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. “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.

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One can move between forms in search of broader unities or informing contrasts. He blows in its mouth, putting the whole chicken head in his own mouth and sucking and blowing, fluffs it, stuffs its wounds with various sorts of medicines, and generally tries anything he can think of to arouse the last ounce of spirit which may be hidden somewhere within it. Within moments one or the other drives home a solid blow with his spur.

Incest, though hardly approved, is a much less horrifying crime than bestiality. Weber, The Sociology of Religion Boston, To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight or a folktale, who is talking, who is being talked to, what is being talked about, and what form of action is being called for, is to move cultural analysis to a new level that renders the old antinomies of materialism and idealism irrelevant.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Despite balinee illegal, cockfighting is a widespread and highly popular phenomenon in Bali, dep least at the time “Deep Play: When the truck drove up he ran to the river, stripped off his sarong, and plunged in so he could say, when at length they found him sitting there pouring water over his head, that he had been away bathing when the whole affair had occurred and was ignorant of it.

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. On Hogarth, and on this whole problem–there called “multiple matrix matching”–see E. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight Might interest you: 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 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.


Occasionally, if the cocks are clearly mismatched, there may be no upward movement at all, or even movement down the scale to four-to-three, three-to-two, very, very rarely to two-to-one, a shift which is accompanied by a declining number of bets as a shift upward is accompanied by an increasing number.

The language of everyday moralism is shot through, on the male side of it, with roosterish imagery. The old man asks for food, and the hero spends his last coins to buy him some. Considered Geertz’s most seminal work, the essay addresses the meaning of cockfighting in Balinese culture. Plya cocks die from the food given them, the owner’s sanity is restored, the goddess brings the girl back to the father, who reunites him with his wife.

Indeed, Cockffight never saw an open altercation, other than those between cocks, at all. Almost all matches are sociologically relevant.

When the people see this, they make the hero king and his wife queen and they return as such to earth. It is a society’s manner of speaking to itself about itself, and is therefore of prime interest for the anthropologist.

Logically, the transfer could, of course, as well go the other way; but, like most of the rhe of us, the Balinese are a great deal more interested in understanding men than they are in understanding cocks. They are both in over their heads. 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.

In sticky, cross-loyalty situations, of which in this extraordinarily complex social system there are of course many, where a man is caught between two more or less equally balanced loyalties, he tends to wander off for a cup of coffee or yhe to avoid having to bet, a form of behavior reminiscent of that of American voters in similar situations.


Doing fieldwork in Taiwan in those years meant, among other things, being constantly aware that certain topics were off-limits.

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

It is not, as I have said, of no importance; Balinese are no happier to lose ccokfight weeks’ income than anyone else. During these twenty-one seconds the handlers pengangkeb are not permitted to touch their roosters. 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.

It is, in fact, in shallow games, ones in which smaller amounts of money are involved, that increments and decrements of cash are more nearly synonyms for utility dwep disutility, in the ordinary, unexpanded sense–for pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness. Cockfighting men would be ashamed to go anywhere near them. Most of the time, in any case, the cocks fly almost immediately at one another in a wing-beating, head-thrusting, leg-kicking explosion of animal fury so pure, so absolute, and in its own way so beautiful, notds to be almost abstract, a Platonic concept of hate.

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

For four, somewhat variant, treatments, see S. This crosswise doubleness of an event which, taken as a fact of nature, is rage untrammeled and, onn as a fact of culture, is form perfected, defines the cockfight as a sociological entity.