Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. Clifford Geertz. The Raid. Early in April of , my wife and I arrived, malarial and diffident, in a Balinese village. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given. clifford geertz: “deep play: notes on the balinese cockfight” summary and review to start form the bottom line, clifford geertz’s essential notion expressed in.

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The old man then asks to pass the night with the hero, which the hero gladly invites him to do.

The paradox of fair coin in the middle, biased coin on the outside is thus a merely apparent one. The best discussion of cockfighting is again Bateson and Mead Balinese Character, pp. One can stay, as I have here, within a single, more or less bounded form, and circle steadily within it. Think Cold War, Vietnam War, anti-colonial struggles, rampant and sometimes justified suspicion that anthropologists were CIA agents up to God knows what.

Lifted up into Siva’s presence, he is given the choice of three cocks. We were American professors; the government had cleared us; we were there to study culture; we were going to write a book to tell Americans about Bali.

Much as I respect oneman, this is just plain wrong. But, as I have argued lengthily elsewhere, the Balinese live in spurts. When the people see this, they make the hero king and his wife queen and they return as such to earth. Most of the fights are in fact organized and sponsored by small combines of petty rural merchants under the general premise, very strongly held by them and indeed by all Balinese, that cockfights are good for trade because “they get money out of the house, they make it circulate.

Gambling debts, which can get quite tje on a rather short-term basis, are always to friends, never to enemies, structurally speaking. Bali has a three-day market week with the familiar “solar-system”-type rotation. Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy New Haven,p. Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society. As odds-takers ppay of the underdog and odds-givers backers of the favorite sweep the crowd with their shouts, they begin to focus in on one another as potential betting pairs, often from far across the ring.

It is not an imitation of the punctuateness of Balinese social life, nor a depiction of it, nor even an expression of it; it is an example of it, carefully prepared. Having come together in search of pleasure they have entered into a relationship which will bring the participants, considered collectively, net pain rather te net pleasure.


Goris, Prasasti Bali, 2 vols. Some of them can virtually make the dead walk, at least long enough for the second and final round. It is a society’s manner of speaking to itself about itself, and is therefore of prime interest for the anthropologist.

Hughes, Indonesian Upheaval New York,pp. Comparisons with, for example, Cambodia leap to mind, together with the memory that amok was imported into English from Malay.

For four, somewhat variant, treatments, see S. The higher the center bet, the more likely the match will in actual fact be an even one. Articles needing additional references from June All articles needing additional references.

Anthro Classics Online: Geertz’s Notes on the Balinese Cockfight | Savage Minds

Belo New York, originally published inpp. What he learns there is what his culture’s ethos and his private sensibility or, anyway, certain aspects of them look like when spelled out externally in a collective text; that the two are near enough alike to be articulated in the symbolics of a single such text; and–the disquieting part–that the text in which this revelation is accomplished consists of a chicken hacking another mindlessly to bits.

About half-way down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahead of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him.

But for the Balinese, for whom nothing is more pleasurable than an affront obliquely delivered or more painful than one obliquely received–particularly when mutual acquaintances, undeceived by surfaces, are watching–such appraisive drama is deep indeed. You seldom get two outsider cocks fighting, or two cocks with no particular group backing, or with group backing cockfigth is mutually unrelated in any clear way. It sees cockfighting as “primitive,” “backward,” “unprogressive,” and generally unbecoming an ambitious nation.

But my data on the subject, though extensive and varied, do not seem dsep be complete and systematic enough to attempt such an analysis here.

HyperGeertz-Text: Deep_Play

Whatever the cockfight says, it says in spurts. The most prominent addict gambler in my cockfight circuit was actually a very high caste satria who sold off most of his considerable lands to support his habit.

Incest, though hardly approved, is a much less horrifying crime than bestiality. It was the turning point so far as our relationship to the community was concerned, and we were quite literally “in. It was, moreover, still possible for people who talked too openly about certain topics to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night. The reduction in thhe in smaller fights which, of dee, feeds on teh one of the reasons people find small fights uninteresting is that there is less wagering in them, and contrariwise for large ones takes place in three mutually reinforcing ways.


What we had actually demonstrated was our cowardice, but there is fellowship in that too. In the dozens of cockfights I saw in Bali, I never once saw an altercation about rules.

The slaughter in the cock ring is not a depiction of how things literally are among men, but, what is almost worse, of how, from a particular angle, they imaginatively are.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

The umpire holds the stakes until the decision is rendered and then awards them to the winner, avoiding, among other things, the intense embarrassment both winner and loser would feel if the latter had to pay off personally following his defeat. Geertz reports that the Balinese people deeply detest animals and more specifically expressions of animal-like behavior.

But if one splits the figures at sixty ringgits center bets, the ratios turn out to be 1. Even the Brahmana priest, an old, grave, half-way-to-Heaven type who because of its associations with the underworld would never be involved, even distantly, in a cockfight, and was difficult to approach even to other Balinese, had us called into his courtyard to ask us about what had happened, chuckling happily at the sheer extraordinariness of it all. But to regard such forms as “saying something of something,” and saying it to somebody, is at least to open up the possibility of an analysis which attends to their substance rather than to reductive formulas professing to account coclfight them.

On the individual level, people involved in an institutionalized hostility relationship, called puik, bainese which they do not speak or otherwise have anything to do with each other the causes of this formal breaking dep relations are many: In a large-bet fight the pressure to make the match a genuinely fifty-fifty proposition is enormous, ballinese is consciously felt as such.