. She and he.

    Ah, he said. Let slip a sigh. The twinned Shiki, yin and yang, good and evil. It was not antagonism which divided them. Aozaki Touko, the magus, had described it otherwise. That they were divided insofar as each comprehended all the attributes it possibly could.

    —A real comedy of errors has brought me here, you know. In truth I should have been a premature birth and perished like that, nothing more. Instead I ended up obtaining a "self" of sorts.

    —The simple truth is that I was born dead. Perhaps brain-dead would be more accurate. Normally a newborn will have an infant's body, and this body in turn will be quickened by the first stirring of what's to become its intellect. I did not have that; I was born with nothing whatsoever. By rights I should have died immediately. That which is near to " " simply must not be born bodily into the world. You heard this from Touko, didn't you? The world itself wards off anything that might disrupt it. Ordinarily, indeed, I should not have been born at all.

    —Ordinarily a creature whose being is poured out straight from " " simply dies in its mother's womb. That was my case. But the Ryougi clan possessed a technique for keeping such a thing alive.

    —So I was born, alive, but without so much as a stirring of intellect. " " is utter nullity, and thus an intellectual nullity as well. I should simply have "lived" with no cognition of the outside world.

    —But not only did they keep me alive, they woke me up. They did not implant some readymade personality into me. They awakened the " " which is my origin. The outside world was thrust upon me. I - the void and vacant "I" - was forced to look at it. I found it an eyesore. I found it altogether too troublesome. So I in turn thrust it upon those two.

    —It was only natural. The outside world, if you could call it that, was the most wearisome thing imaginable. Because it was, all of it, down to the last of its innumerable atoms, "already known" to me.

    Innocent eyes were smiling. An ice-cold, somehow scornful gesture.



    —But you do have a will.

    She seemed to him then such a tragic figure that he had to say it. Again she nodded.

    —I do, after a fashion. A personality of the flesh as such arises in every human, but ordinarily it does not come to any kind of self-awareness. Usually, before that can happen, the intellect stirs to life. From out of the body, more precisely the brain, the intellect is produced.

    —The intellect borne out of the brain's activity becomes a personality and gains executive function over the fleshly body. At that point any personality which dwelt in the flesh becomes meaningless.

    —It's because of this that the intellect tends to treat the brain which gave birth to it as if it were something specially set apart from the rest of the fleshly body, even though it is just one part of the whole.

    —Software is useless without hardware, but hardware can't function without software. The personality borne of the intellect forgets this truth: it forgets that it is the body's product, and it imagines that it is the creator of this fleshly, embodied "I" which it finds itself to be. That is the ordinary case. I am different only in that the order in which these things happened was different for me.

    —Even so, the fact that I'm here, now, talking to you is entirely due to the personality of Shiki. If she wasn't here, I wouldn't even have language. I am, after all, nothing but flesh.

    —I think I get it, he said. Your ability to "know" or "perceive" the outside world is dependent on Shiki's personality.

    —Correct. I am simply an unpowered piece of hardware. Without the requisite software I am just an inert box.

    —I am a hollow container which only gazes inward, which communes solely with death - in other words with what Magi call the "Root", though I see no value in it whatsoever.

    Quietly, all but without his notice, she took a step towards him. She held out her hand to his face. With a pale, slender finger she parted his forelock. Beneath it was a single scar.

    —Mind you, right now I think there might be a little value to it after all. I could heal a wound like this, for instance. I could come to your aid. Disturb the universe a little. But you don't wish for any of that, do you?

    —No, he answered. Shiki's specialty is breaking things. It would be asking too much. I'd be afraid for myself.

    How serious, that reply? He gave a light smile. Like a butterfly scattered in the afternoon light, her gaze left him in a moment. She lowered her hand, softly as the snowfall.

    —Quite right. Shiki can only destroy. And to you, after all, I suppose I am she.

    —Shiki?

    A long pause.

    —My origin is nihil. From nihil I originated, the flesh that I am, the corpse in the womb to which life was somehow given. That is why Shiki can perceive death. For two years, in her comatose state, she was unable to view the outside world, and could do nothing but gaze into the nihil that Ryougi Shiki "is." More than simply seeing, she felt death.

    —All that time she was floating there in that ocean which others call the "swirl of the Root." Shipwrecked all alone in the midst of " ".

    Yes, indeed.

    If nihil is her origin, then most likely she wills to bring all things to nought. Shiki is able to kill anything without exception, for that reason alone. The personality, Shiki, strives to negate. Why? Because that is the original pattern of her soul. The inclination to nihil, which ardently wishes the death of all creation.

    —That is Shiki's capability. Much like Asagami Fujino, she perceives a unique channel in which things unseen by others become visible. When she "looks" at them, she is seeing a glimpse of the architect's floor-plan for all reality. That is the "swirl of the Root."

    —But I can see much further than that. No, rather - I may well be that "swirl" myself.

    She was looking him right in the eye, but her tone of voice was insecure, uncertain. As if to let slip, between moments, an utterly incommunicable loneliness.

    —The swirl of the Root is a "place" where all causalities interlace, where all things are in potential, and therefore where nothing is whatsoever. That is my true shape. Though I am merely bound to it, I am nonetheless a part of it. And the part and the whole of a nothingness are the same, wouldn't you say?

    —So I can do - whatever. Recompose the laws of nature, revert living beings to their evolutionary forebears. To overturn the system of the world, there's simply nothing to it. It's not a remaking. I simply crush the old one with the new world in its place.

    She was faintly smiling as she said that. There was a wry twist to her mouth, as if she was mocking how ridiculous she sounded.

    —But it's all so pointless, isn't it? Such a tiresome thing. Such nonsense, you might as well dream it up. As indeed I do. Without seeing, without thinking, without even dreaming - I dream.

    —That said, mine and Shiki's dreams seem to be different. Shiki, you see - she hates to be alone. I know. So pedestrian, isn't it? How tiresome Shiki is. How tiresome reality is. How tiresome - I am.

    Her voice, barely even a whisper. She was looking somewhere afar, deep into the night. As if it was of incalculable importance, something never to be seen again.

    —But there's no helping it, I'm afraid. I am a body and nothing more, after all. We are the one thing, she and I, so I've no choice but to follow along with her dream.

    —Shiki is looking at the outside, while I am looking at the interior. But the interior, Ryougi Shiki's body, is in communion with that "place" they call the Root. So even though I see only the inside of her, I see...everything.

    —And that is so painful, so tedious, so utterly pointless that I have to close my eyes to it. I will keep them closed. For me there is nothing otherwise.

    —Were it that I would just sleep. Dream nothing, think nothing, forever.

    —When at last this body returns to the dust, I should not even notice.

    As if interred beneath the falling snow, these words of hers calmly and quietly dissolved into the dark. He said nothing. He was looking at her face in profile. And then she raised a soft voice, like a bell, to chide herself.

    —What a fool I am. Ignore all that.

    —Still, since it pleases me, I'll reward you once more.

    —Shiki has no liking for murder. She misunderstands herself if she thinks that. Everything she has in the way of a will to homicide comes from me. She herself has no such preference. So don't worry yourself over it, Kokutou. If there is a killer here at all, it is none other than myself. The only one who ever wanted to kill you, was yours truly.

