A War on “Casual Violence”

March 23, 2014

Something about the phrase “casual violence” really tugs at my backbone. I think because it seems to exist in that first, early stage of literary writing, a buzz phrase from embryonic Nabokovs who feel they are flirting with profundity. Perhaps they feel they are venturing “outside the box” when they say someone is imbued with an attitude of “casual violence.” Such as “…this man who carries in his limbs the promise of casual violence…” in the short story “Summer Boys,” by Ethan Rutherford (pg. 31, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories).

Not to pick on Ethan, his was just the most readily available example. I probably have reams of my own story drafts tucked away that abuse this pseudo-significant phrase, as if it can decode the enigma that is humanity. So, in this year of 2014, let’s do what we can to divest our language of this overused, hackneyed, and now ultimately meaningless phrase.

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