Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Ritual

 I finished reading another book series that I loved tonight. It seems like a few of my favorites seemed to be wandering to their final chapters of late, and a good finish for a beloved character always makes me think about that magic that authors do. And what we're all doing.

So many Sherlock Holmes stories being written out there, being published, almost more than it seems will ever be read. But we're nearing the eight billion mark for planetary population, so we do have more than a few readers available. But still, what are we even doing?

A good, original character comes from an author's very soul, their life experience, their loves, their working out of just how this world works. None of us are Conan Doyle, doctoring on whaling ships, learning observation from Joe Bell, and every other momentary tidbit that fueled his fires of creation. So when we pick up our pen or our fingers over the keyboard, what are we even doing, attempting to conjure that most magical of creatures we know?

Well, that.

It really is an attempt at true magic. We're trying to summon Sherlock Holmes in our own mind, and if we're truly successful, in the mind of someone else. To hold that spirit intact long enough for those readers to finish a story or book without feeling a wrongness that makes them banish that creature of the mind. And like all the best magic, it's a very complex ritual.

Watson must tell the tale. He most likely will set the scene in Baker Street. A client will come in.

It's practically drawing a chalk pentagram on the floor of a wizard's tower, it is. The magic words must be said in the correct order, and be the correct words . . . even though the spell must be different every single time. Using too many of Conan Doyle's words in Conan Doyle's order will break the spell every time, and reveal you as the sorcerer's apprentice.

It's a ritual as carefully observed as any rigid orthodoxy, yet as loose and free as a Wild Hunt. Order and chaos existing in the same conjuring. An impossible thing, and yet . . . and yet . . . maybe just improbable? Maybe something that can be done?

For one other person. Or two. Or even thousands. But rare is the Sherlock Holmes conjuring that works on everyone who knows that spirit. 

I suspect those of us who resist the urge for the most part do so out of fear of the magic's power, and just how badly it can go wrong. But you can't fault anyone for trying. We know the feeling of that walk back from Reichenbach Falls, knowing we'll never see our friend again unless something truly amazing occurs. 

Sometimes it does, and you get "The Empty House." Sometimes it misfires and you get "Wisteria Lodge." Even the Merlin of this metaphor didn't hit every mark. And the ritual goes on.

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