Yossarian Part Six
This is part six of an appreciation of Catch 22. Parts one, two, three, four, five, and seven precede it. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This was written like Isaac Asimov.
XXXI Mrs. Daneeka “Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.”
This was a letter sent to the wife of Dr. Daneeka, who was believed to be on board the plane that McWatt ran into a mountain. His presence around the base was not sufficient to disprove the rumors of his demise. He became a non person.
Dr. Daneeka wrote his wife, who was overjoyed to hear he was alive. She wrote him back. The letter was returned unopened, with a rubber stamp saying “killed in action”. There was insurance money, social security money, VA money, and more insurance money. Mrs. Daneeka took the children, and moved to Lansing MI. There was no forwarding address.
When you select the quote at the top of this chapter, you are given the option to google the selected phrase. One of the results is a page called love and marriage. It is a list of jokes.
My wife and I were happy for 20 years! … then … we met … Rodney Dangerfield
Bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.
Don’t marry for money; you can borrow it cheaper. Scottish Proverb
Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn’t, they’d be married too.
H. L. Mencken
A man without a woman is like a fish without a bicycle.
I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back
I asked my wife, “Where do you want to go for our anniversary?” She said, “Somewhere I have never been!” I told her, “How about the kitchen?”
When marriage is outlawed, only outlaws will have inlaws.
She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, “Am I too late for the garbage?” Following her down the street I yelled, “No, jump in!”
A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave. The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, “Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?” The first man approached him and said, “Sir, I don’t wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I’ve ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?” The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, “My wife’s first husband.”
XXXII Yo-Yo’s Roomies This is another chapter where not much goes on. Yossarian gets four kids to live in his tent. They have not been around to war long enough to be bitter and cynical. This is very annoying to Yossarian. He goes to Rome in dispair.
There has been a document on PG’s desktop since July. It is titled “aspen ideas”. It seems that every summer, a bunch of people go to Colorado to have an intellectual conference. Andrew Sullivan, bless his heart, tipped off PG to the existence of this affair. “I had to go to the elite self-love festival when I was working at the Atlantic. I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t sleep for three days because of the altitude and kept bumping into people I’d trashed on the blog. Good times.”
Another sullipost was about Iran. “So this year I again missed the Aspen Ideas Festival; and it’s a bit of a shame. Had I gone I would have been deeply reassured (once again) about the extraordinarily safe global security environment in which the United States resides.
Case in point: this little nugget from Nicholas Burns — a former under secretary of state for political affairs at State Department, U.S. ambassador to NATO and State Department spokesman. Burns is a pretty bright guy and highly respected. Still in a discussion with Jeff Goldberg, Burns was asked who the United States’ number-one adversary in the world is, Burns’s reply: “Iran.” Goldberg responded, “No doubt in your mind?” Burns said, “None.”
Whew, now that is a relief! If Burns is correct that Iran is America’s number one adversary in the world then truly the United States has little to worry about. Iran is a second rate military power, lacks an active nuclear program, is deeply isolated in the Middle East, has a poorly performing economy and has few allies or friends. In short, Iran is the hottest of hot messes.”
Meanwhile, the Aspen Ideas Festival is now accepting deposits for the 2013 event. As one slide on the site says, the time for BS and slogans is over. And the 2012 shindig is immortalized on twitter.
@NPRdeabs “You’re only as needy as your unmet needs”-Amir Levine #AspenIdeas So true…
@thisfarmingman Heading to the Belly Up to see Moby in concert…
@darrwest Seems wrong that I luxuriate at #aifestival while 800,000 in @DC have no power or AC. As sign of solidarity, I will turn off my AC.
@KBAndersen One reason to come to the Aspen Ideas Festival: you’re @AnneKreamer, you wear your Tory Burch dress, & @toryburch says you look great in it.
@kjpilot Early yoga at #AspenIdeas with @Quaker coach Bob Harper. Mountains in back, oatmeal in @pepsico tent as reward. Heaven pic.twitter.com/q98KZxdv
XXXIII Nately’s Whore Yossarian goes to Rome looking for pussy. He winds up helping Nately rescue his gf from some obnoxious officers. Nately’s whore then sleeps for eighteen hours, and falls in love with Nately. He shows his appreciation by trying to get her to quit hustling, which she does not appreciate. It is a fun chapter, with very little bloodshed for a war story.
There is a blogger in Florida named Adam Heath Avitable. He weighs 400 pounds, give or take a hundred pounds, and he does stand up comedy. He recently took questions from his readers, which are much more numerous than the readers of Chamblee54. PG decided it would be fun to take these questions, and give his own answers.
This is one of those post ideas that did not work out. A few of the questions yielded moderately funny answers, but most of them drew blanks. None of the questions were as funny as the picture Avitable used to have. It showed a German Staff car, with Adolph Hitler and Adam Heath Avitable in the back seat. The caption was that Avitable was where tact went to die.
