ARTICLE: Matthew Cusick Illustrates "Manifestations on the myth of the voiceless" in Orion Magazine
September 1, 2021 - Amitav Ghosh for Orion Magazine
It is very rare today for the word brute to be used in the way it was in the past. Nobody refers to animals, let alone to people or races, as brutes anymore; nobody even cries out “you brute!” as characters so often do in Victorian novels.
But even as the original coinage fades from everyday usage, its derivatives, like brutal and brutality, have become ubiquitous—on the internet, in newspapers, and on signs protesters carry through the streets as they chant “Black Lives Matter!”—for police brutality is, of course, at the heart of the protests.
The current ubiquity of the word brutality is an indication of a stunning reversal: no longer is this domain of meaning configured around the savage or the semicivilized; it is centered instead on the repressive machinery of the state, primarily the police. The inversion of meaning establishes an etymological arc that links the planetary crisis directly back to processes of colonization, enslavement, and biopolitical war....