shit or go blind WAS Rastus (was: "Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like" (1917))

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Dec 10 03:52:23 UTC 2007

>>not knowing whether
>>to shit or go blind
>I love that expression and have not succeeded so far in finding an
>account of its origin. Any ideas, y'all?

Sure. Inchoate speculations are cheap, here's mine. I assume others
have presented essentially the same notion before.

I've (rarely) heard "eat shit and go blind" meaning the same as "eat
shit [and die]", although I can't find an example with "go blind" on
the Web right now. Presumably the "go blind" here migrated from the
"whether to shit or go blind" expression: perhaps earlier it migrated
from some other collocation with "shit" + "go blind".

Maybe the "go blind" < "gorblimey". The ancestral expression might
have been something like: "What'll we do now?" / "Shit [and]
gorblimey! Nothing we can do!" Or: "He was completely baffled, didn't
even know whether to say 'Shit!' or 'Gorblimey!'". Perhaps "go blind"
was an American serviceman's interpretation of the unfamiliar
"gorblimey", maybe picked up in Britain or Europe during WW I ... or WW II?

Maybe the HDAS or OED files have contributory information?

-- Doug Wilson

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