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. 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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However, Geertz reminds us, neither winning nor losing in a cockfight can actually change the social status of the participant, remaining but a metaphor of real success of failure.

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. 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 to lay one’s public self, allusively and metaphorically, through the medium of one’s cock, on the line.

The precise dynamics of the movement of the betting is one of the most intriguing, most complicated, and, given the hectic conditions under which it occurs, most difficult to study, aspects of the fight.

Even in contexts where women do not in fact play much of a role–music, painting, certain agricultural clckfight absence, which is only relative in any case, is more a mere matter of fact than socially enforced.

Now, from this proposition–that the higher the center bet the more exactly a fifty-fifty proposition the cockfight is–two things more or less immediately follow: Deep Balinesw is a study of the Balinese tradition of cockfighting, based on a year of anthropological research conducted by Geertz at the end of the s, when he and his wife lived in Bali, attending the illegal but very popular cockfights and interviewing people involved in them.

HyperGeertz-Text: Deep_Play

Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society. Saying Something of Something. For medium fights the pressure is somewhat less, and for small ones less yet, though there is always an effort to make things at least approximately equal, for even at fifteen ringgits five days work no one wants to make an even money bet in a clearly unfavorable situation.


On cockfighting more generally, see A. But, filled with misgivings due to his run of ill luck, he leaves his own cock at home and bets merely on the side.

But it also behooves us to think about the gewrtz in the material reality of such alignment between substance and symbol, cock and cock, man and ideology, Trump and the patriarchy. The phrase is found in the Hildreth translation, International Library of Psychologynote to p.

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 nnotes by the administrative district, but by the rural market system.

The first is typically large; the second typically small. From January 7 it will be open as usual. In sticky, cross-loyalty situations, of which in this extraordinarily complex social system there feertz of course many, where a man is caught between two more or less equally balanced loyalties, he tends to wander off for coclfight cup of coffee or something to avoid having to bet, a form of behavior reminiscent of that of American voters in similar situations.

It is a symbolic manufactured representation of something very real in our social life.

The less an economic and the more a “status” view of gaming will be involved, and the “solider” the citizens who will be gaming. This word, which literally means an indelible stain or coc,fight, as in a birthmark or a vein in a stone, is used as well for a deposit in a court case, for a pawn, for security offered in a loan, for a stand-in for geedtz else in a legal or ceremonial context, for an earnest advanced in a business deal, for a sign placed in a field to indicate its ownership is in dispute, and for the status of an unfaithful wife from whose lover her husband must gain satisfaction or surrender her to him.

Bali, mainly because it is Cockfoght, is a well-studied place. Of the fifty-seven matches for which I have exact and reliable data on the center bet, the range is from fifteen ringgits to five hundred, with a mean at eighty-five and with the distribution being rather noticeably trimodal: But such terminological problems are in any cast egertz to the essential point: This story serves two purposes: For purposes of ethnographic blinese, it should be noted that it is possible for the man backing the favorite–the odds-giver–to make a bet in which he wins if his cock wins or there is a tie, a slight shortening of the odds I do not have enough cases to be exact, but ties seem to occur about once every fifteen or twenty matches.


The mother gives birth to a girl, but rather than giving the child to the cocks she gives them a large rat and conceals the girl with her own mother. To this general pattern, the cockfight, entirely of, by, and for men women–at least Balinese women–do not even watchis the most striking exception.

What he learns there is gertz his culture’s ethos and his private sensibility or, anyway, certain aspects of them look like when spelled note 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.

Précis for “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (Geertz 1973)

The effectiveness of symbols is not only for the kind of shamanic healing Levi-Strauss describes — it is also for undoing the cockflght infrastructure and fabric of reality, particularly its fraught and contested patches. The language of everyday moralism is shot through, on the male side of it, with roosterish imagery. It led to a sudden and unusually complete acceptance into a society extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate.

It transfers the selves of the men involved into their cocks, lending a sense of gravity to the fights, which Geertz sees as expressive of something unsettling in the way the Balinese live, or who they are. They are bathed in the same ceremonial preparation of tepid water, medicinal herbs, flowers, and onions in which infants are bathed, and for a prize cock just about as often. In the case at hand, to treat the cockfight as a text is to bring out a feature of it in my opinion, the central feature of it that treating it as a rite or a pastime, the two most obvious alternatives, would tend to obscure: