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Moriarty was innocent

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But if you selectively assume one person to be untruthful you could pretty much turn anyone into a criminal.

 

Were this true every defendant in history would be incarcerated.  Since that's obviously untrue, your thesis breaks down.

 

In this account, I’m going to take Dr. Watson’s narration as honest and Holmes’s as deserving skepticism. I can’t doubt everything.

 

I see this as the most natural stance to take for any narration.  It's why I even have the quip about Descartes.

 

If I doubted everything, I'd have nothing to say and the entire post would be:

 

Moriarty was Innocent

 

We all know Sherlock Holmes is fiction.  It follows then that Moriarty was too.

 

Fictional characters are neither guilty nor innocent.  Therefore Moriarty was innocent.

 

The end.

 

I still don’t understand your viewpoint? They met face to face.

 

We know the following:

  1. That was allegedly the first time they met—a few days before Holmes and Watson went gallivanting through Europe.
  2. Holmes is a big time phrenologist.  In The Blue Carbuncle he attributes intelligence to a man merely on account of his large hat.
  3. Moriarty's alleged statement about "more frontal development" indicates he too held phrenologistic views.
  4. They'd been tussling for several months prior.

Given that Holmes regards his enemy with such high regard (and vice versa) and places great weight to physical appearance wrt intelligence, it stretches the imagination that these two would now know what the other looked like.

 

As to why he didn't nemesis earlier, the answer is obvious.  First he had no cause to mention or introduce him earlier.  When you're creating a bogeyman obviously you don't want to make specific claims about said bogeyman because when the time comes to cash your chips you don't want your earlier statements to be falsifiable.  When the time arose, he could present literally anyone and name them Moriarty.  Where had he earlier told Watson that Moriarty was a young, stout, short man it would narrow Holmes's choice of actors to young-ish, stout, short men.  By saying nothing all Holmes needed to do was to hire first and describe later.

 

(This is why you find a larger range of actors in Shakespearean plans where the characters are not described in great detail but lesser so in, say, Shavian ones.)

 

But, as you’ve said yourself, Moriarty did exist. So why, when Holmes made his reappearance, didn’t Moriarty come forward to show what a liar Holmes was?

 

Question - If Moriarty was innocent then he would have had nothing to hide. Why did he not complain to the police of Holmes’ persecution? He could have invited them to investigate him thoroughly and when they found nothing Holmes would have been discredited and probably warned to leave Moriarty alone.

 

There are several reasons why people don't come forth.  I offer a few below and more can be postulated.  I like to keep speculation to the minimum.

  1. Moriarty was dead (by Holmes's hand or otherwise, it does not matter).
  2. Moriarty had moved to some other place (the Amazon, say)
  3. Moriarty did not want to come forth—perhaps he owed large debts and was in hiding, and felt that if he showed himself he'd be in more trouble than winning a libel suit.

Also we don't know what his brother wrote.  Watson's too distraught to elaborate.

 

I’m sure that Mycroft Holmes would have made a formidable criminal mastermind too but just having the required skills can’t be shown as proof. Many honest people ‘could’ have been successful criminals if they were so inclined.

 

So glad you agree with me.

 

His ‘own purposes’ in context means for acquiring information which would lead to the solving of crime. As for for the owner ‘swearing vengeance’ this is hardly likely to be because Holmes was a customer! It would have been a) he wouldn’t have wanted Holmes investigating him and B) he wouldn’t have wanted Holmes scaring customers away.

 

As far as the ‘Who bear responsibility’ part it’s obvious that Holmes meant the criminals that used (and owned) the den.

 

Rank speculation.  I have nothing to say.

 

There is also none that Holmes was. In fact there is a huge mountain of evidence in the Canon of Holmes integrity, honest and high regard for justice and fair play.

 

Irrelevant.  Involves considerations of personality and how nice he seemed.  I do not speculate.

 

Finally we have this:

 

We should be rich men if we had £1,000 for every poor devil who has been done to death in that den. It is the vilest murder-trap on the whole riverside.

