Monday, September 28, 2020


 There's an aspect of many a hobby that we don't like to talk about too much.

We're attracted to a thing for the joy it brings, we do a thing because there is pleasure in it. And then, at some point, it can take a turn, and we start wanting it to fill other needs. other gaps in our lives. It can give us purpose and meaning that our primary occupation might be lacking. It can give us a hope that we will be remembered when we're gone. It can give us power, or at least the perception of power, that we might crave.

That last one is a bit of a trouble spot. In every fan cult, there are always a few who want to be cult leaders. That doesn't usually happen, of course, as Sherlock Holmes fans tend to have an independent streak. Every time somebody starts trying to hand out awards, degrees, black belts, etc. in Sherlock, though, I start giving them the ol' squinty eye. 

Perhaps I was overly influenced by Dr. Seuss's story of "The Sneetches."

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, "We're the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they'd snort
"We'll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!"

I can think of a few Sherlockians who surely never had that book as a child, so I don't think that was a bad thing. 

"We're afficionados," they'd sniff and they'd snort.
"We're nothing like that regular fan sort!"

Yes, definitely never read Dr. Seuss.

And in that tale, along comes Sylvester McMonkey MacBean to cash in on that desire to be a special, star-bellied sneetch. Because like we have our fancier sneetches in Sherlockiana, we also have our Sylvester McMonkey MacBeans, who want to stroll in and sell us a machine to attach stars to our bellies. They may not be asking for cash in payment for their machine, just simple acceptance that they have the power to attach those stars.

We have a lot of clubs and such where you get a free nickname with membership, which is open to all. We did that with our local Sherlock Holmes society for its run, but there's a big difference between a whimsical practice that's open to all and any mechanism that declares this Sherlockian better than that Sherlockian. We all know who the better Sherlockians in our lives are because of their words and deeds, words and deeds that can be their own reward. We're not Hollywood stars who need an Oscar to boost the ticket sales of our next picture. The Sherlockian community is not so large that good work can go unseen. The word gets out.

As a result, almost all newer attempts by Sylvester McMonkey MacBeans to work across the Sherlockian world don't go on for all that long. Some fade out with the loss of interest of their founder, some become increasingly insular as the outside world moves on without giving them traction. Only one has ever had real success, but I'll let that one lie for the moment.

Shersneetchiana is just something we have to deal with every now and then, as someone comes along thinking it's an idea worth trying, people being people. Dr. Seuss was a good one with certain timeless truths in his kids books.

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