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Re: Catch 22 - again!

Posted by Lewis on November 28, 2003

In Reply to: Catch 22 - again! posted by James Briggs on November 28, 2003

: I'v had some personal correspondence about what 'catch 22' exactly means. I describe it as a 'no win situation'. My correspondent says the following:

: "My point is that a Catch 22 is MORE than just a no win situation. It is a special kind of no win situation where both solutions require the other to be satisfied first, therefore neither one can be attained. Perhaps this will explain it better for you: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Catch+22 "

: This site gives the definition as:
: 1. A requirement that cannot be met until a prerequisite requirement is met, however, the prerequisite cannot be obtained until the original requirement is met.
: My life is one big Catch 22

: 2. Also known as a vicious cycle - two or more conditions require the other conditions to be fulfilled, but these other conditions also require the original condition to be fulfilled. In simple terms, this means neither can get fulfilled without the other. A needs B needs A.
: e.g. So I need a key to open this door, and the key is beyond that same door? Damn, this is one big Catch 22.

: 3. See Paradox.
: Or as Bart Simpson would say, "You're damned if ya' do, and you're damned if ya' don't."
: e.g. You need to jump into the ocean to put out the flames on your head. But if you jump into the ocean, the giant squid will suck your guts out.

: I find this a somewhat fine (I almost said pedantic!) separation. perhaps I'm wrong. What do others think?

I think you're definition of it being a specific 'no-win situation' in which two conditions require the other to be met first is fine.

it is not the same as "damned if you do, damned if you don't" - that is a classic 'no-win' scenario with no preconditions.

A classic example is where a job requires a candidate to have experience which they could only have from having the job. In some cases, it would be impossible to get that exact experience without that particular job.

I once had a job situation somewhat like that - and the only way of getting the job was to initally work for nothing until I had the qualifying experience - it required thinking outside the box.

See also: the meaning and origin of 'outside the box'.