Balinese Cock Fighting.

Last night, Patrick Stroud presented for the Society for the Furthering of the Liberal Arts, a group on campus in which the members teach each other things that, necessarily, aren’t readily available through a Wabash course.  For example, last year, I gave a presentation on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and exactly why they are neglected.  Patrick’s presenation was entitled: DePauw and “Deep Play”; what a college sports rivalry has to do with Balinese cock-fighting.

It may sound like an odd title, but it all comes to make sense.  Patrick began by mentioning something that we are all, at least a bit, familiar with: The Wabash/DePauw rivalry and the Monon Bell.  The namesake “Deep Play” comes from the idea that a sporting event holds no inherent value, and that value is given to it by the participants.  We then  talked about the men of Bali and how they use their “cocks” (fighting roosters) not only to win a bit of case on the side, but as a tangible manifestation of their masculinity (you can see the entendres that can be made here).  The fighting cocks aren’t just cocks.  They are more than that because the men of Bali have made them more than that.  In the same way, the Monon Bell has been made more than just a bell.  We have given the Bell more symbolic meaning than it’s inherent value (I mean, look at the way we make it a proper noun).  We learned about something called “thick description”; a term that means no symbol should be taken literally.  Just as the fighting roosters of Bali represent more than what they actually are, so does the Monon Bell.

It was a very interesting presentation, and it is a perfect example of what the Society of the Liberal Arts stands for: extracurricular learning.  If you find yourself curious about this group, I suggest waiting for an email about our next presentation. 

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