on the

Balinese Cock6ght

Ir we ventured to approach someone (something one is powerfully in­

C h apter I S

D ee p P la y :

hibited from doing in such an atmosphere). he moved, negligently but definitely. away. Ir, seated or leaning against a wall, we had him trapped. he said nothing at all, or mumbled what for the Balinese is the ultimate nonword -'·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 , have gone into a new village, people have poured out from all sides to take a vcry close look at me, and, often an all-too-probing feel as well. I n Balinese villages, at least those away from the tourist circuit, nothing happens at all. People g on pounding, chatting, making offerings, staring int o

Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

� space

baskets about while one drifts around feeling vaguely dlsembo ( iled . 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



The Raid
Early in April of 1958, my wife and J arrived, malarial and diffident, i n 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 Bali nese 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 i n village life. But except for 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 wandercd 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 trcc. Almost nobody greeted us; but nobody scowled or said anything unpleasant to us either, which would have been almost as satisfactory.

Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead made famous. ·'away." , Then­ in a day, a week, a month (with some people the magic moment never comes)-he decides, for reasons fat hom. that you I have never quite been able to


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 arc not exactly laken 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

landlord and

I were still very much in the gust-Of-wind stage. a most

frust rating, 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. cockfights are illegal in Bali
' G. Bateson and M. Mead. (New York., 1942). p. 68.

Balinese Charucter; A Photographic Analysis



Notes on the Balinese Cockfight


under the Republic (as, for not altogether unrelated reasons. they were under the DUICh), largely as a result of the pretensions to puritanism radical nationalism tends to bring with it. The elite. which is not itself � very puritan, worries about the poor, ignorant peasant gambling all his money away, about what foreigners will think. about the waste of time better devoted to building up the country. It sces cockfighting as "primitive," ··ba�kward." "unprogressive," and generally unbecoming .. an ambillous nation. And. as with those other embarrassments-opium smoking, begging. or uncovered breasts-it seeks, rather unsystemati­ cally. to put a SlOp 10 it. Of course, like drinking during Prohibition or, today, smoking mari. huana, cockfights, being a part of "The Balinese Way of Life," nonethe. less go on happening, and with extraordinary frequency. And, as with Prohibition or marihuana, from time to time the police (who, in 1958 at least, were almost all not Balinese but Javanese) feel called upon to make a raid, confiscate the cocks and spurs, fine a few people, and even now and then expose some of them in the tropical sun for a day as ob. ject lessons which never, somehow, get learned, even though occasion. ally, quite occasionally, the object dies. As a result, the fights are usually held in a secluded corner of a vii. lage in semisecrecy, a fact which tends to slow the action a little-not very much, but the Balinese do not care to have it slowed at all. In this case, however, perhaps because they were raising money for a school that the government was unable to give them, perhaps because raids had been few recently, perhaps, as I gathered from subsequent discussion, there was a notion that the necessary bribes had been paid, they thought they could take a chance on the central square and draw a larger and more enthusiastic crowd without aUracting the attention of the law. They were wrong. In the midst of the third match, with hundreds of �ople, inclUding, still transparent, myself and my wife, fused into a Single body around the ring, a superorganism in the literal sense, a truck full of policemen armed with machine guns roared up. Amid �reat screeching cries of "pulisi! pulisi!" from the crowd, the policemen Jumped out, and, springing into the center of the ring, began to swing their guns around like gangsters in a motion picture, though not going so �ar as actually to tire them. The superorganism came instantly apart as Its components scattered in all directions. People raced down the road, disappeared headfirst over walls, scrambled under platforms, folded themselves behind wicker screens, scuttled up coconut trees.

Cocks armed with steel spurs sharp enough to cut off a finger or run a hole through a foot were running wildly around. Everything was dust and panic. On the established anthropological principle, "When in Rome." my wife and I decided, only slightly less instantaneously than everyone else, that the thing to do was run too. We ran down the main village street, northward, away from where we were living, for we were on that side of the ring. About halfway down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a � compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahea of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him. As the three of us came tumbling into the courtyard, his wife, who had ap· parently been through this sort of thing before, whipped out . a table, a tablecloth, three chairs, and three cups of tea, and we all, Without any explicit communication whatsoever, sat down, commenced to sip tea. and sought to compose ourselves. A few moments later, one of the policemen marched importantly into the yard, looking for the village chief. (The chief had not only been at the fight, he had arranged it. When the truck drove up he ran to the river, stripped off his sarong, and plungcd 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 Ig· norant of it. They did not believe him and tined him three hundred ru· piah, which the village raised collectively.) Seeing me and my wif�, "White Men," there in the yard, the policeman performed a claSSIC ble take. Whcn he found his voice again he asked. approximately, dou what in the devil did we think we were doing there. Our host of five minutes leaped instantly to our defense. producing an impassioned description of who and what we were, so detailed and so accurate that it was my tum, having barely communicated with a living human be· ing save my landlord and the vill age chief for more than a week, to be astonished, We had a perfect right to be there, he said, looking the Ja· vanese upstart in the eye. We were American professors; the government had cleared us; we were there to study culture; we were going to write a book to tell Americans about Bal i. And we had all been there drink· ing tea and talking about cultural matters all afternoon and did n�t know anything about any cockfight. Moreover. we had not seen the VII· lage chief all day; he must have gone to town. The policeman retreated in rather total disarray. And, after a decent interval, bewildered but relieved to have survived and stayed out of jail, so did we.

an host became one of my best informants). even distantly. II1to a society extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate. r ld IS pcrhaps not a very generaliulble recipe for achieving that myste­ . probably more than it ev r would have o herwise ( I might actually never have gotten to thut � � pnes . (What we had ac­ tually demonstrated was our cowardice. but thcre is f :Jowship in that e too. ed. commonly as linked couples. but for me il orked ve ry well. to dress. They asked us about it again and again ( I must have told the story. is leneraJ and abbrevialed. gently. and � ce ta mly very much faster. you ust stand there and tell the police who you were?" "Why didn't ! you ust say you were only watching and not betting?" "Were you really ! . mainly because it is Bali. pcrhap!. pp." The whole village opened up to us. "The Balinese Temper. grave. kinesthetically minded and evcn hen fleeing for their lives (or. Bali is a ralher "unisex" society. to kinship. To anyone who has been in Bali any length of time. as happened eight years later. 25-26. much of Bali surfaces in a cock ring. It gave me the kind of not I n . 24_25. 85." I � But. is a well-studied place. Bela 8alrnts� . But above all. a fact both Its c�· lams and its symbolism clearly express. Getting caught. the world's most poised people. pp. and we were quile (New York. fact play moch of a role-music. chuckling happily at the sheer extraordinariness of it all.3 As much of America surfaces in a ball park. is more a mere matter of fact than Characl�r. It works in exactly the samt way in Balinese as it does in English. 4 Ibid. in a vicc : . and philosophical drama of central significance to the society whose inner nature I desired to understand. on a golf links. From religion.) Even the Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 4'7 status war. also ov r und over again. halfway-to-heaven type In Bali. unain a. irri­ gation. inside-view grasp of an aspect of "pcasant men­ tali ty" t at anthroJXllogists nOI fort unate enough to flee headlong with . our graceless style of running and what they � claimed were our panic-stricken facial expressions. Sexual differentiation is culturally extremely played down In Bah and most activities. formal and informal. Of Cocks and Men Bali. at a race track. Everyone in the village knew we had fled like everyone else. although as a popular obsession of consuming power it is at least as imponant as these more celebrated phenomena. a revelation of what being a Balinese "is really like" who because of Its associations with the underworld would never be in­ volved. the object of a great outpouring of warmth. Not only were we no longer invisible. The cockfight is unusual within Balinese culture In belnl a . the deep psycho­ logical identification of Balinese men with their cocks is unmistakable. . �o eco­ nomics. we were suddenly the center of all allcntion. and uninventive obscenities. they gleefully mimicked. rapport. . have all been microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called "The Balinese Temper.THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES The next morning the village was a completely different world for us. and most especially. ambulant genitals with a life of their own. or marriage. their ubJects from armed authorities normally do not get. in a COCkfight. Actually.. f even styles of trance. patterns of child rearing. in line with the Balinese conception of the body as a set of separately animated parts. self-operating penises.· ' J . Bela. affectionately. 10 the community was concerned. afraid of those little guns?" As always. By the time I left I had spent about as much time looking into cockfights as into witchcraft. but iI. or around a (Xlker table. amusement. For it is only apparently cocks that are fighting there. it put me very quickly on to a combination emotional explosion. involve the panicipation of men �nd women . 3 The best discussion of cockfighting is again Bateson and Mead s � single-sex public activity from which the other sell is totally and e�presslr ex· cluded. pp. the cockfight has barely been noticed. or almost caught. J. social organization. art. caste. Even in contexlS where wo�e? . on equal ground. and was difficult to approach even to other Balinese. ritual. fifty times by the end of the day). Its mythology. 100. paint in. . It led to a sudden and unusually complete acceptance � . 1970) (oriainally published in 19B). strained puns. to politics. surr nder­ � Ing them).tS extremely pleased and even more surprised that we had not simply "pulled out our papers" (they knew about those too) 'Illd as­ serted our Distinguished Visitor status. everyone W. orms of law. cocks are viewed as detacha­ hie. it is men. small detail by small detail.ricultural act\vllle5-thelr absence. It was the turning point so far as our relationship literally "in. � nOlls necessity of anthropological field work. The double entendre here is deliberate. aside from a few passing remarks. interest. even to producing the same tired jokes. � most Important of :tfl. 140. had us called into his courtyard to ask us about what had happened. Bateson and Mead have even suggested that. but had instead demonstr<tlcd our solidarity with what were now our covillagers." in TraditiQnal &Iln�$e Cultur�. �rahmana priest. but quite insistently teasing us: "Why didn't . and our accldent. for the other things might have come in other ways.1 10. to be teased is to be accepted. which is only relative in any case. And.

