The Endless Proverb by John Shipman in The Rochester Review, April-May 2016Look for The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe in the Independent Press Listings in The New York Review of Books — the 12 May 2016 arts issue's now on sale at your favorite bookstores and newsstands and also available online and at libraries — and in the Books & Recordings section of the April–May 2016 issue of The Rochester Review.

Pages 62–63 of The Rochester Review


Reading the just-published The Endless Proverb by John Shipman, December 2015

Celebrating the Department of Household Sciences & Advanced Proverbs' publication of the 300-page, limited-run print version of The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe by John Shipman with a group reading and small party in Toronto for subscribers and friends.

To reserve / order your copies, please contact John.

Photo · Emilie Shipman-Wight


Posted on: 2 October 2013 by John


Catch the first hour or so of The Endless Proverb text posted news-ticker style as it scrolls across your screen on endlessproverb.ca

A shorter fragment-in-progress was posted here on 3 July 2013.


A 12-hour long sentence constructed from proverbs from around the world, The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe will be projected as a crawling news ticker video around St. Matthew's Church's magnificent great hall on 5–6 October 2013 as part of Ten Models of the Universe by the Department of Science & Advanced Proverbs, an Independent Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto Project.

For more info plus details about other models, please see Ten Models of the Universe.

An excerpt of text-in-progress from hour two of The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe:

… a promise is a promise,
as a rose is a rose is a rose, though when
roses fall, but the thorn remains, so
that which we acquire with the most difficulty we retain the longest, but
for a lost thing care nothing, and
the unlooked for often comes, so
those who long for something grow old in a day, and
only remembrance of a well spent life is sweet, but
remorse is the echo of a lost virtue, and
the owner has one house, the renter a thousand, so
let the one who receives the profit repair the inn, though
the report makes the wolf bigger than it is, as
reputation is often without merit, and lost without fault, and
one who digs a pit, often falls into it, for
revolution never goes backwards, but
ridicule is the test of truth, and
one who rides on a giant's shoulders sees farther than the one who carries him, however
whatever way you take, there is a stretch of bad road, and even though
all roads lead to Rome, you may row your heart out, if the wind and tide set against you, so
a boat that will not answer to the rudder must answer to the rock, and though
there is no rule without an exception,
the exception proves the rule, but
one that would rule, must hear and be deaf, see and be blind, though
the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world, and
it is a poor rule that won't work both ways, though
the only rule that works both ways is the golden rule, so
do as you would be done by, but,
if you don't have anything to do, don't do it here, and
before gold, even kings take off their hats,
use their heads for something besides a hat rack, and
don't talk through their hats, but
never forget where they buried the hatchet, as
we hate where we hurt, and
we always hurt the ones we love, and
love the ones we hurt, so
hunger sweetens what is bitter, and
though I am bitten, I am not eaten, and
better a friendly bite than an enemy's caress, so
take two bites, if one is too large, but
don't bite off more than you can chew, for
charity begins in the home, and
though charity and pride have different aims, they can both feed the poor, for
different strokes for different folks, so
different time, different manners, and
different folks take different views, but
when people come face to face, their differences vanish…

Text as of 3 July 2013

Today Years Ago: a long poem

Posted on: 29 January 2012 by John


John Shipman, Today Years Ago, 2010 This long poem written in 2010 is comprised of rediscovered, reconstructed, and re-purposed fragments of western art history excavated from Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas by Charles Harrison and Paul Woods. It pulls phrases from their original context and places them within a larger sequence: a sort of text sampling, a larger context that they in some sense helped shape. In part, it suggests an intellectual history of my own interests as they have been constructed from others' words and ideas.


Today Years Ago: fragments from western art history: 1906 to 1991

1906> The counter-pole to the need for empathy is the urge to abstraction —
1906> Returning the individual thing to its arbitrariness and seeming fortuitousness.
1908> The telegraph hammers all over Europe, but tells hardly a word of the glory of Messina —
1910> Movement and light.

1913> The world, a monstrous, fantastic, perpetually moving machine.
1914> Painting sets before us that which a person could and should see —
1915> The movement of red, green and blue,
1915> Constructed on the basis of weight, speed, and the direction of movement.

1912> Not the situation of objects, but the situation of a spectator —
1912> An internal strength whose radiance shines all around.
1913> Superfluous development of sentimental and popular subject matter —
1913> This is that.

Read the complete poem.
Download Today Years Ago.

Originally posted 19 December 2010