    A mischievous smile as she let him in on that secret. As if to say: don't tell Shiki, OK? He could only nod his assent to that.

    Still. The fleshly body, nothing but a container. But nonetheless something which had formed a self, which had grown into a foundational existence. An "intellect" of sorts, far beneath even her unconscious mind, which governed the various intellects that had taken the name Shiki. No-one would believe that if they heard it. Though in the end it's obvious. That the human being is a thing which dreams deep within the hollow of the "self."

    —I shall be going soon. So tell me, Kokutou. Do you really not wish for anything? Even when you confronted Shirazumi Lio you chose neutrality. Even though it left you on the border of death.

    —To me that seems mysterious. Though quite apt for you, I suppose. But don't you want a tomorrow that's more enjoyable than today?

    He answered.

    —No. I don't. I'm happy as it is. This, I think, is enough for me.

    I see, she whispered. She was staring at him then, with a look that might have been envy.

    She thought.

    There is no such thing as a human being who can live without qualities, without wishing to be something special and unique. All humans live their lives embracing many different answers, conflicting opinions, antithetical doubts. Yet whereas Ryougi Shiki had embodied that tendency to the utmost, it was infinitely thinner, more rarefied, in him.

    He never hurt anyone, and in turn he never got hurt. He never stole anything, and in turn he never obtained anything. He raised no waves; he lived, as if dissolving into the passage of time, an averaged life. He'd take his final breath without a sound. A normal life, harmless and inoffensive.

    Yet such a life within society would not at all be a normal life. To live without competing with others, without detesting others: such is simply impossible. If in fact many do live something like that, it is not because they wanted to. They wanted to become special, and they live average lives because they failed. To want such a life from the outset is the very hardest thing. It indeed is something very "special."

    In the last analysis there are no human beings who are not in some sense special. Humans are each and every one the bearers of utterly incomparable significances. They lean upon the fact that they share a species in common in order to draw close to one another; they live their lives in order to hollow through the boundaries of mutual incomprehension. They know very well they'll never achieve that, but they dream of it. That indeed is the singular "normality" which obtains for all humans without exception.

    A long silence had passed. Slowly she returned her gaze to the utmost edge of the bright immensity of night.

    A particularity that no-one can understand, and a universality that no-one will try to understand. Everyone who sees him sees only normality, so no-one tries to look closer. Someone who is never hated by anyone, and in turn, never catches their eyes. It seemed that pleasant days were crystallised in him. So in the end, which of the two of them was really all alone?

    There was no telling. None would ever know. She stared out at the drifting oceanic sky. In her eyes, a surreptitious grief. A whisper addressed to no-one, not more than a breath, passed her lips.

    —To live ordinarily, and die an ordinary death.

    Ah. That, indeed.

    —How lonely...

    She looked deeply into a dark with neither end nor beginning. Thus Ryougi Shiki made her farewell.



    So he saw her off. He knew he'd never see her again. The snow didn't let up. White splinters filled the darkness. Like feathers they fell.

    —Goodbye, Kokutou.

    She said that. He couldn't say a thing.

    —Silly of me. I'll see you tomorrow, won't I?

    She said that. He couldn't say a thing. Just as she had, on some other day, he stood in the snow and gazed into the sky. He would watch in her place until dawn broke.

    The snow continued to fall. And when the world was wholly covered, ash-grey, he made his way home by himself. Slowly, with his black umbrella, he wandered along roads unmarked by so much as a shadow of another person. In white snow. The blackness which dawn extinguished was like a relic of the night. Slowly, softly, it faded away. But no loneliness clouded his face as he followed the road home.

    It was just the same as when he had first met the girl four years ago. Quietly alone, simply, singing a snowy day.

    I love reading things with massive gaps between sections, and also half of it's in some alien fucking language! YeAH!

    空の境界 Bhūtakoṭi
     街は四年ぶりの大雪に見舞われていた。

     三月に降る雪は、季節を凍らせるように冷たい。

     夜になっても白い結晶は降りやまず、街は氷河期のように死んでしまった。

     深夜零時。

     道には人の姿はなく、ただ街灯の明かりだけが雪のヴェールに抵抗している。

     暗いはずなのに白く染まったその闇の中で、彼は散歩に出かける事にした。

     とりわけ目的があった訳ではない。

     ただ予感だけがあって、その場所へ歩いてみた。

     黒い傘をさして、降り積もる雪の中を歩いていく。

     果たして、そこに彼女は立っていた。

     四年前の日と同じように。

     誰もいない白い夜のなか、着物姿の少女はぼんやりと闇を見つめている。

     彼は四年前と同じように、やあ、と気軽に声をかけた。

     着物姿の少女は振り向いて、にこりと微笑う。

    「───久しぶりね、黒桐くん」

     見知らぬ少女は、もうずっと彼を知っていたような、柔らかな笑みをうかべていた。
    Snow in the city. In four years none heavier. In March, midwinter. Biting frost. By day and by night, fresh falls of rock crystal. The streets retrieved a quiet archaic deadness.

    Midnight, then.

    Outside was no-one. Meagre lamplight against a veil of snow. A white-painted dark. But he went out; he chose to. For a walk, let us say. No goal especially in mind. He had nothing more than a presentiment. He followed it. He followed it through the city, through floes of piling snow. In hand a black umbrella.

    And at last she indeed was there. Four years ago, then as now. Just such a snowblown, vacant night. The girl in the kimono had stood there. She gazed vaguely into the dark. Then as now, he greeted her frankly. A friend. And she heard him, turned her head. She smiled.

    —It's been a while, Kokutou.

    Back then he had not recognised her. Nor indeed now. But she, it seemed, had always known who he was. And a gentle smile came to her face.
    「――久しぶりね、黒桐くん」

     
    りょうぎしき
    両儀式
    という少女は、彼に馴染みのない口調をしていた。

     そこにいるのは彼が知っている
    しき
    でも、まして
    シキ
    でもない知りえない誰か。

    「やっばり君か。......ああ、なんとなく会えると思ってた。それで、式は眠ってるの?」

    「そうね。今は、わたしとあなただけ」

     にこりと微笑う。

     それは女性という存在が形になったような、完壁な微笑みだった。

     彼は尋ねる。

    「君は、誰なんだい」

    「わたしはわたしよ。どちらのシキでもない、ただガランドウの心の中にいるわたし。それともガランドウのコ コロがわたしなのかな」

     自らの胸に手をあてて、瞼を閉じる。

     ......彼女は言った。

     なにもかも受け入れるのなら、傷はつかない。

     自分に合わないことも、自分が嫌いなことも、自分が認められないことも、反発せずに受け入れてしまえば、 傷はつかない。

     けれどその逆だって同じこと。

     なにもかもはねのけるのなら、傷つくしかない。

     自分に合っていることも、自分が好きなことも、自分が認められないことも、同意せずにはねのけてしまえば 、傷つくしかない。

     ......それは、かつて彼女自身だった、式と織という人格の在り方だった。

    「肯定と否定しかない心は完全であるが故に、孤立してしまうの。そうでしょう? 汚れない完全な単色は、混 ざりあえないかわりに変色する事もできず、ずっと同じ色のままだもの。

     それが彼女たち。シキっていう人格は一つの土台の両端にある極点みたいなものかしらね。その間には何もな い。だから、そのなかに、わたしがいるの」

    「そっか。まんなかにいるのが君なんだ。じゃあなんて呼べばいいのかな。その、やっばりシキで いいの?」

     はて、と首をかしげる彼の仕草がおかしくて、彼女は思わず笑ってしまう。

    「いえ、両儀式がわたしの名称よ。けれどシキと呼んでもらえるなら嬉しいな。それだけで待ってた意味がでて くるもの」

     微笑む彼女は、こどものようにも、おとなのようにも思えた。
    —It's been a while, Kokutou.

