What is it that keeps a Sherlockian in our little fandom for the long term?
I mean, to the very end, from that moment you first declare until the day you die ... what makes that? Sheer stubbornness? The self-regenerating brilliance of Conan Doyle's literary skills? One life-changing moment of Sherlockian revelation that alters your brain's firing patterns?
With new of a favorite club losing its spark, the return of a long unseen name to a discussion, and the ongoing eclipse in some channels by a certain ineffable couple, the question came to mind this morning. And while many a study and survey have been done of Sherlockians en masse, I don't recall seeing one done on Sherlockians who managed to keep to this one subject for . . . hmm, what's a good number . . . say, over twenty years?
There are those who find themselves passing such a milestone simply because a local club is there for them, I'm sure. Those who never venture outside their local area for Sherlock, don't go out of their way to pick up new books or collectables, and just enjoy the company of a group of friends who continue to be there for them. No slight on them at all, just an observation that their longevity's cause is pretty easy to see. And when that social group goes, often their books wind up in a local book sale, and someone else has a "Yay!" moment of finding.
There are those who hit Sherlockiana hard, get to be pretty well known, then disappear, for whatever reason -- a spouse that isn't as kind to Sherlock as one of Watson's, a job that's all-consuming, etc. -- and eventually come back to the fold, as if Sherlocking was a thing that was in them all along, they just had one very big thing in the way. This bunch would be a very interesting study, I'm sure.
And then there are those of us who swing from branch to branch of the Sherlockian tree like monkeys, seeing if each one will support the weight of our attention needs, then monkey-swinging to the next one, even if the previous one was pretty solid and one we might come back to eventually. Monkey business Sherlockians might not have the longevity of some other types, because branches can break on us and we can take a tumble and decide not to climb back into the tree. Yet some do.
Finally, there are the builders, those Sherlockians whose avocation has been all about laying Sherlockian brick upon Sherlockian brick and built a home around themselves that's pretty comfy. And why leave such a fine dwelling-place? Do a little upkeep, and it will keep you warm and cozy for the rest of your days.
The longest-term Sherlockians may have passed through all of those phases, and there are probably more than a few who fit none. I'm just spitballing here, of course, trying to delay going to work for a few more minutes. And new Sherlockians will surely find new ways to carry the torch on into the future.
One just never knows about some things, which is why they're interesting to puzzle over some mornings.