Yossarian Part Four

Posted in Book Reports by chamblee54 on August 14, 2012

This is part four of a homage to Catch 22. Parts one, two, three five, six, and seven are also available. Pictures are by Chamblee54, and have nothing to do with the text. The quoted text was copied off Wikiqotes.

XIX Colonel Cathcart This chapter centers on Colonel Cathcart, as you may have guessed. It starts out with a personality sketch, complete with raging ego and a cigarette holder. This was Mr. Roosevelt’s war, and he was well known for his cigarette holder.

It just shows how the standards of discourse change. The press never reported on Mr. Roosevelt’s disability, and many people did not know that he used a wheel chair. On the other hand, the cigarette holder was a part of his image. It is not known if he ever smoked marijuana in that cigarette holder. Moving on to today, BHO has every jot and tittle of his life open to public consumption, with the exception of his nicotine addiction. Yes, BHO does smoke, but you never see a photograph of it.

After a while, the Colonel has a discussion with the Chaplain. It seems the Colonel wants to have a prayer before missions. Not just any prayer… “Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from . . . G-d? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.” The chaplain hems and haws, and the Colonel talks himself out of the idea of pre mission prayer.

One of the online cheat sheets has a link to an uplifting feature, “The 5 All-Time Grossest Bug Stories.” Since your time is valuable, we will only repeat number two.

2. “Ants in the Beehive” The story goes that, back in the 1960s, a stylish girl was primping herself for the following day at school. The hairstyle that was popular at the time was The Beehive (which if you’re not familiar, is an outrageously tall, poofy ‘do that’s shaped just the way it sounds) and she would commonly go to great lengths to achieve this look. Well one evening she decided to wash her hair in sugar water so it could harden just the way she wanted. She awoke suddenly in the early morning with a strange, tingling sensation. Sensing something was wrong she arose and as her head tilted upwards, hundred of huge CARPENTER ANTS began spilling from her hair and onto her nightgown!

This story has several variations. The first one PG heard involved a high school girl with big hair. Apparently, she never washed this hair, but just added a layer of hair spray every morning. One day, she passed out in class, and slumped over in her desk. The hairdo cracked open, and a flood of insects and rodents poured out of her hairdo.

Apparently, sometimes it happens to boys. . There’s this guy who you might have seen walking around town with two huge dreadlocks, one on each side of his head. One day he decides to get them cut off. So he’s off to the hair dresser, and of course they can’t get the clippers through his hair, so out come the biggest pair of scissors you’ve ever seen. They start to hack into one of the dreads and get about halfway through when he starts screaming and runs out of the shop. His girlfriend finds him dead in their flat the next day. The coroner found that a nest of red-backed spiders had moved into his hair and started biting him when the scissors cut the nest to bits.

XX Corporal Whitcomb The chaplain lives in a tent, away from the busy parts of the base. His roommate is Corporal Whitcomb, who hates the chaplain. The Corporal plays mind games with the Chaplain in this chapter, and wins effortlessly.

The chaplain had “failed miserably, had choked up once again in the face of opposition from a stronger personality. It was a familiar, ignominious experience, and his opinion of himself was low.”

Catch 22 is revered. But, in the age of Amazon, there are going to be those who disagree. Actually, there have always been the nay sayers, but they keep quiet. It is no fun to be the kid at the emperors parade … people will think you lack fashion sense. But now, the one star reviewers are out in the open.

OUCH!!! Glad I didn’t pay full price!!! March 25, 2012 Jerome Fuller
I bought this book because of all the “good” reviews it recieved. I am always interested when an author’s work trancends it own era, there by being relevant at anytime in the future. However, this is not one of those. Aside from the obsurd and unbelievable situation Yosarrian is in, the book was, in a word….MONOTONOUS! It is not the amount of characters, nor the repetative back story of each character that Heller takes every opportunity tell us, but it is more the repetive, cliche’ discussions that yossarian has with just about every character he come across. It goes like this, “Your crazy. No I am not. Maybe I am. Maybe you are too becuase you are here and you think I am crazy. Oh yeah, maybe I am crazy too, blah blah blah.” I really wish I would have spent the money on cookbook instead, or really anything other than this. If you can find this book at a garage sale, do not pay more than a quarter for it. But..If you like unbelievable war stories, long drawn out repetative character back stories, shallow dialog, and no real point, then this book is for you!