    Ryougi Shiki was her name. But the tone she now took was unfamiliar. Who stood here was neither the Shiki he knew, nor the other he had known, but another still, altogether unknowable.

    —It is you, then.

    A pause.

    —Somehow I thought it would be. Is Shiki - asleep, then?

    —She is. Right now it's just me and you.

    She smiled. Flawless, incarnate, feminine smile. He questioned her.

    —And who are you?

    —I am I. Neither this Shiki nor that. I am simply I, the inmost reach of a hollow heart. Or maybe just the hollow heart itself.

    Her hand to her chest. Her eyes closed.

    Once, she had told him:

    Accept everything, and you'll never be hurt. Whatever disagrees with you, whatever is hateful to you, whatever you won't acknowledge - simply accept it all, without the slightest resistance, and you'll never be hurt.

    But it's just the same the other way.

    Reject everything, and you can only be hurt. Whatever agrees with you, whatever you like, whatever you acknowledge - simply reject it all, without the slightest consent, and you can only be hurt.

    That was how she, and he, had been. The two of them. Their way of life.


    —A heart that only affirms and denies is isolated because it is complete. Wouldn't you agree? Unsullied monochrome will never fade, because its colours never mix. They remain always the same.

    —Thus the two of them. I would liken she and he each to an extremity, opposite poles on a single foundation. Between them, nothing. And within that nothing? I.

    —I see, he said. You're between the two. Then I'm not sure how I should address you. I guess you're "Shiki" as well?

    His puzzled demeanour - amused her.

    —No. Ryougi Shiki is just what I've been named. Though I'm glad if that's enough to have you call me Shiki. That alone makes it worth having waited this long.

    As she said this, smiling, she seemed neither decisively childlike nor adult.
     彼と彼女はとりとめのない、わずかなコトを語りあった。

     彼はいつもどおりに話して、彼女も楽しそうに聞いている。

     ふたりの関係はいつもの関係と変わらない。

     けれど、ただ、彼女だけが違っていた。

     彼女は彼との違いを悟っていく。その、決して混ざりあえない絶望だけを。

    「ねえ。四年前の事を、式は覚えてないの?」

     とうとつに、彼はそんなことを尋ねた。

     そう、まだ彼が高校生だった頃の話だ。彼は彼女に以前一度会ったことがある、といったのに、式はそれを覚 えていなかった。

    「ええ、わたしと彼女たちは違うから。織と式は隣りあってる者だから、お互いの事はよく覚えている。けれど わたしは彼女たちが知覚できない自分だから、今日のことも式は覚えていないでしょうね」

     そうか、と彼は残念そうに呟いた。

     ――四年前の一九九五年の三月。

       彼は、彼女に出会った。

     きっかけは、ほんとうに些細なこと。

     雪が降った中学生最後の夜、彼はこの道を通って家に帰る途中、ひとりの少女を見かけた。

     少女はこの道に立っていて、ぼんやりと空を見上げていた。

     彼はそのまま帰って、寝ようとした時にふと少女のことを思い出した。そうして散歩がてらに外に出てみたの だ。

     すると少女はずっとそこに立ったままで、彼は少女に声をかけた。

     こんばんは、と十年来の友人のような気軽さで。

     きっと、あんまりにキレイな雪だったから。

     見知らぬ誰かとでも、一緒に遊びたくなったのだろう。
    They spoke of meaningless things. He talked, like always. She was happy to listen. Their relation was the same always. Only, in truth, she was not. She alone differed. She came to realise that difference, which cut between them. And to despair that there could be no intermixture.

    —Tell me. Four years ago. Shiki has no memory of it, does she?

    Suddenly he had to know. At long last he had to. He had met Shiki in high school, but when he did he knew at once that he had met her somewhere before. He'd told her of this. She had denied it.

    —She doesn't. I am not the same as them. He and she stood side-by-side, as it were, and could know each other well. I do not. I could not be so percieved by them. Shiki won't remember tonight, either.

    I see, he whispered. That's too bad.

    Four years ago. March 1995. He met her.

    Really a very trivial thing. It was his last night of middle school. Snow was falling. He had been on the the way home, this very road. He had caught sight of her. A lone girl standing in the road, looking vaguely up to the sky. He had passed her by, gone home. But later, trying to sleep, he'd suddenly remembered that girl. So he'd stepped out for a walk. And when he found that she'd been standing there all that time, he spoke to her. Good evening, he'd said, easily as one would to an old friend. But only for the snow had been so beautiful.

    No doubt he'd just been lonely himself.
    「黒桐くん。わたしもね、あなたに尋ねたい事があるの。少しだけ残念だけど、お話はそれでおしまいにしまし ょう。わたしはそのために出てきたんだから」

     彼女は見かけより何倍も大人びた瞳で彼を見つめる。

    「あなたのほしいものは、なに?」

     質問は漠然としすぎていて、彼には答えられない。

     彼女は感情のない機械のような表情。

    「願いを言って、黒桐くん。わたしは人の望むものなら大抵のことを叶えてあげられるわ。式はあなたが好きみ たいだから、わたしの権利はあなたのものだもの。

     ――さあ、あなたは何を望むの?」

     手を差しのべた彼女の瞳は透明で、どこまでも深い。果てまで見渡せてしまえそうな瞳には人間性というもの が欠けていて、なんだか神さまを相手にしているみたいだった。

     そうだね、とわずかに思案して彼は彼女の眼差しに応える。

     無欲というのでもなく、信用していないというわけでもなく。

     いらないよ、と彼は答えた。

     彼女は瞳を閉じて、そう、と吐息を漏らす。それはひどく残念そうで、けれど安堵するような慈しみをおびた 翳り。

    「......そうね、わかりきっていたことだった」

     そうして彼女は彼から視線を逸らして、白い闇をぼう、と見つめた。

    「君は、シキじゃないんだね」

     彼は哀しそうにいって、彼女はええ、と頷いた。

    「――ねえ黒桐くん、人格ってどこにあるのかな」

     明日の天気を尋ねるみたいな、素朴な質問。

     それは答えになんてこれっぽっちも関心がなさそうな、空っぽな気持ちだった。

     だっていうのに、彼は口元に手をあてて真剣に考える。

    「......どうだろう。人格っていうのは知性のことだから、やっぱりあたまのなかにあるんじゃないのか な」

     頭の中、つまり脳に知性は宿る。

     彼はそう口にして、彼女はいえ、と首を横に振った。

    「......魂は脳に宿る。脳髄だけ生かしきれるコトが可能なら、人は肉体なんかいらない。ただ外部から 電気を流してやればずっと脳だけで夢を見て生きていける――そう、式に語った魔術師がいたわ。あなたと同じ ね。人格は頭の中にあるって答え。

