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. 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. “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.

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Unknown November 29, at Just like in the West, the cock in Bali symbolizes masculinity, and the rules of cockfights in every village are passed down through generations along with other legal traditions. The higher the individual bets center and outside, the shorter the outside bet odds will tend to be, and the more betting there will be over-all. Cockfighting is for those who are involved in the everyday politics of prestige as well, not for youth, women, subordinates, and so forth.

Cultural Reader: Clifford Geertz: “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” – summary and review

He does not despair, however–“I bet,” he says, “upon the Unseen World. Language of Art, pp. That cickfight is a profoundly serious business is apparent everywhere one looks in Bali–in the village, the family, the economy, the state.

Enacted and re-enacted, so far without end, the cockfight enables the Balinese, as, read and reread, Macbeth enables us, to see a dimension of his own subjectivity. That makes a lot more sense, and, in my case, explains why, when I went looking for how to produce a thick description, I turned to Victor Turner.

Their combs plaay cropped, their plumage dressed, their spurs trimmed, their legs massaged, and they are inspected for flaws with the squinted concentration of a diamond merchant. Even in contexts where women do not in fact play much of a role–music, painting, certain agricultural activities–their absence, which is only relative in any case, is more a mere matter of fact than socially enforced. Within moments one or the other drives home a solid blow with his spur. He also asks for the hero’s son to accompany him as a servant, and, after the son agrees, this is done.

Depe is merely to say that if one looks at Bali not just through the medium of its dances, its shadowplays, its sculpture, and its girls, but–as the Balinese themselves do–also through the medium of its cockfight, the dep that the massacre occurred seems, if no less appalling, less like a contradiction to the laws of nature. There is nothing specifically Balinese, of course, about deepening significance with money, as Whyte’s description of corner boys in a working-class district of Boston demonstrates: Collective responses to natural evils–illness, crop failure, volcanic eruptions–almost always involve them.

To balinfse it, however, it is necessary cckfight turn to the aspect of cockfighting around which all the others pivot, and through which they exercise their force, an aspect I have thus far studiously ignored. On the independence of personal reputation and public status in Bali, see above, Chapter A man virtually never bets against a cock owned by a member of his own kingroup. Cockfights are illegal and the sudden appearance of the police during cockfighy of the first fights Geertz and his wife witnessed sent everyone scurrying home: His discussion of the role of sexual [gender?

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There is a special word for betting against the grain, which is also the word for “pardon me” mpura. This rule is explicit and rigid; fairly elaborate, even rather artificial precautions are taken to avoid breaking it.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Lifted up into Siva’s presence, he is given the choice of three cocks. 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 concerned is defined not by the village, nor even by the administrative district, but by the rural market system. It is little wonder that when, as is the invariable rule, the owner of the winning cock takes the carcass of the loser–often torn limb from limb by its enraged owner–home to eat, he does so with a mixture of social embarrassment, moral satisfaction, aesthetic disgust, and cannibal joy.

They asked us about it again and again I must have told the story, small detail by small detail, fifty times by the end of cockfjght daygently, affectionately, but quite insistently teasing us: Fitz-Barnard, Fighting Sports London, The extremes to which this madness is conceived on occasion to go–and the fact that it is considered madness–is demonstrated by the Balinese folk tale I Tuhung Kuning.

ANd, of course the fact that we can still develop a pretty cockcight discussion suggests that the issues raised by Geertz around the time I was born are still far from totally settled.

Indeed, Blainese never saw an open altercation, other than those between cocks, at all. The closer the fight is in fact to even money, the less attractive the long end of the odds will appear and, therefore, the shorter it must be if there are to be takers.

The spurs affixed, the two cocks are placed by their handlers who may or may not be their owners facing one another in the center of the ring. 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. One can move between forms in search of broader unities or informing contrasts. Thus, for a nine-to-eight bet, one man wagers nine ringgits, the other eight; for five-to-four, one wagers five, the other four.

But they mainly look on the monetary aspects of the cockfight as self-balancing, a matter of just moving money around, circulating it among balinede fairly cockvight group of serious cockfighters.

As the three of us came tumbling into the courtyard, his wife, who had apparently been through this sort of thing before, whipped out a table, a tablecloth, three chairs, and three cups of tea, and we all, without any explicit communication whatsoever, sat down, commenced to sip tea, and sought to compose ourselves.

In sticky, cross-loyalty situations, of which in this extraordinarily complex social system there are of course many, where a man is caught between two more or less equally balanced loyalties, he tends to wander off for a cup of coffee or something to avoid having to bet, a form of behavior reminiscent of that of American voters in similar situations.


He blows in its mouth, putting the whole chicken head in his own mouth and sucking and blowing, fluffs it, stuffs its wounds with various sorts of medicines, and generally tries anything he can think of to arouse the last ounce of spirit which may be hidden somewhere within it.

That is, if he shouts gasal, “five,” he wants the underdog at five-to-four or, for him, four-to-five ; if he shouts “four,” he wants it at four-to-three again, he putting up the “three”if “nine” at nine-to-eight, and so on.

Surrounding all this melodrama–which the crowd packed tight around the ring follows in near silence, moving their bodies in kinesthetic sympathy with the movement of the animals, cheering their champions on with wordless hand motions, shiftings of the shoulders, turnings of the head, falling back en masse as the cock with the murderous spurs careens toward one side of the ring it is said that spectators sometimes lose eyes and fingers from being too attentivesurging forward again as they glance off toward another–is a vast body of extraordinarily elaborate and precisely detailed rules.

Comparisons with, for example, Cambodia leap to mind, together with the memory that amok was imported into Desp from Malay.

A stingy man, who promises much, gives little, and begrudges that is compared to a cock which, held by the tail, leaps at another without in fact engaging him.

When he talks about culture as text, the text is fully material, like words ;lay in a book. The tendency for high-bet contests to be coin-flip propositions is, of course, even more striking, and suggests the Balinese know quite well cockfigbt they are about.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

He indicates his wish to do this by shouting sapih “tie” rather than the cock-type, but such bets are balniese fact infrequent. What makes Balinese cockfighting deep is thus not money in itself, but what, the more of it that is involved the more so, money causes to happen: Its mythology, art, ritual, social organization, patterns of child rearing, forms of law, even styles of trance, have all balunese microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called ” The Balinese Temper.

Jaya Prana, the subject of a Balinese Uriah myth, responds to the lord who has offered him the loveliest of six hundred dee girls: Today, a few special occasions aside, the newer rectitude makes so open a statement of the connection between the excitements of collective life and those of blood sport impossible, but, less directly expressed, the connection itself remains intimate and intact.

Following Bentham, Geertz defines a “deep fight” is one in which the stakes are so high the people lose their rationality. Of course, even in Bentham, utility is not normally confined as a concept to monetary losses and gains, and my argument here might be more carefully put bwlinese terms of a denial that for the Balinese, as for any people, utility pleasure, happiness.