But, as Mr Liberman documents in many examples, has repeatedly referred to shrouds, nightmares, contagions and deer caught in headlights in our own pages.
The problem is the absolute nature of Orwell’s rules.
He writes, too, that there is such a thing as “groups of people who have adopted a totalitarian outlook”—single-truth communities of sorts, not just totalitarian regimes or entire countries. Orwell was writing in 1946, five or seven years before scholarly works by Hannah Arendt, on the one hand, and Karl Friedrich, on the other, provided the definitions of totalitarianism that are still in use today.
Orwell’s own “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” which provides the visceral understanding of totalitarianism that we still conjure up today, was a couple of years away.
Orwell argues that totalitarianism makes literature impossible.
By literature, he means all kinds of writing in prose, from imaginative fiction to political journalism; he suggests that verse might slip through the cracks.
The totalitarian regime rests on lies they are lies.
The subject of the totalitarian regime must accept them not as truth—must not, in fact, believe them—but accept them both as lies and as the only available reality. Just as Orwell predicted, over time the totalitarian regime destroys the very concept, the very possibility of truth.
The most relevant of the rules, in this context was of course number (i).
Avoiding clichés keeps writers from crafting a lazy string of mixed metaphors, such as a nightmare casting a shroud in a guise of contagion that resembled a deer so unlucky as to be both caught in headlights and paralysed.