Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holmes Vs. Watson

Who would you rather meet, spend time with, have as a friend, Sherlock Holmes or James Watson?

I'm assuming everyone's answer is "Sherlock Holmes."

I've just been rereading the stories, and I am struck by how strongly this feeling persists in spite of the extraordinary lengths Conan-Doyle goes to to show what a cold, unfeeling, unfriendly -- actually unpleasant -- person Holmes is.

I mean, it's one thing to want to be friends with someone who is sort of distant, but also human. The feeling in that case is that maybe the friendship would be extra special, or something. You know, kind of exclusive. The person who is friends with no one, being friends with you.

But wanting to be friends with Sherlock Holmes? Weird. I mean, at every turn, we hear about how little he cares for anyone, how completely self-absorbed he is, how utterly uninterested in the little pleasures of ordinary life. A man totally unmoved by beauty, humor, sympathy.

Watson, of course, the opposite. A doctor. A man of whim and feeling. An appreciator of women. But still. Holmes is always so much more interesting.

Actually one thing Holmes does get a little emotional about is the pain of human existence, and I have to say, it's kind of moving when he does. He makes clear that he requires his intellectual puzzles to make the incredible boredom of life bearable.

I can kind of relate to that, and to wanting to drown one's boredoms in cocaine and tobacco.

Still, it's not like being with Holmes and watching him drown his boredoms would make you feel any better about life. Don't you think it would be guaranteed to make you feel worse?

This makes me think that the whole way that people are kind of drawn to people who pay less attention to them, rather than to people who pay more attention to them, is kind of a deep fact about human nature rather than some, you know, little wrinkle that applies only occasionally.


Daniel said...

My bf and I recently watched several of the Granada Television "Sherlock Holmes Mysteries" on PBS. They were made from 1983-1994 and star Jeremy Brett. Jeremy Brett makes Sherlock Holmes SO fascinating and quirky and weird and oversensitive and almost campy that it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off him. Watson, in comparison, is reasonable, bourgeois and steady. Neither seem all that interested in women (they seem sort of gay to me, at least Holmes does, but I'm not sure if that's the type of interest you're getting at). I see your point, Noko Marie, but from the tv show it is clear why Holmes is more attractive. On the other hand, I've had friends like him before - or at least with that sort of magnetic appeal - and they usually end up sort of nightmarish. Much more fun to read the books or watch the series.

Noko Marie said...

I had to look on Wikipedia to see who Jeremy Brett is, but now I think I saw an episode of this too. I also remember him being riveting in that way. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to make a show of it that doesn't have him as a fascinating guy. I mean, it's funny, but there's nothing in the stories about him being especially fascinating, and yet, you know, you can't imagine him any other way. Crafty guy, that Conan Doyle.