Spain, Don Quixote, bullfights, gaudy festivals

Spain two faces. Its one profile, the elongated fiery visage of the Knight of the Woeful Countenance; and its other, the practical, square head of Sancho.

The'he whole brilliant vision of Spain wells up in my mind: the high plateaus of Castile and Estremadura, empty of water, empty of trees, rocks everywhere. The laughing hot valleys of Andalusia and Valencia, full of orange trees, lemon trees, bananas. The men dry and strong. The women with the tall towering combs in their perfumed hair and their black mantillas floating over them. Noise from the harbors and the bullfights and all the gaudy festivals. Arabic music droning with passion and death, floating up from the shady inner courtyards and the thick lattice windows of Cordova and Seville. Scents of jasmine, dung, rotting fruits. Mosques, cool churches, Moslem palaces. Crucified Christs along the riotous, colorful streets. Black-eyed little tramps of Murillo; dwarfs, bitter and proud, like those of Velázquez; Goyaesque beggars and gypsies; slender, reed-straight bodies of El Greco that flame like torches.

All Spain flooded with light, stirring inside my mind like a male peacock, its wings widespread, slowly strutting between two seas.

Spain is the Don Quixote of nations. She rises up to save the earth, scorning security and well-being, forever hunting some exotic chimaera; never able to attain it. She exhausts herself in this quixotic, hyperrational campaign. Her cities are emptied. Her fields are left untilled. Her canals, built by the Arabs, are blocked and her gardens wither. She is creating her legend. What has she to do with happiness and comfort, with moderation and tranquillity? For many centuries the voice of Spain has been that of the fiery monk of Seville at the debate on what kind of temple to build: a large one or a small one. . . .

Let us build such a temple that
they will take us for madmen!

This has always been the resounding cry of life. Thus plants rose out of the mud, defying the laws of logic and gravity. Thus out of the grass sprang exotic beasts and flying creatures. Thus man too emerged from the beasts, walking upright on his hind legs, with a fiery spark inside his muddy kull. And so this Don Quixote cry against reason (which is, in actuality, the most profound longing for reason) reverberated among reasonable, practical human beings.

No comments: