The other day, on my post about the Japanese series, Miss Sherlock, Joe commented
Sherlock will NEVER die!
And I had to agree, of course.
Sherlock Holmes is one of the great characters of popular culture, together with Dracula and Tarzan1, and through infinite version and editions and adaptations, it has reached every corner of the world and every social stratum.
Sherlock Holmes is everywhere, and he is not going away.
And I was reminded, reading Joe’s comment, of a thing I caught somewhere and I’ve been unable to trace, that is, Harlan Ellison suggesting the Canon as the basis of a reasonable education.
Because Sherlock Holmes, according to Ellison, could teach you that by paying attention and using your brain, you can make sense of reality.
Indeed, Holmes’ method is often a young person’s first introduction to rational thinking and the strict application of logic and observation.
And really, what often peeves me about modern adaptation is that they make it look like magic. Holmes listens to the witnesses, observes the scene of the crime, and then, hey presto!, here’s the solution.
This is not the case, and Holmes made it very clear when discussing his cases with Doctor Watson, that there was nothing magic or supernatural – not in his methods, not in the cases he solved.
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
Harlan Ellison was right. It’s a good education.
I sometimes wonder if the widespread success of crackpot theories in our culture, in these last few years, is the effect of younger people no longer reading Sherlock Holmes.
I blame Harry Potter, but it’s a well known fact that I never could suffer the little know-it-all and his frigging magic wand, so my judgment is biased.
And interestingly enough I got two books, as part of my Holmesian book haul for this autumn, about Holmes’ methods and approach to investigation.
We’ll need to talk about them, as soon as I’ve gone through them.
In the meantime, I hope not only that Holmes will never die, but also that he will come back with his sharp reasoning and his scientific approach to dispel the shadows of magical thinking from the young minds of the future generations.
- even if the Lord of the Jungle got a lot of bad press recently, mostly by people that never read the books. ↩