Saturday, July 09, 2005

Always a Catch

I'm just about to head to the beach, but I wanted to blog for a moment about one of my favorite books: Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I rarely reread books. There's too much new stuff out there, and new-to-me stuff out there, forme to travel backward more than once in a while.

But I hadn't read Catch-22 since the summer before my senior year of high school, when the book was only 20 years old. Now it's almost 40. And it's every bit as good now as it was then, and more and more relevant.

Catch-22 focuses on an air force squadron stationed on Painosa, an island of the coast of Italy, during World War II. The lead character, Yossarian, is a bombardier who may be the one sane man in the world. As the colonels and generals keep on upping the number of missions required (it starts out at 30 -- by the end of the book it's up to 80), Yossarrian comes to believe that it's not just the enemy who's trying to kill him -- his own superiors are, too.

I don't want to talk too much about the book, or give away any of the absurd logical loop-de-loops Heller provides, but I do want to quote from one passage toward the end. Becauseeven with the Bushies up-is-downism, none of us have enough irony in our diet.

Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault. The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.

We all need exercise; even our rights. Remember to take yours for a spin regularly.



Anonymous said...

I reccommend you all rent The Fog of War, the Robert McNammara documentary, if you can stomach it. (I believe Gen Curtis LeMay, who fighures prominetly in this and, of course, in planning for 'Nam, was the model for Dr. Strangelove in that wonderful movie.) All I can say is at least Mcnammara and Johnson seem to have had qualms about 'Nam. I do so doubt W and his minnions have any about anything. The parallels to then and now, and the plethora of ignored lessons and warnings, are horrifying.


Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: My brain turned on again, and I realized LeMay was the inspiration for the bomb loving gereral played, I think, by Chill Wills. Edward Teller, the "father" of the hydrogen bomb, and the optomist who said the good ol USofA would win a nuclear war b/c we'd only lose 80% of our population, was the inspiration for Dr. Strangelove.