Geertz-Notes to Cockfight

Geertz-Notes to Cockfight - Chapter 15 "DEEP PLAY:...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 15 "DEEP PLAY: Notes on the Balinese INTERPRETATION * 0 F CULTURES Reprinted. with perm'wssi ooooo m: m Myth, Symbol, and Culture ——---—-— SELECTED ESSAYS BY I Clifford Géeftz Borin Boo/ear, Ina, Puélixbem NEW YORK A Chapter I 5 / Deep Play: 7 Notes on the I Balinese Cockfight 7 its“: The Raid Early in April of 1958, my wife and I arrived, malarial and diffident, in a Balinese village we intended, as anthropologists, to study. A small place, about five hundred people, and relatively remote, it was its own world. We were intruders, professional ones, and the‘villagers dealt with us as Balinese seem always to deal with people not part of their life who yet press themselves upon them: as though we were not there. For them, and to a degree for ourselves, we were nonpersons, specters, invisible men. We moved into an extended family compound (that had been ar- ranged before through the provincial government) belonging to one of the four major factions in village life. But except for our landlord and the village chief, whose cousin and brother-in—law he was, everyone ig- nored us in a way only a Balinese can do. As we wandered around, un- certain, wistful, eager to please, people seemed to look right through us with a gaze focused several yards behind us on some more actual stone or tree. Almost nobody greeted us; but nobody scowled or said anything unpleasant to us either, which would have been almost as satisfactory. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight r 413 If we ventured to approach someone (something one is powerfully in- . hibited from doing in such an atmosphere), he moved, negligently but definitely, away. If, seated or leaning against a wall, we had him trapped, he said nothing at all, or mumbled what for the Balinese is the ultimate nonwor —“yes." The indifference, of course, was studied; the villagers were watching every move we made, and they had an enor- mous amount of quite accurate information about who we were and what we were going to be doing. But they acted as if we simply did not exist, which, in fact, as this behavior was designed to inform us, we did not, or anyway not yet. This is, as I say, general in Bali. Everywhere else I have been in In-- donesia, and more latterly in Morocco, when l have gone into a new village, people have poured out from all sides to take a very close look at me, and, often an'all-too-probing feel as well. In Balinese villages, at least those away from the tourist circuit, nothing happens at all. People go on pounding, chatting, making offerings, staring into space, carrying baskets about while one drifts around feeling vaguely disembodied. And the same thing is true on the individual level. When you first meet a Ba— linese, he seems virtually not to relate to you at all; he is, in the term Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead made famous, “away.” 1 Then— in a day, a week, a month (with some people the magic moment never comes)-—he decides, for reasons 1 have never quite been _ able to fathom, that you are real, and then he becomes a warm, gay, sensitive, sympathetic, though, being Balinese, always precisely controlled, per- son. You have crossed, somehow, some moral or metaphysical shadow line. Though you are not exactly taken as a Balinese (one has to be born to that), you are at least regarded as a human being rather than a cloud or a gust of wind. The whole complexion of your relationship dramatically changes to, in the majority of cases, a gentle, almost affec— tionate one—a low-keyed, rather playful, rather mannered, rather be— mUSed geniality. ' My wife and I were still very much in the gust—of—wind stage, a most frustrating, and even, as you soon begin to doubt whether you are really real after all, unnerving one, when, ten days or so after our arrival, a large cockfight was held in the public square to raise money for a new school. Now, a few special occasions aside, eockfights are illegal in Bali 16., Bateson and M. Mead, Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis (New York, 1942), p. 68. 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Not only were we no longer invisible, we were suddenly the center of all attention, the object of a great outpouring of warmth, interest, and most especially, amusement. Everyone in the village knew we had fled like everyone else. They asked us about it again and again (I must have told the story, small detail by small detail, fifty times by the end of the clay), gently, affectionately, but quite insistently teasing us: “Why didn’t you just stand there and tell the police who you were?” “Why didn‘t you just say you were only watching and not betting?” “Were you really afraid of those little guns?” As always, kinesthetically minded and, even when fleeing for their lives (or, as happened eight years later, surrender- ing them), the world’s most poised people, they gleefully mimicked, also over and over again, our graceless style of running and what they claimed were our panic-stricken facial expressions. But above all, everyone was extremely pleased and even more surprised that we had not simply “pulled out our papers" (they knew about those too) and as- serted our Distinguished Visitor status, but had instead demonstrated our solidarity with what were now our covillagers. (What we had ac- tually demonstrated was our cowardice, but there is fellowship in that too.) Even the Brahmana priest, an old, grave, halfway—to—heaven type who because of its associations with the underworld would never be in- volved, even distantly, in a cockfight, and was difficult to approach even to other Balinese, had us called into his courtyard to ask us about what had happened, chuckling happily at the sheer extraordinariness of it all. In Bali, to be teased is to be accepted. It was the turning point so far as our relationship to the community was concerned, and we were quite literally “in.” The whole village opened up to us, probably more than it ever would have otherwise (I might actually never have gotten to that priest, and our accidental host became one of my best informants), and certainly very much faster. Getting caught, or almost caught, in a vice raid is perhaps not a very generalizable recipe for achieving that myste- rious necessity of anthropological field work, rapport, but for me it worked very well. it led to a sudden and unusually complete acceptance into a society extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate. It gave me the kind of immediate, inside-view grasp of an aspect of “peasant men— tality” that anthropologists not fortunate enough to flee headlong with their subjects from armed authorities normally do not get. 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, Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 417 status war, and philosophical drama of central significance to the society whose inner nature I desired to understand. By the time I left [had spent about as much time looking into cockfights as into witchcraft, irri- gation, caste, or marriage. Of Cocks and Men _ Bali, mainly because it is Bali, is a well-studied place. Its mythology, art, ritual, social organization, patterns of child rearing, forms of law, even styles of trance, have all been microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called “The Balinese Temper.” 