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.