|Forges, El País, 29 July 2010|
As a product of an utterly different culture, I find it hard to get engaged by the ritualistic blood ballet of the corridas. I remember attending three in my whole life. The first, in Caracas, featuring a then (1963) famous Spaniard, "El Cordobés", I barely remember. I didn't understand much of the ritual, and neither did most of the Venezuelans, as far as I could tell. Then, more recently and after reading up on what to watch for, in the Plaza de Toros in Almería, reportedly the only plaza de toros in the country where everybody packs a lunch with wine to share with everybody else at the break between toreadores. And still more recently, in the big Las Ventas plaza in Madrid, to see something different, rejoneadores taunting and ultimately killing the bull from horseback—a stunning equestrian performance.
But unlike Tóibín, I don't think those who do get engaged with it are looking for cruelty to animals. I don't even think the ritual is especially cruel; those bulls lead far better lives than any of the animals we eat. But certainly outmoded, belonging to a more primitive time, when man had to demonstrate his power to overcome brute force of nature. Nowadays Spaniards are more likely to do that (personally or vicariously) in motorcycle and auto races.
Tóibín's article is especially good on Catalan sensibilities and why the Catalan Parlament's ban is stirring so much excitement in the rest of Spain.
Bullfighting ban is sweet revenge for Catalonia | World news | The Guardian