Fiesta Brava

I’ve never attended a bullfight, a Fiesta Brava, though I have made myself watch film footage of the bloodiest moments, and also that moment fatal to the bull. The audiences applauded the matadors with joyous admiration (I find in my Spanish dictionary that corrida is slang for orgasm). The matadors paraded themselves in the “I’m the man” attitude.

Familiar as I am with my obdurate refusal to chill, my gut reaction to the Fiesta Brava footage was no surprise to me: I considered the matador a cheat. I thought the audience and he were collectively dishonest. It seems to me that if the matador wants to prove his bravery and honestly represent our human superiority over the rest of creation (our dominion over the beasts of the earth) then he should enter the ring naked, as does El Toro, and attempt to vanquish the bull without the aid of picadors (with their sharp lances) and banderilleros (with their barbed sticks).

At the same time, I wonder whether the respective genetic and intellectual histories of human and bull—kind should be taken into account. After all, we claim it is our ability to reason which elevates us above other life~forms. So, an accurate contest between bovine and   homo sapiens, should be between intellect on the human side and brute force on the steak side. Perhaps a “fair” fight between representatives of our respective species should include all that bulls (as a species) have learned, pitted against all that humans (as a species) have learned.

This would mean that the bull would pit it’s horns and muscle against a man or woman, positioned many miles away, armed with nuclear missiles (that most physically destructive expression of our powers of reason). Admittedly, the encounter would be brief and ecologically damaging but hey… don’t get me wrong… I’m aware of, and have been tempted by, the buzz to be had from violence and buckets of blood… but the decision to fight in the traditional sword/picador/banderillas way seems to me to be an arbitrary and false definition of fair; one which, as in other blood “sports”, demeans us.

Of men who have faced horror, felt the breath of death on their skin, some of these have said that for them, war was the best of times: the time when they felt truly alive. I suspect it’s the same for those men and women who climb mountains or skyscrapers, with only chalk and the strength of their fingers and toes between them and an insect death on the planet’s windscreen.

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