Catch-22 in Catch-22

It hasn't been love at first sight. I bought my copy of Joseph Heller's world famous novel more in a 'have to' fashion rather than a 'want to' one. Since then it has become an off-again on-again affair. Approaching ten years since the day I bought it, I am yet to complete reading it even once. Heck, I haven't even gone past ten chapters. I invariably get stuck at the point where the whole 'Catch 22' emerges in the narrative. Maybe there is a psychological barrier there. I bought it to find out what exactly Catch 22 was - those days before Wikipedia and broadband Internet! I now know what Catch 22 is and probably don't care what happens in the novel beyond that.

"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 was 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.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," [Yossarian] observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed."


I also read MASH around the same time and in fact completed it - being a big fan of the TV series. Maybe I need the extra dumb down reference point that movie/TV offers for intelligent literary material. An uncle of mine also made the observation that while MASH and Catch-22 are clever anti-war satires, Catch-22's satire is a lot more subtle and every reading reveals new meanings. Maybe the intelligence of the novel intimidates me at some level... The book is in elite company though - I have volumes of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan right beside it - fresh and unread.

Catch-22 is like a comfort friend. Whenever I run out of books to read, I know that I'll always have Catch-22. If I finish reading it, however, I cease to have that comfort... Catch-22 is my own Catch-22 I guess!

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