Essays

Jargon and Language Exclusivity

Jargon and Language ExclusivityJargon and Language Exclusivity

I just read a book about words that only mean something to people in certain professions and I got to thinking about the idea of jargon.

Jargon is language that only means something in a certain situation and to certain people, such as doctors. It’s rude to use jargon when speaking to people who don’t know what it means because they can’t understand what you’re talking about.

The jargon is still in English, so it’s not exactly another language, but is it fair?

By this question, I ask if it’s fair to transform a common language in a niche manner so that most people cannot understand it, therefore making the language exclusive to only a few people, something I like to call language exclusivity.

Language doesn’t belong to any one person. There’s not a copyright on English, or German, or Japanese, or any other language, that I know of, maybe Vulcan or Elvish have copyrights since they were actually created by very few people, but no one person, or entity, has the right to English. Therefore, it belongs to everybody. It’s a cooperative language.

The idea of a cooperative is that multiple people take ownership of something and work to maintain it and better it. If you had a farm that was a cooperative, a bunch of people would help water the vegetables, harvest the vegetables, and then get them ready for market. The farm would not belong to one person. In addition to maintaining this farm, the people who were in the cooperative would help improve the farm. They would all help install a new irrigation system to make the farm better. Maybe they don’t have to haul water from the spring in buckets, which is great.

Being that English is cooperative, this also means we are able to change the language and improve it since we all kind of own it. That’s why there is American English, English English, and Australian English. I’m sure there’s also at least a couple that I’m missing. I think it’s fair that we’ve evolved English in such a way that large countries, with large populations, that are geographically distinct, have their own versions of English.

But…is it fair to break those distinctions down even more? Is it ok for American doctors, British doctors, and Australian doctors to have an English that only doctors of those countries understand? Is it ok for doctors to have language that other people don’t understand? If we create a heavily-jargoned language for American doctors, as an example, is it fair? If English is something that should be accessible to everyone, is it right for us to take part of it and make it exclusive?

The whole idea of exclusivity means very few people can access it and that usually means only people with money, but not always. There is a whole redneck language that’s exclusive to rednecks, that a city person from New York City is not going to understand at all, and for the most part, people who self-identify as rednecks don’t have a lot of money. Generally though, exclusivity means “you can get in with enough money” or “you can get in, if you meet XYZ stringent requirements.” If you take something that is free and make part of it exclusive, is it fair? Humane? Legal?

You may be thinking that we’re not charging for a person to learn jargon, which is essentially a type of slang. No one says you owe them five dollars if you want to learn how to talk like a doctor. I know we’re picking on doctors a lot, but they do have a whole lot of jargon and it’s a good example.

Look, we do charge to speak like a doctor and understand their language, but it’s not always a monetary charge. Sure, if you go to school to become a doctor, it costs a lot of money. We’re also talking time, effort, and a high understanding of Latin and Greek root words. There is a cost associated with learning the jargon of doctors, even though it’s not written down on a brochure somewhere.

Learn how to talk like a doctor! Only five payments of $999.99!

You could, theoretically, learn how to understand all of the doctors’ jargon without going to medical school or working as a doctor. You could do this by being a nurse or a physician’s assistant, which still come with an education cost. You could also just sit yourself down with several medical terminology books and some books about Latin and Greek and dive into the jargon of doctors. No matter how you learned the jargon of the doctors’, it still came with a cost and that cost makes it exclusive language, because it’s not a cost everyone is willing to pay, or is able to pay.

Shouldn’t English just be English? If you’re a doctor, shouldn’t you be speaking English just like everyone else? If you go into a patient’s room, shouldn’t what you say make sense to the patient?

Shouldn’t, “Take this controlled substance BID,” be more understandable as, “Take this Lortab twice a day, but only twice a day because it’s addictive”?

The idea of language exclusivity may not be fair, but it may be appropriate in some instances. If you’re a doctor, you’re going to have to learn words like myocardial infarction, instead of just saying heart attack. Why? I’m not sure exactly. Why does everything need a Latin name? Why can’t people just be called humans instead of Homo sapiens? It’s kind of like saying, “Oooh, I’m special, I know a fancy way to say you choked on cherry stem and all you can say is that you choked on a cherry stem, because you haven’t been to medical school.”

