Does our annoyance over the use of certain words mean we are against their use? Or so it would ostensibly appear. However, our distaste for certain cliche words, deemed annoying,and irritating are also, at some level,gifted with  a compelling attraction, since they continue to be used.Call it the gift of resonating inter-textuality.It may be how they are used,their context,  and the passions that animate them that are the ultimate arbiter. First the bad news:

“Whatever you think about using grating words, at the end of the day it’s actually better not to say whatever, if you know what I mean.For the second consecutive year “whatever’ topped a Marist poll as the most annoying word or phrase in the English language.Nearly 39 percent of 1,020 Americans questioned in the survey deemed it the most irritating word, followed by “like” with 28 percent and the phrase “you know what I mean’ at 15 percent.”Perhaps these words are introduced through popular culture, for example movies … so they catch on,” said Mary Azzoli, of Marist. “It has a lot to do with how accepted and how popular they become in every day speech.”

Azzoli said words like “whatever” can be quite dismissive depending on how they are used. “It’s the way they are delivered and inherent in that delivery is a meaning.The phrase “to tell you the truth” and “actually” were also unnerving to many people. But for younger Americans, aged 18 to 29, “like” was the word that annoyed them most. (Bernard Orr )

Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart is one of the most popular films of all time. Many of us know by heart each scene and canonical line of dialogue-”Round up the usual suspects,” “Was that cannon fire, or is it my heart pounding?” — or even every time that Bogey says “kid”-  What then is the fascination of Casablanca? According to the Marist Poll, Casablanca would be considered the most annoying and irritating film of all time.

The assertion is a legitimate one, for aesthetically speaking,or by any strict critical standards, Casablanca is a very mediocre film. It is a comic strip, a hodge-podge, low on psychological credibility, and with little continuity in its dramatic effects.  Forced to improvise a plot, the authors mixed in a little of everything, and everything they chose came from a repertoire of the tried and true. When the choice of the tried and true is limited, the result is a trite or mass-produced film, or simply kitsch. But when the tried and true repertoire is used wholesale, the result is an architecture like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There is a sense of dizziness, a stroke of brilliance.

At once a tangle of Eternal Archetypes comes into play. These are situations that have presided over stories throughout the ages. But usually to make a good story a single archetypal situation is enough. More than enough. Unhappy Love, for example, or Flight. But Casablanca is not satisfied with that: It uses them all. The cliches are piled on like cord wood: The Promised Land, The Fatal Game, the round of Desires;only two of which are satisfied: that of Victor Laszlo, the purest of heroes, and that of the Bulgarian couple. All those whose passions are impure fail. Thus, we have another archetype: the Triumph of Purity. The impure do not reach the Promised Land; we lose sight of them before that. But they do achieve purity through sacrifice — and this means Redemption.

Into this orgy of sacrificial archetypes-accompanied by the Faithful Servant theme in the relationship of Bogey and the black man Dooley Wilson- is inserted the theme of Unhappy Love: unhappy for Rick, who loves Ilse and cannot have her; unhappy for Ilse, who loves Rick and cannot leave with him; unhappy for Victor, who understands that he has not really kept Ilse. The interplay of unhappy loves produces various twists and turns: In the beginning Rick is unhappy because he does not understand why Ilse leaves him; then Victor is unhappy because he does not understand why Ilse is attracted to Rick; finally Ilse is unhappy because she does not understand why Rick makes her leave with her husband. These three unhappy (or Impossible) loves take the form of a Triangle. But in the archetypal love-triangle there is a Betrayed Husband and a Victorious Lover. Here instead both men are betrayed and suffer a loss, but, in this defeat (and over and above it) an additional element plays a part, so subtly that one is hardly aware of it. It is that, quite subliminally, a hint of male or Socratic love is established. Rick admires Victor, Victor is ambiguously attracted to Rick, and it almost seems at a certain point as if each of the two were playing out the duel of sacrifice in order to please the other.

Against the background of these intertwined ambiguities, the characters are stock figures, either all good or all bad. Victor plays a double role, as an agent of ambiguity in the love story, and an agent of clarity in the political intrigue — he is Beauty against the Nazi Beast. This theme of Civilization against Barbarism becomes entangled with the others, and to the melancholy of an Odyssean Return is added the warlike daring of an Iliad on open ground.Surrounding this dance of eternal myths, we see the historical myths, or rather the myths of the movies, duly served up again. Bogart himself embodies at least three: the Ambiguous Adventurer, compounded of cynicism and generosity; the Lovelorn Ascetic; and at the same time the Redeemed Drunkard:he has to be made a drunkard so that all of a sudden he can be redeemed, while he was already an ascetic, disappointed in love. Ingrid Bergman is the Enigmatic Woman, or Femme Fatale.

But precisely because all the archetypes are here, precisely because Casablanca cites countless other films, and each actor repeats a part played on other occasions, the resonance of inter-textuality plays upon the spectator. Casablanca brings with it, like a trail of perfume, other situations that the viewer brings to bear on it quite readily, taking them without realizing it from films that only appeared later, such as To Have and Have Not, where Bogart actually plays a Hemingway hero, while here in Casablanca he already attracts Hemingway-esque connotations by the simple fact that Rick, so we are told, fought in Spain (and, like Malraux, helped the Chinese Revolution). Peter Lorre drags in reminiscences of Fritz Lang; Conrad Veidt envelops his German officer in a faint aroma of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — he is not a ruthless, technological Nazi, but a nocturnal and diabolical Caesar.

Thus Casablanca is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. Made haphazardly, it probably made itself, if not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control. And this is the reason it works, in spite of aesthetic theories and theories of film making. For in it there unfolds with almost telluric force the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it. And so we can accept it when characters change mood, morality, and psychology from one moment to the next, when conspirators cough to interrupt the conversation if a spy is approaching, when whores weep at the sound of “La Marseillaise.”

When all the archtypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us. For we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion. Just as the height of pain may encounter sensual pleasure, and the height of perversion border on mystical energy, so too the height of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the sublime. Something has spoken in place of the director. If nothi

lse, it is a phenomenon worthy of awe.

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