2 But, aside from a few passing remarks, the cockfight has barely been noticed, although as a popular obsession of consuming power it is at least as important a revelation of what being a Balinese “is really like" as these more celebrated phenomena.3 As much of America surfaces in a ball park, on a golf links, at a race track, or around a poker table, much of Bali surfaces in a cock ring. For it is only apparently cocks that are fighting there. Actually, it is men. To anyone who has been in Bali any length of time, the deep psycho- logical identification of Balinese men with their cocks is unmistakable. The double entendre here is deliberate. It works in exactly the same way in Balinese as it does in English, even to producing the same tired jokes, strained puns, and uninventive Obscenities. Bateson and Mead have even suggested that, in line with the Balinese conception of the body as a setof separately animated parts, cocks are viewed as detacha— ble, self-operating-penises, ambulant genitals with a life of their own.4 2}. Belo, "The Balinese Temper,“ in Traditional Balinese Culture, ed. 3. Halo (New York. 1970) (originally published in 1935), pp. 85—l 10. 3The best discussion of cockfighting is again Bateson and Mead's Balinese Character, pp. 24—25, 140; but it, too, is general and abbreviated. 41bid., pp. 25—26. The cockfight is unusual within Balinese culture in being a single-sex public activity from which the other sex is totally and expressly ex- cluded. Sexual differentiation is culturally extremely played down in Bali and most activities. formal and informal, involve the participation of men and women on equal ground, commonly as linked couples. From religion, to politics, to eco- nomics, to kinship, to dress. Bali is a rather "unisex" society, a fact both its cus- toms and its symbolism clearly express. 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Babies are not allowed to crawl for that rea- son. Incest, though hardly approved, is a much less horrifying crime than bestiality. (The appropriate punishment for the second is death by drowning, for the first being forced to live like an animal.) 3 Most de- mons are represented—in sculpture, dance, ritual, myth—in some real or fantastic animal form. The main puberty rite consists in filing the child’s teeth so they will not look like animal fangs. Not only defecation but eating is regarded as a disgusting, almost obscene activity, to be conducted hurriedly and privately, because of its association with ani- mality. Even falling down or any form of clumsines's is considered to be bad for these reasons. Aside from cocks and a few domestic animals— oxen, ducks—of no emotional significance, the Balinese are aversive to animals and treat their large number-of dogs not merely callously but with a phobic cruelty. In identifying with his cock, the Balinese man is identifying not just 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 byu-“The Powers of Darkness.” . The connection of cocks and cockfighting with such Powers, with the animalistic demons that threaten constantly to invade the small, cleared—off space in which the Balinese have so carefully built their lives‘and devour its inhabitants, is quite explicit. A cockfight, any cock- fight, is in the first instance a blood sacrifice offered, with the appropri-‘ ate chants and oblations, to the demons in order to pacify their raven-- ous, cannibal hunger. No temple festival should be conducted until one is made. (If it is omitted, someone will inevitably fall into a trance and command with the voice of an angered spirit that-the oversight be im- mediately corrected.) Collective responses to natural evils—illness, crop failure, volcanic eruptions—almost always involve them. And that fa- mous holiday in Bali, “The Day of Silence” (Niepi), when everyone sits silent and immobile all day long in order to avoid contact with a sudden influx of demons chased momentarily out of hell, is preceded the pre- vious day by large-scale cockfights (in this case legal) in almost every village on the island. I In the cockfight, man and beast, good and evil, ego and id, the creative power of aroused masculinity and the destructive power of loosened an- 8 An incestuous couple is forced to wear pig yokes over their necks and crawl to a pig trough and eat with their mouths there. On this, see J. Belo, “Customs Pertaining to Twins in Bali,“ in Traditional Balinese Culture, ed. J. Role, 1:. 49; on the abhorrence of animality generally, Bateson and Mead, Balinese Character. p. 22. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 42.1 imality fuse in a bloody drama of hatred, cruelty, violence, and death. 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. Or that a man who has lost an important fight is sometimes driven to wreck his family shrines and curse the gods, an act of metaphysical (and social) suicide. Or that in seeking earthly analogues for heaven and hell the Balinese compare the former to the mood of a man whose cock has just won, the latter to that of a man whose cock has just lost. The Fight Cockfights (tetadien; sabungan) are held in a ring about fifty feet square. .Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run three or four hours until sunset. About nine or ten separate matches (sehet) comprise a pro- gram. Each match is precisely like the others in general pattern: there is no main match, no connection between individual matches, no variation in their format, 'and each is arranged on a completely ad hoe basis. After a fight has ended and the emotional debris is cleaned away—-—the bets have been paid, the curses cursed, the carcasses possessed—"seven, eight, perhaps even a dozen men slip negligently into the ring with a cock and seek to find there a logical opponent for it. This process, which rarely takes less than ten minutes, and often a good deal longer, is conducted in a very subdued, oblique, even disscmbling manner. Those not immediately involved give it at best but disguised, sidelong attention; those who, embarrassedly, are, attempt to pretend somehow that the whole thing is not really happening. 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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. It is also the-umpire to whom accusations of cheating, which, though rare in the extreme, occasionally arise, are referred; and it is- he who in the. not infrequent cases where the cocks expire virtually together decides which (if either, for, though the Balinese do not care for such an outcome, there can be ties) went first. 