I don’t know why a person has to learn to speak a different version of English depending on their profession and also possibly depending on their level of education. Academics certainly speak in a different manner than Joe down at the landfill that mans the big scale where you take your trash. Why can’t we all just call a soda a soda and be done with it?

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Essays, Thoughts and Ponders

The Infertility Apocalypse

The Fertility ApocalypseThe Infertility Apocalypse

Let me count the ways in which society could end and the world fall apart. There are aliens. There’s zombies. There’s nuclear war. There’s plague. There are super volcanoes. There’s hurtling into the sun at a million miles an hour. Then of course, there’s the rapture.

Zombies are getting to be old-hat. We’ve talked nuclear war to death and lived several decades in fear that it might actually happen. There are just so many ways the world could fall apart, but very few think about the world falling apart due to infertility. There are three female authors who have thought of this though. The three authors I want to speak about are Megan McCafferty, author of the Bumped series, P.D. James, author of The Children of Men, and Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Each of these women has written a dystopian story about a world in which infertility is the driving factor in how people behave. Society as we know it has fallen apart due to a lack of fertility.

Of course it would be a woman who wrote about an apocalypse by infertility. Men are more apt to think about hordes of zombies destroying their lives over the inability to get pregnant or get someone pregnant destroying their lives. Although, if you happen to know of a book or a short story written by a man which is along the lines of the mentioned books, I would be happy to know about it.

I would like to start off by giving a short summary of each book so we have something to reference back to.

The Infertility Apocalypse Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped, and its sequel Thumped, are set in a future world, approximately 2025 or thereabouts. The problem with the world is that there is a virus that limits the reproductive abilities of everyone. For the most part the fertility window of a person is from puberty to eighteen to twenty years old and that’s it. It affects both men and women; there is no cure.

Society has degraded into an all-encompassing need for teenagers to procreate. Babies are sold like candy bars. Sex isn’t for pleasure or because you like someone; it’s purely to make a baby. Everything revolves around pregnant teenage girls like they’re some sort of weird celebrities.

The Infertility Apocalypse The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Nuclear war and religious zealism has changed society. Because of the effects of nuclear fallout many women are not able to become pregnant anymore. The few who are, are trained in a special manner. Their destiny is to be handmaids unto a married couple, just as Hagar was a handmaiden to Sarah and Abraham in the Bible.

The handmaid’s job is to produce an heir for a couple. The handmaids themselves are not eligible for marriage because of classified past transgressions. Sex has become ritualized in a strange manner involving not only the handmaid and the man, but also his wife. Paternities are often faked due to infertility of husbands.

The Infertility Apocalypse The Children of Men by P.D. James

For some unknown reason, no one is fertile anymore. No one noticed it at first, but soon appointment registers at clinics and hospitals were bereft of pregnant women coming in for checkups and deliveries. It’s been about twenty-five years since the last babies were born. There is mandatory fertility testing for everyone. So far there has not been any luck.

People are often at war and at religious upheaval because the hope of society is doomed. There is no one to continue on afterwards, so what’s the point? One baby would give the world hope. One baby would put the world on a path in the right direction, but it would also create chaos in the uproar that it would cause when everyone found out.

Why an Infertility Apocalypse is Clever

Why is this such a neat idea? Why am I writing about it? What makes this type of apocalypse so much more special than say, zombies?

I already touched on why this was a great idea in my review of the book Bumped, but I’ll recap here. An infertility apocalypse is a great thing to write about because it’s plausible. There are scientific leanings that could possibly point to something like this actually happening. It’s also something we wouldn’t expect. Even though zombies aren’t real, we would probably expect society to have its downfall from them before we would expect society to have its downfall from the inability to have babies. Why? Well, because we’ve always been able to have babies. It’s something we take for granted. We’ve always been able to do it, so why shouldn’t we be able to keep doing it? We so often think our society will change through great measures, war, zombies, aliens, and natural disasters, that we forget that little things could destroy us.

