Culture Travel

La Corrida- The Bull’s Story

I saw its head strain into a salute; a head held higher than the bulk of its neck might once have allowed. Into this militaristic tradition the bull assumed itself, unrelenting to the reality of the 50 cm long hole through its body. The toreros swung and swished their capes to elicit the fatal response, to twist that neck and sever the critical artery and so deliver their master, the matador, to the expected glory.
It sneezed blood from its nose and pissed involuntarily from its penis. It moaned and it bade, yet it did not sway to death’s command. The matador called upon tradition, upon the trained and historicised postures and poses of mastery and mortality. He willed the beast to die in the name of the profession, but also to vindicate his own vanity. Yet still those muscles forced themselves into the living. Formed achingly in an address of cynicism they spoke to the bull’s incredulity of what might follow.
And what did follow was real. I saw in those moments its hulk begin to sag and slump into death. And as the implacable depression of its mortality pushed still harder, even those neck muscles began to doubt. This most noble creature, black as ink and build to die, looked at its own transience directly in the faces of the crowd. A group of strangers willing it, in their whistles and cheers, to its custom built destiny. Its purpose from birth was to meet sadistic acclaim, to be humiliated and aggrandized at the same time. And what did it feel as its body would no longer permit it to defy, as its legs wandered drunkenly across the sand and its once steady frame twitched in and out of life. To me it seemed ignorant and shocked, perhaps tricked. That it could be permitted to roam so freely, so naturally in pastures green for 6 years, only to be killed in 20 minutes. That a life so natural and real, free from humanity, could turn out to be simulation- the rolling hills of its youth brutally underwritten by the flat and dry sand of the arena floor.
In his final glimpses at a hungry destiny, as his body went awry, was he aware of his artificiality, of having spent six years of pointlessness in exchange for 20 minutes of reality? I suspect not. And so as he hit the sand like the rest of his brothers, as he closed his eyes for the final time, he would never know that his defiance brought him esteem, that he would be remembered.
He had been a good bull, or so the next day’s newspapers reported.


  1. Hi, just wanted to say that this is a terrific piece of writing. I hope you might expand on it at a later date. Perhaps more deeply analysing the brutality of this event.


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