     でも、それは間違いなの。

     例えばね、黒桐くん。あなたという人間、あなたという人格、あなたという魂をカタチにしているのは遍歴を つみかさねた知性と、そのカラである肉体なの。知性を生む脳だけでは人となりを表す人格は作ら れない。

     ......そう、脳だけで生きていけるというけれど、わたし達は肉体があって初めて自己を認識できる。 肉体があって、それと一緒に育ったから今の人格があるの。自分の肉体が好きなひとは社交的な人格を持つだろ うし、嫌いなひとは内向的な翳りを持ってしまう。人格は知性だけで育つけれど、知性だけで育った人格は自己 を省みない、およそ人間の心とは別の物に成長してしまうわ。それじゃあ人格じゃなくて、ただの計算機と変わ らなくなってしまうでしょ?

     脳だけになるというのなら、その人は『脳だけの自分』という新しい人格を作らないといけない。肉体という 大我を捨てて、知性という小我を大元にしなくちゃいけない。

     知性があって肉体がある、ではないの。

     肉体のあとに、知性が生まれる。

     でも知性の元になった肉体には、やっぱり知性なんてものはない。肉体はただあるだけだから。けど肉体にだ って
    いし
    人格
    はあるわ。だって一緒に育って、知性を生んだわたしなんだから」

     ああ、と彼は声をあげた。

     ......聞いたことがある。人間は三つの事柄で出来た生物だって。精神と魂、それに肉体 というもの。

     精神は脳に、魂は肉体に宿るものだとしたら、彼女はシキの本質なんだ。

     シキという心がない、肉体という名前の人格。

     
    かのじょ
    両儀式
    はゆっくりとうなずいた。

    「つまりはそういうコトよ。

     わたしは知性が作り出した人格じゃなくて、肉体そのものの人格なの。

     式と織は、結局『両儀式』という大元の性格の中で行なわれる人格交換。それらを全て司っているのは『両儀 式』よ。彼女たちが両儀であるのなら、太極があるのは道理でしょう? 太極をかたどるもの、円という輪郭が わたしなの。

     わたしは、わたしと同格のわたしを作った。いえ、意志という方向性がある以上、彼女たちはわたしより高位 なわたしかしらね。ふたりが異なる人格であろうと思考回路が同一だったのは、彼女たちが結局『両儀式の中の 善と悪』だったから。発端はわたしであり、また、その結論もわたしにある。そうしなければ異なる方向性の彼 女たちが両立できるはずはないものね」

     くすり、と両儀式は笑った。

     彼を流し見る視線は、今までのどんな時より――冷たく、殺意に満ちている。

    「......よくわからないけど。つまり、君はふたりのシキの原型なんだ」

    「そう。両儀式の本質よ。そして決して表に出ない本質。肉体にすぎないわたしは考えるコトができないから、 そのままで朽ちるはずだった。「 」であるわたしは「 」であるが故に知性も意味も有り得ない から。

     けれど両儀の家の人たちは、そういった空っぼのわたしに知性を与えた。彼らは両儀式を万能の人間にするた めに色々な人格を組み込もうとしたの。そうして知性の原型であるわたしが起こされて、その後に全ての地盤に なるものとして、式と織をわたしは作った」

     ああ、と彼は息を漏らす。

     式と織、陰と陽、善と悪。それは相反するから分かれたものではない。蒼崎橙子という魔術師は語っていた。 そう分かれたのは、それらがもっとも多くの属性を内包するからだ、と。

    「おかしいでしょ? 本当は未熟児として消えてしまう筈のわたしは、そうして自分というものを得てしまった 。

     生まれたての動物は、赤子の体とそれに見合った知性の芽をもっている。けどわたしのように何も持たずに生 まれたものはね、そのまま死んでしまうのが決まりなの。もともと「 」に近いものは体をもって生まれてはい けない。トウコさんに聞いたでしょう? 世界は、世界自身で破滅の原因になる出来事を防いでいるって。だか ら普通ならわたしは発生しても生まれる事さえなかった。

     わたしのように「 」から直接流れ出た生き物は母親の胎盤の中で死ぬだけ。けど、両儀の血族はそれを生か す技術を持っていたのね。

     そうして生まれたわたしは、けど知性の芽さえない。「 」は無だから、知性だって無なんだもの。わたしは そのまま、外界を認識することなく生きていくはずだった。

     けれど彼らはわたしを起こした。出来合いの人格をわたしに植え付けたのではなく、「 」というわたしの起 源を起こしてしまった。無理遣りに外の世界を見せつけられたわたしは、面倒くさくなってその後のことはシキ に押しつけることにしたのよ。

     ――当然でしょう? だって外の世界のことなんて、判りきったことばかりでつまらないんだも の」

     無邪気な瞳が笑いかける。

     それは冷酷な、どこか嘲りを含んだ仕草だった。
    —Kokutou. There is something I'd ask of you. And I'm sorry to say that that is to be the extent of our conversation. It is the only reason I am here.

    She looked at him. Her eyes far older than she seemed.

    —What is it that you want?

    Such a vague question he couldn't even begin to answer. Her expression was vacant, machinelike.

    —Your wish, Kokutou. Tell me it. I can grant most human wishes. And Shiki seems to like you, so - what's mine by right is yours.

    —Now tell me. What do you wish for?

    She held out her hand. Her gaze was clear, transparent, infinitely deep. A gaze that took in all, to the utmost. Inhuman, somehow godlike.

    I wonder, he said. He thought about it, just a little. He met her gaze. No, it wasn't that he didn't want anything. Nor that he didn't believe her.

    Nothing, he answered. I don't need it.

    She closed her eyes. Ah. A long sigh, as if immensely disappointed. Though not without a tinge of affectionate relief.

    —Yes. That should have been obvious.

    She turned her gaze away from him. To the long bright dark of the sky.

    —You're really not Shiki.

    He said it so pitifully. She did not deny it. She nodded her head.

    —I wonder, Kokutou. Where do you think a "personality" exists?

    From nowhere, that simple, unaffected question. As casual as asking after tomorrow's weather. There was a feeling of hollowness to the words, as if she hadn't the slightest concern for whatever answer he might give. But all the same. His hand to his chin; he thought about it.

    —Well, I don't really know. Someone's "personality", that's their mind, isn't it. Their intellect. So I guess I'd say it's inside their head.

    Inside the head: in short, the brain. Where the intellect resides. He said as much. She shook her head.

    —There was a magus once who said: the soul resides in the brain. The fleshly body is just a prosthetic; really you could keep a brain alive in a vat, wired up to some dream or simulation, and it'd make no difference. Here you endorse the same view. That the personality, in sum, is inside the head.

    —But that is not the case.

