John Shipman, reading The Endless Proverb aloud at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013

Ten Models of the Universe featuring The Endless Proverb · 2013–2015

« I took two turns reading The Endless Proverb. Sometimes grim, sometimes hilarious, always thought-provoking and hypnotic. Thank you for creating such a unique and special experience. »

The Endless Proverb (the installation) · 2013

A ten-thousand line, ten-hour long sentence built from proverbs from around the world, John Shipman's The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe was first performed on 5-6 October 2013 as part of his eighth independent Nuit Blanche Toronto project — Ten Models of the Universe presented by the Department of Household Sciences & Advanced Proverbs and featuring the Endless Proverb.

As the text crawled across St. Matthew's Great Hall and across their i-pads, Nuit Blanche visitors took turns reading The Endless Proverb Model of the Universe aloud from this heritage church's pulpit.

« Wonderful! I loved doing the reading and then listening to others read. »

Slideshow · enjoy a quick look at other Models of the Universe
Read an hour or so of EPMOU — aloud or to yourself— as it crawls across your screen news-ticker style…

One hundred lines from Hour One:

… how many bubbles are there in a bar of soap, and
it is doubling pleasing to trick the trickster, even though
the reason of the strongest is always best, however
when house and land are spent learning is most excellent, but
one who lives on hope will die fasting, and
happy is he whose friends were born before him, yet
hasty people will never make good midwives, as
haste makes waste and waste makes want,
who has not is not and who was never sick dies first, so
study sickness when you are well, and
hear the other side and believe little, as
when the heart is on fire sparks fly out of the mouth, and
where there is least heart there is most tongue, but
from a humble cottage the hero often springs, for
high buildings have a low foundation, even though
the higher the plum tree, the riper the plum, but when
history repeats itself, and
we can’t make a silk purse out of a sow's ear,
home is home be it ever so homely, for
in my own home I am queen and you are king, so
hope for the best, as
it is darkest before dawn, and
an hour brings what a year does not, and though
the hour that brings us life begins to take it away,
time flies when you are having fun, and as
one never appreciates what they have until it has been lost,
it is an ill wind that blows nobody good, especially as
the king can do no wrong, and since
necessity knows no law, but
the person who is their own lawyer has a fool for a client, and
fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so
learn to walk before you run, since
you cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, and
if you argue with a fool, make sure they are not similarly engaged, for
it takes one to know one, but
if you look back you will be going that way, so
better to turn back than to go astray, because
bad money always comes back, and
a barking dog never bites, thus
why keep a dog and bark yourself, though if
you are not the lead dog, your view never changes, and
an empty barrel makes the most noise, so
deliver us from a silent man and a dog that does not bark, even though
silence is golden, for
a golden hammer breaks an iron gate, however
all that glitters is not gold,
appearances can be deceiving,
appetite comes with eating, and
beauty is truth and truth is beauty, and since
good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and better best,
the best things are often least appreciated, though
often free, and while
the last laugh is the best,
it is better to beg than to steal, and just as it is
better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond,
half a glass is better than none,
better to be a has been than a never was,
the sooner the better,
the bigger the better, and when
birds of a feather flock together, for
every bird likes to hear herself sing, but
not to foul her own nest, and as
there are no birds in last years nest,
you can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but
you can keep them from building a nest in your hair, for
birth is much, but breeding more, and as
every little bit counts,
there are none so blind as those who refuse to see, and though
we all have our blind spots,
a moment of bliss, a lifetime of sorrow, so
choose your choice, and even if
human blood is all one colour,
don't send a boy to do a man’s work, for
work ill done must be done twice, while
work well begun is half done, and though
woman's work is never done,
it is not the long day, but the heart that does the work,
the royal heart that is often hidden under a tattered cloak,
the stout heart that tempers adversity,
the great heart that can laugh at misfortune, and even though
misfortunes make strange bedfellows,
they tell us what fortune is, so
seek and you will find, but
if you wish good advice seek an old man or an old woman, for
when a thing is done, advice comes too late, and
it is always later than you think, since
a little time may be enough to hatch a great mischief, though
what we call time enough always proves little enough, and
those that make the best use of time have none to spare, so
make hay while the sun shines,
do as you would be done by, and remember
what is done, cannot be undone, that
it is easier to say what to do than to do it, and
there is a right and wrong way to do everything, but as
tomorrow is another day, though one time, tomorrow never comes, and
work expands to fill the time available,
every third thought shall be my grave, so
first think out what you set about, and
never say never, for
never is a long time, and
never ever go to bed angry, because...

© John Shipman, 2013

More info:

Logo for the Department of Household Sciences & Advanced ProverbsClick here for more about the 300-page softcover book version of The Endless Proverb.
To reserve your copies of The Endless Proverb, please contact the DHS & AP or John Shipman.
Click here to catch part of Hour One crawling across your screen news-ticker style.
For more on John's other participatory installations:

Photo · Reading The Endless Proverb aloud from the pulpit, 2013 · Marcelle St-Amant