Quidnunc is a real word and it really does mean a person who sticks their nose where it doesn’t belong. Let’s use it in a sentence.
Sherlock Holmes is a quidnunc.
There I said it and it’s the truth. Sherlock goes around sticking his nose in everybody’s business. Now, you may argue with me. You might say something like, “…but Sherlock is a private detective. People hire him to stick his nose in other people’s business.” While this is true, it doesn’t make the fact that he’s interfering any less annoying. He also doesn’t just stick to sticking his nose in business he’s being paid to stick his nose into. He’s sticks his nose in everybody’s business. He has an entire collection of information about random people. He knows everything John is thinking and what his life is like. Sherlock sticks his nose in everyone’s business.
I live in the United States and we supposedly have the right to privacy. We have the right to unwarranted search or seizure, it’s one of the amendments, the fourth one to be exact. That means you or a police officer could not just show up at my house and look through all my stuff. It’s illegal. Sherlock looks through everyone’s stuff.
Legally, you can hire a private detective. If you think your husband is cheating on you, you can call up a private investigator and say, “Look, follow my husband around, see if he kisses any women that aren’t me.” That’s all cool. It’s not exactly nice to have someone followed, but it’s not exactly illegal. Here’s where things run into a gray area. If said private investigator starts tapping phone lines and taking pictures through blinds then things get a little more illegal, but it’s still kind of on the boundary of legal/illegal because they didn’t necessarily break into anything to get this information, although, they probably trespassed, which is also illegal, but trespassing isn’t exactly a high priority crime. It really depends on if property owners want to press charges.
Your life is theoretically supposed to be yours. Your phone conversations and emails are supposed to be private, but we know that’s not the case. We have the NSA to thank for that, and, no, I don’t care if they read this. They know what they’re doing. Despite that fact, we still have a certain expectation of privacy. We get annoyed when people start butting into our business.
Let me tell you a story. One time when I was a teenager the doctor diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection and said something to the effect of, “It looks live you’ve had this for a while.” Then she prescribed me some antibiotics and I went on my way. The next day, the phone rings(this was before we all had cell phones) and it’s my aunt. She asks me, “Oh are you ok? I heard you had a UTI?” Everybody knew. My entire family knew. Why? Because my mom told one person, or two, or four, I don’t know, and then all of those people told two friends. It’s one of the reasons I don’t tell a lot of things to my family, because it just spreads like wildfire and I like my privacy.
That’s Sherlock. He gets into everyone’s business.
Let’s talk about his file. Sherlock has this file full of cards on basically everyone. He looks into everybody. If they’re mentioned in the newspaper, Sherlock makes a little file on them and gets as much information on them as possible. This is why he recognizes names so quickly when John mentions a certain name. Should you have a big file full of information all on other people? Are you a telemarketer? It would make sense if you were, but if you weren’t, why do you have this giant file full of information on people? It would seem awfully weird to have a big file of information like that if you were just a normal guy.
But Sherlock isn’t a normal guy, right? Well, that is true, Sherlock is definitely not normal. He’s a consulting detective, which isn’t a real thing. He made it up. He forced his way into working with Scotland Yard just because he wanted to. They did not recruit him. He pestered them into letting him work with them. As far as busybodies go, Sherlock is pretty good at getting the information he wants.
While it is true that Sherlock is hired to stick his nose in people’s business, he shouldn’t always be doing so. It’s a question of ethics and just plain old common sense. There were several situations as in The Tale of the Missing Three Quarter, where Sherlock should not have been involved at all. What basically ended up happening is that Sherlock ended up butting into a very private and emotionally difficult time for a man and his family. Sherlock should not have been there. He shouldn’t have been poking around.
In yet another story The Yellow Face, Sherlock also should not have been involved. There was no violence. There was no cause to suspect danger. There wasn’t a huge mystery. For the most part, the whole thing was a disagreement between a man and his wife. Why in the heck was Sherlock there? Sherlock never practices discretion in choosing his cases. He never says, “You know what, I know you’re trying to hire me to do this, but I don’t think I should get involved.” He never steps back from the situation, even when a normal person would have.
Sherlock not only spies on people himself, while dressing up I might add, he has spies he hires. He hires street children. He hires nefarious people wandering around. Sherlock has an army of spies in London. He not only pokes his nose in people’s business himself, he masses an entire spying army to do the task more efficiently.
Sherlock goes much too far to get information. At one point he pretended to be a different man and got engaged. Do you have any idea how terrible that would be? Seriously. If I was that woman, Agatha or was it Agnes…I would be incredibly ticked off. Here I was thinking I was getting married, but it turns out the guy I thought I was getting married to doesn’t even exist and now I’m alone again. He was only getting close to me to get information. It would have been emotionally scarring, but does Sherlock care?
Here’s the thing, we know Sherlock isn’t an unfeeling…um…jerk, I would have liked to use another word. We know he has compassion on people, specifically women, so why does he see fit to stick his nose in their business? Why does he do this?
Part of me wants to say that I don’t know why Sherlock does this, but part of me wants to say it’s because Sherlock doesn’t have his own life. Look, Sherlock may look as if he has his own life, but honestly, he doesn’t. He spends all of his time poking his nose in other people’s business. What part of his life is his own? Rarely does Sherlock actually mention something personal. He mentions that he has a brother, he mentions that he had a friend in college, and he mentions that his grandmother was Vernet’s sister, which I already disproved. He doesn’t mention anything else personal.
He has habits that keep his mind off of things. He smokes tobacco, he does heroin, and we even know he tried some opium. There is no telling what he concocts in the chemistry set he’s always working with. I joke around saying he’s making meth, which didn’t really exist at the time of Sherlock Holmes, but perhaps he’s making something like it.
He doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a wife. He never speaks of his parents. John is pretty much his sole window out into the world. It’s true he interacts with others, but it’s usually as a detective or as someone he’s pretending to be, it’s hardly ever himself. John is the only person, and perhaps Mycroft, that Sherlock shows even a bit of his true self with. Sherlock constantly is thinking about someone else besides himself, because, let’s face it, he doesn’t have a life.
Occasionally, we see Sherlock break out his own self a bit. He plays the violin and he talks about music, but that’s rare. I’m not a psychologist and I honestly don’t know what makes Sherlock create this entire world to avoid being in his own world. He avoids being himself. I know you look at Sherlock and think that he is the man who is smart and kind of jerk and figures everything out, but why does he put that exterior off? Somewhere underneath all of that is the real Sherlock who for some reason feels the need to stick his nose in everyone’s business to fill some need of his own.
So, yes, Sherlock does stick his nose in everyone’s business and, no, it’s not right, but he does it for a reason, but we don’t know that reason.
busybody, Deduction: Mind Your Own Darn Business, john watson, minding your own business, psychology of sherlock, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sherlock holmes mind your own business, sherlock’s addictions, sir arthur conan doyle
Essays, Sherlock Holmes