    —Take yourself, for example, Kokutou. You are a human being, you are a personality, you are a soul. What is it that gives you, as such, your definite shape? Two things. Intellect, in which your life's peregrinations pile up, and flesh, the notional hollow husk. True, the brain bears the intellect. It gives rise to the intellect. But the brain by itself does not produce a "personality" expressive of what you are.

    —You may say that the brain could at least "subsist" by itself. But that's all. We are fleshly, embodied creatures, and it is only because we are that we can recognise ourselves as "selves" to begin with. The personality, the individual character that you are - it grew up as one with the flesh. Those who make a friend of their body surely come to bear sociable personalities, while those who don't become gloomy and introverted. A personality could develop as pure intellect, but such a personality would not reflect upon itself; it would have no sense of itself, and it would mature, if that's the right word, into something quite unlike a human being. In the end it would amount to nothing more than a calculating mechanism, which can't really be called a "personality" at all.

    —A "person" like that who became nothing but a brain would have to create a new personality befitting their new self. They would have to discard the organic, bodily consciousness, and take the restricted, brain-bound, intellectual consciousness as their ultimate foundation.

    —You see, it is not the case that you simply have the intellect here, the flesh there, on the same level so to speak.

    —The flesh is there first, and intellect arises out of it. Is borne out of it.

    —The flesh, we may say, becomes the basis of the intellect. It does not itself "have" an intellect. The flesh simply "is." But the flesh does have a personality, a will, of a kind. It grows up as one with, and gives birth to, the intellect. That - is what I am.

    Ah, he said. He'd heard it somewhere before, hadn't he. That the human being is composed of three different things. Mind and soul, to which is added the fleshly body. Supposing, then, that the mind resides in the brain, and the soul in the body. That makes her - what? Shiki's essence. Her true character. A personality, "the body", with nothing of Shiki's heart.

    Gently, she nodded her head. Ryougi Shiki did.

    —Basically, that's how it is.

    —"I" am not a personality borne of the intellect. I am the personality of the flesh as such.

    —Ultimately, Shiki - he and she could exchange with one another because they held my currency in common. A single foundation governed them both. That is "Ryougi Shiki." You know Ryougi is liangyi, so it stands to reason that two liangyi together make a taiji, doesn't it? That is me. I am that which takes the shape of the taiji, its circular outline.

    —They were my creations. Each of them an "I" of the same order as myself. Or, no; since they each possessed a will, an inclination of their own, you could say they were of a higher order than myself. Even if they were different personalities, their lines of thought were one in that they were both essentially the good and evil within "Ryougi Shiki." They originated from me, and concluded with me. Had they not, their differing inclinations should never have been able to coexist.

    She giggled. The gaze that now fell across him was more than ever cold and fatal.

    —I don't fully understand, he said. You're saying that you are the original pattern, the original model of which Shiki and SHIKI are both derivatives.

    —Correct. I am the essence of Ryougi Shiki. The essence which does not appear. Since the fleshly body is indeed unable to "think," and since that is all I am, under normal circumstances I would simply have rotted away in that thoughtless state without ever rising to the surface. Essentially I am just " ". And that which is " " can have neither intellect nor significance. Normally.

    —But I was born a Ryougi, which is not a normal circumstance. The members of the Ryougi family bestowed an intellect upon me. Upon that hollow, thoughtless thing. They had plans for their daughter: they wanted to make Ryougi Shiki into an all-capable human being. So they tried to inculcate her with various personalities, and in the course of that they awakened me. The "original pattern", as you said, of her intellect. As the ground for everything that came afterward, I then created Shiki. She and he.

    Ah, he said. Let slip a sigh. The twinned Shiki, yin and yang, good and evil. It was not antagonism which divided them. Aozaki Touko, the magus, had described it otherwise. That they were divided insofar as each comprehended all the attributes it possibly could.

    —A real comedy of errors has brought me here, you know. In truth I should have been a premature birth and perished like that, nothing more. Instead I ended up obtaining a "self" of sorts.

    —The simple truth is that I was born dead. Perhaps brain-dead would be more accurate. Normally a newborn will have an infant's body, and this body in turn will be quickened by the first stirring of what's to become its intellect. I did not have that; I was born with nothing whatsoever. By rights I should have died immediately. That which is near to " " simply must not be born bodily into the world. You heard this from Touko, didn't you? The world itself wards off anything that might disrupt it. Ordinarily, indeed, I should not have been born at all.

    —Ordinarily a creature whose being is poured out straight from " " simply dies in its mother's womb. That was my case. But the Ryougi clan possessed a technique for keeping such a thing alive.

    —So I was born, alive, but without so much as a stirring of intellect. " " is utter nullity, and thus an intellectual nullity as well. I should simply have "lived" with no cognition of the outside world.

    —But not only did they keep me alive, they woke me up. They did not implant some readymade personality into me. They awakened the " " which is my origin. The outside world was thrust upon me. I - the void and vacant "I" - was forced to look at it. I found it an eyesore. I found it altogether too troublesome. So I in turn thrust it upon those two.

    —It was only natural. The outside world, if you could call it that, was the most wearisome thing imaginable. Because it was, all of it, down to the last of its innumerable atoms, "already known" to me.

    Innocent eyes were smiling. An ice-cold, somehow scornful gesture.
    「でも、君には意志がある」

     彼には彼女が痛ましいものに見えて、そう口にした。

     彼女は頷く。

    「そうね。どんな人にだって肉体そのものに人格はあるけれど、それ自体が自己を認識する事なんかないわ。だ ってその前に脳が知性を作り上げるもの。

     脳の働きによって生まれた知性は人格になって、肉体そのものを統括する。その時点で肉体に宿っていた人格 なんて無意味になってしまう。

     脳だって体の一部にすぎないのに、知性というものは自身を生み出す脳だけを肉体と切り離して考えて、特別 なものとして扱うでしょう?

     ソフトウェアはハードがなくちゃカタチにできない。けど、ハード自身もソフトウェアがなければ機能してく れない。人格という知牲は、自らを作りあげた肉体のことなんか知らず、
    ちせい
    人格
    じぶん
    肉体
    を作ったって思うのよ。わたしはその順序が人とは違っただけ。

     それでもね、いまこうしてお話をしているわたしだって、シキという人格があるから話していられるの。シキ がいなければ、わたしは言葉さえ理解できない。だってただの肉体にすぎないんだもの」

    「......そうか。式っていう人格がいないと君は外の世界を識る事ができないんだ。だって 」

    「そう。わたしは電源のはいっていないハードで、シキというソフトウェアがなければただの匣よ 。

     ただ内側ばかり見つめるしかない、死に通じているだけの器。魔術師たちは根源に通じているといっていたけ ど、そんなコト、わたしにとっては何の価値もないことだった」

     彼女はそっと一歩だけ前に出て、彼の顔に手をのばした。

     白い指がさらりと彼の前髪を揺らす。髪の下にはひとつの傷あと。

    「......でも、今はすこしだけ価値があるって思ってた。わたしだったらこんな傷ぐらい治してあげられ るからって。誰かの力になって、外の世界と関われるんだって。......なのに、あなたは何も望まないの ね」

