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Catch-22


读过美国作家 Joseph Heller小说Catch-22吗?

在当代英语中catch-22作为一个独立的单词,使用频率也是非常高的。Catch-22现在用来形容任何自相矛盾、不合逻辑的规定或条件所造成的无法脱身的困境。

Joseph Heller的小说Catch-22(《第二十二条军规》)中有这样一段对话: Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. "Is Orr crazy?" "He sure is," Doc Daneeka said. "Can you ground him?" "I sure can. But first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule." "Then why doesn't he ask you to?" "Because he's crazy," Doc Daneeka said. "He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure, I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to." "That's all he has to do to be grounded?" "That's all. Let him ask me." "And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked. "No. Then I can't ground him." "You mean there's a catch?" "Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy." 此时摆在他们面前的就是一个自相矛盾的前提条件,具体地说,如果 Orr 真的神志不清,他完全可以不去执行这次飞行任务。此时他所要做的就是提出停飞申请;但一旦他真的提出申请,也就表明他并未神志不清,他必须去执行这次飞行任务;如果 Orr 真的神志不清,他就会去执行更多的飞行任务;而如果他是清醒的,他肯定不会这样做,但如果他是清醒的,他又必须去执行这次飞行任务;如果他愿意去执行飞行任务,就表明他神志不清,此时他根本无须去执行飞行任务;但如果他不愿意去执行飞行任务,就表明他的神志是清醒的,此时他就必须去执行这次飞行任务。简单而又荒唐的逻辑,他们不就是碰到了一个 Catch-22吗? 又例如,如果我是一位还没有发表过作品的作家,也就是说,我的作品没有在出版社出版过;我拿着我的作品去出版社商讨出版问题,出版社的人却对我说,他们不替没有发表过作品的人出版作品。如果所有的出版社都给我同样的答复,我岂不是就遇上catch-22了!