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Who was Dewi Sant anyway?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:57 pm    Post subject: Who was Dewi Sant anyway? Reply with quote

Gwynfor Evans said proudly that we were the only UK country that had a native born patron saint. It's not likely that George existed. Gwynfor accepted the existence of Andrew whom he described as a Jew. It's unlikely Andrew existed either in my view. If he did, the saltire on the Scottish flag is a bit stomach turning. It's not pleasant to contemplate his supposed manner of death. Then, Patrick is thought to have been Welsh.

But who was Dewi that we should be so proud of him? He is sometimes known as the Waterman. A truly startling theory I heard was that Dewi was originally a water god. If that was true, he would have been one of the minor gods who became Christian saints under guidelines approved by Gregory the Great.

But there's little doubt that Dewi was a real person. Maybe his traits became confused with those of the water god long after his death. There is confusion about the dates of his life. It's been said that he lived for over a hundred years which sounds unlikely in an age with poor sanitation and unreliable dentists.

It's most likely that he was called the Waterman because he and his monks drank only water. Another explanation is that he used to stand up to his waist in the sea to deaden his sexual urges. If that is true, he sounds like one of those hapless ascetics like St Anthony or St Simon Stylites or whatever he was called - the idiot who stood on a pillar in the desert for thirty or forty years.

We could reasonably see Dewi as a bit of an embarrassment. He and his disciples are famous for living on bread herbs, water and nothing else, and pulling the plough themselves instead of letting a horse or ox do it. This must have been a martyrdom as their diet would probably have left them thin and weedy. What's the point of renunciation and hardship for their own sake? Were they achieving anything or doing anyone any good ? It doesn't sound like it.

It sounds a bit like Gandhi's ashram in South Africa, which, according to a disenchanted former inmate was a bizarre and awful place where much thought was put into making the food as bland and unpalatable as possible, and Gandhiji was fixated on sex in a negative and unhelpful way. Dewi is said to have written in opposition to the Pelagian heresy. The Pelagians' view was that people can just chose to be well behaved. They don't need divine help. Perhaps, Dewi didn't have a high opinion of humanity.

Some of the stories we hear about Dewi are obviously myths although they may have been told to us as facts when we were kids. One was that a sarcastic youth offered to let him stand on his handkerchief so he could be seen by a large crowd, and it worked for the hanky levitated.

Another was that his old blind teacher asked him to restore his sight with his holy gaze. But Dewi could not bring himself to look his teacher in the face. That would be outrageous cheek, so he cured him with touch instead.

The mythmakers have gone a bit far in their attempt to distance Dewi from the taint of sex. They made out that his mother was a nun. She would not have had voluntary sex. She conceived Dewi as a result of rape. Involuntary sex didn't count so she was technically still a virgin. This remains Catholic doctrine today although few Catholics have heard of it. It never stopped Irish Catholics imprisoning rape victims in Magdalene laundries.

The mythmakers didn't see the contradiction. They wanted even Dewi's parents to be pure and sinless. But this can't have been accurate if his father was a rapist.

It's difficult to see much of the real man behind the myth. It shows how long ago Dewi lived that, however much he worried about people backsliding from Christianity, he can't have spent a single second brooding about Islam. Mohammed was probably still a teenager when Dewi died, and Islam most probably didn't yet exist. We can't be sure as contradictory dates have been given for Dewi's life.

Thomas Carlyle, said that, unlike Jesus, Mohammed was born in the full glare of history. There can be no doubts about his existence. But recently even this has been questioned.

Some people try to have it both ways by describing saints in sixth century Wales as 'semi-mythical.' It must have been very confusing to have been alive in the sixth century when so many semi-mythical people were about. You could never know where you were with them.

My son Taliesin said that Dewi Sant died for Wales. That was what he heard in school. Perhaps he did. Two things he said on his deathbed sound like the words of a real person and as if they might be helpful advice. One was 'Be joyful.' It's better than being miserable. The other was about the importance of little things, which are all most of us are going to achieve. Grandiose projects are often unrealistic and they are sometimes dangerous.

Unlike Mohammed, Dewi never infected his admirers with his own aversion to alcohol. Loads of people will celebrate Gwyl Dewi Sant by having a pint.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:58 pm    Post subject: Memories of a child who was subjected to ' Gwyl Dewi Sant ' Reply with quote

Very Happy

You put a smile on my face tonight Marianne !

