Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about the bull-fights. All the good bull-fighters stayed at Montoya’s hotel; that is, those with afición stayed there. The commercial bull-fighters stayed once, perhaps, and then did not come back. The good ones came each year. In Montoya’s room were their photographs. The photographs were dedicated to Juanito Montoya or to his sister. The photographs of bull-fighters Montoya had really believed in were framed. Photographs of bull-fighters who had been without aficion Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk. They often had the most flattering inscriptions. But they did not mean anything. One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket. He did not want them around.
We often talked about bulls and bull-fighters. I had stopped at the Montoya for several years. We never talked for very long at a time. It was simply the pleasure of discovering what we each felt. Men would come in from distant towns and before they left Pamplona stop and talk for a few minutes with Montoya about bulls. These men were aficionados. Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full. Montoya introduced me to some of them. They were always very polite at first, and it amused them very much that I should be an American. Somehow it was taken for granted that an American could not have afición. He might simulate it or confuse it with excitement, but he could not really have it. **When they saw that I had afición, and there was no password, no set questions that could bring it out, rather it was a sort of oral spiritual examination with the questions always a little on the defensive and never apparent,**
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises (p. 115)
This may surprise you, but I’m not particularly into bullfighting. Even so, I like Hemingway’s description of afición.
There are topics, ideas, and activities that I hold dear. I think the things – ideas, activities, whatever – that a person really associates with, really feels, make up who they are.
Sometimes, when you’re talking with someone about something close to you, something important to you, it’s apparent that they get it too. And it’s meaningful – it’s meaningful because as Hemingway says, there’s “No password, not set of questions that could bring it out”. It can’t be faked. And it’s not about talent, or fame, or money. A person could be the best in the world at something, or know the most about a topic, and still not really get it. Not have afición.
So, you know, figure out where your afición lies. It’s probably not bullfighting.