18 March 2008

Dalziel and Pascoe

Watching modern television while I use my exercise machine is certainly giving me a feeling for the contemporary landscape. It is no wonder that I feel excluded from it, and that there is no sympathy with my position. It is a very closed world, with few ideas, but those implicitly dogmatic. It is, effectively, a new religion.

As in other series, the characters in the police series Dalziel and Pascoe are role models for ‘getting by’ in ‘real’ life. Clearly you never get identified with being purposeful or intense; you fulfil the requirements of your job, which are often unpleasant and inconvenient, but interspersed with frequent breaks for eating, drinking and sex. Such things are the opium of the people, evidently. You do your own household chores, which also helps to ensure that your mind will never have to pay attention to what it is thinking about for very long at a time.

Dalziel is a senior and very experienced policeman, but still has to do his own fetching and carrying. At one stage, he asks his younger assistant Pascoe where some documents are. ‘In the car,’ says Pascoe. Dalziel looks as if he might like them brought in, but Pascoe says, ‘When did your last slave die?’ Dalziel goes and gets his documentation from the car for himself.

This reminds me of the George Damper cartoon in the Daily Mail in which Mrs Damper refuses to get a refill of George’s glass of water after it has been fouled by a bird. ‘If you want a refill, you will have to get it yourself,’ she says.

If any television character shows signs of minding about anything, other characters, maybe including doctors and psychiatrists, ‘help’ him not to think about it. If some specific reminder of the vulnerability of the finite situation affects him psychologically, e.g. being attacked produces agoraphobia, he is told that it is normal to react to such a specific nasty event. He is only reacting ‘normally’ and should not think he is important or different enough for it to matter whether he is suffering from it, and he should not try to find a solution for himself.

Something unquestionably unacceptable is dismissed as ‘part of life’. Put it behind you, don’t let your feelings get to you, and get back to the normal round of filling in the paperwork for the boss, followed by beer and pot noodles.

Doctors, psychiatrists and hospitals are unquestionably ‘helpful’ and never to be feared for the harm they might do you. A ‘friend’ who is a psychiatrist finds it hurtful that her friend with a problem does not rush to tell her all. ‘But I am trained and certificated and thoroughly qualified in every way!’ she says reproachfully.