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Monday, 21 March 2016


How many times have you heard a conversation along the following lines:

A: I read The Da Vinci Code yesterday.
B: What was it like?
A: Atrocious unbearable hack-spawn.
B: I bet it wasn't as bad as AA Gill's tripe in the Sunday Times.
A: Nooooh. Gill's crap, I grant you, but surely not in the same league as Brown.

And so on.
The differing opinions that motivate such discussions are never satisfactorily resolved as there has been no agreed standard way to evaluate the extent to which any given work of literature is debased by cliché, especially where the works may take such different forms as, say, a novel and a newspaper column.
To eliminate the problem I have developed and today announce clichometry, an ingenious standard of measurement that will transform the practice of literary review.
The rules of clichometry are as simple as they are revolutionary, and may be stated thus:

1) In any given work each occurrence of a cliché is awarded a point.
2) Where the work itself is one big cliché- say a medieval whodunit with a crime-busting nun- each point is doubled.
3) The 'cliché index' of the work is its total number of points divided by its word-count, conventionally expressed as a percentage.

Informal applications of clichometry may be based on sampling to relieve the assessor of the debilitating effects of cumulative exposure to clichés; they may also substitute the figure 250n- where n is the page count- for the word count. However, in scholastic or competitive assessments rigorous counts of words and clichés must be completed and independently verified.

Future conversations may now be concluded in a far more harmonious and enlightening way:

A: I read The Da Vinci Code yesterday.
B: What was it like?
A: Atrocious unbearable hack-spawn. By my rough count the cliché index was eleven point two.
B: Just be glad you didn't read AA Gill's tripe in the Sunday Times- thirteen point eight.
A: (wincing) That's fierce. You've taken it easy since, I hope.

And so on.

My team of crack North-Korean programmers has developed and tested an algorithm that will determine the cliché index of any work presented in a machine-readable format (and which aren't nowadays). Negotiations with Google and Bing are reaching an interesting state.

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