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The Blind Banker, Continued

Apparently I'm not done yet with this episode. Let's talk about one of the cuter moments in the episode.

Sherlock: I need to get some air. We're going out.
John: Actually, I've got a date.
Sherlock: What?
John: It's where two people who like each other go out and have fun.
Sherlock: That's what I was suggesting.
John: No it wasn't. At least, I hope it wasn't.

(With thanks to Ariane.)

My inner Socratic always wants to jump up and dance around at that exchange, because it's precisely the kind of bad "definition" he'd dismiss in the early sections of a Platonic dialogue. That may describe a date, but it hardly defines one. Particularly as Sherlock's precisely right: here, what he was suggesting does meet that definition. He later throws in another criteria: that part of a date was trying to get off with Sarah. But if the only difference between friends' night out and a date is the possibility of sex? That seems cold, somehow.

I wanted to stay away from this scene because I'm trying to experience the show as something other than a slowburn John/Sherlock romance. And this scene, following so closely on the heels of Sherlock's firting with Molly to get access to those corpses (which means he does at least understand romantic code), is pretty damningly TJLC. , That, or queerbaiting, at least at first glance. So I'm not sure how comfortable or fun this particular conversation will be for a lot of people, or helpful to my project of "seeing a story other than TJLC.

But I think there's something important going on here.Because I think canonically (as in, Doyle stories), John and Sherlock love each other even if they don't love romantically or want to have sex. (Which to be clear, I'm also quite open to as a way of understanding these characters.) I think that would have worked reasonably well in Victorian times, when men and women operated in such different spheres; but today, it is harder to make space for a close friendship, even one where there's no romantic competition - a girl friend for a gay married mane, or a male friend fo a hterosexual, for instnce. I mean, we all need friendships and I wish it wasn't this way, but a really close friendship can seem to intrude on the emotional territory of a marriage, because we expect more of that within the marriage than we did 150 years ago.

What this means is the most straightforward answer to the problem raised by Doyle!Mary -- have her and Watson have their own world off-screen, and Holmes and Watson's adventure pose no more a threat to that than regular nights with the men at the club -- doesn't work in the modern times. I'm sure I'll be talking quite a bit about this as we get to S3 & 4.

But for now, what fascinates me is that John and Sherlock don't even have the framework for a close friendship that's distinct from a date. Doubly complicated by the fact that I really and truly think Holmes is meant to be gay or at least not-straight. The problem here is grammatical, they don't even have the words. And if that's not frustrating in the most beautiful of ways!

(Also a bit "persistent," to put it politely, because if Sherlock doesn't pop up like a game of wackamole, time and again throughout the evening. Yes, a big part of that is Sherlock not being great with social boundaries and being as stubborn as kudzu; but I think there's also a big element of neither of them knowing how to make space for the realistic, necessary friendship that seems to be growing between them, that's important and matters at least as much as John's romantic love with Sara but isn't really being validated at that moment.)

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Marta Rewatches: The Blind Banker

 It's the weekend, which means I get to rewatch another Sherlock episode. This week: The Blind Banker.

Before we get started: I know a lot of people aren't big fans of this episode because of the racial elements. And I can see where they're coming from here, the treatment of Soo-lin leaves a lot to be desired. I suspect a bit of that was trying to translate "The Dancing Men" (we can all agree that's the canon inspiration here, yeah?) which relies on a focus on honor and secrecy I don't think translates all that well into modern Western culture. Maybe they felt a need to make that seem "exotic"? (Which is still problematic.) Also there's the ending, where Sherlock lets the pretty white receptionist keep a very valuable, historically noteworthy piece of Chinese jewellery. It's played up as a sweet moment, but I wonder how people would react if we were talking about the Elgin marbles or some such. Which we are, it's just not recognized as such.

So, yes. I get why some folks would be more than a bit turned off by all that. I'm choosing to focus on other things, just because I don't feel all that qualified to talk about those other problems. I did want to at least highlight them, though.

Last week I talked about how in ASIP, John and Sherlock are actually very comfortable in their skins but a bit blind to how they might improve. This episode, the focus is much more on how incomplete they are. How they need to move forward.

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ACD_Holmesfest is back

I am as excited as Holmes considering a rose with an intensity that is in no way creepy. None at all.

