Balinese Character

(a) The most important exception to the above generalization occurs in the relationship between adults (especially parents) and children. Typically, the mother will start a small flirtation with the child, pulling its penis or otherwise stimulating it to interpersonal activity. This will excite the child, and for a few moments cumulative interaction will occur. Then just as the child, approaching some small climax, flings its arms around the mother's neck, her attention wanders. At this point the child will typically start an alternative cumulative interaction, building up toward temper tantrum. The mother will either play a spectator's role, enjoying the child's tantrum, or, if the child actually attacks her, will brush off his attack with no show of anger on her part. These sequences can be seen either as an expression of the mother's distaste for this type of personal involvement or as context in which the child acquires a deep distrust of such involvement. The perhaps basically human tendency towards cumulative personal interaction is thus muted.29 It is possible that some sort of continuing plateau of intensity is substituted for climax as the child becomes more fully adjusted to Balinese life. This cannot at present be clearly documented for sexual relations, but there are indications that a plateau type of sequence is characteristic for trance and for quarrels (see d, below).

(b) Similar sequences have the effect of diminishing the child's tendencies toward competitive and rivalrous behavior. The mother will, for example, tease the child by suckling the baby of some other woman and will enjoy her own child's efforts to push the intruder from the breast.30

(c) In general the lack of climax is characteristic for Balinese music, drama, and other art forms. The music typically has a progression, derived from the logic of

28 See especially G. Bateson and M. Mead, Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis. Since this photo-graphic record is available, no photographs are included in the present paper.

29 Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis, pl. 47, and pp. 32-6.

its formal structure, and modifications of intensity determined by the duration and progress of the working out of these formal relations. It does not have the sort of rising intensity and climax structure characteristic of modern Occidental music, but rather a formal progression.31

(d) Balinese culture includes definite techniques for dealing with quarrels. Two men who have quarrelled will go formally to the office of the local representative of the Rajah and will there register their quarrel, agreeing that whichever speaks to the other shall pay a fine or make an offering to the gods. Later, if the quarrel terminates, this contract may be formally nullified. Smaller—but similar — avoidances (pwik) are practiced, even by small children in their quarrels. It is significant, perhaps, that this procedure is not an attempt to influence the protagonists away from hostility and toward friendship. Rather, it is a formal recognition of the state of their mutual relationship, and possibly, in some sort, a pegging of the relationship at that state. If this interpretation is correct, this method of dealing with quarrels would correspond to the substitution of a plateau for a climax.

(e) In regard to warfare, contemporary comment on the old wars between the Rajahs indicates that in the period when the comments were collected (1936-39) war was thought of as containing large elements of mutual avoidance. The village of Bajoeng Gede was surrounded by an old vallum and foss, and the people explained the functions of these fortifications in the following terms: "If you and I had a quarrel, then you would go and dig a ditch around your house. Later I would come to fight with you, but I would find the ditch and then there would be no fight" — a sort of mutual Maginot Line psychology. Similarly the boundaries between neighboring kingdoms were, in general, a deserted no-man's land inhabited only by vagrants and exiles. (A very different psychology of warfare was no doubt developed when the kingdom of Karangasem embarked on the conquest of the neighboring island of Lombok in the beginning of the eighteenth century. The psychology of this militarism has not been investigated, but there is reason to believe that the time perspective of the Balinese colonists in Lombok is today significantly different from that of Balinese in Bali.)32

(f) The formal techniques of social influence—oratory and the like—are almost totally lacking in Balinese culture. To demand the continued attention of an individual or to exert emotional influence upon a group are alike distasteful and virtually impossible; because in such circumstances the attention of the victim rapidly wanders. Even such continued speech as would, in most cultures, be used for the telling of stories does not occur in Bali. The narrator will, typically, pause after a sentence or two, and wait for some member of the audience to ask him a concrete question about some detail of the plot. He will then answer the question and so resume his narration. This procedure apparently breaks the cumulative tension by irrelevant interaction.

(g) The principal hierarchical structures in the society—the caste system and the hierarchy of full citizens who are the village council—are rigid. There are no contexts in which one individual could conceivably compete with another for position in either of these systems. An individual may lose his membership in the hierarchy for

31 See Colin McPhee, "The Absolute Music of Bali," Modern Music, 1935; and A House in Bali, London, Gollancz, 1947.

32 See G. Bateson, "An Old Temple and a New Myth," Djawa, xvii, Batavia, 1937.

various acts, but his place in it cannot be altered. Should he later return to orthodoxy and be accepted back, he will return to his original position in relation to the other members. 33

The foregoing descriptive generalizations are all partial answers to a negative question—"Why is Balinese society nonschismogenic?" — and from the combination of these generalizations we arrive at a picture of a society differing very markedly from our own, from that of the Iatmul, from those systems of social opposition which Radcliffe-Brown has analyzed, and from any social structure postulated by Marxian analysis.

We started with the hypothesis that human beings have a tendency to involve themselves in sequences of cumulative interaction, and this hypothesis is still left virtually intact. Among the Balinese the babies, at least, evidently have such tendencies. But for sociological validity this hypothesis must now be guarded with a parenthetical clause stipulating that these tendencies are operative in the dynamics of society only if the childhood training is not such as to prevent their expression in adult life.

We have made an advance in our knowledge of the scope of human character formation in demonstrating that these tendencies toward cumulative interaction are subject to some sort of modification, deconditioning, or inhibition.34 And this is an important advance. We know how it is that the Balinese are nonschismogenic and we know how their distaste for schismogenic patterns is expressed in various details of the social organization—the rigid hierarchies, the institutions for the handling of quarrels, etc.—but we still know nothing of the positive dynamics of the society. We have answered only the negative question.

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