Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fighting Bulls

What?! I've been fighting bulls for a living. You think I had time for this meme?

bullfight_posterI am an expert bullfighter. Perhaps I became interested in bullfighting because the creature is so damn beautiful. Glossy, ink-black coat. A body so well-balanced between mass, steel and yielding joints. The best bulls are a study in this paradox. They are so sexy and glamorous and dangerous. The beast could kill me, though I have learned, over the years, the delicate attributes of its physique, the locations of its Achilles' heels. The learning developed through necessity and experience. The bullfighter is always surprised; every bull is unique.

You arrive in the ring, and here is a bull: broken and worn down, missing teeth, not able to walk a straight line because one horn is shorter than the other. But you've a show to present. An old bull may have more soul than you'd imagine. You tease that out of it. Other times, here is a bull: all shiny bells and whistles and 24 karat nose rings. So fast and new. (sigh...) It's too much bull for you. It may be too much bull for the ring! I deal with the latter situation frequently--as a bullfighter you are rarely given an ideal bull in an ideal ring. No. A variable is almost always wrong, whether the size of the venue, your technique that day, the flexibility of the bull's muscles, or even the size of the audience. Having no one to cheer you on? And you're in front of a thousand pound monster? You feel foolish...sometimes.

It is a serious dance, once you begin to (and of course you must) consider the audience. It can not--ever--just be you and the bull. Bullfighting is a play, a seduction, a polite, esoteric exchange of, "you, no you; you first, no I insist, you go first." But the courtship is a public one. You seem at odds with each other--you and the bull--yet you're working together for the entertainment of others. Every situation is different. Perhaps that is what attracted me to the very first bull I ever met. (r.i.p) I realized a relationship with this creature would be ever-changing. As intimate as the relationship needed to be--imagine the lonely hours in the practice arena, in the tack room, maintaining physique and technique, making phone calls to the doctors and specialists, visiting master bullfighters, etc.--the two of us would one day provoke public dialogue or command appreciative nods or cause a few heartattacks.bullfight

Not everyone can fight bulls. You must be so strong. You must comprehend and process so many variables at once but maintain grace and composure. Your audience must never know that you are scared of the bull, that the bull is a hopeless case, that it is a hard fight or an easy fight. As bullfighter, you create thrills, yet you do not want to create panic. Again, it is an equally delicate and weighty matter.

I am a passionate, committed, and expert bullfighter, but even I am no master. That is the final thing one must understand about the art, and also why not everyone can learn to fight bulls. There is no end to the relationship--to the project--of bullfighting. You will never say, "aha! I've mastered the bull ... and so, moving on..." Even as an expert, you must accept the shifting nature of the beast and work with that in both traditional and innovative ways. The relationship is, in its way, infinite.


Awesome. Made my day.

By Blogger Jessica, at 12:25 PM  

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