Sunday, June 19, 2016

All of Sherlock's boxes.

I have always resisted seeing Sherlock Holmes as an addict.

It's what we do with our friends after all, putting knowing blinders on purposefully, to enjoy the good in them without letting the sad parts take that good away. And yet, Sherlock Holmes might not have been an addict . . . one could see this as denial, were one intent on classifying him so. But Sherlock Holmes is also not many things.

He can't be completely gay, straight, or bi, all at once, and yet he is.

He can't be Christian, atheist, Buddhist, and a golfer all at once, and yet he is.

He can't be emotionlessly robotic as well as expressive, charming, and funny, and yet he is.

I've heard John Watson called an "everyman," and yet it is Sherlock Holmes who is our truest everyman . . . the best and worst of all of us in one limitingly-male package.  (Or maybe female . . . I don't think anyone has proposed that he was a true hermaphrodite.)

Sherlock Holmes, for all we know about him, is Schrodinger's cat in a box we call the Canon.

Labelling him, trying to put him in one specific box like the "addict" box, makes him not Sherlock Holmes, as every concrete label takes away some other aspect of all that is Sherlock Holmes. (One might cite the TV show Elementary as an example of putting him in a box that diminishes him, but I don't think that box was the addict box, but the "idiot box" as television has oft been called. There are other issues at play there.) And yet, temporarily putting him in those boxes lets us tell stories about ourselves and how we see and interact with our world.

As I said, I have always resisted seeing Sherlock Holmes as an addict. But then again, I have always resisted seeing him as any one thing. He could be an addict. He could be an atheist. He could be straight. But to claim any one of these, or so many others, is the absolute truth . . . .

Well, that might be the worst denial of all when considering Mr. Sherlock Holmes.


  1. I love how you just can't move on from 'Elementary'. It's almost, well, an addiction.

    1. The results of trauma are had to get past, John. Maybe a few more years of therapy . . .

    2. Some times little amounts of the poison are good for one.

    3. I bet he relapses during May Sweeps