About the worst insult one can hurl at writers and speakers is to accuse them of being a purveyor of cliches, and, therefore, deficient in original thinking. In truth, attacking cliches has become a cliche itself.
Well, I’m here to defend the cliché and those who use them and to convince you that the study of the cliché not only improves one’s critical thinking but teaches us to appreciate the history of human experiences, shared across cultures, language groups, and time.
Because they describe undeniable truths about the human experience,
and they do so effectively and efficiently. Cliches are shorthand forms
to human behavior and history.
The cliché’s crime is its success, and its success lies in its ability to cut to the gut (a future cliché, I hope) of a matter in a language understood by all. Oh, yes, I suppose a writer or speaker could invest countless hours in search of a new and different way to say “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” but why bother when chances are the result will be second-rate and not connect as powerfully as the original with the receiver?
And that’s because clichés reflect the best thinking of our forebears. Their users should be thanked for perpetuating their usage; in fact, if I had my way, public schools would be mandated to teach a course on the “The Wisdom of the Cliché.” If studied, understood, and examined through observation, we would all be better-armed against double-talk, scams, fluff, and all around bullshit. The cliche, a rational commentary on life, lets you penetrate below superficial surface structures to the truths that lie below.
a) A friend in need is a friend in deed.
d) A stitch in time saves nine.
The answers: a, b, and c.
At the root of these vignettes and all good stories (novels, plays, movies) are cliches. And that's because LIFE IS A CLICHE! These age-old truths are not the products of lazy minds, but their automatic rejection is most definitely a sign of the closed mind.
To reject the cliche is to reject human history.
Whiningly yours, Carol