|Ectoplasm: one of the odder|
|variations amongst spiritualists.|
|The "ectoplasm" is cheesecloth.|
Along the same theme, several tribute authors have Holmes shake his head bemusedly at the sad mental decline of his friend/publisher, Mr. Arthur Conan Doyle.
Modern authors and critics make two mistakes here:
(1) Although Sherlock would have found Arthur Conan Doyle a far more bonhomous personality than himself, he would not have found his interest in spiritualism odd--not a Sherlock of the nineteenth century anyway. Spiritualism--at least initially--was greeted by the scientific community as a possible scientific advance. If humans could create a telegraph that communicated around the world, why couldn't humans create a device that communicated beyond this world? Scientific American offered an award to the first person to prove the existence of the afterlife.
They split when Conan Doyle thought they had found the real thing and Houdini continued to maintain that all spiritualists were frauds and hucksters (Houdini was right).
It is difficult to "get" Conan Doyle's intransigence in the face of what appears (to modern eyes) as obvious wackiness until one remembers that he lost a son and other family members to the horrors of World War I. In his dedication to occult phenomena, he supported the existence of the Cottingley fairies based on images that (to modern eyes) appear absolutely and obviously manufactured. It reminds me of a folklore class in which I showed the famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot clip; a bemused student in the front row said, "And people thought that wasn't a guy in a suit?"
|In "Possibility Two," Sherlock agrees to investigate|
|a man who has been "poisoned" by a genetic mutation.|
|The bee is his payment.|
Despite Conan Doyle going admittedly a little strange (with those fairies and all), his hunt for the paranormal was still in keeping with nineteenth century scientific thought. The connection between forensics and, say, palm reading was at that time closer than makes us empiricists comfortable. From this perspective, Elementary's occasional episode in which an extreme scientific discovery plays a role is in keeping with the Holmes' tradition.
|I love them all--but don't forget, folks:|
|Brett is still the yardstick (I realize.|
|that statement is debatable :).|
Sherlock Holmes has lasted for many reasons and one of them, yes, is the forensics. The forensics alone wouldn't have been enough though. Neither would the adventure. Neither would the characterization. Other mystery writers of the same era were producing forensics and adventure and memorable characterization.
Conan Doyle put it all together into one perfect creation.
And I'm sure Paget's pictures didn't hurt.