There’s a wonderful bit in the last episode of SHERLOCK where Holmes and Watson get completely off their faces on a stag night, and end up playing the Rizzla game.
This isn’t the Sherlock we know and love and some fans are slightly miffed by this change of direction. We like our sociopaths to be different to us – arrogantly self-assured and constantly clever. They don’t host wedding parties… they don’t even entertain their feelings!
Unlike us of course. We can only dream of a world in which there are no awkward emotions to mess up an otherwise brilliant plan. Sherlock is “dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful and uncomprehending in the face of the happy.” His side-kick Dr John Watson may be “loyal, kind and wise”… but we long to be Sherlock.
Because Sherlock has knowledge beyond ordinary knowledge… and that knowledge is power.
And of course because Sherlock is OBSESSED.
Obsession wakes you up in the morning, keeps you excited all day and allows you to work without the need for rest or food. It’s the perfect antidote to boredom…
Just like falling in love.
And equally unsustainable.
“Falling” is a funny verb to describe the intoxicating experience of love. “Soaring” might be a more accurate one. For a short time we transcend ordinary consciousness. Colours are brighter, vision is clearer, creativity is Godlike… then comes the fall.
We fall out of love, not into it.
Because we don’t invest in any sensible scaffolding, we can plummet like Icarus into a sea of emotion.
This is why it’s hard for us human beings to evolve to a higher level. We need two things simultaneously – energy for lift off and extraordinary knowledge to build a platform that contains it.
Our love of extraordinary knowledge is the reason Psychology has become such a popular subject – it’s the science that allows us to speculate on the deeper nuances of human behavior, so that we can make deductions. You can even hear snippets on the bus these days. “Yes I know she said that, but what’s really going on is… “
Psychology has become a bit of a broken record.
We’d much rather have Sherlock’s super powers – the sensory acuity to hear hundreds of conversations, to discern faint smells, to see filaments of hair or traces of mud. All evidence that can be used in pursuit of the Truth! Obsession plus Knowledge Beyond Ordinary Knowledge. The Game is on!
This week’s episode of Sherlock “The Sign of Three” was more Rom Com than Crime Drama, because it showed us a Sherlock in relationship! (with a human being, as opposed to a piece of forensic evidence).
He still kept us spellbound with his intense charisma and his long swishy coat, but being John’s best man meant he had to do ordinary things like making a speech and bonding over alcohol.
For the first time since the series began, Sherlock actually looked vulnerable. Not because he was unable to solve a crime or because his life was in danger, but because he realized he had feelings for someone other than himself and in particular that they had feelings for him.
This didn’t alter his belief of love as an irrational, sentimental weakness but it introduced the possibility that there was Love Beyond Ordinary Love, something magical that would forever be a mystery he could not solve.
Of course this is just a one off episode and next week promises a return to fast paced skullduggery and the re-appearance of the arch villain who tried to stage a HUMAN BONFIRE. No more pesky emotions getting in the way of that plot.
I on the other hand seem to live for the most part in an OCEAN of feelings and dream that the great script-writer in the sky will soon give me a break and allow me at least a cameo role as a high functioning sociopath. How fabulous to spend a few days off creating a master plan for 2014.
The internet, in case you hadn’t noticed, is currently obsessed with Master Plans for 2014.
My inbox is groaning with bold text involving words like…
DISCOVER YOUR LIFE PURPOSE…
MAKE THIS THE YEAR YOU BUILD THAT SIX FIGURE BUSINESS (why is it always six figures?) LOSE WEIGHT, DO THE WORK YOU LOVE, TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE AND…
LIVE YOUR DREAMS!!!
As a by the way, my dreams aren’t anything any sane person would want to be living in right now.
However, having a master plan for 2014 is apparently not too difficult. No extraordinary knowledge required. It just involves planning, application and masses of FOCUS.
Sadly when the three Disney Fairies hovered over my crib dispensing gifts, they’d run out of “Focus”. I received an oddball set of skills, which have so far failed to come together in any meaningful way.
So the other night, in the absence of any intervention from the great Director in the sky I decided to take the script into my own hands!
I left my current long-term relationship at home (A MacBook Air if you were wondering) and headed out into this brand new year of hope and possibility… to go on a date with a real live person!