    「うん、式は壊すのが専門だからね。無理をしてよけい酷いめにあったら、こわいよ」

     どこまで本気なのか、彼は穏やかな笑顔をする。

     彼女は陽射しから逃れる蝶のように目を背けて、降りしきる雪より緩やかに指を下ろした。

    「......そうね。式は、壊すことしかできないもの。あなたにとっては、やっぱりわたしは 式なんだわ」

    「――式?」

    「......わたしの起源は虚無だから、その肉体を持つ式は死が視える。二年間――昏睡状態で外界を見る こともできず、ただ両儀式という虚無を見つめ続けてきた式は、死の手触りを知ってしまったから 。

     式はね、ずっと根源の渦と呼ばれる海に浮いていたのよ。ただひとり、「 」のなかで式というカタチをもっ て」

     ......たしかに虚無というものが起源であるのなら、彼女は全てのものを無に帰したいと思うのだろう 。

     だから例外なく、式はあらゆるモノを殺せた。式という人格が否定しようと、それが彼女の魂の原型なのだか ら。虚無であるが故に、あらゆるものの死を望む方向性――。

    「そう、それが式の能力よ。浅上藤乃と同じ、人とは違ったモノが見れる特殊なチャンネル。根源の渦という世 界の縮図を垣間見られる特別な眼。

     けど、わたしはもっと深いところまで潜っていける。いえ――わたし自身が、その渦なのかもし れないわ」

     彼女は彼を見据えたまま不安定な声で続ける。

     誰にもわからない、淋しい感情を吐露するように。

    「......根源の渦。すべての原因が渦巻いている場所、すべてが用意されていて、だから何もない場所。 それがわたしの正体。ただ繋がっているだけだけど、わたしはソレの一部だもの。それって同じ存在ってコトで しょう?

     だからわたしはなんだってできる。......そうね、目に見えないほど小さな物質の法則を組み替えたり 、遡って生物そのものの系統樹を変えてしまうことだって可能だわ。今の世界の秩序を組み替えることだって簡 単よ。この世界を作り直すんじゃない。新しい世界で古い世界を握り潰すの」

     言って、彼女は小さく笑った。

     自身を蔑むように、ばかばかしいと口元を歪めて。

    「......けど、そんなのに意味はないわ。疲れるだけ。そんなこと、夢をみるのと変わらないもの。だか らわたしはなにも見ず、なにも考えず、夢さえ見ないという夢をみる。

     ......なのにわたしとシキの見る夢は違ったみたい。シキはひとりはイヤなんですって。つまらない夢 だと思わない? そう、なんてつまらないシキ。なんてつまらない現実。なんてつまらない――わ たし」

     呟いて、彼女は遠くの夜を見つめた。

     大切な、二度と見つめることのできないもののように。

    「でもそれは仕方のないことよね。わたしは体にすぎないんだから。どうせ同じものなんだから、彼女の夢につ きあわなくっちゃ。

     シキは外を、わたしは内を見つめている。両儀式の体はね、根源と呼ばれる場所に通じているでしょ? 内側 しか見れないわたしは、だから全ての出来事を知ってしまってるの。

     それが苦痛で、退屈で、無意味で、わたしは瞼を閉じていた。......それがまた続くだけだから、結局 は以前となにも変わらない。

     ずっと、眠っていればいい。夢も見ないで、何も考えずに、ずっと。

     いつかこの体が朽ちて消えてしまうときも、夢の終わりに気がつかないように」

     言葉は降りつもる雪に埋葬されるように、鎮かに闇のなかに溶けていく。

     彼は何も言えず、彼女の横顔を見つめる。

     彼女はそれを窘めるように、小さく、華やかな声で告げた。

    「ばかね。こんなコトを気にしないでよ。......でもうん、嬉しいからもう一つだけご褒美をあげようか な。

     式はね、殺人が好きなわけではないの。彼女は勘違いしているのよ。だって彼女の殺人衝動はわたしから生じ るものなんだから、それは彼女本人の嗜好じゃないでしょう? だから安心なさいな、黒桐くん。殺人鬼がいる としたら、それはわたしのことなんだから。あなたを殺したがっていたのは、他でもないわたしだったってこと なんだ」

     式には内緒にしてね、と彼女は悪戯っぽく微笑む。

     彼には頷くことしかできない。

     ......器でしかない肉体。

     けれど自己を形成し、成長させる大元の存在。シキという様々な知性を統括する無意識下での知 性。

     そんなこと、話してもきっと誰も受け入れない。結局人間は自分というカラの中で夢見ているものにすぎない なんて、そんな、あたりまえのことなのに。

    「......そろそろ行くわ。ねえ、黒桐くん。あなたはほんとうに何も望まなかった。白純里緒と対峙した 時も、死と隣り合わせだったのに中立を選んだ。

     わたしには、それが不思議で仕方がなかったの。あなたは今日よりもっと楽しい明日がほしくな いの?」

    「......ああ、今だって楽しいからね。それで十分だって、思えるんだ」

     そう、と彼女は呟く。

     あくまで普通な彼を、羨望に似た眼差しで見つめながら。

     ......彼女は思う。

     何の特徴もなく、自分が特別であろうと希望する事なく生きられる人間なんていない。

     人間は誰だって複数の考え、対立する意見、相反する疑問を抱えて生きている。

     その化身が両儀式という人間だとすると、彼はそれが極めて薄い人物。

     誰も傷つけないかわりに、自分も傷つかない。

     何も奪わないかわりに、何も得られない。

     波風をたてず、ただ時間に融けこむように人々の平均として暮らしていって、静かに息をひきと っていく。

     平凡な、当たり障りのない人生。

     けれど社会の中でそういう風に生きていけるのなら、それは当たり前のように生きているのでは ない。

     何とも争わず、誰も憎まずに暮らしていくことなんて不可能だ。

     多くの人々は自分から望んでそんな暮らしをしているわけではない。特別になろうとして、成り得なかった結 果が平凡な人生というカタチなのだ。

     だから――初めからそうであろうとして生きるコトは、何よりも難しい。

     なら、それこそが〝特別〟なこと。

     結局、特別ではない人間なんていないんだ。

     人間は、ひとりひとりがまったく違った意味の生き物。

     ただ種が同じだけというコトを頼りに寄りそって、解り合えない隔たりを空っぽの境界にするために生きてい る。そんな日がこない事を知っていながら、それを夢見て生きていく。

     きっとそれこそが誰ひとりの例外もない、ただひとつの
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     ......長い、静寂のあと。彼女はゆっくりと、白く広がる夜の果てに視線を戻した。

     誰にも理解してもらえない特別性と、誰もが理解しようとしない普遍性。

     誰から見ても普通な存在故に、誰も深く彼のことを理解しようとしない。

     誰にも嫌われないかわりに、誰も惹きつけることのない誰か。

     幸せな日々の結晶みたいな彼。なら独りきりなのは、はたしてどちらだったんだろう..... .?

     ――そんなこと、きっと誰にもわからない。

     たゆたう海を見つめる彼女の瞳には、その波のように密やかな悲しみがある。

     誰に語るのでもなく、囁きが漏れた。

    「あたりまえのように生きて、あたりまえのように死ぬのね」

     ああ、それは――。

    「なんて、孤独――」

     終わりのない、始まりさえない闇を見つめて。

     別れを告げるように、両儀式はそういった。
    —But you do have a will.

