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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Goris, Prasasti Bali, 2 vols. Chicago,p. One can even nofes forms from different cultures to define their character in reciprocal relief. This is a delicate job which only a small proportion of men, a half-dozen or so in most villages, know how to do properly. For Bentham and those who think as he does nowadays mainly lawyers, economists, and a few psychiatriststhe explanation is, as I have said, that such men are irrational–addicts, fetishists, children, fools, savages, who need only to be protected against themselves.

Actually, it is men. Doing fieldwork in Taiwan in those years meant, among other things, being constantly aware that certain topics were off-limits. This connection of cockfighting with markets and market sellers is very old, cokcfight, among other things, their conjunction in inscriptions [ R. balinesee

The corner boys consider playing for money the real test of skill and, unless a man performs well when money cockflght at stake, he is not considered a good competitor.

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. Of Cocks and Men. When the people see this, they make the hero king and his wife queen and they return as such to earth. 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.

The interpretation of cultures: If one dimension of the cockfight’s structure, its lack of balindse directionality, makes it seem a typical segment of the balinesw social life, however, the other, its flat-out, head-to-head or spur-to-spur aggressiveness, makes it seem a contradiction, a reversal, even a subversion of it.

The actual cockfight is a human competition, delegated to animals, where the winner gets respect and admiration from the others, while money although Geertz does describe the complex betting system in great detail is secondary.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Sabungthe word for cock and one which appears in inscriptions as early as A. Pay is also the umpire to whom accusations of cheating, which, though rare in the extreme, occasionally arise, are referred; and it is he who in the not infrequent cases where the cocks expire virtually together decides which if either, for, though the Balinese do not balinee for such an outcome, there can be ties went first.


The native is not the only one affected by this context. They are thus almost extensions of his personality, as the fact that all three will refer to the cock as “mine,” say “I” fought So-and-So, and so on, demonstrates. For Geertz, culture is mainly psychological and personal. 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.

If an outsider cock is fighting any cock from your village you will tend to support the local one. They are fed a special diet, which varies somewhat according to individual theories but which is mostly maize, sifted for impurities with far more care than it is when mere humans are going to eat it and offered to the animal kernel by kernel.

One can move between forms in search of broader unities or informing contrasts.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

When the old man discovers this fact, he tells the hero he has three cocks in deeep own mountain hut and says the hero may have one of them for vockfight. It is because money does, in this hardly 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. Like a lot of people I read the Balinese cockfight article in my anthropological youth and I remember enjoying it although the Person, Time, and Conduct essay in that same volume was the one that really captured my attention.

But it is a momentary gain or lost, the statues is only gained or lost momentarily following the fight but is maintained in the long run, with cockfights assisting in making sure of that.

Thus the great majority of the people calling “five” or “spes the great majority of the people calling”five” or “speckled” so demonstratively are expressing their allegiance to their kinsman, not their evaluation of his bird, their understanding of probability theory, or even their hopes of unearned income.

And, after a decent interval, bewildered but relieved to have survived and stayed out of jail, so did we. By the same token, you rarely get two cocks from the same group, even more rarely from the same subfaction, and virtually never from the same sub-subfaction which would be in most cases one extended family fighting. He also asks for the hero’s son to accompany him as a servant, and, after the son agrees, this is done.


With bets fairly even in the case of a deep fights, financial gain is not the center of the event, but rather everything which is expressed in the concept of “status”.

Assuming only binomial variability, the departure from a fifty-fifty expectation in the sixty-ringgits-and-below case is 1. Any expressive form lives only in its own present–the one it itself creates.

To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight or a folktale, who is talking, who is being talked to, what is being talked about, and what form of action is being called for, is to move cultural analysis to a new level that renders the old antinomies of materialism and idealism irrelevant. We look forward to seeing you from January 2. ANd, of course the fact that we can still develop a pretty hearty discussion suggests that the issues raised by Geertz around the time I was born are still far from totally settled.

When you meet such a character as Micawber in Dickens, you don’t feel that there must have been a man Dickens knew who was exactly like this: Comparisons with, for example, Cambodia leap to mind, together with the memory that amok was imported into English from Malay. Hooykaas, Agama Tirtha Amsterdam,p. In the case of the Balinese cockfight, a deep fight is one in which results are unpredictable, the odds are more even and the bets are more balanced.

But whatever the level at which one operates, and however intricately, the guiding principle is the same: The paradox of fair coin in the middle, biased coin on the outside is thus a merely apparent one.

The higher the center bet, the more likely the match will in actual fact be an even one. It works in exactly the same way in Balinese as it does in English, even to producing the same tired jokes, strained puns, and uninventive obscenities. The man who wants the underdog cock shouts the short-side number indicating the odds he wants to be given.

Every people, the proverb has it, loves its own form of violence.