The Definition of juggling is the concept that the word juggling represents when used in language.
We are not talking about what personal feelings the activity of juggling evokes in a person, for an example, sometimes you can hear a person say something along the lines of “juggling is freedom”. No one uses the word juggling to represent freedom, for an example, no one says, “after 10 years in jail for my crimes I finally got to juggle”, when referring to getting out.
In the world today, there are a number of loosely connected groups, that each subscribe to a different understanding about what the word juggling represents.
- Juggling is throwing and catching with more objects than the amount of hands
- Juggling is the manipulation of objects in space and time
- Juggling is object manipulation with risk
Let us call them group A, B, C etc. You could add as many as you have encountered.
The old approach of each group was to say that the other groups were wrong.
The new approach is to try to define the overall language use with each group in regard, and set right and wrong aside for a bit.
So what are the things that we can say, that will be true, no matter what group you examine?
The activities that are referred to as juggling by a group will be connected by some theme or concept, that will vary from group to group. Therefore, you could say, and it will be true for all groups that:
- Juggling is a genre of related activities. (You could say juggling is a collection of related activities if you do not like the word genre.)
All groups recognize the three ball cascade as juggling. If it is true that all the activities in juggling are related, no matter what group you ask (even if they will have different answer to how they are connected), and every group sees three ball cascade as juggling then, a 2nd statement must be true:
- Every activity of juggling has a relation to the three ball cascade.
One thing to discuss is why we ended up in this situation, with different groups supporting different understandings. I think it has to do with several things. The first being that the world of juggling has no tradition of knowledge. One example is a comparison between other artistic fields, for an example architecture and juggling. In architecture, there is a tradition to study and to consciously understand the field and its mechanisms. It does not mean that every architect out there knows everything about architecture. But it means that there is a strong core of established knowledge and sources for that knowledge in the form of literature, schools, masters etc. Juggling is more like throwing frisbee in the park. You can be very into throwing frisbee, perhaps you even do it everyday, and it is your favorite thing to do. Even so, there is no natural step to know the history of frisbee, who the masters of frisbee are and how it is described in literature, or any other collection of knowledge, if one even exists. Another thing about knowledge in juggling is that we do not have an establishment of knowledge, and we do not even have an establishment of what knowledge of juggling is. The different fields of juggling theory and history, all exist in separation, with very little understanding among the practitioners how the various knowledge areas are connected and relevant to each other, and how to obtain an overall knowledge by understanding these connections, mechanisms and their history.
I often hear jugglers say things such as “I do not care for juggling history” or “I do not care for site swap”. This is absurd when compared to another art form. No artist would claim that the renaissance has no relevance to art. Impressionism, dada, futurism and the knowledge about them, their theories and their impact, have an established position within the understanding of the field. There is a core knowledge established in each artistic field about the events of history, and the reference points to the development of the artistic field. This is what we need to establish in juggling.
The second is a belief that juggling is 4000 years old, whereas the actual art form, field or whatever you wish to call it, is closer to 100 years, so it really has not had much time to become established.