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 cer- tainty of the law. In the dozens of cockfights 1 saw in Bali, I never once saw an altercation about rules. Indeed, I never saw an open altercation, other than those between cocks, at all. This crosswise doubleness of an event which, taken as a fact of na- ture, is rage untrammeled‘and, taken as a fact of culture, is form per- fected, defines the cockfight as a sociological entity. A cockfight is what, searching for a name for something not vertebrate enough to be called a group and not structureless enough to be called a crowd, Erving Goff— man has called a “focused gathering”—-—a set of persons engrossed in a common flow of activity and relating to one another in terms of that flow.” Such gatherings meet and disperse; the participants in them fluc- tuate; the activity that focuses them is discrete—a particulate process that reoccurs rather than a continuous one that endures. They take their form from the situation that evokes them, the floor on which they are placed, as Goffman puts it; but it is a form, and an articulate one, none- theless. For the situation, the floor is itself created, in jury deliberations, surgical operations, block meetings, sit-ins, cockfights, by the cultural preoccupations—here, as We shall see, the celebration of status rivalry ———which not only specify the focus but, aesembling actors and arranging scenery, bring it: actually into being. I ‘ In classical times (that is to say, prior to the Dutch invasion of 1908), when there were no bureaucrats around to improve popular mo~ rallty, the staging of a cockfight was an explicitly societal matter. Bring- . ing a cock to an important fight was, for an adult male, a compulsory duty of citizenship;ltaxation of fights, which were usually held on mar- ket day, was a major source of public revenue; patronage of the art was '9 E. Goffman, Encounters: Two Studies inlthe Sociology of Interaction (Indi- anapolis. 1961}, pp. 9—10. Notes-on the Balinese Coekllght . 425 a stated responsibility of princes; and the cock ring, or wantilon, stood in the center of the village near those other monuments of Balinese civility—the council house, the origin temple, the marketplace, the sig- nal tower, and the banyan tree. Today, a few special occasions aside, the newer rectitude makes so open a statement of the connection be- tween the excitements of collective life and those of blood sport impos- sible, but, less directly‘expressed, the connection itself remains intimate and intact. To expose it, however, it is necessary to turn to the aspect of cockfighting around which .all the others pivot, and through which they exercise their force, an aspect I have thus far studioust ignored. I mean, of course, the gambling. Odds and' Even Meney The Balinese never do anything in a simple way that they can contrive to do in a complicated one, and to this generalization cockfight wager- ing is no exception. . _ In the first place, there are two sorts of bets. or rah.“ There is the single axial bet in the center between the principals (toh kerengah). and there is the cloud of peripheral ones around the ring between members of the audience (10h kesasi). The first is typically large; the second typi- cally small. The first is collective, involving coalitions of bettors cluster- ing around the owner; the second is individual, man to man. The first is a matter of deliberate, very quiet, almost furtive arrangement by the co- alition members and the umpire huddled like conspirators in the center of- the ring; the second is a matter of impulsive shouting, public offers, and public acceptances by the excited throng around its edges. And 'most curiously, and as we shall see most revealingly, where the first is always,_withom exception, {even money, the second, equally without ex- - 11 This ward, which literally means an indelible stain or markI as in a birth— ’ mark or a vein in a stone, is used as well for a deposit in a courtzcase, 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 advanced in a business deal, fora sign placed in a field to indicate its ownership is in dispute, and for the status of .an unfaith- ful wife from whose lo'ver her husband must gain satisfaction or surrender her to I him. See Kern, Her Adah-sch: van Bali: Th. Pigeaud, Jovaons-Nederlands.Hand- waordenbaek (Groningen, 1938); H. H. Juynboll, Oudjavaansche—Nederlondsche Weardenliist (Leiden, 1923). 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Almost always odds-calling. which tends to‘ be very consensual in that at any one time almost all callers are calling the same thing, starts off toward the long end of the range—'five-to-four or four-to-three—-— and then moves, also consensually, toward the short end with greater or lesser speed and to a greater or lesser degree. Men crying "live" and finding themselves answered only with cries of f‘brown" start crying "six," either drawing the other callers fairly quickly with them or retir- ing from the scene as their too-generous offers are snapped up. If the change is made and partners are still scarce, the procedure is repeated in a mOVe to “seVen,” and so on. only rarely, and in the very largest fights, reaching the ultimate “nine” or “ten” levels. Occasionally, if the cooks are clearly mismatched, there may be no upward movement at all, or, even a movement down the scale to four-to-three, three-to-two, very, very rarely twa~to~one, a shift 'which is accompanied by a declining number of bets as a shift upward is accompanied by an increasing num— ber. But the general patteIn is for the betting to move a shorter or longer distance up the scale toward the, for sidebets, nonexistent pole of. even money, with the overwhelming majority of bets falling inthe four-to-three to eight-to-seven range. ‘5 ‘ As the moment for the release of the cooks by the handlers ap— proaches, the screaming, at least in a match where the center bet is large, reaches almost frenzied proportions as the remaining unfulfilled bettors try desperately to find a last-minute partner at a price they can live with. (Where the center bet is small, the opposite tends to occur: ‘5 The precise dynamics of the movement of the betting is one of the most in- triguing. most complicated, and. given the hectic conditions under which it oc- curs. most difficult to study, aspects of the fight. Motion picture recording plus multiple observers would probably be necessary to deal with it effectively. Even impressionistlealiy—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 fa- ' vorite (that is, making the opening cock-type calls which always initiate the pro- cess) and in directing the movement of the odds. these “opinion leaders“ being the more accomplished cockfighters—cum-solid-citizens to' be discussed below. If these men begin to change their calls, others follow; if they begin to make bets. so do others and—though there are always a large number of frustrated bettors crying for shorter or longer odds to the enduthe movement more or less ceases. But a detailed understanding of the whole process awaits what, alas, it is not very likely ever to get: a decision theorist armed with precise observations of individ- ual behavior. Notes on the Balinese Cockilght 429 betting dies off, trailing into silence, as odds lengthen and people lose interest.) In a large-bet. well-made match—the kind of match the Ba~ linese regard as “real cockfighting"—the mob scene quality, the sense that sheer chaos-is about to break loose, with all those waving, shouting, pushing, clambering men is quite strong, an effect which is only height- ened by the intense stillness that 'falls with instant suddenness, rather as if someone had turned off .the current, when the slit gong sounds, the cocks are put down, and the battle begins. 