I enjoyed that - it was a good piece of writing ... I am not sure as to whether many people other than me would enjoy it though ! Perhaps that English guy who designed the St George's day event posters in London where little red dragons were skewered by forks last year ?

I am glad that you chose to put this on the cultural thread, because Dewi Sant is indeed one of those national sacred cows that deserves a bit of a critical slaughter as a cultural icon ... I wonder what the patriots have been writing about him on Wikipedia ?


Oh bugger ! He was the one who suppressed Pelagianism - ? They never told us that in school ! ... Doesn't that make him one of the bad guys then ? ... Well at least he was a Non-Conformist and refused to be ruled over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, or at least that's what they told us in sunday school when we went " Up The Congo "... Ah ! Damn ! A sudden shocking memory is now surging up from out of my infantile past of my Dad - oh ! - standing me on a chair in front of Mamgu and then trying to get me to sing ' Dafydd Y Garreg Wen ' - ! - What kind of cruelty is that to do to a child whom you have already thoughtlessly named David like every parent of every boy there ever was who was ever named anything in Wales ?

[ Or rather maimed in Wales by being called ' David ' ... there were thousands of us in each and every classroom throughout the land, the teachers didn't even have to turn around but merely squeak out loudly over the squeeling of their chalks as they scratched them upon and scraped them across their menacing blackboards - " I am watching you - David ! " Half the class would freeze right there and turn bright red - and some of them were girls ! ... With the unexpected appearance in the valleys of unexpecting women who were thus able to wear slacks, and then even more shockingly jeans, things got very weird indeed in Wales in the 1960s. Our parents' generation had received no sex education at all in the 1950s and they were already a sexualy confused generation before this ever happened. Naturally, being born of a resiliant and determined breed and hell bent upon mastering any challenges set before them they set about sorting out all of this business of gender and sexuality in short order and thus we can proudly proclaim that the Welsh made sociological history in being the first nation to come to a complete accord between the sexes upon the matter of who gets to wear the trousers. This timeless battle between the sexes was resolved in Wales by the simple expedient of deciding this delicate matter upon the three sound principles of it being whoever it is who is getting up first, whoever it is who going to bed last - and who is not being called " David."

Naturally Welsh feminists of the 1960s inevitably took a bit of a tilt at these revolutionary social arrangements by cunningly calling their daughters ' David ' and their sons names like ' Hilary ' in order to be able try to re-establish the role of women as the under-dogs of Welsh family life. Tragically or comically, they partially succeeded in their grey roots campaign and eventually managed to obtain a Welsh Government grant to study the problems which they had created and then went on to hold public seminars in order to explain to other women how they too could also refuse to wear the trousers and make their own bids to become oppressed. They then showed them how to set up helpless-self groups and organise telephone helplessness lines and then set about campaigning for more of this nonsense to be taught in universities - and - above all - to teach other women how to obtain the maximum amount of relief from their self-created problems by securing full academic tenure.

It was indeed however when they tried to introduce this business of refusing to wear the trousers as an academic degree course into the International Metropolitan University of Bridgend, by arguing it to be akin to their already existing and world famous " Fashion, Cookery and Media ( Cosmo ) Studies," Mizztress' Diploma in the Subtle Arts course that the traditional matriarchical maternity of the Silurian Sorority began to start fighting back in order to preserve their own Welsh Government funding for " Household Maintenance, Flower Arranging and Child Development Studies." What then followed were the notorious South Wales Sorority Wars in which the latter Beta Delta Gamma and then Theta Lambda Eta whilst all around them the cries went up of " Omega Psi Epsilon ! " and " Omicron Phi Kappa ! " and " Upsilon Xi Alpha ! " - but eventually the whole matter was finally and decisively put to an end by Zeta Pi Iota.

This appalling episode in recent Welsh academic history was so horrible that even MWC refused to report it despite the huge number of press releases they received from all sides. In the end the only thing that it was really possible to do in order to reconcile the parties involved was to get them to agree to sell their shared rights in the matter and turn it into a terrible TV series. ( The true story had to be disguised of course by relocating these events into the middle of America in order to protect the identities and careers of those who had been involved in those original and pathetically tragical events which eventually led to the setting up of the S.W.S.A.N. - the South Wales Sorority Amity Network.]




