Wednesday, August 2, 2017

That moment you loved Sherlock Holmes best.

When did you most enjoy Mr. Sherlock Holmes?

Don't answer right away. Let the full meaning of that question sink in.

At this point, nearly a hundred and thirty years after his creation, Sherlock Holmes is so much a part of the culture that the sixty tales with Arthur Conan Doyle's name on them is probably not your initial introduction to the character. Unless Doyle's work was thrust upon you in school (and you were paying attention), chances are you first saw Sherlock Holmes on television.

And while most of us anchor our love of Sherlock to a Canon, be it ACD or BBC, I would venture to say that our biggest lifetime thrill regarding Mr. Sherlock Holmes did not come directly from the ACD anchor-point any more. It is the holy source of all things Sherlock, yes, but that fan who traces their initial falling in love with Sherlock Holmes to a moment in, say, The Hound of the Baskervilles is becoming rare indeed.

And even if you truly bonded to Holmes after full ACD Canon immersion, I'd bet if we had hooked you up to any source of response-measurement machine for your entire life, your highest reaction point to a Sherlock Holmes stimuli would have come from something later, something that took you by surprise once you had developed your love of Sherlock Holmes over time.

Because I don't think we ever truly enjoy Sherlock Holmes completely until we know Sherlock Holmes.

It's like the concept of love at first sight. Sure, you might have a moment of "Wow, that person is amazing and I'm having feelings!" But if that's the peak of your relationship with that person, why even bother having a relationship. You'll always remember that moment, but, if things go well, you'll have a lot more moments you remember just as fondly, if not moreso.

So it is with Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

And when you consider the long term . . . like being into Sherlock Holmes for decades and decades, as many people are . . . you don't hang on that long without some high points along the way. It may be discovering other fans who speak your language at a Sherlockian event. It may be in something really good written by a non-ACD author. And it may be . . . heaven forbid . . . in a movie or television show.

To be honest, as much as I've loved Sherlock Holmes the character and drawn fun and frolic from the original ACD tales over time, I think that if I had to rank single moments of joy, BBC Sherlock topped the Doyle Canon in spots. Works by other writers, both pastiche and essay, have topped the Doyle Canon at times for sheer enjoyment. ACD's works are the fuel, but they aren't the engine, and they certainly don't press the pedal to the metal any more . . . that comes from forces outside those original sixty stories. Is that blasphemy at this point? I really don't think so.

A staple of Sherlockian essaydom has long been "what is it that we love best about Sherlock Holmes" or "when did I first meet Sherlock Holmes." But as Holmes has spread so far and wide in our culture, a new question to add to those staples might be "When did I love Sherlock Holmes the best?"

Because there's so much Holmes to love out there. And should love ever have limits?

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