-Siegreid Kracauer, "The Mass Ornament"
Lad and Bull
A STUDY IN MOVEMENT
Aix-en-Provence, Mid-September, 1926
"A lad kills a bull." This sentence out of a school primer appears in a yellow ellipse in which the sun is boiling. Everyone is gazing down into the oval from the stands and trees, where the locals hang like overripe bananas. The bull careens through the arena in a stupor. Facing the drunken mass, the lad stands alone.
He's an orange point with a pinned-up braid. Thirteen years old, with the face of a boy. Other youths his age sweep across the prairie in magnificent costumes and rescue the white squaw from a martyr's death. Confronted with a bull, they'd have run away. The lad stands there and smiles ceremoniously. The animal succumbs to a marionette.
The marionette goads the gale according to the rules of the ritual (hat magnifies it. Even a little puppet could dangle the red cape that the bull recognizes as its counterfetish. It tries to assault it, but the cape floats away, transformed into an arabesque by the little puppet. A thing of nature could be gored, but powers wane when confronted with the weightlessness of the flowing pleats.
The marionette turns into an orange lass, who lures the oafish creature. She approaches it with swaying steps, her hands hoisting two small colorful lances. The upright heroine's theatrical laugh announces the start of the love battle. The bull falls into the snare of the cleverly calculated rhythm. But the web is elastic, and before you know it the tiny wizard has thrust the small lances into its flanks. Three pairs of lances adorn the patch, knitting needles in a ball of yarn, with waving ribbons. The bull tries to shake them off, but in vain: the geometry is firmly set in the bulges.
The lad unfolds a cloth as red as a cock's comb. The dagger he conceals behind the curtain is so long that he could use it to climb up into the air. The characteristics of the plane and the line indicate that the end is drawing near. The marionette makes the cloth scintillate and draws ever narrower circles with the dagger. The bull is seized by a trembling in the face of the ornaments' power. Those who earlier hovered about like rings of smoke and then struck it in numerous places now close in upon it ever more threateningly, so that it will expire on the scene.
Up to this point, it is still a game. The dagger could still pull back; the redness would not necessarily have to encounter itself in blood. It is a single stab, a rapid stabbing sparkle, that surges through the barrier. The dagger darts forth from the marionette; it was not the lad who wielded it. The astonished element recoils and glares. The curving of the sinking mass triumphs over the line of the dagger. Now colors and sweeping movements dominate the scene.
Caps and bags fly into the air as the miniature victor runs a lap, bouquets of jubilation. The sun glows in the ellipse. The lad stands there and smiles ceremoniously.