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aj47
October 19th, 2017, 11:33 AM
I was recently criticized in another workshop for making a similar comment, but I used the word "cliche" which you did not. One on the comments was that, calling something cliche' is itself cliche' and why can't we come up with a better way to talk about cliche's than calling them cliche's. The commentor went on to argue that using cliche's in the right context can be very effective. In a nutshell, he was saying that a cliche' can allude to a cultural understanding that is a more efficient use of language than explaining the feeling or situation. Pete, I tend to agree with you about the over use of popular phrases. But I also recognize that a cliche' (or idiom) used in the right context can be effective and even poetic.

I would very much like to hear more from you on this subject - why, in general, It's a bad idea to use cliche's in poetry.

I have no credentials so my words have to speak for themselves.

Cliches become that way by having a high truth-value. That is, they speak to people in a clear, concise, understandable way of something that exists in the observable universal world. They're a code that's understood by the sender and recipient.

People object to them in writing (especially poetry) because writers are supposed to come up with new codes.

Darren White
October 19th, 2017, 11:42 AM
In that same thread I said:


[...] I am very much interested in any reply on cliches. Because I am forever guilty of using them. I can hide behind the fact that I am a foreigner, but that's only a cowardly excuse. Because when I work hard on a poem, I've learned to avoid them. So WHY, when I am writing those kind of poems that just flow from the pen in an emotional state of mind, do they slip in time and again. And why is it bad?So, apart from (not) being original, why exacly it is bad. I know I have to avoid 'love' 'heart' 'soul'. But often people point me at expressions I am using that are cliche, but I have no clue, unless I do extensive research on every line I write (which I often do, believe me). But my spontaneous writes are sometimes riddled with them.

I write poetry, nothing else (except critique hah!)

aj47
October 19th, 2017, 12:34 PM
I think people tell each other they are supposed to be bad and it's sort of an "I heard somewhere..." phenomenon. Everyone's heard it from several sources so it must be true.

Pete_C
October 19th, 2017, 12:52 PM
I don't think the issue is with cliches per se. They can be effective and they can make a statement that is clear to the majority of readers in a very short and concise way. I have no objections to the use of cliches when they are the best way to say something.

The problem with cliches is that everyone uses them, from the very top of the publishing pile right down to the deepest pits of the bowels of literature. Some are used more often, and they are more common the further down the heap you travel. What then happens is the more common cliches are over-used in bad writing. At times they're almost a signpost identifying that what you're about to read lacks originality, invention and thought.

Cliches are like wasps: I see more wasps than have ever stung me, but my first reaction is to swat at them with a hard object if they ever come close enough. I am not alone on the wasp front, and I doubt I am alone when I see an over-used cliche rearing its head in any form of writing. If I and other readers are turning away, and if the writer has the literal dexterity to present their message in a better and more captivating way, then in my book that makes cliches something to avoid.

Often, when it comes to using cliches in poetry, the damage has already been done by others. That makes it a perilous path to tread and one I'd rather avoid in both my writing and my reading.

sas
October 19th, 2017, 01:41 PM
For the most part, unlike prose, where diarrhea of language allows for creative writing recovery, poetry strives, by it's very form, for the fewest and best words. A cliche inserted uses someone else's words, leaving even fewer for the poet to create themselves. A short-cut, often by the creatively lazy. And, yes, I know there are times we all use them, but for me, it needs to have purpose. (Don't bother listing the epic poems).

escorial
October 19th, 2017, 04:34 PM
Some writers can deliver a cliche with panache and others a bit flat...I like them

Robbie
October 19th, 2017, 04:40 PM
Ha! I love ‘in a nutshell’ in a post about cliches.

VonBradstein
October 19th, 2017, 04:49 PM
The reason cliches are bad is the same reason for any writing being bad. It comes down to laziness and lack of imagination. A cliche by definition is something used so repeatedly it is part of common knowledge. Ask yourself this: if your goal with what you are saying is to rehash something that has already been said then what is the point of writing at all?

I will say cliches have a narrow usage. They can be used if the intent is subvert the cliche, such as in satire, and also in dialogue if the idea is to capture an authentic voice in a certain colloquial style. But beyond that they should be banished.


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Nellie
October 19th, 2017, 05:23 PM
For the most part, unlike prose, where diarrhea of language allows for creative writing recovery, poetry strives, by it's very form, for the fewest and best words.

However, sometimes too many words are inserted into poems, making them dull and repetitive to enjoy.