In truth, we’re actually having a bit of an infertility crisis these days. I know it doesn’t appear that way since we have over seven billion people on the Earth, but hear me out. In developed countries, there is getting to be a bit of a problem with fertility and we’re not talking about fifty-year old women wanting babies, we’re talking about women of normal child-bearing ages, twenty to forty, having lots of problems having babies. Infertility is becoming an issue. It’s not simply a manner of more people talking about it, but more people are actually talking about it; it’s a matter of the whole thing becoming more common.

We can attribute this partly to an autoimmune disease called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. Nobody knows what causes this disease or really why it came about. PCOS accounts for seventy percent of infertility cases in The United States, again, don’t quote me on that exactly, those were statistics from a while back. It’s estimated that about ten percent of women of child-bearing ages have PCOS in The United States, but it’s also becoming a big problem in other developed countries, the UK and Australia just to name a couple. PCOS does not mean a woman will be infertile, but women with PCOS have at least some problems conceiving and carrying to term. When we speak of PCOS, we’re talking about a disease that has sky-rocketing rates. Women are being diagnosed right and left; it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.

We don’t know what causes PCOS. We have theories. It’s BPA, it’s hormone mimickers like soy, it’s the fact that your mother smoked while she was pregnant, it’s the fact that your father was exposed to Agent Orange, it’s the fact that you live by a Teflon plant, it’s the fact that you took hormonal birth control pills, it’s the fact that it could be genetic, or maybe it’s even GMOs. We don’t know what it is. There are so many things it cold be, that we haven’t been able to pin anything down. The longer it takes us to figure it out the more women will develop PCOS. We don’t have any idea how some of these things in our lives affect us long-term or even if USDA and FDA rulings are even true or accurate. It’s a mystery.

Now, PCOS while being the biggest spoke in the wheel of infertility among women, is definitely not the only problem. We also have unexplained infertility to look to, which as you guessed cannot be explained. Doctors throw their hands up in the air and say, “Beats me.” They can’t tell you why you can’t get pregnant. Let’s not forget about the men though. Men are having some fertility issues as well. Some people are even theorizing that men have become a lot more feminine in recent years because of all the fake hormones, specifically estrogen-like substances, that we find in our food, our clothes, and our chemicals.

We may be shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re paying attention to immediate side-effects of some of these things, but we’re not paying attention to long-terms and effects on fertility. If no one can have babies, we’re screwed. We don’t think about it, probably because it’s not a pleasant thought and it just seems so far-fetched that it would never be, but I’ve just given you evidence that it could be. We have a basis for an infertility apocalypse.

Theoretically, you could sit down and “what if” yourself to death over the possibility of an infertility apocalypse. There are just so many things we could attribute it to. We may know a lot about the human body these days, but we can’t explain everything. We don’t know what certain things will do to a person. Who knows, maybe WiFi decreases our fertility? That’s an awful thought, is it not?

We think it’s always going to be there. We think we’re always going to be able to reproduce. Women are probably more attuned to the idea that an infertility apocalypse could be a thing because women actually stop being fertile after a certain point in life, menopause. Women deal with the fact that they will reach a certain point and no longer be able to have babies. Men never reach that point; that’s probably why a man hasn’t written a dystopian novel about an infertility apocalypse.

Margaret, Megan, and P.D. were very clever when they wrote their dystopian novels dealing with this very thing. It was just so smart because you expect the big things to get you, not the little things.

Common Threads in Infertility Apocalypse Stories

We’ve discussed why the idea of an infertility apocalypse is so clever, but let’s discuss the stories themselves. All three books mentioned deal with fertility problems, but they have other commonalities besides that. There are two ideas that jump out a me when thinking of these three books: A short time frame for things to fall apart and extreme religion.

In each book Bumped, A Handmaid’s Tale and The Children of Men, the world has fallen apart pretty fast after the news that everyone’s fertility was impaired. A Handmaid’s Tale has the shortest time frame, being only a few years, while Bumped and The Children of Men are about twenty-five years into the whole process. In the latter two books, it didn’t take twenty-five years to get that bad, it’s just been twenty-five years since things happened. Things got bad right away. People freaked out immediately when they knew what was going on. The latter two books are just further along into the apocalypse. In Margaret’s book, people are still trying to figure out how to cope with the infertility of society.