'When- it ends, anywhere from fifteen seconds to five minutes later, all bets are immediately paid. There are absolutely no [00s, at least to a betting opponent. One may, of course, borrow from a friend before of- fering or accepting a wager, but to offer or accept it you must have the money already in hand and. if you lose, you must pay it on the spot, be- fore the next match begins. This is an iron rule, and as I have never heard of a disputed umpire’s decision (though doubtless there must sometimes be some), I have also never heard of a welshed bet, perhaps because in a worked-up cockfight‘ crowd the consequences might be, as they are reported to he sometimes for cheaters, drastic and immediate. It is, in any case, this formal asymmetry between balanced center bets and unbalanced side ones that poses the critical analytical problem for'a theory which sees cockfight wagering as the link connecting the fight to the wider. world ofBalinese culture. It also suggests the way to go about solving it and demonstrating the link. The first point that needs to be made in this connection is that the higher the center bet, the more likely the match will in actual fact be an eVen one. Simple considerations of rationality suggest that. If you are betting fifteen ringgits on a cock, you might be willing to go along with even money even if you feel your animal somewhat the less promising. But if you are betting five hundred you are very, very likely to be loathe to do so. Thus, in large-bet fights, which of course involve the better an-' imals, tremendous care is taken to see that the cocks are about as evenly matched as to size, general condition, pugnacity, and so on as is humanly possible. The different ways of adjusting the spurs of the ani- mals are often employed to secure this. If one cock seems stronger, an agreement will. be made to position his spur at a slightly less advanta- geous angle—a kind of handicapping, at which spur affixers are, so it is said, extremely skilled. More care will be taken, too, to employ skillful handlers and to match them exactly as to abilities. 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' 097 “‘39 138 681 432 THE INTERPRETATION on CULTURES directed tOWard profundity and, with a certain frequency, approximates it. The image of artistic technique is indeed exact: the center bet is a means, a device, forcreating “interesting,” "deep" matches, nor the rea- son, or at least not the main reason. why they are interesting, the source of their fascination, the substance of their depth. The question of .why such matches are interesting—window, 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 eco- nomic idea of what V“depth" in gaming amounts to. '3 Playing with Fire Bentham's concept of “deep play" is found in his The Theory of Legis~ lotion.” By it he means play in which the stakes are so high that it is, from his utilitarian standpoint. irrational for men to engage in it at all. If a man whose fortune is a thousand pounds (or ringgits) wages five ' 13 Besides wagering there are other economic aspects of the cockflg'ht, espe- cially its very close connection with the local market system which. though sec- oudery both to its motivation and to its. function, are not without- importance. Cockfights are open events to which anyone who wishes may come, sometimes from quite distant areas. but well over 90- percent. probably over 95. are very local affairs. and the locality concerned is defined not: by the Village. nor even by the administrative district, but by the rural market system. 8in has a three—day market week with the familiar “solar-system“-type rotation. Though the markets themselves have never been very highly developed, small morning affairs in a vil- lage square, it is the microregion such rotation rather generally marks out—ten or twenty square miles. seven or eight neighborlngwillages (which in contempo- rary Bali is usually going to mean anywhere from five to ten' or eleven thousand people) from which the core of any cockfight audience. indeed virtually all of it. will come. Most of the fights are in fact organized and sponsored by small com- bines 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." Stalls selling various sorts of things as .well as assorted sheer-chance gambling games (see below) are set up around the edge of the area so that this even takes onthe quality of a small fair. This connection of cockflghting with markets and market sellers is very old, as. among other things. their coniunctlon in inscriptions [R. Gorls, Prasasri Ball. 2 vols. (Bandung, 1954)} indicates. Trade has followed the cock for centuries in rurali Bali. and the sport has been one of the main agencies of the island‘s ‘mone- tizat on. ‘ '9 The phrase is found in the Hildreth translation. International Library of Psychology (1931). note to p. 106: see L. L. Fuller. The Morality of Law (New Haven. I964). 13. 6 ff. Notes on the Balinese Cookflght 433 hundred of it on an even bet, the marginal utility of the pound he stands to win is clearly less than the marginal disutility of the one he stands to lose. In genuine deep play, this is the case for both parties. They are both in over their heads. Having come together in search of pleasure they have entered into a relationship which will bring the participants, considered collectively, net .pain rather than net pleaSure. Bentham‘s conclusion was, therefore, that deep play was immoral from first princi» pies and, atypical step for him, should be prevented legally. - But more-interesting than the ethical problem, attleast for our con- cerns’ here, is that despite the logical force of Bentham’s analysis men do engage in such play, both passionately and often, and even in the face of law‘s revenge. For Bentham and those who think as he does (nowadays mainly lawyers, economists, and a few psychiatrists), the ex- planation. is, as l have said. that such men are irrational—addicts, fe- tishists, children, fools, savages, who need only to be protected against themselves. But for the Balinese, though naturally they do not formulate it in so many words. the entplanation lies in the fact that in such play. money is less a measure of utility. had or expected, than it is a symbol of moral import, perceived or imposed. 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 and disutility. in the ordinary, unexpanded sens_e—-for pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness. In deep ones. where the amounts of money are great, much more is at stake than ma‘ terial gain: namely, esteem, honor, dignity, respect—4n a word, though in Bell a profoundly freighted word, status.20 It is at stake symboli— cally, for (a few cases of ruined addict gamblers aside) no one’s status is actually altered by the outcome of a ceckfight'; it is only, and that mo- mentarily, affirmed or insulted. But for the Balinese, for whom nothing is more pleaSurable than an affront obliquely delivered or more painful than one obliquely receivedvparticularly when mutual acquaintances, undeceived by surfaces, are watchingv-such appraisive drama is deep indeed. - ‘ This, I must stress immediately, is not to say that the money does not matter, or that the Balinese is no more concerned about losing five ‘0 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 Balinese. as for any people. utility (pleasure, happi— ness . . . ) is merely identifiable with wealth. But such terminological problems are in any case secondary to the essential point: the cockfight is not roulette. 13—5: ‘dd ‘(9561 ‘snBeH sq J) nag mm nap:qu us ransom;- 'dunaqmoog usmnss': samurai/(00H 1- u: .;s§':.lsulwoqmo)[ lass" sa news s: 110:3 sq; 'sgym sgq qqm mgq ssquns: qu usqm; sq: o: qsaq [.133 sq: afiupq sssppcs sq: ‘ps:o:s -s.