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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If ever there was an example of Kenneth Burke’s definition of a symbolic act as “the dancing of an attitude” [ The Philosophy of Literary Form, rev. But if one splits the figures at sixty ringgits center bets, the ratios turn out to be 1.

Korn, “The Consecration balimese the Priest,” in Swellengrebel, ed.

Seeing my wife and I, “White Men,” there in the yard, the policeman performed a classic double take. At a fight, the umpire saja konong; djuru kembar –the man who manages the coconut–is in charge of their application and his authority is absolute. 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.

The Balinese revulsion against any behavior as animal-like can hardly be overstressed. As more than one real Gloucester has discovered, sometimes people actually get life precisely as they most deeply do not want it. What the cockfight says it says in a vocabulary of sentiment–the thrill of risk, the despair of loss, the pleasure of triumph. Cockfighf themselves form a sociomoral hierarchy in these terms. Percy, “Metaphor as Mistake,” Sewanee Review 66 But we constantly find things in literature that suddenly coordinate and bring into focus a great many such impressions, and this is part of what Aristotle means by the typical or universal human event.

Not only was he there, but he was embraced by the members of the society who loved his clumsy ways. Whatever game the corner boys play, they nearly always bet on the outcome.


Not only were we no longer invisible, we were suddenly the center of all attention, the object of a great outpouring of warmth, interest, and, most especially, amusement.

Cocks armed with steel spurs sharp enough to cut off a finger or run a hole through a foot were running wildly around.

Savage Minds

That what the cockfight has to say about Bali is not altogether without perception and the disquiet it expresses about the general pattern of Balinese life is not wholly without reason is attested by the fact [what a marvellous example of passive voice and absence of the author] that in two weeks of Decemberduring the upheavals following the unsuccessful coup in Djakarta, between forty and eighty thousand Balinese in a population of about two million were killed, largely by one another—the worst outburst in the country.

But except for our landlord and the village ntoes, whose cockfignt and brother-in-law he was, geergz ignored us in a way only a Balinese can do. Works cited in this post: Geertz notices, articulates, and illustrates a conceptual problem then ends with no how-to program for solving the problem he raises.

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.

On the enormous role balinesr kinesthetic perception in Balinese life.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

If a man whose fortune is a thousand pounds or ringgits wages five hundred of it on an even bet, the marginal utility of the pound he stands to win is clearly less than the marginal disutility of the one he stands to lose. See above, Chapter Collective responses to natural evils–illness, crop failure, volcanic eruptions–almost always involve them. The more usual term for this sort of semantic alchemy is “metaphorical transfer,” and good technical discussions of it can be found in M.

People drift away from him, look around him, leave him to assimilate his momentary descent into nonbeing, reset his face, and return, scarless and intact, to the fray.

His research was largely focused on symbolic aspects of collective activities traditions, rites, celebrations, social movements as well as on the worldviews and ethics that inform them. As he watches fight after fight, with the active watching of an owner and a bettor for cockfighting has no more interest as a pure spectator sport than does croquet or dog racinghe grows familiar with it and what it has to say to him, much as the attentive listener to string quartets or the absorbed viewer of still life grows slowly more familiar with them in a way which opens his subjectivity to himself.


As a dramatic shape, the fight displays a characteristic that does not seem so remarkable until one realizes that it does not have to be there: 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 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.

Outside betters almost never bet against the cock of someone they are allied with or associated with, and are obligated to vote for the birds of their friends and family. Think Cold War, Vietnam War, anti-colonial struggles, rampant and sometimes justified suspicion that cockfjght were CIA agents up to God knows what.

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

An incestuous couple is forced to wear pig yokes over their necks and crawl to a pig trough and eat with their mouths there. Trade has followed the cock for centuries in rural Bali, and the sport has been one of the main agencies of the island’s monetization. Subscribe to our mailing list and get the latest news from Garage.

Geertz distinguishes “deep fights”, with high wages, and “shallow fights”, usually with low wages of both gambling and prestige. 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: From January 7 it will be open as usual.

Juynboll, Oudjavaansche-Nederlandsche Woordenlijst Leiden, In a large-bet fight the pressure to make the match a genuinely fifty-fifty proposition is enormous, and is consciously felt as such.

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