I was watching an episode of Kenneth Clark's terrific 1969 series, Civilisation. About Western Europe. Although he is focusing very much on art, he frequently makes the point that civilization is fundamentally about self-confidence and energy. That isn't sufficient for a culture to create a civilization, but it is absolutely necessary. Once that self-confidence and energy.is lost, it's just a matter of time before all is lost.
With a hat tip to er, I was then informed by the UK Guardian (turn to the Left and bow deeply) that bullfighting has been banned in Catalonia and the last fight just took place in Barcelona. The situation is not quite a simple one because the Catalans, who speak their own Romance but not-Spanish language*, have long been restive and even violent in pursuit of their national autonomy. I spent Christmas Eve in Barcelona in 1973. I remember the bilingual Mass at the Cathedral, Spanish and Catalan, as well as the people in front of the building at night, doing their courtly national dance, the Jota.
Nevertheless, I take two things from this story. One, which er pointed out, is the use to which closed bullrings are put. One has already turned into a shopping mall. This one has several proposals on the table: "an indoor market, a block of luxury apartments and a mosque financed by Dubai." What does it say about a civilization when a scene of ritualized conflict between man and beast becomes a market, houses for the rich, or another fortress for the Mohammedans to undo the Reconquista? Where is Santiago Matamoros when you need him?
And although bullfighting is a particularly Spanish taste, it is part of the repertoire of strong masculine symbols in Western culture which are now under attack and fading away. Whether it be the phallus of the lion rampant on a military shield, foxhunting in England, the very idea of carrying and using a gun, corporal punishment or the death penalty...everywhere the drift of liberal society, in the name of "civilization" is against masculine self-confidence and energy, in favor of a feminized pacifist vegetarian world full of neutered puppies consuming only sustainable green products from Fair Trade non-profits.
The only trouble is that the rest of the world is not like that. I recall a mid 60's movie about Genghis Khan** where the young Temujin finds himself at the court of the super-civilized Chinese emperor, who is overweight and cares only for poetry and court etiquette; very sophisticated and urbane, he sees the future Khan merely as an intemperate barbarian. Which he was. Utterly lacking in self-doubt. Full of Lord Clark's self-confidence and energy. Temujin learned what he needed to, both about Chinese military strategy and Chinese corruption. Later in the film, of course, the old emperor and his exquisite taste gets obliterated. Omar Sharif vs Robert Morley. Guess who's gonna win?
And as shit-disturber Jack Donovan has pointed out in Androphilia, "A society dominated by women and effeminates cannot survive."
*If you know Spanish, you can sorta read Catalan (I had to use a Catalan article for an esoteric paper I once wrote about the history of Vespers!) but when spoken, it's as different from Spanish as Italian or Portuguese.
**It's a good flick, but no comparison with the epochal The Conqueror, with John Wayne as Genghis and Susan Hayward as Bortai.