Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Sherlockian Thing

Basil Rathbone as SH
I woke up this morning, sweating and thinking about Sherlock Holmes. I don't think I'd had a dream about him--at least, I don't remember one. But it just occurred to me in the gloaming of sleep that he is ubiquitous these days. Everywhere. I just checked the Oxford English Dictionary, where I see that there are words like Sherlockian (noun and adjective), Sherlocking (verb and gerund), and Sherlock (noun and verb--a detective; detecting). And there's Holmesian (noun and adjective).

The images of Holmes and Watson continue to appear in what we used to call the "funny pages" in the newspaper (remember newspapers?). Right now there are two TV series I know about that feature Holmes: BBC/PBS Sherlock (with Benedict Cumberbatch and and Martin Freeman, a hobbit playing Dr. Watson!) and CBS' Elementary (with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Watson). Both these shows have moved Sherlock, et al. into the present--though the PBS series has played with time a little bit. In Elementary, Sherlock and Watson are consultants to the NYPD.

And then those films by Guy Ritchie--two of them (Sherlock Holmes, 2009; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2011). And the Internet word is that a third film is on the way. I love (almost always) Guy Ritchie's work, so I will be there, wearing my deerstalker. Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson. Sherlock: an action hero--a martial arts nerd.

I actually had a deerstalker hat for a while ... not sure what happened to it. A closet/ Goodwill? My son? Ah, dotage ... nothing quite like it.

And there was another recent film--Mr. Holmes, 2014--with Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf!) as the aging, retired detective and Colin Starkey as Dr. Watson). Holmes, living in the countryside, tending to his bees and flowers, finds himself drawn into a case that takes him back to London.

Okay: comics, TV, movies. And the publishing industry continues to grind out Sherlock-related books--from scholarly works, to new adventures by a variety of authors, to tangentially related topics--like the recent (and very fine) Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation, by Brad Ricca.

I just entered "Sherlock Holmes" into the title line on the search page on Amazon--and got nearly 16,000 hits. Of course, some of those are duplicates--and in foreign languages--etc. But still ...

Of course, there's a museum on Baker St. in London (Baker Street--Holmes' address was supposedly 221B). Link to museum site.

Okay--I'm getting tired. And, besides, there's a whole book about this--Arthur & Sherlock (2017), a book I read and even blogged a bit about not too long ago. Written by Michael Sims.

I'm getting tired; I bet you are, too.

So ... what does all this mean? Well, we, of course, like to think that someone can solve all mysteries; many of us don't like thinking that things happen and that we can't figure out what they are--in other words, the kinds of things that happen all the time in our lives.

Today--in a time of virulent anti-intellectualism in the country (and, I fear, in our government)--I find the Holmes stories and the Holmes character reassuring. There are answers out there!. And, sure, intellectuals are, you know, weirdos; people who study are losers; people who know things don't really know them (Fake!); people who believe in a liberal education are elitist ... you know?

Sherlock Holmes, to me, is a reminder of what study and learning can do. And I grieve for a world that disdains those things ... our world, in other words.

Which is probably why I woke up this morning in a sweat ...

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