Notes on Geertz’s Balinese Cockfight

Delving straight into a personal account of why he came to be in the Balinese village and what he was there for, Clifford Geertz breaks away from the norm of starting with the most important/timely piece of information. No standfirst, no nut graf and a first-person view — the piece breaks all newswriting convention.

As it progresses, sentences in the article got longer and more convoluted, again, unlike a typical feature story where sentences are kept simple. The references Geertz make to names like Jeremy Bentham and Erving Goffman also baffle readers like me who have no sociology background, and the meticulous way in which the cock fights and gambling are conducted makes it seem like it was written for sociologists rather than the mass public.

It was interesting though to note how Geertz had weaved in details about the Balinese culture and thinking through cock fighting rituals. Rather than state explicitly the traits of the Balinese, he drew parallels between an activity very close to their hearts and their character. Despite the different way in which the story was presented, at the heart of this article the technique of showing rather than telling allows the reader to enjoy the process of knowing the Balinese better, just as the author had experienced.

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