“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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More Geertz online at HyperGeertz. That is, if he shouts gasal, “five,” he wants the underdog at five-to-four or, for him, four-to-five ; if he shouts “four,” he wants it at four-to-three again, he putting up the “three”if “nine” at nine-to-eight, and so on. If we ventured to approach someone something one is powerfully inhibited from doing in such an cokfighthe moved, negligently but definitively, away.

The old man asks for food, and the hero spends his last coins to buy him some. Money in these bets is seen as a sort of stand-in for moral importance–status or prestige. In detail, the fit is not, of course, exact, but the general pattern is quite consistent: They gwertz and hid with a Balinese man and ggeertz wife, and when the police came teertz investigate, the man covered for them.

Of course, even in Bentham, utility is not normally confined as a concept to monetary losses and gains, and my argument here might be more carefully put in terms of a denial that for the Cockfiht, as for any people, utility pleasure, happiness. And, again, what statistics I have tend to bear this out. The experience of hiding from the police in the courtyard of a local couple allowed Geertz to break the tension between himself and the villagers, and perform all of the interviews and observation which make up The Interpretation of Cultures.

The lay has a stanza no. The Hague,index under toh.

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About half-way down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahead of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him.

Cockight research focuses on human-nature relations, with a specific emphasis on how natural resources are constructed and contested. People raced down the road, disappeared head first over walls, scrambled under platforms, folded themselves behind wicker screens, scuttled up coconut trees.


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.

The use of the, to Europeans, “natural” visual idiom for perception–“see,” “watches,” ggeertz so forth–is more than usually misleading here, for the fact that, as mentioned earlier, Balinese follow the progress of the fight as much perhaps, as fighting cocks are actually rather hard to see except as blurs of motion, more with their bodies as with their geetz, moving their limbs, heads, and trunks in cockfivht mimicry of the cocks’ maneuvers, means that much of the individual’s experience of the fight is kinesthetic rather than visual.

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

As the three of us came tumbling into the courtyard, his wife, who had apparently been through this sort of thing before, whipped out a table, a tablecloth, three chairs, and three cups of tea, and we all, without any explicit communication whatsoever, sat down, commenced to sip tea, and sought to compose ourselves.

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: Hogg Baltimore,pp. 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.

Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society. Moreover, we had not seen the village chief all day, he must have gone to town.

What sets the cockfight apart from the ordinary course of life, lifts it from the realm of everyday practical affairs, and surrounds it with an aura of enlarged importance is not, as functionalist sociology would have it, that it reinforces status discriminations [such reinforcement is hardly necessary in a society where every act proclaims thembut that it provides a metasocial commentary upon the whole matter of assorting human beings into fixed hierarchical ranks and then organizing the major part of collective existence around that assortment.

Newer Post Older Post Home. When Clifford Geertz and his wife first arrived in Bali, they were largely ignored by the villagers. Geertz also notes that the higher the status of the participants in the cockfight, the deeper the cockfight is, and the deeper it the more a person identifies with his cock and the more the financial aspect of gambling associated with the fight is marginal in comparison with the symbolic aspects of it.


We, as anthropologists, must seek to access them. Hughes’ figures are, of course, rather casual estimates, but they are not the most extreme. And they are handled, both in use and out, with the same curious combination of fussiness and sensuality the Balinese direct toward ritual objects generally.

A match made, the other hopefuls retire with the same deliberate indifference, and the selected cocks have their spurs tadji affixed–razor sharp, pointed steel swords, four or five inches long.

William Roseberry thinks so. The last half of the essay describes the rituals of betting and concludes that the cockfight is the Balinese comment on themselves, as it embodies the network of social relationships in kin and village that govern traditional Balinese life.

It is not, as I have said, of no importance; Balinese geertzz no happier to lose several weeks’ income than anyone else. The focusing element in these focused gatherings, these men generally dominate and define the sport as they dominate and define the society.

The man who wants the underdog cock shouts the short-side number indicating the odds he wants to be given.

Even the Brahmana priest, an old, grave, half-way-to-Heaven type who because of its associations with the cockfoght would never be involved, even distantly, in a cockfight, and was difficult to approach even to other Balinese, had us called into his courtyard to ask us about cockfighr had happened, chuckling happily at the sheer extraordinariness of it all.

The fingers indicate the multiples of the stated bet odds at issue, not absolute figures. Bentham’s concept of “deep play” is found in his The Theory of Legislation. In Bali, the cocks are only fighting symbolically–they are stand-ins for their trainers. Balinese Cockfights and the Seduction of Anthropology. On the enormous role of kinesthetic perception in Balinese life. Almost nobody greeted us; but nobody scowled or said anything unpleasant to us either, which would have been almost as satisfactory.

Koentjaraningrat, Villages in Indonesia Ithaca,ggeertz. Motion picture recording plus multiple observers would probably be necessary to deal with it effectively.