Saturday, January 19, 2019

Hunkering down with Holmes . . . or Watson?

Sooooo, last weekend, huh? And here we are in this weekend.

A lot of us dealing with yet more snow, as the weather overlords are graciously giving us Saturdays to spend all day shoveling for recreation. But when the shoveling isn't happening, it's a good excuse to settle into home like the bunker for survival it is and spend some time with Sherlock Holmes . . . or John H. Watson.

Occasionally, we have to choose a focal point in dealing with the boys from a Sherlockian's perspective. Most of your intake, be it books, movies, or TV, is going to involve both, but when you go for the deep dive in your personal explorations, whether it's any sort of study or your own fiction, you often have to direct your focus on one of the two. But which one?

The cool, quirky, thinking machine or the loyal, authorial . . . cipher?

One dichotomy we don't often look at with Holmes and Watson is how one is the mystery-solver and the other is actually the mystery. Watson's dates, Watson's wives, Watson's sexuality, Watson's career path . . . while John is busy telling us all about Sherlock in great detail, he's purposefully focusing our attention away from a certain other subject: him.

Sherlock Holmes is the bright light that brings us to the party, but once we're here, eventually a Sherlockian has to go, "Hey, wait a minute . . ." and look at the man behind the curtain, John H. Watson.

One of my pet theories has always been that John H. Holliday faked his consumption and death in a very Holmes-ish "Dying Detective" manner and emigrated to London with a change of last names. Outlandish? Far-fetched? Maybe, but still not an impossibility as John H. Watson's own biography is missed so many details.

What else might there have been about the man who handed all the credit to Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes to the rest of us? Why does he see Australian gold fields when he looks are dug holes, why was there a secret manuscript of a San Francisco wedding, and why does he talk of three continents when the subject of women comes up? Is his lack of self-detail just modesty or hiding something?

One has to wonder what Sherlock Holmes knew of John H. Watson that we don't, as Holmes would never tolerate an ongoing mystery in the same set of rented rooms as himself. Could his taking Watson as a room-mate actually been a purposeful act to solve a mystery at first, that just worked out as an ongoing companion?

Ah, there's a question. But with Watson, it's just one more mystery for Sherlockians to solve. And now that we have Watsonians out there as well . . . hmm, how mysterious are they? What's going on with those dog pseudonyms? Why do they never gather en masse that we know of?

Ah, John Watson. Such a troublemaker, you are!

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