 

£1,000 is a remarkably large and specific amount.  In The Valley of Fear, Holmes remarks that the Prime Minister only makes £6,000 a year.  In other stories, people are quite happy to get even a fraction of that £1,000 as annual earnings.  This can mean only 2 things: (1) Holmes knows how many bodies are buried and is obliquely hinting at an exact number or (2) Holmes is so rich (through his criminal activities) he doesn't think of £1,000 as much money.  Note that (2) does not exclude (1).

 

I Google'd for what the value of £1000 is in today's amount and this website says it's £120,865 ($166,000).  That's huge.  Jeremy Corbyn's platform to tax anyone earning more than £80,000 was welcomed by Labour.

 

 

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This thread has opened my eyes.  I had no idea the Baker Street Irregulars were so prone to violence, lol.

 

Artemis,

 

Never underestimate the potential for violence by snobby intellectuals when their sacred cow is threatened.   Individually they may be pacifists and/or not in the best of physical condition, but collectively they can be dangerous, especially after a few drinks.

 

In the 1940s, Rex Stout presented his tongue-in-cheek essay "Watson Was a Woman" at the annual dinner--his theory being that Watson was actually 'The Woman', and Holmes's claims of happy lifelong bachelorhood were so much b*ll*cks.  The intent was decidedly for humor--but I believe Mr. Stout had to be escorted off the premises by some thick-necked Teamsters when his audience began throwing chairs at the podium.  These people don't mess around.  :)

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-Ivijay, I must be missing something here. I just can’t for the life of me see how you can make this statement about about Holmes and Moriiarty to try and say that that didn’t know what each other looked like.

 

“Because remember, for all his alleged brilliance, Moriarty didn’t even know what Sherlock Holmes looked like. When they first met (according to Holmes), all Moriarty said was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected”. When he knew nothing about his enemy, Holmes, how could he be expected to invent a story so perfect that it would make Watson leave?”

 

Can someone please explain? This is so obvious. They did know what each looked like. Categorically. Obviously.

 

- When you sarcastically answered ‘So glad you agree with me’ when I mentioned the fact that many honest people could have been successful criminals ( I gave Mycroft as an example) I was, as you well know, explaining how you could ‘fit up’ anyone. I’m sure that a thesis could be written to show that Inspector Lestrade was a criminal mastermind (it explains any antipathy toward Holmes, he would know underworld characters, he was experienced in crime, he could mis-direct investigations away from his own actions.)

 

- You accuse me of ‘rank speculation’ and dismissively say ‘I have nothing to say’ when I state the obvious meaning of a statement by Holmes. Speculation is making an accusation without a single, smidgeon of evidence.

 

- Then you reply that my comment is irrelevant. And say AGAIN that you do not speculate. Then you SPECULATE about a hidden meaning in a throwaway statement by Holmes.

 

 

It seems to me that you came on to this Forum fully expecting everyone to prostrate themselves and say ‘well done, so it turns out that Holmes was a master criminal.’ You may have a long wait. When you first presented your thesis I believe that I was complimentary and polite and said that it was well written. I didn’t realise that I was expected to agree with it too.

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I’ll add...

 

“How did Holmes quit crime?

After he supposedly fell off the waterfall, Holmes was away from England for three years. Where was he those three years? He tells us in The Empty House that he “travelled for two years in Tibet… visiting Lhassa and spen[t] some days with the head Llama”, “passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca”, and a few other excursions before finally setting back to his crime solving ways by working on the “Park Lane Mystery” in the South of France.

The connections should be obvious. Tibet, the head Llama, Mecca… Holmes found religion. Or at least explored them as a means towards finding some balance in his life.”

 

- There is no evidence of an increase in religiosity in Holmes. He also mentions the adventures of a ‘Norwegian explorer called Sigerson’ and his research into the coal tar derivatives while he was away. The idea that Holmes found religion, or even sought out religion, has no basis in evidence and is therefore SPECULATION.

 

And..

 

“If we do not read about his drug addiction in the later stories it’s because (I claim) he found himself a new hobby — crime. Holmes, in many ways, is like those people who play chess games by themselves because they do not find worthy opponents.”

