One of the attributes of Sherlock Holmes played up in BBC's Sherlock has been the detective's capacity for being bored by any given moment in time. Out of the original sixty stories, we actually find him being bored only four times -- three of them after he defeated Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls and one being a hypothetical boredom regarding social invitations.
At least, that is "bored" by name.
"It saved me from ennui," Holmes says at the end of "The Red-Headed League." "Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me! My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so."
And we can't help but agree with Holmes, as his little problems help us escape the commonplaces of existence as well.
When one looks at all the creations, activities, discussions, events, and actual work that Sherlock Holmes fans have done over the years entirely apart from just reading his stories or watching his movies, one can easily see how much Sherlockiana is a life tool in our long ongoing effort to keep ourselves from being bored.
In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes chooses a different tool for "avoiding the dull routine of existence" -- his three-month experiment with morphine, cocaine, and probably some other drugs in various dosages. It's a little more dangerous than the three month, twelve hours a day, reading the annals of crime that he proposes to Inspector MacDonald in The Valley of Fear, giving one the distinct feeling that Holmes has done so himself. That reading session is a lot more intense than the drug session, which a drunken Watson finally complains about, early in the partnership.
In fact, that fanatical reading of the annals of crime sound a lot like fan behaviour. And since Sherlock Holmes didn't have Sherlock Holmes to be a fan of when he chose his "particular profession" and became the only unofficial consulting detective in the world. (At that time . . . but does anyone in such a profession exist now? Would he still be the only one?)
Last week, this blog asked the question, "Are you Holmes or are you Watson?" Now, I'd like to turn it around and ask "Who is closest to us? Holmes, the fan of studying and solving crime? Or Watson, the devoted follower of Holmes's exciting times?"
One has to escape the dull commonplaces of existence somehow, and a exploration of some piece of the Watsonian ouevre is always a helpful tonic for that.