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The Catch, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Quagmire

Posted by Bob on November 23, 2003

In Reply to: I haven't got a hat posted by Smokey Stover on November 23, 2003

: : : : : : : : : I have been informed that a Mr. Briggs has a wonderful definition re: Catch-22. I wish to email with him and perhaps quote him in a book. Anyone aware of which Mr. Briggs I am speaking about, please notify me as to how I may email him, or please provide him my email address. Thanks, Donna

: : : : : : : : He'll be along shortly.
: : : : : : :
: : : : : : : Dear ESC,
: : : : : : : My researcher has just informed me that I am to look for ESC, not Mr. Briggs, she mixed the two of you up, sorry. I came on here to make the correction, and found that you have posted. Please email me so I can explain to you my interest in having your quote. Thank you very much. By the way, all of you, this is a wonderful place you have here, a wealth of information! Thanks, Donna

: : : : : : I wish I could claim credit for the new information on Catch 22. But the original research was by Mr. Briggs. I reposted it from the archives when we had the question come up again. (See link below.) The information that I posted was from a book about book titles. (The Phrase Finder site is the brainchild of Gary Martin. He lets us come here and play.) ESC

: : : : ... and I'll tip my hat, too

: : In the words of Owl Jolson:

: : I'd tip my hat to you, I'd do just that
: : Take it right off for you, but I haven't got a hat
: : I'm just a college boy, even at that
: : I'd tip my hat to you, but I haven't got a hat
: : I'm really not a sap, it's plain to see
: : But if I wore a cap, they'd never let me back in the University
: : I think you're swell, I do, I'm standing pat
: : I'd tip my hat to you, but I haven't got a hat!

: : I HAVEN'T GOT A HAT (Freleng-1935)
: : tuco/looney/lyrics.html

: If I remember correctly, I would paraphrase a previous contributor to this effect. The fliers wanted to go home on the ground that it was insane to keep flying after the number of missions they had completed. The catch was, their wanting to go home proved that they were sane. My recollection is that when I first picked up Heller's novel there was an impression in my mind that there was already a current expression with a different number, like "catch ten" or "catch twelve," or even just "catch number two." But I could be wrong.

I don't think so; the "catch" was really new. When the book came out, it was a reveleation to me. It interrupted my college class attendence (but furthered my education) - it was such a dose of sanity, I read it four times. The freshness of its loopy narrative construction, the black humor, the perspective of its title/joke, all had a powerful effect on me. (To this day, I intend, like Yossarian, to "live forever or die in the attempt.") There we were, in 1964, living under the administration of a President who was dragging us deeper into an unwinnable foreign adventure, who lied to us about the reason to enter the war, whose Texas cowboy mentality made him willing to throw away our lives to preserve his manhood. (An American President can't be seen to 'back down' or his penis shrivels up. In public. More body bags, please.) Gee, maybe if our President read Catch - oops. I forgot. Our President can't read.