If America had knighthoods from the get-go, we might not have the BSI shilling today.
Sherlock Holmes has turned many an American into an Anglophile, and, ah, the knighthood. Even if it no longer comes with armor and a sword, next to pirate and cowboy, what more could a boy-heart ask to be?
For many that came to Sherlockiana in decades past, a Baker Street Irregular was seen as one knighted in the service of king Sherlock Holmes. As Sherlockiana had no queen, that “knighting” came from the “captain of the guard” and whatever councilors from whom he took advice. Still, all mystical and magical enough to allow those who wanted a certain distinction in their service to Sherlock Holmes.
At some point, the Baker Street Irregulars added an “Inc.” to part of its activities, its Baker Street “journal” took on some aspects of an academic journal, and its publishing arm into what was basically a small publishing house. The measurement of a Sherlockian knight’s worth seemed to trend more toward what he or she could contribute to business of the BSI. Criteria for new members was circulated that might have seemed a little like a job description from an HR department to a cynical mind. And as the membership was limited to the amount a single dining hall could comfortably handle just to suit a single banquet, practical choices were made accordingly . . . and sparingly.
And the Sherlockian world outside grew, in ways no one expected.
Practical choices and private club limits, however, have never been quite enough for the more romantic among us, as visions rarely have limits. We usually seem foolish that way to the practical, as dreamers often do.
So, speaking of dreamers, this week I had a fun bit of travel time listening to George R.R. Martin’s A Knight of Seven Kingdoms. One of it’s notable points is something that just came up in a recent episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones: the quote: “A knight can make a knight.”
As the Sherlockian world seems to have grown too big for those practical and miser-ish limits to what we used to think of as the American Sherlockian knighthood, perhaps we need some new conventions for validating our own Sherlockian coming-of-age moments, conventions that don’t have elder Sherlockians waiting in long lines for a nod from the captain of the guard, nor admit that new ways of Sherlocking have value as well.
“A knight can make a knight,” has a certain lovely ring to it, and for those willing to vow dedication to Sherlock Holmes, maybe there’s an aspect worth a thought.
For, really, how is it that one first feels validated as a Sherlockian? When one finishes reading all of the original sixty stories? When one creates that first fulfilling piece of writing or art in honor of Holmes? I would wager that those sorts of things put you on the road, but our first validation always comes from talking to another human being who recognizes that spirit in us that is kin to our own. That one other person who sees us as a fellow Sherlockian, that first kudo from another person, that first experience shared around the fire that is Sherlock Holmes.
We make each other Sherlockians, every one of us. And if the old ways come to have limits that can’t work as they did decades and decades ago, we very well could see more new ways as the great Sherlockian river flows around obstacles that stand in its path. Starting to see that happening with a thing or two of late, and I am curious as to where it might eventually lead. Perhaps we don’t need “knightly” aspects any more, that being such a boy’s game.
But finding ways to let each other know how much we value our fellows and their contributions is something we can all do and give some thought to now and then.