Tuesday, October 4, 2016

We need Sherlock Holmes now more than ever.

Things are getting weird.

An American presidential race where the fiction seems to matter more than the facts. Open debates on science as just another belief system. And this freaky thing where people are forming lynch mobs to look for clowns, based on a social media bogey man going viral.

And Benedict Cumberbatch is talking about a potential end to his days as Sherlock as his reputation grows as a comic book sorcerer.

For at least ten years, I've had this theory about Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, speaking of Holmes and magic. Sherlock Holmes's original rise was at a time when science, technology, and the power of knowledge where on the rise. Sherlock stood as a champion of the fact that reason and intellect could solve any puzzle. Harry Potter, on the other hand, came to as at a crucial moment when technology began to pass beyond most folks' understanding. Sure, I can use words to tell you about cell signals and towers, but I might as well be saying magic pulses and ley obelisk frames for all I truly know of the science. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," as Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, and Harry Potter has surely helped our transition to technologies beyond our ken.

We're not those simple Star Trek natives who lost control of their own tech and started worshipping it as a god just yet. But look around at some of the belief systems rising up while technocrats keep raising their game, and it seems a lot like Captain Kirk might need to come have a talk with our great-great-great-grandchildren.

The mighty Cumberbatch's transition from the great detective to a great magician seems just a wee bit of an omen of that sort of magic-believing future, in a way. Especially when people start doing things fearing a national blight of woodland clowns.

So what do we do when things get really weird? When the clowns show up at the forest's edge?

We summon up Sherlock Holmes. Not using any magical means, just in our memories and in our approaches. We remember what Sherlock Holmes stood for, and what he stood against.

Let others believe a hellhound can curse a family for generations, while we attempt to shine a light on the true cause of the problem.  While some might get tempted by popular applause to believe their own hype, be more like Sherlock Holmes and explain your methods to Watson and the Yard rather than letting them think you a wizard. And like Sherlock Holmes, when it came to the Yard, keep patiently correcting their mistakes as needed to make the world a better place . . . the Yard came around eventually.

Yes, I'm going to see Marvel's Dr. Strange in my local theater come November. And probably that new Potter thing, too. And taking to a few haunted trails or houses later this month. But in my heart of hearts, I'm always going to be keeping Sherlock Holmes ready and waiting.

Because if people are getting scared of forest Bozos, it's definitely consulting detective time!

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