Ecclesiastical Aplomb

In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure. He was painfully aware that he lacked the ecclesiastical aplomb and savoir-faire that enabled so many of his colleagues in other faiths and sects to get ahead. He was just not equipped to excel.

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

A Victim of Anything But Circumstance

History did not demand Yossarain’s premature demise, justice could be satisfied without it, progress did not hinge upon it, victory did not depend on it. That men would die was a necessity; which men would die, though, was a matter of circumstance, and Yossarian was willing to be the victim of anything but circumstance. But that was war. Just about all he could find in its favour was that it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)


Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitable stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

You Can’t Go Home

‘No, you can’t go home,’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen admitted. ‘Forty missions is all you have to fly as far as Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters in concerned.’

Yossarian was jubilant. ‘Then I can go home, right? I’ve got forty-eight.’

‘No, you can’t go home,’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen corrected him. ‘Are you crazy or something?’

‘Why not?’


‘Catch-22?’ Yossarian was stunned. ‘What the hell has Catch-22 got to do with it?’

‘Catch-22,’ Doc Daneeka answered patiently, when Hungry Joe had flown Yossarian back to Pianosa, ‘says you’ve always got to do what your commanding officer tells you to.’

‘But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.’

But they don’t say you have to go home. And regulations do say you have to obey every order. That’s the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-seventh Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you’d still have to fly them, or you’d be guilty of disobeying an order of his. And then Twenty-seventh Air Force headquarters would really jump on you.’

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)


There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and he could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

Live Forever or Die in the Attempt

Havermeyer was a lead bombarbier who never missed. Yossarian was a lead bombardier who had been demoted because he no longer gave a damn whether he missed or not. He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive.

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

Outlandish Claims

Since then there have been wild and wonderful tales of on-stage satanic rituals, sex with dogs, nudity, homosexual acts, the sacrifice of animals, raping of young girls and heavy open drug use.

Some of the more outlandish claims that made it on to the internet included a story that he lowered a cage full of children into the audience which was then ripped to shreds.

And that he cut off his own penis in the middle of the show and kept on singing, blood dripping all over the stage.

– Simon Wilson. “Any scream will do…” article from Seven52 (The Evening Post, Nottingham) May 23-30.

Reason, Weakness and Chance

Every existent is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance. I leaned back and I closed my eyes. But pictures, promptly informed, sprang forward and filled my closed eyes with existences: existence is a repletion which man can never abandon.

Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre)

In My Place

I want to leave, to go somewhere where I should be really in my place, where I would fit in . . . but my place is nowhere; I am unwanted.

Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Such Utter Loneliness

‘Happy?’ His gaze is disconcerting, he has raised his eyebrows and is staring at me. ‘You are going to be able to judge, Monsieur. Before taking that decision, I felt such utter loneliness that I thought of committing suicide. What held me back was the idea that nobody, absolutely nobody would be moved by my death, that I would be even more alone in death than in life.’

Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre)

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