 

Holmes wasn’t ADDICTED to drugs as evidenced by the fact that he didn’t use them when his mind was occupied with work. If addiction was that easy all addicts could find a cure by just keeping their minds occupied. So you’ve based your suggestion of Holmes reason for turning to crime on an addiction that didn’t exist. It is therefore SPECULATION.

 

- You also didn’t explain why, after everyone had read The Final Problem and knew of Moriarty’s criminal empire, the totally innocent Moriarty didn’t just come forward and show Holmes to be a complete liar about events at The Falls. He would no doubt have been able to produce witnesses to prove that he was still in England at the time. He could, if innocent, have also invited the police to scrutinise every aspect of his non-criminal life to show that Holmes was a liar. Maybe you’d care to....SPECULATE?

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Easy, bruv .. do you need to breathe into a paper bag?  (Oddly there is no icon for this but I think that would be a good addition.)

 

******

 

I think we have been remarkably patient with Ivijay's pet theory and willing to engage him with it in a friendly manner despite our status as Holmes partisans.  He assured me the other day that he was not a troll, but I am starting to glean otherwise based on the language of his most recent exchange with you.  Some of the alleged sarcasm may be down to linguistic barriers and the barrier of the Internet itself where tone is notoriously tricky, but he does appear to have less friendly motives than when he first presented himself here.  Bit of bait and switch, innit.

 

I have said all I plan to say regarding his theory and see no reason for further interactions with him, especially if he is not going to play nice in our sandbox.  Perhaps if there were any shifting him off his obsession into another topic, but I don't foresee that happening.  It seems his sole purpose in coming here was to bolster this theory of his, which he apparently insists on regarding as utterly original scholarship.  To come here for such a purpose is like breaking into a vegetarian commune shilling the benefits of cattle ranching.  His choice of audience is less audacious than just poorly-advised.  He seems undeterred by this or by the fact that his 'research' has been plowed before by better writers than he.  I'm sure another community of conspiracy theorist types would be a more fertile ground for his agent provocateur schtick, and I invite him most strenuously to go find one of those. 

 

 

 

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“There's a fine line between partisanship and extremism.  Too bad it's not a fence.” — anon

 

It seems his sole purpose in coming here was to bolster this theory of his

 

I have been open and honest from day 1: http://www.sherlockforum.com/forum/topic/3688-a-holmes-fan-finds-forum/?p=138985

It's true that I've been surprised by the reaction here.  Because my idea of being a fan of something does not involve a blind love of a fictional character, rather one more welcoming of analyses.  Very much like Mr. Michael Dibdin's love of Sherlock Holmes.

 

The irony is that Mr. Dibdin actually attributes schizophrenia to Sherlock Holmes.  His work sells copies, he's called a contributor to the Sherlock Holmes literature, but I'm called names and a troll.  I recently also discovered that Jeremy Paul wrote a play along lines similar to mine.

 

To me, there's zero ego deflation that others have had an idea similar to mine.  It's a sign that I've done something right, that the idea is defensible.  A reprehensible thing would be for me to (a) claim no other such works exist or (b) plagiarize the works of others.  I have done neither.

 

If this forum is the place where threatening people with violence is considered a good thing, I really should leave.

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Ivijay,

 

I can only think that the fact that English is not your first language is causing you to misunderstand our attempts at humor.  No one here has threatened you with violence.  If I suggested that your paper might provoke a violent reaction at a meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars, that is only an observation, not a threat.  Those folks are far more apt to be Sherlock Holmes purists than we are in this forum.  By embracing modern adaptations of Holmes, we have proven ourselves to be openminded to alternative scenarios.

 

Having a provocative theory does not make you a troll; the manner in which you choose to defend your thesis and/or express contempt to someone disagreeing with you has the potential to do that, and you were skirting that territory with Herlock Sholmes above.  Getting p*ssy, in a word.

 

You have presented your theory; we have listened politely and presented our rebuttals.  Now, I feel, since we have contended against your hypotheses, and you do not like the fact that you have not succeeded in finding disciples for your theory here, the dialog is becoming less polite.  What I am witnessing with you, I have seen too many times on Internet forums not to recognize the signs.  After friendly overtures and presenting your pet project, you have failed to get the response you feel you deserve and now you are getting sour and accusing us of online bullying.  I find that when a poster trots out the charge of being threatened in an online forum, it's often because he/she has been challenged and doesn't like it.  Not all challenges rise to bullying, particularly if the person who is complaining was the instigator in the first place.