Am I the only one that hated this book?
September 22, 2000 “okwoodworker” (Owasso, OK USA)
Pathetic. I forced myself to finish this book because it was heralded as “one of the greatest novels of the century.” I found it an amazing chore to trudge through page after page of absurd, repetitive babble, replete with needless descriptions of depraved immorality. If the point is that government/military institutions are insanely inefficient and bureaucratic, ok. I got that in the first 100 pages. Were the next 400 pages simply meant to illustrate that point — making me “experience” the absurdity?. I really can’t believe I read the whole thing. In all sincerity, I can not recommend this book.

The most overhyped book in the history of literature June 21, 2011 A Critic
Another important attribute of this hype is the hipster element of Heller’s title phrase. It seems to imply that someone who read the book is deeply philosophical or understands a truth not many know. This is not just my own imagination. In college, I knew a guy who having already read the book, brought it (on a plane, cross country) seemingly to display in his dorm room. Once, apropos of nothing, he picked it up and explained that it was his favorite book. Coincidently, he also happened to be a dandy who wore (I think) satin shirts. … This is the sort of book that you might hear people discuss at snobbish cocktail parties. If you get a third way it into and you are bored to tears, drop it like a brick, or better yet, avoid reading it all together.

When PG was at Redo Blue, there were people who were into conspicuous display of books. The Bully for Jesus would ride the train into town, and carry a bag, and a Bible. He wanted to be seen carrying a Bible. When he read it, his lips moved. After a while, a man was hired to be the digital imaging manager, or DIM. He saw the BFJ and his pet bible, and started to carry his own book around. His display item was a motivational book by Og Mandino. This book was carried around for about a year after the DIM went on the payroll.

In the story about Og Mandino, there is a lovely paragraph. … In the early nineties, PG talked to a lady from Soviet Georgia. She said something that makes more sense the more you think about it. “In our country, the government and the secret police run everything. In this country, the banks and the computers run everything.”

XXI General Dreedle This chapter is named for General Dreedle, even though his entourage, subordinates, and insubordinates have most of the action. It begins with the combustible Colonel Cathcart. He is in a tizzy about Yossarian. There is a list of good events and bad, and Yossarian seems to be in the middle of all the bad ones. There is a couple of quotes about this situation: ‘A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins. He tried to make himself grow calm. Yossarian was not a common name; perhaps there were not really three Yossarians but only two Yossarians, or maybe even only one Yossarian – but that really made no difference! The colonel was still in grave peril. Intuition warned him that he was drawing close to some immense and inscrutable cosmic climax, and his broad, meaty, towering frame tingled from head to toe at the thought that Yossarian, whoever he would turn out to be, was destined to serve as his nemesis.”

“Colonel Cathcart was not superstitious, but he did believe in omens, and he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away. He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand, amplifying it sharply with a series of coded punctuation marks and underlining the whole message twice, so that it read: Yossarian! ! ! (?) ! … Yossarian – the very sight of the name made him shudder. There were so many esses in it. It just had to be subversive. It was like the word subversive itself. It was like seditious and insidious too, and like socialist, suspicious, fascist and Communist.”

The time warp of the book gets serious here. We learn of the time that Yossarian receives a medal with no clothes on. It seems like he flubbed a mission, caused a man to die, and to punish him received a medal and promotion. Since this happened in front of General Dreedle, Colonel Cathcart looked bad,

General Dreedle is another character study. He has his son in law, Colonel Moodus, working for him. They hate each other. There is also a nurse, who attends to the General’s manly needs. She attends the briefing, for the raid on Avignon … the one where Yossarian earned his medal … and causes a bit of a commotion. This aggressive moaning is silenced by General Dreedle. The rest of the briefing is conducted by showoff Colonel Korn, who thinks he is scoring points with the General. It turns out that Colonel Korn makes General Dreedle sick.

Looking at the tweets of a Jesus worshiper who will not allow PG to comment at his blog, there was a doozy of a story. It is about the phenomenon of people looking at pornography on laptops, and smart phones, in full view of Christians, small children, and dogs. There was a great quote. “Acquiring pornographic material once required taking a public action—buying a ticket to an X-rated theater, renting a tape from an “adult” video store, asking for a magazine kept behind a store counter—and having the boldness to overcome the shame involved. It should come as no surprise, then, that as our culture becomes more accepting of pornography, those who were already comfortable with smut become even less inhibited and immune to public shaming. What once was primarily a private sin has becomes a public plague. This soul-destroying sleaze has infested our nation, and many people who call themselves Christians have allowed it to happen. At most we turn a blind eye. But more often than not, believers are consuming pornography at the same rate as non-believers—and doing so without remorse. In an age when so many Christian men have succumbed, and when Christian women brag on Facebook about reading Fifty Shades of Grey, why are we shocked to find nonbelievers bringing filth into the public square?”