as the fact that water runs downhill.D. or anyway a large ma jority o( Balinese men. medicinal herbs. which varies somewhat according to individual theories but which is mostly maize. who promises much. sec V. was a passIonate coc:kfiahtlnl gambkr. and their legs massaged. tail raised. enormo �s Balinese men. spectacular one. and they are inspected for fl'lws with the squinted conccntra· tion of a diamond merchant. The lay has a s�nza (no 17) with the reluctant brideelroom use." "bachelor. Index under 1 There is i �decd a legend t o the effect that the separation of Java and Bali is d�e to the �ctlon of � powerful Javanese relilious figure who wished to protcct hImself a&�lnst a Bahncsc: culture hero (the ancestor of two Ksatria castes) who . inheritance disputes. the high-walled enclosures where the people live. a quile or­ as early as A. of human status: animality. give me !eave to 101 such thtnJS arc not yet in my mind. bouncing it gently up and down to strengthen its legs." my landlord. (ceding .s Even the very island itself is perceived from its shape as a small. and onions in which infants are bathed. pushing it out against a neighbor's rooster to rouse its spirit. on the male side of it. I C. (Amster­ dam." "champion. the subject of a : �ahncse UrIah myth. Court � � � trials." A � Impression IS called "a fighting cock caged for the first time. Now and then. flowers. and be­ grudges that. irrational effort to extricate himself (rom an impossible situation is likened to a dying cock who makes one final lunge at his tormentor to drag him along to a common destruction. they are also expressions-and rather more immediate ones--of what the Balinese rcgard as the direct inversion. Sec C. them. " We're all cock crazy. my Lord and Master I I beg you." "man of parts. shoulders f orward. Ith th op slte sex or someone in a new job anxious to make a good which appears in inscriptions as Notes on the Balinese Cockfight ing at them with a mixture of rapt admiration and dreamy self·absorp­ tion. knees up fashion. used to moan as he went to The Lay 0/ thc Joyo move another cage. 922). by.." "politi­ pompous man whose behavior presumes above his station is compared to a tailless cock who struts about as though he had a large. wars. '"I am cock crazy. 1932). leaps at an­ ot her without i (act engaging him. proud cock. p." :. is compared to a cock which. responds to the lord who has offered him the lovelicst or SIX hundred servant �Irls: "Godly Kine. They are bathed in the same ceremonial preparation of tepid water. or just gaz- often. T this �eneral pallern. A man who has a passion for cocks. 2d cd. A stingy man." "warrior. The language of everyday moralism is shot through. to get a feel for another bird. Jaya Prana.7 But the intimacy of men with their cocks is more than metaphorical. p. a man will fiddle this way with someone else's cock for a while. They are fed a special diet. the narcissistic male ego writ out in Aesopian terms. but usually by moving around to squat in place behind it. and for a prize cock just about cropped. whose passion what seems not only to an outsider." "dandy. A desperate man who makes a last. diSCUSSing them." or "tough guy. in eternal challenge to large. the fact that they arc mascu­ line symbols par excellence is about as indubitable." ·'lady-killer. 1964). gives little. poised. entirely of. the overwhelming majority. morally. fighting cocks are kept in wicker cages. with roosterish imagery. A marriageable young man still shy . or conduct another feeding. 19�8).«ht von Agomo Tirtha . moved frequently about so as to maintain Ihe optimum balance of sun and shade. their spurs trimmed. however. (The Hague. held by the tail. back taut. the word for cock (and one cally to mean "hero. aJJiciotlCldo by Balinese standards. Puma (london.. and even those. Red pepper is stuffed down their beaks and up Iheir anuses to give them spirit. !itlbung. feckless. rather than just having it passed across to him as though it were merely an animal. ruffling its feathers with abstract sensuality. grooming them. is used metaphori­ cal candidate. / like a filhting cock encalled/ tnd ed I am on my meltle / l am alone/as yd the flame has not been fanned. give another bath. holding it between his thighs. Korn." though it is true that cocks are symbolic expressions or magnifications of their owner's self. but also to themselves. can spend most of his life with them. with<irawing it to­ ward his loins to calm it again. shapeless Java. Hooykaas. the cod:fieht. spend an amount of time with their (avorites. For these. E. can and do spend amount of time with them. 184. neck extended. half or morc of them will have a rooster in his hands. Whenever you see a group of Balinese men squatting idly in the council shed or along the road in their hips down. and for o men (�omen-at least &ffft�u women-do nOI even watch). political contests.� Buli. aesthetically. their plumage dressed. is the most striking exception. sifted for impurities with far more care than it is when mere humans are going to eat it. an enthusiast in the literal sense of the term. because al­ : toh. and offered to the animal kernel by kernel. . Hct Adat. trying them out against one another. and metaphysically. and street arguments are all compared to cockfights. an inordinate dinary though intense has not entirely run away with them. In the houseyard.THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES And while J do not have the kind of unconscious material either to con­ firm or disconfirm Ihis intriguing notion. and to the Balinese about as evident. Their combs are socially enforced. Hooykaas. 39. Thc Balinese revulsion against any behavior regarded as animal-like The madness has some less visible di mensions.

a half-dozen or so in most villages. volcanic eruptions-almost always involve them. its owner awards him the spur-leg of the victim. know how to do properly. almost obscene activity. moral satisfaction. �ilh what he most rears. cruelty. is a much less horrifying crime . the creative power of aroused masculinity and the destructive power of loosened anA� inccslI. pointed steel swords. man and beast. is preceded the pre­ VIOUS day by large-scale cockfights (in this case legal) in almost every village on the island. And that ra­ ". the Balinese are aversive to a�imals and treat their large number or dogs not merely callously but . I Notes on the Balinese Cockfight imality fuse in a bloody drama of hatred. on � abhorrence of animality generally. which rarely takes less than ten minutes. hales. is quite explicit. because of its association with ani­ mality. attempt to pretend somehow that the whole thing is not really happening. . Bela. p. 11 is little wonder that when. The man who attaches the spurs also provides them. and the selected cocks have their spurs (tadj. This process." The connection or cocks and COCkfighting with such Powers. ritual. though hardly 3pproved. cannibal hunger. Bateson and Mead. as is the invariable rule. no variation in their format. and ambivalence being . . Belo. A match made. The Fight ��� Cockfights (leuuljen. Or that a man who has lost an important fight is sometimes driven to wreck his family shrines and curse the gods.lOu$ couple is forced 10 wear pig yokes over Iheir necks and crawl 10 a rl � trouah �nd. Each match is precisely like Ihe others in general pattern: there is no main match. the curses cursed. but also. aesthetic disgust.) 8 Most de­ mons arc represented-in sculpture. someone will inevitably rail into a trance and com�and with the voice of an angered spirit that the oversight be im­ m�dlately corrected. those who. the Balinese man is identirying not just with his ideal selr. .i�� . any cock­ fight. than �stlalJty. toeesl. p. No temple festival should be conducted until one is made . sabullgan) are held i n a ring about fifty feel square. A cockfight. 49. cd. perhaps even a dozen men slip negligently into the ring with a cock and seek to find there a logical opponent for it.) affixed­ razor-sharp. with the appropri­ ale ehants and oblations. are. In the cockfight. Iheir n:'�ulhs Ihere. and at the s�me time. Not only defecation but eatmg IS regarded as a disgusting. ducks-or no emotional significance. ego and id. no connection between individual matches. crop rallure. IS In the first instance a blood sacrifice offered. and cannibal joy. sec J. myth-in some real or fantastic animaJ form. to be conducted hurriedly and privately. "Cusloms Pertaining 10 TWinS I� Ba l. with the animalistic demons that threaten constantly to invade the small. In TrudlllOflOl Balintu CuJturt. when everyone sits silent and Immobile all day long in order to avoid contact with a sudden i�nux of demons chased momentarily out of hell. and if the rooster he assists wins. eight. to the demons in order to pacify their raven­ ous. This is a del­ icate job which only a small proportion of men. J. Balineu Chaf(lcter. and death. After a fight has ended and the emotional debris is cleaned away-the bets have been paid. Babies aTC not allowed to crawl for that rea­ son. About nine or ten separate matches {sehet} comprise a pro­ gram.l0us holi�ay in �ali. an act of metaphysical (and social) suicide. In identirying with his cock. and each is arranged on a completely ad hoc basis. Those not immediately involved give it at best but disguised. what II IS. four or five inches long.) Collective responses to natural evils-illness. dance. Or that in seeking earthly analogues for heaven and hell the Balinese compare the former to the mood or a man whose cock has just won. good and evil. for the first bemg forced to live like an animal. violence. oblique. the carcasses possessed-seven. he does so with a mixture or social embarrassment. with a phobic cruelty. The main puberty rite consists in filing the child's �eet� so they will not look like animal fangs. the owner of the winning cock takes the carcass or the loser-orten lorn limb from limb by its enraged owner-home to eat. the other hopefuls retire with the same deliberate in­ difference. The spurs are affixed by winding a long length of string around the root of the spur and the leg of the . IS rasclnated by-" The Powers or Darkness. and often a good deal longer. or even his penis. Even falling down or any form of clumsiness is considered to be bad for these reasons. Aside rrom cocks and a rew domestic animals­ oxen. embarrassedly. 'The Day of Silence" ( N jepi). sidelong attention. �Icared-orr space in which the Balinese have so carefully built their lives �n� devour its inhabitants. cal w. is conducted in a very subdued. On Ihis. the latter to that of a man whose cock has just lost. (The appr�prlate punishment for the second is death by drowning. (If it is omitted. even dissembling manner. Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run three or four hours until sunset.420 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES can hardly be overstressed.

should be kepI out of the sight of women. sh iftings of th shou hand motio pions on with wordless the murderous en masse a the c k w th ck ings of the head. This is particularly true if. is in charge of their appl y subject. for if he does not the match is lik ely to end in a mu­ tually mortal tie as the two birds wildly hack each other to pieces. he can he can fight. The lore about spurs is extensive-they are sharpened only at eclipses and Ihe dark of the moon. moving th ei in around the ring follows ng their cham­ ent of the animals. the animals have not fought during this lime. owner-handler-affixer triads tend to be faIrly fixed. and otherwise insulted. which usually gels them engaged. By the ig f hting. the coconut is now sunk three limes after which the cock which has landed the blow � ' �cep! for unimportan �.422 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight cock. Sometimes they refuse to fight at all. Within moments one or the other drives home a solid blow with his spur. � Durmg these twenty-one seconds the handlers (pellg(mgkeb) are nOI per­ mitted to touch their rOOSlers. a consIderatIOn whose importance is aaain relative to the im­ portance of the fiaht. rot/wI) passed on . a period known as tjen� and marked at beginning and end by the beating of a slit gong. as in prize ed in chic usually drench ually make the ld. the two cocks are placed by their handlers (who may or may not be their owners) fac ing one another in the center of the ring. If the wounded ch cock ki ll' and what CQunlS is whi is the official w in ­ until the other drops. falling ba . desper­ . and put back in the cenler of Ihe ring and the process begins again. in which case they are imprisoned together under a wicker cage. together wit -Ieaf manuscnpts are written down in pal them. If. are a1r:nost always a quite close rclative_a brother or hi$ cousm--:or a very IntImate fflend of his. pulled. surg fingers from sometimes lose eyes and vast body of ex ­ f toward another-is a ce of ward again as they glan tailed rules. Ihouah individuals may participale in several and onen exchange roles within a given one. elaborate and precisely de traordinarily cockfi ht­ loped lore of cocks and h Ihe deve These rules. slig ainer patch­ frantically over it. the cock who an mevltable out­ ponent. prodded. even by the t questioned on an seen an umpire's judgmen never in private. The handler whose cock has delivered the blow immediately picks it up so that it will not get a return blow. They are thus almost extensions of tor personahty. more and the fight must reco su nk twice e handler of the htly over two m in utes. both in use and out.ner hand�cs hi� own cock or not more or less depends on ho� skIlled he IS at It. fluffs d su head i n hi s own mouth an lly tries anything he rts of medicines. and so on. thortly IS absolute. cheen movem thetic sympathy with the lders. as sometimes happens. i n any case. When spur affinN and cod handlers are someone other than . and if he can k. and so f orth. at leasl long the wounded cock (i f there is one. a good han­ ken blood. For reasons I shall come to presently. head-thrusting. the cocks fly almost immediately at another in a Wing-beating. so absolute. ate try for victor It. and is an obsessively deliberate affair." say fouahl So-a n<!-So. sometimes In th e cl imactic battle as it is placed r'S hands or immedialely ie simply expires in the hand oceeds to ed the first blow usuall. a have I ever heard. he gel a stab in and stagger on instant later. nor more despondent losers � � � � S � � � � � � � � � � � I� � � � . a. come. turn­ ns. The co ring wandering idly around the mmence. And they are handled. as often happens. leg-kicking explosion of alUmal fury so pure.. pire (Sllj€l komo"g. as to be almost abstract. for ir a cock can w al one can ex pi res first. even . stuffs Its cking and blowing. they are picked up. a fact he must be set down 10 show conut is then for a coconut si nk . to get it in s ape for a la n rounds . and in its own way so beautiful. with the same curious combination of fussiness and sensuality the Balinese direct toward ritual objects generally. see below) spur affixlna is usuaJly done by someone other than the owner W�ether t�e ow. With the birds again i n the hands of their handlers. like a tr king wounded cock has been wor st. it is done somewhat differ­ ently from case to case. fluffed. (I t IS sal that s ctators e side of the nng spurs careens toward on ing for­ being too attentive). but. H e blows in its mouth. 1 have ication and hi S au . t�ey. the um­ of the vi llages. as the fact that all three will refer to the cock "mine. ing a mauled boxer betwee ch lc k n putttng the w o)e y. if he himself topples over an ne r even ac ed ight a-which the cr wd odram urrounding al l Ih is mel ktnes­ Ies r near silence. At a fight l tradition general legal and cullura conut an who rnanages the co tlr) -the kemb . on Most of the time. (ljllrll . demonslrates. th During this interval. The spurs affixed.y p land down again). ing w hi ch accompanies part of th e neration to generalton as from ge (/oflwr. smaJl-bet fiahts (on the question of fight "impor­ tance.� demonstrates by that he is firm. Also. or one keeps running away. a Platonic conccpt of hatc. the spur sticks in its victim's body.9 A coconut pierced with a small hole is placed in a pail of water in which it takes aoout twenty-onc seconds to sink. But th is is far from finish off hi s weakened op fight. the owner. and genera wounds with various so may be hidden last ounce of spirit which e can th in k of to arouse th down he is e he is forced to put it back tim somewhere w ith in it. for then the aggressor is at the mercy of his wounded foe. Some of them can virt go dier is worth hi s weight i n final round. enough for the second and dead walk.

