Sunday, February 1, 2015

Immortal detective, immortal fandom?

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was thinking about Gunsmoke fans.

What, you've never heard of Gunsmoke, the cowboy drama that ran on CBS television for the entirety of my childhood? Well, good for you, you lucky soul! That means the Grim Reaper isn't nearly as close on your heels as he is on mine. I'd happily forget about Gunsmoke to add the number of years in your future to mine.

I mean, c'mon, part of my past and all, but it wasn't that good a show.

The point I want to make here is that like Sherlock Holmes, Gunsmoke had its fans.

Unlike Sherlock Holmes, about thirty years from now, Gunsmoke probably isn't going to have hardly any fans.

If I stroll into any venue and start speaking of a love of Gunsmoke, a judgment is quickly going to be made by anyone who recognizes the reference: "Oh, you're that old."  If I do the same thing with Sherlock Holmes? Well, if the graying hair, aging skin, and middle-aged paunch are somehow obscured, nobody is going to immediately know just how old I am. Because thanks to the latest revival, we have Sherlock Holmes fans of all ages.

Heck, if I squee about Benedict Cumberbatch, as I am apt to do anyway, I might even pass for a whole lot younger than I am.

Back when we used to celebrate Sherlock Holmes being miraculously alive after a hundred years or so of life, as that was still in the realm of possibility, his longevity was attributed to things like "Royal Jelly" from his bees. And as much as I sometimes gripe about the cranky old bastards of Sherlockiana, of which I seem to have become one, there is something about the essence of Sherlock Holmes that gives us a longer life as fans.

Do Sherlockians live longer than the average human? Well, our subset of humanity is so small that no one has found value in doing such a study as yet, and there are so many other factors involved other than just a love of Holmes (education, family income, those life perks that allow us time for pleasure reading). But as a fandom, genus Sherlockianus seems to have some staying power.

As with vampires, who claim immortality yet inevitably always die at some point, Sherlock Holmes will not carry on forever. Even if at the end of man's time in the cosmos some machine race carries the legend forward, even they will surely have a final expiration date. And all good things must come to an end at some point, even Sherlock Holmes.

Which really isn't a bad thing. Recognizing that even our fandom will one day go the way of Gusmoke should be cause for celebration -- not celebration that it will one day end (Insert mandatory Elementary reference here.) but celebration that we have it to enjoy now.

One has to dance while the music plays, whatever venue one finds one's self in. And there aren't many tunes sweeter than Sherlock Holmes to that special breed with ears to hear it.


  1. I LOVE your blog sometimes! Today was one of those days when I read this post and felt pleasant and light.

    And those lines are so true. These ones: "One has to dance while the music plays, whatever venue one finds one's self in. And there aren't many tunes sweeter than Sherlock Holmes to that special breed with ears to hear it."

  2. Mr K:

    This is a very interesting thought you have brought to light. If we go back into literature, we still have Homer, Beowolf, all of the Shakespearean characters, and countless others who are very much older than Mr Holmes. Immortality may not be forever, but for some characters, including Holmes and Watson, it seems to be a very long time indeed.

    Best regards,

    Don Libey
    The John H Watson Society

    1. Beowulf fandom sure ain't what it used to be, though . . .