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by Irving B. Harrison, M.D.

Endnotes

1. In a final interview (1994), Potter said of his disease: "My condition was genetic, but it felt psychological." He also said about it that manifested guilt and sexual sin.
His maternal great-grandfather allegedly became crippled by arthritis, and his mother, when in her sixties, also complained of it. Fuller states that their condition was psoriatic arthropathy, but arthritis itself is a common nuisance, and psoriatic arthropathy is rare, horrendous and explosive. It is a calamitous chronic ailment characterized by crippling, and by life-threatening episodes of agony and raging fever, Especially during acute phases, a patient's skin is hideously afflicted, and the joints of his body are attacked, often to the point of irreversible damage. Fuller's opinion here is probably mistaken.
Stead (1993, p. 72), claimed that Potter's arthropathy was "almost certainly occasioned in part by a breakdown of some sort."

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2. Trodd never spoke of such realities of Potter's disease as that his skin continuously flaked off: he wore long underwear tucked into his socks, and sought rooms with rugs and carpets which would conceal rather that highlight the desquamation.

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3. A lengthy essay on Potter by Philip Purser was published in 1982. Purser wrote:
. . . the relationship with the producer, who in television acts as impresario, moving spirit, and buffer between the author and everyone else, has evidently been even more important to Potter [than that of other collaborators]. Kenith Trodd, a friend from early political days . . . later set up [with others] Kestrel Productions, for which Potter wrote the play "Moonlight on the Highway." When Kestrel folded . . . Trodd became a straightforward free-lance producer, and the man who nursed most of Potter's later works onto the air."

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4. Purser wrote (1980, p. 176): "In company with Michael Frayn and other misfits he [Potter] was sent on one of the Army's celebrated crash language courses which had been instituted to provide an ample supply of interpreters should the Cold War produce some warmer skirmishes, and ended up as a Russian-language clerk in the War Office." Purser assumed that the reader would know that these `misfits' were brilliant as well an unconventional Army types.

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5. Trodd had in fact been writing a book about Stone when Stone suddenly died of a stroke.

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6. Potter claimed that he had had intercourse with 156 prostitutes. "He may have said so, but he certainly never did."(Elizabeth Guider, a close acquaintance. [Personal communication. 1986])

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7. "Paper Doll," in "The Singing Detective," served as a commentary on the wretchedness felt by Philip's father, and perhaps by Philip himself, at Mrs. Marlow's iniquity.

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8. The contrast between Potter's repeated loving references to his father and the almost total absence of any to his mother is astonishing. His personal feelings about women seem to have been contemptuous, and was perhaps reflected in "Stand Up, Nigel Barton:" he has an Oxford classmate assert: "these sons of workers . . . like their women to be very prim and proper or on their back with their mouth shut."

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9. He was, however, deeply religious, often in a rather primitive sense and at times with an exploitative commitment. Potter's religious tenets religious tenets seemed to intertwine with his characteristic defenses.

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10. Wyver's excellent essay about Potter is included in the 1988 publication of the Museum of Television and Radio.

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11. Potter wrote into Marlow's anguished plea to the medical staff for escape from his agony his inability to "get a handle" on it.

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12. This was almost certainly "hype": a hypocritical device, a means of protectively concealing deep and sensitive feelings behind a facade ("playing to the audience."); the contempt he so often expressed was directed at the way that religion was used, abused and exploited.

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13. Gilbert cites (p. 283) Potter's badgering behavior toward Gina Bellman.

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14. By no means is my appraisal typical.

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15. Potter left crucial words out after "No one will ever," namely, "have to," or "be required to." Without them, the claim, as it stands, could be taken to have the opposite meaning to that which Potter seems to have intended.



16. A problem in preparing these synopses is that the script, when available, often differs from the videotape. More perplexing, differing videotapes seem to be available. The presentation of "Double Dare" at the Museum differed considerably from that which I saw at the BBC Television Centre.