| s: muss sIJsumo sq: ‘msq: usAgs poo; sq: tum; 91p sqsos sq_|_ 'qu qua: ssqu sq: 0: sin [:13 sq: ssqa: pus uaA‘aall mos: spussssp sssppnfl v ‘pqqs sq: "p: o: :no sass sq ‘snopn; ‘pua noudsssp sq: :0 tugq'wJOJug 0:8qu 3111:5010 ‘sqsos sq: ‘susms: pusqan sq: uqu usqwm umo .Isq qqm 11:3 sq: sgsssu'os pus :9: saw: 1; msq: sslqfi sqs 33303 sq: o: puqs sq: Sums uuq: qumJ :nq ‘ms 1! a: mug mus Ismmu sq _]_ 14:3 1! s; u :; sqsos Supqfly syq o: :ssm s2 :1 pas: 0: um 50:: n s: :3 y umqmsu s'Ag:ssdso.:d sq: JO sJes 93w: 0: s11.“ :uuuBst sgq stpJo sq fly: a no Bugneéq 'mq: uogssed sgq Aq psfiump os ssmossq .Iqumss v influx Bur:an 1' s13: silo; sssunsg sq: sq psmnsuomsp sg—ssaaup'em szsmsuos s: :5 um: :33; sq: pus-03 0: uoysmso no psayssuos s! sssupsw syq: qsgqm o1 ssmsnxs sq; a; qu: :eq: ‘uo-Jsfiueq'mysw sq: pun ‘(smqmdsl 10 pm: :0 fiuyuasm Km -puosss sq: seq qsgqm pmm a 'mod) .IsmmEE usnyp sq: ‘1q3g3poo sq: :0 :xs:uos smudmddsu! ‘:us:s;::p sqnb sq: 0w! sums {[sqs-pua-usd sq: :0 Ammusm sq: Bugq oqm ssoq: :ou ‘uosmd :0 nos sgq: s: :5 ‘(I‘Jsdssq sass") Summ; nmfp :0 (“Jonsq”) qozsqaq sq: I“.'ts:qfig>lsos sm: sq:,, :noqe ‘Aem ammsusA :souqa :aq: u; ‘sqls: slew sssung 'e 11qu 'hsgsos sq: suysp pqe sum:pr Asq: ss :Jods sq: sugsp pus smugmop Almsusfi usu: sssq:-‘s3u:.1sq:38 pssnso; sssq: u! :usmsls fiugsnsog sqL 'spys sq: punom wsq: uo :sq pun s:qfig 103.12: sq: u: :qfig oqm ‘ssAIOAsJ s5” [esq u:qu punom Amsst pqos sq: ‘Aqunwwos sq: :0 smqmsw [enumsqns KnesJ sq: ‘ssoq: am stq: ‘Kueuq puv fssoq: u: spgs sq: uo suq: o: suq: mm; :sq Ken: qu: qfinoq: ‘ssuo sfiml sq: u! ugo!‘ o: sn:e:s sq: :ou sAeq :nq ‘ssqsww qupsm Knauogsesso 10 ‘nsws U; 53:30:: :qfig oqm ssoq: s13 sxsq: ‘:st 'ssfips sq: punom ssqsnau: 19“st sq: uo :sq ‘sqsos :qfig ssaqsswsq: :01! op qu: anoq: qu ssoq: sre Eugpums u: s[dosd sssq: snoqe Anqfiqs stq: Jesu stsquue 08 0:- psweqstz ' sq plnom usw fiupqfiq-qsog 's;sAs[ sum Kuqsd ‘ssmos :0 ‘3'9 ‘ssuwa sssq: :3 Ks[d——s!:msu£sogpg Kmsuowsd sq: ‘pssgdssp fiqepos sq: ‘JOOd Klsmsnxs sm—sqsos :qfig (:sA um 10) :ou op qu sldosd :0 sues qu:o ‘ 9:10:19». pm: ‘s:ussss10pu ‘uslpnqs ‘usmom Kluo' 'ssqsuoyssssuos Kq pan: 4st (qsqs-sq:-1spun-esd ‘qus—ugos ‘MOJq: ssgp 's::s[no.1) ssmefi fiuqq _ 41:98 sd&:—souaqs-Jssqs ‘ssslpugw JO qumnu saw: a ‘89.“: :qfigqsos sq: :0 ssfips A'JsA sq: punom 'an 3.;qu s:qfiyqsos :smfi :a ‘Jsgpss ps:0u sv suns: sssq: u; Aqsmxsyq lmomoysos a 11.110; ssAIssmsq: 5:01:93 '[stusB sqnb :03: u! s! ssuo .Ismoqaqs qu “Suqqiunfi Ksuow" ‘KlsSJsAu: ‘pua s3q3g‘1sdssp 1mm “fiuquafi sums" :0 uogmlsnos psmhfimfl sgql, ’ ‘ ' 33.31111] Jamsymad Run 1% ‘:sq 0: Jspm u: ssq:ols .qsq: Sumss pus pun: .qsq: Sugumnd ‘punom utsq: go om: 10 9:10 sq o: swsss shame stq: :an ‘suq: :Joqs Klqaxmwsl 98!; :qfigqsog sssuqsg sq: no ssmN ~_._P,— 'ovt '6 ‘(95'61 'osvomo) 'ps 9: mamas 1814403 mus '915llM'fl'M "-1035de p008 a passpgsuos :01: 5! sq ‘smns :2 S} Asuow :1qu [19m swloysd Imus n sss|un ‘pua mas :0 :ss: '39.: sq: Asuom :0; 3:1ngch JQPISUOO sfiaq JOUJOO sq; 'sqsas :s Asuou: sq: uaq: :uuuoduq sJou: qsmu 38M Buguugm :0 Jouoq sq: :uq: Ass ustu pmsq Auusnbsu sAaq 1 'meuoduq-u‘s s: :usmsls {sysuang sq: :aq: '_ ussuz :of: ssop sgql ‘:ss:uos Iss: 3 szspgsuos :01: 5! sun: sq: ‘sqsm :s Sugqmu s: sxsq: :1qu ‘swosmo sq: 30 :sq sAaMfa Amsu .(sq: find 550:: .1qu0: sq: sums mu:qu 'sidosd sluustuog JO $9M] sq: u! s|o.| :uauodw: as ‘squ Suglqumg” :ss:s.1:suomsp uo:sog :0 mas”: seals-Sumo.“ a u! sxoq :smos :0 nondgssssp s,s:&qM se ‘Ksuom Inga: ssussgyusys Sugusdssp :noqa ‘ssmos J0 'sssuusg Juesygs -sds summu s; sjsqi '(595[ 'uo:soa) uagayay f0 {3010;905- au usqu 1:: u a u} smpstusq: um: 0: sfisusw psspu: op Lusq: :0 now 'sqsos psqswul -syu1 uo s:sq muons.th 0w: ‘pssJS qsq: :0 saw; sq: qEnojq: 'wsq: 8mm] fiq op 0: qfinous lens 3: :2q: Bugq:swos—um.q Kama Asuou: am" s 931;: o: ‘pumsmpun op oqm ssoq: 's:sn;s‘nq:us sugnusfi sq: m; sums .q'e; SB pspnafis: ‘smpps sssq: ‘sm IlsqL 'ue :! 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' ~ *9? I40 H71 436 . THE INTER?RETATION 0F CULTURES mean. For such a man, what is really going on_ in a match is something rather closer to an afl'm're d’honneur (though, with the Balinese talent for practical fantasy, the blood that is spilled is only figuratively human) than to the stupid, mechanical crank of a slot machine. What makes Balinese cockfighting deep is thus not money'in itself, x." but what, the more of it that is involved the more so, money causes to ' happen: the migration of the Balinese statu's hierarchy into the body of I .§% cockfight. Psychologically an Aesopian representation of the I id aI/demonic, rather narcissistic, male self, sociologically it is an equally Aesopian representation of the complex fields of tension set up by the controlled, muted, ceremonial, but for all that deeply felt, inter- action of those selves in the context of everyday life. Thecocks may be surrogates for their owners‘ personalities, animal mirrors of psychic form, but the cockfight is——or more exactly, deliberater is made to be —-a simulation of the social matrix, the involved system of cross-cut— ting, overlapping, highly corporate groups—villages, kingroups, irriga- tion societies, temple congregations, “castes”-——in which its devotees live!:3 And as prestige, the necessity to affirm it, defend it, celebrate it, justify it, and just plain bask in it (but not, given the strongly ascrip- tive character of Balinese stratification, to seek it), is perhaps the‘cen- tral driving force in the society, so also-—arnbu‘lant penises, blood sacri-' fices, and monetary exchanges aside—-is it of the cockfight. This Notes On the Balinese 'Cockfight 437 First, the village is dominated by four large, patrilineal, partly endog- amous descent groups which are constantly vying with one another and form the major factions in the village. Sometimes they group two and two, or rather the two larger ones versus the two smaller ones plus all r the unaffiliated people; sometimes they operate independently. There are alsu subfactionsgwithln them, subfactions within the subfactions, and so on to rather fine levels of distinction. And second, there is the village itself, almost entirely endogamous, which is opposed to all the other vil- lages round about in its cockfight circuit (which, as explained, is the market region), but which also forms alliances with Certain of these. neighbors against certain others in various supravillage political and so- cial contexts. The exact situation is thus, as everywhere in Bali, quite distinctive; but the general pattern of a tiered hierarchy of status rival- ries betWeen highly corporate but various based groupings (and, thus, between the members of them) is entirely general. Consider, then, as support of the general thesis that the cockfight, and especially the deep cockfight, is fundamentally a dramatization of status concerns, thefollmving facts, which to avoid extended ethnographic de- scription I shall simply pronounce to be facts—'though the concrete evi- dence, examples, statements, and numbers that could be brought to bear in support of them, is both extensive and unmistakable: i. A. man virtually never bets against a cock owued by a member of d apparent amusement and seeming sport is, to take another phrase from “ff- iLErving Goffman, “a status bloodbath." 