    She seemed to him then such a tragic figure that he had to say it. Again she nodded.

    —I do, after a fashion. A personality of the flesh as such arises in every human, but ordinarily it does not come to any kind of self-awareness. Usually, before that can happen, the intellect stirs to life. From out of the body, more precisely the brain, the intellect is produced.

    —The intellect borne out of the brain's activity becomes a personality and gains executive function over the fleshly body. At that point any personality which dwelt in the flesh becomes meaningless.

    —It's because of this that the intellect tends to treat the brain which gave birth to it as if it were something specially set apart from the rest of the fleshly body, even though it is just one part of the whole.

    —Software is useless without hardware, but hardware can't function without software. The personality borne of the intellect forgets this truth: it forgets that it is the body's product, and it imagines that it is the creator of this fleshly, embodied "I" which it finds itself to be. That is the ordinary case. I am different only in that the order in which these things happened was different for me.

    —Even so, the fact that I'm here, now, talking to you is entirely due to the personality of Shiki. If she wasn't here, I wouldn't even have language. I am, after all, nothing but flesh.

    —I think I get it, he said. Your ability to "know" or "perceive" the outside world is dependent on Shiki's personality.

    —Correct. I am simply an unpowered piece of hardware. Without the requisite software I am just an inert box.

    —I am a hollow container which only gazes inward, which communes solely with death - in other words with what Magi call the "Root", though I see no value in it whatsoever.

    Quietly, all but without his notice, she took a step towards him. She held out her hand to his face. With a pale, slender finger she parted his forelock. Beneath it was a single scar.

    —Mind you, right now I think there might be a little value to it after all. I could heal a wound like this, for instance. I could come to your aid. Disturb the universe a little. But you don't wish for any of that, do you?

    —No, he answered. Shiki's specialty is breaking things. It would be asking too much. I'd be afraid for myself.

    How serious, that reply? He gave a light smile. Like a butterfly scattered in the afternoon light, her gaze left him in a moment. She lowered her hand, softly as the snowfall.

    —Quite right. Shiki can only destroy. And to you, after all, I suppose I am she.

    —Shiki?

    A long pause.

    —My origin is nihil. From nihil I originated, the flesh that I am, the corpse in the womb to which life was somehow given. That is why Shiki can perceive death. For two years, in her comatose state, she was unable to view the outside world, and could do nothing but gaze into the nihil that Ryougi Shiki "is." More than simply seeing, she felt death.

    —All that time she was floating there in that ocean which others call the "swirl of the Root." Shipwrecked all alone in the midst of " ".

    Yes, indeed.

    If nihil is her origin, then most likely she wills to bring all things to nought. Shiki is able to kill anything without exception, for that reason alone. The personality, Shiki, strives to negate. Why? Because that is the original pattern of her soul. The inclination to nihil, which ardently wishes the death of all creation.

    —That is Shiki's capability. Much like Asagami Fujino, she perceives a unique channel in which things unseen by others become visible. When she "looks" at them, she is seeing a glimpse of the architect's floor-plan for all reality. That is the "swirl of the Root."

    —But I can see much further than that. No, rather - I may well be that "swirl" myself.

    She was looking him right in the eye, but her tone of voice was insecure, uncertain. As if to let slip, between moments, an utterly incommunicable loneliness.

    —The swirl of the Root is a "place" where all causalities interlace, where all things are in potential, and therefore where nothing is whatsoever. That is my true shape. Though I am merely bound to it, I am nonetheless a part of it. And the part and the whole of a nothingness are the same, wouldn't you say?

    —So I can do - whatever. Recompose the laws of nature, revert living beings to their evolutionary forebears. To overturn the system of the world, there's simply nothing to it. It's not a remaking. I simply crush the old one with the new world in its place.

    She was faintly smiling as she said that. There was a wry twist to her mouth, as if she was mocking how ridiculous she sounded.

    —But it's all so pointless, isn't it? Such a tiresome thing. Such nonsense, you might as well dream it up. As indeed I do. Without seeing, without thinking, without even dreaming - I dream.

    —That said, mine and Shiki's dreams seem to be different. Shiki, you see - she hates to be alone. I know. So pedestrian, isn't it? How tiresome Shiki is. How tiresome reality is. How tiresome - I am.

    Her voice, barely even a whisper. She was looking somewhere afar, deep into the night. As if it was of incalculable importance, something never to be seen again.

    —But there's no helping it, I'm afraid. I am a body and nothing more, after all. We are the one thing, she and I, so I've no choice but to follow along with her dream.

    —Shiki is looking at the outside, while I am looking at the interior. But the interior, Ryougi Shiki's body, is in communion with that "place" they call the Root. So even though I see only the inside of her, I see...everything.

    —And that is so painful, so tedious, so utterly pointless that I have to close my eyes to it. I will keep them closed. For me there is nothing otherwise.

    —Were it that I would just sleep. Dream nothing, think nothing, forever.

    —When at last this body returns to the dust, I should not even notice.

    As if interred beneath the falling snow, these words of hers calmly and quietly dissolved into the dark. He said nothing. He was looking at her face in profile. And then she raised a soft voice, like a bell, to chide herself.

    —What a fool I am. Ignore all that.

    —Still, since it pleases me, I'll reward you once more.

    —Shiki has no liking for murder. She misunderstands herself if she thinks that. Everything she has in the way of a will to homicide comes from me. She herself has no such preference. So don't worry yourself over it, Kokutou. If there is a killer here at all, it is none other than myself. The only one who ever wanted to kill you, was yours truly.

    A mischievous smile as she let him in on that secret. As if to say: don't tell Shiki, OK? He could only nod his assent to that.

    Still. The fleshly body, nothing but a container. But nonetheless something which had formed a self, which had grown into a foundational existence. An "intellect" of sorts, far beneath even her unconscious mind, which governed the various intellects that had taken the name Shiki. No-one would believe that if they heard it. Though in the end it's obvious. That the human being is a thing which dreams deep within the hollow of the "self."

    —I shall be going soon. So tell me, Kokutou. Do you really not wish for anything? Even when you confronted Shirazumi Lio you chose neutrality. Even though it left you on the border of death.

    —To me that seems mysterious. Though quite apt for you, I suppose. But don't you want a tomorrow that's more enjoyable than today?

    He answered.

    —No. I don't. I'm happy as it is. This, I think, is enough for me.

    I see, she whispered. She was staring at him then, with a look that might have been envy.

    She thought.

    There is no such thing as a human being who can live without qualities, without wishing to be something special and unique. All humans live their lives embracing many different answers, conflicting opinions, antithetical doubts. Yet whereas Ryougi Shiki had embodied that tendency to the utmost, it was infinitely thinner, more rarefied, in him.

    He never hurt anyone, and in turn he never got hurt. He never stole anything, and in turn he never obtained anything. He raised no waves; he lived, as if dissolving into the passage of time, an averaged life. He'd take his final breath without a sound. A normal life, harmless and inoffensive.

