A couple of days ago, I wrote an article on the vice of acedia, which recalled itself to my mind while reading the twenty-fourth volume of Rurouni Kenshin. Within its pages, I found a perfect image of the noonday devil. This character perfectly described the end goal of this demon. Permit me to translate liberally the scene below. Forgive me if the picture quality of the images isn’t perfect. It’s impossible to get a tankobun to lie flat!
KENSHIN: Enough already. I’m plenty worn out. I just want to quietly remain like this.
SHISHIO: You’re still here? Yo!
SHISHIO: What? This ain’t like you. Isn’t it ironic for me to be welcoming you…
KENSHIN: Well, whatever, hurry and take me along.
SHISHIO: Drop it, idiot. Who’s going to take you with them? I only came to mock you. But, well, if you’re willing to say anything, I’ll allow you to come with me. Before that, just acknowledge your loss right here. Your sword, your beliefs, your life, and everything about you…if you can recognize that they were all meaningless and irrevocable errors–
At its center, acedia is the temptation not to be. Thus, things like suicide, despair, and nihilism flow from it. Just after this dialogue, Yahiko and Misao show up to try to snap Kenshin out of the lassitude recent events have thrown him into. One gets the impression that they want Kenshin to simply be Kenshin–not the shell of a man. As I wrote before and Shishio gleefully illustrates, this vice tries to convince us that everything is pointless and without joy. The only way out of acedia is simply to live despite not feeling alive or understanding the point of life. A person’s life prior to falling into acedia is based on the goods he sought, and those goods don’t stop being worthwhile even when we don’t feel a desire towards them. Therefore, we summon all out perseverance and discipline to fight against acedia until we regain joie de vivre, which will happen unless the goods we sought were not truly good but false goods bearing the wages of sin.