Monday, November 28, 2022

Yon grate beastie ye call "Sherlockiana"

 Do you ever just try to figure out what's going on with Sherlockiana? There's Sherlock Holmes at the center, of course, looking different from every angle. But surrounding him is the greater mass of cultural protoplasm, and always staying nearest to that attractive detective center are his faithful, those who stick around after the credits have rolled. And as fascinating as the man himself can be, that big shifting Lovecraftian formless life form around him is just as intriguing a study.

This week's "Interesting Though Elementary" interview from Rob Nunn set me pondering the current form of Sherlockiana yet again. Heather Hinson had expressed the thought that "Sherlockian fandom has two distinct groups, the devout media fandom, and the devout academic fandom." She qualified that, of course, saying, "There is some meshing between both, but a portion of the fandom is either one or the other."

Now, we're all going to squeal a bit and go, "But I'm more than that!" Personally, before reading Heather's interview I was thinking about how so much of Sherlockiana is now pastiche writers versus historical scholars. (Not that they fight or anything.) There are areas like MX Publishing that are just pastiche wild, while older resources like The Baker Street Journal have settled into more researched and footnoted works on actual people and events. There's room for it all out there, though, so while you might hear a Sherlockian go, "I really prefer this or that," I don't think I've ever heard "All these pastiches are going to wipe out serious study!"

Sometimes I fear that all the imagination people are going toward pastiches while all of the research people are going toward historical fact pieces, and we might lose that charming mix of the two we call the Game, grand or great. But that certainly isn't happening. The number of people with an interest in something as arcane as Sherlockian chronology that I've encountered certainly disproves that. And one can always find folks willing to debate Watson's relationship with Australia or what was going on with that marriage situation. And shippers have been with us forever, even if they didn't know that's what they were called when middle-aged men were sure Sherlock and Irene were bound to get in on.

Crafters. Collectors. Cosplayers. Curmudgeons. And that's in just the "C" categories of Sherlockians. Sherlockiana is as big as the world, because it is a world now, and hard to hold in one human brain, as hard as one of those Lovecraftian thingies that would drive a man mad just to look upon it. But the great part is -- and here's where the metaphor gets weird -- the great beastie has udders. A near infinite number of milk-able teats that produce fortifying sustenance for the thirsty mind.

Sometimes, ya just gotta give up trying to parse it all out and grab an udder and squeeze. Maybe aim and try to hit a nearby barn cat, like my great uncle used to do. Because that barn cat is probably a Sherlockian too.

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