I never saw an open altercation. searching for a name for something not vertebrate enough to be called a group and not structureless enough to be called a crowd. block meetings.10 Such gatherings meet and disperse. For the situation. Juynboll. in jury deliberations. patronage of the art was 10 E. by the cultural preoccupations-here. Bring­ ing a cock to an important fight was. solid. assembling actors and arranging scenery. Encol/mers: Two Stlldiu in the SocioioKY o IlIIeracton (Incli­ f i anapotis. however. man to man. as Goffman puts it. equally without ex· This word. and a policeman. An most curiously. the celebration of status rivalry -which not only specify the focus but. withoLlt exception. (923). there are two sorts of bets. Pigeaud. charge of unfairness directed against one. surgical operations. Today. where the first H ing around the owner. Likened to a judge. ceremonial context. given the complexity of the code. public offers. 1938). IS � rality. and to this generalization cockfight wager­ ing is no exception. the second is individual. a compulsory duty of cilizenship. which literally means an indelible stain or mark. prior 1 908). or. the staging of a COCkfight was an explicitly societal matter. t96t). and there is the cloud of peripheral ones around the ring between members of the audience (wI! kesasi). knowledgeable citizens perform this job. A cockfight is what. It is also the umpire to whom accusations of cheating. I never once saw an altercation about rules. Het Ada/rechl van 8Dli. which. other than those between cocks. a few special occasions aside. but. and. he is all of these. for an adult male. stood in the center of the village near those other monuments of Balinese civil ity-the council house. is rage untrammeled and. a priest. and the cock ring. or wh. H. the origin temple. This crosswise doubleness of an event which. none­ theless. but it is a form. for an earnest advanced in a business deat. a king. and it is he who in the not infrequent cases where the cocks expire virtually together decides which (if either. the noor on which they arc placed. . at all. very quiet. the sig­ nal tower. and as we shall see most revealingly. Erving Goff­ man has called a "focused gathering"-a set of persons engrossed in a common now of activity and relating to one another in terms of that nOW. the second typi­ cally small. afC referred. H. They take their form from the situation that evokes them. though the Balinese do not care for such an outcome. and under his assured direction the animal passion of the fight proceeds within the civic cer­ tainty of the law. or wantilan. 9-t o. a matter of deliberate. the connection itself remains intimate and intact. for security offered in a loan. occasionally arise. the activity that focuses them is discrete-a particulate process that reoccurs rather than a continuous one that endures. taken ture. and in fact men will bring their cocks only to fights presided over by such men. for that maUer. an aspect I have thus far studiously ignored. there can be tics) went first. and an articulate one. the marketplace. pp. In classical times (that is to say. for. taken as a fact of culture.424 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight a stated responsibility of princes. as in a birth­ mark or a vein in a stone.In a legal or . and through which they exercise their force. when there were no bureaucrats around to improve popular mo­ 10 as a fact of na­ Odds and Even Money The Balinese never do anything in a simple way that they can contrive to do in a complicated one. is form per­ fected. defines the cockfight as a sociological entity. The first is typically large. for a sign pla�ed in a field to indicate its ownership is in dispute. the second is a matter of impulsive shouting. the gambling. complaints about umpires in general Only exceptionally well trusted. and the banyan tree. involving coalitions of bettors c1usle . of course. Oudjavoonsche-Nederlandsche Woordrnlijsl (Leiden. 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. J mean. and public acceptances by the excited throng around its edges. taxation of fights. To expose it. is used as well for a deposit in a court case. which were usually held on mar­ kct day. for a stand-in for someone else . and for the status of an unfa1th­ ful wife from whose tover her husband must gain satisfaction or surrender her to him. bring it actually into being. I n the dozens of COCkfights I saw i n Bali. COCkfights. The first is collective. the floor is itself created. jovuons· Neder/unds Hund­ woordenbotlc (Groningen. for a pawn. Th. less directly expressed. the participants in them nuc­ tuate. almost furtive arrangement by the co­ alition members and the umpire huddled like conspirators in the center of the ring. sit-ins. it is necessary to turn to the aspect of cockfighting around which all the others pivot. as we shall sec. Goffman. was a major source of public revenue. In the first place. The first IS � the Dutch invasion of aiw{IYs. Indeed. /!ven mOlley. 1 I There is the single axial bel in the center between the principals (toll keteflgah). though rare in the extreme. the second. See Korn.

The aSII. the range is from fifteen ringgits to five hundred. have tht:y ever done so. but such bets are in faci infrequent. cd. with the umpire as overseer and public witness. There is a fixed and known odds paradigm which runs in a continuous series from ten-to-nine at the short end to two-to­ one at the long: 1 make a bet In which he wins if his cock wins or there is a tie. on color alone. and a full·scale compom:ntlal­ cum-symbolic analysis of cock classifications would �e �xtreme1y "aluable both as an adjunct to the description of the cockfiaht and In Itself. "five. more than twenty classes. . sible for the man back ina the favorite-the odds-giver--. legalistic pactmaking of the center. who is the wooer in this situa­ tion. and considering the fact that fights were held on the average about every two-and-a-half days in the immediate area I studied. evcn if the bets are pooled rather than individual efforts. is never raised simply by the owner in whose name it is made. it should be noted that !t IS �. But my data on t�t: subject. southern Asia. 9-8. The taker tries to shOUI the giver into longer odds. village mates. so that. are established for the moment) shouts the short-side number indicating the odds he wants to be givell. IIgai. and thus considering giving odds if he can get them short enough. all-black cock With tufted feathers and stubby legs from the norlh side on another d�y. in which case a secondary indication from one of the other dlme �. some. the giver to shoul the laker into shorter ones. 10 Notes on the Balinese Cockfight him. 7-6." "speckled. neighbors.t once �ve:. systematic enouah to attempt such an analysis here. The side bets are. avoidina. do nOI seem �o be complete .h ( lie ) rather than the cock-type. they unlock gazes and the search goes on. and is made between the two cock owners. whieh is extremely elah?rale (I have collected . Sufi: Studi�s in U/L. He may. and Ri/llal (The: Haaue. the bet is made. certainly not a oomplete hst). bone thickness. consisls then in a rising crescendo of show that he is not involved in any chicanery. as I say. headstrong. nor: 50 far as I have been able to discover. medium ones (20 ringgits either side of 70) for about 25 percent. and . an ordinary farmworker.TilE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES cepliolf. He indicates his wish to do thiS by shouting sap. kebut. if h e shouts gosol. and so on. though extensive and varied. and a larle. • . except when the two cocks of different ty pes-as on principle they must be-have the . A man backing the favorite.occur "bou. they begin to focus in on one another as potential betting pairs. something else altogether. the intense embarrassment �th wmner and loser would ft:el if the laller had to pay off pel'5Onally follOWing h �s �efeat. If the giver.. plumaae. the wooed. close friends. 5-4. Tht: umpIre holds the stakes until Ihe decision is rendert:d and then awards tht:m l� the winner. if he docs not." or whatcver. though. not even be the major contrib. which is the basic fiahtina strain everywhere t�e sporl is found IS nallve to . same color." at nine-to-eight. if "nine. shouting by holding a number of fingers up in front of his face and vig­ orously waving Ihem." etc. That is. and underdogs. will signal how large a bet he wishes to make at the odds he is . . (But not pedi­ gree.of the ring on a cen�1n day of the complex Balinese calendar. indicates the fact by crying out the color-type of that cock. interactina. for -a brick maker. cock. a market porter-was about II Tht: ct:ntt:� bt:t must bt: advanct:d in cash by both parties prior 10 tht: actual flahl. 4_3. for example. I n a society where the normal daily wage of a manual laborer three ringgits a day. L. IS Actually. ) is addt:d. 6-5. I!I As odds-takers (backers of the underdog) and odds-givers (backers of the favorite) sweep Ihe crowd with their shouts. Swellengrebel. speckled brown-on-whlte coc:k with Hat-lying feathers and thin legs from the east sidt: . and large (75 ringgits either side of 1 7 5 ) for about 20 percent. Traditional Balitl�st Cultur�. "small speckled. plre s share and that of the fiaht sponsors. About 1 0 percent of the winner's receipts are subtracted for the um. is never such. often from far across the ring. is always rela. The center bet i s the official one.H The laker. and one can buy a good example In the chIcken secllon of almost any Balinese market for anywhere from four or five ringgits up to fifty or more. replies in kind. The Balinese do nOI breed cocks to any significant exte":t.) The color element is merely the one normally used as the Iypc name. if he is not especially well-to-do." he wants it at four-to-three (again. The side betting. 8-7.-·'brown. if only he must be a significant one. dimensions. or J. The man who wishes to back the underdog cock (leaving aside how favor­ ites. Rather than the solemn. four-to-five). wagering takes place rather in the fashion in which the stock exchange used to work when it was out on the curb. All this is again recorded in palm-leaf manuscripts and endlessly discussed by �he Balinese (who do not all have identical systt:ms)." he wants the underdog at five-la-four (or. . hedged in again with a webwork of rules. but ties seem to . he pUlling up the "three" ).fteen or y twenty matches). a sliahl shonenlng of the odds ( I do not havt: enough cases to be exact. 3_2. cautIous. What is a fair coin in the center is a biased one on the side. if he shouts ··four. which takes place after the center bet has been made and its size announced.ungle. utor. lively and sometimes very large. 1960). IS not b� . you fiaht a small. and temperament. 14 For purposes of ethnolraphic completeness. 12 This bet. and so on. The types are coordi­ nated with various cosmoiollCal ideas which help shape the making of �atches. ' . bUI on a series of independent. amona other thinas. this is clearly serious gambling. times seven or eight. however. sions ("Iarae specklt:dM V. For Balinese cosmological Ideas more generally see Belo. whIch Includc-:­ besides color-sizt:. which. but by him together with four or five. the typin& of cocks. �. 2_ 1 . the center bet. and J. Thoughl. with a few very small and very large ones out at the extremes. allies-kin. ed. with a mean at eighty-five and with the distribution being rather noticeably tri­ modal: small fights ( 1 5 ringgits either side of 3 5 ) accounting for about or the finy-seven matches for which I have exact and reliable data on 45 percent of the total number.