A cliche inserted uses someone else's words, leaving even fewer for the poet to create themselves. A short-cut, often by the creatively lazy. And, yes, I know there are times we all use them, but for me, it needs to have purpose. (Don't bother listing the epic poems).


Yes, we may all use cliches at times, but why in a poem if one is trying to be creative? How can one be lazy and creative?

clark
October 23rd, 2017, 01:12 PM
"True Wit* is Nature to advantage dressed--
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed"

* VERY complex definitions of "Wit" in Pope's day. From the context, though,
we can infer he meant something like 'enlightened intelligence'. He did NOT
mean 'sparkling humour', as we would now.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1711)

I think Nellie (and Pope) nail it. Cliches are just lazy writing. Seems to me there are two kinds:

!) OLD PHRASES.
Everybody instantly knows what cliché phrases mean--'can't teach an old dog new tricks, 'save a penny for a rainy day', 'every cloud has a silver lining', but when you encounter one in an otherwise good piece of writing, your subtlety and aesthetic receptors automatically go into FREEZE and you hear 'information only', or nothing at all. It's like Aunt Maisie's story about what happened on her driver's road test in 2002: when the old bird starts to tell it for the 57th time, the entire family goes into collective Fixed Smile Mode and they receive just enuff information to know when she's done. Vibrant, excited conversation stops during the telling, just as vibrant, excited reading stops while you smooooth your way thru a cliché phrase. You ALREADY KNOW IT, so why would you expect
nuances or beauty?

2) BEATEN-TO-DEATH WORDS
In my opinion, these are much more serious when used in poetry, because their use is common and goes beyond laziness into distortion or flat-out meaning LESSness. Please consider: "the essence of his heart flowed into my very soul". When you get your head out of the wastebasket and wipe your mouth, can you tell me what it might mean? Well, shift the focus--did it elicit strong emotion from YOU? And isn't that what it's all about? Poetry deals with emotional awakening, deep understanding, new insights, communing with whole new ways of seeing. At least, that's what it's supposed to do. If you're going to run the Boston marathon, do you haul Grandpa's combat boots out of the attic trunk because they served him wonderfully thru three years of hell in the Pacific. . . .or do you go buy a new pair of Nike Airs?

Darren White
October 23rd, 2017, 01:27 PM
We talked about this earlier somewhere Clark. In my own language I am/very well capable of recognizing and avoiding cliches, In English however that is much more difficult. It requires serious research. And I DO research, so you can't call me lazy. I think I do a pretty good job, unless I write a poem that just comes out of nowhere. I'd better not post such a one right away, because it drips of cliches. But lazy? Nah :)

clark
October 23rd, 2017, 01:38 PM
Darren -- YOU'RE SPECIAL. oUT OF THE LOOP. cLICHES IN any LANGUAGE ARE LEARNED IN THE CRADLE. Of course you're going to work your butt off on these things. . .but don't use YOUR HARD WORK AS SOME KIND OF ARGUMENT against 'lazy.' Uh-uh.

Darren White
October 23rd, 2017, 01:42 PM
Clark, I'll ssshhhh now :)

clark
October 23rd, 2017, 03:55 PM
I don't ever want to shhhhh you, Darren. Even in jest!

RHPeat
October 24th, 2017, 05:41 AM
Darren

It's not so much that they are wrong as it is how they are used.
They are bad when they are "old hat". <—— (that's a cliche.)
It is common usage as a metaphor. So we have all heard it before.
Put a twist on it and it becomes quite another thing.

Kay Ryan 16th U.S. Poet Laureate writes poems about cliches.
She is fond of malapropisms and clichés, two linguistic devices
one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example,
“dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco).
with so many surprises that the silliest clichés become fertile ground.
She would change their meanings into something new
by deliberately misinterpreting the cliche into a new viewpoint.
Like "Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained."

Nothing Ventured

Patience is wider
than one once envisioned,
with ribbons of rivers
and distant ranges
and tasks undertaken
and finished with modest
relish by natives
in their native dress.
Who would have
guessed it possible
that waiting is
sustainable— a place
with its own harvests.
Or that in time's
fullness the diamonds
of patience couldn't be
distinguished from
the genuine in
brilliance or hardness.

by
Kay Ryan (https://www.poemhunter.com/kay-ryan/poems/)

Darren White
October 24th, 2017, 08:05 AM
Ha!
I really like this one Ron,
but I have to look up everything to be able to recognize it as a cliché...
I see it as a regular poem, I am blind to it, and have to study every single line to understand why it is cliché.
I think that I only recognize them in the last five lines :D

Edit:
Oh, and in search of the poem you mentioned, I found this ARTICLE (http://prismmagazine.ca/2013/08/28/how-to-break-all-the-rules-and-be-a-better-poet-for-it-cliches/)

The Fantastical
October 24th, 2017, 11:17 AM
There are no bad cliches, only writers who can't use them effectively.

