Catch 22

How often do we all use the above phrase that represents or is reflective of dilemma! The best example is the chicken and the egg story – which came first – the egg, who laid it if the chicken was not there – the chicken, how it hatched without the egg? And there are number of examples of this dilemma, the popular lore being a candidate appearing for a job that required work experience! He was flummoxed, “ If each job giver has this precondition, how will I gain work experience?”

The inspiration of this blog has come from eponymous book of the same name that was penned by Joseph Heller in early 60s, but that retains its popularity and interest till date, lining it up along side classic works. In fact, as the story goes, the author could have named it anything and actually originally coined it Catch 18 to finally name his book Catch 22 at the suggestion of his publisher.

As aforesaid, catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations that’s best described by the following flow chart:

The entire book that’s 450+ pages is a satirical take on wartime politics, where number of combat missions are continuously increased and those who want a break find themselves in a Catch 22 situation.

It’s a difficult book to read. To prove the point, I started this book 10-15 years ago, but couldn’t go more than a few pages, and if you look for personal reviews of this book, many readers have echoed similar experiences. It’s not sequential, is repetitive, entails use of very complex words et al.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog on Hollywood blockbuster Saving Private Ryan that was a gory and macabre take on world war 2. Coming close on the heels of the above classic movie, the classic book is a satire on world war 2. However, as also observed in my aforesaid previous blog, the individual soldiers sacrifice their lives and attain martyrdom, but there are so many under currents that are not necessarily in the similar serious vein. This is tragic. In the matters of sacrifice for the nation, all stakeholders must demonstrate the same sincerity, seriousness, valour and chivalry that our troops facing the enemy demonstrate. At least in such matters of supreme national interest entailing supreme sacrifice, no stakeholder should shortchange and this is one of important learning from Joseph Heller’s classic.

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