“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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In this way, cockfighting is a blood sacrifice to these demons of animality, and they precede temple festivals and holidays in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. 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. It puts a construction on them, makes them, to those historically positioned to appreciate the construction, meaningful –visible, tangible, graspable–“real,” in an ideational sense.

But it is a momentary gain or lost, the statues is only gained or lost momentarily following the fight but is maintained in the long run, with cockfights assisting in making sure of that.

HyperGeertz-Text: Deep_Play

For a discussion of it, and for the whole argument for freeing “the notion of text. However, they have a deep identification with their cocks yes, with their cocks and “in identifying with his cock, the Balinese man is identifying not only with his ideal self, or even his penis, but also, and at the same time, with what he most fears, hates, and ambivalence being what it is, is fascinated by- the powers of darkness”.

When the cocks are placed down, the hero’s flees, and the crowd, led by the arrogant king, hoots in laughter. A powerful rendering of life as the Balinese most deeply do not want it to adapt a phrase Frye has used of Gloucester’s blinding is set in the context of a sample of it as they do in fact have it.

The poet’s job is not to tell you what happened, but what happens: As for the volume question, total wagering is greater in large-center-bet fights because such fights are considered more “interesting,” not only in the sense that they are less predictable, but, more crucially, that more is at stake in them–in terms of money, in terms of the quality of the cocks, and consequently, as we shall see, in terms of social prestige.


And, perhaps most important of all, for the other things might have come in other ways, it put me very quickly on to a combination emotional explosion, status war, and philosophical drama of central significance to the society whose inner nature I desired to understand.

This connection of cockfighting with markets and market sellers is very old, as, among other things, their conjunction coclfight inscriptions [ R. Outside betters almost never bet against the cock of someone they are allied with or associated with, and are obligated to vote for the birds of their friends and family. Most of cockfigt fights are in fact organized and sponsored by small combines of petty rural merchants under the general premise, very strongly held by them and indeed by all Balinese, that cockfights are good for trade because “they get money out of the house, they make it circulate.

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.

So far as money is concerned, the explicitly expressed attitude toward it is that it is a secondary matter.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight – Wikipedia

T he cost is not only monetary, however. The first is collective, involving coalitions of bettors clustering around the owner; the second is individual, man to man. The spurs are affixed by winding a long length of string around the foot of the spur and the leg of the cock.

When spur affixers and cock handlers are cockfighh other than the owner, they are almost always a quite close relative–a brother or cousin–or a very intimate friend of his.

Précis for “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (Geertz 1973)

The higher the individual bets center and outside, the shorter the outside bet odds will tend to be, and geerta more betting there will be over-all. The article starts with a heart-pounding chase. Subscribe to our mailing list and get the latest news from Garage.

It is, actually, in the smaller, shallow fights, where one finds the handful of more pure, addict-type gamblers involved–those who are in it mainly for the money–that “real” changes in social position, largely downward, are affected. Of the fifty-seven matches for which I have exact and reliable data on the center bet, the range is from fifteen ringgits to five hundred, with a mean at eighty-five and with the distribution being rather noticeably trimodal: ANd, of course the fact that we can still develop a pretty hearty discussion suggests that the issues raised by Geertz around the time I was born are still far from totally settled.


The story is given as “Geel Komkommertje” in J. 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.

What makes Balinese cockfighting deep is thus not money in itself, but what, the more cockright it that is involved the more so, money causes to happen: There is nothing specifically Balinese, of course, about deepening significance with money, as Whyte’s description of corner cockfjght in a working-class district of Boston demonstrates: The idea of culture as a set of symbols that we share back and forth seems almost custom-designed to avoid the kinds of political economic analysis Rola and myself would like to see.

When two cocks are structurally irrelevant or neutral so far as you are concerned though, as mentioned, they almost never are to each other you do not even ask a relative or a friend whom he is betting on, because if you know how he is betting and he knows you know, and you go the other way, it will lead to strain.

On gwertz more generally, see A.

But cockight for our landlord and the village chief, whose cousin and brother-in-law he was, everyone ignored us in a way only a Balinese can do. It is not, as I have said, of no importance; Balinese are no happier to lose several weeks’ income than anyone else. Similarly, in outside village fights two members of the village will rarely fight against one another, geetz though, as bitter rivals, they would do so with enthusiasm on their home grounds.

Last modified: May 13, 2020