Provincialism used to refer to the way things were done outside the big city, a narrow-minded, insular sort of view that was personified by those hicks from the sticks who still did things the old-fashioned way. Not like their hip, ultra-modern, big-city counterparts.
And then came the internet. Suddenly the big city wasn’t the prime place where cool, cutting-edge stuff happened anymore. And in the world of Sherlock Holmes fans? Oh, my Great Mycroft, has it spun round the other way!
Where do you find a calcified, men-only Sherlock club, stuck in a mindset that most of us lost forty years ago? Try a big city. Head for Chicago or Boston. Want to find a group who thinks publishing a quarterly print journal is still a workable notion? Look for New York in winter.
Being a Sherlock Holmes fan in any big city is going to net you a few more opportunities at Sherlock plays, events, gatherings . . . but these days, you aren’t limited to such cities and their old-school ways. You say your town has a Sherlock Holmes club that won’t let you in because you’re a woman? Screw ‘em. You have the internet, and on the web, Sherlock Holmes fandom is worldwide. They are but the stone in a vast flowing stream of Sherlock, to be slipped around on your way to the great ocean.
The bottlenecks are gone, people. Waiting to hear from some absent-minded editor in order to get your brilliant analysis of Sherlock’s Reichenbach fall out to readers is a thing of the past. I’m amazed at what I’m reading out on the web these days, published with a freshness that didn’t exist a mere twenty years ago. Newsgroup reporters scramble to keep up with all the Sherlock that’s out there, and it just keeps coming.
So when I hear someone complaining about some aspect of the old Sherlockian world, I just have to smile. Provincialism ain’t just found in Peoria (which was actually never as rural as the name oft connotes). And the hicks aren’t from the sticks. Some of them are holed up in big city enclaves of ancient silliness.
The new provincials. And we really don't need them any more.