Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Catch 22

We all know the phrase, but it only came into being in 1961, created by Joseph Heller(May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) for his novel of the same name.

I watched a video tape of the movie on the weekend. It is a brilliantly sad and funny movie made in 1970 with a superb cast lead by Alan Arkin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22_%28film%29

I find it relevant in my attempts to understand the mad world in which we live, including the absurdity of war. The message I took from it was that is ok to feel overwhelmed, confused , frustrated and fearful because very often we are put in no win situations by people in positions of power and they make our lives difficult, if it not down right dangerous.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22#Synopsis

We need to see that the "emperors have no clothes" and exercise our humanity in opposition to bureaucracy , self interest and stupidity. A very tall order!

1 comment:

  1. I remember that film and thinking about it for a long time after.
    These days I watch 'Generation Kill'. It does not glorify war and gives a unique insight into the thoughts of American soldiers, who more often than not challenge authority, express concern about what they're doing and adopt a philosophical, if not ironic and humorous approach to their day to duties.
    When I think of war these days I always default to the position stated by Col Jessep in the film 'A Few Good Men' who said 'you can't handle the truth...You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it'.
    So, my position is - war is terrible, but as Jessep says in the final analysis we want someone on that wall, with a gun defending us.