So, did you see Doctor Who this week?
If you haven't yet, and plan to, skip this for now. I'm about to get very spoiler-y. If you have seen the latest episode, entitled "Knock Knock," did it perhaps strike you as having certain parallels to a recent discussion in the Sherlockian world?
Here come the spoilers.
"Knock Knock," scripted by Mike Bartlett, is a haunted house tale. A group of young people are looking for a place to settle, and are offered a place in a large and ancient-looking mansion by the elderly fellow who owns the place. Bad things ensue.
As with all Doctor Who mysteries, there is an alien menace behind it all, and yet, as with so many other tales, the true malefactor is not the alien part, but the human involved with the aliens.
In this case, the elderly Landlord turns out to be using the life-energy of the young renters to feed the alien creatures and keep an entity he came to love as a child alive in a very wooden form for years past its natural time, even as their relationship changes to be nothing like it originally was.
Most of us come to love Sherlock Holmes in our younger years. It's a time we thrill to as it happens, harken back to as we move ahead, and sometimes . . . sometimes . . . start trying to preserve in amber for an eternity that does not truly exist. Especially once those attempts at preserves alter what was once the heart of the thing.
It could be a vision of Sherlock Holmes that aligned so significantly with our own personality that we take it to heart and react defensively whenever some "heretical" view of Holmes appears. (That thought is completely thanks to the latest Three Patch Podcast, and I'm expressing it much more poorly than they did.) It could be what we see as the soul of one our older, barriered societies that defined what a Sherlock Holmes club was to us. Again, a view that we might have taken to heart in younger days and must react defensively to any perceived attack as though it were an attack on us personally.
But we are not Sherlock Holmes. We are not a storied assemblage of Sherlockians of old.
We are Sherlockians alive today, in a world that's all-new, all-different, and has some very new Sherlockians on the way up. Expecting a Johnlocker to be told about Christopher Morley with the result of them suddenly developing a taste for oysters is just not realistic. They're developing their own Sherlockian traditions even as we speak. And unlike the Landlord in the most recent Dr. Who, their energies can't be gobbled up to preserve the old ways . . . they're just going to run off and build their own Sherlockiana. A handful will come and respect the old ways enough to record and keep the archives going for a little while. But those aren't the folks who'll be moving Sherlockiana into the future.
We have to be careful as we settle into our latter days as Sherlockians, to consider what exactly is going on in someone else's head before we scream "GET OFF OUR LAWN, YA DAMNED KIDS!" Besides sounding crazy, we might also reveal that we haven't matured as fully as our years would seem to merit. Up and coming Sherlockians are the elder generation's charge to nurture and let grow as they will, not to train and trim into a Bonsai tree that matches our view of a Sherlockian.
Not saying that I've completely learned that lesson yet, but that's why I preach at myself in these blog posts sometimes. As a great man once said:
"Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for last."
Even when watching Doctor Who . . . .