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All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor
letters written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were
kept in residence in wards of their own. It was a monotonous
job, and Yossarian was disappointed to learn that the lives of
enlisted men were only slightly more interesting than the lives
of the officers. After the first day he had no curiosity at all.
To break the monotony he invented games. Death to all
modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that
passed through his hands went every adverb and every
adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He
reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day
when he blacked out everything in the letters but 'a', 'an' and
'the'. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt,
and in just about every case left a message far more
universal. Soon he was proscribing parts of salutations
and signatures and leaving the text untouched. One time
he blacked out all but the salutation 'Dear Mary' from a
letter, and at the bottom he wrote, 'I yearn for you
tragically. R.O. Shipman, Chaplain, U.S Army.' R.O.
Shipman was the group chaplain's name.

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When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he
began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes,
obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire
metropolises with careless flicks of his wrist as though he
were God. Catch-22 required that each censored letter
bear the censoring officer's name. Most letters he didn't
read at all. On those he didn't read at all he wrote his
own name. On those he did read he wrote, 'Washington
Irving.' When that grew monotonous he wrote, 'Irving

~ Joseph Heller in Catch 22

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