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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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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: A man virtually never bets against a cock owned by a member of his own kingroup.

Following Bentham, Geertz defines a “deep fight” is one in which the stakes are so high the people lose their rationality. But, filled with misgivings due to his run of ill luck, he leaves his own cock at home and bets merely on the side. Not only are there a great many other cultural texts providing commentaries on status hierarchy and self-regard in Bali, but there are a great many other critical sectors of Balinese life besides the stratificatory and the agonistic that receive such commentary.

In some ways Geertz is one of the most well known anthropologists outside of the discipline, but my sense is that his influence within the discipline itself has waned.

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

In Taiwan, when Ruth and I were doing fieldwork inthe first thing we did when arriving in Puli was report to the foreign affairs policeman who seemed, in fact, a very pleasant person…but anyway. The center bet coalition is, in all but the shallowest games, always made up by structural allies–no “outside money” is involved. Similarly, home team people must bet against outside cocks or the outsiders will accuse it–a serious charge–of just collecting entry fees and not really being interested in cockfighting, as well as again being arrogant and insulting.

It is because money does, in this balinesf unmaterialistic society, matter and matter very much that the more of it one risks the more of a lot of other things, such as one’s pride, one’s poise, one’s dispassion, one’s masculinity, one also risks, again only momentarily but again very publicly as well.

Sure, we can find plenty of things wrong with it now, but it remains pretty incredible: One can move between forms in search of broader unities or informing contrasts. If an outsider cock is fighting any cock from cockfitht village you will tend to support the local one. Fighting always takes place between people and cocks from opposing social groups family, clan, village etc.

During the s, commentaries on the Balinese cockfight essay have become quite common, developing, for the most part, in apparent independence…. Geertz also notes that the higher the status of the participants in the cockfight, the deeper the cockfight is, and the deeper it the more a person identifies with his cock and the more the financial aspect of gambling associated with the fight is marginal in comparison with the symbolic aspects of it.


And as to follow Weber rather than Bentham the imposition of meaning on life is the major end and primary condition of human existence, that access of significance more than compensates for the economic costs involved.

Korn, “The Consecration of the Priest,” in Swellengrebel, ed. The first cockfight that ba,inese and his wife viewed was broken up by the police.

The color element is merely the one normally used as the type name, except when the two cocks of different types–as on principle they must be–have the same color, deel which case a secondary indication from one of the other dimensions “large speckled” v.

But a detailed understanding of the whole process awaits what, alas, it is not very likely ever to get: When he talks about culture as text, the text is fully material, like words xockfight in a book. The first is typically large; the second typically small.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

It gave me the kind of immediate, inside view grasp of an aspect of “peasant mentality” that anthropologists not fortunate enough to flee headlong with their subjects from armed authorities normally do not get. The reason it is disquietful is not that it has material effects it has some, but they are minor ; the reason that it is disquietful is that, joining pride to selfhood, selfhood to cocks, and cocks to destruction, it brings to imaginative realization a dimension of Balinese experience normally well-obscured from view.

Is any of what Roseberry is saying new? Just like in bainese 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. Of Cocks and Men.

Savage Minds

But for the Balinese, though naturally they do not formulate it in so many words, the explanation lies in the fact that in such play, money is less a measure of utility, had or expected, than it is a symbol of moral import, perceived or imposed. The lore about spurs is extensive–they are sharpened only at eclipses and the dark of the moon, should be kept out of the sight of women, and so forth. Anonymous January 5, at 1: Hooykaas, Agama Tirtha Amsterdam,p. In my fifty-seven matches, the favorite won thirty-three times over-all, the underdog twenty-four, a 1.

The center bet thus “makes the game,” or perhaps better, defines it, signals what, following a notion of Jeremy Bentham’s, I am going to call its “depth.

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: Bentham’s conclusion was, therefore, that deep play was immoral from first principles and, a typical step for him, should be prevented legally. The first is a matter of deliberate, very quiet, almost furtive arrangement by the coalition members and the umpire huddled like conspirators in the center of the ring; the second is a matter of impulsive shouting, public offers, and public acceptances by the excited throng around its edges.


Set not in the matrix of the kinetic emotionality of animals, but in that of the static passionlessness of divine mentality, it expresses tranquillity not disquiet. Thus spared, he returned to dispatch the upstarts, regain the throne, reconstitute the Balinese high tradition, and build its most powerful, glorious, and prosperous state.

The best discussion of cockfighting is again Bateson and Mead Balinese Character, pp.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight and Clifford Geertz by amiya moretta on Prezi

Cockfighting is for those who are involved in the everyday politics of prestige as well, not for youth, women, subordinates, and so forth. But only in the cockfight are the sentiments upon which that hierarchy rests revealed in their natural colors. He may, if he is not especially well-to-do, not even be the major contributor, though, if only to show that he is not involved in any chicanery, he must be a significant one. But as ontological questions are or should be bracketed in the sociology of religion, judgmental ones are or should be bracketed in the sociology of art.

A small place, about five note people, and relatively remote, it was its own world. Odds and Even Money.

The amounts of money and status involved in the very brief cockfights make Balinese cockfighting “deep play. In deep ones, where the amounts of money are great, much more is at stake than material gain: Given the difficulty of making precise and complete recordings of side betting, this argument is hard to cast in numerical form, but in all my cases the odds-giver, odds-taker consensual point, a quite pronounced mini-max saddle where the bulk at a guess, twothirds to three-quarters in most cases of the bets are actually made, was three or four points further along the scale toward the shorter end for the large-center-bet fights than for the small ones, with medium ones generally in between.

The only place power comes notds play in this formulation is in who has access to particular symbols. As a result, the fights are usually held in a secluded corner of a village in semisecrecy, a fact which tends to slow the action a little-not very much, but the Balinese do not care to have it slowed at all.

In this realm of eccentric predicates, to say ontes the cockfight, in its perfected cases at least, is “disquietful” does not seem at dsep unnatural, merely, as I have just denied it balinesse consequence, somewhat puzzling.