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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And in Wales, the so-called Welsh main followed an elimination pattern, along the lines of a present-day tennis tournament, winners proceeding to the next round. Deep Play 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.

But no one’s status really changes. When he arrives at the cockfight, he is asked for an entry fee and replies, “I have no money; I will pay after my cock has won. For a discussion of it, and for the whole argument for freeing “the notion of text. I think that the word statues must be replaced with status in the 4th paragraph.

Fighting cocks, almost every Balinese I have ever discussed the subject with has said, is like playing with fire only not getting burned. Any expressive form works when it works by disarranging semantic contexts in such a way that properties conventionally ascribed to certain things are unconventionally ascribed to others, which are then seen actually to possess them.

Its mythology, art, ritual, social organization, patterns of child rearing, forms of law, even styles of trance, have all been microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called ” The Balinese Temper.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

In detail, the fit is not, of course, exact, but the general pattern is quite consistent: This is cockfigyt delicate job which only a small proportion of men, a half-dozen or so in most villages, know how to do properly. Finally, the Balinese peasants themselves are quite jotes of plaj this and can and, at least to an ethnographer, do state most of it in approximately the same terms as I have.

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: Aside from cocks and a few domestic animals–oxen, ducks–of no emotional significance, the Balinese are aversive to animals and treat their large number of dogs not merely callously but with a phobic cruelty.

One has only to learn how to gain access to them.

Based on a large pool of observations and interviews, Geertz concludes that the cockfight as a cultural phenomenon offers rich anthropological material for the interpretation of the Balinese society. On the individual level, people involved in an institutionalized hostility relationship, called puik, in which they do not speak or otherwise have anything to do with each other the causes of this formal breaking of relations are many: We look forward to seeing you from January 2.


But they acted as if we simply did not exist, which, in fact, as this behavior was designed to inform us, we did not, or anyway not yet. The interpretation of cultures: Nor is it the only way that symbolic forms can be sociologically handled.

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.

But if one splits the figures at sixty ringgits center bets, the ratios turn out to be 1. Motion picture recording plus multiple observers would probably be necessary to deal with it effectively. The experience of hiding from the police in the courtyard of a local couple allowed Geertz to break the tension between himself and the villagers, and perform all of the interviews and observation which make up The Interpretation of Cultures.

He indicates his wish to do this by shouting sapih “tie” rather than the cock-type, but such bets are in fact infrequent. When he talks about culture as text, the text is fully playy, like words printed in a book. The Balinese cockfight is, as Geertz puts it, a way of playing with fire without getting burned.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Brooke Drover on Prezi

Next, there are those who fight cocks in small, or occasionally medium matches, but have not the status to join in the large ones, though they may bet from time to time on the side in those. For four, somewhat variant, treatments, see S. The two betting systems, though formally incongruent, are not really contradictory to one cockfifht, but part of a single larger system in which the center bet is, so to speak, the “center of gravity,” drawing, the larger it is the more so, the outside bets toward the short-odds notess of the scale.

An image, fiction, a model, a metaphor, the cockfight is a means of expression; its function is neither to assuage social passions nor to heighten them though, in its playing-with-fire eeep it does a bit of bothbut, in a medium of feathers, blood, crowds, and money, to display them.

But this is far from an inevitable outcome, for if a cock can walk he can fight, and if he can fight, he can kill, and what counts is which cock expires first. 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.

For Geertz, culture is mainly psychological and personal. But the larger the bet and the more frequently you do it, the more the “pardon me” tack will baoinese to social disruption. Coc,fight, as I have argued lengthily elsewhere, the Balinese live in spurts.


Actually, such “away games,” though infrequent, tend to mend the ruptures between village members that the constantly occurring “home games,” where village factions are opposed rather than united, exacerbate. The chief had not only been at the fight, he had arranged it. For Balinese cosmological ideas more generally see Belo, ed. 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 the daygently, affectionately, but quite insistently teasing us: Comparisons with, for example, Cambodia leap to reep, together with the memory that amok was imported into English from Malay.

In the climactic battle if there is one; sometimes the wounded cock simply expires balonese the handler’s hands or immediately as it is placed down again ccockfight, the cock who landed the first blow usually proceeds to finish off his weakened opponent.

It is this kind of bringing of assorted experiences of everyday life to focus that the cockfight, set aside from that life as “only a game” and reconnected to it as “more than a game,” accomplishes, and so creates what, better than typical or universal, could be called a paradigmatic human event–that is, one that tells us less what happens than the kind of thing that would happen if, as is not the case, life were art and could be as freely shaped by styles of feeling as Macbeth and David Copperfield are.

In deep cockfights an owner and his collaborators, and, as we shall see, to a lesser but still quite real extent also their backers on the outside, put their money where their status is.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight – Wikipedia

What, as we have already seen, the cockfight talks most forcibly about is status relationships, and what it says about them is that they are matters of life ballnese death. 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. For it is only apparently cocks that are fighting there. To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight cockfigjt 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.

See above, Chapter They do not always succeed. 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 cockfight, any cockfight, is in the first instance a blood sacrifice offered, with the appropriate chants and oblations, to the demons in order to pacify their ravenous, cannibal hunger.