Thursday, November 12, 2020

An Eternal Question

     According to Wikipedia, Sherlock Holmes is the “most portrayed literary human character” of all time, having appeared in 254 separate productions for radio, stage, film, and television. It’s eloquent testimony to the power of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective to enthrall an audience. Indeed, Holmes was so magnetic a character that Conan Doyle’s readers compelled him to bring Holmes back from the dead, after his seemingly fatal confrontation with Professor Moriarty in The Final Problem.

     Many and variously capable have been the actors who have portrayed Holmes, but for me there can be only one: the late Jeremy Brett.

     Brett gave Holmes a manner and character truer to Conan Doyle’s fictions than anyone who has played the detective before or since. His ownership of the role was so complete that even in 1994, when he was desperately ill and would occasionally collapse during filming, he was considered indispensable to the BBC / Granada production. Notably, one of the final series’ episodes, The Mazarin Stone, was filmed almost entirely without Brett / Holmes, as he was too ill to participate. The central role was given to Charles Gray, who plays Holmes’s equally brilliant brother Mycroft.

     Brett’s portrayal of the great detective grew ever darker as the productions went on. In the very last of them, The Cardboard Box, he concludes the teleplay with a line that could have served for Holmes’s epitaph:

     “What is the meaning of it, Watson? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose. Or our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? humanity's great problem to which reason, so far, has no answer.”

     Reason must find an answer, and swiftly.

     I don’t talk about it, in the main, but I get a fair amount of hate mail. All of it is emitted by...persons on the political Left. Some of it goes beyond vitriolic. I shan’t bruise your eyes by exposing it to you. Let it suffice to say that my hate correspondents have wished the greatest tragedies imaginable upon me.

     “What is the meaning of it, Watson?” Why do so many Leftists hate their political opponents and wish them to come to harm? There are no few such, if my mailbag is representative – and remember, I’m a very minor voice. Could millions of people be so characterologically deficient as to imagine that hatred is the route to the supposedly better society they claim to seek?

     I can’t call that attitude anything but deranged. If it were personalized – i.e., if Smith were consumed with hatred for Jones, but was otherwise unafflicted by the emotion – it would be deemed a mental illness, no matter what Jones might have done to “deserve it.” But the haters of the Left hate impersonally: without any knowledge of those they hate except for our political opinions.

     Christians are forbidden to hate:

     “No matter where we stand in our lives, whatever our circumstances,” Father Ray had said to her, “only three paths are open to us. We can break, we can stand idle, or we can build. The Christian course is to strive to build, to improve, to contribute whatever mortal power can add to God’s edifice. If that necessitates some demolition, the tearing down of an impassable obstacle, the Christian is commanded to do so in a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. He must not condemn. He must not hate.”

     As I’ve written before, hatred is considered a capital sin because it’s a machine that produces other sins: false witness, fraud, theft, violence, and others. Its intimate connection to envy — another capital sin – makes it uniquely deadly to social relations.

     No nation, whatever its political system, can survive a condition in which millions of people hate millions of others. Yet that is the condition in which America stands today.

     Don’t look to me for an answer to the problem. I may be a genius, but I’m not omniscient. I can diagnose the malady; I have no idea how to cure it. I can’t even think of a way to palliate it.

     Were America to fission into independent “red” and “blue” sectors, the problem would persist. Indeed, it might grow infinitely worse. Imagine a state of affairs in which a free and prosperous “red” nation directly abuts a socialism-afflicted “blue” nation. You don’t have to strain for a historical example; just about any incidence of socialism anywhere in time or space will serve. What does the socialist state invariably pursue as an “answer” to its troubles?

     No, I haven’t written all of this just to sour your morning. I’m struggling for some approach to the thing that doesn’t involve millions of deaths. And I can’t produce one.

     Holmes asked “What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear?” He asked for its purpose — but could mass hatred, and mass malevolence, have a purpose? “It must have a purpose,” he said, “Or our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose?”

     “ humanity's great problem to which reason, so far, has no answer.” That Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, inarguably the possessor of a great mind, was baffled by the question relieves me somewhat. I’ll keep working on it, but I wouldn’t expect an answer before lunchtime.



RE the Left's hate. When you wrap your mind around the idea that, to the Left, this is THEIR FAITH and that they are MISSIONARIES with the delusion that they can actually create a Socialist heaven on earth - and that we are evil for standing in their way, then understanding their hatred comes.

Michael Stone said...

I think self-hatred plays a large part.
They are immersed in it so it's all they see.

milton f said...

We are called to pray for our enemies. This is not an easy task. Ever tried praying for radical muslims? Yeah, me too.

On a more local level, ever tried praying for communists? I lump all socialists, social democrats, democrats and anti-life folks as communists. Oh, and greenies. It is hard, but we must pray for them.

Men of good will might consider moving the Cross back into the blue zones of the electoral map.

Then two to the chest, and one to the head to each of the devils that shows itself, if they won't convert. Sorry, I don't see Americans doing the commie thing peacefully.

Linda Fox said...

The thing is, so many of these are people KNOWN to us, that it is just about impossible to conceive of cutting them off. Friends. Family. Neighbors.

But, yeah, the trust is gone.



One can still KNOW someone, and even associate... but be prudent and guarded.

E.g., probably 80-90 percent of the people at my synagogue are Democrats. I am still friendly, but very reserved.

SSG Mac said...

Q: What is the chief end of Man?
A: To glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.
THAT is our purpose. That some find it shallow and wanting does not change it.

SWVAguy said...

You are not allowed your joy, your contentment, your worship of the Savior. You must be crushed or re-educated in accordance with the norms of your betters. There is no solution for this. It won't end. The conflict will be contiuous.