Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

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Author: Clifford Geetz

Publisher: Basic Books

Pages: 412-453

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"Bentham's concept of 'deep play' is found in his The Theory of Legislation. 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. ... "What makes Balinese cockfighting deep is thus not money in itself, but what, the more of it that is involved, the more so, money causes to happen: the migration of the Balinese status hierarchy into the body of the cockfight. Psychologically an Aesopian representation of the complex fields of tension set up by the controlled, muted, ceremonial, but for all that, deeply felt, interaction of those selves in the context of everyday life.The cocks may be surrogates for their owners' personalities, animal mirrors of psychic form, but the cockfight is--or more exactly, deliberately made to be--a simulation of the social matrix, the involved system of crosscutting, overlapping, highly corporate groups--villages, kingroups, irrigation societies temple congregations, 'castes'--in which its devotees live. " (The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays 432-436)

 

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