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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Besides wagering there are other economic aspects of the cockfight, especially its very close connection with the local market system which, though secondary both to its motivation and to its function, are not without importance.

The lay has a stanza no. Thus spared, he returned to dispatch the upstarts, regain the throne, reconstitute the Balinese high tradition, and build balinees most powerful, glorious, and prosperous state. It is a symbolic manufactured representation of something very real in our social life.

Balinese Cockfights and the Seduction of Anthropology. 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.

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.

Fitz-Barnard, Fighting Sports London, The interpretatio naturae tradition of the middle ages, which, culminating in Spinoza, attempted to read nature as Scripture, the Nietzschean effort to treat cpckfight systems as glosses on the will to power or the Marxian one to treat them as glosses on property relationsand the Freudian replacement of the enigmatic text of the manifest dream with the plain one of the latent, all offer precedents, if not equally recommendable ones.

Although gambling is a major and central part of the Balinese cockfight, Geertz argues that what is at stake is much more fundamental than just money, namely, prestige and status. I have never seen an umpire’s judgment questioned on any subject, even by the more despondent losers, nor have I ever heard, even in private, a charge cockvight unfairness directed against one, or, for that matter, complaints about ballinese in general.

It is little wonder that when, as is the invariable rule, the owner of the winning cock takes the carcass of the loser–often torn limb from limb by its enraged owner–home to eat, he does so with a mixture of social embarrassment, moral satisfaction, aesthetic disgust, and cannibal joy. That prestige is a profoundly serious business is apparent everywhere one looks in Bali–in the village, the family, the economy, the state.


Balinese culture Anthropology literature Cockfighting. The first is typically large; the second typically small.

Savage Minds

Men of this sort, plungers, are highly dispraised by “true cockfighters” as fools who do not understand what the sport is all about, vulgarians who simply miss the point of it all. The cocks may be surrogates for their owners’ personalities, animal mirrors of psychic form, but the cockfight is–or more exactly, deliberately is made to be–a simulation of the social matrix, the involved system of crosscutting, overlapping, highly corporate groups–villages, kingroups, irrigation societies, temple congregations, “castes”–in which its devotees live.

The most prominent addict gambler in my cockfight circuit was actually a very high caste satria who sold off most of his considerable lands to support his habit. The Balinese revulsion against any behavior as animal-like can hardly be overstressed.

Moreover, we had not seen the village chief all day, he must have gone to town. But my data on the subject, though extensive and varied, do not seem to be complete and systematic enough to attempt such an analysis here.

The appropriate punishment for the second is death by drowning, for the first being forced to live like an animal. Retrieved from ” https: The double entendre here is deliberate. From religion, to politics, to economics, to kinship, to dress, Bali is a rather “unisex” society, coxkfight fact both its customs and its symbolism clearly express.

To start form the bottom line, Clifford Geertz ‘s essential notion expressed in ” Deep Play: Except for unimportant, small-bet fights on the question of fight “importance,” see below spur affixing is usually done by someone other than the owner.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Finally, the bets which are made tend to be one- rather than two- three- or in some of the very largest fights, four- or five-finger ones. A man who has a passion for cocks, an enthusiast in the literal sense of the term, can spend most of his life with them, and even those, the overwhelming majority, whose passion though intense has not entirely run away with them, can and do spend what seems not only to an outsider, but also to themselves an inordinate amount of time with them.

In time, the hero decides to visit his son and collect the promised cock. First, there is a simple withdrawal of interest as people wander off to have a cup of coffee or chat with a friend.

It is in large part because the marginal disutility of loss is so great at the higher levels of betting that to engage in such betting is to lay one’s public self, allusively and metaphorically, through the medium of one’s cock, on the line. Geertz notices, articulates, and illustrates a conceptual problem then ends with no how-to program for solving the problem he raises.


Geertz reports that the Balinese people deeply detest animals and more specifically expressions of animal-like behavior.

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

For a discussion of it, and for the whole argument for freeing “the notion of text. 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 effected by interpreting it as expressive of something unsettling in the way its authors and audience live, or, even more ominously, what they are.

For Geertz, culture is mainly psychological and personal. For such a man, what is really going on in a match is something rather closer to an affaire d’honneur though, with the Balinese talent for practical fantasy, the blood that is spilled is only figuratively human than to the stupid, mechanical crank of a slot machine. So, too, for the village as a whole. On the enormous cockfgiht of kinesthetic perception in Balinese life.

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. Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction Indianapolis,pp. Black, Ccokfight and Metaphors Ithaca, N. Cockfights tetadjen; sabungan are held in a ring about fifty feet square.

One thing that I always wonder about the cockfight essay is what Balinese people always think about it.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

To this general pattern, the cockfight, entirely of, by, and for men women–at least Balinese women–do not even watchis the most striking exception. The first is a matter of deliberate, very quiet, almost furtive arrangement by the coalition members and the umpire huddled like conspirators in the center of the ring; the second is a matter of impulsive shouting, public offers, and public acceptances by the excited throng around its edges.

He persuades me that thick description is better than the thin explanations that anthropologist typically provide but offers no criteria for deciding when one description is better than another. The paradox of fair coin in the balibese, biased coin on the outside is thus a merely apparent one.