“…Tennis is about: passion.”

“Tennis is about control,” Eric disagreed.

“Tennis is about everything,” Willy declared with feeling.

Eric laughed.  “Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far.  But…the tennis game is the window of the soul.”

Excerpt from the novel, Double Fault, by Lionel Shriver

In this passage above, “window of the soul” is a rather clichéd expression but clichés are a conundrum.  On one hand, their prescriptive, pre-packaged depictions of our world are like the worst type of stereotypes which circumscribe the world’s delightful potential to unexpectedly supersede and elude all expectation and assumption.  According to my Webster’s dictionary, Lionel Trilling defines clichés as “those desperate perceptions of our life which…have become so obvious…that they seem to close for us the possibility of thought and imagination.”  But if I were to tell you that watching the most sublime tennis match is akin to poetry in motion, that too would be a clichéd description.  

 The problem is that it is almost impossible to speak of tennis or any other sport without resorting to cliché.

Homo sum: humani nil
a me alienum puto

Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is an author, academic

and aerobics instructor.

Watching Tennis, Mining Cliché for Poetry

Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

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