peta vs. pedro: now here’s the horns of a dilemma, if yr pattyjoe, in which my animal rights-ish-ness and my disciplinary dispositions towards cultural relativism collide in the DR: what’d old cliff geertz say about the Balinese fight?
In the cockfight, men and beast, good and evil, ego and id, the creative power of aroused masculinity and the destructive power of loosened animality fuse in a bloody drama of hatred, cruelty, violence, and death.
Drawing on almost every level of Balinese experience, it bring together themes – animal savagery, male narcissism, opponent gambling, status rivalry, mass excitement, blood sacrifice – whose main connection is their involvement with rage and the fear of rage, and binding them into a set of rules which at once contains them and allows them play, builds a symbolic structure in which, over and over again, the reality of their inner affiliation can be intelligibly felt.
In the cockfight, then, the Balinese forms and discovers his temperament and his society’s temper at the same time. Or, more exactly, he forms and discovers a particular facet of them
What it says about that life is not unqualified nor even unchallenged by what other equally eloquent cultural statements say about it.