VonBradstein
October 24th, 2017, 12:03 PM
There are no bad cliches, only writers who can't use them effectively.

Interesting. Can you elaborate and provide an example? As mentioned in my prior post on this there are a few cases where I believe they work but mainly just in dialogue or to inject a sense of irony.


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The Fantastical
October 24th, 2017, 01:37 PM
Interesting. Can you elaborate and provide an example? As mentioned in my prior post on this there are a few cases where I believe they work but mainly just in dialogue or to inject a sense of irony.


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Tolkien. One long lovely perfect, "cliche". The topics, the motives, the character, the races. Yet modern fantasy would not be where it is today without him.

bdcharles
October 24th, 2017, 02:08 PM
Tolkien. One long lovely perfect, "cliche". The topics, the motives, the character, the races. Yet modern fantasy would not be where it is today without him.

Cliches are time-dependent. When the first person or an early adopter uses them, it's fresh and original. When the nth writer drops them in, not so much.

VonBradstein
October 24th, 2017, 02:50 PM
Tolkien. One long lovely perfect, "cliche". The topics, the motives, the character, the races. Yet modern fantasy would not be where it is today without him.

Yeah, I think that’s a pretty terrible example. No offense, but I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about in this particular instance. If you do, you’re going to need to do a better job of explaining it...

First of all you can’t have cliches concerning such broad things as motives. There is only a finite number of motives for anybody to do anything. Virtually every motive has been rehashed a thousand plus number of times over the centuries. If a general motive can be a cliche, everything is a cliche, therefore the word loses meaning.

I don’t know if hobbits existed before Tolkien. I am sure Elves did and Dwarfs. Dragons but not, say, Ring Wraiths. In any case for the same reason you can’t really speak of it in terms of a cliche. I am sure there was no work that existed before Tolkien that combined those races and characters and those motivations in that story. Therefore nope, not a cliche.

It is correct that a Tolkien-esque work written after Tolkien by another writer would run the risk of “cliche” but Tolkien himself did not. Again, to think otherwise is to render the word utterly meaningless as all work is ultimately derivative of those before.

A cliche is a literary device which is by dictionary definition overused and lacking original thought. I’m not sure how anybody on here can defend the use of overused, unoriginal writing unless it is for a very intentional and probably ironic reason. I am equally sure that nobody sane could accuse one of the most creative and imaginative authors of the twentieth century of being a “cliche”


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clark
October 24th, 2017, 03:41 PM
Time and time again, I've searched high and low for the heart of the matter, some final definition of shopworn clichés that will stand the test of time down through the Ages-- but every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he has a God-given right as a man who stands alone to use clichés according to his own conscience rather than within the confines of defining limits set in stone by us, the power elite of language. These rebels without a real cause declare: "I mean, like, are we mice or men? United we stand, shoulder-to-shoulder against the language Police who would give their eye teeth to win the brass ring of forcing and compelling--even dictating and constraining--the great unwashed into mandatory, day-in-and-day-out, household use of clichés, in a manner that they have the handle on." So, they're on to us and we must have the intestinal fortitude to fight the good fight with them, or they will rise up like our worst nightmare and grind our passion into dust.

And that's what I have to say about that.

VonBradstein
October 24th, 2017, 03:44 PM
^ best post ever


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clark
October 24th, 2017, 07:18 PM
VonBradstein -- Your post just above is an accurate and succinct summary of some of the main obstacles that must be accounted for in wrestling with "definitions" of any kind, certainly one as problematic as "cliché". I do have something of an issue with your first sentence: I have a different 'fix' on Fantastical's point. I thought she was contending that, although Tolkien's work was not cliché at its time of publication, there have been so many spin-offs, imitations, and-near duplicates in story, TV, and movies that, by origin and association, Tolkien's work itself has become 'cliche'. The argument is a bit of a stretch, but has some merit. Pope was so bloody good at long poems written exclusively in heroic or closed couplets, that the form itself has become cliché. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of the few substantive examples of the dramatic monologue after Browning virtually exhausted the possibilities of the form. I grant you, a thin argument, but it is not without merit to point out that overuse through imitation can and does have some colouring on our attitude towards the original.