Seriously - my Dad did that and he used to address me like - " We - ell, Dafydd Y Garreg Wen ? " - Thank Saint David that we never ever lived anywhere near any likely eisteddfodau when I was a child : I am still having nightmares about the time he had me play the piano - and badly - in front of a bunch of complete strangers. He certainly would never have ever played his mouth organ in front of almost anybody but me ... and then he would hand it to me after wiping it on his ... yeeuck ! Memories !!! ... and then he expected me to put it in my mouth afterwards ? ... Sheesh ... But then, that's ' Gwyl Dewi Sant ' for you, isn't it ? Let us have a musical interlude whilst I think about this some more ... ah - this was the guy that was singing it on the radio at the time I think ...


So ... more cigarettes and tea and - I know I know I shouldn't be having my breakfast at eleven o'clock at night but - let us take another look at Dewi ... I can never remember which one he was actually ... Huwi, Dewi a Llewi ... phraseologically in the middle but on screen which one of them was which ? ... I can however certainly remember well their poor innocent and put-upon homosexual uncle - Dafydd y Dwci ! ... Oh - sorry, I got him confused in my mind with the devious dumb destructive black one from the other camp : I am supposed to be talking about the mischievous white one with the ineffectual bad temper and the three sneaky nieces - oops, no - that's me isn't it - I'll just have to refer a bit here to the trusty interwebby machineribbery thinggy and look up ... Donald Fauntleroy Duck ... ? ... Fauntleroy ??? ... Perhaps that's why he wears a sailor suit ? And I thought that he was gay ! My sincerest apologies to all those persons who are not ducks ... or cartoon characters ... where or rather how did he get given that Welsh accent from anyway - excellent for teaching people to pronounce " LL " by the way : just press your tongue up to close off your top set off teeth and blow air over the top of it to make a Donald Duck sound. If you have dentures you may need to remove them before trying this at home, and no it doesn't work if you take them out and try to blow air over them as if they were a birthday cake : it can work with your dentures still in - if you use a generous amount of fixative !





[ see - Duck V Duck - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzxZ8qtdun0 ]

Last edited by dai on Sat May 10, 2014 11:02 pm; edited 29 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply to Dai about Pelagians Reply with quote

Well, maybe I've got it wrong about Dewi and the Pelagians. My heart sank when I heard it. I wasn't sure what they believed before I consulted the internet, but I thought they were the nice people who weren't into Hell and the gnashing of teeth. I'm not going to let it bother me anyway. My attitude to Dewi is that it was so long ago that it doesn't matter anymore.

Look at it like this. He only disagreed with them. He didn't set them on fire or fly a plane into their skyscraper. I hope to be on the march tomorrow, just for a bit of fun. We're not committing ourselves to an idealogy
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh - Marianne ! - I missed the fact that you were adding to the thread : please accept my apologies !

I also want to apologise for not having had the energy to work up much enthusiasm for responding to your posts - which I have been very grateful for - because I have been vomiting verbiage onto paper into stunted pre-writes which would just be meaningless on here, even to me probably.

Your piece above had good rhythm and balance I thought, but gosh ... well at least you put in some full stops, I am generous with my vocubulary but mean with upon readers' punctuation. I'm tending to treat the whole thing now as a pre-write and am just relaxing and letting myself enjoy it as a lazy recreation.

I'm pleased to see that you don't take it to seriously either - and no, you are not committing yourself to any ideology : this is based upon the 16c idea of a Republic of Letters in which they couldn't actually meet each other but had got terribly excited by the idea of writing public letters to each other. In that day and age the arrival of a letter was an exciting event in which everybody in the village gathered around to marvel at it and wonder whether it was in fact witchcraft that someone could speak their words to others as if they were there. Of course the effectiveness of writing such a letter depended upon there being somebody else at the receiving end being able to read. ... In fact there actually used to be a woman in that village who could read and in order to prove this as a fact to all of the other villagers she had read out the letter that she had written to that great scholar far away ( Erasmus probably ) who had indeed now replied. The fact that she was not only able to read and write but was also a woman was of course sufficient proof that she was indeed a witch, and they found the great scholar's wise reply really useful in lighting her fire.


