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Yossarian Lives

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I felt like I was irrevocably parting with a dear friend as I skimmed through the last pages of Catch-22 this morning. I’m going to miss Yossarian terribly. At the same time, I feel that a miniature Yossarian lives inside every one of us – a rebellious spirit striving to rise above absurdity and to survive in the face of an impending end. Strangely enough, my musings over the book after I’d put it down brought me to think of Emile Durkheim’s Suicide. If suicide, as Durkheim points out, is a means to tear oneself away from the clutches of society and hence to escape the inescapable, then Heller turns this logic on its head: Yossarian finds his escape in survival. As he says, he’s not running away from his responsibilities, but running to them (p. 516, Vintage Books, 1994). This is a fresh perspective for me and one that I hope to internalise to a point where, just like for Yossarian, it becomes a matter of the instinct to survive.

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