Jenny Diski, “Like A Lullaby”
Clichés exist because they once worked brilliantly. They helped to universalise the intractably private, to keep a distance between what people wanted to say and couldn’t. They must have been alive then. Now they are either the deadening end of meaning or party favours to be played with. For some writers they are a springboard, perfectly placed to be rejuvenated, to renew or cut through their general use as thought-concealers. If people reach so readily for a cliché, it’s because there’s something they can’t say, or even think. When Beckett or Nabokov twists a commonplace into an oh-so-considered sentence, it too does the work of the uncanny. The too well known as unknown. I fucking love clichés.
The latest Jenny Diski is behind a paywall, but believe me: it’s fucking worth it.