XXII Milo The Mayor Parking protest. Taking a stand. Monday, after the Olympics, 11 alive. SparkNotes is a cliffnoteclone site. They do have resources available for Catch 22. The problem is, they pay for this product by having auto start advertising. This means that when you click on their site, or go to another page, the video ad starts to play automatically. They must not think their readers are very smart. If you want to listen to the ad, it is very easy to click on the triangle, or the parallel lines. (PG can never remember which one is play, and which one is stop. In real life he sometimes gets those signals, for when to play and when to stop, confused.)

It should not be confusing that Channell 11 is using sneaky internet advertising. When PG was a kid, Channell 11 was third place in Atlanta TV. Channel 2 was owned by the fishwrapper, and had the same call letters as a powerhouse radio station. Channel 5 was the CBS station. Channell 11 was ABC, had a weak signal, and played trashy shows like Dialing for Dollars. Eventually Atlanta got big enough to support a slew of stations, Channell 11 switched to NBC, and the operation was a bit more classy.
Chapter 22 should be special, but it is more clumsy satire. The first part is about the botched mission to Avignon, where Snowdon is killed. This is one of the turning points of the book. The book does not follow a one two three pattern, and events are referred to first, and then take place later. This mission is a big deal, because this is where Yossarian loses what mind he has. Some of Snowdon’s blood gets on Yossarian’s uniform, and Yossarian doesn’t want to wear clothes after that. This is part of the drama, and one of the reasons why the movie was rated R.
After the mission, or maybe before the mission, but definitely not during the mission, Yossarian is asked for permission to kill Colonel Cathcart. The blessing was denied. Apparently, when this book was written, the truism about forgiveness and permission had not been verbalized. While it does sound cynical, it really is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Where chapter 22, of Catch 22, bogs down is the buying trip that Milo Minderbinder made. The story of Milo gets more and more tiresome. You want to scream, we get it, capitalism is a joke, lets have some real action. Instead, you have this quote repeated ad nauseum: “But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don’t make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share.”

XXIII Nately’s Old Man What if Catch 22 had been called Catch 23? This is a funny number. It is perhaps best known for the phrase 23 skidoo. The traditional meaning is “to leave quickly, especially before a situation deteriorates (archaic, origin unknown, popularized during 1920s)” Since the origins are murky, it is an opportunity to be creative. Some possible stories include : ” In Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, Sidney Carton is No. 23 of a multitude executed by the guillotine. “In the last act of the theatrical adaptation, ‘The Only Way,’ an old woman sits at the foot of the guillotine, calmly counting heads as they are lopped off. The only recognition or dignity afforded Carton as he meets his fate is the old woman emotionlessly saying ‘twenty-three’ as he is beheaded. ‘Twenty-three’ quickly became a popular catchphrase among the theater community in the early twentieth century, often used to mean, ‘It’s time to leave while the getting is good.”- Who Put the Butter in Butterfly? by David Feldman, Harper & Row. ~~ 23-skidoo came from an expression that construction workers used while building the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street in N.Y.C. 23rd Street is one of the wider streets in New York that is like an uninterrupted wind-tunnel between the East and Hudson Rivers. Frequently, when one is walking north or south on the avenues and comes to such an intersection, they can experience a sudden blast of wind as soon as the pass the wall of a corner building. Apparently, when the workers sat on the sidewalk to eat their lunches, they would watch women’s skirts blow up from the sudden gusts. ~~ The phrase originated in the Panimint Mountains in Death Valley in the early 1900s. The mining town of Skidoo had 23 saloons and if you were going to go get drunk you would try to get a drink at each of the saloons. This started the phrase of going 23 skidoo if you were going to have a good time. “

Getting back to Catch 22, this is one of the chapters that makes Milos meandering meaningful. Chapter 23 is tons of fun, just like some of the girls in a certain Italian apartment building. Nately takes a few of his buddies to the house where his prostigirlfriend lives. It turns into a wild scene, with naked people doing naked things in all directions. The exception to the fuckfest is a conversation between Nately and an old man. It is not known what language the chat takes place in, as it is unlikely that young Nately knew Italian, or that the geezer knew English.

