by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock), August 23, 2017
On these dusty grounds, every year more than 30,000 fighting bulls are publicly beaten, pierced by gaffs, dragged by the neck with a rope, burnt alive by tar bullets, and beheaded in the midst of a great revelry. There is no longer a bloodthirsty God presiding over this carnage who needs to be satiated. The only element that remains from that ancient liturgy is the spectacle, the foundation of which is death; and this is brought about with extreme violence after having dragged this beautiful animal to its ultimate degradation—which coincides with the degradation of the spectators, even though they may not be aware of it.
A national hero, disguised as a playing card, dances around the bull, which is covered with wounds; or some young boys from the village, armed with sticks, flutter around it, while the masses yawn or bellow and are hoping to see someone’s intestines beneath the Spanish sun. But this doesn’t happen very often.
In any military barracks where they shoe pack animals, the number of soldiers who have died from being kicked by a mule is much greater than the number of bullfighters who have fallen in the ring in the entire history of bullfighting. The victims of this sinister chicanery, where death is presented as a party, are the bulls and the souls of the spectators.
More than 30,000 fighting bulls executed every season form a great pool of blood in the middle of the country and in the subconscious of its citizens. The Ministry of Culture considers such slaughter our spiritual patrimony.
In the stands, some poets think about the quality of the stewed beef that the picadors leave in the upper parts of the animal. In the front row, the aristocracy eat meatballs while watching the monosabios—the picadors’ assistants, who cover up excrement and blood clots with their brooms after each contest. Behind the barrier that shields the matadors, a governmental bigwig puffs on a cigar in between belches of pig knuckles.
Well-bred bankers discuss horn wounds through femoral arteries—and similar loans, amidst the ambiance of beheadings. And right over there, an intellectual is explaining to a group of Japanese tourists the depth or level of the stab wound inflicted by the matador.
The Jack of Swords struts around this dung heap. And all of this is called art.
Long live Spain! Long live the flies!