Posted by Orinoco, 2011-12-31 15:51 GMT
Popular history focuses on individuals. A huge amount of historical references take the form of biographies - books that concentrate solely on the achievements of a single person. From this it is easy to come to the opinion that art, music, literature, science have all been shaped by a relatively small handful of people. For example everyone knows the name Charles Darwin.
However, as a counterpoint musician and artist Brian Eno coined the term "scenius". In his own words:
Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.
He believes that the contribution of the greats is only part of the story, that behind the giants is a vibrant scene of not just other artists, but collectors, technicians, opinion makers & patrons who all augment each other.
Anyone familiar with Alfred Russel Wallace or the X Club?
The idea behind scenius is simple & one that I think most jugglers have experienced in some form. Creation & innovation can come from the collective brilliance of a scene rather than the individual brilliance of a person. People immersed in a creative scene will become more creative themselves. People within a scene benefit from being inspired & encouraged by those around them. Within a scene new ideas & risk taking are encouraged, mistakes are accepted. New ideas can spread quickly aided by a common language (not just siteswap) & understanding.
The juggling community is no different from the rest of the world, we have our greats: Enrico Rastelli, Paul Cinquevalli, Francis Brunn. Juggling's obscurity has meant that historians have not looked past the greats even more so than the more popular fields of art, music & the sciences. Because of this much of the scene that these jugglers flourished in has sadly disappeared from memory. The modern obsession of ranking everything including jugglers reinforces the idea that development is all about individuals. But I believe we miss out by ignoring the wider scene.
There are many examples of scenius within the juggling world: Peapot Productions, The Mad French Posse & of course the biggest juggling scenius of them all: the Gandini Juggling Project. All have massively influenced modern juggling with their creative output.
Obviously scenius is desirable as an aid to make us better juggler, so can it be manufactured? Surely it can't be that difficult, just get loads of talented people together & see what happens. This is the goal of writer's retreats, Hack Days & every panel game show on TV. I quite like HIGNFY but many cities have tried unsuccessfully to be the next Silicon Valley. Just putting smart people in a room together doesn't mean that a work of scenius will spontaneously come into being.
Perhaps if more people are aware of scenius we can participate that bit more so that it lives a little longer.
How's your scene?