The conversation is a gem. Nately believes all the nonsense he is told, and thinks he is smarter as a result. The old man has heard the same nonsense, and recognizes it for what it is. In any war, the first casualty is the truth. When you believe the propaganda of your government, you are signing your own death warrant. Wikiqotes documents part of the exchange.

“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.” “Anything worth living for,” said Nately, “is worth dying for.” “And everything worth dying for,” answered the sacrilegious old man, “is certainly worth living for.”

“They are going to kill you if you don’t watch out, and I can see now that you are not going to watch out. Why don’t you use some sense and try to be more like me? You might live to be a hundred and seven, too.” “Because it’s better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees,” Nately retorted with triumphant and lofty conviction. “I guess you’ve heard that saying before.” “Yes, I certainly have,” mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. “But I’m afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one’s feet than die on one’s knees. That is the way the saying goes.” “Are you sure?” Nately asked with sober confusion. “It seems to make more sense my way.” “No, it makes more sense my way. Ask your friends.”

PG swears there is a post about 23 skidoo somewhere in his archive. He was looking for it, and found this piece instead. A lady posted a list of 150 things to do before you die. Number 23 was get drunk on champagne. That inspired this story. It is written in first person, which should please grammar nazis.

Somehow, I never did do any more posts about that “been there done that” list. Mingaling, who started this episode, had a baby, which I am not capable of. I saw Crazy Owl last fall, and he is doing well. (On April 4, 2011, Crazy Owl moved on into another existence.)

There is something called the “meme” in the blogosphere. As best I understand the concept, it is a question about yourself that you send out chain letter style into the void. Like paradigm, a word that people toss about freely ,and I never have quite understood.

At any rate, mingaling has a list of 150 things that you can do. The idea is to read the list, and indicate which of these things you have done. My life has been my life. (Like Popeye and the sweet potato, I yam what I yam). There are things I have done, things I have not done, and there are regrets and gratitudes on both sides. Anyone who gets to be 53 years old and says they have no regrets is a liar. I have told lies.

I had a friend once named Crazy Owl. He lived in a tract of land on Flat Shoals road near the new Wal Mart. There are lots of houses there now, but twelve years ago he had his “monastery” there.
On certain Friday nights, he would have a sweat lodge. Like a crude outdoor sauna, you would build a fire, heat the rocks, and put them in the lodge, go inside and perspire. It is a Native American thing, and I have heard that they still have them in Candler Park.

So one friday, the people in the lodge made comments about what they were grateful for. The previous friday, I had been in a bar in Tucker, GA. The hostess of the happy hour party had made xerox copies of a coupon for cheap food. The room next to the dining room had a band, and a room full of drunks. Each and every one of those drunks was chain smoking. The band played ” Is that all there is?” I ordered a cup of coffee, and was charged $2.75 for something I would not wash a dog in.

So, when we shared our gratitudes at the sweat lodge, I said ” Last friday night I was in an unbelievably cheesy bar in Tucker Georgia. Tonight I am here. I am grateful for variety in my life.”

The song “Is that all there is” is about life experiences, and the disappointment they sometimes bring. If I ever send this meme out, item 151 will be hearing “Is that all there is” as performed by Sandra Bernhardt. The video at the end is credited to “JEM”, but sounds a lot like Ms. Bernhardt. Peggy Lee, who passed away a few years ago, made the song famous. Ms. Lee had a stroke and years of bad health, and was by all accounts a vegetable when she moved on. It is highly unlikely that she said “Is that all there is?” on her deathbed

Item 152 on this annotated meme would be staying at the Hostel in Brunswick. I stayed in a treehouse there, on the night before a trip to Cumberland Island. They had a circle before dinner, where all the visitors hold hands and say what they were grateful for. My comment was “ I am grateful for all the people at this meeting who keep there comments down to a short sentence or two.” The inability to shut up before dinner is a serious character flaw.

This meme is good, and may supply fodder for more than one post. Since lunch hour is almost over I will settle for number 23 (23 skidoo), Gotten Drunk on Champagne. One night in Seattle, I went to a bar called WREX. They were giving away bottles of Andre’ Champagne, and I tried to insure that none were left over. Quantity control is just as important as quality control.

The next day I felt worse than horrible. A champagne hangover is used by the Southern Baptist Convention to convince folks not to ever drink again. Ever. After a while, I pushed the cotton candy in my head to one side, and started to walk down Pike Street to the market. I crossed a street, oblivious to the red light in the yellow box. I also didn’t notice the two policemen waiting for me, one of whom wrote a citation for Jaywalking. Two weeks, later I went to Pedestrian Safety School. That could be item 153.