Darkkin
October 24th, 2017, 07:32 PM
There can be power in cliches if a writer is careful with their handeling. From a literal translator's standpoint, I work with cliches, but manipulate the context in which they are used. e.g. Back the Black Sheep, a Fluffy Bunny called Lollop, a questing troll called Heckler, and two Turtles who carry the light of the moon and sun between them. Not to mention the Left Hand and the Right Hand of the No Man. A Fox associated with socks, namely the Star Socks Fox and another who is made of blocks, the Tibbox, in addition to the fox named after a species of fox, Fennec the Pocket Fox. Shoals made out of prepositional phrases. A Willow Key Tree, a diving gannet that has the power to bend time and space. A pair of swans caught in a constant tide of Ebb and Flow. Time marked by the turning of the tides. A pair of chickens named after kitchen ingredents, Paprika and Fennel. Three Primaries (Red: Crimson Swiped Zebra. Blue: Literal, the Azure Pygmy Giraffe, and Yellow: Lilahari, the Golden Gazelle.) African Wild Dogs, (The Wild Dogs of Tenebrous Wold). Hyenas that are bold as brass and aren't worth brass tacks. Tack and the Brass Pack. Selkies, pirates, highwaymen, the last of the unicorns, a pair of bicorns, a winged lion cast from living stone...And the list goes on. All blatant and worn out cliches. Rightfully they should not exist because they are cliches. But I cannot regret having written their stories...

Cliches are a shoddy shortcut to most writers. Uninventive, and simply bad writing...Guess I summed up my own work in less than a sentence. :neutral:

midnightpoet
October 24th, 2017, 08:51 PM
Darkkin, what you've done is to make old cliché's new by giving them a new spin (pardon the cliché) - they aren't worn out if you put new tread on them.;)

TL Murphy
October 25th, 2017, 05:14 PM
The argument in support of cliche's in poetry goes on to suggest that many people live cliche' lives. They have limited vocabularies and limited expectations. They are most comfortable with the familiar. They are not comfortable with language that stretches the imagination or questions the satus-quo. Some of these people write poetry (or what they call peotry) and other people read this poetry. To them, that's what poetry is: Hallmark cards, rhyming couplets, Dr. Suezz, every top-40 country-western song. People eat this stuff up and probably 90% of what the English world-at-large thinks of as poetry is a string of cliche's in rhyming couplets. This is what they want. It makes them swoon because the know what it means. The cliche's massage their souls because the words are familiar and make them feel comfortable, they feel like they know what life is about.

VonBradstein
October 25th, 2017, 05:24 PM
There can be power in cliches if a writer is careful with their handeling. From a literal translator's standpoint, I work with cliches, but manipulate the context in which they are used. e.g. Back the Black Sheep, a Fluffy Bunny called Lollop, a questing troll called Heckler, and two Turtles who carry the light of the moon and sun between them. Not to mention the Left Hand and the Right Hand of the No Man. A Fox associated with socks, namely the Star Socks Fox and another who is made of blocks, the Tibbox, in addition to the fox named after a species of fox, Fennec the Pocket Fox. Shoals made out of prepositional phrases. A Willow Key Tree, a diving gannet that has the power to bend time and space. A pair of swans caught in a constant tide of Ebb and Flow. Time marked by the turning of the tides. A pair of chickens named after kitchen ingredents, Paprika and Fennel. Three Primaries (Red: Crimson Swiped Zebra. Blue: Literal, the Azure Pygmy Giraffe, and Yellow: Lilahari, the Golden Gazelle.) African Wild Dogs, (The Wild Dogs of Tenebrous Wold). Hyenas that are bold as brass and aren't worth brass tacks. Tack and the Brass Pack. Selkies, pirates, highwaymen, the last of the unicorns, a pair of bicorns, a winged lion cast from living stone...And the list goes on. All blatant and worn out cliches. Rightfully they should not exist because they are cliches. But I cannot regret having written their stories...

Cliches are a shoddy shortcut to most writers. Uninventive, and simply bad writing...Guess I summed up my own work in less than a sentence. :neutral:

As noted, those are good examples of subversion or new spin on cliche, which is generally a key to great writing. However they are not cliches in themselves because they are not being used in their original meaning.