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17. Conrad's (1990) Marlowe may be another source. His search into the heart of darkness has considerable relevance. In "The Secret Agent," a detective, bent on "finding out", makes his descent into the streets of the monstrous city, London, another "heart of darkness". (Potter's protagonist in a later play, "The Visitor," makes a similar descent). Conrad's Marlowe must lose his moral identity and take on a "sense of loneliness and evil freedom" that is "rather pleasant" (p. 92). Philip Marlow's prophetic prediction to "find out" also suggests that Potter may have drawn on Conrad for his detective. (See Bradbury [1989] pp. 86--92, on Conrad's predilection for doubles).

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18. To avoid confusion, I will consistently differentiate the writer Marlow from the detective he has created and given the same name, by always referring the latter as the singing detective. For similar reasons, the title: "The Singing Detective" will refer exclusively to Marlow's mystery story; I will call Potter's play just that.

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19. This music returns frequently. My wife has just brought to my attention the fact that "Peg," like "Meg," is a common contraction for "Margaret", the first name both of Potter's mother and of his wife.

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20. This illustrates a characteristic degradation in psychotherapy. The little boy in Marlow is eager to gain absolution, eager to please. Marlow becomes to that extent even less mature than he was.

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22. In the context of Philip's sexual conflicts, I emphasized the meaning of the product of this delinquency as a gift. Fecal leavings are also vehicles for the expression of hatred and rage, with murderous implications. Those emotions well up often in Potter's constructions and he finally acknowledged, in the Bragg interview, that he had himself committed a similar delinquency.

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23. Potter insisted on writing his literary work by hand.

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24. Earlier, Marlow had thought about life itself as a literary invention. He speculated that his occupational therapist might be nothing but a collection of althpbetical symbols which might at any mom,ent slide off the page. As an after thought, he wondered if the sme might be true of him.

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25. The writer's notion as he creates that he is God is seldom so powerful that he brings it forth in order to deny it.

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26. This minute detail is the first muddling in this play of a "real" character with the product of the fictitious writer's creation. Kingsley's Blackeyes never tore her nails as Jessica had. Such confusions are often intriguing. Here, however, Potter confuses his audience.

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27. Blake, a tough and determined enforcer of the law and a smiter of smut, is also is a fragment of Potter's self-appraisal.

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28. So what? A mysterious clue is dangled before us.

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29. An echo is evident here, of Potter's his own trauma, when his mother destroyed his first literary effort. His mention of Dodgson's stutter is of interest in light of the number of stutterers in Potter plays. I have not found any suggestion of that affliction in Potter or his family.

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30. In 1979, it was used again in "Blue Remembered Hills" exclusively and even more effectively, adding profoundly to the poignancy of the piece. Because that play reveals nothing pertaining directly to Potter's use of doubles, it has not been included in this book.

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31. Potter here indulged a stratagem which he used often, with varying degrees of success. He created an almost grotesque double of himself in Peters. Also, he provided this double with attributes strongly suggestive of Trodd.

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32. Cook (p. 81) regarded Cynthia's experience as "disastrous." I felt that her "thank you" was, while not morally elevated, heartfelt.

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33. Partially concealed is Potter's intuitive grasp of an ultimate secret, an ultimate guilt, and the ultimate reproach: it has been God Himself who has led to his downfall, by being so overwhelmingly longed for, so inaccessible, so absolute and unique a potential source of inspiration and radiance, and thus so irresistibly seductive. Such sexual surrender to God may be acceptable saints like Theresa, but not to other mortals. Potter's own sexual surrender seems to have been anal, a male's simulation of a female's classic sexual role. It seems to have led to a split: the giver is not only God or His representative, but also the Devil, and the gift of penetration became, consciously, a rape. Potter assumed that a child's sexual behavior is an adult's fault, but never quite fully acknowledged that, somewhere in his mind, his heavenly Father bore the ultimate guilt.

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34. Not to be subdued by any such parody, the advertising industry went Potter one better, introducing in The United States a new dog-food conducive to the delivery of turds of firm consistency for greater ease in poop-scooping.

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35. The Aryan goddess's puzzlement is deliciously apt. It provided reassuring evidence that even when very ill, as he later acknowledged, Potter was able to inject a moment of devastating humor into what was in the process of becoming somewhat repetitiously sordid.