Why did it happen so fast? It happened so fast because we’re human and we freak out over the littlest things and let the smallest things in life buffet us around from one decision to the other. Have you ever seen a toddler break into tears over some insignificant thing? We’re all like that, even though we don’t like to admit it. Sure, we would all like the say that if we found out the world couldn’t have any more babies that we would live out the rest of our lives normally, but we can’t say that. Our lives, our normal lives, are built upon the idea that someone is coming after us. Our entire existence revolves around the idea that there will be someone to continue on your name, your project, your business, or even your legislation. Our lives lose a lot of meaning if there is no one to follow. So, yes, our lives would be turned completely upside down if we suddenly found out that we couldn’t reproduce anymore.

The other similarity in all three books is religion. As I have mentioned before, people often turn to a power higher than themselves in times of trouble. They may not call that thing God, but they have something they look to. They have something they want to give their lives meaning. A lot of us would wonder if we were being punished for something we had done if we found out we were all infertile. We would wonder what our sins were that caused this thing to happen.

Some of us would turn to religion simply as a means to cope, but others would turn to religion as a means to seek forgiveness. They feel that they’ve done something wrong to cause this awful thing to happen and now they must atone for it. The religions in all three books are extreme. In Bumped, religion turns into girls getting married at thirteen and having babies and wearing clothing that covers up their entire bodies, which sounds an awful lot like something you’d read about the FLDS church under Warren Jeffs. In A Handmaid’s Tale, religion has become incorporated with the government. People have gone back to fundamentals, way back, as in the Old Testament. In The Children of Men, there are strange religious cults that do things on the beaches and out in the woods. Organized religion as we know it, still kind of exists in that world, but things have lost a lot of meaning.

In truth, we would wonder. When science couldn’t give us the answer to why we all went infertile, we would likely turn to religion for an answer or even a semblance of an answer. Some of us would believe it was punishment. Some of us would use religion to give our lives purpose because now there’s nothing that’s going to come behind us.

In The End

Megan, P.D., and Margaret were all so very clever for writing a story about an infertility apocalypse. It’s a brilliant idea. It has a plausibility that zombies will never have.


 

 
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Deduction: Mistress Mary Mistress Mary…

Deduction: Mistress Mary Mistress Mary...Deduction: Mistress Mary Mistress Mary…

I was born in a time when every single girl was named Ashley, or so it seemed. There was this Ashley and that Ashley. There were just Ashleys coming out of everyone’s ears. Today, there are a lot of baby Emmas and baby Elenas. If you meet a woman named Jennifer or Ashley, you have a pretty good determining factor in guessing their age. Of course there are women that fall outside of the birth range of 1975-1995, but for the most part, if you meet a woman named Ashley she was born in that time period.

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s time there were lots of Marys and it reflected in his works. The Sherlock Holmes stories alone are filled with multiple Marys. Our main Mary is Mary Watson, but there are so many Marys mentioned. There are also quite a few Johns.

According to the US census records of 1890, Mary was the most common female name and John was the most common male name. This is in the United States of course, but the trend seems to be reflected in England as well.

The photo for this post is Mary Josephine Foley Doyle, otherwise known as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mother. That’s great and all. She’s named Mary, big deal you say, but let’s keep going. Arthur was married twice. His first wife was named Mary Louise Hawkins, he called her Louisa. Sure, lots of men marry women named the same thing as their mothers, right? Well, not usually. Usually men don’t marry women named the same things as their mothers. The generational names are usually so different that there is pretty much no chance in Hell that a man is going to marry a woman named Phyllis or what have you.

Going further, Arthur had a few kids. One of which was named Mary Louise. She was born to Mary Louise Hawkins. So both mother and daughter were named Mary. The grandmother was also named Mary.

It is common for sons to be named after their fathers, the Jrs in your life; it’s not quite as common for a daughter to be named after her mother. It is more common for a granddaughter to be named after her grandmother though, but to be perfectly clear, Mary Louise Doyle is named after her mother seeing as she has the same first name and middle name. What all of this comes down to is that Arthur’s life was just full of Marys.

