Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sherlock Holmes is people. (And people is plural.)

There is a movie that no one ever needs to watch again for the simple reason that it's a couple hours of a guy figuring out that the new kind of crackers are made from people. If you ever have heard or read any reference to that film at this point, it's pretty much been spoiled for you, because the movie's only worthwhile quote is the main character's "CRACKERS ARE PEOPLE!" shout at the end of the movie. I thought of that movie this morning, as I came to the very "duh" realization that . . . .


Not in the way that Arthur Conan Doyle ground people up and processed their nutrients to make Sherlock Holmes, although I suppose one could make a metaphoric case for it. But in the way that everything we have of Sherlock Holmes comes from multiple people and the connections between them. Sure, one guy wrote a book, but like that fabled tree in the forest, is a book truly a book if no one ever reads it? The whole point of a book is to pass thoughts from one person to at least one other person. And as soon as more than one person enters the picture, you immediately have . . .


Which is why, no matter how much any one of us would like to define, regulate, or quantify just what is or is not Sherlock Holmes, or what is or is not a Sherlockian, or what is or is not a Baker Street Irregular, that effort will fail. And fail again. And fail again.

Because Sherlock Holmes is people. And different people all the time.

It isn't just actors taking the role for a time, followed by other actors. It's fans, taking up the love of Holmes for a time, followed by other fans. It's writers, penning stories or articles for a time, followed by other writers. It's artists, and poets, and musicians, and people who don't create anything more than their own viewpoint of Sherlock Holmes. People. So many people.

No matter how important we might think a single person was to the history of Sherlock Holmes, no one person is the history of Sherlock Holmes . . . that much is easy to see. When we look to the future of Sherlock Holmes, however, that ever-shifting legion of people who literally are Sherlock Holmes is much harder to see, as it always is with the future.

There is a tendency among certain Sherlockian personalities to want to try to set the patterns for the future of Sherlock Holmes: This is what a Sherlock Holmes story is. This is who a true Sherlock Holmes fan is.  Without the words "for me" attached, such statements always seem vain attempts to lock down the past, to freeze it in carbonite in an attempt to make it last into the future, when the future might require something completely different. Because there will be different people in the future. And people are Sherlock Holmes.

The past was people. The future will be other people. And all of them, you, me . . . him . . . are a part of what makes up Sherlock Holmes. At the end of that movie I mentioned at the start of this rather obvious thesis, the main character, also known for being pissed off at humanity at the end of another iconic film, shouts his desperate cry that the powers that be are tricking people to eat crackers made of people. With Sherlock Holmes, however, that shout of revelation isn't a desperate plea to spread a hidden truth, but more of a celebratory exclamation of something most knew all along:


Happy Sherlock Holmes People Saturday, people.

1 comment:

  1. I love your ideas, Brad, and usually feel you've said it all. To this one, though, might I add, that "Yes, Sherlock Holmes is people, but it all starts with the Sherlock Holmes stories being people." We start with Holmes and of course Watson, but each story adds characters we know and love (or love to hate). Why do we keep reading all the stories, even the ones that have not-so-great plots? Because of the people in them. Why do we rate some stories far lower than others? Because the people in them are, perhaps, not as well drawn or real to us.

    The thoughts in your piece today are great, Brad. I just wonder if you went far enough.