“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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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 can evade. Jones Methews March 13, at 4: By the same token, you rarely get two cocks from the same group, even more rarely from the same subfaction, and virtually never from the same sub-subfaction which would be in most cases one extended family fighting.

All this is again recorded plau palm-leaf manuscripts and endlessly discussed by the Balinese who do not all have identical systemsand a full-scale componentialcum-symbolic analysis of cock classifications would be extremely valuable both as an adjunct to the description of the cockfight and in itself.

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 teertz five days work no one wants to make an even money bet in a clearly unfavorable situation.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

The title of the essay is explained as a concept of British philosopher Jeremy Bentham —who defines “deep play” as a game with stakes so high that no rational person would engage in it. When the halinese man discovers this fact, he tells the hero he has cliffors cocks in his own mountain hut and says the hero balineese have one of them for fighting. Only exceptionally well-trusted, solid, and, given the complexity of the code, knowledgeable citizens perform this job, and in fact men will bring their cocks only to fights presided over by such men.

He also asks for the hero’s son to accompany him as a servant, and, after the son agrees, this is done. The Hague,index under toh. It is because money does, in this hardly unmaterialistic society, matter and matter very much that the more of it one risks the more of a lot of other things, such as one’s pride, one’s poise, one’s dispassion, one’s masculinity, one also risks, again only desp but again very publicly as well.

Defp ran down the main village street, northward, away from where we were living, for we were on that side of the ring. 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.

By the time I left I had geertz about as much time looking into cockfights as into witchcraft, irrigation, caste, or marriage. The fingers indicate the multiples of the stated bet odds at issue, not absolute figures. Like any art form–for that, finally, is what we are dealing with-the cockfight renders ordinary, everyday experience comprehensible by presenting it in terms of acts and objects which have had their practical consequences removed and been reduced or, if you prefer, raised to the level of sheer appearances, where their meaning can be more powerfully articulated and more exactly perceived.


As odds-takers backers of the underdog and odds-givers backers of the favorite sweep the crowd with their shouts, they begin to focus in on one another as potential betting pairs, often from far across the ring.

I think that the word statues must be replaced with status in the 4th paragraph. 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. At the very least you must pretend not to notice what he is ccockfight, and he what you are doing.

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. For a discussion of it, and for the whole argument for freeing “the notion of text.

I have frequently heard men say that the honor of winning was much more important than the money at stake.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

But if one splits the figures at sixty ringgits center bets, the ratios turn out to be 1. Geertz was one of the most influential figures in symbolic and interpretive anthropology. Even falling down or any form of clumsiness is considered to be bad for these reasons.

The Balinese cockfight is, veep Geertz puts it, a way of playing with fire without getting burned. The first is collective, involving coalitions of bettors clustering around the owner; the second is individual, man to man. When you do get them, the game is very shallow, betting very slow, and the whole thing very dull, with no one save the immediate principals and an addict gambler or two at all interested.

What it says about that life is not unqualified nor even unchallenged by what other equally eloquent cilfford statements say about it. For example, women and young and socially disadvantaged people are not allowed to attend cockfights, while the cickfight players are the most respected and politically involved members of the community.

People raced down the road, disappeared head first over walls, scrambled under platforms, folded themselves behind wicker screens, scuttled up coconut trees. The center bet must be advanced in cash by both parties prior to the actual fight. This principle is extended logically. Geertz reports that balineese Balinese people deeply detest animals and more specifically expressions of animal-like behavior. The more usual term for this sort of semantic alchemy is “metaphorical transfer,” and good technical discussions of it can be found in M.

Red pepper is stuffed down their beaks and up their anuses to give them notss. Gambling debts, which can get quite note on a rather short-term basis, are always to friends, never to enemies, structurally speaking. We were American professors; the government had cleared us; we were there to study culture; we were going to write a book to tell Americans about Bali. 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.

And finally, there are those, the really substantial members of the community, the solid citizenry around whom local life revolves, who fight in the larger fights and bet on them around the side. This word, which literally means an indelible stain or mark, as in a birthmark or a vein in a stone, is used as well for a deposit in a court case, for a pawn, for security offered in a loan, for a stand-in for someone else in a legal or ceremonial context, for an earnest nalinese in a business deal, for a sign placed in a gsertz to indicate its ownership is in dispute, and for the status of an cliftord wife from whose lover her husband must gain satisfaction or surrender her to him.

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Any expressive form lives only in its own present–the one it itself creates. Motion picture recording plus multiple observers would probably be necessary to deal with it effectively. 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.

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 oh communication whatsoever, sat cockfifht, commenced to sip tea, and sought to compose ourselves. A man backing the favorite, and thus considering giving odds if he can get them short enough, indicates the fact by crying out the color-type of that cock–“brown,” “speckled,” or whatever.

The amounts of money and status involved in the very brief cockfights make Balinese cockfighting “deep play. To learn that Balinese lose themselves in cockfights, which are, at least from one perspective, exemplars of selves they want to be, victors in short, bloody, violent conflicts that elevate status may contribute to our understanding of why Bali, now normally seen as a beautiful tourist trap inhabited by lovely people with an extraordinary level of self-control, was, shortly after WWII, the scene of massacres that killed I need to check the numbers around 80, people.

What we had actually demonstrated was our cowardice, but there is fellowship in that too. The spurs are geerttz by winding a long length of string around the foot of the spur and the leg of the cock.

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

The old man asks for food, and the hero spends his last coins to buy him some. Thus, for a nine-to-eight bet, one man wagers nine ringgits, the other eight; for five-to-four, one wagers five, the other four.

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.

Korn, “The Consecration of the Priest,” in Swellengrebel, ed. Newer Post Older Post Home. 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.