Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The two worlds of Sherlockiana . . . and the third option.

With both new Sherlock stirring Sherlockians to action and the Sherlock Holmes birthday weekend in New York moving Sherlockians to travel, an awareness of the dual nature of our current Sherlock fan climate is coming on strong. While one can definitely hunker down in one Canon or the other and not think about the big picture, the big picture is a fascinating one when you step back and try to really get a good look at it.

And when you do step back at look at it, you can see certain demographic hues . . . male leadership in the oldest parts of the community, female leadership in the newest, elders dedicated to some traditions, youngsters breaking creative boundaries. There are definitely folks of all ages and genders in every aspect of our hobby, but when you step back and give it the long view, you can see patterns, trends, and certain likelihoods growing and developing.

Where once so much of Sherlockiana was built for a male sort of mindset, the real energy driving so much Sherlockiana now comes from a mindset so female that it can be very hard for a fellow to wrap his head around. Transitioning from a world where male cultural dominance was so entrenched that the map seemed to be the terrain can make the understanding process all the more of a challenge if you come from that old world. And while it is always so much easier to just go, "No, this is just the way I am. This is just the way the world is," then plant one's feet, and hope the winds of change stop blowing, it's just not a very effective strategy long-term.

We've seen Sherlock Holmes societies do that in the past, cutting themselves off from the larger Sherlockian world, practicing their local rites and rituals, and becoming experts in self-stimulation. It's not all that hard to do. You might even make those habits last as long as you do and die happy and unaffected. You might . . . .

But, Sherlock Holmes!

Sherlock Holmes. The one. The only. The point we all intersect.

Holmes once called Watson "the one fixed point in a changing age," but here, now, Sherlock Holmes himself is now our one fixed point.

Our new challenge is looking at other Sherlockians, finding their point of connection to that one fixed point, and then seeing if we can follow that connection back to how another human being who is not ourselves might think, and how they actually might be quite like us. It's the same gift that Sherlock has always given us, it's just now we might have to work a little harder at using it on occasion.

Sherlock Holmes connects all Sherlockians, even if some other Sherlockians are so different from ourselves that one might be tempted to try to find a different name for them. And rather than go to all the work of finding that different name, maybe the effort would be better spent trying to understand where their joy in Sherlock Holmes comes from. Because we might find joy there as well.

Because, and I can't say this enough: Sherlock Holmes!

I got complimented by being called a "Canon/larger Sherlockiana fan" this week, because that phrase "larger Sherlockiana fan" seemed like a wonderful one to me. In the 1980's we used to be voracious collectors of everything and anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, and that was definitely a way to appreciate the larger Sherlockiana. Snoopy with a deerstalker? Larger Sherlockiana. Sherlock Hemlock storybook? Larger Sherlockiana. Cumberbatch-Sherlock anime-style love scene with Freeman-Watson? Still, larger Sherlockiana!

Taking a larger Sherlockian view can go against our natural tribal instincts. We're wired to see "the other" and attempt to protect our tribe from that other. But Sherlock Holmes . . . ah, Sherlock Holmes . . . was always trying to teach Watson and Scotland Yard . . . and us . . . to get a clearer view. A larger view.

So I think I'm going to start working on that a little harder this year. "Education never ends," as a great detective once said.


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