Nope— not hard at all. I love to talk about Harris’ novels. I know more about Harris than I do Sherlock. Here’s proof. Yes, I made that. No, I didn’t finish it. Maybe some day…
What is your favorite line from any published novel? What is your favorite line from any fanfic? What is your favorite line that you have written?
- “Being smart spoils a lot of things, doesn’t it? And taste isn’t kind.” -Hannibal Lecter to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (That’s two but who’s counting?)
- “Tell me what is, that downcast gaze said, tell me my new truths. Everything you say I will believe.” -Atlin Merrick, “This Time No (Forgiveness)"(That’s two but who’s counting?)
- I love all my writing! Seriously. Here’s a favorite paragraph from a WIP:
Most urban dwellers carry with them a detailed eye-level mental model of the thoroughfares, waterways, bus and train stops that matter to them in their daily lives. When headed someplace unfamiliar they’ll consult a bird’s eye view map, an abstraction of the city’s layout, its twists and turns, its crossroads and landmarks. But who knows a city from ground to sky? Who looks up? Perhaps the occasional tourist or curious child. Certainly the intelligent criminal. But Sherlock, he knows London, all of London. London in three dimensions. He knows its arteries and its altitudes. He knows its high streets, side streets, transit routes, alleyways, rooftops. He knows its fire escapes. He knows London’s rhythm, the timing of its traffic signals, the schedule of the tides, its very pulse. A man who’s never lost in a metropolis, who’s always on time, seems omniscient. Sherlock has never seen his mastery of London as an innate skill. For him it’s just a magic trick. John knows both that Sherlock’s spatial aptitude is indeed amazing and also that he’s a regular fucking Houdini.
Love that fic.
Did I mention this was the SECOND fic I ever read?
How old is Mycroft?
In show? 44 going on 58.
How´s the progression of turning your office in 221b going? (might have missed the last update...)
Ooooh— I’m still cleaning it up from its former incarnation as utter chaos. Then I have to figure out the wallpaper hanging… But I'M GETTING MR. BLUE SKULL FOR XMAS!!!! Squee!!!!! So I’m motivated again. I think by the second week in January I’ll have pix to share. xx -m
Spoiler. Season 3 is a mirror universe AU.
Do you have any personal headcanons about John's childhood?
does "how are you so awesome?" count? or if it doesn't, how about "do you know how loved you are?" ...or maybe "would you like to be my friend?" *smiles*
Heh heh — but seriously, ideduceyou, thank you so much! You’re a lovely gem and you made my day!
Race, Class, and Gender Trouble: Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
Weird does not even begin…
I thought since I’ve seen so much circulating about “Baby It’s Cold Outside" being read as a holiday date rape anthem (see pens-woods and emmagrant01) that I’d present some info about the context in which the song was introduced to the public in a 1949 Esther Williams/ Ricardo Montalbán bathing suit musical.
The song is sung twice in the film— first as a duet between Montalbán, the Mexican Heart throb and Williams. He’s the stereotypical “Latin lover” trying to seduce Williams. The movie was shot in Florida (and Williams plays a swim suit designer) so their version of the song is absolutely tongue-in-cheek from the get-go. But Williams pretty much plays the straight girl and their interaction resembles a dance the two of them do together in a stable. The second time the song is sung as a duet by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton. The roles are gender-swapped. Garret plays a character named Betty Barrett, Williams’ “comical” man-hungry sister with class pretensions. Skelton is a masseur for a polo team and is basically impersonating a Cuban playboy. Both Montalbán and Barrett play it kind of like they’re Pepe Le Pew which is fitting since Mel Blanc who voiced Pepe, Speedy Gonzales and other international animals) appears in the movie as a fellow named Pancho. (Blanc was Jewish, from San Francisco.)
Williams’ supporting swimmer-models are The Neptunettes, the “bathing beauties of the year.” Included among their number are several male dancer-swimmers in sailor hats and pink swimming trunks- clearly coded as gay. Sooooo gay.
