Wednesday, July 1, 2020

One magical . . . something!

If you hadn't noticed from this blog, I love to write about Sherlock Holmes.

I'm very glad that a few folks like yourself actually read it, too, as it gives me an excuse to write some more, even though I often think I might just keep writing about Sherlock Holmes if I was sent on a Mars mission with no human contact for the rest of my days. At this point, it's what I do.

The thing that has me going on like this tonight is that I have the pleasure of doing the message part of the Sunday service at the local Universalist Unitarian church in a couple Sundays. (That's not a typo -- Peoria's version of a Unitarian Universalist church does actually flip its name the other way.) Summer services there are a chance to speak on a lot of topics, and my old neighbor and friend Bob Burr was talking about Sherlock Holmes at their summer forums as far back as the early eighties, even though he never attended.  I think between Bob and myself, we've talked about Sherlock Holmes there in the summer at least four times. And this year, I'm adding a fifth.

Well, technically, I won't be at the church, as -- you know the drill -- online meeting large and small are the order of the day. I think it's a Facebook stream I'll be speaking on, though the video with be accessible later.  I'm going to miss the crowd, but it's the writing of a talk that's always the large share of the fun, bringing in points from the Canon, something Don Hobbs made me think of in our last week's conversation on The Watsonian Weekly, stuff from history that pertains . . . Sherlockiana is such a wonderfully wide field that it can touch almost everything in some way or another.

Writing about Sherlock Holmes can make you laugh, it can bring a tear, it can make a solid point when a point needs to be made. It's never just about the "Elementary, my dear Watson!" moment (unless of course, you're writing specifically about the "Elementary, my dear Watson!" moment). Sherlockian writing is an all-purpose tool, and if you look at any collector's shelf you're liable to see it put to all sorts of uses: Teaching computer languages, telling you how to buy insurance, expounding the principles of faith, retreading the facts of the Kennedy assassination, and, of course, more direct things like exploring Conan Doyle's psyche or teaching us the history of a time and place Holmes was in the middle of.

But best of all is probably when we just take that all-purpose tool and play it like a ukelele or a pipe organ, or wield it like a paint brush or sculpturer's chisel. Sherlockiana is a musical instrument and Play-doh and a photo filter app and a word reservoir and . . . a playground.

And so many of the uses of this magical instrument are spun up with words, like incantations in a Harry-Potter-eque world where a secret culture of Sherlockians live amongst folk who don't even know the magic exists.

I think that's why I like to write about Sherlock Holmes so much. Sometimes it feels very much like wizardry, thanks to that genie we all found at some point in our lives, even though somebody always tries to bottle him up or impose rules upon casting his spells. (Silly wabbits.)

Have fun out there, my friends.

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