 

We are not an academic community here and most of us are here for comradeship and entertainment over our shared interest of Sherlock Holmes in his various forms.  A dissenting view of Holmes such as yours adds spice, though it is possible to season a dish to the point where it's inedible.  We are not trying to drive you off by any means . . but if, as you said on your first day, dismantling the reputation of Sherlock Holmes is the *sole* reason you have come here--this is probably not fertile ground and you should look elsewhere for a more academic enclave of  like-minded individuals.  That would probably be less frustrating for you.  I also take exception to your reducing my regard for Sherlock Holmes's moral integrity as blind fandom, incapable of analysis.  That sounds arrogant in the extreme.  You are essentially saying that anyone who doesn't fall in with your views is too silly to be capable of rational thought.

 

And *that* qualifies you as a troll, if you are going to let that stand.

 

Oh, and you are equating *my* partisanship for Holmes with 'extremism', you should take a long look at your partisanship for your own pet theory.  You seem willing to entertain no others and intent on browbeating others into joining you . . .how is that not 'extremism'?

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With the moderators hopefully looking in I’ll ask you Ivijay, where on this forum have you been threatened with violence??

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Herl,

 

I suggested playfully to Artemis that the Baker Street Irregulars could get violent after a few drinks if they didn't like what the speaker was saying.  Ivijay has obviously and rather willfully misunderstood me, I think. 

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Herl,

 

I suggested playfully to Artemis that the Baker Street Irregulars could get violent after a few drinks if they didn't like what the speaker was saying. Ivijay has obviously and rather willfully misunderstood me, I think.

With ‘willfully’ being the pertinent word

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Moderator Comment:

Gently, folks, gently.
 

 

I've been following this thread with some amusement, on the assumption that's how it was intended to be taken ... but if it's going to turn serious ... just remember to keep your arguments to the subject at hand, and avoid the personal comments. But you all know that already, right? Right. Play on, but play nice. ;)

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Understood Arcadia.

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Vijay -- you have obviously put a great deal of time, thought, and effort into your ideas, and you have already done your best to present them here.  Unfortunately, the discussion is now degenerating into an argument, and that rarely changes any minds -- in fact, it's more likely to make each side more certain of the ideas they started with.  So at least for now, I suggest that you relax by exploring the rest of the forum and participating in some other discussions.

 

Herlock and Hikari -- you likewise have already developed your own takes on Holmes.  Thank you for welcoming Vijay and discussing his ideas with him.  You are not required to agree, but please bear in mind that, paradoxically, a heated argument sheds no light.

 

In the words of a song, "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys -- there's just you and me, and we just disagree."

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Vijay -- you have obviously put a great deal of time, thought, and effort into your ideas, and you have already done your best to present them here.  Unfortunately, the discussion is now degenerating into an argument, and that rarely changes any minds -- in fact, it's more likely to make each side more certain of the ideas they started with.  So at least for now, I suggest that you relax by exploring the rest of the forum and participating in some other discussions.

 

Herlock and Hikari -- you likewise have already developed your own takes on Holmes.  Thank you for welcoming Vijay and discussing his ideas with him.  You are not required to agree, but please bear in mind that, paradoxically, a heated argument sheds no light.

 

In the words of a song, "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys -- there's just you and me, and we just disagree."

