Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geertz - Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Geertz, Clifford. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.” From The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Geertz examines the Balinese Cockfight, from the ritual actions involved, to the masculinity issues, to the gambling, ultimately revealing it to be a site for inter-personal and inter-familiar relations to be on symbolic display.

Definition of Culture
"Like any art form...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." (443)

I like this definition because it engages with my own interest in sports, although the Cockfight is working on a more personal level while American sports operates between much larger communities. The cockfight is not itself an obvious text, but when Geertz submits it to his search for a thick description, it reveals symbolic meaning injected by humans and reflecting the social interplay of Balinese people and villages.

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