Xavier Cugat, a Catalan who immigrated to Cuba when he was 5. A famous bandleader nicknamed “The Latin Dance King” appears as himself. His band is featured during outrageous routines featuring scores of nameless, uncredited Latino and Latina dancers.
Comic relief is provided by Theresa Harris, Matilda the maid. Harris played a maid in over 90 movies. (Aside from maids, wikipedia says she also specialized in playing blues singers, waitresses, tribal women, prostitutes, and hat check girls.) Harris shows up as the polite maid who sends up the black maid role by mocking Garrett’s hoity toity pretensions to appear her superior both in terms of wealth and race privilege.
Red Skelton is the clown. He inverts not only the gender-role in the worrisome song which is already itself a tongue-in-cheek send up of a stereotype (which reifies itself) but also the racial category, sending up the Latin lover movie stereotype. In one scene he pops up in a woman’s swimsuit to take the piss out of Williams’ image.
Nobody can send up the gay Neptunettes. They are resplendent. They are the campiest of camp. I <3 them.
So whatever the problems with the song’s lyrics it’s worth noting that one of the most famous recordings of the song was done the year the film came out, 1949, by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan (who were both black). Their audience would have known the film as this bizarre comedy full of stereotypes— obvious stereotypes that were highlighted as such for comedic purposes. We don’t hear that in their recording now but there’s more to their legendary performance than meets the ear.
It’s meta meta meta.
Jeremy Lovering’s Kinds of Blue
(Director of The Empty Hearse, Miss Austen Regrets, and In Fear)
(The Empty Hearse was shot by Steve Lawes)
The green-blue of Mycroft’s
bunker office are obviously inspired by Pietro Annigoni's Renaissance palette for his latter portrait of Queen Elizabeth (image 2).
Annigoni’s earlier portrait of Elizabeth Regina (image 3) offers us some of the blue-gray we see in Sherlock’s London roof scene— the London he doesn’t know anymore. Not far off from the blue-gray of John and Mary’s duvet.
John’s particular shade of blue (close to the color of his sad, sad eyes) also appears in Lovering’s contemplative tableau from Miss Austen Regrets (image 7). (MAR was shot by David Katznelson)
Images 10 and 12 are also captured from MAR and match the palette of Lovering’s 2013 horror film, In Fear. (All the rest of the images come from that film). (In Fear was also shot by David Katznelson)
Compare this to the splash of Sherlock’s blue robe in the otherwise green-sepia tone of Baker Street in TGG (directed by Paul McGuigan and also shot by Steve Lawes):
But hey look at the color palette of the scene of this bizarre love triangle (directed by McGuigan, shot by Fabian Wagner):
Did I see a post earlier where you mentioned you got an "obsessive cumberbitch disorder" shirt as a gift?? A while ago I saw a picture of one and since then have been searching to buy it! I want it for my friend. She suffers from BOTH OCDs which makes it perfect! Do you happen to know where I can buy it??
I think she got it on RedBubble. Don’t see it there anymore but there is this one that’s kind of even better:
Warning— I got a good deal of crap for calling my own metas OCD because I guess it wasn’t obvious enough that somebody who would catalog every book in the series and every set dressing in 221b (down to the maker of each vase behind the front door) is obsessive. And compulsive. So just beware that some people are very policing about the term regardless of who uses it if it could be remotely considered to be flip or stigmatizing in any way.
Critical Inquiries are not Settled by Consulting the Oracle, or
The Show Going on in Our Heads
I’ve had many comments recently that I “read too much into things” so I decided to do a little meta about the joys and sorrows of ”The Intentional Fallacy.” The concept of the Intentional Fallacy appears in a 1954 essay by two literary critics, Wimsatt and Beardsley. Simply put, the intentional fallacy swims around the ideas that 1) a work can only be judged a success the author achieved what he intended to do and 2) we can actually know what an author intends. How to judge the quality of a work is not a question that usually interests me but their essay raises key issues for fannish readers. I’m going to focus on the question of who gets to decide what Sherlock means. Wimsatt and Beardsley give us good advice in the end. “Critical inquires,” they tell us, “are not settled by consulting the oracle.” In other words it’s not up to the creators of Sherlock to tell us what Sherlock means. In fact, they actually cannot.
