Wednesday, November 29, 2017

No yeti need apply.

"The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "Sussex Vampire"

We live in a world that seems to be increasingly filled with deniers and believers. Or maybe they're just getting more press than they used to. They believe what they choose, twisting facts to fit theories, and deny what doesn't fit their purposes. The sort of folk Sherlock Holmes would find completely abhorrent, though he would surely deal with them in a charming and subtly snarky manner.

Because it's easy to want to think that things are different than they are. The world can seem so much more fascinating if one adds imagination to the limits of one's knowledge and surroundings when no new data is coming in. Like that area of interest called cryptozoology. The pseudoscience of creatures we have no proof of.

The Loch Ness monster. Vampires. Bigfoot. Space aliens.

Sherlock Holmes dealt with two of those in Canon and movies, proving that what was thought to be something out of myth was something made of more practical stuff. The journey he takes Watson, Baskerville, and company on in The Hound of the Baskervilles is a similar trip, and one man has been going on for as long as man has been man.

My own personal journey to Sherlock started with cryptobeasties, as I've told many a time before. My pre-adolescent fascination with UFOs, yetis, and the like where laser-focused on a movie preview where Holmes and Watson faced the Loch Ness monster in a rowboat. And eventually I got to see Sherlock expose it for the secret government submarine that it was in that movie.

I've even accidentally wound up on the wrong side of a bigfoot a few years ago, some old YouTube footage of which turned up over the holiday. A practical joke on my brother's new trail-camera, meant to spot deer, didn't fool my brother, but wound up circulating among those who track bigfoot sightings. (The bigfoot in question is my mother in a gorilla suit that I've had for years.) But even being on the knowing side of an accidental bigfoot hoax, I still remembered the stories from my youth, the evidence found, and held out some small spark of wonder that an abominable snowman could be out there somewhere.

Until today.

News stories began popping up of scientists doing DNA tests on those classic bits of yeti evidence I remembered hearing about since I was a kid. And the DNA they found was, in the end, Himalayan bear DNA. Never visiting or learning about the Himalayas, young me never considered that there might be bears there that could be mistaken for a big, furry man-beast. Bears!

Like Sherlock Holmes exposing the demon hound of Grimpen Mire as a regular dog, the like-minded folk of our world just exposed Himalayan yetis as regular old bears.

And really, if we have bears, what do we need yetis for? We have gorillas, and orangutans, and all sorts of other critters that can walk around like we do for a moment or two and look people-ish. The world, as Sherlock Holmes said, should be big enough for us. And yet, even by allowing Mr. Sherlock Holmes into it as a person of a fictitious sort, we still seem to always be wanting to expand it a bit.

So today, I happily gave up yetis for bears as a personal Sherlock Holmes story came to an end for me. But you know how it is with Sherlock Holmes stories . . . there's always another one out there waiting for us. He's good that way.

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