BTW, apparently Adolph Hitler did not have a middle name. With the notoriety that he achieved, it was a shame that he only had two names. It would have made him sound so much more criminal if he had a middle name. The other great European megalomaniac, Napoleon Bonaparte, also went through life with only two names.
Mark asked:“What tragedy happened to you that made you so funny? Did you happen to grow up near Penn State by chance?”
No, PG grew up near Oglethorpe University. It has lots of granite buildings, and a half finished football stadium on Peachtree Road. William Randolph Hearst bought a degree from them for $100k and 400 acres of land.
The source of that fact is a memoir by Marion Davies. When PG tried to buy the book, it did not have a price marked on it. It was a Hearst Castle Souvenir. Book Nook charges a percentage of the original price, and was confused. They charged him $1.60.
Nuala Reilly asked: “Okay, several questions just because I’m curious like that: 1. Favourite movie. Or top five in case you can’t pick just one like me. 2. Favourite stand up comic- who is your idol? 3. Dream job-if you could do ANYTHING and make a living at it… 4. Favourite swear (that one is just for fun) 5. Reason you got into blogging.”
1-Vanishing Point. 2- Lester Maddox was the favorite comic, but he was not an idol. 3- shabbos goy (spell check suggestion:shabby gory) 4- Oliver Cromwell used to say “by the bowels of Christ”. 5- having pointless arguments with Christians.
Lester Maddox was the punch line of a joke once, and only one person caught on. The idea was you should change your facebook picture to a cartoon character from your childhood. PG put up a picture of Lester Garfield Maddox. Governor Maddox was the Lester of two evils.
Coal Miner’s Granddaughter asked: “What did you do with the hair you shaved from your head? Why did you go to law school and not take the bar? What moment in your life gifted you with clarity about your purpose? What moment in your life made your gut wrench and caused you to wonder about your true purpose? Why are we friends?”
PG throws old hair away. He thinks lawyers are icky people. As for clarity of porpoise, you will have to ask flipper. The gut wrench was from eating too many z burgers at Zestos. Because facebook says so.
Poppy asked: “I know you’ve gone through a lot of big life changes lately. Are you planning to leave Florida, or are you staying for the foreseeable future?”
PG is staying in Georgia for a while. Florida is too hot, and those killer skittles are scary.
Diddy asked: “Why does it hurt when I pee?”
You forgot to pull the feathers out.
Jana asked: “What the fuck?”
What is “the fuck”?
XXXIV Thanksgiving This is a chapter with drugs and violence. Milo gets the men roaring drunk on Thanksgiving. Someone decides to start firing a machine gun for fun. Yossarian goes to permanently stop them. Nately tries to stop Yossarian, who breaks Nately’s nose.
The next day, Yossarian goes to the hospital to see Nately. He finds the Chaplain there, the man of G-d having lied to get in the hospital. The Chaplain is overjoyed with his humanity. All is well until the man in white appears, which freaks out one and all.
Nurse Duckett has decided to marry a doctor, and quit entertaining Yossarian. She is concerned about Dunbar, and warns Yossarian that Dunbar is about to be “disappeared” This leads to this quote, “It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t even good grammar. What the hell does it mean to disappear somebody?”
Maybe it is time for a tribute to the fine facility of Wikiquotes. They have quotes from all types of sources, and often will tell you the source. They even have sections about quotes, that are charitably referred to as disputed.
A few days ago, PG found a brightly colored document called Seven Brilliant Quotes. Knowing the dubious veracity of internet knowledge, PG decided to investigate. A two part series was the result. In the end, only two of the SBQ had clear cut sources. The other five are probably fabrications.
Wikiquotes proved to be invaluable. One of the quotes was from Abraham Lincoln. You wouldn’t think anyone would lie about honest Abe, do you? Well, think again. The chapter on Mr. Lincoln was 43,444 words long. A festive forest of fecal fours. PG copied those words into a document, and did a search for “friendship”. The quote on the poster did not show up. It is not known if Mr. Lincoln really said ” I hope these are good seats tonight.”
When you go to the Wikiquotes home page, you get a quote of the day. Here is the message for today. It is from “Ivan Illich (4 September 1926 – 2 December 2002) was an Austrian-born Christian anarchist, author, polymath, and polemicist.” Leo Tolstoy did not write a short story about him.
“Machines which ape people are tending to encroach on every aspect of people’s lives, and that such machines force people to behave like machines. The new electronic devices do indeed have the power to force people to “communicate” with them and with each other on the terms of the machine. Whatever does not fit the logic of machines is effectively filtered from a culture dominated by their use.
The machine-like behaviour of people chained to electronics constitutes a degradation of their well-being and of their dignity which, for most people in the long run, becomes intolerable. Observations of the sickening effect of programmed environments show that people in them become indolent, impotent, narcissistic and apolitical. The political process breaks down, because people cease to be able to govern themselves; they demand to be managed.”
