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Catch-18Posted Thursday, April 7, 2011, at 4:19 PM
In 1961, Joseph Heller wrote a classic novel about military madness during World War II and the human desire to survive it. It was his first novel and he called it CATCH-18. His publisher, Simon & Schuster, felt the title would conflict with the new Leon Uris novel called MILO 18, so they changed it to CATCH-22.
In the novel, catch-22 is a term used by bomber pilots to describe their dilemma. In order to get out of combat you must be judged to be crazy, but if you express a desire to get out you are thereby judged to be sane. Therefore, you can never get out of combat. If a pilot wanted to be grounded, all he had to do was ask. But by asking, it proved he was rational and therefore was required to fly.
"The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on." Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is now a term in the English language which means the only solution to a problem is denied by a circumstance (or rule) inherent in the problem. Within a catch-22 rule there is always an exception that makes the rule a circular argument that can't be resolved.
People with power tend to go to great lengths to maintain their power and those without power suffer the consequences. Creating a catch-22 is one way to maintain that power.
The real world is full of catch-22s.
Getting your first job, particularly in a specialized technical field, is a catch-22. You can't get the job because you have no experience and you can't get any experience until you get a job. In Hollywood, it's nearly impossible to break in. In order to sell a screenplay you must be a member of the Writer's Guild and you can't become a member of the Writer's Guild unless you've sold a screenplay. The same is true for actors. You can't play a part unless you belong to the Actor's Guild and you can't get into the Actor's Guild unless you've played a part.
Marriage is often a circumstance without a solution, a circular argument that can't be resolved, making it a classical catch-22. You can't live with them and you can't live without them.
Our entire banking system is built around a catch-22. If you are poor and desperately need a loan, you don't qualify for a loan. But if you can prove that you have enough accumulated net worth, in other words don't really need a loan, then you qualify.
Military strength is another catch-22. The USA spends an excessive amount of money building a powerful military to protect itself from its potential enemies, thereby creating more potential enemies who resent the powerful military in the first place. The stronger we become, the more despised we become. Thus, the stronger we become, the stronger we must become.
As the lone superpower on Earth we have become trapped in our own catch-22. We see ourselves as noble crusaders saving the rest of the world from evil, while the rest of the world sees us as self-appointed global cops perpetuating evil by imposing our will on others. Even if our intentions are honorable, it doesn't mean they will be perceived that way or that they will always be honorable in the future. Being the toughest dude on the block requires cooperation and restraint. No one likes a bully. And no one likes a self-appointed cop either. A planet with a single superpower is a planet out of balance.
Even your basic personality is a catch-22. Honesty often offends people whereas deceit gratifies them with what they want to hear. You can alienate people with your opinions or you can accommodate them by being agreeable. Pleasing others and being an honest human being with conviction are in direct conflict.
Life is a catch--22. You can make dust or eat dust. Either way, it's always dusty.
Quote for the Day -- "Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them." Joseph Heller
Bret Burquest recently published THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY (available on Amazon) -- topics include collective consciousness, UFOs, parallel dimensions, Edgar Cayce, Atlantis, St. Germain, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, End of Days, the White Buffalo, Jesse James, Noah's Ark, JFK and MLK assassinations, Dead Sea Scrolls, Illuminati, New World Order, Bilderbergers, Hitler after WW II, reincarnation, Near Death Experience, Mayan calendar 2012, much more.
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.