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!
Written by Manuel Vicent.
Translated by Louis S. Bedrock.
A beautiful animal lives quietly in the country, raised in luxury—although this does not exclude his being nourished with toxic feed until he reaches a weight of 500 kilograms. Suddenly, he is snatched away from the peace of his natural surroundings and the blue horizon of the meadow is replaced by crate about the same size as its body.
Outside of this casket in which they have put him, are heard sharp noises and human voices. The bull is in darkness. He hears the starting up of the engine and immediately begins a journey full of accelerations and sudden stops that throw him against the wood: if he doesn’t lose his balance, it’s because he is so rigidly imprisoned. But perhaps the darkness and the jolting bring his mind to the border of madness.
Among human beings, what has happened to the bull would be called “kidnapping”.
The bull has had nothing to eat or drink during the trip. After many hours, his kidnappers dump him in a corral and from there he is moved to a “toril” or bullpen where he’s also left in the darkness while outside there is an increasing din that the bull doesn’t recognize.
Suddenly, the door is opened and the explosion of light coincides with the burning sensation from the colored ribbons that they nail to his shoulder. He thinks he has returned to the pasture where he was happy, but he finds himself surrounded by a brutal uproar, and upon realizing that he is surrounded, he seeks an opening through which he can escape.
There are two fundamental questions which have mesmerized us throughout our history. Does the bull suffer? Do animals have rights?
Both questions are badly framed. He who has a right to imagine that the bull suffers, and that the bull’s pain does not elevate his own spirit, is the citizen.
A wonderful book for children of all ages that offers an alternative to the mythology of “brave” or “angry” bulls.
I recall Ferdinand the Bull as a cartoon from my childhood.