Historically, this makes sense because like I said Mary was the most common female name in the 1890s. There were just Marys coming out of people’s ears. Familiarly, it’s a little odd that so many people were named Mary so close to Arthur. You mom, your wife, and your daughter are all named the same thing…kind of weird. Does Arthur have mommy issues? I wonder if Freud would have anything to say about this. I’m just glad his other children were not named Mary as well.

Mary has always been a popular name, well, it’s been a popular name for a long time, mainly since the Catholic church has been a thing, or Christianity in general. Mary is the mother of Jesus, supposedly her sisters were also named Mary. Mary’s mother is St. Anne. Mary was the ultimate woman as far as any Christian was concerned. Nobody liked Eve because she ate the fruit. Nobody dared named their daughter Jezebel. There were Rebecca’s floating around, but it’s never been quite as popular as Mary. Mary was the mother of Jesus and people thought that was great. They thought that Mary was someone to look up to and an example of all a woman should be. As a result, a lot of daughters were named Mary.

Honestly, though, it still kind of weirds me out that Arthur was surrounded with so many Marys. It sounds like some kind of cult. All the women are named Mary here.



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Deduction: Secret Societies and Gobbledygook

Deduction: Secret Societies and Gobbledygook Deduction: Secret Societies and Gobbledygook

Honestly, I’m actually using the word gobbledygook incorrectly. The true definition of gobbledygook is, “language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms; nonsense.” As I see it though, I’m not using this word entirely wrong. Gobbledygook could be characterized by language that sounds like you know what you’re talking about, but it’s all empty words. You don’t actually know what you’re talking about. It reminds me of some of the English translations I would see on objects in Japan. Some of them made no sense whatsoever. There were just a bunch of English words strung together.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has a thing for secretive societies. He mentions Mormons, Freemasons, the Red Circle, the KKK, the Mafia, and also Mycroft’s strange Diogenes Club. Only two of those are fake, The Red Circle and the Diogenes club. The Red Circle happens to be based on a real thing known as the Carbonari, which are like Italian Freemasons.

That’s great and all. We can use secretive societies to further our plot lines as authors. Why not? Why not have it be a conspiracy? Dan Brown makes a lot of money off of secretive societies, so why not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Here’s the thing…Dan Brown does his research, Arthur did not. If I were to read a Dan Brown book, I could then Google the societies he mentioned and their traditions. Dan Brown would be fairly accurate in his representations of those groups. Arthur was not accurate.

Honestly, if all these societies mentioned by Arthur were fake this wouldn’t have been a big deal. It’s a thing he made up; he can have its members do whatever in the heck he wants them to do. These societies aren’t fake though.

Let’s look at something like the Mormon church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This church plays a huge role in the book A Study in Scarlet. There is very little of what Arthur says about the church that is true. He makes up stuff, none of it has any place in Mormon Theology. I know lots of Mormons, I’m not just saying this stuff. Arthur said this about his book to a descendent of Brigham Young, “… a scurrilous book about the Mormons.” He did later admit he was wrong.

Arthur embellished the truth. The thing about the Mormon church was that they were being prosecuted during the time in which Arthur was writing. They had been prosecuted for years. They had to leave the United States, what was the United States at the time, and start their own country in Utah because they were going to be murdered. It was going to be a Holocaust on American soil. People felt that strongly about the Mormon Church. They made up downright slanderous and terrible things about the members of its church. This is what Arthur relied on to back his description of the Mormon church. He didn’t actually take the time to talk to an actual member of the church or even a missionary to get the real scoop on how members of the church acted and what they believed in. Arthur’s book has actually been banned from libraries for being so derogatory towards Mormons.

When it came time for the show Sherlock to depict this story on television, you will notice there is no mention of Mormons whatsoever. The original text was that derogatory. The entire piece of the story set in the United States was scrapped.

Now, you would think Arthur learned his lesson about not researching secretive societies. He didn’t.

Arthur seems to have lightly researched other societies. He keeps mentioning them over and over again. The Freemasons have the most mentions in the Sherlock Holmes tales, but there are also mentions of the KKK and the Carbonari. I don’t know a ton about Freemasonry, I honestly should probably know more. The good thing about Arthur’s mentions of the Freemasons is that none of it seems to be bad. He doesn’t accuse the Freemasons of murder or kidnapping, as he did with the Mormons.

