Monday, May 25, 2020

Be like Sherlock Holmes-- in the good ways

Those who know me know I really like the fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. The A. Conan Doyle original, specifically. The degree to which I like other versions depends on how faithful they are to the original. The original Sherlock Holmes was surprisingly libertarian for the time and place where he was created.

Of the most recent versions, I like the Benedryl Cabbagepatch Sherlock adaptation (ignoring the 4th season shark-jump) from England a lot more than I like the "woke" Left-Statist version from America called Elementary.

I've been watching Elementary on a streaming service for a couple of months now. But there are times its deficiencies are painful to me-- to the point that I sometimes realize I haven't been paying attention for several minutes. That version of Holmes just doesn't measure up very well. He is not abnormally intelligent or good at deduction/induction/abduction, and he is irrationally anti-gun and pro-police (as is the mood of the whole show). He's just not that impressive or exceptionally gifted. That's anti-Holmesian.

I'm not at all a fan of the movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and I couldn't even bring myself to watch the Will Ferrell version after seeing the previews.

Some of the old TV versions of decades past are pretty good.

I also notice whether the various versions actually use Holmes' methods, or if they are written by someone who doesn't understand what makes Sherlock Holmes what he is and flounders in vain trying to write something they don't understand. Or worse, if they don't like what Sherlock Holmes is so they try to make him something they like better (which feels like Elementary's problem).

I'm not generally a fan of "re-imagining" stuff that works, anyway, unless it is done carefully.

This is a roundabout way to get to a point.

In my most delusional moments of imagined grandeur I like to imagine myself as the Sherlock Holmes of liberty. I want to be able to think dispassionately about liberty and just go where the data leads me regardless of my feelings. I want to emulate the good characteristics of Holmes as they might apply to my own interests. I accept that I have flaws, as does the character-- although Holmes' addiction* to substances isn't one of my flaws.

To the extent this delusion helps make me a better person, it's useful. If it knocks me off-course, then it isn't.

*As pointed out in the comment by R R Schoettke below, Doyle's Holmes was an occasional drug user, but not an addict. A critically important distinction.

Writing to promote liberty is my job.
YOU get to decide if I get paid.
I hope I add something you find valuable enough to support.


  1. I am a Holmes fan also. I concur with your disappointment with the Elementary series. For one thing the original Holmes was a ‘user’ but not an addict; a distinction that the current society is unable to grasp and that the PC crowd refuses to acknowledge or let anyone else acknowledge as it threatens their official narrative. This, and especially the now mandatory cop-worship of any American television show, were the aspects of this program that I found most glaringly unauthentic and out of character for the Holmes of Doyle’s story’s, the man who famously retorted that "I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies.” ! One of his most embarrassing errors was the pensive philosophical aside made during the case of the naval treaty when he alluded to the existence of flowers as some sort of ‘extra’ granted by nature as a boon to mankind because his ignorance of science beyond that required for his particular special needs prevented him from understanding that nature was not made specifically for human needs or satisfactions.

    1. Good analysis.

      I hadn't thought about the "addict vs user" aspect before, but you are 100% right. In fact, I'm going to edit my post to point that out.

      Holmes used when he was bored and it seemed the thing to do until something better came along, but had no need for cocaine when his mind was otherwise engaged. He didn't "need" cocaine, he chose to occasionally entertain himself with it.

      The addiction was the part I disliked most about House, which was also based on Holmes. Other than that, it was a more faithful adaptation in spirit than Elementary-- except for being medical in nature. I also found House a more Holmesian personality/character.