Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sherlock Holmes, electric light in a gaslit world

One thing I've always loved about Sherlock Holmes is the way he changed people's realities.

They'd come to him with a murderous curse, a bizarre society, or some other weird turn their life had taken, and when he left their lives, the world was back to normal.

We know, of course, that Sherlock Holmes didn't really change reality. As much as he might be called a wizard by an amazed client or his faithful companion, Sherlock didn't snap his fingers and alter actual physical forms or change history. No, what he did was much better.

He pulled away the curtain painted with a false reality that someone else wanted his clients to believe. "Gaslighting" is the popular term for it currently, when a narcissistic or otherwise ill-intentioned soul decides to roll out the false truths, manipulating another person to believe something that isn't the case at all, usually for the villain's own personal gain.

Windibank. Stapleton. Clay. Murillo. Gruner. Peters. The list is long, and the malefactors many levels of wicked.

Yet Sherlock Holmes stood next to each of their intended prey and emanated his bright light of reason, vanishing their shadow-play and bringing daylight to their stories. Showing the world as it actually was again.

It's fitting that in a world where gaslights were a literal thing, Sherlock Holmes lit up the world around him like the electric bulbs that would soon make those gaslights a thing of the past. And amazingly, even in a world well over a hundred years down the line, the consulting detective remain a beacon for us, an ideal.

Looking hard for facts to illuminate truths when villains want us to see otherwise. Giving others explanations that someone might be holding back. Seeing justice done at last.

That's all Sherlock Holmes. And one of the main reasons we love him. Worth holding on to these days, as much as in his own.

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