Of course nobody in the modern word is ever gripped by those sorts of superstitious fears about intellectuals any more, except in Wales of course.

The whole point of 'Y Repwblic ' is conversation and so if I say that X = Y and you then promptly agree, then the conversation is over and boredom ensues albeit with a warm glow of self-righteousness because of somebody else confirming your own prejudices. In order to work properly it requires people to hold strongly opposed opinions and then to argue for them vigorously but hopefully in an entertaining way which invites other people to think about what their reactions are to what is being said. There is no point in campaigning to win any of these arguments because nothing very much will be achieved by it other than to discourage people from entering into conversation with you or perhaps anybody else ever again. This does not preclude somebody inarticulate flatly stating that you are wrong but not knowing how to argue their opinion : you should assist those who thus oppose you to develop their arguments against you and then both of you learn something along the way. This should be treated like a chat in a pub.

As to the actual political stance of Repwblic it is supposed to be set out separately on the www.repwblic.org pages but I develop writer's block whenever I need to state something precisely, succinctly and concisely. The deal with the second host server came to an end in June 2013 and they had nothing written upon them but the bare email contact details. These pages at repwblic.informe.com are for free discussion without anybody being censored for their opinions or style save that the terms of contract with informe.com have to be observed in order for it to continue to exist. It has never actually happened, but as administrator / moderator I will remove to Quarantine those posts intended to harass and threaten people and leave them there as examples of bad behaviour - but still uncensored : with an eye to the domestic environment where children may have the opportunity to unexpectedly view images opened by adults which if posted elsewhere would be rated X - those will be censored. Commercial advertising gets deleted and the posters of it are routinely banned, as will be posters whose behaviour persistently breaks any laws.

The real problems have been with those who imagine that they are signing up to a conspiracy and above all want to fantasise about the images purveyed into their imaginations by over two hundred years of propaganda against those who have, in political frustration and under deep provocation, resorted to violence in order to defend themselves from the violence perpetrated by the United Kingdom. Having been the object of many Republican arguments made in order to dissuade them from doing this violence, the politicians of the United Kingdom have planted the blame for the consequences of their own behaviour onto Republicans and others, indeed anybody else who is merely using their common sense, again and again for their insolence in predicting what the consequences of their immoral and unethical behaviour would be, as if Republicans made them do it !

The way that I intend to deal with the fantasists is be making a point of publicly arguing them down in order to demonstrate by doing so what Republicanism actually says about war and the use of violence : that it is utterly banned other than for the purpose of preventing others using it - Republicanism's central preoccupation is in fact the rule of law which must therefore be preserved at all times in order to protect the political process from the use of all forms of coercion in order to be able to calmly debate the arguments necessary for the making of good laws. Technically, there is an argument to be made out for deliberately breaking bad laws and going into courtrooms in order to then publicly demonstrate their injustice and thus their invalidity, the argument however is much stricter than people suppose and it imposes such stringent conditions that it is very rarely ever done. From a Republican point of view, most ' civil disobedience ' is just various forms of criminality pleaded for with spurious political excuses.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luckily people who celebrate St David's Day seem to do so in the spirit in which the day was originally intended. St Patrick doesn't fare so well.

Also, living on bread and herbs and all -sacrificing for charity and self perfection- should be held up as an example in an age where not getting your daily pints/coffee/latte (or all three), TV, etc can turn your day upside down!

I wrote up this little piece ages ago on an artifact associated with St Dewi. A little bit of his life in there- plus some intrigue for today:

The Saphire Altar of Jerusalem

The origins of the "Sapphire Altar of Jerusalem" are unknown. Its recorded history begins with St David of Wales and a pilgrimage he and two companions made to Jerusalem, a custom in the Celtic Church- a pilgrimage to Rome or Jerusalem features in the lives of most Celtic Saints. While there he was consecrated a Bishop by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, built (or re-built) some monasteries there, and helped preach in favor of the persecuted Christians. In reward for these services, the Patriarch presented him and his companions with 4 gifts: a golden staff, a bell, a tunic, and an altar stone inlaid with relics and gemstones, most notably a very large sapphire.
Altars were, by law of the Church, required to have a special piece- the "altar stone"- in them which contained relics of Saints; for those who traveled, a small, personal altar consisting of just the stone was used in place of the full thing. St David's Dark Ages counterpart, St. Cuthbert, had one as well which was 6 inches by 5 inches, and we can assume St David's was similar. We do not know whose relics were in the altar stone, or what happened to the other gifts and how they were distributed among the 3 companions.
St David took the sapphire altar to Glastonbury Abbey, where it was placed in a new chapel he had constructed onto the abbey, which subsequently became very popular. One story, disbelieving the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, has St David commissioning the altar himself for the chapel (but it is not questioned that, however it was a acquired, St David had the altar). It remained there until the Viking era, during which it and the Abbey's many other treasures were hidden, some so well they have not been recovered. During this period St David's first biographer, Rhigyfarch, wrote down the legends of the Altar stone but falsely placed it in a Welsh Church whose very existence is doubtful.
In 1139 it was rediscovered in a hiding spot in a doorway by the Abbott, Henry of Blois, who "had it magnificently set in gold and silver, surrounded by precious stones, as it is now seen"- wrote William of Malmsbury a decade or so later in "The Antiquities of Glastonbury". It survived the Great Fire of 1179 which destroyed most of Glastonbury Abbey, and was the object of veneration by pilgrims in following centuries.
Then in the 1530's, Henry VIII's reformation struck. Glastonbury was destroyed and its abbot killed. Two monks were hung for refusing to tell officials where the monastery's treasures were hidden, but despite their efforts many treasures were still seized. A memo from 1539 reads that among them was "a superaltar garnished with silver gilt and part gold, called the Great Sapphire of Glastonbury"
Thus was the Altar's last recorded appearance.
While many stories are contradictory and unclear to modern minds, it is certain the Sapphire Altar was held in high veneration by St David and thousands of pilgrims for almost a thousand years and its loss not only deprived Glastonbury of a sacramental- it being a relic after all- but deprived the people of a much loved devotion and valuable historical artifact. Is it somewhere among the crown jewels, as some suggest- or still hidden somewhere in Glastonbury with other valuables waiting to be discovered?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Micael - nice to hear from you again ! I have sent you a festive private message, but I'll just add this little bit from it here to allow others who like saints and other medievaly meaningful things to have a look at this book :

P S - I liked your piece about the sapphire altar - I have never heard of it before, but then it is a tricky business about all of these saints that we have and what they may mean to us : try reading the Gwladys thread, but note that I never make a pitch for literature and so these pieces are all very scrappy. If you prefer fine writing and authoritative history and would like to read something that brings America and Wales together in one fascinating narrative which ties Republicanism in Wales to Republicanism in America then I think that with your sensibilities you will really enjoy this -

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply to Micael and Dai Reply with quote

I hadn't heard of the jewel encrusted altar either although I did hear recently of Dewi/David's connection with Glastonbury. I don't suppose it will ever turn up. Once Henry got his greedy paws on something, there was no hope.

Glastonbury has never lost its mystic aura, even if it has lost its treasures. There's still a faintly Celtic ambience about the tor and the town's alternative name, the isle of Avalon. Christians who like fairy tales have a story about Joseph of Arimethea's twig. it's also a mecca for hippies and neo pagans. At least that's what it was like in the late 60s when my parents were there, and it hadn't changed much when I went there in the 80s. It doesn't look like people were put off after a lot of wild child types impulsively rolled in the mud at the Glastonbury Festival a few years ago and picked up dysentery or whatever it was.

I wonder if anyone finds it odd that Dewi and his monks had all these treasures which they presumably owned in common but they weren't permitted to own a single thing individually? Even to refer to 'my book' was
a serious breach of the monastic code. I don't think Americans of the Cold War era would see Dewi as a sound thinker at all. What he was practising was extreme if voluntary Communism. Of course, the Book of Acts makes out that the early Christians also did this, but they did not eschew wine and meat.

It's impossible to read someone's motives after all this time, but I know the journalist, Ann Leslie was very cynical about the irritating humility of St Therese of Lisieux. There was always a spin doctor around to broadcast it. It was just like a certain Communist in China who was just a humble cog in the wheel, but was always available for propaganda purposes.