XXXV Milo The Militant This chapter begins with pathos, meanders through insipid satire, and ends with a punch to the solar plexus. At first, Nately wants to fly more missions, so he can continue to see his prostigirlfriend. Then Milo pretends to volunteer to fly combat missions, and Colonel Cathcart sincerely does not let him.
The last paragraph is where the power is. The men fly a mission, and there is flak. Dobbs makes a mistake, and rams his plane into another one. Both planes go down, and everyone on both planes is killed. Nately is one of the casualties.
In the movie, Nately was played by Art Garfunkel. This was right after “Bridge over Troubled Waters” was recorded, and Paul Simon wanted to go make a lot of money. It annoyed Mr. Simon for that Mr. Garfunkel went to Mexico to make a movie.
Art Garfunkel is sort of a strange person. He used to go walking across America, with a van waiting for him at the end of the day. If he was going by a cattle pasture, he would stop and talk to the cows.
A man named T.J. Holmes got pulled over recently. Here are the tweets.
@tjholmes Driving while black ain’t no joke! http://instagr.am/p/NtNk4mt9Xg/
@tjholmes Yep, in sitting on the side of the road 1 mile from my house with 2 cop cars behind me.
@tjholmes Officer has yet to give a reason for why he stooped me.
@tjholmes This is a damn shame. Officer is literally stumbling over his words trying to explain why he stopped me.
@tjholmes Officer’s reason for pulling me over: “wanted to make sure you have insurance on the car.” I kid you not.
@tjholmes Well guys, I managed to avoid jail time. However, my relationship with ____ County police may have just soured a bit. #showmeyourpapers
@tjholmes Still pissed beyond words right now. But Lord knows I’m not the only this will happen to today. #showmeyourpapers
XXXVI The Cellar The Chaplain is devastated by the death of Nately. As he is dealing with the tragedy, a hand lands on his shoulder. A person, supposedly a superior officer, says “Come along. . . . You’d better come along with us, Father. . . . We’re from the government. We want to ask you a few questions.” They did not add, we are here to help.
Chaplain Tappman soon finds himself in a kangaroo court. He is not told what he is accused of, except for stealing a cherry tomato. This was twenty years before the Miranda case, and that doesn’t apply to the military anyway. After a while, the interrogators have had their fun, and the Chaplain is let go. Apparently, someone doesn’t like the Chaplain, and wants to make trouble.
This is disturbing for anyone who has ever tried to convince the authorities that he is innocent. PG has been in a few kangaroo courts, and read this chapter with horror.
Where did we get the phrase kangaroo court? Here is one story. This page is sponsored by an ad, for a service enabling you to See anyone’s arrest record.
“Kangaroo courts are sham legal proceedings which are set-up in order to give the impression of a fair legal process. In fact, they offer no impartial justice as the verdict, invariably to the detriment of the accused, is decided in advance. Such courts are associated with groups who have found a need to dispense a rough and ready form of justice but are, temporarily at least, outside the bounds of formal judicial processes; for example, inmates in jail, soldiers at war, settlers of lands where no jurisdiction has yet been established.
The origin of ‘kangaroo court’ is unknown, although, given that kangaroos are native nowhere else, we might expect the term to have originated in Australia. As always, a lack of a definite origin encourages speculative claims, which may be an appropriate word in this context as one frequently repeated supposed derivation relates to ‘claim jumping’ in the California Gold Rush – hence the allusion to kangaroos. That’s quite a plausible notion. Kangaroos and their claim to fame, so to speak, i.e. jumping, were known in the USA by the early 1800s, so there’s no reason to limit the derivation to Australia. Also, the earliest known citation of the term is American and appears in a collection of magazine articles by Philip Paxton (the pen name of Samuel Adams Hammett), which were published in 1853 under the title of A stray Yankee in Texas: “By a unanimous vote, Judge G– was elected to the bench and the ‘Mestang’ or ‘Kangaroo Court’ regularly organized.”
The natural inclination to want to base the phrase in Australia has led to suggestions that the vacant stares of kangaroos when meeting humans for the first time were mimicked by jury members in court. There’s no evidence to support this, or any other Australian derivation, and it seems highly speculative.
The claim jumping derivation though has the feel of a ‘trying to hard’ explanation that is the stamp of folk etymology. The supposed wordplay of linking kangaroos and jumping is appealing but isn’t really necessary to explain this phrase. Kangaroo courts courts were also called ‘mustang courts’ in the USA (see above). Allusions to the unsophisticated natures of wild animals are frequent in the metaphorical coinage of phrases that apply to things that are considered inferior or ersatz. We have dog Latin, dog’s breakfast, horse-faced and many others. It seems probable that the reference to mustangs (half-wild horses) and kangaroos came about by that same route.”