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Jugglers: Myth and Reality

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If you are not intimately acquainted with juggling culture, you probably have some preconditioned prejudices about jugglers.

To help bridge the cultural divide, here is a field guide to the creatures known as jugglers, written by juggler James Jay.

Contrary to popular belief...

  • Juggling is not a form of meditation. But, like meditation, it is all about practice.
  • Jugglers are not all computer programmers. (HTML doesn't count.)
  • Jugglers do not all smoke pot all day, and furthermore... I forgot where that was going.
  • 99.8% of jugglers are NOT clowns. (Clown-Jongleur Pavel Merzo is the exception, not the rule.)
  • Jugglers are not all geeks. (Well, OK, maybe we are. But we are for the most part wacky, lovable geeks.)

It is however true that...

  • Jugglers can be single-minded and focused.
  • Jugglers are on-time and dependable.
  • Jugglers practice too much.
  • Jugglers speak a strange language with an "alphabet" of just 10 digits.
  • At times, jugglers' social lives consist of spacial rather than emotional relationships.
  • The subset of jugglers who NEITHER smoke pot NOR program computers is statistically insignificant.

Jugglers don't like...

To avoid potential faux pas, remember that...

  • Jugglers dislike being associated with magicians.
  • Jugglers don't like mimes, but who does? (Besides me!)
  • Jugglers hate being thought of as clowns -- thus the classic and pervasive presence of "Gentleman Jugglers" dressed in vests and suits. My theory is that this stems from the juggler's equivalent of the minority's internalized racism or the queer's internalized homophobia.

Please note: The above statements reflect the simplified (or falsified) for the sake of humor views of James Jay, and do not describe any particular juggler (particularly Jay himself). Professional jugglers generally either fall outside the geek and hippy categories or have learned to communicate with the straight world. So don't be afraid of jugglers!

Please send your personal take on jugglers, or your objections to the above, to

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© 2003
Berlin & Seattle

James Jay, Jongleur: Erfinderische kinetische Technik für die Unterhaltungsindustrie
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