Friday, November 13, 2015

Writing about the other.

These are indeed challenging times, for all of us.

As I write this tonight, large scale terrorist attacks have Paris locked down, and words are flying across the web, as they do. Words of outrage, sympathy, horror, and also of confusion, misunderstanding, and foolishness. No matter how important or insignificant the topic, we are challenged, every day, to see how our fellow man could possibly perceive matters in a way other than the way we ourselves do.

A lot of times, our first reaction is anger, and to attack. It's true of the big things, like a terrorist attack, and of smaller things, like a single sentence in a blog post about Sherlock Holmes. That comparison seems quite silly, putting such a difference in scale side by side, but humans being humans, well . . . we don't have that many reactions in our palette or quiver (depending upon whether your reaction is to interpret or fire upon).

There are times when you even have to wonder if you should comment honestly upon anything that involves anyone but yourself. Television shows, publications, podcasts, novels . . .  no matter what you write about, you're going to possibly encounter someone who feels you have violated the safe space of fandom by writing something that doesn't continue their ongoing parade of happy. Or maybe some others, just spoiling for a target to rid themselves of some build-up of ill humours.

Because with a potential random readership pool of billions out there in internet-land, you're going to hit somebody whose life experience has set them up to be triggered by what you've written. Especially when their friends send them links they know will stir them up. Especially when you have a bit of the devil in you to begin with. And especially when the world can be so foolish and just begging for it sometimes.

As I've written this blog, I've gotten both the standard internet "Why don't you just kill yourself?" (Curious how the internet has found a way to make what is basically a murderous desire non-actionable.) and the thoughtful, long considered letter which deals in such complex emotions that it takes months to write a response. Each comes as a challenge to see just where the writer is coming from, and as with this blog itself, sometimes that job is done better than others.

November has been quite a month for reader reaction, and as a result, there are some Sherlockian topics I've added to the "do not write upon" list until I have a better handle on them. (Possibly not the ones you're hoping for, trust me on this.) But being a fan of such a grand, wide-spread character as Sherlock Holmes, I'm lucky enough to have many other topics at my disposal.

I mean, that Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film, running currently on TNT as I write this, was there ever such a beautifully Sherlock Holmes-ed movie that seemed to place a too-recognizable actor in his own holodeck fantasy of being Holmes? I love that movie, but Downey . . . Downey will just never fit entirely, as much as I enjoy him on the screen in any movie.

And you know what I also love? Anyone who reads this blog for reasons other than that their friend sent them a link just to stir them up. It makes me think you get it more than you don't, and I appreciate you sticking around past the times the thoughts get a bit . . . challenging. Even if you're just reading because, as with NASCAR or presidential candidates, you're waiting for the spectacular crashes -- you, I really love, because you're letting my words into your head even though we're not on the same page, like clicking on a random Eastern European website download, who knows what you might pick up?

As one of my favorite Holmes quotes goes, "We can but try." All of us.

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