or even a movement down the scale to four�to-three.' � � betting dies off.s. ma lna the opening cock. with the overwhelming majority of bets falling in the four-to-three to eight-to-seven range.-type calls which always initiate the pro­ . three-to-two. Simple considerations of rationality suggest that. only rarely. Men crying "five" and finding themselves answered only with cries of "brown" start crying "six. if you lose. to employ skillful handlers and to match them exactly as to abilities.THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight shouts as backers of the underdog offer their propositions to anyone who will accept them. But the general pattern is for the betting to move a shorter or longer distance up the scale toward the. Occasionally. clambering men is quile strong. fl. This is an iron rule. and in the very largest fights. If you are belting fifteen ringgits on a cock. an effect which is only height­ ened by the intense stillness that falls with instant suddenness. (Where the center bet is small. Almost always odds-calling. toward the short end with greater or lesser speed and to a greater or lesser degree. One may. very rarely two-lo-one." and so on. very likely to be loathe to do so. and the battle begins. the more likely the match will in actual fact be an even one. while those who are backing the favorite but do not like the price being offered. when the slit gong sounds.e. � � � """". you might be willing to go along with even moncy even if you feel your animal somewhat the less promising. general condition. if the cocks are clearly mismatched.totion picture recording plus �ultlpl� o �rvers ". trailing into silence. reaching the ultimate "nine" or " ten" levels. for sidebets. When it ends. others rollow. pushing. and as I have never heard of a disputed umpire's decision (though doubtless there must sometimes be some). at which spur affixers are. shouting. alas. cess) and In dlrect!ng the movement or the odds. there may be no upward movement at all. and. all bels are immediately paid. and so on as is humanly possible. vOrlte (that IS. There are absolutely no IOUs. If these men begin to change their calls. be­ fore the next match begins. given the heclit conditions under which it oc­ curs. I have also never heard of a welshed bet. as they are reported to be sometimes for cheaters. tremendous care is taken to see that the cocks are about as evenly matched <IS 10 siz. of course. In short. this formal asymmetry between balanced center bets and unbalanced side oncs that poses the critical analytical problem for a theory which sees cockfight wagering as the link connecting the fight to the wider world of Balinese culture. the screaming. with all those waving. in large-bet fights. very. If one cock seems stronger. the procedure is repeated in a move to "seven. . It also suggests the way to go about solving it and demonstrating the link. so it is said. rather as if someone had turned off the current. the sense that sheer chaos is about to break loose. anywhere from fifteen seconds to five minutes later. starts off toward the long end of the range-five-to-four or four-to. at least to a betting opponent. reaches almost frenzied proportions as the remaining unfulfilled bettors try desperately to find a last-minute partner at a price they can live with. perhaps because in a worked-up cockfight crowd the consequences might be. If the change is made and partners are still scarce. pugnacity. Thus. a shift which is accompanied by a declining number of bets as a shift upward is accompanied by an increasing num­ ber. The first point that needs to be made in this connection is that the higher the center bet. But if you are betting five hundred you arc very. shout equally frenetically the color of the cock to show they too are desperate to bet but want shorter odds. the cocks are put down. Even l �preSSlontsllcal y_t h� only approach open to a lone ethnographer caught in the . the opposite tends to occur: 15 The prttise dynamics of the movement or the �tling is one or the most in­ triguing. but to offer or accept it you must have the money already in hand and. these "opinion leaders" being the more accomplished cocktiahlers�um-50'id-citizens to be discussed below. well-made match-the kind of match the Ba­ linese regard as "real cocldighting"-the mob scene quality. U As the moment for the release of the cocks by the handlers ap­ proaches.) In a large-bet. in any case. as odds lengthen and people lose interest."ould probably be necessary to deal with it effectively. ml dle or al 1 thlS lt 15 clear t at certain men lead both in dettrmining the ra­ . The differcnt ways of adjusting the spurs of the ani­ mals are often employed to secure this. also consensually. you must pay it on the spot. aspects or the tight. More care will be taken. it is not very likely ever 10 get: a decision theorist armed with precise observattons or individ­ ual behavior. which of course involve the beller an­ imals. an agreement will be made to position his spur at a slightly less advanta­ geous angle-a kind of handicapping. �UI a detailed understand ina or the whole process awaiLS what.three­ and then moves." either drawing the other caJlers fairly quickly with them or retir� ing from the scene as their too�generous offers are snapped up. at least in a malch where the center bet is large. if they begin to make �t. which tends to be very consensual in that at any one time almost all callers 3fC calling the same thing. drastic and immediate. in a large-bet fight the pressure to make the match a genu- . extremely skilled. borrow from a friend before of­ fering or accepting a wager. most complicated. too. nonexistent pole of even money. so do others and-though Ihere are always a larae number or rrustrated bellOrs cryina ror shorler or longer odds to the end-the movement more or less ceases. most difficult to study. It is.


Trade has f ollo\\. But for the Balinese. for (a few cases of ruined addict gamblers aside) no one's status is actually altered by the outcome of a cockfight. Bali has a three-day market �eek With the f amiliar "solar-system"-type rotation. 1964). the substance of their depth. Status. Having come together i n search of pleasure they have entered into a relationship which will bring the participants. Cockfi. 1954)1 indicates.chololY (1931). are not without importance. and a few psychiatrists). why they are interesting.h the mark. seven or eisht nei.amblina games (see below) are set up around the edge of the area so thai this even takes on the quality of a small f air. They are both in over their heads. lhan it is a symbol of moral import. for creating "i nteresting. It is. 106: see L. and even in the face of law's revenge. nor even by the administrative dislTict. considered collectively. Internalional Librar).ttl It is at stake symboli­ cally. as f or any people.hly the cock for centuries in rural Bali. perceived or imposed.hborina villaaes (which in contempo­ rary Bali is usually loing to mean anywhere from five to ten or cleven thousand people) from which the core of any cockfight audience. in shallow games. Goris. probably over 95. vols. the marginal utility of the pound he stands to win is clearly less than the marginal disutility of the one he stands to lose. even i n Bentham. in fact. I must stress immediately.'l arc open events to which anyone who wishes may come. and that mo­ mentarily. but by the rural market system. should be prevented legally. uncxpandcd sense-for pleasure and pain. But for the Bali nese. both passionately and often. 2 " Th� phrase is found in th� H i ldreth translation. L. utility (pleasure. as I have said. is that despite the logical force of Bentham's analysis men do engage in such play. Most of the fishts arc in fact organiz. they make it circulate . happiness and unhappiness. The question of why such matches afC interesting-indeed. nole to p. sometimes from qUlle distant areas. In genuine deep play. Full�r. approximates it.I' means. and the sport has been one of the main Ilgenci�s of Ihe island's mone­ tization. For Bentham and those who think as he does (nowadays mainly lawyers. respect-in a word. for whom nothing is more pleasurable than an affronl obliquely delivered or more painful than one obliquely received-part icularly when mutual acquaintances. that COCkfights arc good for trade because "they act money out of the house. money is less a measure of utility. . In deep ones. net pain rather than net pleasure. affirmed or insulted. it is the microresion such rotation rather generally marks out-ten or twenty square miles. But more interesting than the ethical problem. thoulh sec­ ondary both to its motivation and to ilS function. at least for our con­ cerns here. is lIot to say that the money does not mailer. very strongly held by them and indeed by all Balinese. dignity. fe­ tishists. " Stalls selHna various SOrlS of things as well as MSOned sheer-chance . a device. This connection of cockfighting with markets and market stllers is very old. savages. 6 IT. who need only to be protected against themselves. the source st of their fasc ination. espe­ cially its very close connection with the local market system which. This. undeceived by surfaces. exquisitely absorbing-takes us oul of the rcalm of formal concerns into morc broadly sociological and social·psychological ones. irrational for men to engage i n it at all. 1101 the rea· hundred of it on an even bet. their cOrUunclion i n inscriptions IR. honor. and to a less purely eco­ nomic idea of what "depth" in gaming amounts to. and my argument here might be more carefully put in terms of a denial that for the Balinese. where the amounts of money arc great. that deep play was immoral from first princi­ ples and. Of course. with a certain frequency. (Bandung. 3$. therefore.11i By it he means play in which the stakes are so high that it is. though naturally they do not formulate it in so many words. are watching-such appraisive drama is deep indeed. ones in which smaller amounts of money are involved. the ex­ planation is. children. esteem. are very 'I local affairs. PrasaSli Bali. though in Bali a prof oundly freighted word. Th� monetary losses and lains. Haven. Bul such terminological problems arc in any case secondary to the C5senlial point: the cockfight is not roulette. small morning affairs in a vil­ lage square. Bentham's conclusion was. If a man whose fortune is a thousand pounds (or ringgits) wages five Besides wagering there arc other economic aspects of the cockfight. that increments and decrements of cash arc more nearly synonyms for utility and disutility. but well over 90 percent.ed and sponsorro by small com­ bines of petty rural merchants under the general premise. had or expected. fools. utility is not normally confined as a concept to . much more is at stake than ma­ terial gain: namely. for the Balinese. indeed virtually all of it. among other things. of Morality 0 Law (New / Ps).432 THE [NTEHPRETATION OF CULTURES Notcs on the Bali nese Cock6ght 433 directed toward profundity and. Thou. in the ordinary." "deep" matches. will come. this is the case for both parties. The image of artistic technique is indeed exact: the center bet is a son. from his utilitarian standpoint. and the locality concernc<i is defined not by the villaae.ets themselves have never been very hi. . the explanation lies in the fact that in such play. or at lea not the main rcason. p. ) is merely identifiablt with wealth. it is only. a typical step for him. or that the Balinese is no more concerned about losing five to Playing with Fire Bentham's concept of "deep play" is f und in his The Tlll'ory o Legis­ f o lation. that such men are irrational-addicts. happi­ nes .

to take a little money away from-something that is easy enough to do by luring them. �boUi deepening significance with money. adolescents. allusively and metaphorically. inform him of the deception and. on public self.on of comer. that they II M. that ac­ cess of significancc morc than compensates for the economic costs in­ volved. he orders his pregnant wife to take care of the prospective newborn if it is a boy but to feed it as meat to his ". at any particular time. They are. not those who bring the mentality of the pea-and-shell game into the Quite different. Important changes i n matcrial fortune among those who regu­ Actually. the socially despised. children. or occasionally medium matches. plungers. the driven gambler n (poUt. matter and maUer vcry much that the more of it one risks. inversely. one also risks. 19$$). actually." the does. but there always seems to be one or two of them around. leavina on a trip. . though they may bet from time to time on the side i n those. but rather than givinS the child to the cocks she aiv� them a large rat and conceals the girl with her own mother. I n deep cockfights an owner and his collaborators. pawning their land and selling their clothes in order to bet. of course. as Whyte's �HCnpt �. COCkfighting men would be ashamed to go anywhere near them. And finally.n This graduated correlation of "status gambling" with deeper fights and. pea-under-the-shell) oper­ ated by concessionaires. lement is all-importa�t. talc I TllhllnG Kuning. A aoddess descend!l from heaven and takcs the girl up to the skies with her. i n the smaller. boys In a workinl-cla. inappropriate context of the cockfight. coin-spin. The story is given as "Geel Komkommerlje" in J. Men of this sort. t9-25. penny ante levels. at most cockfights there are.hting cocks if it is a airl. who fight in the larger fights and bet on them around the side. to a lesser but still quite real extent also their backers on Ihe outside. The mother gives birth to a airl. pp. the aame is not considered a real conlest. in this hardly un materialistic society. a large number of mindless. one's poise. Bettors themselves form a sociomoral hierarchy in these terms. in that almost venerative way. but have not the status to join i n the large ones. dice throw. the cocks. The . who reunites him with his wife. about "the true cockfighter. the owner's sanity is reo stored. "money gambling" with shallower oncs is in fact quite general. The Sociology o Religion (Boston. he is not considered a good competitor. vulgarians who simply miss the point of it all. the more of a lot of other things. p.s. Most of them do indeed manage to ruin themselves in a are � in it mainly for the money-that bebatoh ("bettor") or djurII kunmg ("cage keeper"). il is this sort of person. And as ( o Ollow W ber rather than Bentham) the imposition of meaning on hfe IS the major end and primary condition of human existence. matches. given the even-money quality of the larger �k. bet on the smaller matchcs around the edges. are highly dispraised by "true cockfighters" as fools who do not understand what the sport is all about. are affected.s district of Boston demonstrates: Gambling plays an Important role in the lives of Cornervilte people. SprOtlk. one's �aSCulinity.434 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 435 hundred ringgits than fineen. 1956). those who do understand. A gambler becomes so deranged by his passion thai. put their money where their status is. The cocks die from the food "iven Ihem. It is. sheer-chance-type gam­ bling games (roulette. one's dispassion. Whcn the husband returns. to the Balinese what it mainly increases is the meaningfulness of it all. 140. Whatever la � the corner boys play. As noted earlier. as we shall see. regarded as fair game for the genuine enthusiasts. these addicts. at. and. Slighlly above these people in standing are those who though they do not themselves fight cocks. And though to a Bentharnite this might seem merely � : � larly participate in them seem virtually nonexistent. where one finds the handful of more pure. these men generally dominate and define the sport as they dominate and define the society. through the medium of one's the line. he sets out to kill the child. of course. 2d ed. When there is nothlnl at sta�e. [ . there arc those who fight cocks in small. again only momentarily but again vcry pub­ hcly as well. and various other sorts of people who do not (or not yet) fight cocks-the extremely poor. because matters more or less even out over the long run. (Chicaao. the really substantial members of the community. 1963). F. into irrational bets on mis­ matched cocks. addict-type gamblers IIlvolved-those who "rear' changes i n social position." W. Whyte. largely downward. W�ber. the pcrsonally idiosyncratic-play at these games. corner boys conSider plaYing for money the real test of skill and.mnl was much more Imporlant Ihan the money al stake. shallow fi hts. through the force of their greed. furious. they nearly always bet on the outcome. SrrUf Cornu Socif!fy. The focusing elemenl in these focused gatherings. a word which has the second· ary meaning of thief or reprobate). It s in large part because the marginal disUlility of loss is so great at Ihe higher levels of betting thal to engage in such betting is to lay one's � to Increase the irrationality of the enterprise that much further. This does nOI mean that the financl�1 e. the solid citizenry around whom local life revolves. around the very edges of the cockfight area. unless a man performs well when money is at stake. such as one's pride. There is nothing spe.*' . there are those. clfica �ly Balinese. J have frequenlly heard men say that the honor of wln. and the wistful hanger-on. The extremes to which this madness is conceived on occasion to go-and the fact that it is considered madness-is demonstrated by the Balinese folk. Hooykaas·van Leeuwen Boomkamp.f en Vuhafen "an Bali (The Haaue. When a Balinese male talks. crowing a jina1e. It is because money remarkably short time. the aoddcss brinas the girl back to lhe father. Only women. Such a conclusion would be absurd.

