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“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. 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. 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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Yet what it says is not merely that risk is exciting, loss depressing, or triumph gratifying, banal tautologies of ggeertz, but that it is of these emotions, thus exampled, that society is built and individuals put together. It gave teertz the kind of immediate, inside view grasp of an aspect of “peasant mentality” that anthropologists not fortunate enough to flee headlong with their subjects from armed authorities normally do not get.

But as a rule he will feel he must support it and, in deep games, nearly always does.

The election has illuminated our cultural pecking order. But the general pattern is for the betting to move a shorter or longer distance up the scale toward the, for sidebets, nonexistent pole of even money, with the overwhelming majority of bets falling in the four-to-three to eight-to-seven range.

Rituals such as the Balinese cockfight, Geertz concludes, are a form of text which can be read.

Viewed over and over as either a central or sideline participant, the cockfight imparts its message, and simultaneously perpetuates it. If one dimension of the cockfight’s structure, its lack of temporal directionality, makes it seem a typical segment of the general social life, however, the other, its flat-out, head-to-head or spur-to-spur aggressiveness, makes it seem a contradiction, a reversal, even a subversion of it.

Hughes’ figures are, of course, rather casual estimates, but they are not the most extreme.

In the houseyard, the high-walled enclosures where the people live, fighting cocks are kept in wicker cages, moved frequently about so as to maintain the optimum balance of sun and shade. Our impressions of human life are picked up one by one, and remain for most of us loose and disorganized.


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.

There is the matchmaking, there is the betting, there is the fight, there is the result–utter triumph and utter defeat–and there is the hurried, embarrassed passing of money. The two betting systems, though formally incongruent, are not really contradictory to one another, 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 end of the scale.

Pr&#;cis for “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (Geertz ) – EM-Journal

In The Interpretation of Cultures Geertz explicitly contrasts his position that symbols are found in public behavior with public meanings to psychological approaches that equate culture with mental models Ward Goodenough or subconscious emotions Culture and Personality studies influenced by Freudthus making culture invisible or a theoretical artifact created by the observer.

I have bet on the Unseen and won. 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. Newer Post Older Post Home. The essay describes how cocks are taken to stand in for powerful men in the villages, and notes that even the double-entendre sense of the word “cock” exists in the Balinese language as much as in English.

The native is not the only one affected by this context. 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.

Saturday, May 7, Clifford Geertz: 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.


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 ccockfight habit.

The tag is from the second book of the Organon, On Interpretation. Paling is social vertigo, the dizzy, gwertz, lost, turned-around feeling one gets when one’s place in the coordinates of social space is not clear, and it is a tremendously disfavored, immensely anxietyproducing state. Material as opposed to what?

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Everything was dust and panic. The spurs are affixed by winding a long length of string around the foot of the spur and the leg of the cock.

Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. There is a special word for betting against the grain, which is also the word for “pardon me” mpura. One can stay, as I have here, within a geertz, more or less bounded form, and circle steadily within it.

Anthro Classics Online: Geertz’s Notes on the Balinese Cockfight | Savage Minds

Enveloped elsewhere in a haze of etiquette, a thick cloud of euphemism and ceremony, gesture and allusion, they are 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. What makes Balinese cockfighting deep is thus not money in itself, but what, the more of it that is involved the more so, money causes to happen: She has conducted fieldwork in Ecuador and Northern Russia.

B etting is central to the cockfight and just as deeply regulated as the rest of it. Addict gamblers are really less declassed for their status is, as everyone gertz, inherited than merely impoverished and personally disgraced.