Updated date:

Being Unique: The Fight Against Clichéd Humanity

Chris practices free writing which often produces humorous or introspective results with practical applications to living life more fully.


Etymology of Electrotyping, Stereotyping, and Cliché

Electrotype is a new word for me. Stereotype is not. Both words rose out of the printing industry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The word cliché was another word for stereotype in the publishing world. A cliché in the eighteenth century was a single metal sheet of copied typeset.

Electrotyping and stereotyping were methods of creating a permanent typeset for a specific publication such as a book or newspaper. The copied typeset, the cliché, could be used for reprints so the original typeset could be disassembled and used for other projects. These inventions were revolutionary in the publishing world. The words gained a much broader use outside publishing as time went on.

John Mellencamp, Peaceful World

Electrotyping, Stereotyping, and Cliché Defined

While electrotype may be a new word to many of us, we all recognize stereotype and cliché. The Collins Dictionary defines stereotype as "a fixed general image or set of characteristics that a lot of people believe represent a particular type of person or thing." Cliché is "an idea, action, or habit that has become trite from overuse." All three of these words, electrotyping, stereotyping and cliché, especially the latter two, have taken on the meaning of identicality or sameness.

As a fiction writer, cliché is something I am learning to avoid. It is the challenge to use my own vocabulary and style. I suppose every word in our dictionaries is a cliché. Language banks on sameness. But stringing together such words in a unique manner is the art of the writer.

When we read our newspapers, books, and magazines, we expect sameness, not of the words themselves, but of the printing of those words. If not for identicality of form, language would not work.

Stereotype Mold

A stereotype mold ("flong") being made

A stereotype mold ("flong") being made

Clichéd Humanity

A good friend, Manatita, recently referred to Oneness as being infinitely more sublime than the word ‘unity.' Oneness, speaks of the arrangement of divergent pieces for the accomplishment of a single goal. This oneness that Manatita speaks of is not the sameness of electrotyping, stereotyping or cliché.

Can people be clichés? Can people with vast differences be one? Notice those two questions harbor different meanings. The first implies replicas of a master model. The second allows for individual differences while uniting around a single purpose.

Cliché surrounds us in secular society. We can see it in literature and in people. I travel for my work. Now I'm in Missoula, Montana. Before that were Billings, St. Louis, Columbus, Louisville, Colorado Springs, Medford, Philadelphia, Albuquerque. Everywhere I go, people talk about the same television programs. Television produces the ultimate, human cliché.


The Struggle Against Clichéd Humanity

Governments around the world struggle to unify cities made up of individuals from a variety of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Added to that are the differences between one race and another, men and women, LGBT and straight, in addition to the fundamental idiosyncrasies of the individual.

We see unrest in the cities because people will always buck the system that attempts to pigeonhole them. Government only knows how to quantify, organize and file. But the people, the governed, want to thrive and live exciting lives. They want to be significant in their world. Sameness obliterates significance.

Communities of people, all different, must come together outside the reach of government and create a society that requires oneness, not sameness. Can you imagine the file cabinet in which no two pieces of paper were appropriate for the same file folder? That is the essence of oneness, the freedom to be unique yet belong to a single community.


The Difference Between Sameness and Oneness

Electrotyping and stereotyping sought to eliminate any flaw on the typeset. The result was the reproducibility of exact form. That has been good for the printing industry. It is death when applied to the human race.

The challenge is to discern the difference between sameness and oneness. The former leads to slavery, totalitarianism, indoctrination, and censorship. The latter is much more difficult to maintain. It is related to freedom. Sameness and bondage are bedfellows in a dictatorial state. Oneness and freedom are partners in a free society.


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 27, 2018:


I found this really interesting, and in many ways rewarding to read.

The country where I live (New Zealand) was founded on a document that guaranteed at least two cultures would live side by side, it hasn't always been easy, but over the years the two have grown to respect each other, and in many ways it's opened the door for other cultures to come in an live alongside.

I often work alongside Indians, Fijians, Samoans, Tongans, Maori and Pakeha (that's Maori for white people) but one thing we all have in common is we all regard ourselves as 'Kiwi' as well as our nationality!