A true cliche is using a phrase like “it was raining cats and dogs” non ironically as a descriptor. Does anybody want to argue that belongs in good writing?


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clark
October 26th, 2017, 10:06 PM
Does anybody want to argue that belongs in good writing?


Surely not! Interestingly, excellent writers who would eschew clichés in their writing, will often use them in the more casual, sloppier mode of conversation.

TL Murphy
October 28th, 2017, 06:05 AM
Cliches are time-dependent. When the first person or an early adopter uses them, it's fresh and original. When the nth writer drops them in, not so much.

Was that a joke? I can't tell because I can't see your face. When the first person used the cliché it wasn't cliché, it was original. Oh, my side hurts.

bdcharles
October 28th, 2017, 10:45 AM
Was that a joke? I can't tell because I can't see your face. When the first person used the cliché it wasn't cliché, it was original. Oh, my side hurts.

Nope. Counterintuitive maybe, but clichés are a serious business...

TL Murphy
October 28th, 2017, 03:12 PM
I think we should all write an original cliche, a phrase that isn't cliche' yet but will be after everyone overuses it. I'll start. "My dog thinks he's a cat"

Darren White
October 28th, 2017, 05:45 PM
"Heartfelt lovebugs sting"

VonBradstein
October 29th, 2017, 02:52 AM
I think we should all write an original cliche, a phrase that isn't cliche' yet but will be after everyone overuses it. I'll start. "My dog thinks he's a cat"

I have heard that before.


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Robbie
October 29th, 2017, 03:30 AM
“I tried to kill Cain but wasn’t able.”

bdcharles
October 29th, 2017, 07:59 AM
I think we should all write an original cliche, a phrase that isn't cliche' yet but will be after everyone overuses it. I'll start. "My dog thinks he's a cat"

Well ... it needs to be catchy and relevant too, to promote the massive subsequent overuse.

midnightpoet
October 29th, 2017, 01:44 PM
Generosity billed the rat.
Pome is where fart is
A hitch in line saves time
Stake while the irony is hot
Too many kooks spoil the tosh
:joker:

TL Murphy
October 29th, 2017, 05:40 PM
I have heard that before.


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Oh dear! This is so hard!

- My goldfish thinks it's a castle. -

midnightpoet
October 29th, 2017, 07:22 PM
The media today jumps on a phrase uttered by a celebrity and uses it so often it becomes a cliché real fast. Hip-hop and rap terms seem to slide into this soft of thing easily. Using "rides" describing an automobile comes to mind. Would that be "cultural appropriation" now? Smiles.

TL Murphy
October 31st, 2017, 05:15 PM
All fads and slang and musical trends seem to start in the ghetto, or at least, in the underbelly of society. That's not cultural appropriation, it's a natural force of social change. Popular culture from the bottom up as opposed to cultural oppression from the top down. Cultural appropriation is capitalizing on a groups cultural experience that is not your own experience.

VonBradstein
November 1st, 2017, 01:17 AM
All fads and slang and musical trends seem to start in the ghetto, or at least, in the underbelly of society. That's not cultural appropriation, it's a natural force of social change. Popular culture from the bottom up as opposed to cultural oppression from the top down. Cultural appropriation is capitalizing on a groups cultural experience that is not your own experience.

I think that’s true to a point but I think it comes from both the top and the bottom.

It’s absolutely true that a lot of “cool” words come from the bottom of society. There’s a strange fetish that has existed at least back to the Victorian era towards themes of poverty and hardship and has manifested through various subcultures from Jazz to Beat to Country to Hip Hop. These are often analyzed but what tends to be much more overlooked is the culture of the upper class. The popularity and cultural impact of stuff like the Great Gatsby, American Psycho and - perhaps most recently - Downton Abbey all unapologetically portray or at least satirize rich folk and have their influence in the popular culture of the middle class.

Ultimately the middle class with its murkier identity is the incubator for all fads and trends from both top and bottom. Upper society seldom adopts the language and culture of the real working class, and vice versa.

Robbie
November 1st, 2017, 04:49 AM
Do you really believe that the bougousie is responsible for trends? I hated the bougousie in which I grew up and aspired to be ‘cool.’ So I became a bohemian and am comfortable in that position/status. I would rather live in an upstairs apartment anywhere in Mexico but would not turned down a room in Greenwich Village or Hells Kitchen, with a bed, a computer, a table and a comfortable bed or foutan with my books and my poetry to protect me, than to be part of the boring/blind upper class. I start my own trends. I am original, just give me a glass of wine.

