Mercer's Poems
Irritating Hackneyed Clichés

I wrote a poem not so long ago about a person who seems to make clichés come true. However, even under such circumstances it does not make them any more acceptable! We are all guilty of using clichés, or hackneyed old phrases and platitudes. They come so naturally, indeed so prevalent are they in some circles that it has almost become a cliché itself - e.g. football punditry, during which it is a cliché to expect to hear many clichéd phrases! 

Well, since I seem to be taking some kind of extended break from any serious political analysis, and since I have been mildly irritated by a cliché I read this morning, I am going to severely over-analyse and moan about several of my least favourite sayings.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

The phrase itself is supposed to be a warning about investing all of your time/energy/money in one venture lest something unfortunate happen. Actually, it is just a tediously impractical piece of clichéd bullshit. What if you only have one basket? Do you just merely leave some of your eggs behind to go rotten and putrid simply because you lack a secondary transport for them? Also, is it not somewhat a wasted effort trying to ensure you have multiple baskets with you at all times? What is more, is ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ not countered by saying ‘don’t spread yourself too thin’…This is a damn good reason why such phrases do not work - there is always an equally pointless cliché to counter it, and they are usually disguised as some sort of twisted fable that makes little practical sense. 

If you wish to warn someone of the dangers of investing themselves too much in one venture or another then simply say so. “I think you may be putting too much effort into that, be careful, if it fails you shall be left feeling rather upset and will have wasted your efforts…” don’t go grinding out cheesy platitudes about eggs! 

You can’t have your cake and eat it. 

One that I know an acquaintance of mine will be happy to see on this list and its place is deserved. This nugget of nonsense is supposed to mean you cannot both possess something and consume it. However the example it uses is a bit daft. Forgive me if I am wrong but people don’t often desire cakes so they can put them in a safety deposit box…do they? Usually you have your cake specifically for the eating of it. I mean, okay sometimes cakes are ceremonial, but even then you cut them and everyone has a nommy bit of cake and all is well with the world. Wherever you go if someone has cake, someone will eat it! That’s what you do with cake! It’s almost as bad as the state-the-obvious phrase of ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’…REALLY!? I thought once it was gone it was still there, and not really gone at all it was just some illusion! 

Seriously, have your cake, eat it…That’s what you fucking do with cake! If you have your cake and don’t eat it you shall merely end up with mouldy or stale old cake. Some cakes may keep longer than others in which case you can have them for longer, but you still need to eat them sometime. In fact, anyone who uses this phrase should be forcefed cake until their mouths are so clogged with mashed up cake they can no longer deny that if you have cake, JUST FUCKING EAT IT! 

Only boring people get bored 

I’ve seen this attribute to a few sources so don’t quite know where it came from exactly, nor do I really know what it means. But it was reading this that inspired my ire for clichéd bullshit this morning. It’s one of those new age, clichéd smugisms. Something people who like to describe themselves as ‘kooky’ say to try to exert some kind of privilege over ‘normal’, boring people. For one thing it completely misinterprets the phenomenon of boredom. Every single person on this Earth is capable of being bored and if you are one of the few who are not then there is probably something wrong with you. Given the correct circumstances ALL PEOPLE can get bored. Look, if you’re going to insult people be a bit more direct about it. For example, GITS WHO LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE FUCKING SPECIAL AND UNIQUE BY BERATING PEOPLE WHO GET BORED AS BEING ‘BORING’ ARE ALL ARROGANT, NARCISSISTIC CRETINS! You see, you don’t have to use smug one-liners. Now fuck off! 

All’s fair in love and war

That people even still say this is beyond belief but even I, in the relatively sensible circles I have called ‘friends’ have heard this being used in a modern context in which it has no place. 

Seriously ‘ALL’!? That leaves a lot of fucking scope. I mean essentially you’ve just condoned war-crimes - because all is fair in war, right!? Sexual assault? Pfft, it’s nothing if you say you love the victim because ‘all’s fair’ right!? NO! Fuck this phrase and its lack of any sort of ethics whatsoever! Both war and love are usually in themselves drastically unfair bloody things, but to use them as an excuse to demolish any notions of personal responsibility just shows a complete lack of humanity! That’s what this phrase is, it’s a get out of jail free card for acting like a complete dick of a human being with no sense of what is right, and what you should do as a responsible person. Fuck that, if you use this phrase I’m going to kiss you, declare war on you, then stab you - it’s fine, it’s both an act of passion and an act of war so it’s twice as fucking acceptable. 

The early bird catches the worm

Well, the early bird is certainly capable of catching some worms, but THE worm? What is this special, singular worm of which they speak? What makes it so apart from the rest of the worms that are actually available at various times on most days? What tragic fucking early bird is this that does not have a more varied diet? I’d rather be a late bird with some variety in my life than an early bird who smuggly gobbles up worms thinking they’re so fucking great!  

What advice is this phrase even supposed to offer? Get in quick? Wake up early? Always be early for things? I mean, it’s completely impractical and likely to lead to exhaustion. I just don’t get it. Things come and go at different times, opportunities present themselves with varying time frames you don’t have to jump into everything immediately - nor should you dither too much…Fuck this phrase and fuck the early bird.

Curiosity killed the cat

The irritating cliché equivalent of watching a gang shooting and having one of the perpetrators say ‘You didn’t see a thing…’ A phrase that merely exists not only as a kind of casual cruelty towards our delightful feline friends, but also as stark encouragement for lack of truth, enlightenment and stupidity. A culturally embedded trope that essentially tells us not to dig too deep, try to hard, or ask too many questions. If you ever wondered why ignorance was so rife, try considering this phrase and how culturally significant it may be. Fuck this clichéd piece of shit saying. 

I think I’m about done for now. Realistically I could probably research a list of tired old sayings and slate most of them. We are all guilty of using them on occasion but the problem comes when people believe them as statements of fact. It is our duty to question everything, even if it is culturally ingrained. Otherwise we shall merely stagnate into smug, ignorant homogeneity and I certainly do not want to see that happen. We have developed our language over a long time so that we may expressively communicate with each other in whatever ways we see fit, do we really want to be doing so with words that are not our own? Sentiments that seem false? and with phrases that are ambiguous in their meaning? Ponder that the next time you offer someone some advice. Are they more likely to heed a worn out old phrase, or are they more likely to respond to words from you, that sound like your own, and carry your thoughts and feelings in their subtexts?