The other night at the Denali show, when my former student was talking to me about poetry, I tried to explain my undergraduate theory that it would be possible to write a great body of work solely by inverting the clichés of other writers. I explained all the work I'd done on Rilke and how he often seemed to be taking that approach, particularly in the New Poems.
In the course of the discussion, I thought of a little formulation:
I would love to become a cliché, but I don't want to be a cliché!
It's silly and obvious, to be sure, but still captures the basic philosophical distinction between being and becoming quite nicely. What do you do once you've arrived?