But as a rule he will feel he must support it and. the village is dominated by f our large. but the general pauern of a tiered hierarchy of status rival­ ries between highly corporate but various based groupings (and. but which also forms alliances with certain of these neighbors against certain others in various supravillage political and so· cial contexts. is to invoke the village whose COCkfighting activities I observed the closest-the one in which the mid occurred and from which my statistical data are taken. what is really going on in a match is something Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 437 First.. f aire d'hollneur (though. justify it. and just plain bask in it (but not. Sometimes they group two and two. or even their hopes of unearned income. which is opposed to all the other vil­ lages round about in its cockfight circuit (which. money causes to happen: the migration of the Balinese status hierarchy into the body of the COCkfight. "castes" -in which its devotees live. unlike many. two sorts of corporate groups. this onc-Tihingan. and we may concentrate on them. Netherlands. given the strongly ascrip­ tive character of Balinese stratification. pp. as support of the general thesis that the cockfight. muted. But. see C. If your kingroup is not in­ volved you will support an allied kingroup against an unallied one in the same way.. Usually he will feel obliged to bet for it. in a part-far-whole way. A Balinese Village. to seek it). The exact situation is thus. Psychologically an Aesopian representation of the ideal /demonic. what is a rarer circumstance but occurs every now and then. temple congregat ions. partly endog­ amous descent groups which are constantly vying with one another and form the major factions in the village. is fundamentally a dramatization of status concerns. but the cockfight is-or more exactly. 2 10-24]. Korn. subfactions within the subfactions. without undue distortion. which are also status groups. rather narcissistic. nearly always does. mechanical crank of a slot machine.TilE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES mean. 78. 24 Goffman. 1967). thus. "a status bloodbath. is both extensive and unmistakable: I . celebrate it. This H 3 simulation of the social matrix. a cock . is perhaps the cen· tral driving force in the society. kingroups. De Do. or rather the two larger ones versus the two smaller ones plus all the unaffiliated people. s "Form and Variation in Balinese Villaae Balinese village. and so on to rather fine levels of distinction. he may just not bet at all. as everywhere in Bali. the blood that is spilled is only figuratively human) than to the stupid. male self. the involved system of cross-cut­ p apparenl 'lmusemcnt and seeming sport is. for the village as a whole. "Tihingan. the more of it that is involved the more so. Encounttrs. and especially the deep cockfight. For such a man. as I say. quite distinctive. This principle is extended logically. then. examples. the f ollowing facts. irriga­ tion societies. V. Like all Balinese vil lages. E." Amtrican Afllhrop% gi l 6 t ( 1 959): pp. in the Klungkung re­ gion of southeast Bali-is intricately organized. 3. with the Balinese talent rather closer to an a f for practical fantasy. you will tend to support the local one. What makes Bali nese COCkfighting deep is thus not money in itself. but what. particularly if it is only a second cousin's bird or if the fight is a shallow one. and. highly corporate groups-villages. particularly stand out..t3 And as prestige. which to avoid extended ethnographic de­ scription I shall sim ly pronounce to be facts. So. ceremonial. in deep games.jaraningrat. but for all that deeply felt. Vilfagts in Indon�sia ( Ithaca. as explained. and numbers that could be brought to bear in support of them. their understanding of probability theory. the more so the closer the kin tie and the deeper the fight. and at least to some degree to demonstrate ii. And second. The cocks may be surrogates for their owners' personalities.t'p"blitlc Ingo"an Pagringsin­ gan (Santpoon. and monetary exchanges aside-is it of the cockfight. so also-ambulant penises. though it is a bit off the norm as Balinese villages go. A man virtually never bets against a cock owned by a member of his own kingroup. a labyrinth of alliances and oppositions. between the members of them) is entirely general. Geenz. deliberately is made to be - ting.:.. blood sacri­ fices. not their evaluation of his bird. as any other. inter­ action of those selves in the context of everyday life. M. Consider. overlapping. p. there i s the village itself. If he is certain in his mind that it will not win." The easiest way to make this clear. 13 For a fuller description of Balinese rural social structure. sometimes they operate independently. and so on through the very involved networks of alli­ ances which. too. the necessity to affirm it. sociologically it is an equally Aesopian representation of the complex fields of tension set up by the controlled. make up this. 94-108. 1933). If." in R. 2. patrilineal. There are also subfact ions within them. is the market region). If an outsider cock is fighting any cock from your village. Koen1. almost entirely endogamous. animal mirrors of psychic form..though the concrete evj· dence. defend it. Thus the great majority of the people calling "five" or "speckled" so demonstratively are expressing their allegiance to their kinsman. statements. to take another phrase from Erving Goffman.

Berdson.d�ntjal Compa. The people involved in the center bet are. The center bet coalition is. and you go the other way. P. even though. the further he has come. The center bet. it will lead to strain.2:'! made up by structural allies-no "outside money" is involved. of which in this extraordinarily 7. such "away games. betting very slow. against one another in what is a frank and direct attack on the very masculinity. called pllik. with no one save the immediate principals and an addict gambler or two at all interested. of course. L. When two cocks 3rc structurally irrelevant or neutral so far as you are concerned (though. virtually always leading members of their group-kinship. putting the symbolic fat in the fire. not actually brought about) by one or the other of the enemies supporting the other's bird. and W. or two cocks with no particular group back­ ing. as bitter rivals. vil· lage. even rather artificial precautions are taken to avoid breaking it. as long as 6. Actually. cross-loyalty situations. I I . 1954). On the individual level.. they almost never are to each other) you do not even ask a relative or a friend whom he is betting on. Similarly. pllik. the more the "pardon me" tack will lead to social disruption. His followers are." Notes on the Bal inese Cockfight air of unease. again. you rarely get two cocks from the same group. You scldom get two outsider cocks fighting. or whatever. (I/'Imys 1 4. At the very least you must pretend not to notice what he is doing. politicnl differences) will bet very heavily. no outside is not made. if the principals cannot raise it. embarrassment. complex soc ial system there are of course many. Simi­ larly. for the theory is the man would not have dared to bring it if it was not a good cock.a1ersrdd. although they will almost cer­ tainly have they are not a cheapskate village. which can get quite large on a rather short-term basis. R. they would do so with enthusiasm on their home grounds. you will also lend to support the "home bird. There is a special word for betting against the grain. McPhee. which is one Opinion FormatiQn in u Prts. people involved in an institutionalized hostility relationship. which is also the word for "pardon me" (mpura). is often for­ mally i nitiated (though its causes always lie elsewhere) by such a "par­ don me" bet in a deep fight. sometimes almost mania­ cally.THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES from outside your cockfight circuit is fighting one inside it. of 10. or with group backing which is mutually unrelated in any clear way. This rule is explicit and rigid. The rule about borrowing money-that you may borrow for a bet but not . arc always to friends. but given it. N. the game is very shallow. By the same token. When you do get them. as mentioned. never to enemies. the institut ionaHzed hostility relation. and he what you are doing. the morc course. (Chicago. and the whole thing very dull. Voting: A Study of . even more rarely from the same subfaction. furtiveness. of the opponent. and go off to support them. where a man is caught between two more or less equally balanced loyalties. F. 439 of the reasons why both it and matchmaking are surrounded by such an 4. It is considered a bad thing to do. it 8." though infrequent. What is money is mixed in with the main bet. in outside village fights two members of the vil­ lage will rarely fight against one another. Almost all matches are sociologically relevant. inheritance arguments. though if the center bet is small it is sometimes all right you do not do it too often. tend to mend the ruptures between village members that the constantly occurring "home games. again especially in deeper games." where village fac tions are opposed rather than united. in all but the shallowest games. and so on) the people of the village take what they regard to be the best cocks in the village. Further. In sticky. the end of such a relationship and resumption of normal social intercourse is often signalized (but. and when the morc grand-scale legal cockfights are held (on holidays. give odds on them and to make large bets to show that 5 . is thus the most direct and open expression of social opposition. 1 2 . and virtually never from the same sub-subfaction (which would be in most cases one extended fam­ ily) fighting. in which they do not speak or other­ wise have anything to do with each other (the causcs of this formal breaking of relations are many: wife-capture. In fact. regardless of ownership.n one-stems (and the Balinese are quite conscious of this) from similar considerations: you are never at the economic mercy of your enemy that way. struc­ turally speaking. those who bet on the side (including these IS "outside" depends upon the context. because if you know how he is betting and he knows you know. a form of behavior reminiscent of that of American voters in similar situa­ tions. Cocks which come from any distance arc almost always favorites. fairly elaborate. especially in deep fights. But the larger the bet and the more fre­ quently you do it. GambHng debts. he tends to wander off for a cup of coffee or something to avoid having to bet. 1 3 . exacerbate. the ultimate ground of his B. and so on. obliged to support him. 10 SO 9.

