Saturday, August 31, 2019

Our widening orbit of Baker Street

It occurred to me this morning, after working on a Sherlockian podcast that doesn't mention Sherlock Holmes, reading a Sherlockian tweet about a book that has the name "Sherlock" nowhere in it, and seeing a promo for Sherlockian seminar about building an archive of a club's history, that there is a point for the fan of Sherlock Holmes where the friendly confines of 221B Baker Street get left far behind.

I mean, we all start at 221B. Here's Sherlock Holmes! Here's Doctor Watson! Baker Street! London! Yay!

But as time goes by and we circle around the old Holmestead time after time after time after time, the orbit of that fixed point can start to widen. The Afghan War. Joe Bell. The Strand Magazine. The Mormon faith. The fiction of Clark Russell.

A bit more time passes, the orbit widens further. Lily Langtry. The Hammer Dracula films. Christopher Morley. The Boer War. The TV show Supernatural.

And eventually you find yourself in a place where your friends and co-workers say something like "You are into such a strange mix of things!"

And yet it all started at that one fixed point, that one placing of the sharp end of a jointed compass, when we found ourselves in orbit around the two occupants of a London flat. The magnetism of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson tethers us to them, makes us unwilling to let go. But as time passes and we reach out for new stimulation, new interests, new rabbit holes to fall down with one hand, the other clings to our friends at Baker Street.

The result could be shown almost as a genealogy chart of subjects, moving from one, to all those things connect to it, to all those things connected to them, picking out what interests us most or is the most fun to play with, and continuing on. Like the rings on a tree stump, you can probably tell the age of a person's Sherlockian hobby by the not-exactly-Sherlock interests they've added as time passed.

Of course, at some point in all that, you just wind up pondering Sherlockiana itself, and here we are.

Enjoy the orbits.

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