Catch 22 help needed
January 25, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Artyfilter: How can i depict the book Catch 22 in visual terms

I need a self made image to accompany a presentation on Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. How can i convey as many of the underlying messages of the book as possible in one drawing.

I am rather stumped, past "war is bad, military hierarchy is stupid"
posted by Iananan to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm seeing something along the lines of Escher's Waterfall: a system that at first glance is functional but quickly reveals itself to be impossible. Too abstract?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:07 PM on January 25, 2007

The circular nature of the Catch-22 is the obvious choice; a military-themed ouroboros or similar has the advantage of connecting with the title and reinforcing the self-destructive nature of war as well. What physical form that would take I dunno, though.
posted by Paragon at 1:09 PM on January 25, 2007

I once saw a poster for it where they took an old photo of a crew around their bomber, but instead of the usual bomber insignia (*) it had a smiley face (*). It's anachronistic, slightly jarring and fit the story perfectly, IMO. It should be fairly easy to recreate with Google Images and Photoshop.

(I can't find the original poster on line, so maybe it was an unofficial one-off job...)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:27 PM on January 25, 2007

The definitive image from the movie is Yossarian in his B-24 cockpit flipping the bird to the general. (It was censored from TV broadcast, but should be on the DVD.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:28 PM on January 25, 2007

Response by poster: i plan to use a program called opencanvas to do it, which is a basic painting drawing program, but that has the ability to save an "event file" which can be played back. That's what i want to use in the presentation really.

I like the ouroboros/neverending cycle idea and the waterfall fits in quite nicely with it. but the jarring juxtaposition of the smiley insignia fits nicely too. thanks for the answers so far.
posted by Iananan at 1:31 PM on January 25, 2007

I'm not sure how helpful this is, but I'd suggest that the primal scene of Catch 22 (via Fussell) is Yossarian's attempt to aid the wounded Snowden and its shattering of expectations.
posted by mojohand at 1:50 PM on January 25, 2007

Fitting with the theme of the never-ending cycle, how about showing small groups of people all working on something, one side building, one side destroying, the one in the middle in various degrees of each?

Although I did think that "brass swivels in their hips" was probably one of the defining absurdities that I remember from my first read of it as a youth.
posted by Chickenjack at 2:35 PM on January 25, 2007

Best answer: I'm actually just finishing it now for a talk I need to lead tonight. I think the circular, self-contradictory nature of the book is central. It shows up in everything from the structure to the language used to write it. Escher is a great choice, but you could use any moebius strip as an illustration, maybe put a hospital bed on one side of the strip and a bomber on the other side. While your war is bad, beuarocracy is bad thing seems right, it's actually at the surface of a much deeper book.
posted by OmieWise at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2007

I think the scene where the bomber slices the guy in half would be good. Maybe a chaplain holding the breast of a young girl shaped like a tomato added in. This book needs a mural. There's just too much comedy gold in there. Depends on who the presentation is being given to, I suppose.
posted by IronLizard at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2007

I'd do a version of the tarot card "The Fool", but recast for the miliary setting/costuming.

The fool represents the idea of that everyone's come to know as the catch 22, the dog chasing him forward/ordering him around/threatening him and the chasm in front of him.

Of course, different people interpret the card differently, but I like the rock and a hard place/balance/start of a journey that's potentially the end and the archetypical nature of it.
posted by Gucky at 3:37 PM on January 25, 2007

Some kind of Escher staircase between a military hospital and the gun turret of a bomber would probably do it.

Or you could do something with eggs begin dropped from planes.
posted by armoured-ant at 3:56 PM on January 25, 2007

posted by armoured-ant at 3:56 PM on January 25, 2007

>I think the scene where the bomber slices the guy in half would be good.

Seconded. Read the scene. A man is standing on a raft, a plane flies low and cuts off his torso at the belt line. The lower body, a pelvis with legs, stands there for a long moment, then topples into the water.

(I have not read it in 25 years. It stays with me.)

The switchable IV/catheter is a good one, too.
posted by megatherium at 6:40 PM on January 25, 2007

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