Examples of Catch 22
Examples of Catch 22
Where does Catch 22 come from?
Catch 22 comes from Joseph Heller’s 1961 classic novel, Catch-22, a satirical depiction of the American military bureaucracy in World War II. In it, Heller describes a military regulation, Catch-22, putting a pilot named Orr in an impossible situation:
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 were 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.
Did you follow that?
Catch, here, is a “hidden difficulty” or “snag,” a sense dating back to the 1850s. The novel’s first chapter was published under Catch-18 in 1955, later changed to 22 to avoid confusion with another contemporaneous novel with 18 in its title. The number 22 was chosen, apparently, because its the double of (playing with duality in the novelty) 11 (also a kind of duplicate).
Since its publication, the influential Catch-22 has become part of the classics we all have to read in school, notably adapted into a 1970 film by Mike Nichols. Since the 1970s, its central problem, the Catch 22 (often without a hyphen and lowercase C), has become a common expression for any kind of a self-contradictory situation or unsolvable dilemma.
Who uses Catch 22?
People like to use Catch 22 to describe situations that they feel are contradictory, mixed-signaled, or just unfair.
— Richard C. Schneider (@rc_schneider) June 25, 2018
Such contradictions are identified, in keeping with the original Catch-22‘s reference to a formal rule, in contemporary laws and regulations.
Catch-22. We are preventing families from lawfully requesting asylum at ports of entry while drafting a policy that doesn’t allow people who enter between ports from getting asylum. Happening in a country comprised of asylum seekers from the world over. https://t.co/lyfBJ0uYAS
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) June 30, 2018
Catch 22 has softened to refer to any “plight” or “problem” more generally, ironic or paradoxical:
Becoming used to hyper-efficient/ high work loads is a catch 22 because when you have a moment to relax, you’re feeling so incredibly restless
— Renée (@_RValentina_) June 28, 2018
The novel Catch-22 is often quoted or referenced because of its keen discussions of war, society, and bureaucracy.