Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The good work of Sherlockiana.

August can be a time of Sherlockian doldrums for those of us not lucky enough to get to some summer convocation like last weekend's GridLOCK con. The internet has been pretty quiet since Mr. Holmes came and went from theaters. And for an old-time Sherlockian like myself, a time like this serves as something of a reminder of how Sherlockiana used to be . . . pretty quiet, most of the time.

But like you may have heard from a stereotype of an old codger or two, "back then, we made our own fun." Which, it turns out, is the core to any fandom, really -- making your own fun. Fandom always springs from the absence of that thing you really love. If we had new Sherlock to watch on TV, new Conan Doyle tales of Adventures quality to read, in an inexhaustible supply, fandom would not exist. Sure, we'd all be reading and loving whatever source we got our Sherlock from, but we wouldn't have time to talk to each other about it, write articles from the study of it, or extend that universe with fanfic. Who would have time to put on cons? Record podcasts? Publish newsletters, journals, or books?

It's these doldrum times where you really get to the core of who you are as a Sherlockian.

For me, this year's doldrums are being filled up with two activities: Working through "The Annual John H. Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt" and seeing what the non-existent leaked pilot to "West of Baker Street" has in it and writing a recap of same. Two very different kinds of fan-work, but work all the same.

The first has turned into a deep dive into the minutiae of the original Canon, using every tool at one's disposal including every vague memory of anything ever read of Sherlock Holmes to decipher what the question-creators are getting at. Not only do you have to know your Holmes, you also have to figure out what the questions mean, as they are purposefully built to make recognition tricky. That would seem to be pointlessly frustration, and for some it might be just that. But for me, the journey in wandering through all the possible answers to find the one that fits a question perfectly is a fine trip . . . even after nearly forty years at this, there are still new things to be discovered. (Or re-discovered, as a brain attic or mind palace can only hold so much.)

It's work, but it's relaxing work, if your brain is built that way.

And where the Watsonian quiz is one kind of work, seeing exactly what might make up a TV show about Sherlock Holmes and Doc Holliday in the old West is another sort of work entirely. Less about looking for something solid that exists and more about hypothesizing what could exist, and finding the best answer where someone else hasn't already left that answer out there for you to find. Instead of looking for solid details, it's more about looking for style and story, the less-solid parts of what makes up a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

And both of those jobs take time. Time is what August doldrums provide in spades. (Well, at least when one's career isn't trying to siphon that all away with real-job work!)

So, bring it on August. A Sherlockian is rarely without something to do.

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