South Park Self

Doomed. Doooooooomed!

So much for the good intentions, such as the road to Hell is paved with. Allegedly. Went to bed early on Friday night in a spirit of Sid-appeasement, couldn't sleep because the nice cleaning lady is in the rising phase of her "put too much softener in the washing up" oscillation, and my sheets made me itch. (I shall remonstrate gently with her on Friday, and itching levels will sink until she starts forgetting again. However, in a sneaky move I have also diluted the fabric softener even further. Like watering the whisky, only more legitimate and rather less sacrilegious). It was an annoying night. Not much sleep.

I re-watched Sherlock Holmes on Saturday night and thus went to bed slightly late, planning to sleep in. What happens? the annual fun run that pounds past my window sometime in November every year, chose to pound past at 6am. On a Sunday. Currently this fun-run phenomenon is making me glad I'm a role-player, and thus have the mental furniture necessary to think wistfully of caltrops. (A spirited supper discussion last night arrived at the conclusion that they'd have to be (a) giant caltrops, to go through cushioned running shoe soles, and (b) invisible, so the runners can't dodge them. Further endeavours in this direction are currently stymied on grounds of practicality. SEP field wanted, cheap). All in all I am very short on sleep, and found it very difficult to wake up this morning. Also, dire forebodings are possibly borne out: I have a sinus headache this morning. We braaied last night. Suspicious. Very suspicious.

I can, however, thoroughly recommend the experience of reading the entirety of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes corpus before re-watching the film. I loved the film first time round: its vision of Victorian London is very vivid, appropriately noisy and grimy, and full of almost Dickensian life. I also enjoyed its interpretation of the characters and of the Holmes/Watson dynamic. I have to say, a great deal of the above is actually there in the stories, implicitly or explicitly. Holmes as an action hero is not too much of a stretch: he refers to his skills in baritsu and singlestick at various points in the stories, and there's also reference to him winning a bout against a prize-fighter at a boxing club (in The Sign of Four - although probably a gentleman's boxing club rather than the fight ring depicted in the film). Watson, however, is always the one with the gun, and the assumption is that he's there as muscle.

Holmes is a master of disguise in the stories, frequently taking in Watson with a persona; his personal eccentricities, including clutter, untidiness, depressive and reclusive episodes, cocaine addiction and the tendency to shoot holes in his mantlepiece, are spot on (see, particularly, "The Musgrave Ritual" for Watson having a little domestic whinge to himself about his room-mate's living habits). The marrying-Watson-off thing is perfectly correct, it happens very early in the stories, and many of them are either told in flashback to the time when Holmes and Watson shared rooms in Baker Street, or involve Watson taking time off from his wife and practice in order to accompany Holmes on an investigation. To my enormous pleasure, the film is sprinkled with decontextualised but appropriate quotes from the books, including the comment about Watson's "grand gift of silence", which has always been one of my favourites. And, finally, in the broadest thematic terms the plot of the film is the same as the plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles, which makes me very happy.

I quibble, however, with Irene Adler. I think it's absolutely not cricket to give Holmes a love interest: the stories consistently and unambiguously portray him as intrinsically celibate, if not sexless. While Irene Adler is "the woman" to Holmes, she's only marginally present in the stories, and their connection is intellectual, not emotional: she's a worthy opponent, not a love interest. Watson specifically notes that "It was not that [Holmes] felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind ... as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer" ("A Scandal in Bohemia"). I adore RDJ's Holmes, he's a compelling creation, but he's more vulnerable and considerably more human than Doyle makes him, and no more so than in his weakness for a woman. Irene Adler in the film thus falls into my "Osgiliath/Faramir" category of fan irritation at adaptation choices. Phooey.
  • Current Mood: blah Mondayish, tired
  • Current Music: The Mission
Softeners
Which one do you use? I also have teh Sensitive Skin but I find the PnP Green range and the Woolies Eco range to be ok. Don't get the one made with Soy extract, though, it makes your clothes smell of soya oil. Bleugh. The Woolies Baby one is nice.
Re: Softeners
Eco ranges are a good thought, thanks! I'm generally fine if I avoid Sta-Soft and certain flavours of the Sunlight range. The Sunlight Classic one is fine if Margaret doesn't stick too much in. Hopefully my Eevul Sneak Dilution will help. But I'll give the Green range a try.
Is Holmes' celibacy a necessary and consistent part of the character, or was this a reflection of ACD's Victorian morals or the rules for the genre and market he was writing for at the time?
"It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer--excellent for drawing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his." ("A Scandal in Bohemia").

I think your first option: lack of romance is seen as an intrinsic part of intellectualism, and thus an essential part of Holmes's eccentric genius. ACD has absolutely no problem with romance, Watson gets married first off after falling from a dizzy height for a lovely lady, and various doomed/tragic/passionate/happy love affairs wander in and out of the various stories, including a bunch of vengeful discarded mistresses and faithful but unmarried lovers. This is also very late-period Victorian, moving into Edwardian and beyond, and morals were loosening up in preparation for the Roaring 20s. So, no, I don't think it was a repression thing to make Holmes celibate; I think it was a fairly consistent portrayal of an extreme eccentric.

Extemporanea, randomly analysing in far more detail than you could possibly want since 2005. Now with added primary source quotes. And at least I didn't mention postmodernism.
In retrospect, your original comment was clearly an essay question for the Victorian Gothic seminar I plan to run next year. Score!