online: 6 february 2007
modified: 6 february 2007

(please scroll to reveal the full extent of the almost empty pages)

6 february 2007

diwylliannau hynafol yn y byd modern

ancient cultures in the modern world

ten pages for contemplation, and for suggestions too

english language version 2007, not yet complete <

page 1:

flemish, corsican, gaelic, welsh, irish, breton, romany, sorbian, galician, cheroke, basque, old english, lappish

and of course many others

what do they contribute to us all as peoples of the modern world?

page 2:


page 3:

the clean slate

page 4:

the uncarved block

page 5:

many of the american first nations avoided mentioning someone's name,
especially in his or her presence.
it was held to be too sacred to be spoken.

page 6:


page 7:

the modern world appears as an entity only through words spoken or written

language survival
culture survival
preservation of wilderness
homogenization of life
the modern world

page 8:

there's more to being welsh than speaking it

page 9:

the intricate abstracted and stylized art of the celtic people is quite different from the representational art that western europe as a whole adopted...

sharp wind, bare hill, hard to get shelter,
flooded ford, frozen lake,
man can stand on one stalk.

...the brief suggestive style of the early welsh poets reminds many readers of ... oriental poetic traditions, best known to us in the haiku forms.

(S T Knight writing in monograph number one of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Sydney University Press 1970, on the nature of early welsh poetry)

page 10:

as almost empty pages
these pieces of (imaginary) paper
perhaps more
of the hidden value
of what is old
than they may do
if we write on them

john chris jones
july 1977/february 2007

y sylfydliad graig ddychmygol
the imaginary rock foundation

the form of this text came of a simple chance process:

after deciding that all ancient cultures (not just welsh) would be a good subject for this event, i took from my shelves a few books that related to it... then i decided to make a booklet of quotations or influences from randomly selected pages of these books...

...i was surprised and pleased to find the recurring theme of emptiness emerging from several of them, and i realised that widening of perception, and ability to tolerate apparent nothingness, is indeed a characteristic of ancient cultures, and that it is of great value to us now... so this led me to take very brief quotations - only one to three words for some of them... and to leave most of each page empty

...the words 'there's more to being welsh than speaking it' did not come from a book - they were spoken by someone...

...this is a work in progress... it began in 1977 as part of my performance at the National Eisteddfod of Wales which was held that year in Wrecsam, Cymru...

The event was curated under the banner of the Free International University by Caroline Tisdall, then critic at the Guardian, and Timothy Emlyn Jones. Exhibitors involved Joseph Beuys, Mario and Merisa Merz, Jannis Kounellis, Brian O'Doherty/Patrick Ireland, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Tina Keane, Nigel Rolfe, John Chris Jones and Timothy Emlyn Jones.

...on 22 february 2007, in Cardiff, Timothy Emlyn Jones, Andrew Knight (of the Arts Council of Wales) and i discussed our memories of this event as part of a series of meetings organised by Heike Roms under the title what's welsh for performance?

websites of the 1977 and 2007 events

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© 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 john chris jones

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