even aristocrats. most closely-identified-with cock). but. 17. subordinates. please let me break even:' I n prestige terms. again. however. as well as again being arrogant and insulting. punc­ tuate son of way. he is such an important man'!" Thus there is a general pressure to bet not only to show that you arc impor­ tant locally. structurc of cockfighting. the deepcr the malch the more the man will advance his bcst. brothers. and th� whole ar­ gument thus far can be usefully summarized in a formal paradigm: TH". and there arc a great many legendlike tales of great Ducl-in-the-Sun comba'. as I have already remarked. if not made. the Balinese peasants themselves are quite aware of all this and can and. as J have said. It is not. almost never happens in the normal course of ordinary life). So rar as money is concerned. though they will remem­ ber Ihe day they did in Pan Loh's finest cock for years. of no importance: Balinese are no happier to lose several weeks' income than anyone else. do state most of it in ap­ proximately the same terms as I have. one of the great culture heroes of Bali is a prince. The finer the cocks involved and the more exactly they will be malched. the explicitly expressed attitude toward it is that it is a secondary maUer. and the general attitude toward wagering is not any hope of cleaning up. 1.R T H E MATCII . the shorter the outside bet odds will tend to be. not the causal. is like playing with fire only not getting burned. a facl people. but that you arc not so important that you look down on everyone else as unfit even to be rivals. Similarly. and the "solider" the citizens who will be gaming. 2. "What! Is he too proud for the likes of us? Does he have to go to Java or Dcn Pasar fthe capital town I 10 bet. in the coin-spinning and dice-throwing amuse­ ments. � . The really important wins and losses arc secn mostly in other terms. for if you do not people generally will say. but Ihat of the horse­ player's prayer: "Oh. though there arc of course practical ones. not for youth. cockfight. coming dangerously and en­ trancingly close to the expression of open and direct interpersonal and intergroup aggression (something which. volved i n the everyday politics of preSlige as well. almost every Ba­ linese I have ever discussed thc SUbject with has said.s between lords and princes in classical times (for cockfighting has always been as much an elite concern as a popular one). . home team people must bet against outside cocks or the outsiders will accuse them-a se­ rious charge--<>f just collecting entry fecs and not really being interested in cockfighting. could produce today anywhere in Bali. But they mainly look on the monetary aspects of the cock­ fight as self-balancing. erly. nO( on how much you won. I. . You must bet on cocks of your own group aside from mere loy­ alty considerations. "The Cockfighter.hl on in the scnerai discu. in a momentary. you do not want to break even. but not quite.<felineated. and so forth. . sisters-were iI�sassinatcd by I� a formlll paradi.sion. win utterly. 5. Between ncar status equals (and lor personal enemies) TI l E DEEPER THE MATCH. more prop­ 2. JUSI which of these conSiderations leads to As thi� 2ft which in what order.!'. The talk (which goes on all the time) is about fighls against such-and-such a cock of So-and-So which your cock dcmolished. Between high status individuals TilE DEU'l:. of making a killing (addict gamblers again excepted). Inverse arguments hold for the shallower the fight. 1 5 . in a reversed-signs sense. . MORE A MATCH IS . wives. because. and the more betting there will be overall.. The greater the emotion that will be involved and the more the general absorption in the match." who happencd to be awny al a very deep cockfight with a neighboring prince when the whole 01 hi� family-father. 4. God. it is intended to display � he 10� ical. a maHer of just moving money oaround. Cockfighting is for those who are in. You activate village and k ingroup ri­ valries and hostilities. Indeed. and by what mechanism� is another malter-one I have altem ted 10 shed some Ii. Fighting cocks. at least well .THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 44' people) are. circulat­ ing it among a fairly well-defined group of serious cockfighlcrs. but in " play" form. 16. rarely remember for any length of time. far deeper than anything anyone. Finally. 3. called after his passion for the sport.m. The less an "cconomic" and the more a "status" view of gam­ ing will be involved. it is " only . culminating. even for large bets. after all. For deep fights there are no absclute upper limits. The higher the individual bels center and outside. The closer the identification of cock and man (or. women. but perhaps the general point is. al least to an ethnographer." 1 More observations of this sort could be advanced. the more established members of the village-the solid citizens.

cha ow into relicf it particular view of presents them in such a way as to thr ion on them." he uys. '" have beaten the king. castrate anyone. It puts a construct � � If � � � � � � �� � � : � � � � . and aeneral1y unappetizina old beaaar lean ina on a staff. he is given Ihe choice or three cocks. bcncfi· mes--death." As he is known never to win. had the ir practIcal s which howe presenting it in tcrms of acts and obj ect (or. e most . and prosperous state. imal statuS. llr and Crim peraOlents and other conventions. raised) to quences removed and been reduced conse ing can be more power­ sheer appearances. odorous. as an mdlvtdual. abstract hatred. "I have bUlen twenty-five opponents. the hero decides to visit his son and collect the promised cock. . resolute. In order to insure Ihal this happens. pnd . When the old man diJl(:()vers this fact." Sprookjes en Verhalen Vim Bali. they have ts. Chapter 14. the king matches his finest cock aaainst the hero's. When the cocks are placed down. rage. inherited) than merely impoverished and personally dIsgraced. if you prefer. the arrogant. they make the hero kina and his wif queen and e they return a5 5uch to earth. 172-180). the status ladder by wi nn ing cockfigh it that way. His house is encircled by the kina's men." The second crows. When he arnves at The cockfight. the third. he returned to dispatch the upstart. hoots in lauahter. glorious.hl until he is nOI only out of money but down to his last cock. and carries the hero and his wife to sarety in the heaveM. The hero nees. demonic power-they also see the archetype of status virtue. . I have bet on the Unseen and won.!!! Al l you an ascend it at all. and Money i n his cleg of Yeats. The first crows: "I have beaten fifteen opponents. their social order. led by the arrogant king. Later their son. and carefree man who is also an accomplished cockfighter. mascuh"'ty." Audcn says "Poetry . Nor can you descend really . " I have no money. teness duc his rank. . loss. honor-mad player with reat fire. he was publicly treated WIth the elaborate dererencc a�d po­ . which the hero aladly invites him to do. The cock chanae5 into a Garuda. in thi s colloquial r a d bc l g all gortcally h ­ allegorically hu mi lia tin g one anothe go on lctly tn the ex r ­ e another. The old man then asks to pass Ihe niahl with the hero. it docs er peoples With other tern· t way. a icncrous. e tlml . despite his accomplishment. . gives him her last "rainy day" money to go and bet. Lifted up into Siva's presence. thus.. the hero's nees. a aood and hard·workina woman. the hero tells his wife to kill the lasl cock for dinner. is my choice. also returns and � Feathers.442 THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 443 commoner usurpers. he is let in because the king. The cockfight is "really fully articulated and more exactly per one. everyday experi the cockf . He also asks for the hero's son to acco mpany him as a servant. As there is no food in the house. Crowds. a mouth. . makes n thi ng hap n. masculinity." says the hero. The hero's cock then nies at the kina himselr. to live in a areat palace in Ihe sky. or suffer and withstand do is enjoy along an aesthetIC semblance of of drastic and momentary movement s jum p which ha the look der. the great mythic bird or Indie kaend. . nce-and. ("I will fiaht no more cockfights. more charitable. he tells Ihe hero he has three cocks in his own mountain hUI and saY' the hero may have one of them f or fight ina. as everyone else's. the con octed sensation and savor. pious. The old man turns out 10 be Siva and. soon loses all but a coin or two and repairs to a food Ie stand for a snack. a way of survives in thc valley of its saying sense. alter the hierarchical r anyone to an . filled with misaivings due to his run of ill luck."come In any or refashion the hierarchy. though the hero does not know this. ordering thcm into an enc ccnce. and Ihe hero spends his last coins to buy him some. Thus spared. On the independence of personal repulallon and public sta­ tus in Bali. "upon the Un· seen World. u' . � the hero-kina announces his intention to enter a hermitaae. a kin d of behind-the-mirror stalUs that lad of mo bil ity without its actuality. But. and the crowd. prominent addict gambler i n my cockfight CIrCUli was actually very hLah casle sutr." His wife. who is there fighting.. and returns with it 10 earth. aling wlth­ is what we are de Like any art form-for that. after the son aarees. . finally. 8m 110 Ollt" S SWillS r!'''Uy chell/g . and build its most powerful. makes thc m. knowina how much he el\ioys cockfighting. the ksatria princeY In another of HooyJr:aas-van Leeuwen Boomkamp'S folk tales ("Dc Gast. reconstitute the Balinese high tradition.u who sold orr most or hi� considerable lands 10 support hIS habIt Though : evcryone privately reaardcd him as a rool and worse (some. he is asked for an entry fee and replies. a low caste SlIdru. I will pay after my cock has won. pp. see above. for oth Significan . regain the throne. where their mean the level of ceived. you cannot. however. He does not despair. What it docs is what. this is done. Along with evcrythrng else that the Balinese see in fighting cocks-themselves. killing him wilh a spur Slab in Ihc throat. day after day. crushed on enc t'f. and. . glorytng qU miliated by on ly slightly more openly by It If e if they have tri umphed. re­ . where he meets a decrepit. happenmg. II � � � � .it does not kil l any real" ela ions mong peoplc." 'That one.�) He enters the hermilaae and hIS son becomes kin. fiahl after ti. he leaves his own cock at home and bets merely on the side. When the people see this. not evcn redlstrtbutc . Blood. to their essential naturc. " i makes nothing happen.. however-"I bet. catches up these thc it ompasstng structure. You can ot a cnd not. ence compre ensible by ight renders ordinary. released by SIva. dislikes him and hopes to enslave hLm when he loses and cannot pay off. Me n The cockfight too. arded him as sick). los�. In time. reduce only to the cocks. The old man asks for food. The third cro�s. Addict aambleu are really less dcclasscd (for their sta us is.PullIslwit'fII do .

vio­ lence. se elsewhere. Fighting SportJ fi f /lis/ory o Cue. the fight is at once a convulsive surge of animal hatrcd. alternation of short perio ( at IS. to the fr face. hlll short ones where "nol d equally nificant) is happening. articulate burst of ter tT iu m ph and utter is the result-ut there is the fight. . the reason that it is disquietful is that. an ar yth 1C lsation of meaning and va futurc than an on-off pu . which remain theirs. Goodman. We attribute grandeur. . Novels are said to have strength. tion turns totally to the even W ith some th e principa s.�elsh main followeds an oceeding 10 the ltern. 19(9). aesthetic quanta. 1968): N." in an ideational sense. 1968): M.csent. in whieh a les. see S." out of a conjunction of three attributes of the fight: its immediatc dramatic shapc. exuberance to strings of sounds. ��e se wert aligned into two le.Ponly. pp. is "disquictful" does not seem at all unnatural. the fight displays a characteristic that does not seem so remarkable until one realizes that il does not have to be there: It .umand of coc:ks were "mains." in his Tht Primucy of PUCI'plioll (Evanston. says. erally. 1 964 ). embarrassed p ssin at-and there is the hu hi m . once a match is en gratulated. nor those of the audience. or . scar ded the crowd s atten· hashed . fluidity to blocks of stone.'S on the Balinese Cockfight • 445 those historically positioned to appreciate the construction.and fough�es an on main as a whole. . rried. 1953): R. a I ure. a metaphor. somewhat variant. meaningful -visible. An image. " Above. British coc:kfights {thenePO. and a formal simulation of status lensions. A cultural figurc against a social ground. ballcts repose. which remain his.. an and full lves call . the B ahne I have argued lengthily . Latin comedy. an abstract shudder-and t. a commo­ tion of beating wings and throbbing legs. " j he .444 TilE INTERPRETATIO:-'" OF CULTURES Nott. III. Wollheim . and return. a burning-glass dot. is effected by interpreting it as expressive of something unsetlling in the way its authors <Uld audience live. w ith no looking back. People drift away from loser is not consoled. bUI Th A �'illg (Ne� York. It. :MI • as l • • .. graspable-"Teal. its function is neither to assuage social passions nor to heighten them (though. the It IS not entire. that the one it itself creates. of the w itn esses of a de ed bu t It qUite werful play well-perform theater after seeing a po the ory-a dtffuse glow or at most a schematic mem . pe haps e no doubt remains with perienc ith us when we lea e ep fight. Bu \Yes onIy ' n its own presentl I" ' more b fight th an 0thers. � �. Fitz-Barnard. t of th directional movement ou cu lty. it brings rld unto itself. see A. treatments. G. some present is severed in to tever the cockfight ed.� � � � � � � � : � 10 imaginative realization a dimension of Balinese experience normally well-obscured from view. the coc ing activity down to om the monadiC en ay in which everything fr Ba linese in the same w I � IS hV� I� ' � � � � . less a flo . t next vklor. into the very center of aes­ thetic theory. selfllood to cocks. Ruporl: ('Lo�01 7��gand L. ne . here. joining pride to selfhocw:t. as they nt. and cocks to destruction. As a dramatic shape. but. there e g of money.. look around hl . can account for the agi­ tation of one painting or the serenity of another. buildings eloquence. somewhat puzzling. energy.. round.PC w 'thoul any On oockfightinl more gen­ y o say. through th e pr se . even more ominously. In this realm of eccentric predicates. lightness. plays momentum. a mock war of sym­ bolical selves. crowds. in recent years. "The Eyc and the Mind. "empty" times. Son. least.1I Neither the sentiments of the artist. there IS th e bet­ form. FuJillg and Form (New York. or. The question of how it is that we perceive qualities in things­ paintings. As a genre. soon fades to become A ny expressive form usually not even that. wit. 39 1-398. The reason it is disquietful is not that it has material effects (it has some. mercly.� Most Bri'tish fightS were wagering took pt na�y.h a prea�� k. Merleau. have indeed b d there in 1840) nt famiseem 10 apes. a string of flashes. 159-190.da t n ls tou e ��winner pr along the lines of a pr �ock �g�t � ��:� compositional flexibilitY than. in its playing-with-fire way il does a bit of both). and its aes­ thetic power derives from its capacity to force together these diverse realities.e both on the 1� both �In Engla and on the Continent. its metaphoric con­ tent. in anot kfight IS merely bemg . toward th e e past. focusunctures and "h Ies. fiction.f ng (London. In r idiom. to say that the cockfight. tangible. and lis Obj�cts (New York. . 1921). in a medium of f eathers. arrange it and percclVe " spurts. the cockfight is a means of expres­ sion. . There is the match .�w��er���� a quite differe ly of sh ve ge 5ra . or events re A shadow of the ex ­ xt. Wha but all of them disconnect . what they are. books.. tween what they themse noth tng much) is_be . so me ht ng Sl when "som ds . as .ocks � elimination pa �e so-caI� . but they are minor). Languog�s of Art (Indianapolis. and its social context. And in Wales. blood. melodies. R. "somehow. g. and money. as it rematns W . in its perfected cases at just denied it practical consequence. to display them. Nor are wmn rs con· less and intact. But. despair.30 Each rnatch 's a wo al struct Ii radically atomistic makmg.. also "battle Royawere I t loose o � with the one left standing at �he end the number of I.31 Thel r I"re. ething" (that IS. a model. as J have The disquietfulness arises. t hiS descent into nonbem . plays-that we do not feci we can assert lit­ erally to be there has come. . it says in spurts.kcd it and 10 ha �r cd in w:hil. � � � For four. pp.s . There large mate �lvidua plal. Lanser. rese s momentary hi leave hi m to assimilate ay. The transfer of a sense of gravity into what is in itself a rather blank and unvarious spectacle. .