The Freemasons aren’t angels when it comes to the whole murder thing. They’ve been known to murder people for spreading “secrets.” Maybe Arthur knew some actual Freemasons or maybe he was one and decided spreading any of their “secrets” was a bad idea. His talk of Freemasons is mostly benign.

The KKK is not a good group, well, at least I think so, but they have their constitutional rights. Arthur makes up a whole bunch of stuff about them sending orange pips and oak branches to each other as warning signs for breaking with the group. Let me tell you something–I grew up in the South. I took a political science class with the granddaughter of the Grand Dragon of the KKK, the group is still alive and well and I’ve never heard of this orange pip business.

Granted the KKK was probably so secretive at the time of Arthur’s writing that he couldn’t get a lot of information on them, I still think he should have tried a little harder. Look, the group is more likely, well, let’s think of the 1940s/1950s version of the KKK, the group is more likely to beat the crap out of you and burn a cross in your yard than they are to send you a letter with orange pips in it. I already explained that oranges just weren’t floating around everywhere at the time either. Oranges were only beginning to be a normal thing in the time period.

Arthur was speaking of a very tough group when he spoke of the KKK. These days people are embarrassed to admit that family members belong to this group even though it’s merely supposed to be a non-violent opinion type of group; it hasn’t always been that way; history will tell you that. Is it a good idea to get information wrong about a group like this? Maybe it was a strategic move on Arthur’s part. Maybe he didn’t want a member of the KKK showing up at his house and beating the crap out of him for saying someone from the KKK burned a cross in one of his character’s yards. I don’t think that’s the case though. I think Arthur just didn’t bother to do his research and just went with popular opinion and rumor of the day, just as he did with the Mormons.

The Mafia and Carbonari are also mentioned in Arthur’s tales. Concerning the Mafia, they’re alive and well. I don’t think they care if you say bad things about them, because everybody knows it, but I could be wrong. The Carbonari on the other hand, were originally a masonic type of group concerned with uniting Italy. They weren’t necessarily murderers and members of a crime ring, as Arthur depicts the Red Circle to be. It was a place where guys hung out and had their little rituals. It wasn’t a group where people forced you into a life of crime. The Red Circle isn’t a real thing, so maybe that’s how Arthur got away so lightly on that one.

I mean if I was a member of a Masonic type group and some guy said I went around murdering people, I might be a little upset.

Arthur makes up a lot of crap about these groups. Why not actually do a little research and find out that Mormons don’t kidnap people and force girls into marriage, that the KKK doesn’t send orange pips to people, and that the Carbonari wasn’t a crime ring?

There’s something called libel, Arthur. You’re not supposed to make up derogatory things about real groups, even if that group is the KKK. That real group can sue you for libeling them. It hurts their reputations. The Mormon church was already having its fair share of trouble when Arthur wrote A Study in Scarlet and it didn’t need Arthur muddying up the waters anymore than they already were. With libel laws, the church could have sued for defamation of character, fortunately for Arthur, the Mormon church isn’t in the business of suing people for saying bad things about it.

Arthur presented his stories as if he knew what these societies were about. He wrote in an educated manner and presented story bits that seemed to be realistic. It sounded real, but it was just goggledygook.



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Deduction: Mistress Mary Quite Solitary

Deduction: Mistress Mary Quite SolitaryDeduction: Mistress Mary Quite Solitary

Ah, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary…Mary. Mary, the love of John Watson. Oh, Mary!

Mary is a central character in The Sign of the Four, but after that we don’t hear of her much, in fact, she actually dies, and no one really says anything about it. She dies in between the time Sherlock supposedly dies and when he shows back up.

For a while though, John and Mary are happy, or something like it. The problem is that John always seems to be hanging out with Sherlock and not his wife. In fact, his wife is only too happy to let him go off for days at a time with Sherlock without even batting an eye. Perhaps it was that women were freer with their husbands back in the day. Perhaps she didn’t care where he went or who he was with. Who knows. She’s dead, so we’ll never know.

I find this odd. John has a life outside of Sherlock. For a while he goes back to practice as a doctor. He gets married. He has a house with Mary, but every so often Sherlock shows back up and off John goes, seemingly without much fanfare from Mary.

