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Tim Ryerson's Blog

About Tim Ryerson
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Bloggers PhotoRetired from the printing business in 2011...now happily living in Ponchatoula, LA close to my wonderful (and enormous) family. I have three beautiful daughters, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, who I spoil rotten because that's my job. The bio picture is me with my oldest grandaughter, Dixie.
My goal is to write a halfway decent poem sometime...My favorite poets are Robert Frost, Edward Arlington Robinson and Wallace Stevens...I have read everything John Steinbeck ever wrote at least three times

The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice


Blog Posted:1/30/2013 5:17:00 PM
This is part of a chapter of the funniest book I ever read...'Catch 22' by Joseph Heller, written in the 60's...For those not familiar with the book, it is an anti-war satire set in WWII...the main character (Yossarian) is an airplane bombardier who is DEFINITELY not a hero...he is terrified of being killed and is constantly trying to find ways of getting discharged. This segment is about Yossarian checking into the hospital (as he did many other times) falsely claiming serious illness. Thanks for reading...

At the end of ten days, a new group of doctors came to Yossarian with bad news; he was in perfect health and had to get out. He was rescued in the nick of time by a patient across the aisle who began to see everything twice. Without warning, the patient sat up in bed and shouted, 'I see everything twice!' A nurse screamed and an orderly fainted. Doctors came running up from every direction with needles, lights, tubes, rubber mallets and oscillating metal tines. They rolled complicated metal instruments on wheels. There was not enough of the patient to go around, and the specialists pushed forward in line with raw tempers and snapped at their colleagues in front to hurry up and give somebody else a chance. A colonel with a large forehead and horn-rimmed glasses soon arrived at a diagnosis. 'It's meningitis,' he called out emphatically, waving the others back. Although Lord knows there's not the slightest reason for thinking so. 'Then why pick meningitis?' inquired a major with a suave chuckle, 'Why not, let's say, acute nephrititis? 'Because I'm a meningitis man,' retorted the colonel, and I'm not going to give him up to any of you kidney birds wthout a struggle. I was here first.'
In the end, the doctors were all in accord. They agreed they had no idea what was wrong with the soldier who saw everything twice, and they rolled him away in the corridor and quarantined everyone else in the ward for forteen days....

SKIP TO ANOTHER PART OF THE CHAPTER...(The missing part is hilarious too but there's not enough room here!)

That was the most illogical Thanksgiving he could ever
remember spending, and his thoughts returned wishfully to his halcyon
fourteen-day quarantine in the hospital the year before; but even that
idyll had ended on a tragic note; he was still in good health when the
quarantine was over, and they told him again that he had to get out
and go to war. Yossarian sat up in bed when he heard the news and
shouted.
'I see everything twice!'
Pandemonium broke loose in the ward again. The specialists came
running up from all directions and ringed him in a circle of scrutiny
so confining that he could feel the humid breath from their various
noses blowing uncomfortably upon the different sectors of his
body. They went from snooping into his eyes and ears with tiny beams
of light, assaulted his legs and feet with rubber hammers and
vibrating forks, drew blood from his veins, held anything handy up for
him to see on the periphery of his vision.
The leader of this team of doctors was a dignified, solicitous
gentleman who held one finger up directly in front of Yossarian and
demanded, 'How many fingers do you see?'
'Two,' said Yossarian.
'How many fingers do you see now?' asked the doctor, holding
up two.
'Two,' said Yossarian.
'And how many now?' asked the doctor, holding up none.
'Two,' said Yossarian.
The doctor's face wreathed with a smile. 'By jove, he's
right,' he declared jubilantly. 'He does see everything twice.'
They rolled Yossarian away on a stretcher into the room with
the other soldier who saw everything twice and quarantined everyone
else in the ward for another fourteen days.
'I see everything twice!' the soldier who saw everything twice
shouted when they rolled Yossarian in.
'I see everything twice!' Yossarian shouted back at him just
as loudly, with a secret wink. 'The walls! The walls!' the other soldier cried. 'Move back
the walls!'... 'The walls! The walls!' Yossarian cried. 'Move back the
walls!' One of the doctors pretended to shove the walls back. 'Is that
far enough?' The soldier who saw everything twice nodded weakly and sank
back on his bed. Yossarian nodded weakly too, eyeing his talented
roommate with great humility and admiration. He knew he was in the
presence of a master. His talented roommate was obviously a person to
be studied and emulated. During the night, his talented roommate died,
and Yossarian decided that he had followed him far enough.... 'I see everything once!' he cried quickly. A new group of specialists came pounding up to his bedside with
their instruments to find out if it was true. 'How many fingers do you see?' asked the leader, holding up one. 'One.' The doctor held up two fingers. 'How many fingers do you see now?' 'One.' The doctor held up ten fingers. 'And how many now?' 'One.'
The doctor turned to the other doctors with amazement. 'He does see everything once!' he exclaimed. 'We made him all better!


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  1. Date: 1/30/2013 11:33:00 PM
    I remember the fact that I read it, and that's about it. haha It was like 40 years ago in high school and I remember really liking it. This was a good story which I did not even remember. Recently I've been watching the old Bonanza shows I loved as a kid on Encore western channel. I don't even remember all those Bonanza shows I watched so it's a treat to see them all again.

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  1. Date: 1/30/2013 9:00:00 PM
    Tim, I absolutely love this book! Definitely one of the great novels of the 20 century. I am going to look for something....ok, here it is: "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and 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 were 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 very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle." (p. 56, ch. 5) - Joseph Heller is literary Rock & Roll. Have you read any of his other novels? I laughed my ass off while reading: "God Knows".

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    Ryerson Avatar Tim Ryerson Date: 1/30/2013 11:02:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I can see you have practically memorized this novel a I have, Chris...how bout drunken Chief Whiteoat and Doc Daneeka?...Nately and his whore, Major Major Major Major, Milo Mindbender with his uneven mustache...I could go on and on...I did read 'Something Happened' which was a radical departure from his usual stuff...I don't think it was well received but I thought it was spell-binding but depressing... and the ending blew my mind ...
  1. Date: 1/30/2013 6:58:00 PM
    This was the book where if you new you were crazy you couldn't be crazy for that would be crazy for a crazy person to know that! [If you were sane you had to go to war] That was the catch 22

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    Ryerson Avatar Tim Ryerson Date: 1/30/2013 8:17:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yep...there was just one catch, and that was catch 22...The bloated, red-faced Colonel at Clevinger's court-martial: 'Now where the hell was I?...Read me back the last line!'...The Corporal stenographer: Now where the hell was I?...Read me back the last line!' The bloated, red-faced Colonel: No, you idiot! What did I just say?...The Corporal stenographer: 'No, you idiot! What did I just say?

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