" and lood technical discussions of h can be found in M. cd. 100" 1964). Knopf. 149_170. HOiI (Baltimore. of course I n . immensely anxiety­ . whal is almost worse.lhe·gods temple celebrations arc.l .�he exl me. its tlat-ouI. IO$�. and active. I I . cautious. Paling is social vertiao the dizzy ' l. 64. of course. as fundameOlal 10 ordered life (kramu) and paUng. 1969). p. balance. Any expressive form works (when it works) by disarranging semantic contexts i n such a way that properties conventionally ascribed to certain things are unconventionally ascribed to others. 99. 90 If .3! If ne �im enSi on of the cockfight's structure. pp. H. the cockfight talks most f orcibly about is status relationships. and "expression" (and the irrelevance of "imit ation" to all Of ' 'hm) " moot$ of symbolic ref erence. "Melaphor as Mistake. ibid. but without the cockfight the Balinese would have a much less certain un­ derstanding of them. and connect-the collision of roosters with the divisiveness of status is to invite a transfer fusion of position the scramblinl cocks exemplify as iu profoundest enemy and con­ tradiction. But only in the cockfight are the sentiments upon which that hierarchy rests revealed in their natural colors. . it is an example of it. makes It seem a contradictjon.cholo/fY and tht ViJual Arts. its lack of tempo ral . &Iinrs� Characur. Gombrich. Ram� is what happens in the "f ull"l im� (ils opposite' . IS nonetheless more than an idle fancy.u And. which are then seen ac­ tually to possess them. if less than a straightf orward descrip­ tl n. the state. melodic shape. gesture and allusion. conn ected with . on paling. makes it seem a typical segment of the general socia l life. sec Goodman. presumably. . Iveness. the hierarchy of pride is the moral backbone of the soc iety. UJnguag� as Art. p. to picture an art critic as a dissolute bear. is stratificatory." Sewanu Rtvitw 6 ( 1 9$8): 78-99. to fix tone and manipulate timbre. of how. or cultural journalism-are clothed in signifiers which normally point to other referents. IUmcd'around r e�ling one seu when one s place in Ihe �rdinat� ' o space nOI clear. Enveloped elsewhere in a haze of etiquette... There arc two other Balinese values and disvaluCi WhiCh.• 1962). n�e55iIY of distinguishini amonS "description.. the economy. Frye. they imaginatively are. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 447 � � The angle. Black. "pol � � � � � � � � � � � " ��PI. 1 7 4 On Hoaarth. and phenomena-fall weather. ''The Use of Art for Ihe Study of Symbols. and what il says about them is that they are matters of life and death. as Stevens does. It is not : .'S4 Ished. and on this whole problem-there called "multiple matrix matching"-see E. Bah��. . raditional &linur Cufturr. necessarily) Its patrons. 1$ what happens in the "empty" ones). g.son�nled. and is borrowed from H. the ol er. the 501"1 of whirlinl'con- Fo� Ihe. T U The Slevens reference is to his "The MOlive for Metaphor" ("You like it under the trees in autumn. N . But here they portray themselve s a ." in P r./Because everY1hini is half dead. 22$-24 1 . and It a tremendously disfavored. H. In he normal Course of things. who seem in fact rather thoroughly to enjo y it eme�ges. from . p. p. 3. anyway. not .THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES cou ters of everyday life.O. and is a highly sought-after a Itale: crowded markeu.:U Similarly. cd. nor a depiction . the c kfiiht is al once conlinuou f s with ordinary � . busy Ilreeu are all ram� as. A peculiar fusion of Polynesian title ranks and Hindu castes. dlsqulet ulnesS_the disquietfulness of the fighl. Lallier (New YOf"k.�� . 6 � adapt a phrase Frye has used of Gloucester's blinding) is set in the con­ text of a sample of it as they do i n fact have it. brutality as charm. carefully pre­ pared. 2!l ff Goodman. a thick cloud of eu­ phemism and ceremony. dlrecllonallty. JI :: �. N. and Bdo.. That pres­ tige is a profoundly serious business is apparent everywhere one looks i n Bali-in the village. noisy. thlOgs literally are among men. not (or." "representalion " exemplificatIOn. and Faber and Faber ltd. To call the wind a cripple. Percy.-. qUiet . 1 . Jealousy is as much a part of Bali as poise. cont rolled asters of indirection and dissimulation-what they call alus. Ihe Balinese are shy to the poin t of obseSSIVeness of open conflict. reprinted from Thr Collrclul Po�nu o Wallaa Suvuu f by permission of Alfred A. even a subversio n of It. LAnguagr. ed. punclual� temporality on the one hand and unbridled aaare ssiveness on Ihe oth�r r morce the sense that. as Schoenberg does.Y. IS. IS IS IS IS . Draier. 4. W. A powerful rendermg of life as the Balinese most deeply do not wan t it (to howevcr. a mask which i n fact dem­ onstrates them far more effectively than it conceals them. to connect-and connect. as we have already seen. pp. stalus relationships and 10 forth. What. S. The slaughter in the cock ring is not a depiction of how . The more usua/ term for this sort ofsemanlic alchemy is "metaphorical transfer./The wind moves like a cripple amons the leaves/And repeRu words wilhoul meanina") ICopyriaht 1947 by Wallace Slevens. bUI. closer to our case. mm feslivals. 'subdued. envy as grace. Thr Edu�aud Imagination (Bloominlton. p.f o Art' pp f '' . On rami. Inc. of It. Oblique. and what � : . is to cross conceptual wires. ucml state. decorum. the Schoenbera reference is to the third of his Fivr Orchrslral Pi«rs (Opus 16). 1961). a particular angle. nor even an expression of it. her fall palm Rtlmr means crowded. head-la-head (or spur-Io-spur) aggres­ ." "smooth"-they rarely face what they ean turn away from rarely resist what they can evade . and . or. which is. eelai Ii e and a dlf t nelatlon of It : what Ihe Balinese call rami. • " . through the clanging pointillism of game/an mU lc to the visili ng�day·of. wild and murd rous. sec Bateson and Mead. because the con­ t xt s ggests that the rendering. a cockfilht. they are here expressed in only the thinnest disguise of an animal mask. the family. as Hogarth does. it is here that the . a reversal. . an Imitation of the punctuatcness of Balinese social life. the established conjunctions between objects and their qualities are altered. p.:"ith manic explosions of instinctual cruelty. "The Concepi of 'Tonal Body: " in Rrjfections on Arr. regard Ihe enCI maintenance of spatial onen talion ("110{ o now where north 10 be crazy). 44 ff. Modds and Mrlaphors (Ithaca. J. � SOCI�J r� . why they value it so highly.

. IS Interpretive: it is a Balinese reading of Ba­ . n d� (milt /out ob of their internat �tructure. loves its own f m of violence. . llg or appreciating l cockfights. a transfer which is at once . Chapter tl. C(mltXt�. See above.'1. . loss depressing. to treat the cockfight as with the plain one of the latent. would tend to ob­ says in a vocabulary of sentiment-the thrill of risk.'l. or Every people. hardly necc55ary ' a society where every 111 act proclairns them) but that . it brings together themes-animal savagery.. lifts it from the realm of everyday practical aff airs. attitudes).: � /. the novel. all that culminating in Spinoza.� . of course. ing. Ibid. if not equally rcc­ out of social materials. p with nctratll1g a literary text. as functionalist sociology would . see P. 13. The interprt'wtio naturae tradition of the middle ages. concepts. Yet what it says is not merely that risk is excit­ but that it is of these emotions. of pcr �Pt ions THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTUR ES Notes on the Balinese Cockfight 449 and even beyond verbal. i/IC/t'p�/I(J�nt lit /OUI . attempted to read nature as Scripture. :� �� ! . the question is. male narcissism. Drawing on almost every level of Balinese experi­ mass excitement. He does not seek to understand symbo ptions (mean­ terms of how they funct ion i n concrete situations LO orianize perce ly in terms ines. the transfer could of course ' ' as well go the other way. marriage rutes. that society is built and Saying Something of Something II1g of o e's own. ��:�n ' � � (� . the pleasure of triumph. the two most obvious alternatives.31 But the idea remains theoretically undeveloped. or triumph gratifying.. all offer precedents. F'�lld al and Plri/ o h 2 . as a means of "saying s l .n(llion. If one takes the COC kfight. What the cockfight says it rite or a pastime. (or the Marxian one to treat them as glosses on property relations). lic forms i n very much not the same thing. emotions. and the Freudian replacement of the enigmatiC text of the manifest dream Nietszchean effort to treat value systcms as glosses on the will to power � � ommendable ones. or ordering a system thc dominan . for the Balinese. rather than takina myths. . a kind of sentimental education. But it i$ only an U Levi. whose concern is wit h for mulating SOCiological pri n­ Ciples. i from the notio� or scripture or t n t n e her me· neutics. for it shifts the analysis of cultural forms from an e�­ deavor III general parallel to dissecting an organism diagnosing sympt m. lik e mo st of the rest of us thC B aI lIlese ' . The in the symbolics of a single such text: and-the disquieting part-that � � � � �: � cockfight is the Balinese reflection on theirs: on its look. a description and a judgment.Strauss· "structuralism·' miaht seem an or what­ apparent one. and surrounds it with an aura f enla gcd importance is not. op­ ponent gambling. a story they tell themselv es about themselves. What he learns there is what his culture's ethos and his private sensibility (or. deciphering a code. but. ing cocks.. banal tautologies of affect. its fascination. tl ng o something" (to invoke a famous u Aristotelian tag). co llecllvely sustained symbolic structure. laJor pan of collc tivc e is cnce aroun d that assortment. certain aspects of them) look like when spelled out externally individuals are put together. its uses.) What sets the COCkfight apart from the ord inary course of life. not. though metaphorical. or any other . On 'mup. status rivnlry. has yet to be systematically exploited. totem rites. as imaginative works built In the case at hand. that It reinforces status discrimi nations (such rei nf orcement IS ' . . he seeks to understand thcm entire jt'.nterprel. hun 1an be· s 11110 fixed hierarchical ranks lOg and then organizing th . which. is. ' II prOVides a metasocial commentary upo n the whole matter or assort' 109 . that cultural forms can be treated as texts. thus exampled. ror. the proverb has it. ' arc a great deaI morc mterested in underst . Levi-Strauss takes them as Ciphers to solve. exception. Attending cockfights and participating in � _ in a collective text. Ihen O S faced Wit h a pr blem not in social mechanic s but social semantics. and the more profound corollary.� � � from the former to the laller. that the two are near enough alike to be articulated the text in which this revelation is accomplished consists of a chicken hacking another mindlessly to bits. the despair of loss. n se experience.3A For I e anthropol glst. what docs one learn about such principles fro m exa min ing culture as an assemblage of texts? �ro put the matter this way is to engage in a bit of metaphorical refocus­ � � � � � them is. Ricocur. anding men than they are ' In understand. anyway. have II. blood sacrificc- The tag is from Ihe second book of Ihc: 0'80'1°. so far as anthropology is concerned. force.31 � � � � feature of it (in my opinion.�. which is cver as te:cU to .'!ljf. lis function ou want to call It that. For a discussion or il and for Ihe wh I e�m nt for free l� g ··the notion of te xt . its ence. .. a alogles III contemporary anthro ologyIo one in general parallel . :MI Such an extension of the notion o f a text beyond written material. not with promot .g e . the central feature of it) that treating it as a a text is to bring out a scure: its use of emotion for cognitive ends. (Logically .