Look, I don’t know about you guys, but usually when a husband goes off with buddies there are some questions involved. Where are you going? When will you be back? Who are you going with? Are you going to a strip club? Is there going to be crystal meth involved? You know, that sort of thing. You could look at it one of two ways. You could look at it as a woman wanting to control where her husband goes, which some women do, but you could also look at it as a wife being concerned for her husband. You’re married to this guy, so you’re supposed to care about him. It would be a good idea to know his general location, just in case he turns up missing that way you can tell police, “Well, he went to the store to buy milk and he never came back.”

It just seems to me that Mary isn’t a very inquisitive person. She just seems to be happy to be ignorant in where her husband goes. Where does he go?

You know what, scratch all of this–Mary was a plot device. She’s not a very rounded character. She only exists to further John’s character, but then he seemingly forgets about her. Married life doesn’t much change the way John acts. He still goes off with Sherlock. Most likely, Arthur decided that living the married life hampered John from going places with Sherlock, so he killed Mary off, well, not really, he didn’t even take the text to write a story about how Mary tragically passed away. It’s not even mentioned. I had read she died before my whole dive into Sherlock Holmes, but I never read specifically where she died.

Look at it this way, wouldn’t it be odd if both John and Sherlock had lived the remainder of their days as bachelors? John’s story progressed personally, while Sherlock’s did not. John’s life moved forward as Sherlock remained the same. John gets married and suffers the tragedy of his wife dying, which honestly doesn’t seem to affect him very much. John’s marriage isn’t a big deal to the overall story line, so Mary is quite marginalized.

In the end, she’s not important, so her opinions don’t matter and her death doesn’t matter. It’s a sad state of affairs. You would think that Arthur could have given John Watson’s wife a better send off when he decided to kill her off, but I guess not. It’s like those two Torkelson kids who just disappeared when the family moved to a different state. Yes, I remember that show.

Poor Mary, poor, poor, Mary. She made the mistake of falling in love with a man who was in love with the idea of solving mysteries and following Sherlock Holmes around and then when she died, nobody cared.



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Deduction: Sherlock May be Mental, but Maybe Not

Deduction: Sherlock May be Mental, but Maybe NotDeduction: Sherlock May be Mental, but Maybe Not

Sherlock is a rather strange man, is he not? He seems to think himself superior to everyone. He has strange interactions with other human beings. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. He doesn’t talk to his family. He smokes copious amounts of tobacco, does heroin, and even tries some opium. We don’t know what in the heck he makes with all of his chemistry stuff.

I briefly addressed Sherlock’s personality and mental state in my post about him being a busybody. There’s more to it, of course.

Some would say Sherlock has something like Asperger’s syndrome, which isn’t an official diagnosis anymore by the way. Asperger’s is on the autism spectrum. Autistic people have a hard time with social interaction. They can be really smart, as in the case of savants, like Temple Grandin, but the majority of the autism spectrum is characterized by people who are behind in emotional and mental capabilities compared to other people their age. There are also sensory issues involved. Another telling trait that autistic people tend to display is an obsession with a certain thing, perhaps just a repetition, think Sheldon Cooper and his door knocking *Penny**Penny**Penny*.

My youngest brother is autistic. He’s not a savant. He’s behind other teenagers his age mentally. He doesn’t do well with school. He’s not stupid, he’s just not on the same level as other kids his age. He has the trademark problem of having difficult social interactions. He doesn’t know how to act in some situations. He doesn’t know if something is embarrassing or not, much like Sheldon Cooper not recognizing sarcasm, which can be an actual symptom of autism by the way. My little brother does get obsessed over certain things from time to time, and then, yes, there are the sensory issues. For the longest time he didn’t like ice cream. He also talked like a robot for a while. Raising an autistic child is an interesting experience to say the least.

I tell you about my brother to illustrate the fact that I do know a little about autism. I don’t think Sherlock is autistic. The show Sherlock may depict him as being this unfeeling know-it-all, but the stories do not. Sherlock may be impatient at times in the stories, but he is not unfeeling. He knows when people are upset. He’s actually very good at telling when people are upset, like really, really good. If Sherlock and the guy from Lie to Me had met up, they would have a blast. By the way, somebody bring that show back, it was awesome.