It went well for the most part. I ate sensible food instead of going straight for the sticky toffee pudding. We smiled. We chatted (as much as a deluded romantic and a hedge fund manager can chat). Then there was the inevitable descent into small talk as I realised this was definitely not one of my best laid plans.
No drama. No enigma variations. No swishy coat.
We said goodbye and I went to join my gay friends in a bar in Soho, and proceeded to get completely hammered while professing my undying love for Sherlock.
It was an interesting journey in retrospect. By the second vodka martini we were deep in conversation about the who, what, where, why and how of relationships, past and present. It was bitchy, funny and politically incorrect. When you’re feeling glum you definitely don’t want to seek out the company of happy new age people.
The kind of thing you do NOT want to hear is “Everyone’s doing their best, you need to see the innocent child in them”. NO!!! You need to take sides with impunity. You need to rail at the pain of unrequited love and the impossibility of building any kind of bloody platform. You need to dance and sing Gloria Gaynor songs with wild abandon.
By the fourth martini we were in that strange exalted state of laughing one moment and crying the next. And then of course we lost count of the Martinis and that put an end to ALL meaningful conversation.
The worst problem with being human is our self-consciousness. It limits us. Sherlock isn’t self-conscious because the only part of his ‘self’ that he identifies with is his mind which is brilliant and never lets him down. It is his “mind palace”, the workings of which are projected visually onto the screen, by some amazing bit of technology.
If he looks at an object like a chair, masses of complex data floods in and gets processed at lightning speed – place of manufacture, type of fibre, tensile structure and loads of algebra symbols.
When he gets drunk he no longer has access to his mind palace. The data for the chair becomes “yellow… sitty thing.”
Alcohol may cause Sherlock to lose his superpowers, but for us, it allows freedom from the tyranny of self consciousness – for a nano second. We soften and open. Then there’s this amazing moment when we experience the mystical – a feeling of total connection to everything and everyone in the cosmos; a sense of heaven. Then it’s gone as fleetingly as it arrived.
Noooooo!!! Come back!!
Sadly the artificially induced mystical experience only serves to remind us of the real thing – and the wisdom to order a cab before the descent into Dante’s Inferno begins… or before someone decides to open the Book of Revelations. Haha!
The curse of humanity is to live each day in the dark, with a dragon (a kind of throwback to lower level consciousness). The first drink puts the dragon to sleep (self consciousness evaporates yay!) The next drink gives us the courage to climb up and glimpse the real world for a moment. The next drink wakes up the dragon and now he’s REALLY PISSED.
The Desolation of Smaug.
Which brings us neatly back to Benedict Cumberbatch (he is the voice of Smaug after all!)
So knowing that January is the most desolate of months (January is apparently peak month for suicide as the departure of Christmas euphoria coincides with the arrival of credit card statements) what extraordinary knowledge can I impart for the New Year?
New Years Honour list.
1. There is a state – I don’t even know if it’s a state of mind, it feels more like a state of being – in which we have access to Extraordinary Knowledge.
2. You don’t have to sign up to a course, seminar or super expensive Platinum mentorship program to get this knowledge. It’s called Intuition. It’s inside you.
3. You don’t have to be born with freakish genes. You were born already wired for the future. You just need to activate that wiring.
4. You don’t have to become a super focused sociopath. They’re fun to watch on screen but they don’t get to feel Extraordinary Love. Real love isn’t romance, sex, winning, whining or weddings. Unless any of us is an enlightened mystic we won’t have felt it yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be relentless in our quest to reach its Olympian heights.
5. Obsession is great, but devotion trumps obsession. Devotion is like obsession with heart. That wiring thing – it involves connecting the mind and the heart. That’s what creates the fuel for lift off. It feels a bit Mission Impossible… you might have to wake up your inner Tom Cruise.
6. Massive quantities of alcohol are not a wise long-term strategy. They’re just an indicator, a hint, a bad trailer for the movie that will blow us all away (in the most positive sense of the phrase). When Extraordinary Knowledge meets Extraordinary Love – it’s a bit like When Harry met Sally but with real orgasms.
7. Never underestimate the sheer joy of a really flamboyant coat.