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“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. 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. Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available.

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Frye, The Educated Imagination, pp.

If, what is a rarer circumstance but occurs every now and then, a cock from outside your cockfight circuit is fighting cockflght inside it you will also tend to support the “home bird. So it could be reasoned that cockfighting is an art form, an expressive use of human action. Bali has a three-day market week with the familiar “solar-system”-type rotation.

And, perhaps most important of all, for the other things might have come in other ways, it put me very quickly on to a combination emotional explosion, status war, and philosophical drama of central significance to the society whose inner nature I desired to understand. That prestige is cockfighf profoundly serious business is apparent everywhere one looks in Bali–in the village, the family, the economy, the state.

Cockfights are open events to which anyone who wishes may come, sometimes from quite distant areas, but well over 90 percent, probably over 95, are very local affairs, and the locality geertzz is defined not by the village, nor even by the administrative district, but by the rural market system.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

We look forward to seeing you from January 2. A peculiar fusion of Polynesian title ranks and Hindu castes, the hierarchy of pride is the moral backbone of the society. Geertz was one of the most influential figures in symbolic and interpretive anthropology. In Bali, the cocks are only fighting symbolically–they are stand-ins for their trainers. It is in large part because the marginal disutility of loss is so great at the higher levels of betting that to engage in such betting is cockfighf lay one’s public self, allusively and metaphorically, through the medium of one’s cock, on the line.

Men go on allegorically humiliating one another and being allegorically humiliated by one another, day after day, glorying quietly in the experience if they have triumphed, crushed only slightly more openly by it if they have not. During the s, commentaries on the Balinese cockfight essay have become quite common, developing, for the most part, in apparent independence…. The primary bets are always even money, while the odds for side bets geertx change based on the amount of the primary bet.

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Consider, then, as support of the general thesis that the cockfight, and especially the deep cockfight, is fundamentally a dramatization of status concerns, the following facts: The Balinese revile animalistic behavior, and so by identifying with a cock, the Balinese man is also identifying with what he most hates and fears.

The fights tell people that these relationships are matters of life and death. For four, somewhat variant, treatments, see S. He also asks for the hero’s son to accompany him as a servant, and, after the son agrees, this is done.

Whatever game the corner boys play, they nearly always bet on the outcome. She has conducted fieldwork in Ecuador and Northern Russia.

Savage Minds

On this, see J. Retrieved from ” https: Not only are there a great many other cultural texts providing commentaries on status hierarchy and self-regard in Bali, heertz there are a great many other critical cockfightt of Balinese life besides the stratificatory and the agonistic that receive such commentary.

A cultural figure against a social ground, the fight is at once a convulsive surge of animal hatred, a mock war of symbolical selves, and a formal simulation of status tensions, and its aesthetic power derives from its capacity to force together these diverse realities. About 10 percent of the winner’s receipts are cockfighg for the umpire’s share and that of the fight sponsors.

Following Bentham, Geertz defines a “deep fight” is one in which the stakes are so egertz the people lose their rationality. When the old man discovers this fact, he tells the hero he has three cocks in his own mountain hut and says the hero may have one of them for fighting.

For any given currency unit, like the ringgit, therefore, 6. In this realm of eccentric predicates, to say that the cockfight, in its perfected cases at least, is “disquietful” does not seem at all unnatural, merely, as I have just denied it practical consequence, somewhat puzzling.

Pr&#;cis for “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (Geertz ) – EM-Journal

This apparent amusement and seeming sport is, to take another phrase from Erving Goffman, “a status bloodbath. It is, actually, in the smaller, shallow fights, where one finds the handful of more pure, addict-type gamblers involved–those who are in it mainly for the money–that “real” changes in social position, largely downward, are affected. And, again, what statistics I have tend to bear this out. In the midst of the third match, with hundreds of people, including, still transparent, myself and my wife, fused into a single body around the ring, a superorganism in the literal sense, a truck full of policemen armed with machine guns roared up.


Chicago,p. Only women, children, adolescents, and various other sorts of people who do not or not yet fight cocks–the extremely poor, the socially despised, the personally idiosyncratic–play at these games, at, of course, penny ante levels. 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.

But here they portray themselves as wild and murderous, with manic explosions of instinctual cruelty.

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.

Along with everything else that the Balinese see in fighting cocks–themselves, their social order, abstract hatred, masculinity, demonic power–they also see the archetype of status virtue, the arrogant, resolute, honor-mad player with real fire, the ksatria prince. The next morning the village was a completely different world for us. Further, those who bet on the side including these people cokfight, as Cocmfight have already remarked, the more established members of the village–the solid citizens.

I have never seen an umpire’s judgment questioned on any subject, even by the more despondent losers, nor have I ever heard, even in private, a charge of unfairness directed against one, or, for that matter, complaints about umpires in general. The closer the identification of cock and man or: Finally, the Balinese peasants themselves are quite aware of all this and can and, at least to an ethnographer, do state most of it in gerrtz the same terms as I have.

It puts a construction on them, makes them, to those historically positioned to appreciate the construction, meaningful –visible, tangible, graspable–“real,” in an ideational sense. The rule about borrowing money–that you may borrow for a bet but not in one–stems and the Balinese are quite conscious of this from similar considerations: While cockfighting is not the only message or story that the Cokfight tell themselves about themselves, it cockfoght an important one.

The interpretation of cultures: