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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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The higher the center bet, the more likely the match will in actual fact be an even one. By using this site, you agree noyes the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Cockfiggt is indeed a legend to the effect that the separation of Java and Bali is due to the action of a powerful Javanese religious figure who wished to protect himself against a Balinese culture hero the ancestor of two Ksatria castes who was a passionate cockfighting gambler.

Though everyone privately regarded him as a fool and worse some, more charitable, regarded him as sickhe was publicly treated with the elaborate deference and politeness due his rank. Cockfighting is for those who are involved in the everyday politics of prestige as well, not for youth, women, note, and so forth.

Fighting cocks, almost every Balinese I have ever discussed the subject with has said, is like playing with fire only not getting burned.

The geettz 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. Likened to a judge, a king, a priest, and a policeman, he is all of these, and under his assured direction the animal passion of the fight proceeds within the civic certainty of the law. Language of Art, pp. Even falling down or any form of clumsiness is considered to be bad for these reasons.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Each match is precisely like the others in general pattern: There are enormous difficulties in such an enterprise, methodological pitfalls to make a Freudian quake, and some moral perplexities as well. But whatever the level at which one operates, and however intricately, the guiding principle is the same: The center bet is the official one, hedged in again with a webwork of rules, and is made between the two cock owners, with the umpire as overseer and public balinesf.


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.

Hogg Baltimore,pp.

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

That this is the case is apparent from mere inspection, from the Balinese’s own analysis of the matter, and from what more systematic observations I was able to collect. There are two other Balinese values and disvalues which, connected with punctuate temporality on the one hand and unbridled aggressiveness on the other, reinforce the sense balinesr the cockfight is at once continuous with ordinary social life and a direct negation of it: This graduated correlation of “status gambling” with deeper fights and, inversely, “money gambling” with shallower ones is dockfight fact quite general.

The fights both represent and take part in forming the social and cultural structure of the Balinese people which are dramatized through the cockfight. The fights tell people that these relationships are matters of life and death. The ceremony consecrating a Brahmana priest, a matter of breath control, postural immobility, and vacant concentration upon the depths of being, displays a radically different, but to the Balinese equally real, property of social hierarchy–its reach toward the numinous transcendent.

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.

Savage Minds

Geertz was one of the most egertz figures in symbolic and interpretive anthropology. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” cockgight that a people’s culture is an ensemble of rituals which are in themselves ensembles, and these texts are what the anthropologist is trying to decipher.

Moreover, we had not seen the village chief all day, he must have gone to town. The transfer of a sense of gravity into what is in itself a rather blank and unvarious spectacle, a commotion of beating wings and throbbing legs, is geetrz by interpreting it as expressive of something cockfigyt in the way its authors and audience live, or, even more ominously, what they are.

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Sexual differentiation is culturally extremely played down in Bali and most activities, formal and informal, involve the participation of men and women on equal ground, commonly as linked couples. 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. It cockdight a society’s manner of speaking to itself about itself, and is therefore of prime interest for the anthropologist.

And, again, what statistics I have tend to bear this out. Enveloped elsewhere in a haze of etiquette, a thick cloud of euphemism and ceremony, gesture and allusion, they balineze here expressed in only the thinnest disguise of an animal mask, a mask which in fact demonstrates them far more effectively than it conceals them. About 10 percent of the note receipts are subtracted for the umpire’s share and that of the fight sponsors. To expose it, however, it is necessary to turn to the aspect of cockfighting around which all the others pivot, and through which they exercise balinsse force, an aspect I have thus far studiously ignored.

The idea of culture as a set of symbols that we share back and forth seems almost custom-designed to avoid the kinds of political economic analysis Rola and myself would like to see. Cockfighting benefits from this analysis in that this analysis brings into light its central feature–that it uses emotion for cognitive ends.

The appropriate punishment for the second is death by drowning, for the first being forced to live like an animal.