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36. Perhaps no more consummate doppelganger than this exists in literature. He reflects Potter's unconscious impulses and his conflicts and also anticipates and determines his fate.

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37. The tapping is reminiscent of the clicking heels of the psychiatrist in "The Singing Detective," which I had seen earlier, and anticipatory to the clicking toggles at the Grand Hotel, in "Cream in my Coffee." A similar staccato is written into "Karaoke", again caused by a woman's clicking heels.

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38. An echo of Nigel Barton's explanation for destroying the daffodil.

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39. Similarly in "The Singing Detective," Nurse Mills fails to understand Marlow's grief at the loss of Ali. It seems that even the best of Potter's female creations just cannot ever measure up in experiencing the compassion Potter thinks males long for. But in "Only Make Believe," we had already learned that no measure of compassion could suffice.

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40. I found his explanation, with its point that Arthur comes back at the end, incomprehensible. Perhaps I failed to appreciate the full measure and depth of Potter's mystical hopes, which became evident in the Bragg interview. They are far more excusable there, however, than they are here.

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41. Potter, customarily so gloriously articulate, stumbles here because of his identification with Arthur.

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42. According to Trodd, the BBC's acquiescence to the extraordinary length of the presentation was the result of his having won a battle with its overlords, with Potter's help and advice, over their having caved in to the ban on "Brimstone and Treacle."

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43. For critics of television drama, just as for Trodd, the music itself was the breakthrough. That was, of course, an outstanding innovation. That Potter had the man who was his double sing in a woman's voice was totally overlooked.

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44. My justification of the presumption in correcting Potter in the interpretation is this:
Perfectly lucid writing presupposes a totally conscious writer, and this does not correspond to reality. . . . . no author deeply understands what he has written and all authors have the opportunity of being astonished by the beautiful and awful things that the critics have found in their works and that they did not know they had put there . . ."
Primo Levy (1988)

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45. The evident importance of some sort of rhythmic tapping, or rapping, gives rise to a psychoanalytic speculation. Potter's adult life visit, alone, to the Grand Hotel, his complaint about that sound while there, his writing it into a play with a core of souring and hatred toward a wife who had sinned, taken together, strongly suggest the following: Potter originally listened to the music from the Palm Court as a child. The rhythmic noises may well have been displaced bedroom noises.

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46. As this Chapter neared completion, I agreed to submit an essay with the identical title and much of the same substance to the editors, Vernon W. Gras and John R. Cook, with their agreement that I would be entitled to incorporate it independently. Those editors have accepted the essay, which is included, with their very minor amending, in "The Passion of Dennis Potter International Collected Essays" (April, 2000), St. Martin's Press, New York..

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47. For the most part, a psychological analysis will follow my account of the plays. A few items must, however, be noted here: The words stars in his crown will be familiar to everyone who watched Potter's last public performance, during the Bragg interview. The act of shooting point blank into the head provides a retrograde link with the climax of "The Singing Detective," and anticipates a series of similar acts in "Cold Lazarus."

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48. It is likely that Potter intended to imply the fall from a state of grace, which would apply particularly to Beth. She is soon to die-a harsh example of the wages of sin. That Daniel falls is again suggestively reminiscent of Potter's feminine identification.

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49. Although Potter does not close in on this issue, the horrors and evils he confronts in the production he has created provide a counterpoint to the one posed in "Clockwork Orange." Burgess (1963) demonstrated that the human soul must be free to do evil, in order that man be a moral creature; Potter sought freedom from externally imposed evil, but one can recognize throughout his writings, speeches and interviews that he sought to expose by projection an inner evil as well as to free himself from it.

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50. Potter's explanation is close to one which he himself expressed a decade earlier, which I cited (Harrison, 1996) as extraordinarily similar to the views of Freudians.

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51. Miss Bellman later revealed that Potter had inflicted humiliating and belittling insults, apparently as he began to sense his own failure as director.

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52. To my astonishment, one member of a group of sophisticated writers, editors, and agents expressed a doubt about the possibility that Potter, whom he believed to have been something of a stud, could have struggled with homosexual conflicts. Many sexual athletes are at least latently homosexual.

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© Irving Harrison, M.D. 2001