What do all Norwegians do during Easter? Well they either read or watch crime, preferably both. In the name of tradition I decided to read some classic crime and that led me to the Queen of crime herself, my late childhood favourite, Agatha Christie.
There has been some years since I actually read some Christie, the last time I was exposed to any of her works was as an audience member marvelling at her theatre play “The Mousetrap” down in London. Which was brilliant by the way.
Yesterday I embarked on one of her classics “And Then There Were None”. It was an easy read and I finished the book in less than a day. My verdict?
I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised reading Christie now. What startles me is the nonchalant way in which murder is being dealt with. There are 10 people stuck on an island, who quickly realise that there is a murderer amongst them. Even though the participants realise this, they remain in my opinion un-naturally collected and handle the issue in a manner, that would make you assume that murder isn’t really such a big deal.
I suspect that my generation have gotten too accustomed to loud screams, arguing and drama on the silver screen to be particularly convinced by the stiff-upper-lip, buttoned up mentality depicted in Christie’s crime. I suppose that our society is too drenched in psychoanalysis, where even the fragile state of a criminal’s mind is being overanalysed in order to find some excuse buried deep down in previous traumas that could possibly explain, the individuals murderous inclinations. I mean even the most treacherous of beings, could probably improve if they were in the receiving end of a hug, right? I mean there is probably some perfectly understandable reason as to why someone rape and/or kills. Shouldn’t we feel sorry for these poor wretched individuals? Enslaved by their urges, imprisoned by the traumatising memory of abusive parents, aren’t they the true victims? Well those are the questions we are supposed to ask ourselves. Poor serial killer, his dad probably didn’t acknowledge him, his mother didn’t breast feed him long enough. In our modern fiction investigators are bound to develop alcohol problems. They suffer with relationship problems, self-doubt, you name it, they struggle to cope emotionally with the sight of a corpse and the misery that their profession ensures them. Someone unfortunate enough to be the witness of a crime or a discoverer of corpses, give in to total hysteria, or absolute shock, jumping onto the nearest shrink couch to deal with the trauma of discovering something unpleasant, something unpleasant that could lead to, god forbid a trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Our modern novels like our movies and tv-seeries are drenched in drama so thick, not even a truck load of TNT would be able to blast thru it, so no wonder then that my literary palate has been saturated with bizarre expectations.
Where are the emotional breakdowns in Christie’s crime? Where is the person who desperately tries to build a raft to escape the island? Where are the scenarios with people throwing accusations left right and centre? Where is the fist fight? Where is the panic? Where is the gradual psychological meltdown? Why aren’t the people stuck on the doomed island falling victims to erratic decisions, psychological deterioration, abandonment of logic and reasoning, as absolute fear spreads thru their midst like a virus?
A sip of brandy can apparently sort out any sort of understated emotional outburst. It is important for proper English men and women of the late 1930’s to keep up the appearances at all times, even if there is a murderer at large. Even if they are killed off one by one, nothing can stand in the way of the noblest of virtues: namely a stiff upper lip.
Christie’s novel is such a strange read in our over analysed, straightforward, vulgar times, that I don’t really feel like I’ve read a crime novel at all. It is too platonic to move me or install any kind of fear. Would it be blasphemous to say that it lacks depth? Or would it be more accurate to assume that it depicts times of old, when women would faint and there wasn’t anything a brandy couldn’t solve?
In our times of insight we are supposed to saviour every and any emotion, and analyse why we would feel such and such. Terrorism should be dealt with by holding hands, waving roses in the air, and using hashtags. Well, the terrorists probably came from unstable backgrounds, they were probably un-employed, their radicalisation a result of western foreign politics. In fact if western countries were to eradicate their military, any weapons they might have and destroy any borders, execute any descendants of colonialists and remove any statues of Cecil Rhodes, THEN the cataclysm for hate would once and for all be eradicated. Hell maybe we should just shut down all our prisons, let all the prisoners out, and collectively kill ourselves as anything wrong in the world can only be attributed to western people….
It is important to be ruled by one’s emotions. Any modern leader with any sense of self-respect knows that it is important to instantly change one’s statements, if one is initially perceived as being too strong or tough. Staying cool is a mentality only reserved for Russian hitmen on the silver screen or Vladimir Putin. Even soldiers risks bursting at the seams at any given moment. Politicians go on air, crying or criticising their own countries history. Only psychopaths would refrain from wearing their heart on their sleeve unless you are the Queen of England. In fact if people from the past could time travel, especially my Viking ancestors, there is a high probability that they would call us out for being a bunch of sissies, or as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say “a bunch of girly men”.
At the end of day, was the book any good? Yes it was, but all I could think of when I was done reading was how distant the times of Christie are.
A break up handled on Facebook for all to see is perfectly acceptable. Knowing what everyone is doing at all times is perfectly natural, as it is un-natural for an American female student in Italy to appear too cheerful after the demise of her flatmate. Better to imprison her just in case, since her emotional reaction isn’t in accordance with expectations. If you are a British-Arabic or Norwegian- Arabic ISIS fighter it is important to get you back home to safety, as poor you, it is probably not your fault that you decided to join them.
Is it possible to get any softer or weirder than what we are at this point?