Bulls and Time
Yesterday I was in Ronda with my students. Ronda is celebrating its fiestas these days and yesterday was the "corrida goyesca", the celebrated bullfight where the matadors dress up in early 19th century garb (based on Goya's drawings, thus the term goyesca) and go do their thing in the oldest bullring in Spain for a crowd of tourists mixed in with the who's who of Southern Spain along with a splattering of famous actors, singers, second rate nobility, etc. Manolo offered me a ticket, but I have seen my last bullfight, having decided that the arguments in its defense are spurious and unconvincing. (Not all traditions are worth preserving, evidently; any argument that invokes cultural essentialisms is automatically suspect; it is simply not true that the toro bravo would go extinct if it weren´t for bullfighting-haven´t these people ever heard of nature preserves?) Unfortunately for the enthusiasts and the ticket scalpers, yesterday´s event was not what they were hoping for, as Cayetano Rivera Ordoñoz had been stomped by a bull two days earlier in Palencia, pulling him off of the cartel and thus spoiling the debut of the traje de luces Armani designed especially for Cayetano, his favorite male model. (Armani in the bullring-new heights, lows?, in decadence...) In any case, it was a chilly day in Ronda, but the students, as always, were quite impressed with the town´s beauty and its peculiar setting atop the gorge that splits the city in two. Manolo´s Amigos del Rocío group joined us, along with Pilar Ila and a few others, and they all added plenty of good cheer to the excursion. A big group of us had lunch together, and I and several others had migas a la rondeña (a little bit like turkey stuffing, but topped with a slice of Spanish ham and a fried egg) and then ox tail. A rather wintery menu, but justified by the cold wind. We got back to Málaga a little late and Waldo was anxious for a walk when I came in the door. Arcas had given him his midday walk, but I had hoped to be back by 9:30 and it was almost 11:30 when I walked in. So we had a nice long stroll and I stopped by Antonio and Pilar´s on the way back and got to say hello to Diego Guzmán, the theatre director who has helped us out with internships. Last week I started reading a novel by Javier Cercas, a novelist who has received good reviews from the critics, but whose work was unknown to me. So I was pleased this morning to find his article in El País´ Sunday magazine, in which he reflects some on our contemporary obsession with youth. At one point he describes himself as old. He´s 46. I don´t know how serious he was being, but in any event, it made me think for a moment about how I feel about age on the cusp of 50. I feel young. I write that feeling a little squeamish, because it sounds like I´m a character in an advertisement for some product marketed by one of the big pharmaceutical companies. And more squeamishly still: this no doubt has to do with some "life style" changes I´ve made in recent years. Life style, ugghhh! I really do hope to get through life without having a style, so I need to energetically repudiate that statement. Regardless, some things are true, and it´s no doubt true that what we do, how we live, etc. impacts how we feel. Brilliant! Sorry, but sometimes the obvious stuff is important. Who knows, maybe it's even simpler than I pretend. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just physiological. Or maybe I feel young because I have been very successful at staying in a state of complete denial regarding my mortality, the clock ticking down, the definitive finality of my impending unbeing. Just like a little child in a tantrum: no, no, no, I don´t care about reason, about evidence, about universal truth. And besides, a slightly older child might argue: so what? There is nothing to be done. Maybe I´ve accepted the truth. I really don´t know. Guess it depends on how I´m feeling.