    Yet such a life within society would not at all be a normal life. To live without competing with others, without detesting others: such is simply impossible. If in fact many do live something like that, it is not because they wanted to. They wanted to become special, and they live average lives because they failed. To want such a life from the outset is the very hardest thing. It indeed is something very "special."

    In the last analysis there are no human beings who are not in some sense special. Humans are each and every one the bearers of utterly incomparable significances. They lean upon the fact that they share a species in common in order to draw close to one another; they live their lives in order to hollow through the boundaries of mutual incomprehension. They know very well they'll never achieve that, but they dream of it. That indeed is the singular "normality" which obtains for all humans without exception.

    A long silence had passed. Slowly she returned her gaze to the utmost edge of the bright immensity of night.

    A particularity that no-one can understand, and a universality that no-one will try to understand. Everyone who sees him sees only normality, so no-one tries to look closer. Someone who is never hated by anyone, and in turn, never catches their eyes. It seemed that pleasant days were crystallised in him. So in the end, which of the two of them was really all alone?

    There was no telling. None would ever know. She stared out at the drifting oceanic sky. In her eyes, a surreptitious grief. A whisper addressed to no-one, not more than a breath, passed her lips.

    —To live ordinarily, and die an ordinary death.

    Ah. That, indeed.

    —How lonely...

    She looked deeply into a dark with neither end nor beginning. Thus Ryougi Shiki made her farewell.
     そうして、彼は彼女を見送った。

     もう永遠に会えないことはわかっていた。

     雪はやまず、白い破片は闇を埋める。

     ゆらゆらと、羽根のように、落ちていく。

     ――さようなら、黒桐くん。

     彼女はそう言って、彼は何も言えなかった。

     ――ばかね。また、明日会えるのに。

     彼女はそう言って、彼は何も言えなかった。

     彼はいつかの彼女のように、ただ雪の中で空を眺めた。夜が明けるまで彼女のかわりに見続ける 。

     雪はやまず、世界が灰色に包まれた頃、彼はひとり帰路についた。

     黒い傘はゆっくりと、行き交う影さえない道を流れていく。

     白い雪のなか。

     朝焼けに消えていく黒はこの夜の名残のよう。

     ゆらゆらと、独りきりで薄れていく。

     けれど寂しげな翳りもみせず、彼は立ち止まることなく帰り道を辿っていった。

     四年前、初めて彼女と出会った時と同じように。

     一人静かに、ただ、雪の日を唄いながら。
    So he saw her off. He knew he'd never see her again. The snow didn't let up. White splinters filled the darkness. Like feathers they fell.

    —Goodbye, Kokutou.

    She said that. He couldn't say a thing.

    —Silly of me. I'll see you tomorrow, won't I?

    She said that. He couldn't say a thing. Just as she had, on some other day, he stood in the snow and gazed into the sky. He would watch in her place until dawn broke.

    The snow continued to fall. And when the world was wholly covered, ash-grey, he made his way home by himself. Slowly, with his black umbrella, he wandered along roads unmarked by so much as a shadow of another person. In white snow. The blackness which dawn extinguished was like a relic of the night. Slowly, softly, it faded away. But no loneliness clouded his face as he followed the road home.

    It was just the same as when he had first met the girl four years ago. Quietly alone, simply, singing a snowy day.
    Last edited by Dullahan; June 10th, 2022 at 11:42 AM.
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  2. #2
    改竄者 Falsifier Petrikow's Avatar
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    You silly goose you

  3. #3
    nicht mitmachen Dullahan's Avatar
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    Aren't we all just writing fanfics, in the end?
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  4. #4
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Oh, nice! Thank you, Dullahan!

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    nicht mitmachen Dullahan's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    Oh yes, TN. The word liangyi [Ryougi read in Chinese] is not translated because it's not really translatable. You could put something like the "Two Modes" but you'd just have to footnote that anyway explaining that it's a technical term originating from ancient Chinese philosophy so really why bother? I sure can't be bothered. The "two modes" are, of course, yin and yang. What are yin and yang? Ancient Chinese secret. Go drink some mercury and cultivate your golden core outside a tomb for 500 years and you might stand a chance of understanding
    Last edited by Dullahan; June 10th, 2022 at 10:49 AM.
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  6. #6
    僕はね、ヒマワリになりたかったんだ mewarmo990's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    I have included the Japanese text alongside
    you're a champ

  7. #7
    Finally got around to reading this!

    While the flow was a bit chewy at the very first you very quickly fall into it and I ended up enjoying that a lot, I don't think it's bad at all. This will sound stupid but it reminds me of how the hexagram descriptions in I Ching get translated.

    And not to sound haterly of what's perceived as the best TM anime but, so little of this was conveyed in the series imho. I feel like I can finally begin to get what Void even is and it added new layers to my interpretation of Ryougi and the anime version already comes up a bit dry in comparison even to this relatively small part of the original.

    I can't say anything about the actual translation but I really enjoy that I got to read this, I love having my interpretations of characters turned upside down any day.

  8. #8
    nicht mitmachen Dullahan's Avatar
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    Thank you for taking the time.

    Chewy, yes. I am afraid the first section I had great difficulty with, since Nasu is not only doing the LN thing where he writes one sentence, line break, one more sentence, etc., but he's also using some metaphors which are simply impossible to do elegantly into English because they are mildly inelegant in Japanese. "The snow that falls in March is cold as if to freeze the season." "The city was dead like an ice age." My approach therefore ended up being somewhat loose. I had originally intended to make it sound like Hemingway but I ran into a brick wall and procrastinated on it for months (years). The I Ching judgements were not my final reference point though I see what you mean now that you mention it. Actually all I did was drink schnapps and read Samuel Beckett poems until I felt I could make it sound alright if I read it aloud in an Irish accent. I hope it worked.

    Anyway I am very glad you enjoyed it, and that it's led you to understand [ ] in a new and different way. That was really the point of the exercise: to try and make clear the exposition in Epilogue, which Coke back in the day managed to make very obtuse and confusing. (I avoided rereading his TL while I was working on this. I have gone back and looked at it now. It's pretty dire.) I don't think I fully succeeded because there is a certain irreducible obtuseness in the original. I suspect that Nasu wrote it quickly, in one go, and from the heart (so to speak). He did not revise it between the 2004 and 2007 editions of the novel (even to the point of leaving in what I can only parse as an obvious typo) which seems strange for the man who changed Shinji into a really devoted nii-san in Realta Nua, but what do I know? I guess he was happy with how it turned out. It is a sketch of a kind of metaphysics of the person which could be interpreted in various ways. You can read it through Schopenhauer in an interesting way, Hegel even (superficially), but I think it's more likely Nasu's reference point was, as usual, the Consciousness-Only school of Mahayana Buddhism. [ ] is something like the alaya-vijnana/amala-vijnana. Or otherwise comparable to the "original face" in Zen.

    Not a lot of this comes across in the films. Sad to say. Inner monologues frequently ended up on the cutting room floor during the adaptation process (RIP Lio's diary entries) and even for this, a chapter which is mostly dialogue, things got cut.
    Last edited by Dullahan; June 17th, 2022 at 08:47 AM.
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