What does it mean?

A few years ago, I wrote down a line of dialog from a movie, so I could mull it over. I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t, which is the reason the words are memorable.

“We never renounce; we replace.”

The line was Catherine Deneuve’s in Les Voleurs, a movie I can’t recommend, because the plot, though dismally forthright, was difficult to follow. There’s no need to hear the words in context to appreciate their meaning. Does anyone else hear something ominous?

5 Replies to “What does it mean?”

  1. Okay, you got me mulling over it now in all of my journal entries…I wrote it at the top of a page and keep turning back to that page.

    It does have an ominous sound, but not a new one…when I think of this quote politics comes to mind first.

    And not just American political history…

    But we could also apply it culturally (“what’s cool this year”) and in relationships (rather than renounce, “I keep getting the same guy,” or walk away from the friendship to find another that will fill our time).

    Thanks for giving me another Rubik’s cube to work on in my head, Robin. Not sure about the ominousness of the cube, though; the colors are what they are. But thanks for the cube just the same. :)

  2. Ominmous, indeed.

    Isn’t it interesting how some authors and screenwriters can link together such intriguing words, yet not contribute to developing the plot? Some writers can get bogged down in beautiful words.

  3. Words definitely intrigue me, and word choice is often revealing. Some people use ambiguity to its full advantage as a political strategy, although it could be said that ambiguity in a literary sense is no different. We usually hear what we want to hear, see what we want to see.

  4. The phrase reminds me of Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth ‘replaced’ facts, rewriting history, rather than renouncing them. Renouncing suggests that argument /debate from different perspectives is still possible, even if it is undermined. Replacing carries with it the suggestion that these different perspectives are removed.
    A less ominous example is going beyond renouncing a bad habit or weakness by replacing it with something healthier/better. Given that it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, perhaps we should be replacing rather than renouncing! Marsha http://writingcompanion.wordpress.com

  5. Marsha:

    I like the way you’ve interpreted the sentence. It implies the existence of a vacancy that will always be filled by something. I want to know why.

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