So Johnlockers, don’t be upset about Martin’s comments below:
…Your longtime partner Amanda Abbington plays Watson’s love interest, Mary Morstan, in the upcoming series of Sherlock – which, of course, doesn’t bode well for the perceived romance between Watson and Sherlock. Some fans were so distraught they tweeted her death threats.
It’s ridiculous. To me, they’re not fans of the show – they’re fans of a show going on their heads. Obviously I love Amanda and I want everyone to react positively to her; she plays a fantastic character and brings a hell of a lot to the third series. If people want to imagine John and Sherlock fucking they’re more than welcome to, but it will have no bearing on what we do in the show.
-Martin Freeman (x)
This doesn’t mean that Johnlock isn’t canon. It simply means that one creator (a lead actor) thinks that John/Sherlock has nothing to do with the show. He may be right insofar as what happens plot wise in the script but there is much, much more that makes meaning in a television show than plot.
from “The Intentional Fallacy" by Wimsatt and Beardsley
The poemSherlock is not the critic’s own and not the author’screators’ (it is detached from the authorcreators at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it). The poemSherlock belongs to the public. It is embodied in language, the peculiar possession of the public, and it is about the human being, Sherlock Holmes, an object of public knowledge.
What I want to emphasize here is that neither Mofftisson nor Ben nor Martin— not any of them is the definitive source of what Sherlock actually means.
The viewer (or the meta writer!) MAKES meaning out of the textual evidence in Sherlock. One kind of evidence for the meaning of a work is, according to Wimsatt and Beardsley:
…discovered through the semantics and syntax of
a poemSherlock, through our habitual knowledge of the language, through grammars, dictionaries, and all the literature which is the source of dictionaries, in general through all that makes a language and culture…
Meaning is created not only by the dictionary sense of words, but what those words mean in culture (thus the underwear/pants problem) and how they’re said and in what context. Syntax matters. Film grammar matters. Props, objects on the set mean things on their own (a harpoon) but that changes when viewed in relationship to other objects or people (a harpoon pointed at Mrs. Hudson) on set. So what the camera records— objects, gestures, the intonation of an actor’s voice, the motif of a character’s theme song, all contribute to meaning but just as important is the syntax of the medium, of film— cuts, shots, edits in the film, the filters used on the camera, as well as the grammar of the soundtrack and on and on. Every element of Sherlock shimmers with significance.
For W&B a second kind of evidence for meaning is
…not a part of the work as a linguistic fact: it consists of revelations (
in journals, on blogs for example, or lettersor reported conversations) about how or why t he poetMofftiss wrote t he poem‑to what ladySherlock for what audience, while sitting on what lawn, or at the death of what friend or brother.
Moffat famously said once that he doesn’t write Doctor Who for Doctor Who fans. That is a secondary kind of evidence as to the show’s meaning. I use that kind of evidence A LOT for my metas because I find it fun to explore what the author, Moftiss, reports what they mean about Sherlock versus what’s actually in Sherlock. Sometimes, to prove a point to an audience who cares very much about definitive evidence I’ll play into the fallacy and say ok— EVEN Moffat says this is what he meant to say. People find that powerful and definitive but I use it as a discursive gimmick.
W&B offer us a third kind of evidence
…an intermediate kind of evidence about the character of
the authorMofftiss or about private or semiprivate meanings attached to words or topics by an authorMofftiss or by a coterie of which he is a memberThe BBC. The meaning of words is the history of words, and the biography of an author, Mofftiss histheir use of a word, and the associations which the word had for himthem, are part of the words history and meaning.
That’s why I find The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes so interesting— it’s a way to code and decode Gatiss’s erotics with regard to Sherlock Holmes— his own private, or semi-private meanings.