 

Moderators,

 

A civil discourse is one of the distinguishing features of this forum and it's something I appreciate, having come from elsewhere where the tone is anything but civil.  So I thank the team for what you all do in maintaining the genial atmosphere around here.  A diversity of opinions is what keeps life, and the forum interesting, though I do pose the question whether *all* opinions are equally valid.  Were Sherlock Holmes a real individual, he would have a case for libel against Mr. Ivijay.  Of course, he's not a real person, to the chagrin of many of us, but we still regard him with as much affection as if he were.  Ivijay's pet theory seems to me to go a fair way off the reservation of diverse opinion when his ultimate aim appears to be to destroy the reputation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's signature creation, the celebration of which, in alternative forms, is the entire purpose of this community.  I was, and am, willing to let I.'s theory coexist with more standard interpretations of Holmes, certainly, but while we are getting philosophical, I'd like to point out for the record that it was Ivijay who chose to make his commentary heated and personal in response to our challenges to his thinking.  Any theory worth its salt will stand up to scrutiny and testing, and if it does not, perhaps the theory is either a bad one or it's still in development.  Despite the pro-Holmes bias of this room which I. seems keen to dismantle for his own gratification, I have assured him that the reception he has gotten here and has continued to receive is a great deal more welcoming and tolerant than he is likely to get among other more purist communities.  He's welcome to stay here as far as I'm concerned, but I hope that he will consider broadening his contributions beyond his one stated purpose in coming here, because I think this ground is about plowed out.

 

What is an 'argument', but two opposing sides standing up for their respective views?  I agree that it doesn't have to degenerate into a personal attack, and should rely on the strength of one's thought, not on ad hominem attacks.  Though I dispute that any and all form of disagreement is something 'bad' to be avoided.  The alternative is that one side capitulates to the other, not out of interests of rightness, but merely to avoid any turbulence at all.  I'm sure that's not the sort of point which Ivijay would like to win on behalf of his theory.  Disagreement does not *have* to mean discord, but for most people the two are synonymous. 

 

I do thank Mr. Ivijay for introducing an element of intellectual/analytical exercise here which has made us stretch our mental muscles.  As this is primarily an entertainment site, opportunities for this sort of textual analysis does not crop up here very often.  Deconstructing scenes of BBC Sherlock and hot GIFs of Benedict Cumberbatch can be lighthearted fun, but the subject Ivijay has broached here goes to the very heart of this 'man who never lived and so can never die'.  This is important stuff, far beyond what episode is who's favorite and what hairstyle suits Watson best and whether or not Sherlock and Mycroft *really* had a bat-ist crazy little sister.

 

It's a testament, I suppose to the prevailing peaceful atmosphere that is here that you find our little discussion disturbing enough to warrant issuing a warning over.  Believe me, as 'arguments' go, this is mild and gentle.  I don't think that Herlock and I have been in any way hateful or inappropriate in the expression of our views.  I believe the admonishment of 'heat, no light' must equally be applied to our co-respondent in that case.

 

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Never underestimate the potential for violence by snobby intellectuals when their sacred cow is threatened. Individually they may be pacifists and/or not in the best of physical condition, but collectively they can be dangerous, especially after a few drinks.

 

In the 1940s, Rex Stout presented his tongue-in-cheek essay "Watson Was a Woman" at the annual dinner--his theory being that Watson was actually 'The Woman', and Holmes's claims of happy lifelong bachelorhood were so much b*ll*cks. The intent was decidedly for humor--but I believe Mr. Stout had to be escorted off the premises by some thick-necked Teamsters when his audience began throwing chairs at the podium. These people don't mess around. :)

Lol, wow!

 

I thought perhaps they would try to emulate their "sacred cow" and comport themselves with a more rational and scientific approach.  If they're unwilling to entertain unconventional ideas, perhaps they should be calling themselves The Scotland Yarders instead.  :P

 

 

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Vijay -- you have obviously put a great deal of time, thought, and effort into your ideas, and you have already done your best to present them here.  Unfortunately, the discussion is now degenerating into an argument, and that rarely changes any minds -- in fact, it's more likely to make each side more certain of the ideas they started with.  So at least for now, I suggest that you relax by exploring the rest of the forum and participating in some other discussions.

 

Herlock and Hikari -- you likewise have already developed your own takes on Holmes.  Thank you for welcoming Vijay and discussing his ideas with him.  You are not required to agree, but please bear in mind that, paradoxically, a heated argument sheds no light.

 

In the words of a song, "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys -- there's just you and me, and we just disagree."

