in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Plaza de Toros Oriente

Anything capable of arousing passion in its favor will surely raise as much passion against it. –Ernest Hemingway

This is a vintage photograph of the city. I have not been able to determine when it was taken. Nonetheless, at the right you can see a circular structure. That is Plaza de Toros Oriente. It has been here a long time.

Plaza de Toros Oriente on Recreo at number 52 was perhaps constructed somewhere around 1856–nobody knows exactly–and seats 3,000. On occasion it serves other functions such as political rallies. A few years ago an opera performance was staged there. However, its primary purpose remains the purpose for which it was designed.

On the day this photo was taken I was there to watch the testing of some heifers, breeding stock. These sessions are free to the public but draw only lunatics such as I as spectators. In addition to allowing breeders to assess the character traits of the heifers involved, young men aspiring to be matadors have the opportunity to work the cape with the heifers. I had the run of the place that day, having gotten there early, and was able to explore.

I shall not be putting up any more photos of the corridas themselves beyond what I already have. I appreciate how offensive it is to many, including many of the people of Mexico and Spain. The corrida has come to an end in Catalonia as a result.

As for myself, I have given the morality of this a great deal of thought and read much directly relating to it–and indirectly related, such as the writing of Peter Singer, the brilliant advocate for animal rights. I suppose that I am a bit hardened to the slaughter of animals given the milieu in which I grew up. Some of my earliest memories are of personally participating in the slaughter of animals. I had many occasions to visit slaughterhouses when I was young. I well know whence comes my meat.

I attended my first corrida in Pamplona, Spain, in 1971. While I see not much difference between the slaughterhouse and the corrida at one level–the carcasses are dressed out on the premises and the meat distributed to the poor–I concede that it is qualitatively different at another. Primarily, that involves the presence and involvement of the crowd of course. It is at that level that it becomes complicated morally–complicated for me and yet so simple in one way or the other for so many others.

Yet, I am drawn to the corrida for reasons that I myself do not understand and thus cannot explain let alone defend. For this reason I cannot debate the matter with others and am tired of debating it with myself. At this point in my life the simple fact is that if they keep holding corridas here in San Miguel and selling tickets of admission, I shall keep buying one of those tickets as long as I can still walk up there.

The following gallery is a kind of walking tour of the old facility itself with some snapshots of nooks and crannies, some few of which one would not be able to see when attending a crowded corrida there. And obviously, for those who will never attend at all for good reasons of their own, all of these are snapshots of things they will never see.

One Response to “Plaza de Toros Oriente”

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