Juggling has a very long, rich, lineage and a well established community-base. Interestingly, It and many other circus-esque artforms involving "object-manipulation", can now in some ways be considered as paralleling/part of a larger movement/subculture that is quickly evolving and gaining steam - It can be thought of as a festival-culture similar to the jam bands of the 60's and onward crossed with martial arts, dance/jazz improvisation, circue-du-soleil and open-source information paradigms. The community at large has many individuals actively working on theories similar to siteswap that systematically define the dynamics of disciplines similar to, but outside of, conventional juggling.
I've had the great fortune of spending the last 10 years working inside this amazing community as an amateur theoretician, my focus is on another type of object manipulation called Poi.
Other examples of object manipulation include: yo-yo's, Contact Staff, Diablo, Hooping, etc. In each case, the discipline involves the skillful manipulation of instruments. Juggling has many MANY different sub-categories that involve the implementation of things like choreography, fire, multiple performers working in synchronization, etc. and the myriad aforementioned disciplines do as well.
My main focus as an amateur theoretician in this field as of late has been the study of spinning as a complement to the abstract language of music. Acoustic harmonics, melody, etc., have a remarkable ability (as we're all fully aware) to function as a language that communicates abstract geometric concepts to the listener. Spinning, juggling, object-manipulation at large can be adapted to serve as a spatial equivalent to the acoustic, implementing form, line, and motion to communicate the very same abstract geometries to a viewer.
A great way to illustrate how we think about this as a complement to music:
Singing: Bio-acoustic - The body alone produces sound as the carrier of the abstract language.
Dancing: Bio-spatial - The body produces line, form, and movement as the carrier.
Musical instrumentation: Instrumental-acoustic - A tool is used to produce the carrier sounds.
Spinning: Instrumental-Spatial - A tool is used to produce line, form, and movement as the carrier.
Siteswap aside, there are actually many more substantial (albeit terribly disorganized) sets of theories which we have been developing and that are actually beginning to resemble music-theory in many ways - complete with their own variations on spatial harmony, melody, arpeggios, measures, rhythm, landscape and song-structure, inflection, etc. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps the most interesting element is watching what appears to be a new variation on the language of music evolving everyday; and it is certainly a humbling experience as a practitioner of one of its disciplines. I'm pretty sure that the catalyst for this rapid progression comes from the internet, specifically social networks and youtube - The sense of progress has always seemed very intense to me and many others because we are essentially participating in a massive crowdsourcing of the development process. I suppose that's what the internet does for everything. When Jazz started to take off in 1900, the USA was primed for its arrival and it spread like wildfire - I strongly suspect that spinning is following suit now that the concerts and music clubs have started to transform into, or at least share substantial space with raves, music festivals, music videos, and so fourth. Performing arts have never been as visual as they are today and this I feel has primed the entertainment/arts for a turn back toward the spatial. Mix that with innumerable blogs, tutorial videos and enthusiast-forums and you have this giant boiling melting pot of young, creative performers who are constantly producing material that is highly visible to others and which inspires them to partake - like snowboarding or skating.
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit!
But the rest of us, stuck with all of our fully-functional brains, are forced to sometimes contemplate serious matters that aren't so happy. Sure, we sometimes get depressed. But humanity probably wouldn't make much scientific, intellectual, or cultural progress if everyone was walking around every day drugged-up and lobotomized, with stupid goddamn grins on their faces.
The thing that makes us "human" is simply the symbols that our neurological processes use to represent our 5 senses and our memories of them. Without our ego, we are no different from a tree. Spirituality for me is simply the sense of letting go of my ego to the best of my ability, to become more like a tree. I'm not interested in becoming an inanimate object but by exercising existence with less ego I find that my sense of oneness with the universe is more tangible... in fact, it would be more accurate to say that WE (or IT) find(s) that OUR (IT's) sense of oneness is more tangible.
The subjective symbols that my brain use to represent the universe are irrelevant to the rest of the universe. They were taught to me by my society or otherwise inherited by the physiological process of growth and instinct. What is it that makes me different from my rollie chair and keyboard? Why do I have this overwhelming sense of individuality from everything around me? How come my cellphone and I aren't one in the same thing? Well, it depends on your perspective... If you are the ultimate objective observer (say the infinite universe and all of it's dimensions of time and space [arguably god]) then we are indistinguishable from our rollie chair, keyboard and cellphone. To the ultimate objective observer who has no symbols attached to anything, there is no such thing as a "hand" or a "foot" or a "body," everything can be considered as being part of something else or can be considered by itself if need be (Of course no consideration would be needed)
Humans are animals, and like any good animal, we must interact with our environment such that we may survive and fulfill other functions like reproduction. In order to achieve this, evolution has caused animals to have neurological traits that help them function as an individual while they go about their day to day business of existing. These traits involve things like our 5 senses, a "sense" of individuality, memory, an ability to extrapolate concepts into the future... So when we ask the question "why do I have this sense of individuality?" or "how come I have this attachment to this hand, these feet, etc. The answer is simply because it helps us survive... By having a tangible sense of self with a self-serving ego, we fulfill our animal nature, no matter how complex or separate from the rest of the animal kingdom we may seem.
Now a tree has no ego. It has no sense of time. arguably, it has no qualia: color, smell, tactile senses, etc. It exists as the rest of the universe does: Timeless and infinite. Ultimate spiritual transcendence for me involves coming to as complete of an understanding as possible that we are all part of the same thing. That the only thing separating us is the symbols that we have been taught by our parents, teachers, books and televisions. Society acts to bring us together as people and allows us to function in large groups without excessive chaos. But it also acts to draw us apart from each other spiritually by reinforcing the symbols our brains use to define sense of self.
So elrous0, here we are... Stuck with all of our fully-functional brains, contemplating serious matters. But I'm happy. I do sometimes get depressed, but we as humanity can make as much scientific, intellectual, and cultural progress as we want. The limits of how far we can take this species is determined only by how many faces we can get those stupid goddamn grins onto