Monday, June 09, 2014

Can the world’s oldest man die?

An article entitled World’s Oldest Man, Though Only Briefly, Dies at 111 in New York” in The New York Times carrying June 9, 2014 and Ralph Blumenthal as the dateline and byline respectively caught my fancy and I read through the piece.
The man, Alexander Imich died on June 8th and he held the crown of being the world’s oldest man for an all too brief period of 45 days; 0.11% of his lifetime. Hence, I believe, the “…Though Only Briefly…” in the title. Yes, Imich lived all of 111 years and a couple of months only to hold on to the title of the world’s oldest man since April 24th this year, since his predecessor oldest man died! That kind of made me pity Imich.
But perhaps I have more people to pity on similar scores. Prince Charles heads the list of such obviously pitiables, since birth a prince and not to wear the crown yet!
But that was a slight digression. What I wanted to argue is here that the World’s Oldest Man can never be dead. Of course, the man who holds the title, even if only ever so briefly, can be dead, but the World’s Oldest Man – note the italics and upper case – can never die. Catch the obvious nuance (an oxymoron).
The argument is simple: the title changes hands seamlessly. The moment Imich’s predecessor, Arturo Licata died, Imich became the world’s oldest man. Even the crown of a kingdom does not transfer so smoothly. Therefore I take issue with the title. The World’s Oldest Man can never die, only transfer the title.
The title would have been better as, “The World’s Oldest Man Changed Hands/Bodies.”
I hope you will agree with me.
Raghuram Ekambaram


Rituparna said...

No I dont agree with you. i think Worls oldest man -can never die is an apt title. The person who has written this article and is working in New York Times has given a suitable title for his artile.

mandakolathur said...

Thanks for disagreeing! This was not the first time and I hope it won't be the last. My argument is simply that the title transfers itself seamlessly! I am not talking about the man himself.


Aditi said...

Raghu, by the logic you apply, none of the holders of any physical attribute can claim a headline of holding that attribute the moment they die, hahahaha. But about Prince Charles, I think his mother is a very worldly attached selfish person, why does she not voluntarily step down after attaining the age of 88 !!!!

mandakolathur said...

Aditi, isn't that trivially true? Every person, including one of two fraternal twins (refer Dhoom 3!), is a unique individual, identified by the dog tag of name!

There are murmurs that QEII (not the ship) may be ready to abdicate. Charles is hoping!

Thanks for the comment.


Indian Satire said...

Remembering Buddha's tale asking a lady to get mustard from a house which has never had a death

mandakolathur said...

I am glad to have reminded you of something noble, Balu.