Interviews and comments
ABOUT THE BRILLIANT WORK OF JUAN CARLOS ALTAMIRANO
THE NEW GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED
by Eliseo Ferrer
(The PURA RAZA journal 9-99, Spain)
THE CARTHUSIAN HORSES - JUAN CARLOS ALTAMIRANO
A WELL FOUNDED PROVOCATION
by Eliseo Ferrer
(The PURA RAZA journal, 11-99)
Before we talk about the new (already old) work of Mr Altamirano, who like the ray of Gustavo Adolfo does not cease to illuminate our caves, I hope the readers will permit me to put a few matters straight, since the factorial order is the only way to talk in earnests and not in jest about certain books:
a) To face the issue correctly (the Carthusian or the Irish...) which demands some linguistic code that would prevent us from ending up speaking pigeon language in a centre of a dialog led by twits, rather than being able to detach ourselves from our interests and sleep in the eyes (which also makes the case).
b) The objective relationship with the world (and with the results of literary and scientific work) which demands both prior trust in the world and in the most noble intentions of every author, even though he may be wrong from start to finish or will lie as a rouge (which is not precisely the case). Or, which amounts to the same thing: as much as I try, I cannot imagine Mr Altamirano by the faint light of a candle falsifying with correction ink the files and documents of the archives of the Arcos de la Frontera Town Hall.
c) Our culture, in all other respects, establishes a certain order of priorities, which nobody can bypass. And in that scale, and within the boundaries of what we know as Modern Culture, the arguments of authority, same as the arguments of tradition, do not have a very good reputation, that is to say if they are not accompanied by the credentials of the objectively shared and empirically demonstrated: data, documents, etc.
d)The science does not live in the sacred mountain; it is something as simple as a scaffolding, well armed and screwed down tight, one on which the unpredictable tightrope walkers work without the net. It is the myths and legends that live in the mountain and in the sacred forest. The men of science have become so simple and modest that for the last three centuries now they have not told us what the world is or should be (because for that there are the theologians, the guru and the Delphic oracles). These guys merely establish representations of more or less fortune (very often in form of square numbers) that satisfy and entertain them with relative coherence with respect to the axioms.
e) And finally, and that there will be no doubt whatsoever, what at the very end of the journey is at times discouraging. That all the theoretic work is always being manipulated at will for personal interests, power and most despicable worldly forces. The sociology of science appeared on the scene some twenty years ago in order to explain to us what we already had sensed: that the world is this vulgar and impertinent...
With a similar scaffolding, and perhaps without so much complexity at its base (because Altamirano is not an epistemologist but a historic investigator), the author of History of the Carthusian Horses arms himself with Sherlock Holmes' magnifying glass and Saint Job's patience in order not to leave any lose ends, same as in the previous book, and to prove empirically and back up with documents each and every one of the statements he has previously put forward. The novelty, this time, stems from the fact that, together with his skilful handling of the document sources, he introduces an easy and constructive hermeneutics around de work of Ruy de Andrade (and the subsequent ones) which, in reciprocity with the sources that sprout from the precipices of Arcos de la Frontera, generates a thread of argument which makes the pages of Andrade's book ( and the subsequent ones) drop from one's hands like cards from a faded deck in a tavern.
It is not that History of the Carthusians is a more creative book than History and Origin of the Spanish Horse. They are both, the one as much as the other, by definition, works in which the archives and document sources rescued from shelves riddled with woodworm are presented as an indispensable piece of discourse and not an aesthetic illustration, or as a bundle or a sheaf that some believed to have discovered, out of stupidity rather than malice. The curious thing, however, about the Carthusians is the original feed-back which establishes in its last part, between the tremulous pages of the Andrade's Bible and the documents he rescues from the Town Archive of the town of the Zapata family.
Huge evidence, while the opposite has not been proven, not merely satisfied with details aspires to verisimilitude within a coherent representation of the history of the horse as well as the author's own text(s). For we must not discount in this last book reading which turns the analytic puzzle of an "archivist" into (holistic) synthesis where many of the already proven arguments end up acquiring a new meaning and sense. So, finally, some that not have read "History and Origin" might be surprised finding, after his "Jesuitical" discovery, the apparently free affirmation that the Society of Jesus, which made the Bocado brand shine, would have stocked up with part of the horses from the Royal Stables of Cordoba. This time Altamirano makes a round journey and does not need to put any quotations at the foot of the page because all that had already been sufficiently proven in the "History and Origin...". Altamirano comes round: to the station at the starting point...
Conclusions?... That the conjecture about the doxa suggestive power be demolished and the Carthusian get off their mythical mounts, for now it is only a matter of recovering as soon as possible from the created stupor to start writing, once and for all, the true book of the Purebred Spanish Horse's lines: that which originates from the Bocado own brand and those which, undoubtedly, germinated in the Military Stud Farm.