Sherlock does not have difficult interpersonal interactions. He may seem like a jerk, but talking is not difficult for him. He is able to ingratiate himself with almost anyone. John says multiple times that Sherlock has a special affinity for women, although, Sherlock does admit himself that John is better with women than he is. Sherlock is so good with interpersonal interactions that he can pretend to be other people. I don’t know about you guys, but I have never heard of an autistic person being an actor. I could be wrong. I could never imagine my little brother doing such a thing.

Where we do get Sherlock on the symptom list is the obsession part of it. Sherlock is obsessed. He’s obsessed with mysteries. He doesn’t take social clues concerning when to back off of something. He may be good at personal interaction elsewhere, but when it comes to a mystery, Sherlock doesn’t know how to butt out. He makes a book about all the different types of tobacco ash. Let me tell you something, that’s an obsession. He has these habits. He has a pipe he smokes only when he’s agitated. He has specific things he likes to do. He doesn’t like people touching his things.

I think it’s more a case of Sherlock having something like OCD rather than having Asperger’s, but as I supposed in my previous post, maybe Sherlock has this obsession due to something else in his life. Maybe he’s spending all his energy with this obsession to block something else out or to fill a void in his life. He doesn’t have a life. When John is not with him, it seems that his life ceases to exist. Sure, he does some cases on his own, but he doesn’t have friends outside of John. He doesn’t have people he hangs out with. He doesn’t hang out with his brother. He never mentions his parents. The personal life he has with John, however impersonal it may seem at times, is the most intimate way in which Sherlock seems to interact with anybody, but then again, maybe he has all of us fooled.

We could look at a condition like psychopathy. Psychopaths are very good at manipulation. They may have multiple lives and seem to be different people to each person. They’re chameleons of sorts. Sherlock is very, very good at pretending to be other people. Psychopathy can be characterized by meanness and Sherlock has that coming out of his ears. I do have to contend with the possibility of psychopathy because Sherlock does actually seems to care for people, whereas a true psychopath lacks in the caring department. We also have to look at the idea that Sherlock is incredibly good at lying, which is also a characteristic of psychopaths. The caring could just be a ruse.

The Sherlock television series played at an idea. It was suggested that Sherlock Holmes solved murders, but perhaps he might also commit murders. One day there would be a body and it would have been Sherlock Holmes who put it there. If Sherlock did happen to be a psychopath, that might very well be true. He would be good enough at lying to make it appear as if someone else had done it. It’s kind of the same idea as a fireman starting fires so he would have a fire to put out.

Ultimately, John is not with Sherlock all the time. We know very little of the real Sherlock Holmes. We know he has a brother named Mycroft who works in the government. Maybe Mycroft is really his brother, but maybe he’s not. The most real thing about Sherlock Holmes are his addictions to tobacco and heroin. His body is physically addicted to these things. He cannot break away from his addictions.

There is an a possibility that Sherlock made Sherlock Holmes up. Who is named Sherlock after all? Sherlock could have made this personality up. He could have made this mystery-solving man up, for what reason, I don’t know. He could really be a murderer. He could be a Moriarty or a Milverton.

Drawing a parallel to real life, some have suggested that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself was Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper seemed to be a rather intelligent man. He always got away and he murdered his victims with surgical precision. Arthur would have been both smart and able to do the things to a body that Jack the Ripper did to a body. I don’t believe these claims are true because there are other more worthy Jack the Ripper candidates such as H.H. Holmes, who surprisingly chose the last name Holmes for himself.

You have to consider, the person who would be the best at committing crime would be the person who studies it. If you studied crime, you would know what to do in order not to get caught. If you were then on the investigative team examining that crime, you would know all the information the police knew. You could plant clues to lead them astray. You would know the habits of the other investigators and what items they might miss during an examination. By being this consulting detective, Sherlock has mostly placed himself above suspicion.

In the end, Sherlock himself is the greatest mystery in the Sherlock Holmes stories.



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Deduction: Mind Your Own Darn Business

Deduction: Mind Your Own Darn BusinessDeduction: Mind Your Own Darn Business

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.



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