 

Moderators,

 

A civil discourse is one of the distinguishing features of this forum and it's something I appreciate, having come from elsewhere where the tone is anything but civil.  So I thank the team for what you all do in maintaining the genial atmosphere around here.  A diversity of opinions is what keeps life, and the forum interesting, though I do pose the question whether *all* opinions are equally valid.  Were Sherlock Holmes a real individual, he would have a case for libel against Mr. Ivijay.  Of course, he's not a real person, to the chagrin of many of us, but we still regard him with as much affection as if he were.  Ivijay's pet theory seems to me to go a fair way off the reservation of diverse opinion when his ultimate aim appears to be to destroy the reputation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's signature creation, the celebration of which, in alternative forms, is the entire purpose of this community.  I was, and am, willing to let I.'s theory coexist with more standard interpretations of Holmes, certainly, but while we are getting philosophical, I'd like to point out for the record that it was Ivijay who chose to make his commentary heated and personal in response to our challenges to his thinking.  Any theory worth its salt will stand up to scrutiny and testing, and if it does not, perhaps the theory is either a bad one or it's still in development.  Despite the pro-Holmes bias of this room which I. seems keen to dismantle for his own gratification, I have assured him that the reception he has gotten here and has continued to receive is a great deal more welcoming and tolerant than he is likely to get among other more purist communities.  He's welcome to stay here as far as I'm concerned, but I hope that he will consider broadening his contributions beyond his one stated purpose in coming here, because I think this ground is about plowed out.

 

What is an 'argument', but two opposing sides standing up for their respective views?  I agree that it doesn't have to degenerate into a personal attack, and should rely on the strength of one's thought, not on ad hominem attacks.  Though I dispute that any and all form of disagreement is something 'bad' to be avoided.  The alternative is that one side capitulates to the other, not out of interests of rightness, but merely to avoid any turbulence at all.  I'm sure that's not the sort of point which Ivijay would like to win on behalf of his theory.  Disagreement does not *have* to mean discord, but for most people the two are synonymous. 

 

I do thank Mr. Ivijay for introducing an element of intellectual/analytical exercise here which has made us stretch our mental muscles.  As this is primarily an entertainment site, opportunities for this sort of textual analysis does not crop up here very often.  Deconstructing scenes of BBC Sherlock and hot GIFs of Benedict Cumberbatch can be lighthearted fun, but the subject Ivijay has broached here goes to the very heart of this 'man who never lived and so can never die'.  This is important stuff, far beyond what episode is who's favorite and what hairstyle suits Watson best and whether or not Sherlock and Mycroft *really* had a bat-ist crazy little sister.

 

It's a testament, I suppose to the prevailing peaceful atmosphere that is here that you find our little discussion disturbing enough to warrant issuing a warning over.  Believe me, as 'arguments' go, this is mild and gentle.  I don't think that Herlock and I have been in any way hateful or inappropriate in the expression of our views.  I believe the admonishment of 'heat, no light' must equally be applied to our co-respondent in that case.

 

Hikari, I agree with a good deal of your post.  I am all in favor of discussions (what would any forum be without them?), but what I saw here recently was not a proper discussion, it had degenerated into an argument, complete with a bit of name-calling and personal criticism of the other party (rather than of their statements) -- two things that are not tolerated here.  I suspect that it's a great deal easier to see the other party's statements as name-calling and such (while seeing one's own statements as factual observations), but from where I stood, there was some on both sides.

 

Some advice to all concerned:  Next time a discussion starts to become irksome to you, just leave it be, optionally leaving a remark about "agreeing to disagree" on the way out.

 

As for Holmes being the forum's sacred cow, I must disagree.  He's certainly our *focus*, but that doesn't mean he's not to be analyzed, and if someone can make a case that he differs in one way or another from ACD's presentation of him, that's just one more discussion we can have.  I would, of course, draw the line at subjecting him to ad-hominem comments and name-calling, just as if he were a living person.  Just keep it civil, folks, and we can discuss just about anything.

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Never underestimate the potential for violence by snobby intellectuals when their sacred cow is threatened. Individually they may be pacifists and/or not in the best of physical condition, but collectively they can be dangerous, especially after a few drinks.

