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. 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.

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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. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” was written Nearly half the matches are relatively trivial, relatively uninteresting–in my borrowed terminology, “shallow”–affairs.

In the normal course of things, the Balinese are shy to the point of obsessiveness of open conflict. Newer Post Older Post Home. As this is cockfkght formal paradigm, it is intended to display the logical, not the causal.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight and Clifford Geertz by amiya moretta on Prezi

The first is collective, involving coalitions of bettors clustering around the owner; the second is individual, man to man.

It is considered a bad thing to do, though if the center bet is small it is sometimes all right as long as you do not do it too often. 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.

The policeman retreated in rather total disarray. For them, and to a degree for ourselves, we were nonpersons, specters, invisible men. Similarly, the end of such a bslinese and resumption of normal social intercourse is often signalized but, again, not actually brought about by one or the other of the enemies supporting the other’s bird. What we had actually demonstrated was our cowardice, but there is fellowship in that too. For the situation, the floor is itself created, in jury deliberations, surgical operations, block meetings, sitins, cockfights, by the cultural preoccupations–here, as we shall see, the celebration of status rivalry–which not only specify the focus eeep, assembling actors and arranging scenery, bring it actually into being.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Given the difficulty of making precise and complete recordings of side betting, this argument is hard to cast in numerical form, but in all my cases the odds-giver, odds-taker consensual point, a quite pronounced mini-max saddle where the bulk at a guess, twothirds to three-quarters in most cases of the bets are actually made, was three or four points further along the scale toward the shorter end for the large-center-bet fights than for the small ones, with medium ones generally in between.

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This is particularly true if, as often happens, the spur sticks in its victim’s body, for then the aggressor is at the mercy of his wounded foe.

Whyte, Street Corner Society, 2d ed. Getting caught, or almost caught, in a vice raid is perhaps not a very generalizable recipe for achieving that mysterious necessity of anthropological field work, rapport, but for me it worked very well.

The cockfight is “really real” only to the cocks–it does not kill anyone, castrate anyone, reduce anyone to animal status, alter the hierarchical relations among people, or refashion the hierarchy; it does not even redistribute income in any significant way.

In the first place, there are two sorts of bets, or toh. The madness has some less visible dimensions, however, because although it is true that cocks are symbolic expressions or magnifications of their owner’s self, the narcissistic male ego writ out in Aesopian terms, they are also expressions–and rather more immediate ones–of what the Balinese regard as the direct inversion, aesthetically, morally, and metaphysically, of human status: If one takes the cockfight, or any other collectively sustained symbolic structure, as a means of “saying something of something” to invoke a famous Aristotelian tagthen one is faced with a problem not in social mechanics but social semantics.

But more interesting than the ethical problem, at least for our concerns here, is that despite the logical force of Bentham’s analysis men do engage in such play, both passionately and often, and even in the face of law’s revenge. The fact that these departures though real are not extreme merely indicates, again, that even in the smaller fights the tendency to match cocks at least reasonably evenly persists.

A marriageable young man still shy with the opposite sex or someone in a new job anxious to make a good impression is called “a fighting cock caged for the first time.

When two cocks are structurally irrelevant or neutral so far as you are concerned though, as mentioned, they almost never are to each other you do not even ask a relative or a friend whom he is betting on, because if you know how he is betting and he knows you know, and you go the other way, it will lead to strain. About nine or ten separate matches sehet comprise a program.


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.

Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. This process, which rarely takes less than ten minutes, and often a good deal longer, is conducted in a very subdued, oblique, even dissembling manner Those not immediately involved give it at best but disguised, sidelong attention; those who, embarrassedly, are, attempt to pretend somehow that the whole thing is not really happening.

Second, the Balinese do not mathematically reduce odds, but bet directly in terms of stated odds as such. 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.

Quartets, still lifes, and cockfights are not merely reflections of a pre-existing sensibility analogically represented; they are positive agents in the creation and maintenance of such a sensibility. The closer the fight is in fact to even money, the less attractive the long end of the odds will appear and, therefore, the shorter it must be if there are to be takers.

To expose it, however, it is necessary to cocckfight to the aspect of cockfighting around which all the others pivot, and through which they exercise their force, an aspect I have thus far studiously ignored.

Savage Minds

You must bet on cocks of your own group aside from mere loyalty considerations, for if you do not people generally will say, “What! The center bet, again especially in deeper games, is thus the most direct and open expression of social opposition, which is one of the reasons why both it and match making are halinese by such an air of unease, furtiveness, embarrassment, and so on.

The double entendre here is deliberate.