Catch 22

Worldly Encounters
The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about. What do you pick?

Catch 22 bookcover

Because it not only describes the Korean and Vietnam era but it also describes humanity.  And does a damn fine job of it.   It is timeless in its portrayal of government and humans and corporations.

Tell me you cannot hear Monsanto, Round UP producer, saying Milo Minderbinder’s maxim “What’s good for M&M Enterprises is good for the country”  translated into “What’s good for Monsanto is good for the world.”.   Never mind the glyphosate which now is labeled as a possible cancer causing agent [frankly with the rates of cancer today? You really want to add even a possibly to your list of agents you come in contact with or consume?]. Meanwhile, thanks to that lovely EPA which can’t seem to arrange that one car funeral without fucking it up [see oil pipe line breaks, oceans, lakes and streams polluted by same as well as myriad other problems created by either deliberate negligence or sheer stupidity, either of which is bad for our health.]

We live in a world where not only does an Organic Farmer [the one who farms just like your great great grandpa farmed] now has to pay outrageous fees and jump through hoops to tell you  via the Organic label “I farm just like great great grandpa and you don’t even have to worry about glyphosate at all” while major companies aka Factory Farmers can use all sorts of chemicals that may or may not have been tested well enough in the beginning because of long-term studies [too slow. Want to make the money now] or interest contamination [Hey we plan to give XXXXXXX dollars to your department on fruit fly sex not that we want to influence you on the stuff we dump on peoples food.   My note on this?  Go with the WHO every time.  It’s harder to buy the entire world than it is the EPA or any other University and Science Lab.    And ALWAYS examine your sources.]

I mean lets face it.  Lets just take the most blatant examples of Government incompetency which puts even Catch 22 to shame or any government agent who came before who could barely tie his shoe lace.   Pipe Line Leaks [noted already.  Instead of being an unusual occurrence, it has become almost a weekly activity {see California Coastline for the latest fuck up}]  Exploding oil trains [just wait until the one that passes your kid’s school blows… and frankly, considering what is going on, that is no longer a far-fetched idea].  Train wrecks killing people because we just couldn’t bother to enact the safety measures.   It just keeps coming.   You gonna trust these fuck ups to decide what might kill you?  Hell, they can’t find their backside to wipe with a video on YouTube on “How to wipe your butt” running in the stall on a wide-screen  TV.

You know in the 60s and early 70s, we said not to trust the Government but that pretty well was a real and paranoid reaction to the war [okay… wars Korean and Vietnam.  Places we had no damn business being in.  It cost us and changed us and we did unspeakable things both as a government and as people to those who chose to serve.]   Yes I was there and even if I was young, I’ll stand by that just as I said I would have gone [I missed Nam by 1 year when I enlisted] and that is was wrong but be damned if I was going to let those men go and die by themselves.  They would have needed me.  Should have been born a year earlier.   I would have gone in the Marines then instead of the Navy.

Anyhow.   It’s Catch 22.   Heller makes you laugh but at the same time, he brings hard facts home to you.  Laughter is a medium to bring such things home and made you start thinking.  Nothing is so true than something you laugh at because it is the truth.  That’s the mark of great comedians and the timelessness.  They bring it home.   George Carlin was one such.

He makes a good point here about Euphemisms

The truth is the funniest thing you will ever hear.   God, I miss that man.

And now I am close to my time limit on this and I haven’t even started on Catch 22 and the Truths contained there in.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

“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.”

“…anything worth dying for … is certainly worth living for.”

“They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told him calmly.
No one’s trying to kill you,” Clevinger cried.
Then why are they shooting at me?” Yossarian asked.
They’re shooting at everyone,” Clevinger answered. “They’re trying to kill everyone.”
And what difference does that make?”

“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”

“What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.”

“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

“What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.”

“The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.”  

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”

and so much more.    Read the book.   It will give you a good laugh and make you think and most of all?   It’s us.

NOTE:  The important part starts at 3.45 in the next video.

BTW, his stats are NOT made up.