Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Canon 2.0. Sherlockians 2.0.

Reading and listening to reactions to the fourth season of Sherlock has been a real roller coaster, and that is as it should be. Art, at its most powerful, is a disruptive, affecting thing which communicates something one didn't have in one's head before. It's not comfortable and cozy and ever anything we saw coming. Or necessarily thought we wanted.

BBC's Sherlock has always felt like art to me. And no more so than after "The Lying Detective" and all these reactions. Art teaches you things.

The "I don't like this" side of the equation is at the same time understandable and not all that interesting, honestly. Watching a child push away the spoon holding a complex entree that a chef worked on for hours reveals nothing. On the other side of the coin? Seeing a child accept that spoonful with glee and want more opens up a lifetime of culinary possibilities. You start thinking about that child's future, because there is one with food.

The amazing powers of observation and rapid analyses being tossed out by the kids who are taking to "The Lying Detective" are Sherlockiana at its best . . . when en masse, Sherlockians become Sherlock Holmes himself. Attention to detail. Playing out potential explanations. Giving you the full story of what actually went on. The intellectual energy on display is a glorious thing, rising above a purely emotional reaction to look hard at every detail.

"Moftiss," as the two-headed entity behind Sherlock's creation is known, loves loading in the details, references, mysteries within mysteries, and fodder for discussion and digging in deep, and listening to Sherlockians running it around their excited heads has been great fun. All those joys that I found in the Conan Doyle Canon are coming out of those Sherlockians tearing into these new episodes with abandon, and as a result, I'm finding myself fully accepting BBC Sherlock as Canon 2.0. Doesn't mean we can't have Canon 1.0 anymore -- just that we've got a new toy in addition.

It's easy to see the modern fascination with video as a stupid thing, a much less intelligent thing than reading words on a page. And in the case of something Gilligan's Island versus "The Old Man and the Sea," maybe so. But put any great piece of film against a shlock novel and the roles reverse. Both writing and film-making are communication methods, both can be weak tea and both can be powerfully complex revelations. As video becomes more democratic as a medium, via YouTube and smartphone cameras, we're seeing it develop as a language all its own, and a language you can pack a whole lot of information into.  And using that medium does not mean you don't read or write as well.

I've considered the opinion I've heard from a few folks, "Nobody reads any more." That does always seem true on the surface, because the overwhelming majority of people you meet on the street are just not readers. They weren't readers in 1890 and they're not readers now. Readers are the minority, and always have been. But Sherlockians tend to be readers, even the ones who prefer Canon 2.0 to Canon 1.0. In fact . . . going out on a limb here . . . I'd bet that in calendar 2016, the average Sherlockian 2.0 read more words about Sherlock Holmes himself than the average Sherlockian 1.0, for one simple reason: there is more fan fiction being produced of late than any other Sherlockian writing.

While fan fiction might not be to your taste, its existence as written Sherlockiana cannot be denied. And the way it explores alternate readings of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is unparalleled, which is why I find myself so excited about all the modern Sherlockiana, both 1.0 and 2.0. Alternate readings of Canon 1.0, those exciting new perspectives that a good writer could give to the old stories, were what attracted me to Sherlockian work from the start . . . they are one of those things we do that is so much like Holmes himself, looking at a set of facts and seeing a different truth revealed.

Looking at a set of given facts and seeing a different truth revealed, is, of course, what all of us are doing now as we survey the Sherlockian scene stirred up by the latest birthday weekend and a brand new series of Sherlock. Sherlockiana 2.0? Maybe we're really all the way up to "Sherlockiana X El Capitain" by now. Who knows?

It's a great time to be a Sherlockian, though, whatever version you are.

1 comment:

  1. It's great to be Canon 1 and Canon 2 types at once - two bites of that cherry.