Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Sherlockian Who Has Everything

One of the key activities of the active Sherlockian is sharing.

The better among us have always been the most generous, and I can't count the number of books in my library that were outright given to me by Sherlockian friends. Part of that comes from our enthusiasm for Holmes, where we just can't leave a particularly attractive volume at a reasonable price on a bookstore shelf, and wind up with two. That same enthusiasm also brings with it a desire to push books on others, wanting to share our joy.

That generosity is one of the happiest parts of Sherlockiana. Of course, as with most things, there's a dark twin to that virtue, and if you're a Sherlockian who says they never experience that other emotion, I must just call you a liar. And that, of course, is jealousy.

Thanks to the internet, we now know more about each other's business than ever before, and sharing photos of our lives has become a commonplace. No longer do you have to gather people in a room with a carousel projector and subject friends or symposium attendees to a long sequence of slides of your collection or your trip to London! Sherlockians can share every meet-up and every item real-time as they happen, if said Sherlockians are so inclined, and you can use social media to see what's happening with as many of those folks as you can stand. Perhaps you pick up parts of their lives or thoughts you'd rather not hear about on the way as well, but such is the price of admission.

The other price of this far-reaching Sherlockian awareness is envy.

Somebody out there has something you really wish you had, or is doing something you really wish you were doing. You might not be jealous of Sherlockian A or Sherlockian B, but unless you really limit your web wanderings, you're eventually comparing your Sherlockian life to the life of all other Sherlockians combined into one immensely great Sherlockian who has a thousand faces. And that Sherlockian does everything and owns everything.

If you don't get a twinge of jealousy over something the everything-Sherlockian has gained, experienced, or accomplished at some point, you're a very special person. (And maybe not in a way that we're going to be jealous of.) For part and parcel of being a Sherlockian is that desire for more Sherlock, and who has more Sherlock?

The everything-Sherlockian that exists on the internet, with its thousands of faces.

And that Lovecraftian monster does not generate horror . . . no . . . it exists to generate connection, information, and, alas, envy. We all get used to that beastie over time. Eventually you have gained enough or done enough that you're familiar with the aspects of the beast you encounter most. But then you round a corner and some new visage of the thing takes you by surprise and . . . envy. Great overwhelming envy, that may require internal justifications just to keep your sanity -- "Well, I don't live next door to the Mysterious Bookshop!" -- that sort of thing.

The thing that helps the most in dealing with the everything-Sherlockian, of course, is our holy writ. Like a cross to a vampire, you can hold up your sixty-story Canon and go, "Same book as you! Get thee behind me, everything-Sherlockian!" That doesn't really make the beastie go away, but it'll make you feel better about its world-filling presence. And you can eventually, give it a hug.

Because we've all got Sherlock Holmes, when you come right down to it. And that's what being a Sherlockian is really all about.

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