To me, 'oneness' speaks of a unity of purpose, and not forcing another into the same 'mold' I'm in.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 21, 2017:

Thanks MizB

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on December 16, 2017:

Oneness comes from love, and with love comes the individual who is both a microcosm of the macrocosm and a freethinker. The groups protesting in the streets, regardless of which side they are own, think only one way, their way. Very good article, Chris.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 14, 2017:

Audrey, well said. Thank you for this response to my essay.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on December 13, 2017:

To honor our uniqueness is to find freedom. It is the doorway to inner peace. This attitude that everyone should be the same is stifling inventiveness and individual thinking. As we celebrate our uniqueness we are better able to serve our fellowman. Magnificent article. Thank you.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 13, 2017:

Michael, I believe I could spend a week with your comment and still not have reached the depth of your thinking. Thank you for connecting so well with my thinking on the subject of oneness in a free society. May we learn how to use this powerful tool for the benefit of all.

Michael Milec on December 12, 2017:

O Chris, how to reach your distinction ?

Within best of our efforts we ( meaning humans ) do incline reaching toward oneness in a free society while a program eliminates/ diminishes opposition and through the unity of a same spirit (creates) identifies a bond of a peaceful environment recognizing of trust, of love, of sentiment , of hope in different subjects evolving by the supreme power of spirit’s dominance in peace one towards another. Sigh.

manatita44 from london on December 11, 2017:

An immaculate piece!!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 11, 2017:

manatita, Thank you, I am humbled and pleased. Your comments about oneness in your hub struck me and hung with me. I needed to work my way through the subject carefully and this is the result.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 11, 2017:

Jay C Obrien, Thank you for sharing those words, your own and Casey's. In a sense, our eyes must be on others and not on ourselves. In another sense, our eyes must be on ourselves and not others. If we do those two things right, we might make the world a better place.

manatita44 from london on December 11, 2017:

What a brilliant piece of writing and what a strong case presented here. Superb! I actually think that you are back to your best form here. Flowed so effortlessly; so well! Held together and kept with the essence of what you are trying to say. Engaging! So important in writing!

Thanks for the shout. (sweet chuckle here) I see that you noticed. Guruji has a very long piece somewhere, where he is describing the difference between Oneness and Unity. So sublime! Yet I liked how you tackled it. Sweet and charming! Carry on, Bro.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on December 11, 2017:

Edgar Cayce was a spiritualist and teacher.

Cayce's information presents a hopeful and inspiring approach to spirituality and religion that inextricably weaves all of humanity together. Rather than focusing upon the form of specific religions or dogmas, the readings instead focus upon the importance of every single soul attempting to manifest an awareness of the living Spirit in the earth.

From Cayce's perspective, our goal is not to simply wait for heaven or to escape the earth; instead, we are challenged to bring an awareness of the Creator into our lives and into our surroundings wherever we may be, right now.

What is the difference? ...Truth...is of the One source. Are there not trees of oak, of ash, of pine? There are the needs of these for meeting this or that experience...Then, all will fill their place. Find not fault with any, but rather show forth as to just how good a pine, or ash, or oak, or vine thou art!

-- Edgar Cayce Reading 254-87

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 10, 2017:

Eric, commonality vs conformity sums up the topic very well. Excellent writing delivered with passion is the most effective. Excellent writing with no passion is useless. Poor writing delivered with passion has probably moved mountains in history. Thanks for the visit.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 10, 2017:

Just love this friend. In this arena of thought I go all; Commonality vs. conformity. I do not buy a sameness but I embrace oneness. One must be the hand and another the foot. In one body but distinct and equally important parts.

My elder son says not to write so uniquely it makes people miss the flow of good writing.

So be it, it is advice well taken but not followed.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 10, 2017:

NIkki, you said a mouthful and every word is true. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

Nikki Khan from London on December 10, 2017:

Very good article Chris,,Oneness is very important to maintain unity and democracy in a healthy and live society where everyone should be able to respect other’s own theories and differences in order to live happy and free with freedom.

Thanks for sharing.

Many Blessings.

Related Articles