This morning I accidentally sliced into the tip of my left index finger. An Exacto knife…don’t ask. You think Tony Perkins coped with a bloody bathroom situation in the wake of Janet Leigh‘s stabbing death in Psycho? Nothing compared to what I was dealing with an hour ago. It’s all bandaged up now and will be more of less healed in four or five days.

I immediately flashed on the Yubitsume scene at the end of Sydney Pollack and Paul Schrader‘s The Yakuza (’74), in which Robert Mitchum‘s “Kilmer” slices off half of his pinkie finger as a gesture of regret.

Yubitsume or “finger shortening” is a Japanese ritual to atone for offenses to another, a way to be punished or to show sincere apology and remorse to another, etc. In The Yakuza Kilmer is offering a gesture of apology to Ken Takakura‘s “Ken Tanaka” fof having brought pain into his life.

Pollack depicts this amputation as akin to a skin prick from a rose thorn. In actual life Mitchum would be covered with spurting cherry-red vino…splattered all over his suit plus the table, tablecloth and floor. I just went through a relatively minor sliced-finger episode and it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

All to say that if I’m ever in Tokyo again (unlikely) and I somehow wind up bringing great pain into the life of a close Japanese friend, I’m not cutting my finger off as a way of saying “sorry, bruh”. The offended guy will have to take my word of it.