So I’m not going to go into the W&B essay any further or explore what’s problematic about it or worry too much about the nuances of what they meant. (See what I did there?) They gave us words and concepts with which we can make sense of how we make meaning.
The good news is there is PLENTY of evidence for Johnlock. There will always be evidence because everyone— EVERYONE agrees that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson love each other. Whatever THAT means.
- Authorial Intent
In literary theory and aesthetics, authorial intent refers to an author’s intent as it is encoded in his or her work.
- “Tradition and the Individual Talent" by T.S. Eliot
No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.
Gosh, this is an excellent primer. Well done, you.
I absolutely love this, am a bit of a lit-crit nerd myself.
I simply wanted to add: my journey with Sherlock reminds me so much of my experience with the X Files. There are a lot of parallels, the most central one being that the narrative many, many fans saw going on on screen (an epic love story between the two leads) was constantly met with abject denial by the creators, actors, etc. And yet…
There’s this one episode. “Milagro.” I’ve written about it before, and it’s truly not the best episode, but it thematizes if not exactly the Intentional Fallacy, than how authorial intent cannot constrain the characters or the direction of the narrative.
In this episode, the main character is a writer, and he’s writing a novel. Scully becomes his muse, and he desperately wants to write a story in which Scully falls in love with himself (he totally admits to Gary-Stu-ing his novel!). But as he writes, he realizes—one of the last lines of the episode—Scully is already in love with someone else.
I truly think the writers of the X Files—Chris Carter the showrunner, most of all—wanted to write Mulder and Scully as bros. And somewhere along the way, then, he’d probably have to give Scully a love interest, a boyfriend, or maybe even a husband. But he realized about halfway through the show—he couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. The writing wasn’t working. Why? Scully was already in love with someone else.
I feel that especially when it comes to collaborative art, like movies and tv, though it can happen to in individual art, like writing and music, that the creation gets away from you. The narrative directions and character arcs you had plotted out just don’t work anymore 3/4 of the way through. Why? Because looking back over what you’ve written, you realize that all along you were writing emotions, moods, and other subtextual content that just isn’t going to go in the direction you already planned. It’s pushing you to take it a different way. The only way it “organically” wants to go.
I’m not a creative writer, but TBH this even happens in my academic, analytical writing. I’ve got this whole outlined planned out, I know what I want to say, but man, so much goes on in our brains that we can’t name or contain. So I find myself rereading what I’ve written about halfway through and I’m often like, damn, that’s not what I’m saying at all! But what I AM saying is so much more explosive and interesting than what I originally planned.
I don’t know exactly what they creators of Sherlock are thinking when they’re creating, but the thing is, I doubt they do either.
God I love the X-files!
YES! And to underscore your underscore I’d like to add that auteur theory has no place in my heart. It’s not like one person can make a movie…
I compiled a list of quotes from cast and crew about Irene and Sherlock’s relationship to demonstrate why Belgravia is so nuanced. Look at all the interpretations just among the people who made the show! http://mid0nz.tumblr.com/post/54049850277
“I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but at the time, so did the Zygon!”
a line written by a man who is consistently shocked when people call him a misogynist (via theumbrellaseller)
Actually, this was a line from a speech that Queen Elizabeth herself gave to her army just before they went into battle in 1588.
Wanna hear the full quoted excerpt?
"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; the which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”
So not only is this line a little historic inside-joke, and an actual quote said by the woman herself, but it’s literally Queen Elizabeth speaking to her troops about how although she is physically unable to fight and may be dismissed for being a woman, she’s still equal to a man when judged by her heart, soul and inner strength, and she’ll remain standing by her army and show her courage that way.
I know that it’s easy to accuse Moffat of sexism on several occasions, but this isn’t one of them. If anything, it’s neat that he gave a nod to this speech so that it can be further remembered within pop culture. Instead, this speech requires the Words Win Wars theme or something.