VonBradstein
November 1st, 2017, 05:11 AM
Do you really believe that the bougousie is responsible for trends? I hated the bougousie in which I grew up and aspired to be ‘cool.’ So I became a bohemian and am comfortable in that position/status. I would rather live in an upstairs apartment anywhere in Mexico but would not turned down a room in Greenwich Village or Hells Kitchen, with a bed, a computer, a table and a comfortable bed or foutan with my books and my poetry to protect me, than to be part of the boring/blind upper class. I start my own trends. I am original, just give me a glass of wine.

Sure, I just think they're trends that are less obvious as to where they originate, marketed differently, and popular among different people.

Consider something as innocuous as Disneyland. The park revolves around a gigantic castle and themes of royalty and nobility prevail throughout the park. Little girls dressed as princesses - not flower sellers. Consider the cult following that revolves around Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and the British Royal Family at large. Consider the popularity of shows from House Of Cards to The Real Housewives to The Crown. Consider how these trends influence so much of our writing - especially fantasy writing. I feel like you almost never get a successful fantasy book about a genuinely communist, marxist, or even a liberal democratic society, and ones which do not prominently feature at least some bourgeois characters are few and far between.

Go look in your nearest liquor store at the way high end alcoholic beverages and even cigarettes tend to be marketed - there's a theme of exclusivity, of bourgeois luxury, everywhere. "Pall Mall" cigarettes are cheap and nasty, but they're named after the most exclusive street in London (at least I assume so). Go to the nearest Men's Wearhouse and even the cheaper suits are given names that appeal to people's fantasy towards 'the high life'. Go to a nicer hotel and find rooms named "Presidential Suite/Royal Suite" and lounges named "Executive". Nobody in their right mind actually believes an actual President has stayed in most of 'em, but its marketed that way because in the target market these things are appealing to people. Consider how many of these 'ghetto' rap stars dress in jewelry in the manner of traditional royalty. Pull out a deck of cards or a chess set and consider that in most card-games the King/Queen are more powerful than the other cards AND have more abilities. Clearly this is not based on fact (why would a queen be more powerful a chess piece than a knight, one wonders?) but is based on a false belief started by the bourgeoisie still ongoing today that 'rich = powerful = better than you' and this continues to be reinforced in the form of subtle trends.

Robbie
November 1st, 2017, 05:36 AM
The bourgousie are not rich. They are middle class. They like chain restaurants and hotels that are familiar. They stay the same. They can’t accept change/ hate change. Won’t try new foods etc. Bland. Bland is boring. So I step away from what is familiar and try new things. It’s the way my mind works. If I get too comfortable, I have to move. I hope I never succumb to Disney World. I aspire to be a mermaid.

VonBradstein
November 1st, 2017, 05:47 AM
Oh I'm sorry! I thought you were using the term "bourgeois" in the manner it is often used today - which at least round here is basically as a synonym for "rich and powerful" [emoji4]

Hence why I threw all the royalty stuff in there. Your prior post makes a lot more sense to me now I understand you meant it by the original (and correct, obv) Marxist definition as the folks who controlled the means of production but were not at the top of the rung - since we don't really have much of an out and out upper class these days, at least not in America. So basically its the middle class who run things now.

No, I don't think the middle class (lets just stick to that term - its easier on my spellcheck) control cultural trends in the strict sense. I think the middle class basically leach them. The middle class define when an affectation becomes a trend because they are the 'mass market' and for something to become popular it needs to break into the middle tier.

The reason I disagreed slightly with the post about everything popular coming from the bottom rung is because I think the 'top rung' still is a source of fascination and therefore cultural influence for the middle, just as the bottom is. Actually I think it's probably about equal in terms of what is appropriated and how much - it's just way more problematic when it's the rich taking from the poor. Of course there is no real way to measure it. But I would say in a strictly language sense (since we are talking cliches) more comes from wealth and nobility than one would think. For instance, I recently learned the phrase 'cat's pajamas' as in 'they think they're the cat's pajamas' originated from a Victorian aristocratic slang term for - um - the female genitalia...of all things. "To beat around the bush" is a hunting term, again from aristocracy.