 

In the 1940s, Rex Stout presented his tongue-in-cheek essay "Watson Was a Woman" at the annual dinner--his theory being that Watson was actually 'The Woman', and Holmes's claims of happy lifelong bachelorhood were so much b*ll*cks. The intent was decidedly for humor--but I believe Mr. Stout had to be escorted off the premises by some thick-necked Teamsters when his audience began throwing chairs at the podium. These people don't mess around. :)

Lol, wow!

 

I thought perhaps they would try to emulate their "sacred cow" and comport themselves with a more rational and scientific approach.  If they're unwilling to entertain unconventional ideas, perhaps they should be calling themselves The Scotland Yarders instead.  :P

 

 

That kind of behaviour is hardly limited to Holmesians, though. Quoting Winchysteria via tumblr here:

 

 

have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks F*** it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so the place goes dead F***ing silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. the panel moderator suddenly stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

WE! DO NOT! TALK ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!

 

 

 

 

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That kind of behaviour is hardly limited to Holmesians, though.

 

Oh of course not; I'd even say that type of behavior is common to the masses.  But considering the conduct of their hero and virtues touted in the books they love, if anyone was going to be an exception and hold themselves to a higher standard, I'd have expected it to be Holmesians.

 

(I was mostly kidding, though.)

 

 

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As for Holmes being the forum's sacred cow, I must disagree.  He's certainly our *focus*, but that doesn't mean he's not to be analyzed, and if someone can make a case that he differs in one way or another from ACD's presentation of him, that's just one more discussion we can have.

 

Thank you, Carol.  I agree.

 

I would, of course, draw the line at subjecting him to ad-hominem comments and name-calling, just as if he were a living person.  Just keep it civil, folks, and we can discuss just about anything.

Had someone described Holmes as a psychopath or a sociopath ten years ago, the messenger would've been called a troll.  Today, the BBC Holmes describes himself as a sociopath with pride.

 

Additionally, if I describe Holmes as a murderer, which I do, is that ad hominem?  Even when there's sufficient evidence to support the claim?

 

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that we keep our emotions to the side in the course of analyses.  Holmes himself called for just this so it's a little contrarian to the Holmesian spirit to have "sacred cows".

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I'm mentally throwing a chair at Moftiss for the sociopath thing.  :P  Don't agree with it, always hated it.  Boo hiss!  Boooooooo!

 

 

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Oh, but they got some good laughs out of it.

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Oh, but they got some good laughs out of it.

noiaNCg.png?1

 

Until I started equating otters with Benedict's face, I never realized how expressive otters can be.  This otter is so spot-on, it's a little bit creepy.

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... if I describe Holmes as a murderer, which I do, is that ad hominem?  Even when there's sufficient evidence to support the claim?

First (and I should have said this sooner), you're hardly the first or only person on this forum to have called Sherlock Holmes a murderer.  Quite a number of members consider the BBC Sherlock to be a murderer for what he did in His Last Vow.  Likewise, you have presented arguments in favor of a similar attitude toward the canon Holmes.  Regardless of whether I agree with either of you, the point is that you're not simply name-calling, you've made a good-faith effort to back up your claims.

 

Ad hominem is different.  I just now looked up the term, and find that it technically refers to criticizing the person that one is arguing with, rather than criticizing their logic (e.g., if Herlock had started criticizing *you* rather than criticizing your arguments).  But I've also heard the term used in reference to saying that a person is bad because of some irrelevant flaw (e.g., if you had said you're sure that Holmes is a murderer, because he's ugly).  We've seen some of that now and then on this forum, but no, your describing Holmes as a murderer is not an example (regardless of the definition).

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Hikari, having now read the early posts in this thread a bit more carefully, I think I see one reason why the discussion turned into an argument.

 

Michael Dibdin's [...] devastating little book is a model of elegant deduction.  His book made me sick at heart . . so much so you'd think he'd destroyed the reputation of an actual person, someone I knew and loved.  [....]

 

At best I can see this as only a mental exercise, just to see if it can be done.


And that seems to be precisely what Vijay was intending to do, play with ideas and see what he could come up with.  As he said,
 

Being consistent with the facts does not a proof make.  With all historical analyses one can merely conjecture, never prove and what's true of history is doubly true of fiction.  As I say in the piece, "I cannot prove that Holmes was the criminal mastermind, I shall merely present facts that point in that direction".