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Rewatching "A Study in Pink"

I’m rewatching Sherlock with an eye for non-shipping stories the showrunners might be trying to tell, and because --yes-- I am on Tumblr, I’m thinking about that snippet from Gatiss’s interview making its way around Tumblr: that by the end of S4, John and Sherlock are comfortable in their own skins. It seems to imply this is a new thing, that they weren’t that way before. Like in earlier series, they’d be uncomfortable in their own selves.

And you know what? They’re just... not.

Pardon my language here, but: Sherlock is an asshole in ASIP, not just a “bit of a a”, we’re talking full out; but he’s the king of the assholes. Watch that press conference. He’s showing Greg and Sally up, completely needlessly, but he owns it. This is being a jerk raised to an artform. Or again the “four suicides and now a note” moment in 221B, right after that awkward hasty tidying up of the flat where he’s so clearly trying to appear normal for John? Normal people do not jump in the air at the prospect of a really interesting murder. This is not normal, but it is Sherlock, and he exults in that moment.

There are other examples. The look of glee when his deductions don’t drive John off. The simply not caring about how inappropriate it was to call John from across London. The more-than-slightly-cruel way he plays the game with the cabbie. I could describe this Sherlock many, many ways, but “not comfortable in his own skin” is not one of them.

John’s a little harder to paint that way. He’s clearly suicidal which does bring a whole level of discomfort, even self-disgust, with it. He’s alienated from his therapist. He’s itching to get away from Mike Stamford, visibly distressed by how thoroughly he doesn’t fit in to the kind of civilian life he represents. But there’s also this easy lethality about him. John Watson with a gun in his hand is (again pardon my language) fucking art, it’s a grace and self-possession I aspire to on my best days. And the race after the cab is that, too, to a lesser extent. So too with the people he meets: hitting on Anthea, standing up to Mycroft, running off to Lauriston Gardens after Sherlock. He’s a man of action, and when he’s given a context that allows that, it’s really something to behold.

What I am noticing, though, is there are huge parts of their characters that they’re a bit too comfortable with. Sherlock makes an art out of causing pain. Anderson embarrasses him? He’ll call Anderson out, but in the process he’ll humiliate Sally Donovan, who as a black woman police officer is bound to suffer more for the perception of sleeping around on the job. Or take John. He’s beautiful when he shoots Jefferson Hope, there’s a skill and even aesthetic to it that always takes my breath away; but I actually think he should regret the need for it, and the fact that he kills him not to save other lives but to save Sherlock specifically who put himself in this situation does bother me. I think it should bother us all. If I let myself think about it instead of getting swept away by the romance* of it.

(*Not necessarily the erotic, more just the idealism of it, the faerie.... I’m grasping for words here a bit, but I mean romance more in the sense of Le Morte d’Arthur than Romeo and Juliet, if that distinction makes sense.)

When I first watched these first two series, I saw Sherlock and John on a path toward something like Aristotle’s virtuous friendships (whatever other components their relationship might have). Sherlock has this daring quality, a kind of courage of the intellect, and John envies that. He wants to be more like that again. And for his part, Sherlock is drawn to John’s ability to care. It awakens a realization that maybe this is something he’d like to grow into. That means he has to be more aware of what he’s lacking - not a bad thing, it’s the first step toward actually acquiring that virtue. You can’t become more generous if you don’t realize right now, you’re more stingy than you should be.

But this is the great tragedy of the show, as I remember it. It breaks them of this false comfort in their own skin and while it does end with them being comfortable again in what’s supposed to be a better way (that lovely montage at the end of TFP!), I don’t see how it was really earned. It does feel a bit boop, and they’re fine. Which makes the comfort and self-awareness feel a bit tenuous to me, certainly it’s not well-earned or any more secure than what they had at the first meeting. That may be shipper’s frustrations shining through, so it will be really interesting if I can see that journey back to self-comfort better as I rewatch.

My point, though: rewatching ASIP, I want John and Sherlock to get back to this point. I want them to be as home in their own selves as they were here, but I want it to be a self that's better, less driven by cruelty and violence and more by justice and knowledge and standing up for the oppressed, and I want their unique friendship to be what gets them to the other side. Then again, that may be my inner Aristoteian setting up an unrealistic standard. Like I said, it will be interesting to see if I can find this arc as the show unfolds again.

