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Paperback Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living Book

ISBN: 0226896803

ISBN13: 9780226896809

Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living

How do Balinese manage to present to the world the clear, bright face, the grace and poise, that they regard as crucial to self-respect and social esteem? How can the anthropologist pass behind the conventions of such a complex culture to recognize what is going on between people, in terms that convey their own experience? Wikan's study of the Indonesian island of Bali is an absorbing debate with previous anthropological interpretations as well as...


Format: Paperback

Condition: New


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Customer Reviews

2 ratings

Behind the mask

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Wikan dispells the idealized exoticism spun by previous ethnologists such as Mead and particularly Steve Lansing and Jane Belo. She shows us the real Bali, rarely if ever glimpsed by tourists, in which life is a constant struggle to protect oneself from evil magic, while maintaining one's personal appearance and attitudes to avoid being shamed or stigmatized. The book begins with a narrative of Wikan's personal experience with a Balinese co-worker. As the girl laughed and joked about her beloved fiance's sudden death, Wikan found herself witnessing the truth behind stereotypes of Balinese grace and serenity. Instead of genuine peacefulness, she realized she was looking at a mask, enforced by peer pressure and especially by spiritual terror concerning evil magic. What appear to be natural actions are actually contrived postures enforced by social and moral mandate. Most tourists never get out of the relatively affluent region of South Bali, which is both more fertile and more modernized. Wikan did her studies in northern regions, where Western influence is scantier and where there's a good chance that one is actually seeing something at least closely resembling original Balinese culture, values and attitudes. Negative emotions cause physical discomfort and imbalance in one's personal energy, and also in the energy of people around you. This can lead to illness or demonic possession; the only way to put the energy flows back in balance is to forget what happened, and to stop caring. "What counts," Wikan says, "is to try not to feel" (p. 189). Anyone who believes that the Balinese are happy art-obsessed spirits living in a relaxed paradise of beauty and splendor should read this book for balance's sake. Most anthropologists who study Bali seem to have focused on the gods, institutions and rituals to the exclusion of the Balinese people's own concepts about themselves, their thoughts, feelings and personal way of handling the vicissitudes of life.

The Real Bali

All I can say is that anyone who has any deep understanding of Balinese culture will greatly appreciate this book.
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