Way back in the summer of 2001, noted Sherlockian Chris Redmond said something to me that I couldn't get out of my head.
"Sherlockians need a new Game," he told me (or something very much like that). I had to agree. Sherlockiana, as a whole, was having a hard time building steam back then. The Jeremy Brett days were long behind us, Sherlockian scholarship just wasn't having the zing it used to (as many of the best questions had been argued to death), and there just wasn't anything new under the sun. The old Grand Game of researching Sherlock Holmes in a historical fashion just wasn't what it once was.
My answer to that, at the time, was an attempt to combine historical re-enactment and the Sherlockian Canon, forming a Canonical characters club called "The Dark Lantern League." It was a lovely idea, but a career turn started taking up my time and, as always, I became a little impatient waiting for it to take off. And, let's be honest, a lot of Sherlockians of 2001 weren't looking for anything new, being content to attend the same dinners and see the same friendly faces for the rest of their days.
But Chris was right, and I knew it. Sherlockians did still need a new Game.
And now, over a decade later, it appears Sherlockians do have a new Game, a realization which occurred to me tonight as I struggled to fold an origami lotus based on a YouTube instructional video.
The video was called "Sherlock - How to make the origami lotus from The Blind Banker." By following it, one could recreate one's own artifact from the BBC Sherlock.
The original Game of Sherlockian scholarship was all about loving Sherlock Holmes so much that we attempted to bring him into the real world through scholarly research, through recreating his sitting room in our homes, through the knowing delusion that we believed in Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlockians needed a new Game in 2001, but we also needed something else: new Sherlockians. As much as we all hate to admit it, there comes a time when we get old and jaded with even our favorite things. Many is the lover of Sherlockian pastiche in their younger days who grows to disdain all attempts at it in their gray days. We never love anything the hundredth time around as much as we did that first time -- there's no fighting it.
But along came the BBC Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch, and suddenly we hit the jackpot: new Sherlockians and a new Game. Somewhere out there, more than one somebody is, even now, trying to recreate the modern 221B with its cattle skull and headphones. Speculative research is being done like crazy, trying to figure out just how it was Sherlock survived this Reichenbach. And some lovely young lady on YouTube is trying to teach us how to make origami lotuses from "The Blind Banker."
It's a new Game, and they're playing it the same way we played the old one back in the day. Thoughtful analysis, recreations, creativity in both word and art, visiting the sacred sites . . . as much as some "elite devotee" or the other might like to pooh-pooh these new fans, they are us and we are them. Sherlockiana lives on, and I am perfectly delighted with it. Even if you decry, "Yeah, but they'll get bored with Cumberbatch!" (which I kind of wonder about -- he's pretty amazing), where do you think all that cosplay/recreation/analytic energy is going to go then? Probably toward all of the other parts of the Holmes legend, as there is so much to discover. (And I really want to see a black-and-white cosplay Rathbone one day!)
The wisest thing a man ever sang was Jagger's, "You can't always get what you want . . . but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."
Sherlockiana got what it needed. A new Game.