Many of us experience life like a canine experiencing a car ride. When someone decides the time is right, we are allowed a journey. A cracked window of opportunity is a tunnel of whooshing air to flap moist tongues. And when the time comes we trot off. Any attempts to jump out, bite or break free is severely frowned upon, and if you do succeed, you risk being run over.
This is if life is good.
That is why the chronicles of an insubordinate bohemian detective in the Victorian era might very well be one way to live life.
Like sitcoms Doyle has woven a cozy world insulated from change. There is a familiarity to the routine. Sherlock Holmes and Watson seated in the living room of 221B Baker Street. A client comes in with a singularly baffling mystery.
Given that Holmes’ principal link to the outside world are such grotesque errands, it is a wonder he ever smiles. Not only does he smile, he feels. He acts. He reacts and sometimes even panics.
Of course, all this is more than can be said of Mycroft, with his Diogenes club.
There is a mild case of suicidal tendency in Holmes and a lot more in Watson. It is easy to discard them as unidimensional cardboard figures chasing leads. But it is also illuminating to examine why they, especially Watson, are all too eager to walk time and again into trigger traps with blindfolds. Watson is a womanizer, a chronic divorcee and a truant medical practitioner.
Watson is as interesting a character if not more than Holmes.
Holmes emotes sparsely. His sensibilities are refined. Cocaine and tobacco are his refuge providing hallucinogenic escapes to relieve the tedium of life. It is a perfectly sensible way to spend one’s life.
Ply a trade, engage your senses and retire into apiary.
No. I have not lost perspective. I realize they are sensational fiction material. But ask anybody who has even a dormant sense of thrill in them and they can immediately identify with these two gentlemen.
Every case of Sherlock contrasts his bohemian outlook towards life with the humdrum existence of his clients. Their familial squabbles, generation-spanning curses, blackmails, all are rightly relegated to a two page monologue to the seemingly disinterested Holmes.
Doyle might be the Sherlock who is clever enough to narrate these thrilling stories but lead a sensible life. Us Baker Street Irregulars are those who are are impertinent enough to try and lead a Watsonian life. Holmes is interested only in the facts. The morals and maudlin sentiments of the stories are for Watson and us readers.