I didn't see any sign on the St David's Day Parade yesterday that anyone had taken the ascetic message to heart, least of all myself. I just reeled off it in St Mary's Street thinking, "Oh, my poor legs are tired. I need to find a coffee shop where I can flop down with a large latte and a Danish pastry." There were no special deals for those who wanted to try dry bread, herbs and water. Nor should there be.

It's a bit tricky. We would be right to say that Dewi had got it wrong to some degree. What's the point of being alive if you can't enjoy yourself? Asceticism is for mugs. But materialism and consumerism are not satisfying either. The artist Tony Tribe said to me that morality is not absolute. The states of Eastern Europe under Communism were less materialistic. Walking round a city in a capitalist country before Christmas is enough to make you throw up.

It doesn't say much for a country if the only way it can persuade its citizens to stay is to put up a great big wall and shoot the people who try to cross it. But now the former citizens of East Germany feel something called 'Ostalgie', nostalgia for how it was in the East.

I wonder why it is that Dewi is translated as David. In the Welsh Bible, King David -an opportunistic little slob on any rational showing, but the golden boy of the Old Testament - is always called Dafydd. Dai was apparently once an independent name but has now become a diminutive of David. It's moving in the opposite direction from Jack and Sally which were once diminutives but are now real names.

In itself, David's an attractive name which apparently means 'friend' or 'beloved', but too many parents have latched on to it. Because Cardiff was too cosmopolitan to shorten David to Dai, but was full of people with unmemorable surnames, we had big problems with legions of Daves when I was living there. We had Dave the Meek, Geordie Dave, Dave the Unknown and Dave the Next.

It's surprising it hasn't yet gone the way of Mary which became the victim of its own success and has almost fallen out of use except in Catholic families. Even in Catholic Italy, they must have found it a bit much. There's a saying, 'to seek Maria in Ravenna', which is the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack.

I detect a tendency in myself to ramble. So I won't now go on to talk about republicanism in America. I may put up some comparatively frivolous posts as separate threads later today about how St David's Day is celebrated.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are a rambling rose my lovely - I am very much enjoying what you write.

On that subject of David / Dewi / Dafydd I too have wondered about that in the past : the Hebrew name is of course written without vowels and the meaning of Hebrew words can shift dramatically depending upon the choice of vowels. The Jewish version of the name is commonly ' Dovid ' or something like that, but what I find interesting in terms of signs and symbols is that the ' D ' shape that we use is derived from middle eastern scripts where it is more harp shaped and its name in many of these Indo-European languages are variations on the word ' harp ' - I'm not about to go check this but the isosceles triangle used for ' D ' in Greek is called ' Delta ' and that also means ' harp ' - think about the Welsh word for ' harp ' - ' telyn ' - did Dewi Sant play the harp whilst he danced through these waves with a leek clenched in between his teeth ? Given the ancient nature of Welsh roots and branches could there not be some twig that produced ' dew- ' words, which itself is in all likelyhood a variant spelling of ' duw ' perhaps ? ' Duw-i ' - ?


I wondered whether you bothered to read this wiki page - you were puzzled as to why I am not concerned about whether people widely differ in their political views from me whilst making vigorous arguments for my own ? It is to do with Repwblic being an inheritor of the tradition of ' The Republic of Letters ' - that people ought to disagree in order to be able to start a good conversation and thereby learn from each other in a sociable way without being particularly interested in winning any arguments - pretty pointless trying to do so on the internet anyway. Also note please how important women were in the original ' Republic of Letters ' in their roles as the hostesses of their salons in requiring better behaviour from the men - and how they are missing in macho-mad Welsh Republicanism which in my book is not Republicanism at all ... in comparison the my far superior brand of new and improved with added whiteness - which can now be used with all colours and will not make them fade nor run - ' Republicanism in Wales ' ...

I told a friend about the SWSAN gag today because I really liked it because it has all sorts of potential spin-offs which I did not realise when I was knocking it out above. She carefully told me that it was offensive and she more or less implied that it was just the kind of thing which a careless man would write about feminists. I did not help the matter by trying to explain that it was after all completely over the top and therefore obviously a parody of the sort of mysogynistic points of view that are around and then the idea that she couldn't laugh at it because she is a feminist hung in the air and ... anyway ... read about how the women excluded from the academies came to rival them with their salons and thus helped to sow the seeds of political protest ( - and about Helena Maria Williams who went to Paris after the French Revolution and started one - )

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