“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. 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. The essay by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, which first appeared in his best- known book The Interpretation of Cultures, has been published in Russian as a.

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Such a conclusion would be absurd. 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 but, assembling actors and arranging scenery, bring it actually into being. During cockfigjt twenty-one seconds the handlers pengangkeb are not permitted to touch their roosters.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

The question why such matches are interesting–indeed, for the Balinese, exquisitely absorbing–takes us out of the realm of formal concerns into more broadly sociological and social-psychological ones, and to a less purely economic idea of what “depth” in gaming amounts to. William Roseberry thinks so.

Inverse arguments hold for the shallower the fight, culminating, in a reversed-signs sense, in the coin-spinning and dice-throwing amusements. But it is only an apparent one, for, rather than taking myths, totem rites, marriage rules, or whatever as texts to notfs.

But such terminological problems are in any cast secondary to the essential point: Red pepper is stuffed down their beaks and up their anuses to give them spirit. The Balinese do not breed cocks to any significant extent, nor, so far as I have been able to discover, have they ever done so. 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 witness.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Cockfights tetadjen; sabungan are held in a ring about fifty feet square. Doing fieldwork in Taiwan in those years meant, dep other things, being constantly aware that certain topics were off-limits. It was the turning point so far as our relationship to the community was concerned, and we were quite literally “in.

Aristotle says, never makes any real statements at all. With bets fairly even in the case of a deep fights, financial gain is not the center of the event, but rather everything which is expressed in the concept of “status”. He indicates his wish to do this by shouting sapih “tie” rather than the cock-type, but such bets are in fact infrequent. But the larger the bet and the more frequently you do it, the more the “pardon me” tack will lead to social disruption.


In classical times that is to say, prior to the Dutch invasion of when there were no bureaucrats around to improve popular morality, the staging of a cockfight was an explicitly clidford matter.

This article needs additional citations for verification. If one takes the cockfight, or any other collectively sustained symbolic geerz, 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. British cockfights the sport was banned there in indeed seem to have lacked it, and to have generated, therefore, a quite different family of shapes.

The old man asks for food, and the hero spends his last coins to buy him some. The cock changes into a Garuda, the great mythic bird of Indic legend, and carries the hero and his wife to safety in the heavens.

In Taiwan, when Ruth and I were doing fieldwork inthe first thing we did when arriving in Puli was report to the foreign affairs policeman who seemed, in fact, a very pleasant person…but anyway. We had a perfect right to be there, he said, looking the Javanese upstart in the eye.

Oblique, cautious, subdued, controlled, masters of indirection and dissimulation–what they call alus”polished,” “smooth”–they rarely face what they can turn away from, rarely resist what they cokcfight evade. This principle is extended logically.

Later their son, released by Siva, also returns and the hero-king announces his intention to enter a hermitage. The precise dynamics of the movement of the betting is one of the most intriguing, most complicated, and, given the hectic conditions under which it occurs, most difficult to study, aspects of the fight.

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 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. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. We moved into an extended family compound that had been arranged before through the provincial government belonging to one of the four major factions in village life.


The ceremony consecrating hte Brahmana priest, a matter of breath control, plat 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. 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.

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. 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.

More Geertz online at HyperGeertz. Even impressionistically–the only approach open to a lone ethnographer caught in the middle of all this–it is clear that certain men lead both in determining the favorite that is, making the opening cock-type calls which always initiate the process and in directing the movement of the odds, these “opinion leaders” being the more accomplished cockfighters-cum-solid-citizens to be discussed below.

Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given cultural phenomenon, the Balinese cockfight, but also Geertz’s interpretative approach that sees a culture as a set of texts to be read by the anthropologist.

It is not an imitation of the punctuateness of Balinese social life, nor a depiction of it, nor even an expression of balinsee it is an example of it, carefully prepared.