to quote Northrop Frye again. Our l1n presslon s of hu m an life arc picked up onc by one. with theIr bodies as with their eyes. Ihe &lIempt to deprovincialize th� C?ncept of art IS but . aloof. and.. If. for which Robert Graves chums to have been reprimltlndcd at hiS Cambridge tnpos. law. that the artS play their role. Quartets. 10 Europeans.�d Imagination. Balint'st! Character.. better than typical or universal.real wllh the onental lowly W11l doubt­ ." accomplishes. But th e poe t las OppOSI. part of the general anthropological conspiracy to deprovlnclahzc a�1 I mportant so­ . as mentioned earlier.. of the OCCIdental .ical que:.hting cocks are actually rather hard 10 see e)t�ept as blurs or mot10n. we go to see Machelh to Icarn what a man feels like after he has gained a k i ngdom and lost his soul. and driven in result to the ex· (remes of fury. Yo u wouldn't go 10 to learn about the history of Scot land-you go to it 10 learn wh at a m an feels lik e after hc's gained a kingdo m and losl his M)UJ. builds a symbolic structure i n which. son and Mead. Bu t we cons tantly find thi ngs in l Ieratu e that s udden ly coordinate and bri ng int o focus � a great many such ImpreSSions.45° TIlE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES whose main connection i s their involvement with rage and the fear of rage... of theologians. read and reread. usually composed. . rec u rn ng.h Ihls IS a threat .cr material effects they may have. fi. a kind of moral autocosm. Balinese follow the as muc� {perhaps. head�.ress of Ihe fi. so far without end.. . [he Cockfight enables the Balinese.. field are.. he has totally triumphed or been brought totally low. hc grows tener to string quartets or the absorbed viewer of still life grows slowly familiar with il and what it has to say 10 him. � New Yo�k. art forms ate and regenerate the very subjectivity they prctend only [0 d1splay. stili lifes.h � melH and his society's tcmper at the same time. set aside from that life as " only a game" and reconnected to it as " more than a game. could be called a paradigmatic human event-Ihat is." and so f orth-i� more than usually mIsleading hcre. Not only are there a 40 The use of the. and cockfights. On the enormous role of kine"thet1c percept �on In Bal1n�e I1fe. When y ou meet such a character as Micawbcr in Dickens. If we sec ourselves as a pack of Micawbers. rience of the fi. o. and COCkfights are not merely refleclions of a prc-ex­ isting sensibility analogically represented. p�. idual's expe­ . Bate­ . 84-88: on the active nalure ot aesthe\1c per· ception i n gencral. Notes on the Ba l in ese Cockfight 45' est as :t pure spectator sport than docs croquet or dog racing). typ1cal. because-in another of those paradoxes. less disturb certain sorts o aeslhcticians as the earlier effo�ls of anthro�lo'lsts f to speak of Christianity and lotem ism 1 n t he same breath dIsturbed cemlln sorts .4 1 � Dicken� (if we see ?U�­ larly for Balinese. If e.trrary Form. f . . he great many other cultural texts providing commentaries on status hier· In the cockfight. 1 95 7) �. It is in such a way. . color ing Macbt'.tion� are lor �houhJ be) bra:keted m lhc sociology of reli. then.cs rather than the flt'mu'lleutics). 10 see a dimension of his own SUbjectivity. more cxactly.. that there s a b1t of Mlca wbc r III almos' everybody you know. In any case. which haunt aesthetics-that subjec­ tivity does not properly exist until it is thus organized."o Yet.. is kinesthetic rather than visual. pp.-d to the his to ria n ) .ht is it. Enacted and re-enacted . 91 the cock­ . that some poems arc better than Olhers. rcli. with the active watching of an owner and a bettor (for COCkfighting has no more inter:It of thing that would happen if. mOVIll. IAngllfjg� o ArI. rather Ihan through whate . at. more) . He gi ves you th e . cial concepts-marria. for the fact Ihat. feels like when.ion. this: you feel . "watchcs. Goodman. it is frolll reading too muc selves as unillusioned realists.en t. It is this kind of bringing of assorted experiences of everyday life to focus that the cockfight.ion. along with painted feelings and unconsequenced acts. and trunks In . means that much of the indi. cd. It is no threat to the conviCl1on. 63-64." � . over and over again. in social the�e was an cx �mpI: of Kenneth Burke's definition of a symbolic act as "t he danctng of an attitude f I The Philosophy o L. as it takes us back to Aristotle (though to the Poe.. or what Arist otle ca lls un i ve rs al e. feel Ihat there must hav been a m an Dicken s knew who was exactly like . much as the auentive lis­ more familiar with them in a way which opens his subjectivity to himself. . jud. pp. and this is pari of what Aristotle mcans by the I ypical or un i­ versal human evcnt lt . insulted. and Simi­ experience wilh the light they cast it aesthetic theories which regard �rtain .orks of art as beyond the reach of SO:IO­ logical analysis.e5' tural mimicry or Ihe cocks' maneuvers. as. 2 4 1 -24�. "natural" visual 1diom for pcrception-"see. tormented.. Or.. as is not the case. Arislotle says. ..e.. the reality of their inner affiliation can be intelligibly felt. including yo�rsclf. challenged. . 8uI a� onlolo. cocks. The poer� job IS not to tell you what happened bu t wh at ha ppens: not what did take pla�e. life were art and could Frye. you do n'. Th� Educa. . is worth quotation: ents at al l. it is frolll readlllg too hltle). and re­ ma m for mOSI of us loose an d disorganiZL-d. as arts. Balinese go to cockfights to find Qut what a man. almost obsessively self·absorbed.menlal one\ arc (or should be) bracketed III the S?clOl. the1r limbs. Ihey arc positive agents i n the �ener. . As he watches fight after fight.y of art . one that lells us less what happens than the kind be as freely shaped by styles of feeling as Macb!'11r and DlIvid Coppa. The whole passage. bu t the kin d of th ing thai alw ay s docs lake place . re. Mtlch!'llr enables us. as fi. and so creates what. certa in ly no particular or specific ones. rational1ty-and thou. ne ver makes an y �eal statem creation and maintenance of such a sensibility. �I Al l this couplin. the Balinese forms and discovers his tempera­ forms and discovers a particular facet of them. binding them into a set of rules which al once contains them and allows them play.

see V. [J. for (somewhat exaaaer­ Priest. of course. which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of such an enterprise. For the consecration ceremony. that sym­ or is it the only way xities as w el l. property of social hierarchy-its reach to­ emotionality of animals. One has o tcrp the Balinese Cockfight 453 � � � • ���. One can even co forming contra .� . Set not i n the matrix of the kinetic vine mentality. but there are a great many other critical receive such commentary. of course. nIy to I cam how to rct<ltions. rather casual estimates. There are enormous difficulties in Bali: St"dirs. possi. it expresses tranquillity not disquiet. E..�sian Uphrlll'al (New York. that the killinp were caused by the coekfiaht. the fact that the massacre occurred seems. That what the cockfilht has to say about Bali IS not altoaether without per­ ception and the disquiet it expresses about the generlll pattern of Balinese life is not wholly without reason is attested by the fact that in two weeks of December 1965. "2 The COCkfight is not the ity and pro What it says about that life is not unqualified nor even unchallenged by master key to Balinese life. pp. an m lives. The ceremony consecrating a 8rahmana priest. . As more than one real Gloucester has discovered. 173-181. �ose rea " g one can start any. could have been predicted on the basis of it." ibid. any more than bullfighting is to Spanish. or that the same people who arrange chry­ santhemums cast swords. HUlLhes. :� - �:�:�t:: what other equally eloquent cultural statements say about it. But there Iil:re were contemporaries. or were some sort of enlaraed version of it with real people in the place of the cocks-all of which is nonsense. to somebody is at least to open up the ng tt ' . dances." in Swellenllrebel. sometimes people actually let life precille1y as they most deeply do not want it. Ie s bounded form sn it i ve can st ay. ated) villaae communion. themselves ensem· is nothing more surprising in this than i n the fact that Racine and Mo­ bles.1 This is not to say. compliments. as I : n f rms in search of e . methodological pitfalls to make a Freudian quake. n . li k e lives' e same: . 1 � In c familiar exercises tn As in more e eIse . from intricatel. if no less appallina. a matter of breath control. ''The Consecration of the pp. t I and Circle stea t 'i W mpare forms sts. ed. displays a radically different. but to the Balinese equally real. broader unities or in ocal relief But ra define the ir different cultures to. and so p handled.. its shadow­ plays. which mobilize the whole local population in ward the numinous transcendent. and its airls. largely by one another-the worst outburst in the country. Functionalis SOCIOIogically bolic forms ca be something of ch forms as "saying ut to regard su does psychologlsm . whlch onc 0 whatever the level at n 10· . s and end u p anywher pertOIre of form where in a culture's re .� � �� : � �:� n::." and sayt er than to re­ th ei r substance rath which attends to b il it y of an analysis nt or them ulas professing to acco ductive form . but they arc not the most extreme. but-as the Balinese them�elves do-also throuah the medium of its cockfight. guiding principle is th gam accesS to thern. 4l those to whom they properly belong.• pp. something. the e per:� :• :�� . a � . 111do. contain their ow I soctet'es. durinl the upheavals following the unsuccessful coup in D jakarta. R Goris. The mass festivals elaborate hostings of visiting gods-songs. It is merely to say that if one looks at Bali not just through the medium of its dances. Huahes' figures are. 79 100. One .45' TIlE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES Noles on sectors of Balinese life besides the stratificatory and the agonistic that archy and self-regard in Bali. "The Reliaious Character of the Balinese Vil­ laiC. less like a contradiction to the laws of nature. between forty and eighty thousand Balinese (in a population of about two million) were killed. ilS sculpture. 1967). and vacant con­ centration upon the depths of being. postural immobility. but in that of Ihe static passionlessness of di­ at the village temples. Korn. 13 1 _ 1 54. gifts -assert the spiritual unity of village mates against their status incqual· ject a mood of amity and trust. . �3 The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts. N d some moral erple ..

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