But in all other respects, it is natural that all this provocation, when carried out with intelligence and backed up with rigour, would become a reason for anxiety and concern. In the same way as intelligence, when it is argued rigorously and when it affects fashions and causes a real stir, always converts into provocation.
THE FASHION OF
BARGAINS UP FOR GRABS
By Benito J. Tierz
all know that scientific knowledge is produced in a fairly simple manner. On the basis of
the method used for this type of knowledge, research is
undertaken in a specific field. Once it is over, the results are published; other researchers, after reading the paper, and on the basis of the same
methodology, will propose their opinions and criticism of the new information. If this does not happen, the new knowledge generated shall be
taken as the valid scientific knowledge regarding the subject matter dealt with. Other researchers may continue to study issues raised by the new work,
as occurs with all scientific research. This is what is done in science, and the academics of the universities in Spain know it, or should know it.
Normally, one does not research what has already been studied, given that there are fields of modern and contemporary history which still have to be
clarified, and above all, when financial resources are limited. Whomever does that ñit is not usually done because you really have to be quite
daring- should never be the one to reveal the original research. It is obvious that people listening to such new information might come to
erroneous conclusions regarding the true authorís identity.
"A new study has revolutionised thinking about the origins of the Spanish breed."
"The Spanish horse: by and for a King"
Debrett´s Equestrian World. (England)
Works on the origins of recent breeds of horses are many, but works on breeds originating before the modern world have been scant. Much is written on the Arab or the Spanish breeds, but legend has been used to pinpoint their creation. It has been written that the Arab breed comes from the mares of King Solomon; similary, legends have been created around the Spanish breed, and by repetition become considered historical "truth". These have been assimilated acritically and handed down, forming a complicated puzzle. The history of Spanish Horse focuses on prehistory and on the Carthusian Monastery of Jerez de la Frontera in Cádiz. Its origins have been located in the former, attributing its morphology to natural selecion. Authors have attributed the conservation of the horse`s natural characteristics to the monks at Jerez de la Frontera. This has recently been undermined by one of the first studies to analyse in depth the history of a breed of horses prior to the modern world. In History and Origin of the Spanish Horse: the Royal Stables of Córdoba, Juan Carlos Altamirano analyses documents on the result of a decision by King Felipe II of Spain (1527-1598) to obtain a horse with the perfect equid morphology prescribed in Classical antiquity by Simón de Atenas, Jenofonte, Columella and San Isidoro de Sevilla. Three basic parameters were kepre kept in mind: nobility, beauty and high movement. Nobility because the breed was for the King. Beauty was a basic element in the transformation of aesthetic taste in Renaissance society. With the change from warring Medieval nobility to Renaissance court came a change from rough, heavy Medieval horses to the beautiful and impressive horses of the horse was sought for the first time, and was achieved by obtaining morphological characteristics. Horses were selected with high movements to exalt the figure of the horseman, and which could perform airs of the highest schools, like prancing, raised and settled movements, passages and piaffes with unprecedented beauty. This study clarifies some interesting questions - for example, that the morphology characterising the Spanish Horse is not a whim of nature, but the culmination of a project devised by and for a king. There is a key period in the breed`s creation, between 1567, when Felipe II began the project, opening the world`s first horse breed Register, and 1625, when the breed became fashionable worldwide. In books prior to Altamirano`s, this period appears confused and the only discernible statement is about its interbreeding with the Neapolitan in 1600. Yet this is refuted by Altamirano; the Spanish Horse was not crossed, but the Neapolitan was of Spanish origin, since Spanish mares and sires were taken from Córdoba. Later, because of their supposed origin (Naples), they were called Neapolitan. Altamirano shows the Sapanish Horse`s morphology was not a product of nature, but the culmination of a project. One morphological characteristic here is decisive - the dapple-grey coat. According to Altamirano`s Spanish Equestrian Dictionary, this is "one that horses of several shades have, and in time turns white." Most horses of the Spanish breed have this. The first reason is genetic - the gene that determines it is dominat. The second is more significant historically: the breed was conceived in the XVI century around this coat, because scientific thoght was then based on the Classical Greek doctrine of "humours" - all creatures being composed of four elements; water,fire, air and earth. In each, one element is predominat, with corresponding qualities which determine physical form and temperament. Water produces good harvests. "water" animals would be generous and noble - ideal for a king. Fire confers a reddish coat (sorrel). These were rejected as too irascible. The Spanish Horse is one of the most noble animals in existence. This is not by chance, but because nobility was always kept in mind in the selection of this breed. This search for nobility was passed down, and has become an identifying characteristic. We can define the Spanish Horse as the idealisation of a horse in the human subconscious, with all the possible virtues of an equid.
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