Friday, 4 December 2015

First and Second Law of Cliche


You have discovered the first law of cliché. They are there to put you at your ease and come with the nudge of unuttered single quotation marks. Jimmy J. can say ‘run off her feet’ in The Dead and that’s all right but he would forbid himself ‘eyes that strain in their sockets’ not as though he didn’t know all about eye strain as he scanned with the largest available glass. Nor would he be guided by the ‘moon’s lanthorn’ a sort of fey navigation that he would undoubtedly ‘eschew’. Withal.

The second law is that cliché has claws. The everyday can maim you suddenly, like you were cut by a Stanley knife, a clean shallow cut that traces a weeping edge like the tears of a statue in a remote monastery, so embarrassing to the monks.

Abbe Brens: And Now This.
Pater Miks: Yes it is vulgar but that is the catholic part of the meaning of the Catholic Church. God comforts us with the familiar. Bread, wine, oil and now blood.
A.B.: I told you to stop reading Chesterton.

Cliches uttered by policemen are not comfortable. Ascertaining and forming an opinion is a gavel rap. When polis refers to you as ‘sunshine’, that is not the beckoning of Falcon Tours. For you my friend happiness is a footnote in a YA book entitled A Nosegay of Verse.

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