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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Fear


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El rejoneador Rodrigo Santos recoge un clavel. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 27 April 2009

 
Not that being one of them
ever softened the view
.........................but pain
makes it clearer
the fear
seen in their eyes
as they inflict suffering
upon something living, well
it's natural --
it's plain
it's clear

that they have cause
that they have reason
to be afraid




Caballo de picador. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 


  Subalterno con el capote. Un subalterno prepara al toro con su capote antes de que el matador entre en escena. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012

 
Subalternos antes de la corrida. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012


  Subalterno detrás de un burladero. Un subalterno observa atento el desarrollo de la corrida detrás de un burladero. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012



  Subalterno. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 

  Subalterno. Un subalterno expulsa el aire nervioso después de haber lidiado con un toro.Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 

  Subalterno con cigarro. Si bien el cigarro es pésimo para la salud y la condición física, a este subalterno le ayuda para calmar los nervios y la exitación antes del inicio de la corrida. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 

Afuera de la petetera antes del inicio de la fiesta. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 12 February 2013
 

  Jaripeo en el toro de once. El toro de once se llama así porque anteriormente iniciaba a las once de la mañana. Ahora comienza alrededor de la 1:30 de la tarde, cuando viene llegando la cabalgata que ha salido desde el centro de Colima. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 13 February 2013
 

  Charro ingresando a la plaza. Como todas las tardes, los charros entran con sus caballos para el Toro de Once. Ellos lanzan los toros para regresarlos al corral después de que los jinetes los montan Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 16 February 2012
 

Octavio García. Octavio García "El Payo" toma un respiro y un descanso para bajar la adrenalina bajo los tablados de la plaza. Puede apreciarse la construcción de esta a base de palos, mecates y petates. A "El Payo" le ha costado trabajo matar a su toro y lo ha dejado exhausto. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 12 February 2012
 

Vuelta al ruedo de Diego Silveti. Diego Silveti recibe un obsequio del público mientras da la vuelta al ruedo por cortar una oreja. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 12 February 2012
 

Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza. Retrato de Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza en La Petatera antes de iniciar con su faena. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 19 February 2013



Picadores. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 

Picador al caballo. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012
 

Capilla de la plaza de toros de La Petetera, en honor a San Felipe de Jesús. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 12 February 2013
 



People at the plaza. Villa de Álvarez, Colima, México: photo by Emigdio Salgado (Millo Salgado), 14 February 2012

10 comments:

ACravan said...

Thank you very much. This is devastating. But treating it as an argument with a conclusion, rather than a poem and artwork, I'm not certain the conclusion is correct, which makes me afraid. In fact I'm certain it's incorrect. It seems as though humanity can be bred out of people over generations in much the same way that you can breed colored markings and types of physical conformation into an animal. Curtis

TC said...

Curtis,

It's hard to know at what point the fear and the adrenalin merge to become one thing.

The extremely cinematic top shot shows us the other side of fear -- pure atavism.

Numbers 6 and 12 plainly show fear on the faces of the players.

The blowing-out of breath (see Nos. 7, 8 and the picador in Number 16) is interpreted by the photographer in his captions as a sign of tension, a kind of high anxiety.

(I have deliberately not translated the captions; like the business in the arena, the language is culturally-specific.)

Apprehension on the part of the players is appropriate. A tormented bull may be a formidable adversary.

But while this is obviously a cultural ritual specific to place, it goes on also in Spain. I have seen it in both places. The feeling is much the same. Public spectacles of cruelty and bloodshed create a sort of electricity in the atmosphere, which helps conduct the current of brutalization moving through the arena. One's soul is never again the same.

Picturing this sort of affair can be a dicey matter.

There is the unforgettable set of pictures Arthur Rothstein captured in Matamoros for the government in 1942. The photos never made it into print for obvious reasons, but it is interesting to compare the distanced severity of Rothstein's vision with what we see here.

Arthur Rothstein: Death in Matamoros (February 1942)

However, before passing judgment on what is seen in the pictures in the present post, it would be good to pause a moment and be clear about our own cultural rituals involving animals.

For example, anyone who has taken a serious look into the factory farming of turkeys will be doing a vegetarian feast on Thursday.

There are undercover videos made in the factory sheds that show workers stomping on animals, slamming them against walls, etc.

And this conduct is fearless. No one ever had anything to fear from a terrified, mutilated bird.

TC said...

Sorry about that, the revelatory gesture in Number 8 (as interpreted by the photographer) is not anxious expulsion of breath, but the smoking of the cigarette before entering the arena -- bad for health, but good for calming jumpy nerves.

Subalterno con cigarro. Si bien el cigarro es pésimo para la salud y la condición física, a este subalterno le ayuda para calmar los nervios y la exitación antes del inicio de la corrida.

Lally said...

Another brilliant poem and post Tom. Thank you.

Wooden Boy said...

Bullfighting is ugly; a phenomenon I don't quite understand. And yet for all the theatre that fear's faced.

You're right about factory farming and that fearless cruelty. How easily we pull a veil over production.

ACravan said...

When I was 8, my parents took me to a bullfight in Madrid. I've never gotten over it -- first the spectacle, then the senseless blood drawn first by the picadors, then the rest. In one of the bullfights, the matador was fairly seriously gored. He, I must admit, looked extremely frightened, but he still bowed to all four quadrants of the ring before exiting. Years later, I was attending a friend's performance on a Saturday night at a bullring in Alicante before Sunday's corrida. The musicians' dressing rooms were the matador's dressing rooms, right next door to the rooms where they housed the bulls. You could hear the bulls snorting and huffing through the walls, which they kicked repeatedly. I was scared then. It's a horrible, horrible practice. Bullrings are great places for rock concerts, however. Curtis

Nora said...

I've been a vegetarian pretty much all my life (well, 28/36 years), but no one is immune from that natural ability to inflict suffering on something living. Fear makes it easier (and more tempting), and really, who isn't afraid these days?

TC said...

Thank you Michael, Duncan, Curtis, Nora.

The experience of watching ritual killing in any context is not purgative, as alleged. It's just disgusting. One regrets having been there.

Old now, and more aware of the primacy of pain in mammalian experience, I find it impossible not to look through the fear of the bullfighters, as though it were a transparency, to what we see only hints of here, the confusion and agony of the bull, for whom the spectacle can end in only one way.

I spent some weeks in the summer of 1963 in Madrid, and there the desk clerk of the little hotel had the bullfights on his little black and white tv every night, much as, at the same time, Americans had baseball games.

But watching a large and proud animal senselessly tortured and killed on a television screen is almost as unpleasant as seeing the real thing.

Though in every culture there are variants, in so many cultures (it often seems) so much depends on rites of animal slaughter.

"...no one is immune from that natural ability to inflict suffering on something living."

What's scary is seeing that repressed impulse released into a "weightless" environment, in which an animal may be freely and brutally abused at will.

The hidden camera information from the turkey slaughter "production line" shows turkeys to be even worse off than the bull. The turkeys scare nobody. They serve as aggression sponges for the workers in the warehouse.

Sacrificial Rite

Elmo St. Rose said...

humans seem to need artificial
crises...like bull fighting, like
pro football(even on Thanksgiving)
pure poetry,art,and belief are few
and far between among us all.

re:Fear; I think TS Elliot said it
the best
"I can show you fear in a handful
of dust."

TC said...

Sooo... who'd have believed the shady old guy in the long coat lurking in the dark alley behind the bull ring in Tijuana actually wrote THAT poem?