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Jul. 14th, 2017

So, first the bad news: Queens got hit by a wee bit of weather, leading to them cancelling most every flight out of LaGuardia. No beach getaway for me.

The good news: I ow have extra money to play with. And two days I've already taken off work, after having told everyone up to the head of the lawfirm not to expect any emails answered or phone calls accepted until Wednesday. And a GroupOn account I know how to use. Can we say: staycation?

(I think we can.)

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Clearly I've got something in my eye

Also: owwww.

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Bless social media. Tom Smith just wished me a happy birthday.

So did loads of other people. Makes me a bit surrounded by love - honestly my favorite part of the day. Thank you!

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I'm having a bit of a Thing, apparently. My boss said something that's really gotten under my skin, and I'm actually a bit confuzzled over whether it's the sexism or the dismissiveness of it.

Background: a coworker came within a hair's breadth of quitting today, told me she was going to do it and then apparently got talked down from it. It was emotionally driven, but when aren't our decisions? I dream of being able to quit, and that's emotionally driven - anger, frustration, hopelessness, powerlessness. Said coworker had specific grievances that mostly came down to a lack of power, a lack of respect, and personality conflicts driven by that dynamic. (Some truly asinine situations around the office lately aren't helping.) But S. boiled it down to the personalities, and said to e how he ws tired of women and all their drama.

Those last five words are actually verbatim. Which is just.... something.

Also: Secretly I think said coworker was on to something. Actually, I'm jealous. Wish I had the backbone to just quit already! Heaven knows we've both earned it in spades.


In happier news, I'm now officially thirty-five. No big plans for today, and I'm actually a bit down about that. Mainly I want to have a bit of fun and not think about RL stress, but I'm at a loss for creativity beyond going out to eat somewhere tomorrow night. (Which would almost certainly be alone.) I do have a long weekend planned, flying down to OBX on Friday, so objectively I do actually have something to look forwrd to.

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Jul. 5th, 2017

There's a certain virtue, in long subway rides
And missed connections:
A good seat, iced coffee in hand.
Or perhaps a Kindle, or the Times.

Duty still lingers above ground,
Dinner to be made, emails answered,
Preparations made for the next day's trek up the mountain,

But below ground, they wait because they must.
Muscles that moan with weariness,
They take their seventh-day rest,
And a mind too often running itself to exhaustion
Finds the space to just be.
Purgatory, of a sort, but hardly Dante's circles;
Rather, the antechamber,
Where the bride is bathed and anointed and made ready for the wedding-feast.

Or perhaps it's nothing so grand as all that.
Perhaps there is no "because" below ground,
No meaning sorting itself into a pre-ordained shape,
But merely the freedom to play at possibilities
Boundariless as a shapeshifter's colloidal essence.
It is what it is: enough.

So, I eked out a few lines tonight after riding out to Queens and back because I needed the self-imposed space to not get things done. Productivity to celebrate non-productivity, in a way; ironies. Not entirely sure if it's self-indulgent schlop or not, but written schlop is better than unwritten genius, in any event.

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I've not actually gotten around to bragging about my [community profile] holmestice submission, partly because I'm afraid it's a bit of a niche taste. It's set in the Ritchie (RDJ/Jude Law) movies, but it's post-Reichenbach meaning pretty much everyone knows the basic canon even if they've not seen the films. But it's also polyamory (Sherlock/Watson/Mary), sexually explicit in the middle part, and involves the use and abuse of Catholic liturgy to further the sexytiems. Which I do understand may not be everyone's cup of Earl Grey.

Now that I've told you all the reasons you shouldn't read it, let me tell you why you should. Because I'm actually really proud of it. Mary is clever, Watson is caring, and Holmes as emotionally aware as I can imagine him - really, I liked the unique mix of bluster and exposure here quite a lot, and want to play with it more at some point. There's some pretty theologically informed work on forgiveness (even if Watson mangles it a bit in the particulars), some endearing if I may say so flashes of Sherlock's childhood in France, bare-knuckle boxing and costumes. The whole set-up was just fun to write, and I hope to read. And if you prefer your fanfic more teen-rated but are open to a loving and established romantic triad, the first and third parts actually work fairly well on their own.

Do give it a read, if you're so inclined: And Ye Shall Live, and Ye Shall Know

PS- [personal profile] scfrankles, I had a giggle at how easily you identified me in the guessing phase. I suppose I have a few tells. :-)

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