Theologian Walter Brueggemann’s “Hopeful Imagination” is a poetically-charged call to abandon dead words (cliché). In this essay he writes:
“Predictable language is a measure of a deadened relationship in which address is reduced to slogan.”
The use of cliché can be reflective of a tragic disconnect be- tween an artist and her subject. What may have been a living relationship at one time is reduced to a cold and mechanical trans- action of words and phrases. I am a living creature, creating art about living things. My work ought to feel alive.
Life consistently challenges cliché. Life surprises me and keeps me guessing. I want my work to do the same.
“I suspect that we lose vitality,” Brueggemann continues,“when our language of God is domesticated and our relation with God is made narrow and predictable.”
My experience of Love, God and War (the three things most of us write about) has been vital, unpredictable and varied. I want my art to reflect this. The use of cliché funnels my complex, human experience of life into formulaic, predictable and small spaces, where it suffocates and eventually dies. Good art gives life because it is alive.
This is an excerpt from my book Title Pending, which will be released this Fall/Winter. Join the email list for more like this, news about the release and content no one else gets.
Cliches are bad. They’re even worse when people say them like they’re saying something revolutionary.