In the critical essay Deep Play Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by C
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In the critical essay, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" by Clifford Geertz, the author describes a very important part of the Balinese culture - the cockfight. This fight represents more than it first appears. Cockfights are well attended events by men only. Bets are taken on these events. However, the money isn’t all that is at stake. It’s significance to kin, masculinity and other such items is another point Geertz expresses. Percy writes about the common and the complex readers, in his essay "The Loss of the Creature." Geertz also utilizes this tactic and begins the essay as a "common reader". However, he ends the essay in a very complex, almost incomprehensible, manner. Geertz seems not to have solved the problem of overcoming the "expert" view, Percy describes in his essay.
Geertz begins very common. He portrays himself and his wife as characters in Bali. They seem to be on the outside of things. This is similar to the people in Percy’s essay. The tourist had gone to the village and they just watched the villagers interact. This is how Geertz begins his visit in Bali. Geertz is an anthropologist and he is in Bali to experience the culture. He and his wife are watching a cockfight take place. Cockfights are illegal in Bali. They continue to watch the fight and he describes the cockfight like any "layman" might see it. This way of not interacting and seeing things from a spectators point of view, is in a way using ethnocentrism. This means he isn’t really seeing the culture as it is. From this view point the things which take place may even look stupid. So, things like the cockfights can be seen only as wrong. At best, their belief toward the cockfight is a distorted belief; at worst, it is an outright falsehood. This is something a "common reader" may experience. Initially, he is looking at the big picture. Overseeing the whole culture. Watching and not interacting, this is why he is not getting the true "it" he is looking for.
Geertz is able to gain access to the people soon after the essay begins. This is achieved because the cockfight, which is illegal, is raided. Everyone takes off running, including he and his wife. The people were impressed that these anthropologists would run from the police. They respected that they were acting with them and not just observing. Most "common" tourists just spectate and take pictures. They were interacting with the natives. They began to tease them and this meant that they were being accepted. "It was the turning point so far as our relationship to the community was concerned, and we were quite literally ‘in’" (pg. 231). However, he continues appealing to the "common reader" even though he has broken through into the Bali experience. He continues to look and search for "it." However, being "common" doesn’t allow you to see things that are obscured from view. So, the anthropologists is looking to be complex. He does this to hopefully get, the "creature" he is looking for.
Anthropologists are "complex" because they have the knowledge a "common" person doesn’t. The "complex reader" wants to get to a level above everybody else. This is because the anthropologist has the knowledge a common person doesn’t. "The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts, themselves ensembles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those of whom they properly belong." (pg. 255) This is nearly, the same as Percy’s experts. Percy ‘s expert says; "He stands on their shoulders." They referring to the common tourist. Going off the beaten track and experiencing the unusual is the goal of the expert. This is similar to the tourists at the Grand Canyon in Percy’s essay. When they went off the track they believed they experienced "it" much more, than the tourists who saw only things that they expected to see. Through the use of cultural relativism the anthropologist appears to experience the culture for what it seems to be. Cultural relativism is understanding another culture in its own terms. So, for Geertz, this would mean that the cockfight is coherent and meaningful for the design of living in Bali. Geertz, is looking to unveil the deeper meanings inside a
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Chicken, Anthropology, Clifford Geertz, Symbolic anthropology, Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight, Cockfight, Cultural relativism, Rooster, Bali, Culture
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