XXIV Milo In 1966, the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. PG was twelve years old, and thought this was just about the coolest thing ever. The Braves were a mediocre team that year. This was better than the last place disaster of the seventies and eighties. At any rate, by 1967, PG found other things to pay attention to.

Part of the disappointment of major league baseball in Atlanta was the radio announcer for the team. His name was Milo Hamilton. Yea, that’s the connection to Catch 22. Milo is one of those names that is a little bit unusual, but not unheard of. Milo Hamilton was a raging egomaniac. No one else could understand what was so special about him. He had a pleasant enough voice, but did not make listening to bad baseball fun the way Skip and Ernie did.

When PG saw another chapter named for Milo, he thought this was going to be boring talk about the syndicate. Do the readers have a share in this syndicate? If everybody has a share, then the readers should be included. For the first few pages, the chapter is dull. The action picks up when Milo orders the base bombed and strafed. The Germans paid for him to do this, and they got their money’s worth. Capitalism should not let a technicality like dealing with the enemy to get in the way of profits for the syndicate. “This time Milo had gone too far. Bombing his own men and planes was more than even the most phlegmatic observer could stomach, and it looked like the end for him. … Milo was all washed up until he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made.”

Later, the funeral for Snowdon is held. Yossarian does not stand near the service, but watches from a tree in the distance. Yossarian is naked. Milo Minderbinder comes to talk to him, ignoring the funeral below. Milo has a surplus of cotton, and needs to get rid of it. The concept is to dip balls of cotton in chocolate, and eat them. Yossarian thinks it tastes horrible.

Ok, that is not enough text for this chapter. Something needs to be pasted in to pad this a bit. At the same time, there are a couple of desktop items about a brain sex test. It seems like someone in England has an internet test, to see whether you think like a man or like a woman. If you thought you were a woman, and found out you were really a man, then that would take a load off your chest.

Some researchers say that men can have ‘women’s brains’ and that women can think more like men. Find out more about ‘brain sex’ differences by taking the Sex ID test, a series of visual challenges and questions used by psychologists in the BBC One television series Secrets of the Sexes: Get a brain sex profile and find out if you think like a man or a woman. See if you can gaze into someone’s eyes and know what they’re thinking. Find out why scientists are interested in the length of your fingers. See how your results relate to theories about brain sex.

1- angles test You are about to begin the angles task. Please read the instructions carefully. This is a timed task and you won’t be able to restart once you’ve begun. You’ll be shown a line like this at the top of the next screen. Underneath it you’ll see a set of 15 lines. Identify and click on a line in the set that matches the angle of the single line. There are 20 lines to match and you’ll have 10 seconds for each line.

This task tested your ability to make spatial judgments. You correctly matched 15 line(s) out of 20. On average, men generally outperform women at this task, although it is important to note that many women score extremely well. Males may generally score higher because they tend to pay more attention to space or the geometry of the world around them. Differences such as this may reflect differences in the brain. One theory suggests that exposure to higher levels of testosterone before birth gives men an added advantage because the hormone may stimulate the development of the right hemisphere of the brain. This is the side that contributes most to spatial awareness.

PG got distracted after the first question, and did not finish the test. This is the end of Part Four of the Catch 22 meltdown. Parts one, two, and three are available elsewhere. Pictures today are by Chamblee54. This was written like David Foster Wallace.

6 Responses

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  1. Yossarian Part One « Chamblee54 said, on August 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    […] is part one of a homage to Catch 22. Parts two, three, and four, are also available. I The Texan How can you not like a story that begins “It was love at […]

  2. Yossarian Part Two « Chamblee54 said, on August 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    […] Yossarian Part Four […]

  3. Yossarian Part Three « Chamblee54 said, on August 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    […] is part three of a homage to Catch 22. Parts one, two, and four, are also available. XIII Major —De Coverly PG had been slack about the Catch 22 series. It […]

  4. Yossarian Part Five « Chamblee54 said, on August 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    […] is part five of an appreciation of Catch 22. Parts one, two, three, and four precede it. XXV The Chaplain This is another existential quandary chapter. There is not a lot of […]

  5. Yossarian Part Six « Chamblee54 said, on September 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

    […] is part five of an appreciation of Catch 22. Parts one, two, three, four, and five precede it. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. XXXI Mrs. Daneeka “Dear […]

  6. Yossarian Part Seven « Chamblee54 said, on September 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    […] of an appreciation of Catch 22. This is the last installment of the series. Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six precede it. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia […]

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