Summary: Geertz is constructing the political system of the Negara, which is lost to us. Using an ethnographic approach, he demonstrates that the Negara was a distinct variety of political order, one in which status, pomp and governance are blazoned. ‘What our concept of public power obscures, that of the Balinese exposes – and vice versa.’ Essentially, Geertz is demonstrating how much can be gleaned from an ethnographic cultural understanding that is missed if we bring our assumptions about the roles of institutions to the case. He demonstrates that in the Balinese case, the closer one moved towards imaging power, the more one tended to distance oneself from the machinery controlling it – the character of lower level politics was patronage politics, while higher levels were theater – the importance of display and the semiotics of power. The Negara was a structure of action, but also a structure of thought – it was a constellation of ideas.
Important Insight: Culture matters, wink vs. blink. Systems of thought impact systems of rule, and vice versa