 

So to him it's basically an intellectual exercise, whereas to you it's an attack on a personal friend.

 

*****

 

Herlock, I don't know if the two of you ever resolved this question, but I do recall seeing it repeated a few times:

 

When questioning Holmes ‘plan’ to get Watson away from the Falls you say:

“Because remember, for all his alleged brilliance, Moriarty didn’t even know what Sherlock Holmes looked like. When they first met (according to Holmes), all Moriarty said was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected”. When he knew nothing about his enemy, Holmes, how could he be expected to invent a story so perfect that it would make Watson leave?”

I still don’t understand your viewpoint? They met face to face. Just because Holmes didn’t have Moriarty giving a detailed description of Holmes (which would have been weird) we can’t deduce that he didn’t know what Holmes looked like. Of course he did.

 

To me, Moriarty sounds surprised at discovering how little "frontal development" Holmes has.  If that is indeed the tone that ACD had in mind, then it presumably means that Moriarty had never before laid eyes on Holmes, because otherwise he would have already known this.  (Alternatively, I suppose it's possible that he meant simply "Someone with your obvious intellect typically has more frontal development than you do," and this was merely the first opportunity he'd had to say it to Holmes.  If we knew his tone of voice, that might help, but alas we do not.)

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Hikari, having now read the early posts in this thread a bit more carefully, I think I see one reason why the discussion turned into an argument.

 

Michael Dibdin's [...] devastating little book is a model of elegant deduction. His book made me sick at heart . . so much so you'd think he'd destroyed the reputation of an actual person, someone I knew and loved. [....]

 

At best I can see this as only a mental exercise, just to see if it can be done.

And that seems to be precisely what Vijay was intending to do, play with ideas and see what he could come up with. As he said,

Being consistent with the facts does not a proof make. With all historical analyses one can merely conjecture, never prove and what's true of history is doubly true of fiction. As I say in the piece, "I cannot prove that Holmes was the criminal mastermind, I shall merely present facts that point in that direction".

So to him it's basically an intellectual exercise, whereas to you it's an attack on a personal friend.

 

*****

 

Herlock, I don't know if the two of you ever resolved this question, but I do recall seeing it repeated a few times:

When questioning Holmes ‘plan’ to get Watson away from the Falls you say:

 

“Because remember, for all his alleged brilliance, Moriarty didn’t even know what Sherlock Holmes looked like. When they first met (according to Holmes), all Moriarty said was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected”. When he knew nothing about his enemy, Holmes, how could he be expected to invent a story so perfect that it would make Watson leave?”

 

I still don’t understand your viewpoint? They met face to face. Just because Holmes didn’t have Moriarty giving a detailed description of Holmes (which would have been weird) we can’t deduce that he didn’t know what Holmes looked like. Of course he did.

To me, Moriarty sounds surprised at discovering how little "frontal development" Holmes has. If that is indeed the tone that ACD had in mind, then it presumably means that Moriarty had never before laid eyes on Holmes, because otherwise he would have already known this. (Alternatively, I suppose it's possible that he meant simply "Someone with your obvious intellect typically has more frontal development than you do," and this was merely the first opportunity he'd had to say it to Holmes. If we knew his tone of voice, that might help, but alas we do not.)

 

On that last point Hikari my issue was with the reasoning. In Ivijay’s piece when he talks about Holmes and Moriarty not knowing what each looked like, so how would he come up with a plan to make Watson leave, he was talking about at The Reichenbach Falls (see the previous paragraph in Ivijay’s piece. Therefore, before Reichenbach, they had met face to face at 221b and would certainly have known what each looked like and, because of Watson’s writings, Moriarty would have known enough about their lives to come up with a simple plan.

 

My, shall we call it irritation, at Ivijay we’re purely at the tone of the responses. Initially posts appeared amicable but when points were debated further by me replies became abrupt, for eg ‘irrelevant, pure speculation.’ Etc. And when Ivijay said that he refused to ‘speculate’ when any thesis such as his had to be full of speculation I felt that debate was not welcome.

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