Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit andy-crouch.com.

Posts tagged cliches

Nate:

Thus Casablanca is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. Made haphazardly, it probably made itself, if not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control. And this is the reason it works, in spite of aesthetic theories and theories of film making. For in it there unfolds with almost telluric force the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it. And so we can accept it when characters change mood, morality, and psychology from one moment to the next, when conspirators cough to interrupt the conversation if a spy is approaching, when whores weep at the sound of “La Marseillaise.” When all the archetypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion. Just as the height of pain may encounter sensual pleasure, and the height of perversion border on mystical energy, so too the height of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the sublime. Something has spoken in place of the director. If nothing else, it is a phenomenon worthy of awe.

Nate:
from "Rolf Potts: Revelations from a Postmodern Travel Writer," interview by Michael Yessis, World Hum, 19 September 2008 :: via NYTimes.com Ideas Blog

Of course, the motifs and assumptions of well-told travel stories do change over the years. Twenty years ago, for example, books like Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu showed how travel writers had a new duty to deal with the charms and challenges and complexities of globalization. By the time I started writing for a living in the late 1990s, it had come to the point where it was nearly impossible to write a travel story without acknowledging globalization in some way. It’s difficult, after all, to project the old exotic clichés onto foreign lands when you keep meeting Burmese Shan refugees who can quote West Coast hip-hop, or Spanish Catholic girls who have crushes on Chinese movie stars, or Jordanian teenagers who idolize Bill Gates.