2‘ , [\flhq .3 1: i“ " The easiest way to make this clear, and at least to some degree to his own kingroup. Usually he will feel obliged to bet for it, the more so ‘ the closer the kin tie'and the deeper the fight. If he is certain in his demonstrate it, is to invoke the village whose cockfighting activities I observed the closest-—the one in which the raid occurred and from which my statistical data are taken. . ' ' Like all Balinese villages, this one#Tihingan, in the Klungkung re- gion of southeast Bali—is intricately organized, a labyrinth of alliances and oppositions. But, unlike many, two sorts of corporate groups, which are also status groups, particularly stand out, and we may concentrate on them, in a part-for-whole way, without undue distortion. 7-3 For a fuller description of Balinese rural social structure. see C. Geertz, “Form and Variation in Balinese Village Structure,“ American Anthropologist 61 (1959): pp. 94—108; "Tihingan, A Balinese Village," in R. M. Koentjaraningrat. Villages in Indonesia (Ithaca. 1967), pp. 210-243; and. though it is a bit off the norm as Balinese villages go, V. E. Korn, De Dorpsrepubliek mganan Pagrlngsln- gar: (Santpoort, Netherlands. 1933). - 3‘ Goffman, Encounters, p. 73. mind that it will not win, he may just not bet at all, particularly if it is only a second cousin’s bird or if the fight is a shallow one. But as a rule he will feel he must support it and, in deep games, nearly always does. Thus the great majority of the people calling "five" or "speckled" so demonstratively are expressing their allegiance to their kinsman, not their evaluation of his bird, their understanding of probability theory, or even their hopes of unearned income. ' 2. This principle is extended logically. If your kingroup is not in— volved you will support an allied kingroup against an unallied one in the same way, and so on through the very involved networks of alli- ances which, as I say, make up this, as any other, Balinese village. 3.~ So, too, for the village as a whole. If an outsider cock is fighting any cock from your village, you will tend to support the local one. If, what is a rarer cichmstance but occurs every now and then, a cock . . 4—1 \-____. M,— w *1 '(17551 “0899313) 11811111an 11111119111991; 1: 1.11 1101111111103 1101111110 f0 Epms V -'3"110A ‘99ltd0W 'N 'M 1m 1191910281 2-1.9 “110819-199 '11 '11 1; 999111 fiu1pn1ou1) 9p1s 9111 no 19q 011111 9110111 991111115 1911919111111 .10 ‘9391 -1111 "d111sup1——-dno.13 119111 10 s.19qu19111 fiu1p991 9.49.1119 £119n11111 ‘9111‘311 (1991: U1 1(119199ds9 ‘919'19q 1911199 9111 u1 p9A|0Au1 91110911 9111. 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Cockfighting is for those who are in- volved in the everyday politics of prestige as well, not for youth, women, subordinates, and so forth. ' _' lS.‘So far as money is concerned, the explicitly expressed attitude toward it is that it is a Secondary matter. It is not, as l have said, of‘no importance; Balinese are no happier to lose several weeks' income than anyone else. But they mainly look on the monetary aspects of the cock- fight as self-balancing, a matter of'just moving money around, circulat- ing it among a fairly well-defined group of serious cockfighters. The really important wins and losses are seen mostly in other terms, and the general attitude toward wagering is not any hope of cleaning up, of making a killing (addict gamblers again excepted), but that of the horse- player's prayer: "Oh, God, please let me break even." in prestige terms, however, you do not want to break even. but, in a momentary, punc- tuate sort of way, win utterly. The talk (which goes mall the time) is about fights against such-and-such a cock of So-and-So which your cock demolished, not on how much you won,’ a fact people, even for large bets. rarely remember for any length of time, though they will remem- ber the day they did in Pan Loh's finest cock for years. ' l6. You must bet on cocks of your own group aside from mere loy- alty considerations, for if you do. not people generally will say, “What! , Is he too proud for the likes of us? Dues he have to go to Java or Den Pasar [the capital town] to bet, he is such an important man?" Thus there is a general pressure to bet not only to show that you_are impor- tant locally, but that you are not so important that you lock down on everyone else as unfit even to be rivals. Similarly, home team people must bet against outside cocks or- the outsiders will accuse them-a se- rious charge—of just collecting entry fees and not really being interested in cockfighting, as well as again being arrogant and insulting. 17. Finally, the Balinese peasants themselves are quite'aware of all this and can and, at least to an ethnographer, do state most of it in ap- proximately the same‘terms as l have. Fighting cocks, almost every Ba- linese l' have ever discussed the subject with has said, is like playing - with fire only not getting burned. You activate village and kingroup ri- valries and hostilities, but in "play" form, coming dangerously and en- trancingly close to the expression of open and direct interpersonal and intergroup aggression (something which. again, almost never happens in ' ,the normal course of ordinary life), but not quite, becatisa, after all, it is “only a cockfight." Notes on the Balinese Cockllght 4.41 More observations of this sort could be advanced, but perhaps the general point is, if not made, at least Well-delineated, and the whole ar- gument'thus far c‘an be usefully summarized in a formal paradigm: TH". moms A MATCH IS. . 1. Between near status equals (and/or personal enemies) 2. Between high status individuals THE DEEPER THE hilATCH. The bearer. rue MATCH . . . l. The closer the identification of cock and man (or, more prop- erly, the deeper the match the more the man will advance his best, most closely-identified-with cock). . 2. The finer the cocks involved and the more exactly they will be 7 matched. . ' 3. The greater the emotion that will be involved and the more the general absorption in the match. 4. The higher the individual bets center and outside, the shorter the outside bet odds will tend to be, and the more betting there will be overall. I 5. The less an “economic” and the more a "status" view of gam- ing will be involved, and the "solider" the citizens who will be gaming.“ I Inverse arguments hold for the shallower the fight, culminating, in a reversed-signs sense, in the coin~spinning and dice-threwing amuse— ments. For deep fights there are no absolute upper limits, though there I are of course practical ones, and there are a great many legendlike tales of great Duel—in-the~Sun combats between lords and princes in classical times (for coekfighting has always been as much an elite concern as a. popular one), far deeper than anything anyone, even aristocrats. could produce today anywhere in Bali. indeed, one of the great culture heroes of Bali is a prince, called after his passion for the'sport, “The Cockfighter," who happened to be away at a very deep cockfight with a neighboring prince when the whole of his family—father, brothers, wives, sisters—were assassinated by ’5 As this is a formal paradigm, it is intended to display the logical, not the causal, structure of cockfighting. Just which of these considerations leads to whichrin what order, and by what mechanisms, is another matter—one l have attempted to shed some light on in the general discussion. . ,vffx, '14 191(1qu ‘aAoqe m ‘uaa 11! 