Bullfight in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

I was a bit chocked when I happened to see this view the last day of my stay in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in Camargue in the south of France. It’s not exactly what I’m used to see in the streets in Sweden.

As a modern, swedish person, I am disgusted with even the idea of killing animals for fun and the macho air around it. And I would love if all bullfights ended as in the Disney movie, where the bull Ferdinand wins in a non-violent fight.

Well, In the evening I went to the Couchsurfing meeting in Marseille and among many others, I talked with a nice guy from Arles. He was very interested in bullfight and knew a lot. In Arles they have the “real” fights where the bull is killed, in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer it’s more of a game. For him real bullfight is an art, the matadors are skilled sportsmen and they train for years before they are allowed to meet their first bull. He talked about the beauty and the respect. The sharpness and the fight between human and animal.

I listened to him, saw it from his point of view. Connected back to my twenty years of aikido training. The sword practices, the beauty in controlling a deadly weapon, even if it was a wooden sword. That sharpness, focus, presence. The deep connection with your partner, one field, one body moving in a tightness that only can be compared with lovemaking.

Then I thought about the meat industry … mostly not very much of connection and beauty there … guess that is why they don’t butcher in public …

So, surprisingly when I feel into bullfight
Under layers of traditions and spectacle
I can sense a quality of life and death connection
between human and animal
A quality that is very rare in our modern society

A connection that, in an other form,
the form of love and heart
is desirable
and needed for our common future on planet Earth

What do you sense?

8 Responses to Bullfight in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

  1. Rh+ November 29, 2011 at 12:19 #

    I also have experience of bullfights and Aikido and can relate to what you are saying. I think this bull-, dog-, cockfighting, and MMA, and I guess in a stylized from even Aikido, is something that exists on a certain cultural developmental level and we just have to except it. To us who can imagine pain in animals it is painful to see. I remember crying at the bullfight in Alicante at the age of 10. What is significant of these above practices is that they are symbolic, as well as actual acts. The actual act reduced to a more harmless level (for humans). The same adrenalin rush without killing of humans – a war trope.
    This fighting is probably a way of sublimating internal pain(a pain that men most often repress http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/608-on-mens-pain ) in the ritualization of the fight-right. In our modern and post modern world we need to find fitting new ways to sublimate this pain thru new “rites” and practices.
    One who has dealt with social performance and ritualizing symbolic behavior is Jeffrey Alexander http://www.cjsonline.ca/reviews/socialperformance.html

  2. Stina November 29, 2011 at 15:47 #

    Can you see a ritual or symbolic behavior that have the same depth of connection between human and animal, but celebrates life?
    Where the truth and presence in the meeting grows from mutual love?

  3. Rh+ December 1, 2011 at 20:44 #

    I think this is problematic because it would be notoriously lopsided as I don’t think animals have the capacity for the symbolic. They can only leave indices like trails and poo. They live fully in the actual non mediated world and I guess it is there we can try to meet them. I am dreaming of swimming with dolphins, but this has not happened yet. I had some wonderful encounters with animals on Galapagos where I felt total acceptance from all life – extraordinary!

  4. gisela December 2, 2011 at 18:16 #

    Some say that the bullfights remember of old rituals celebrating life and death. I can imagine that with a different mindset than that of power over animals (over life and death) a ritual might have made sense in a good way of connection to a greater truth. But today I can not discover any of that when I look at your pictures. Is it beacause it is not there, is it because I can not feel it …..?????

  5. Rh+ December 2, 2011 at 20:54 #

    Probably the bullfight is a “dead metaphor” in the sense that the rite has lost its original meaning, as with so many rites that developed long before written history. I also came to think of the Minotaur cult on Crete reading Giselas reply.

  6. Stina December 3, 2011 at 20:29 #

    Hello Gisela,
    My pictures only show the ride to the arena and also the bullfights in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mere don’t have the life and death theme. So you are right, my picture don’t show, what I’m writing about.

  7. Stina December 3, 2011 at 21:15 #

    Just, remembered a video a friend sent me a link to several years ago. It was a french guy who had a magic connection with horses. Found a video with him on youtube — http://youtu.be/B6u1Er2Rono — see it!

  8. Stina December 3, 2011 at 21:32 #

    Hi Rh+,
    Yes I agree that animals don’t understands symbols and rites, that is for us humans, we need them! The animals benefit, or suffer, from the meaning we get from the rites and how that influence how we relate to them outside the rites.

    For me an old metaphor can be used and filled with new meaning, not only can it, it’s the way they evolve, just like we do. Think of Christianity for example, it has evolved a lot, to fit into new places and new times. The postmodern Jesus is very different from the medieval Jesus.

    If everyone should fly to the other side of the planet in order to have a meaningful meeting with an animal, we would mess up the climate totally before most people got that connection … so I think it’s very important that we find collective and local ways of connecting to animals on a deep level.

    And I find the collective side of rites important. It’s not an individual connection we need, it’s a shift in the collective field — Big Heart of Humanity!

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