Hideo Kobayashi (1902-1983), a Japanese literary critic and author, begins his unfinished work on the French philosopher Henri Bergson as follows:


A few days after my mother passed away, I had a weird experience. Back then I didn’t want to tell anybody about it, and in fact I never did. But I couldn’t bear this strange feeling and I once decided to write about it under the title I came up with, A Fairy Tale Experience, though it never happened. Now finally, I will simply describe what really happened that day. Having noticed that there was no more candle offering for hotoke (the deceased spirit), I went out to get some. My family lived in the deep forest of Ogigayatsu, and there was a creek running in front of our house. It was already dark outside. I walked through the gate, and saw a firefly flickering. Every year we see many of them, but it was the first one I ever saw that year. I had never seen such a big one, and one that glowed so beautifully. Just then an idea occurred to me; “My mother has just appeared before me as a firefly.” Following the glow in the air, I couldn’t shake off that feeling any more. My readers, I assume, could just laugh away my sentiment, and I can do that too. But here is the rub――to tell you the truth, I haven’t described what really happened yet. That moment I never thought, “Oh this is the first firefly I ever saw this year” nor “This one glows like I have never seen.” Only after a while did I reflect upon that experience once or twice, but that day I swear I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even think that my mother somehow turned into the firefly. Everything just seemed to be natural. So if I were to simply describe what really happened as it happened, it should be something like, “I walked through the gate, and saw my mother/firefly flickering.” In other words, I would have to write a fairy tale. Hence the title, A Fairy Tale Experience.

(Complete Works of Hideo Kobayashi, Supplementary Volume. 1, p.11-12)

Henri Bergson was a philosopher who sought to understand the relationship between our physical brain and our mind. In writing on Bergson, perhaps Hideo Kobayashi couldn’t help but mention his own experience; he saw a firefly and naturally thought it was his deceased mother, a story that points to our mysterious natureAnd this could have something to do with a sensory modality that we share as a human race. 





小林秀雄全作品 別巻1』p.11-12)