Friday, September 28, 2018

The unanswerable questions

There are facts in this world that we shall never know.

No matter how good the investigators, the scientists, the sociologists, etc., certain answers will never be within our grasp. And those things fascinate me, especially around things I love.

For example, BBC Sherlock came out in 2010, and we know it brought with it a wave of new Sherlockians. But how many new Sherlockians? How do those numbers differ from the waves that came with The Seven-Per-Cent Solution in the 1970s, Basil Rathbone in the 1940s, or Jeremy Brett in the 1980s?

How many of those fans came into the traditional Sherlockian groups, how many started new groups and new traditions, and how many just kept to their solitary fan life, just going about their days with a new secret pleasure?

I'm not sure what all of these impossible statistics would tell us, or what good they might be for anything . . . only having them in our hands would give us their meaning and usefulness. But still, I wonder . . . .

How many times has A Study in Scarlet been reprinted since that first Beeton's day? And how many for every other one of the sixty? How many people have read each story? And how many people read each story twice, three times, four times, etc.?

We have statistics for Holmes TV shows, and you can find that BBC Sherlock peaked with "The Empty Hearse" and 12.72 million viewers when we were all dying to find out how Sherlock survived that fall, or that CBS's Elementary hit 20.8 million that night it got the post-Super Bowl time slot. We can find that Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes made $524,028,679 worldwide gross. And yet even those numbers don't tell us some stories we'd like to hear.

How many people watched each on a given medium? How many people were inspired to read Conan Doyle, write fanfic, or go to a Sherlock-based event from each of those major mainstream productions?

One wants to ask, in a child-like voice, "Where do Sherlockians come from?" and even though we see many an essay on individual routes to Holmes, the full numbers will always be just out of our grasp . . . finding all the Sherlockians just to get them a survey is an impossible task these days, with so many different ways of enjoying the master detective out there.

But one still has to wonder at it all. The more data we get, and we are getting a lot these days . . . the more we'll wonder about the data we can't get our hands on.

Some mysteries are just meant to never be solved.

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