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An _‘ image, fiction, a model, a metaphor, the cockfight is a means of expres- , ‘ sion; its function is neither to-assuage social passions nor to heighten them (though, in its playing-with-fire way it does a bit of both), but, in a medium of feathers, blood, crowds, and money, to display them._ ' The question of how it is that we perceive qualities in things— paintings, books, melodies, plays—«that we do not feel we can assert lit- erally to he thEre has come, in recent years, into the very center of aes- thetic theory.” Neither the sentiments of the artist, which remain his, nor those of the audience, which remain theirs, can account for the agi— tation of one painting or the serenity of another. We attribute grandeur, wit, despair, exuberance to strings of sounds; lightness, energy, vio: lence', fluidityto blocks _of stone. Novels are said to have strength, buildings eloquence, plays momentum, ballets repose. In this realm of ecoentric predicates, to say that the cockfight, in its perfected cases at least, is “disquietful” .does not seem at-‘ail unnatural, merely, as l have just denied it practical consequence, somewhat'puzzling. The disquietfulness arises, "somehow," out of a conjunction of three _ attributes of the fight: its immediate dramatic'shape; its metaphoric con- tent; and its social context. A cultural figure against a social ground, the fight is at once a convulsive surge of animal hatred, a mock war of sym- bolical selves, and a formal simulation of status tensions, and its aes— thetic power derives from its fcapacity to force together these diverse realities. The reason it' is disquietful is not that it has material effects (it has some, but they are minor); the reason that it is disquietful is that, joining pride to selfhood, selfhood to cocks, and cocks to destruction, it brings to imaginative-realization a dimension of Balinese experience normally well-obscured from view. The transfer of a sense of gravity into what is in itself a rather blank and- unvarious spectacle, a commo— tion of beating wings and throbbing legs, is effected by interpreting it as expressive of something unsettling “in the_ way its authors and audience live, or, even more ominously, what they are. As a dramatic shape, the fight displays a characteristic that does not seem so remarkable until one realizes'that it does not have to be there! 99 For four, somewhat variant. treatments, see 8. Langer. Feeling and Form (New York, 1953); R. Wollh‘eim, Arr and Its Objects (New York. 1968); N._Goodman, Languages of Ar: (Indianapolis. 1968): M. Merleau-Ponty, "The Eye 1:513 tlhe Mind,“ in his. The Primacy of Perception (Evanston. Ill.l 1964). pp. -— 90. ' Notes on the Balinese Cocldight _ 445 a radically atomistical structure.” Each match is a world unto itself, a particulate burst of form. There is the matchmaking, there is the bet- ting, there is the-fight, there is the result—utter triumph and utter defeat—irand there is the hurried, embarrassed passing of money. The loser is not consoled. People drift away from him, look arour...'. ....n, leave him to assimilate his momentary descent into nonbeing, reset his face, and return, scarless and intact, to the fray. Nor are winners con- gratulated, or events rehashed; once a match is ended the crowd’s atten- tion turns totally tithe next, with no looking back. A shadow of the ex- ' perience no doubt remains with the principals, perhaps even with some of the witnesses of _a deep fight, as it remains with us when we leave the theater after seeing a powerful play well-performed; but it quite soon fades to become at most a schematic memory—a diffuse glow or an abstract shudder—and usually ,not even that. Any expressive form lives only in its own present—the one it itself creates. But, here, that present is severed into a string of flashes, some more bright than others, but aliof them disconnected, aesthetic quanta. Whatever the cockfight says, it says in spurts. But, as l have argued. lengthin elsewhere, the Balinese live in spurts.“ Their life,_las they arrange it- and perceive it, is less a flow, a directional movement out of the past, through the present, toward the future than an on-off pulsation of meaning and vacuity, an arhythmic ' alternation of short periods when “something” (that is, something sig- nificant) is happening, and equally short ones where “nothing” (that is, nothing much) is'—-between what they themselves call "full" and "empty" times, or, in another idiom, “junctures” and"‘holes." in focus- ing activity dotvn to a burning-glass dot, the cockfight is merely being ' Balinese in the same way in which everything from the monadic en- “ British ccekflghts (the sport was banned there in 1840) indeed seem to have lacked it. and to have generated, therefore. a quite different family of shapes. Most British fights were "mains," in which a preagrecd number of cocks Were aligned into twa teams .and fought serially. Score was kept and wagering took place both on the individual matches and on the main as a whole. There were also "battle Royales," both In England and on the Continent, in which a large, number of cocks were let loose at once with the one left standing at the end the victor. And in Wales. the so-calle'd Welsh main followed an elimination pattern, along the lines of a present-day tennis tournament, winners proceeding to the next round. As a genre, the cock fight has perhaps less compositional flexibility than. say, Latin comedy, but it is not entirely without any. 0n eockfightlng 'more gen- erally, see A. Ruport, The Arr of Cockfighling (New York. l949); G. R. Scott, History of Cockfighting (London, 1957); and L. Fitz-Barnard, Fighting Sports (London, 1921). , 5" Above, pp. 391—398. 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(Logically, thetransfer could, of course”, as well go the other way; but, like most'of the rest of us, the Balinese are a great deal more interested in understanding men than they are in understanding cocks.) , What sets the cocktight 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 them), but that it provides a metasocial commentary upon the whole matter of asserting human beings into fixed hierarchical ranks and then organizing the major part of collective existence around that assortment. Its function, if you want to call it that,- is interpretive: it is a Balinese reading of Ba- linese experience, a story they tell themselves about themselves. Saying something of Something To put the matter this way is to engage in a'bit of metaphorical refocus- ing of one's own, for it shifts the analysis of cultural forms from an en- deavor in general parallel to dissecting an organism, diagnosing a symptom, deciphering a code, or'iordering a system—the dominant analogies in contemporary anthropology—to one in general parallel with penetrating a literary text. If one takes the cockfight, or any other collectively sustained symbolic structure, as a' means of “saying some- thing of something".(to invoke a famous Aristotelian tag), then one is faced with a problem not in social mechanics but social semantics.