The American artist Susan Scafati referred to certain experiences and iconography that include notions of right and wrong in our collective global conscious, the way meaning is organized and subject to change, and life’s ability to transform so rapidly that your mind is unable to simultaneously rationalize what you see, and she found that all these were also inherent in the bullfight.
In the book Sangre De Reyes, Carlos Cazalis explores the bullfight alongside the Spanish matador José Tomás, considered the greatest matador that has lived, from a more cultural anthropological approach, following him for nine years through Spain, France and Mexico. It is as much blatantly brutish as it is aesthetically cosmopolitan.
Cazalis has three generations of professional matadors in his family’s dynasty in Mexico. The objective of his book is to exemplify the vitality of death, through the deep and serene bullfighting style of the matador Jose Tomas as much as the strength and nobility of the bull in a cinematic view that evokes simultaneous polarized reactions.
The Pulitzer Prize American author Ernest Becker, might have agreed in “The Denial of Death” that the matador is the prodigal son being sent to his possible death, the immortal symbol that the family, the village, or society at large can attach itself to, face death without taking the risk and thus continue to deny one’s own fate in the unconscious.
Sangre de Reyes is thus a silent hope of images, like the silence that the matador José Tomás exerts in the arena, that moves the masses and the same he has kept now for over a decade in explaining his often brute and then poetic serene calm. Ultimately, it is a kind of disembodiment, a performance reduced to a waist, a wrist. Finally, to spirituality. If it is a disembodiment, it is a paradox because when the horns gore, it’s his body that suffers, and it is that suffering that made him shake hands with his friend the Mexican matador Fernando Ochoa on the operating table of the bullring in Aguascalientes where they were operating on him while he was awake. Awake because anesthesia would have killed him. He was already practically dead.
In retrospect Cazalis says he does not wish to defend the actions of killing, but he knows that the bullfight guarantees the continuous existence of this particular kind of bull. The wild things exist and mankind must not try to tame them all. He found solace in the words of the American activist and naturalist Derrick Jensen, who said that for an endurable and balanced peace, as a rational, thinking, individual being on earth, that consumes both plants and animals for its sole benefit, it is the responsibility of each one of us to ensure the continuity of any species we consume, because everything comes from the earth. Anything else is stupidity.