With the announcement of the "Holmes in the Heartland" symposium returning to St. Louis in 2020 (July 24-26! Mark those calendars!), I can't help but dwell a little bit on their planned theme: "Arch Enemies."
For many a happy Sherlockians, Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty are apt to come immediately to mind. For some others, I'd wager, their first or second thought might be of a fellow Sherlockian. Because, despite the grand "Found my tribe!" aspect of our community, it's not that uncommon to encounter someone who, in a Holmes-Moriarty duality sort of way, becomes your mental arch-enemy.
They may not know they're your arch-enemy. (Probably for the best.) And the person they consider their arch nemesis might not be you. (How do I know they probably have an arch-enemy? Because if they were the kind of sweet and lovely person that doesn't, you wouldn't have chosen them, would you?) Yet even if it goes unspoken on either side, you know it's there.
Is it bad to have an arch-enemy in your hobby?
Well, unless you're actually plotting criminal acts against them, I don't think so. Finding someone who epitomizes all of the things you feel the need to push back against can be a good way to focus your energies, as long as you don't make it personal and go after them as a fellow human. (Surest sign of going to far down that road: The ad hominem argument -- learn it, don't do it.) And, well, recognizing how someone else is an asshole can help you occasionally not do likewise.
Our Sherlockian culture is always going to make us look at our fellow folk and go, "Who are my Watsons? Who are my Mycrofts? Who are my Moriartys?" It can be a worthwhile exercise, especially in considering your Watsons and Mycrofts. Your Moriarty, however, usually won't have to be sought out . . . that person will make themselves known quick enough. And, unfortunately, probably haunt you for most of your Sherlockian career.
I'm sure a few of us will be considering this topic in depth, as we head for July of 2020. It's going to be a very interesting year. (As if they aren't all, of late!)