So I think you're right but that culture is a little bit more complex than "it's treated as cool if it comes from poor people" (paraphrasing, sorry). I think we do have a major issue of commandeering the artistic contributions of the poor and probably always have done, but we also appropriate way too much of our values from the 'old money', which is probably a big reason for a lot of our problems.

Hope that clears it up.

TL Murphy
November 1st, 2017, 07:25 AM
The old money creates a fantasy world, hence Disneyland etc., which is not achievable but harped on by commercial dogma. But let’s face it, there are a lot more poor folks than rich folks and the rich are just not cool because they have it too easy. Struggle is cool. Struggle is familiar. Struggle fills the belly with longing. Struggle is a beast in the jungle. Cheap whiskey and break dancing will always win out over Macallan Scotch the waltzing. It’s a numbers game and the middle class is just blowin’ in the wind.

Robbie
November 1st, 2017, 07:35 AM
Tim, you nailed it, but tnat’s a cliche. Will try to think of something else. This is a night off from wine. I give my self two times a week to indulge except for special occasions, but I could make this one special if I chose. I like ‘ struggle.’ How utterly inane life would be without it.

VonBradstein
November 1st, 2017, 07:47 AM
The old money creates a fantasy world, hence Disneyland etc., which is not achievable but harped on by commercial dogma. But let’s face it, there are a lot more poor folks than rich folks and the rich are just not cool because they have it too easy. Struggle is cool. Struggle is familiar. Struggle fills the belly with longing. Struggle is a beast in the jungle. Cheap whiskey and break dancing will always win out over Macallan Scotch the waltzing. It’s a numbers game and the middle class is just blowin’ in the wind.

Again, I don't disagree but it's still too narrow and generalized and too full of exceptions. I don't disagree that struggle and hardship is a huge influence on human thought, and certainly poorer folks know struggle more honestly and keenly than richer folks, but there are different ways of looking at it. And different people pick up on different trends from both sides of the proverbial fence.

Again, I go back to the fact that not all great fiction is about poor people or those caught in what one might call 'real problems'. If it was so, there would be no interest in a book like Pride & Prejudice which, from what I recall of it, features no major characters who are not at least somewhat wealthy and whose chief points of conflict revolve around rather superficial stuff. If the whole world really did prefer cheap whiskey the whole whiskey market would either be cheap or pretend to be for marketing purposes - no? You wouldn't be naming brandy after Princes and Kings, for instance.

My view is that "struggle = cool" is actually a fairly recent phenomenon (last hundred years or so) and mainly came about because of poorer people becoming literate and educated enough to write books/make music/etc and for the respective industries to grow enough to incorporate more diverse voices. Once you are able to create art your story becomes accessible to people regardless of their background and your talent become of popular interest. For example, African Americans have a long, rich tradition of music but it was not until the early-mid twentieth century, when recording became something, that much of white, middle-class America had any idea what that music sounded like. Subsequently whole genres of traditionally black music became mainstream and accessible to everyone and, therefore, the various associated slang, styles and - yes - cliches came into being.

I think there's a legitimate debate to be had about whether a book that celebrates the upper class like P&P is more influential and culturally important than one which illustrates more working class struggles like, say, Les Miserables. My view on that is to say they are both probably just as important in different ways, but I'm not set in that belief. I do prefer cheap whiskey myself.

TL Murphy
November 1st, 2017, 08:13 PM
VonBradstein, I think cultural influences have changed drastically since the time of Pride and Prejudice and Les Misrables. Mass media (starting with radio) has given all stratas of society more accessability to mainstream cultural in general. The lower socio/economic classes simply have more artists and frankly, a lot more to bitch about, which tends to be the driving forces behind most mainstream pop culture.

VonBradstein
November 2nd, 2017, 01:42 AM
VonBradstein, I think cultural influences have changed drastically since the time of Pride and Prejudice and Les Misrables. Mass media (starting with radio) has given all stratas of society more accessability to mainstream cultural in general. The lower socio/economic classes simply have more artists and frankly, a lot more to bitch about, which tends to be the driving forces behind most mainstream pop culture.

You think the lower classes have more to bitch about now than in the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries when the average life expectancy was 40, there was zero welfare, no sanitation, women regularly died in childbirth, children worked in mines, women could not vote, racism meant institutionalized slavery and segregation, and if you were broke you got thrown in a warehouse?

No offense, but, that’s ridiculous. I don’t think you could possibly mean that.

