Saturday, May 17, 2008

That's Some Catch

I could have written an essay on the ongoing obscenity that is U.S. torture and rendition. Or I could have written on the unconstitutionality of the so-called "unitary executive". Or I could have (and probably will) write about yet another inane epistolary apologia from Stephen Behnke, Ethics Director at the American Psychological Association, replying to a new spate of ACLU-supplied FOIA documents from the Pentagon, and explaining, in regards to multiple revelations of psychologist participation in torture and abuse during national security interrogations at "war on terror" prisons: "APA's policy of engagement served the intended purpose: to stop interrogations that cross the bounds of ethical propriety."

Yes, I could have written on that and more. But tonight, I'd rather revisit a favorite episode from Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (from Ch. 39, "The Eternal City", pp. 398-99), bold a few lines for emphasis, and just leave it at that.
"There must have been a reason," Yossarian persisted, pounding his fist into his hand. "They couldn't just barge in here and chase everyone out."

"No reason," wailed the old woman. "No reason."

"What right did they have?"


"What?" Yossarian froze in this tracks with fear and alarm and felt his whole body begin to tingle. "What did you say?"

"Catch-22" the old woman repeated, rocking her head up and down. "Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Yossarian shouted at her in bewildered, furious protest. "how did you know it was Catch-22? Who the hell told you it was Catch-22?"

"The soldiers with the hard white hats and clubs...."

"Didn't they show it to you?" Yosssarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. "Didn't you even make them read it?"

"They don't have to show us Catch-22," the old woman answered. "The law says they don't have to."

"What law says they don't have to?"


"Oh, God damn!" Yossaraian exclaimed bitterly. "I bet it wasn't even really there."

1 comment:

Annie said...

Would you kindly look at the post at my name and email me off list for more detailed info?


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