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Monday, May 1, 2023

It's a 'Catch-22' of course

 “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”  Joseph Heller


Born on May Day, 1923, Heller was struggling as a writer when he pitched the idea for Catch-22 to Simon & Schuster.  The rest, of course, is history.  The novel became one of the all-time best sellers and a successful movie, and the term he created became part of the world's lexicon. 


Catch-22 refers to absurd, no-win choices, particularly in situations in which the desired outcome of a choice is an impossibility, and regardless of the choice, a negative outcome is a certainty.  In other words a Catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot succeed because of contradictory rules.  A simplified example would be:  To apply for a certain job, you need to have experience in that job.  But in order to gain experience, you need to first get the job.


Heller made up the term to reflect some of the absurdities he saw during his time in the military.  Originally, he intended it to be known as Catch-18.  But author Leon Uris was in the process of publishing Milas 18, and to avoid any confusion, Heller and his editor talked it over and decided to go with Catch-22 instead.


Heller's writing crossed genre lines and he went on to write several more successful novels and many successful screenplays, including much of the final version of the movie Sex and The Single Girl and the many episodes of the hit TV series McHale’s Navy.


Despite his many accolades he never considered himself famous, once noting: "Som people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them."



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