Wednesday, November 11, 2020

"Listen to the experts!"

 A phrase I enjoyed hearing the other day was "I will listen to the experts" with regard to the current pandemic. Medical experts have done a lot for the human race. And then my brain fell into Sherlockian mode. "Listen to the experts!" applies to scientific areas of human endeavor, but does it apply to our particular field.

My gut instinct said, "Nooooo, don't listen to the experts! Follow your own path." I've always railed against those classicists of Sherlockiana who claimed that every good thing possible in this hobby was done before 1950. But were those folks "experts?"

I've been called an expert on Sherlock Holmes. My late neighbor was called an expert on Sherlock Holmes. Practically every single Sherlockian ever written up as a feature in their local newspaper (back when newspapers were a thing and needed features) has been called an expert in Sherlock Holmes. Because compared to non-Sherlockians, who outnumber us by the thousands, if not the tens of thousands by my estimate, we are experts in Sherlock Holmes. All of us.

The thing about being a expert in Sherlock Holmes the man is that you really just have to be knowledgeable about the one book, where we find everything that is completely accepted about the man. You can go on and become an expert in Sherlockian film, in Sherlockiaan chronology, in Sherlockian fan fiction, but to just be an expert in Sherlock? One big fat book.

Read that one big fat book, and you don't really need to listen to the experts. Sure, they can tell you what has been done in the past inspired by Holmes, but as I said, expertise in what has been done in the past outside of that one book is a whole 'nother expertise that not every Sherlockian has. Your own inspired creation will surely find an audience among the other experts in your area . . . who didn't necessarily read the monograph William Buxley passed out as a table favor at a Baker Street Irregulars dinner in 1953.

If one enjoys listening to experts, Sherlockiana is a wonderful place. We have so very many experts.

But if one is a creative who wants to follow one's own path free of expert critiques, Sherlockiana is also a wonderful place. None of our experts is expert in everything Sherlockian, so you're likely to find a free spot to fly.

And if you want to do something between those two, listen to some experts and charge blindly into your own Sherlockian project without calling upon every other person who wrote about the wine Watson took with his lunch on a particular day, well, you can have at it. We'll still love to see what you come up with.

The larger Sherlockiana grows, the more territory it seems we have to explore. It's part of the magic of this hobby -- there's always more left to learn, to see, to do.

And, to become an expert in. Because we do love our experts, even if we don't always listen to them.

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