Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The war on cliche

From Jogo, an amusing exchange between Christopher Hitchens and Peter Robinson, an excerpt from a longer interview.

Peter Robinson: You write of North Korea, it is exactly as if it was modeled on 1984, Orwell's novel -- the leader worship, the terror, the uniformity, the misery, the squalor, all true. Still?

Christopher Hitchens: Yes, it was -- the state was founded actually I think the year that 1984 was published and it's as if they sort of took the book and thought I wonder if we could make this work?

Peter Robinson: Right.

Christopher Hitchens: One tries to avoid cliché. I remember I went to Prague during the old days, the bad old days of the [C]ommunist regime to attend a dissident meeting. I thought whatever happens to me, I'm not going to mention the name Kafka in what I write. I'm going to be the first reporter who doesn't -- who goes to Prague and doesn't bring up Kafka.

Peter Robinson: Does not say Kafka?

Christopher Hitchens: Anyway the policemen came in -- the secret police broke into the meeting I was at and slammed me up against the wall and said you're under arrest. And I said what for? And they said we're not telling you what for. And I thought damn, now I have to resort to cliché. I have to mention Kafka.

Peter Robinson:

You have to say Kafka.

Christopher Hitchens: Well if you go to North Korea, determined not to mention Orwell, Orwellianism or 1984, you will -- I'm sorry -- you'll be forced to. They make you do it.

Previous: An explosion in a pubic hair factory (on Hitchens, Marx and Paul Johnson), No American 'Gulag', The Hitch and Cambodia, Hitchens, The Pope and Stalin

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