Personally I think it’s pointless to compare anyway. I made the same point you did about more voices and more accessibility to create art, and I think it’s correct, but pop culture isn’t a one dimensional creature and it’s simply wrong to suggest all fads and fashions come from the lower class. I already gave the examples.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

TL Murphy
November 2nd, 2017, 03:20 AM
VonBradstein, I mean more to bitch about than contemporary upper classes. Anyway, I concede that not all fads come from the ghetto. They come from many places - TV, movies, politics, music etc... I do appreciate your erudite comments. Thanks

VonBradstein
November 2nd, 2017, 03:41 AM
Thanks for clarifying.

MisterSpider
December 5th, 2017, 08:12 PM
Because each person has his/her unique way of perceiving the world and to use cliche is to deny oneself one's individuality.

AnnabelLee
May 1st, 2018, 01:11 PM
I tend to think that cliches (sorry, I don't know how to add the accent) are fine in casual speech, like in dialogue. When it comes to other writing however, there is almost always something more descriptive that can be used. So it's not necessarily that cliches are bad, but that there's usually a better, more original, more descriptive, and more thought-provoking way to say it.

Caleb Murdock
May 22nd, 2018, 08:04 AM
I'd like to add my views on clichés. (Note: So far I've read about a third of the posts in this thread.)

First, to answer AnnabelLee, you have to go into the Character Map accessory program (if you are in Windows) to find special characters. If this forum software were better written, it would have an option for inserting special characters right in it.

I like to compare language to food. A cliché is a taste you have gotten tired of. But just as people won't all get tired of the same foods, what qualifies as a cliché may change from person to person. When I was young, I had a friend who got tired of mayonnaise. Well, forty years later, I still love the stuff.

To me, a cliché is always a phrase, and one which has been used by many people and has a generally accepted shorthand meaning. If you compare language to science, a word would be an element, whereas a phrase would be a compound. No one ever gets tired of words by themselves because they are the most fundamental building block of language (not counting letters); but if a clichéd phrase is used over and over, it will no longer be recognized as beautiful or cogent because you've become used to it (or tired of it).

The irony here is that some clichés become so ingrained in the language that they seem to achieve the status of a word. Usually that's because there is no other way to express what is being said by the phrase. (Unfortunately, I can't think of one of those clichés right now -- if I think of one, I'll post it.)

It may be possible to use a cliché in a poem if it is suited in every way to the poem. "In a nutshell" was mentioned before in this thread. To use that cliché would be inappropriate in any poem that wasn't about nuts, but it might be usable in a poem that IS about nuts (but probably only if it is used in such a way that it draws attention to itself).

I think that sometimes redundancies are identified as clichés. In a fairly recent poem, I wrote "a successful life, denied to all but a lucky few". I was advised to drop "lucky" because, if only a "few" achieve a successful life, then of course they are "lucky".

"Lucky" is instructive in another way too. Some words are more "low brow" than other words, and those words may be identified as clichéd. "Lucky" is what you are when you win money at the track, whereas "fortunate" is what you are when you were reared by loving parents.

Unfortunately, that horrible, judgemental word "lazy" has raised its ugly head in this thread. No one is "lazy" for using a cliché. Writers use clichés only because they don't know any better (for whatever reason).

iinadia
January 19th, 2019, 02:36 PM
I believe there can be a place and a purpose for everything, but they should be used carefully and sparingly.

Olly Buckle
January 20th, 2019, 01:23 AM
(sorry, I don't know how to add the accent)If you have spell check switched on it underlines it in red and offers the accented version when you click on it, or self corrects sometimes, don't ask me why it varies :)


I bought a dictionary of clichés once in a second hand shop, I tend to collect reference books. On getting home I looked through it and realised I knew them all. Doh. :) Might be handy for writing pop songs. Re-phrasing clichés can be a good exercise, like in the simile thread 'Piling up like laundry'.

Teijal
November 18th, 2019, 09:26 PM
I think clichés shouldbe used strategically. However, there’s always a risk that it really rubssomeone the wrong way and they give up on your work entirely. Don’t use themmindlessly, just make sure they actually make a difference in yourstory/poem/work.

Olly Buckle
November 19th, 2019, 12:52 AM
I think clichés shouldbe used strategically. However, there’s always a risk that it really rubssomeone the wrong way and they give up on your work entirely. Don’t use themmindlessly, just make sure they actually make a difference in yourstory/poem/work.



So agree. Play your cards right with them or you rub people up the wrong way and they will walk out of the door. Keep mind over matter so they make their mark.