Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's enough to make me choke to death on my second-cousin's vomit...

"Malcolm Lowry choked to death on his own vomit." That sentence, which recurs with minor modifications in every review, article or book about the alcoholic life and sickening death of the Consul's creator, leads me to ask if that last noun really requires such emphatic modification. Must we pedantically specify that Lowry's (or anyone else's) final, fatal barf was indeed his own? Should we not commonsensically assume as much, given the logistical difficulty of choking to death on someone else's? Medical examiners, many of whom make an avocation of collecting unusual deathcauses (with which to regale colleagues at conventions), have probably reported a few cases of individuals mortally aspirating the oral excrement of others, but surely, outside of Don Quixote or scat porn, even nonfatal mouthing of another's ralph must be extremely rare. Why then do we irrationally insist, in every single case, upon specifying that the vomit in question was the victim's own?

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