Tuesday, October 6, 2020

How important is Sherlock Holmes?

Let's  start with a statement that might be a bit controversial:

One thing any fan does, from the most sticker-laden convention-goer to the most footnoting academic, is  to exaggerate the importance level of their chosen fandom over the other parts of life. 

Of course, I'm not talking about you or me, just those folks. You know the ones.

We can get a bit carried away. 

Over the last century, Sherlockiana has been lightly compared to a religion time after time. We have our sacred text. We let our following of Holmes makes certain life choices. We have our little "cults" and, definitely, our fanatics. Yet none of us would outright say "It's definitely a religion!" because we know, in our hearts, that Sherlock Holmes was a story created by a man named A. Conan Doyle, not a messiah.

And yet, the parallels between our hobby and a religion are often useful. For example, when debates over religious freedom come up, the same arguments apply to controversial Sherlockian topics. Does our Sherlockian fervor allow us to freely have a negative impact in the lives of other people?

Can you be a real jerk, but it's okay because you're such a devout Sherlockian?

It's an interesting question, as our community, like many a church, is welcoming and accepting. We often welcome and tolerate Sherlockians whose social skills might be appalling enough to get them rejected from a normal social circle. They scratch their back with a fork at the dinner table or persistently smell of unchanged cat litter, and yet no one tells them they can't come to our banquets or meetings. But in that tolerance, we often have tolerated assholery along with the merely off-putting. Because . . . well, Sherlock Holmes.

As Sherlock Holmes, his legend, and lore all serve as a necessary diversion in our lives, we can become a little too diverted. We can dive our head into that rabbit hole like a cartoon ostrich and lessen the noise that's just too loud around us. And that's okay at times. We need that for our mental health.

Burrowing into our personal Sherlockian lairs has become an effective tool in a time when we need to limit contact to protect our communities from the spread of a pandemic, I think. The percentage of Sherlockians struck down by Covid might hopefully be less than the general populace due to our bookish natures? I don't know. But even if that were the case, we still have to use those Sherlockian powers for good.

We have to pay attention to people and things that aren't Sherlock Holmes related. This may seem like a really stupid statement to the average person, but for some of us? Well, speaking as someone with two Sherlockian podcasts, a blog, a journal to edit, and a book in the works . . . occasionally I need a splash of cold water or a friendly hand from outside the Sherlockian world to pull me out of my burrow and engage the rest of the world.

Was there a point that this little morning ramble was coming to? If there was when it started, I don't remember it now. But I will say this, if you haven't heard it enough already:

Figure out how you're going to vote, if you're American, and get out and then do it. If there was ever a moment to forget about Sherlock for long enough to get a thing done, this is it.

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