“ For the anthropologist, whose concern is with formulating sociological prin- ciples, not with promoting or appreciating cockfights, the question is, what does one learn about such principles from examining culture as an assemblage of texts? Such an extension of the notion of a text beyond written material, 3“ The tag is from the second book of the Organon, On Interpretation. For a discussion of it, and for the whole argument for freeing "the notion of text . . . from the notion of scripture or writing“ and constructing, thus. a general hermey neutics. see P. Ricoeur, Freud and Philosoghy {New Haven, I970), p. 20 ff. Notes 'on the Balinese Cockfight 449 novel. The interpretatio naturae tradition of the middle ages, which, culminating in Spinoza, attempted to read nature as Scripture, the Nietszchean effort'to treat value systems as glosses on the will to power (or the Marxian one to treat them as glosses on property relations), and the Freudian‘replacement of the enigmatic text of the manifest dream With the plain one of the latent, all offer precedents; if not equally rec- ommendable ones.“ But the idea remains theoretically undeveloped and the more profound corollary, so far as anthropology is concerned, that cultural forms can be treated as texts, as imaginative works/built out of social materials, has yet to be systematically exploited.” In the case at hand, to treat the cockfight as a text is to bring out a feature of it (in my opinion, the central feature of it) that treating it as a rite or a pastime,_the two most obvious alternative}; would tend to ob- scure; its use of emotion for cognitive ends‘, Elihu the cockfight says it says in a vocabulary of sentimente—the thrill of risk, the despair of loss, the pleasure of triumph, Yet what it says is not merely that risk is excit- ing, loss depressing, or triumph gratifying, banal tautologies of affect, but that it is of these emotions, thus exampled, that society is built and individuals are put together. Attending cockfights and participating in them is, for the Balinese, a kind of sentimental education. What he learns there is What his culture’s ethos and his private sensibility (or, anyway, certain aspects of them) look like when spelled out externally in a collective text; that the two are near enough alike to be articulated in the symbolics of a single such text; and—"the disquieting part—that the text in which this revelation is accomplished consists of a chicken hacking another mindlessly to bits. Every people, the proverb has it, loves its own form of violence. The cockfight is the Balinese reflection on theirs: on its look, its,uses, its force, its fascination. Drawing on almost every level of Balinese experi- ence, it brings together themes—animal savagery, male'narcissism, op— ponent gambling, status rivalry, mass excitement, blood sacrifice—4 37 Ibid. “5 Lévi-Strauss' "structuralism" might seem an eXception. 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NEW a mum 11129] 01 qwqanw 999 o; 03 9M ‘upafie 9515 quamN 91cm 01 ‘51 'ua; 5191811191111 9q mas nonungge Jauuy 119m 50 @1991 am 'ugefie 19m pun .IQAQ ‘11:)ng u; 91n39n1r1 onoquS 9 spunq ‘A‘nld 1119111 smonu pue w9q1suge1uoa 99110 19 [19ng Sam }0 19s 9 ow} Lump fiuypugq ‘pue ‘9391 JD 199; am pm: 9391 [mm 1u9maA[OAu! 1191;: s! uog199uuoo ug'em 9901111 saunmno 10 Nomvmuaumm 3111‘ 1 ' 0917 148 617i 452 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES archy and self—regard in Bali, but there are a great many other critical sectors of Balinese life besides the stratificatory and the agonistic that receive such commentary. The ceremony consecrating a Brahmana priest, a matter of breath control, postural immobility, and vacant con- centration upon the depths of being, displays a radically different, but to the Balinese equally real, property of social hierarchy—its reach to- ' ward the numinous transcendent. Set not in the matrix of the kinetic , cmotionality of animals, but in that of the static passionlessness of di- vine mentality, it expresses tranquillity not disquiet. The mass festivals at the village temples, which mobilize the, whole local population in elaborate hostings of visiting gods—songs, dances, compliments, gifts ——ass_ert the spiritual unity of village mates against their status inequal- ity and project a mood of amity and trust.42 The cockfight is not the master key to Balinese life, any more than bulltighting is to Spanish. What it says about that life is not unqualified nor even unchallenged by what other equally eloquent cultural statements say about it. But there is no’lhing more surprising in this than in the fact that Racine and Mo- liere were contemporaries, or that the same people who arrange chry- santhemums cast swords.“ . The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts, themselves ensem- bles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the'shoulders of those to whom they properly belong. There are'enormous difficulties in such an enterprise, methodological pitfalls to make a Freudian quake, 4* For the consecration ceremoay, see V. E. Korn. "The Consecration of the Priest." in Swellengrebel, ed.. Ball: Studies, pp. 131—154; for (somewhat exagger- ated) village communion, R. Goris, “The Religious Character of the Balinese Vil- lage,“ ibid.. pp. 79—100. - . 43 That what the cockflght has to say about Bali is not altogether without per- ception and the disquiet it expresses about the general pattern of Balinese life is not wholly without reason is attested by the fact that in two weeks of December i965, during the upheavals following the unsuccessful coup in Djakarta. between ‘ forty and eighty thousand Balinese (in a population of about two million) were‘ killed. largely by one another—wthe worst outburst in the country. [J. Hughes. 1n- doneslan Upheaval (New York, 1967), pp. 173—183. Hughes' figures are, of course, rather casual estimates, but they are not the most extreme] This is not to 7 say. of course, that the killings were caused by the cockfight, could have been predicted on the basis of it, or were some sort of enlarged version of it with real peopIe in the place of the cocks—all of which is' nonsense. It is merely to say that if one looks at Bali not just through the medium of its dances, its shadow- plays, its sculpture. and its, girls, but—as the Balinese themselves do——also through the medium of its cockfight, the fact that the massacre occurred seems, if no less appalling. less like a contradiction to -'the laws of nature. As more than one real Gloucester has discovered. sometimes people actually get life precisely as they must deeply do not want it. ' Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 453 and some moral perplexities as well. Nor is it the only way that sym- bolic forms can be sociologically handled. Functionalism lives, and so does psychologisrn. But to regard such forms as “saying something of something," and saying it to somebody, is at least to open up the possi- bility of an analysis which attends to their substance rather digit-Ila re- ductive formulas professing to account for them. As in more familiar exercises in close reading, one can start any- where in'a culture‘s repertoire of forms and end up anywhere else. One can stay, as l- have here, within a- single, more or less bounded form, and circle steadily within it. One can move between forms in search of broader unities-or informing contrasts. One can even compare forms from different cultures to define their character in reciprocal relief. But whatever the level at which one operates, and howaver intricately, the guiding principlels the same: societies, like lives, contain their own in- terpretations. One has only to learn how to gain access to them. 150 ...
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Geertz-Notes to Cockfight - Chapter 15 "DEEP PLAY:...

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